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fnemec

Depression, sadness and stress moodles

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Hi, guys. I'd like suggest something. 

 

Some zombie media (comics, movies, books, etc) explore the psychological effect on zombie apocalypse survivors. 

 

Maybe, Project Zomboid should explore that too. AFAIK, depression moodle just increase the time to complete some tasks. PZ could have a bar (like the health bar) measuring the character's mental stability. Each day that bar decays a little. If character is sad, bored, stressed or depressed, it decays faster. 

 

If that stat is too low, the character may have outbursts, destroying items, food, spending ammo or just shouting, for instance. While outbursting, the player loose control over the character for a short time. It can be fatal if the outburst occur while surrounded by zombies, and it is another factor to consider regarding character's panic. 

 

If mental stability drops to zero, the character goes insane and, for all purposes, he is as good (and dead) as a zombie.

 

To make matters a little more complicated, increase mental stability gets harder as lower it gets and can only be increased a pinch each day (representing the longer time needed to fix mental issues, compared with physical wounds). 

 

So far, panic, stress and depression are just an inconvenient. With an improvement like that, those moodles will get a high importance. 

 

I could mod that, but I don't know if  that improvement can be made thru modding. I know a little Lua myself, but I think that will require messing with game's java files. Some dev can drop me a hint about that?

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This does seem like a neat thing that could make worrying about the character's mood more important. Let's be real, I've played PZ for around 200 hours and the only emotional moodle that made any real difference was panic, and only because being panicked now causes random tripping.

 

But I'm not sure if insanity should be equal to instant game over. Here's how I'd imagine it:

 

1. Character has a sanity bar next to their life meter in the skills/first aid menu. Things like panic, not getting enough sleep, and being too drunk, sick, or bored slowly makes it decline.

 

2. As the sanity bar declines, the character starts developing tunnel vision, and then he starts moving slowly, and then he starts hallucinating. And by hallucinating, I mean hearing noises that aren't there, seeing zombies that aren't there and not going to sleep or eating.

 

3. The sanity bar when empty, makes the entire landscape and makes it hellish and the shadowy, hallucination zombies will run at you constantly, but killing them will slowly restore your sanity.

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I've also been thinking that psychology ought to have a bigger impact on the game. The human civilization just ended, everybody you know is dead, the city is filled with undead who want to rip you apart. Overwhelming fear, sadness and dread ought to be the default state.

 

Not only are the negative effects quite weak, but I think they're too easy to cure as well. Speed reading a book instantly removes anything and you can constantly pop antidepressants and beta blockers without side effects.

 

Would be interesting if they experimented with constantly growing unhappiness and stress. The positive effects of reading ought to be limited, both for gameplay and realism. I propose that they make reading non-skill books much slower and put a limit to how much benefit you can get from it per day/week/etc. They could also add a random ID to each non-skill book and give it a name from a list to add a little flavour. That way you could read some pages from "Pride and Prejudice" before going to bed a couple of times per week to keep the gnawing sadness at bay.

 

With increased unhappiness generation and reduced effect from books and comics there would have to be more methods for reducing it. Playing video games, listening to music on portable cd players, non-skill programs on TV/radio should also reduce unhappiness and stress.

 

Pills could be balanced by introducing the possibility of becoming addicted and adding side effects. I've never taken anti-depressants myself but according to the internet the side effects include:

- nausea
- increased appetite and weight gain
- loss of sexual desire and other sexual problems, such as erectile dysfunction and decreased orgasm
- fatigue and drowsiness
- insomnia
- dry mouth
- blurred vision
- constipation
- dizziness
- agitation
- irritability
- anxiety

 

All except erectile dysfunction and constipation would be easy to add in PZ :) Would be cool with something that causes nausea and agitation except zombification, so you wouldn't know for sure if you got infected by a scratch or if it's just your medication..

 

I like several of the suggestions in the previous posts but some sound like very generic game mechanisms and would feel out of place in the semi-realism that Indie Stone are going for with PZ. Hallucinations, insomnia and loss of appetite seem fairly realistic and could make a nice addition to the game, but I'm skeptical towards sanity meters, gaining sanity by fighting imaginary zombies and losing sanity from drinking alcohol etc.

 

Losing control of your character could be a fun mechanic if implemented right (i.e. fairly realistic but not so much that it makes the game boring). Freezing when zombies start banging on the door to your safehouse or forcibly running away from hordes if your panic gets too high seems reasonable. Apathy due to excessive sadness could be implemented as fast forwarding time (like sleeping except screen doesn't go black) but it might not work in MP. Self mutilation/cutting seems to happen among severely depressed people, but it might be too dark to include in the game.

 

Item destruction from unhappiness gets a big maybe from me. I've never heard anything like this from my IRL friends who are struggling with depression and I don't recall this ever happening in any zombie movie I've seen. People just don't seem to think it's a good idea to destroy their means of survival even if they're feeling like shit.

 

And while we're talking about psychology and forced actions, I think it should be possible to lose the smoker trait, but if you find cigarettes while you have cravings your character will automatically smoke them and your addiction goes up again.

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@sprkng, I borrowed the idea of loosing character's control from x-com series. It is really fun when a soldier on the battlefield panic or goes berseker. 


I was thinking should have a bitter effect to negligence mental stability, so that's why I suggest to loose the character entirely if sanity goes unchecked for long. 


That would be a lot of fun to see all that beautiful crops been smashed in a burst of rage in the middle of the winter... 

 

Alas, no dev give a hint about the possibility of do that thru modding. I will check that for myself... :-D 

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