Project Zomboid is In Need Of A Change Of Design
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What I’m about to say might come off as rash or come off as me attacking the game and the developers themselves. But believe me I really care about this game and have been following the development long before it was in 3D.

 

So what do I mean when I say that Project Zomboid is in need of design changes?

 

One of the biggest gripes I have with the game is it’s artistic design, I don’t mean the environments, 3D models, or actual artwork. I’m talking about the UI, Loading Screen, Music, and other elements of the game that are outside of the world itself.

 

I say this because the game takes place in 1993, yet there is not that many definitive indicators that it is. The game looks so stock-like at times that it can be embarrassing from an outside perspective. The UI is not appealing at all, and does not follow the aesthetic that’s supposed to be the game’s core aesthetic. It looks like the Windows 10 desktop interface and it could to be changed to fit something more 90s like. That’s just my preference though, but it’s kind of generic. Why is it such a big deal? Because graphic design represents the game itself, without proper graphic design it makes navigation a chore. If navigation must be a chore do so in a way that it’s stylistic. The art direction seems sort of underdeveloped. It’s safe to say it is absent from the menus and actual in game HUD. It looks really generic, so much so that it makes it hard to get immersed. You could change the font a bit to make it look less generic, take a look at games that came from the early 90s like Final Fantasy, a bit of liberty from everything.  or even the first Resident Evil for example; Your player health and inventory is all on the same screen. But please find a way to simplify it. For example, whenever I get injured I don’t want to use a separate injury menu aside from the inventory. If you merge the two it’d make managing your supplies a lot easier. Below are some possible alternative fonts you could use.

 

https://www.dafont.com/vcr-osd-mono.font

https://www.dafont.com/final-fantasy2.font

https://www.dafont.com/abduction-2002.font

 

For something stylistic maybe you should make the game have a slight CRT filter and post processing for when you get hurt. Fast forwarding, pausing, etc should have VHS effects. Or maybe when you’re about to die the screen goes into a vcr glitch post processing mode. Below is an example of it being done in unity.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gf9Uk2L95II

 

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Notice how everything is connected to each other? It’s simple and fast. Not saying the current design doesn’t already work but it’s a bit tedious.

 

Cj_6TvbQPEAx6R2X6vAkFke0iYBcRqUsCMxWa6lpM5LKZOs02gtSAixzwsRQ2mOlsCXtz8DTSUUwkptfWiWNJaGwHoHAngdEd_ssRZh46a6q-Ypf7D-jON9AOuXjc2WyLF_uLm1C

Animated heartbeat, a nice touch.

 

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Another example of everything being on one page, it’s difficult when everything is separated.



 

The music, what’s wrong with the music?

 

Look I don’t mean to criticize Zach Beever as a composer himself, but it was a poor decision for the compositions to be the way they are. None of the compositions are necessarily bad but they sure can be lacking in some areas.  The instruments sound as if they came from Finale’s midi soundfont and it gives off a real placeholder vibe which is very unappealing. I do see that he tried to fix it in the remaster of the soundtrack but in turn it made things seem less intense and more mellow, which in my opinion does not fit the theme of struggling to survive. When getting my friend to play the game for the first time he insisted that the music be muted but then to his dismay there was not that many ambient sounds. What are some other gripes about it? I’m Half-Moroccan so believe me when I say that the Arabic lyrics from the woman is a bit off putting. Why did Zach choose that? I could see it being used for some of the music, but it’s so prominent that it takes away from the actual Kentucky vibe.  It’s harsh to say but I found it really annoying and unfitting, so maybe you could ask Zach to find a substitute for it. Also, from a cultural standpoint it’s difficult to see where the use of the Arabic singing is coming from. I don’t know much Arabic aside from Shukrahn and salam alaikum so I don’t know what she’s saying. Though I feel like it gives a bad portrayal of Middle Eastern culture and people as scary. But I could see from the view that it’s supposed to have some flare of mysticism and hopelessness, but it fails to encapsulate me into the feeling that I’m struggling to survive the apocalypse and makes me more confused than distraught. I would like to keep the whole Banjos and Violin ensemble because it’s Kentucky though it should not be used for the entirety of the soundtrack. Because people will be making different maps like New Denver or Louisiana it’ll take away from those public creations and get rid of the vibe those community creators want to establish. If you’re adamant about the current soundtrack then consider giving us the ability to replace the soundtrack without complicated effort so people can have custom server music and custom soundtracks tied to their maps. But if you are open to suggestion on adding a bit more of a John Carpenter dark synth vibe,  listen to these playlists and songs. These are all things you could try incorporating into the soundtrack to make me feel like I'm in a zombie flick from the 80’s-90’s. Some of the tracks are upbeat but what I want you to take away from it is the intensity of it which Project Zomboid lacks in it’s now mellow soundtrack. I know 13 more are to be released from Zach Beever but send these links to him, I don’t think he’d be opposed to give the time to experiment with a new style. I even added films and commercials to help with the vibe.

