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Real-Time Gameplay Overhaul

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Long-time solo/local co-op player, first time on the forums. Pretty new to the Discord and other community channels, as well. Forgive me if there's another post about this kind of thing, but I was unable to find anything concrete through Google or forum-specific searches. Also, as much as I've played the game, I've done more through trial and error than looking online, so there may be some slight misunderstandings on my part (but I don't think too many).


The Real Time Experience

My wife and I have played a countless lifetimes-worth of characters in PZ, and one thing that we both struggle with is the constraint of 1-hour days. Everything happens pretty quickly. It's more of an action-survival game than we would prefer our little zombie simulation to be. We've experimented with various time settings, but the real time setting started off wonderful. We loved so much about it. How eating and generally taking care of yourself happened on a fairly reasonable basis. The notion that taking care of crops and our wounds would take a long time, and we would have to take all of that into consideration of many, many gaming sessions. That's an experience we haven't really found in other games, and to be honest, I know my wife could play this game as a farming and character management sim, with no zombies, and be perfectly happy lol. While I've not played on many public servers, having a real-time server has some neat connotations:


  • It could be set to a time zone, and players could enjoy playing the game as a persistent environment, where they could sleep at night and not worry about how many days will pass before their characters can check their farms again (or many other time-sensitive things that just aren't as feasible on dedicated servers).
  • Exploring and otherwise functioning out of your safe house during the night would become more rewarding, as players who don't may be at a higher disadvantage against those who do (either for acquiring survival supplies for PVE, or whatever other resources for PVP servers).


In short, I really like the idea of playing through the days in real time, if it weren't for some of the oddities that currently accompany it...


What Mucks it All Up

Many of the games timed functions are set to interact with the day cycle in a pretty linear fashion... If you set each day to last longer, all of your actions will take longer, too. This doesn't always make for the most exciting gameplay, but also, sometimes the current time scaling for actions just doesn't make so much sense. For example: cutting down a tree. Cutting down trees is hard work, but the initial felling (while taking a good amount of thought to avoid dangerous scenarios) doesn't take a ton of time compared to the processing after. The amount of time a PZ character takes to fell a tree in real time seems disproportionate to the time they take to then saw the logs. There are a lot of these little things I feel weren't given as much scrutiny as they deserved, and instead were lumped together for the sake of time and simplicity. "If a day lasts X times longer, actions will take X times more time." In some ways, I feel like this speaks to the vanilla settings too, but many decisions made for 1-hour days are very likely focused on how the game feels instead of how it would make sense when elongated into a 24-hour, real time experience. And that makes sense, and it works very well for the default settings.


There are other things, like in my last save, where I caught the flu and simply would not be tired for a very, very long time. I couldn't find sleeping pills or antibiotics yet, but I kept myself fed, and tried not to overexert myself fighting zombies or doing other strenuous tasks. I was dead in less than one hour. As a disclaimer, I should note that I am sure it was not zombie infection, as I had never been physically wounded at that point in the game. My reaction was a feeling of unrealistic confusion... A flu killed me faster, I think, than any zombie infection has ever killed me in this game, while remaining well-fed. My best guess is that certain mechanics are not as carefully included into the day length formula, and it's a shame, because if they aren't, that's going to drastically diminish the real time game experience. There are already a lot of reasons players don't enjoy the real time experience, but funky, unexpected things like this can't help.


My Suggestions

Instead of requiring mods, I think many of these problems could be fixed by additional sandbox options controlling more aspects of the game. Having each action laid out for players to see and tweak sounds like a blessing to me. There are so many mods on the Workshop that affect character actions already, it's easy to see players want these kinds of options. So, here are the primary ones I can think of that would allow me to custom-tailor what I'd need for a satisfying real time experience:


  • Adjust the base time it takes to complete different actions (everything from looting, to eating, reading or sleeping etc.)
  • Adjust the base time it takes for different wounds and illnesses to heal, instead of the singular "Injury Severity."
  • Barring an overhaul to the cold/flu system, an option to change the Sleep requirement for recovering to a Rest one.


Another potential addition that I could see working extremely well, are advanced time-skip measures. Right now, we have several options of increasing speed increases, but we do not have a time skip function. Being able to hear things while time's being sped up is good, and in some cases can be the difference between life and death, but I think that could be handled by a carefully constructed time-skip system... Currently, we have an option to reduce game speed back to normal if an action is completed. One that also reduces the game speed back to normal if a certain volume of noise is heard--this could be anything from a zombie banging on a door, or breaking a window, to a radio broadcast or helicopter/gunfire event. If the player sets up an action, and then clicks on a "FFW 1HR" button (one in-game hour), I don't think it would be too much for the game to determine how many zombies are nearby, what their next migratory actions may be, and determine a percentage that the 1-hour skip would be interrupted by a sound. I'm not sure how beneficial further skip increments would be, the calculations would become less reliable with additional time skipped, and the function may not be very useful at all at lower day lengths. The longer players set their day length, though, the more fantastic this kind of function would become.


Thanks already for one of the most customizable survival simulators I've ever enjoyed!

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