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I debated on where to put this topic but I remember reading somewhere that the developer's ultimate goal with PZ was to have emergent storytelling be at the game's design core. If so, the purpose of this topic is simply to discuss and possibly (and humbly) suggest what I think this would look like in PZ. If this is no longer a goal, I'd like to see it manifest as a Mod. What is emergent storytelling? This article provides a fantastic overview and argument for what defines emergent storytelling in video games: Popmatters The author argues that emergent storytelling in videogames has one or both of two key components: Characters that change during play in meaningful ways that represent a true character arc, Gameplay forces players to give context and meaning to a scenario that results in a dramatic arc.Without these components, the narrative is not emergent. For example, a pre-defined series of events within a game may include story and character arcs, but they are not emergent. They are narratives designed by the game maker. Emergent storytelling happens through the interaction between the player and the system. I think PZ has the opportunity to push the envelope with emergent storytelling and I suspect that is the intent with NPCs. But I think more can be done with player characters. What would extreme isolation and constant war-like trauma do to a character? For characters that are put together in multiplayer, what would be the effects over time on characters having two conflicting personality types being forced together? I could see a new navigation pane, similar to the one that shows the health of the body, except one for the mind. While moodles might be outward expressions of character behaviors, the character's mind would be internal. Let's say two players are playing survivors, one plays Joe and one Sara. Shortly after meeting for the first time, Joe registers annoyance towards Sara within his mind. Sara may be able to see that Joe is mildly annoyed, but she would not know from what. After a certain threshold, highly annoyed characters might suffer skill penalties. If the two players are both friends in real life and plan to play together, Joe's player might chose to spend points (e.g. resources) on reducing Joe's internal annoyance towards Sara. Joe gets over his issues. Alternatively, Joe's player may need to spend mental points on fighting off his growing addiction to smoking cigarettes. He allows Joe's annoyance towards Sara to grow to the point that he now suffers a skill penalty fighting zombies. What happens next? Perhaps Joe accepts the penalty and risks his life and stays with Sara. Or maybe he finally snaps. During the next harrowing zombie encounter, Joe's player withholds critical assistance from Sara and allows her to be torn apart by a horde. "It was either her or me". To me, this is emergent storytelling. Letting Sara die isn't a meaningless event. Joe had a reason for doing what he did. He needed to rid himself of his concentration breaking annoyance or he risked himself dying to the horde. On the flipside, players could assign mental points to make their characters like each other more. Let's say Amy and Josh receive a skill bonus when they are together. They make a great team. But one day, Josh drops his guard and gets bit. The infection manifests quickly and Josh dies. Amy now suffers a deep depression which tank her skills. Does she persevere and eventually recover? Does her sorrow prevent her from successfully fighting off the next zombie? Does she drink the bleach? These are stories. They are more than just a series of events with importance only to the player. The narrative isn't dictated by the game maker. Instead, the narrative emerges from the interaction between the player and the system. What does it say about the human condition that Joe, when faced with risking his survival, let Sara die? To me, this is why PZ has permadeath and no final winning state. This is how you died. The game is about the journey, not the destination.