 

Dark Synth

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9M8hbUSAPQ&t=1216s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uskjIktAXzs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZeSN4PntOos&list=RD9YqhhPGe8eM&index=9

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_4X2NVlw2M

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4nd-pUEuLk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kO2gJ4Alrcg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orHrAEU-W84

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ur9YfB31cPI

 

 

Grunge and Alternative Rock

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8q52lrKMV8&list=PLZCfG2LMycXf5VQMHYblEqlnsH0K83_eG&index=1

https://youtu.be/WDswiT87oo8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUzd9KyIDrM&list=PLo5Ncw2lfdoGvIG-1GscyTpfrdp0cHx10

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qzlc9iejLho

https://youtu.be/ouqt7tJiCbc

 

Commercials

https://youtu.be/vxnQamgVYyM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6wFr2SHsmY

 

Horror Movies and Horror Music

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL17Ho36k3DLO3vdC7mpO3dzeGE59mDzJK

https://youtu.be/iMP42SoWajQ

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL12D9AE75EA344995

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLwd2dpqAu5rj7-cuk9xl210Tsr0CPX5Js

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLzT3E3ChVyBmkPRaF8PwvqZXsI7RpfK0e

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9M8hbUSAPQ&t=1216s

 

VHS Head

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKcI4tQVLuQ&list=RDGMEMYH9CUrFO7CfLJpaD7UR85wVMI-v3sVWT8pA&index=8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PAbG2AcqPI&index=33&list=RDGMEMYH9CUrFO7CfLJpaD7UR85wVMI-v3sVWT8pA

 

This is the music that belongs in Project Zomboid, it’s ominous, it has dark synth nostalgia, it’s scary and it’s intense just like a zombie apocalypse is. If you could pair that alongside the Southern American Kentucky banjo it’d be so badass! But from the standpoint of someone who watches a lot of retro horror movies, the soundtrack is in need of some rework. Maybe I could converse with Zach and give him some opinions as to how to bring a different outlook on sound direction. I could even ask artists I know of if they want to be a part of the project. I’ve listened to some of Zach’s music from his portfolio and thought that he’s had experience with different tones of music, but he still could use a bit of work. I’m no wizard with music myself, but I do have a good ear, and I know I’m playing the devil’s advocate when I say that the soundtrack would sound lacking to new people playing the game. When taking a class on film I’ve learned that music can effectively set the tone and create any vibe you want. But with the current soundtrack it’s much too mellow. The game’s music sounds a bit generic, but the compositions themselves are okay to say the least. To balance out the mellowness of the soundtrack, you could make the soundtrack intensify as the situation worsens. But you don’t have to trash the entire soundtrack at all. If you’re not convinced I can tell you that this sort of style has worked very well for titles such as: Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, Trials of the Blood Dragon, Hotline Miami, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, Super Time Force, Dead Pixels 2, Strafe, Manhunt, Manhunt 2, Ruiner, Retro City Rampage, Hyper Light Drifter, and so many more.



 

Leveling Up

 

Please rework the leveling system!  From the level up sound to how levelling up feels like. Every time you level up you get those Arabic vocals, but it’s sort of out of place for a fanfare. It doesn’t make me feel like I accomplished anything, hell I didn’t even know that it was the level up sound because you just can’t tell without any indicators. Without any indication that I did level up it took me awhile to figure out that I actually did so why not add a notification either in the text bar or above the player. You could even go with the player status icon lighting up. The player should feel rewarded, it should feel like crossing a milestone and be apparent that you have,  instead of the current “Why the hell do those noises keep coming back?” To shorten it, change the noise and add an some sort of indicator. The voice clip doesn’t serve that well as a fanfare and sounds more like something you’d see from Man Vs Wild than a survival horror game. I know you got the Arabic sample from Arma II it’s really not needed. Every game has a fanfare to remember, Project Zomboid should have one too in my opinion. Below are some examples of fanfares. Why not have an ominous banjo strum?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dObMPDzECCQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERImCyRcOAU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlN4d5zLliQ&index=13&list=PLFbSMvGVpOAnqg58xTkb_6vhYwDK8nS2V

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3suGfhnT2Sg&index=11&list=PLFbSMvGVpOAnqg58xTkb_6vhYwDK8nS2V

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1tyK9BCSL0&list=PLFbSMvGVpOAnqg58xTkb_6vhYwDK8nS2V&index=12








 

Loading Screen and Title Screen

 

The loading screen is quite redundant and could use some work. Sure it was cool seeing it for the first time but after further analyzation I noticed that it was a bit flawed. If you show the text of things that are loading with the narration above it’s confusing because both are battling for your attention. Plus some of the sentences are a bit meaningless i.e “There was no hope” The loading screen is also a bit annoying when you are restarting a game, joining a game, etc. Because you have to wait for the whole narration that you’ve seen over and over before you start the game.  I opt for something like a VHS tracking screen to fit with a 90’s vibe and then whenever you click to start it’d be like playing the tape. For first time playing you could do an FMV of a television news broadcast, though it’s still not a good idea to use the same loading screen for everything.

 

The title screen has gotten really old, and if I was someone booting the game up for the first time in awhile I’d think that it hasn’t been updated for long. For one, Kate and Bob have not been a part of the game for some time now, so maybe put something else. Though the loop is cool, if you are keeping it at least enhance it because the animated background appears to be really jagged on most monitors. The title screen music is also kind of generic too, it’s a bit too generic for my taste. It sounds sort of like a bland copy of 28 Days Later (No offense). Most games have a theme to remember for its iconic nature. Think of it like an elevator pitch, a first expression. Also, for the title screen options you should have noises tied to highlighting your options, it gives a sort of reinforcement satisfaction so to speak. Below is the example of post screen load that I feel would be a nice addition to the after loading screen.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sp571uEnWpg

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If used enough VHS Post Processing in a game can give off a real nice nostalgic vibe and when used subtly it won’t take away from the gameplay. You could also have it toggled on or off.

 

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Maybe this screen could be an example of what the screen looks like after death, though instead of the complete blackness you have this as an overlay over your death or have this fade in, where it says “You only survived for … Had Killed…. And etc”

 

iPjYWxxeVzMiOcgtuEnR2M8the2BFsH4VJBKR-9PPgFSY6CmOV5TWVyDmId0aaJdLBNiA3ARVzECiBJ5yp15DB5Nm8M-Ou3tnyc4UVoyNTLhEWK9mJ8X3wPH82h_ALfnNGVtdhEi

 

Screen spazzing out before death

 

mr-KOgn3joHYGutGt7XfOGm7cfc0tyvEO2RFumCoOpGPp36K1whLqLjOuELdm6eCb-BO_HhyPLry9eOKXSZWa2pxSx-cAlzjgM1BpnmoazIjwocAvu5Te5dHmeFBzmTjMa4orydI

When I talked about the post processing effect...

 

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The title is the main focus because of where it is placed, being more prominent to the player.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHp9l9arcvM

(In this you’ll notice the menu sounds)

 

Small Suggestion But Maybe Change the Name of The Game?

 

I know a lot of people are going to oppose this but maybe find a different name for Project Zomboid once the game rises out of Early Access. Maybe “Zomboid 1993” (Just an idea) or just Zomboid or even Zomboid: Isometric Zombie Survival Sim. “Project” sort of has a negative connotation of something never being finished. I’m well aware that it would basically wipe all search results off Google but this is just a small suggestion. Just consider that if you did change the name it could mean a new beginning for a finished legacy of a game which is the contrast from the non three-dimensional sprite-based game.



 

Please Update your Steam Page!

 

Being the fan I am I try to mention Project Zomboid to every friend and they love the idea of a zombie apocalypse simulator that factors in more than just your base needs. But when I send them the Steam page they always have second thoughts as to buying it. It’s superficial I know but I was kind of hurt when someone said “This presentation looks like a high schooler’s project for Unity”. Then, I realized that they did have a good point. Sure the trailer shows the game mechanics, barebones information, and everything that you need to know about the game. I don’t mean to offend whoever was chosen to narrate it, but it is not well voiced at all. It’s a bore to watch and it fails to hype anyone up for the game. Maybe it was acceptable about 4 years ago, but for the amount of time the game has been out and the things that have been added you should hire someone to redo a trailer or maybe have your fans send in some trailers to become the official video for the Steam page. I had an idea for a 1990’s style horror commercial in live action, kind of like the comical  “Strafe” trailer. Or the badass Dead Pixels 2 Steam video that pans from action to action. Those have beautiful steam pages and screenshots. If you show anybody Project Zomboid’s current Steam page they’ll put it on the same level of those mobile game ports.

 

There’s already so much to do in development we can’t focus on this right now.

 

Look I know you guys at The Indie Stone are busy, but please do pay some mind to this. Because if you don’t you just may not be getting any new players to play this great simulator of a realistic zombie apocalypse. With the game having gone through so many changes, it’s a shame that it looks like nothing changed on the outside looking in for anyone considering to buy it. Your efforts may be going to be waste if  people don’t want to play the game because it doesn’t look finished due to it’s underdeveloped aesthetic. I’m saying that I love the game still, this is your team’s passion and you’re working hard to create it. But listen to me when I say that the best way to get people interested is to work on the small things that make the big picture.

 

Look if you agree with what I’m saying, I wouldn’t mind discussing what would be good alternatives to the current aesthetic of the game. Please just come to this with an open mind, because I want to make this game more engrossing for new players. I don’t want to see the game die because of a lacking player base due to the generic style it has . I have so many ideas for the game. You could ask me for more advice or even ask the community collectively.

 

Thank you for your hard work at The Indie Stone! I really appreciate what you guys do!

 

Warmest Regards,

 

Asten.

 


 


 


 


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I agree completely with your feedback on the music, it's simply unfitting and I have actually created sound packs in the past to remedy this but since the FMOD sounds update this is no longer possible.

Also the white text with black background makes this annoying to read.

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3 minutes ago, Peetfighter said:

I agree completely with your feedback on the music, it's simply unfitting and I have actually created sound packs in the past to remedy this but since the FMOD sounds update this is no longer possible.

Also the white text with black background makes this annoying to read.

Changed it to make it easier to read. Sorry about that, my monitor on my laptop is low contrast compared to my desktop monitor.

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Pretty much copying this over from Discord.
 
UI: Yep, needs rework. Something more fitting to the genre and less generic would certainly be welcome. A UI overhaul is planned IIRC, though it was reserved to a time for when the game is more feature complete.
 
Music: I can see where you're coming from in saying that the Arabic voice is kind of out of place and unrelated to the rest of the game. Saying that the entire music soundtrack is so bad that you (or your friend) have to mute it is weird though. Not a lot of explanation in the document there except "that middle eastern woman" and "it's not 90s synth enough".
 
Leveling Up: Yeah, that's something I kind of agree with. Not necessarily a LEVEL UP pop-up but something more immediately recognizable.
More importantly, I'm hoping to see a whole revamp of the leveling system though, not just the sound. I never understood why we don't just level up whatever we're doing and instead get points to then spend on maybe upgrading something entirely different. Would love a revamp on that.
 
Loading Screen: We kind of had to describe what's going on because people didn't understand that it's a loading screen. They thought we just showed the "This is how you died" screen instead of just showing the game. Maybe we could go with something else there, but I don't think jazzing it up with a VHS look only on the loading screen will work.
The whole game's aesthetic would have to be changed and that vaporwave, neon, VHS, CRT 90s look is certainly something that's even more questionable design wise if not pulled off well. I don't think PZ needs that entire design overhaul, but influences of it in the UI overhaul would be welcome indeed, though I don't agree that it is necessary.
 
Rename the game:
Quote

 I’m well aware that it would basically wipe all search results off Google but this is just a small suggestion

 

It's a small suggestion to make but probably one of the most devastating changes we could make to the game.
We quickly got too much attention to the game when it carried the name and reached a point where it would have actively hurt the game if we would have renamed it.
Renaming it now, after launching on Steam, Humble Bundle, GOG...that would be suicide, killing off any name recognition we have. I doubt Minecraft will change its splash text for us.
It's a memorable enough name that doesn't get mixed up with all the Zombie games with "Dead" in their name, of which there are probably thousands.
If we rename it, we quickly lose 7 years of search engine results that people might not immediately be able to pinpoint to whatever we renamed it to. Zomboid 1993 etc all sound terrible to me. If we had the chance to rename it, we certainly would have thought about something cooler, but by now the name is going to stick.
That's a hassle that is simply not worth the two people in the world who wouldn't buy the game because it has "Project" in the name.
 
Update your Steam page/trailer: A new trailer might come when the game is more feature complete. I'm not a fan of the trailer, either. 
 
As a whole, I'm not saying that your proposed redesign would be bad for a game like PZ
 
I just don't think that it would entirely fit PZ. It would be a good design approach for a game that was designed with that in mind from the ground up, like Hotline Miami. The whole game worked around that design.
But I feel it would look weird if the game world wouldn't carry that design over so redesigning the entire game to fit that aesthetic doesn't feel right, nor is it on the cards, I'm afraid. 
Influences of it? Hopefully. Don't think it's going to make or break the game if it's not implemented though.

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RE: Music stuff, as we said in a blog a month back (or so?) Zach has redone the full OST to make it sound more like Kentucky, and we plan to get it into the anims build.

 

He was only like... 15 (16?) when he did most of the PZ music, and I think he's enjoyed going back over the old tunes quite a lot with the added wealth of knowledge he has from his musical studies post-High School.

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3 hours ago, Batsphinx said:

RE: Music stuff, as we said in a blog a month back (or so?) Zach has redone the full OST to make it sound more like Kentucky, and we plan to get it into the anims build.

 

He was only like... 15 (16?) when he did most of the PZ music, and I think he's enjoyed going back over the old tunes quite a lot with the added wealth of knowledge he has from his musical studies post-High School.

 

Also, the soundtrack is imo really unique & the concept is great, while OP's choice of music feels bland & generic in comparison. It would be nice to have some ingame CD's with 80/90ies music, tho.

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2 hours ago, ZombiesLoveBrainiacs said:

 

Also, the soundtrack is imo really unique & the concept is great, while OP's choice of music feels bland & generic in comparison. It would be nice to have some ingame CD's with 80/90ies music, tho.

Now that's a great idea. For radios/car radios use a different style of music than the game's music suited to the 90s. That would be far more suitable in my opinion.

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I was talking about that with someone last night. You could have this music on the radios and car radios. Add them to the CDs you find throughout the world and listen to them on the portable CD players. What wasn't discussed in the option for a music channel on the TV which would be another interesting idea. You could also sprinkle in some music from the 80s and earlier as music from previous generations doesn't really disappear when newer music is created (another part that was discussed).

Edited by Kaleidozombie

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Hell even I still used cassette tapes in the 90's as CD's and CD Players were expensive. Sony Walkman was still the king in the 90's.

 

Also I like some of the vintage ideas he had.

 

Regarding the music. I'm not for or against his alternatives, but I really do dislike the PZ soundtrack. The Arabic is really off-putting. I think the John Carpenter tension filled vibe would be a great direction to explore.

 

Also banjos and violins might be quaint if your not from or around the US but every time I hear them I wish I was dead. Violins in a classical style or Banjo's in other genre's? Yeah awesome.

 

It's not scary just annoying.

 

He has a lot of good ideas though. I'm actually really impressed with his post.

 

PS: I don't mean to crap all over the music, I just feel like if your going for immersive gaming it could be done better. The music itself isn't bad at all, just not the best context wise for this game.

 

Edit: I turned off the music years ago. So that guy isn't the only one. Occasionally I let it roll for a few months after a fresh install or something but eventually it goes off.

 

Another idea would be the ability to add a ingame MP3 player via the menu. Would def be cool, or perhaps at least some voice acted radio broadcasts which I wish there was more of.

Edited by Capt_Paradox

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I completely agree with the UI! It could something like resident evils, everything in one place.

 

XP system rework would be very nice too, like nasko said, having points to spend by getting xp from killing zombies, doing quests/other stuff instead of grinding each skill

 

For me the music isnt a problem, I mostly play without music and if I do, I replace it with resident evil 2 & 3 music ^^

Edited by josko_91

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On 12/5/2018 at 1:13 PM, nasKo said:
Leveling Up: I never understood why we don't just level up whatever we're doing and instead get points to then spend on maybe upgrading something entirely different. Would love a revamp on that.
 

Cant belive that comes from a Admin with like 3500 post's but let me help you. The Level System is build like this to bring a kinda feel for realism into the game. Because it just makes no sense if someone would learn how to build a Barrel by shooting zombies his entire life.

 

You get better in what you're doing. It is good as it is.

Edited by Crashdummy11880

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3 hours ago, Crashdummy11880 said:

Cant belive that comes from a Admin with like 3500 post's but let me help you. The Level System is build like this to bring a kinda feel for realism into the game. Because it just makes no sense if someone would learn how to build a Barrel by shooting zombies his entire life.

 

You get better in what you're doing. It is good as it is.

I don't think you got what he said right...

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On 12/16/2018 at 11:22 AM, Crashdummy11880 said:

Cant belive that comes from a Admin with like 3500 post's but let me help you. The Level System is build like this to bring a kinda feel for realism into the game. Because it just makes no sense if someone would learn how to build a Barrel by shooting zombies his entire life.

 

You get better in what you're doing. It is good as it is.

4

I don't think you understood what I said, because this isn't it:

 

Quote

Because it just makes no sense if someone would learn how to build a Barrel by shooting zombies his entire life.



Either you misunderstood me or how the leveling system works because you don't level up what you're doing, you gather experience in it but that doesn't actually make you better at a skill until you spend a skill point on it, that you earn by doing anything. At the start, yes, it could very well be that you are only able to level up what you've done (gained experience in), but why spend a skill point in it instead of just getting better at it when you've collected the relevant experience?

 

The system doesn't bring a feel of realism at all with how it currently works. 

You essentially collect experience in the various categories and later on get to spend skill points to actually level them up, though you've already spent time doing the thing. At the later levels you might choose to level up something else, and not level up the thing you've been doing, too.

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7 hours ago, nasKo said:

why spend a skill point in it instead of just getting better at it when you've collected the relevant experience?

 

Some of you are more than likely already aware Mark Brown has a recent video discussing skill trees. I watched it today and thought it was relevant to this topic. Forgive me if I'm mistaken but I feel some of his views mirror the points you're raising @nasKo.

 

Spoiler

 

 

On one hand, I can see why TIS have forced us to choose which skills to assign points to, in order to create replayability where each playthrough can be different dependent on what skills you level up first. But it doesn't make sense. It should be that skills level up automatically once you have enough experience in that field, and if you want your game experience to be different than the last then you should be forced to adjust your style, rather than just arbitrarily clicking another box in the skill tree.

 

Maybe the main skills in the game could only be levelled up through discipline XP and skill points can be used to gain extra perks? The perks could also be lost again, kind of like how you can go from fit to overweight and the game could even assign negative perks based on your actions (smoke too many cigarettes, become dependent). I dunno, I'm just spitballing but theres definitely some improvements and new avenues that could be explored. 

 

The current system is by no means the worst I've experienced. TIS already do a good job by not allowing us to unlock everything in a single playthrough and make us gain XP in a particular skill before we can level it up. It's just the process of assigning of points that could use a bit of TLC IMO.

Edited by OffitMan
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@nasKo I won't comment on everything on your Dec. 5th post, you guys seems well aware of what you want to do and the reasoning behind timing issue (e.g. UI update when all or most feature are present to avoid multiple redo).

 

However, if you allow me this brief rant, I'd like to comment on the leveling system… because it's sort of a hobby/passion of mine ;) I don't believe I know everything, but I hope this will help in a very though job that either define the work or, to employ words of others, "is too generic".

 

While the issue you raise (gathering sort of general XP to spend on possibly unrelated skills) does indeed seem a bit unrealistic. It does however present some advantages by it's relative simplicity and flexibility. Your system as is, is fairly OK and I'll explain why further. Some variation of this system are completely ridiculous, in theory, in most MMO (at least those I played before stopping entirely about a decade ago) and a lot of RPG : if you buy an skill/talent or whatnot in the tree when you are level 1 or when you are mid to high level, the same skill cost exponentially more experience. The linearity of your "skill tree" somewhat mitigate this issue.

 

A model like TES (any of those I played since TES III) may seem like a way to fix the previous issue and afford some degree of realism. However, there are several possible issues to these kind of system.

 

Issue 1 - The link between difficulty and leveling-up

This issue won't probably be one for PZ, so I'll go over this briefly.

 

Most if not all RPG, including TES, have to balance increasing difficulty against the player progress to make sure that (a) the player is neither bored nor overly frustrated for most of the game (b) having a fair and fun game. As such, it can create a strong pressure to mostly specialize in one or a tight group of complementary skills when the difficulty is strongly tied to the skill levels. This was especially the case with TES III and IV where you needed to level-up 10 of your major skills to earn a level (there was a workaround though, but it was counter-intuitive and broke the immersion factor). This has somewhat been mitigated in TES V with what seemingly translate in any skill's XP being added to the next level progress (I'll come back to this idea of having multiple XP values).

 

This issue is somewhat shared as described earlier for MMO/RPG if the player select a lot of low level skill while at higher level. However, player might pick more naturally the higher level skill he just unlocked then older ones he/she had access to for a while, thus reaffirming the simplicity and usefulness of a point based system as opposed to a grow as you play system.

 

Issue 2 - It becomes prohibitively boring to level secondary skills

The leveling and difficulty issue aside, it may be useful to a specialist to have some secondary skills that have a reasonable efficiency. In TES, it might be a warrior with some healing (Restoration and/or Alchemy), but to keep the effect relevant with it's pool of HP it would need to be of a decent level. That would mean in practice that you would end-up casting magic spell idly and artificially to raise the skill beyond it's natural level (i.e. without any power leveling). This can and has been mitigated by trainers and skills books, however it remains a marginal solution in it's (TES) application.

 

In PZ terms, this question would be relevant with similar roles, especially in single player or small group coop. A looter (i.e. adept with either or both weapon and stealth) might want to pick-up some first aid (for broken glass wounds only, of course) to increase his or hers likeliness to survive solo trips. It would make little sense that a player had to injure himself or herself to level-up first aid if it did not happen to be otherwise a lot in use (thankfully).

 

Of course, this is an issue only when the only way to level-up a skill is through it's use. If there are reasonable alternatives ways, such as the previously mentioned trainers, to increase a skill without it's normal use, it mitigates or eliminate the issue. It then becomes the though eternal questions of balance and adaptation.

 

The balance goes without saying, especially for PZ where there will be a blurry line between a strong urge to avoid ways to safely and quickly learn all skills … and the intended effect of such mitigation measures, if any.

 

However, the adaptation is a great occasion to make these methods really fit with the game concept and a crucial part in the opinion of the player regardless of shear efficiency (for example, I'd be more forgiving of this issue for TES if the trainers did not feel so "generic"). In my opinion, this is probably the hardest part, yet the one with the biggest payoff. For me, it generally requires lengthy sessions of research and brainstorming (then a few of the ideas stand-out and can be fleshed out). A good recent example of the adaptation of a game mechanic, in this instance "Respec", would be Kingdom of Amalur where they integrated this feature along with other key features of the game and it's main narrative.

 

Issue 3 - Balancing XP between skills

It is very doubtful any system that involve a "grow as you play" model will ever use a factor of 1 for all activities in regard to the XP increase. Not all things are equally easy to do or learn. For balancing purposes (and not realism), you will have to consider notably the frequency of use during a set amount of time (e.g. hitting with a weapon vs fishing). Since you already have a system in place, you have a good starting point for an eventual transition into another system.

 

Putting aside this inherent difficulty with balancing various activities between themselves, there is an additional difficulty that arises from balancing skills (or role) between themselves. In theory, each major/principal roles should take about the same effort and time to master, if not for realism, for fun and balance. There is a sort of trap here where you might be tempted to mitigate issue #2 by making some skills easier to learn compared to others… this can cheapen roles heavily dependant on that skill.

 

On that second point, the situation differ greatly with PZ where the two main group of skills (combat per weapon type, stealth) somewhat all raise at the same time within each group. As for the other skills, most of them are standalone or fairly close.  This probably helps balancing skills between themselves.

 

The list could go on

There are a lot of other issues and considerations with "grow as you play" systems. I admit that those are tempting and cool, but they are not simple.

 

My personal suggestion, since you seem to be leaning toward "grow as you play" in your comment

This will be brief and dry, so it may seem "generic". I believe however that with some creativity it could be fleshed out.

 

A sort of hybrid system with the inclusion (and revamp) of vital stats (now : strength and stamina ; eventual : more could be added).

 

All your skill usage generate their own XP that make them "naturally" increase. All that XP also pool either in a common pool, or better yet in stats related pool.

 

The pool(s) can then be used to increase the player stats OR purchase training that would require time to complete. It may or may not require a skill book first.

 

If you choose multiple stats pools option, I suggest that going cross-stats might be possible but more costly if you want to reinforce role exclusivity, even though it's illogical if you use the training part.

 

Edit : Told you I'd go back to the multiple XP values ;)

 

Edit 2 : Forgot to explain why I said your actual skill system is fairly OK. More on that at a later date and time.

Edited by MyTJ

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