Die2Nite: Horrifying Harbour Of Crime

By Quintin Smith on November 15th, 2010 at 4:23 pm.

You’re new around here. Let me tell you who I am. My name is Quinns. I am a scavenger, and I am a survivor, and I have had a shit day. I spent ten hours searching for salvage out in the desert, and when I finally came back to this town dragging this here piece of scrap iron, I discovered that some desperate soul had raided my tent and stolen the only belonging I left at home. They took my doggy bag of food. Do you know what a gallows is? Well, I’ll tell you. A gallows is what we build when souls take my food.

I suspect that real-time multiplayer browser games – the kind where players log in throughout the day to check their status and perform actions – have incredible potential that we only rarely see realised. Earlier this year eight of us experienced the slow-motion horror of Neptune’s Pride, and now I’ve gotten involved in the English-language beta of free to play zombie apocalypse survival game Die2Night.

Die2Night does a lot that’s different, and a lot that’s interesting (not to mention a lot that’s been praised by the French gaming press). Your character gets dropped into a village with a randomised name (I’m currently living in the quaint Horrifying Harbour of Crime) with perhaps 40 other players from your time zone, and your group objective is to survive. Every real-world night the village gets assaulted by zombies, and every day the lot of you head out into the desert to scavenge for items and use them to build anything from walls to guard towers to workshops.

A couple of twists on this are that first of all, there’s lots of potential for passive aggression. Your village has a wall around it and can only be entered through a main gate, which in turn can only be opened or closed from the inside. If somebody closes the gate too early, the stragglers have no choice but to leave a frenzied posts on your town’s forum to try and save themselves from becoming a late-night snack. If nobody remembers to close the gate, your town is transformed into an all they can eat buffet.

Which is the immediately gripping thing about Die2Nite. You can die. The whole town can die. The whole town will die. Not unlike Dwarf Fortress, your situation in Die2Night could be compared to a cardboard box with increasingly fat men coming along and sitting on it. Your world will crumple, and the game’s in preventing that for as long as possible. Except in Die2Night you’re not controlling Dwarf Fortress’s omniscient overseer, you’re controlling a dwarf, so to speak.

This is why the size of the playerbase is so perfect. When there’s only 40 of you, you’re all important. For one thing, new players aren’t added after your village is created, and for another thing any dead players become more zombies. Also, in a group that small it’s easy for anybody to rise up and become leaders by giving advice and issuing orders on your town’s messageboard, and anyone trying to be a lone wolf and look after themselves (taking items from the town’s supply dump, say, or stealing) will not only make a noticeable impact, but it’s a relatively easy process to turn enough of the town against them to get them banished, or even hung. Alex Dodds, developer of Motion Twin, couldn’t resist sharing this story with me:

During the French beta, a group of 6 friends acted up in a town, stealing and generally being unproductive in order to get banished. They then staged a revolt (this is a game mod which will soon be activated in Die2Nite), which means that all the citizens of a town are banished and the formerly banished are reinstated as citizens, thus only giving those 6 players access to the well and the water supply. They proceeded to tell the banished citizens that they would only get water in return for work carried out on construction sites, and for objects found in the World Beyond. They managed to instil a system of slavery, which worked very well, and the town lasted some time! Sometimes the devious thrive in Die2Nite!

Even in my unorganised town’s forum there’s a subtext of a power struggle, although here it’s more of a non-contact sport. One guy in my town, Daniel, discovered the mood of the town had turned against him when he logged in to find a load of “selfish play” reports had been filed against him. Turns out this was because he’d upgraded his tent to a hovel, thereby using up wood which should have been saved for the town workshop. The lure to build additions to your house is a very real threat, because each time you upgrade it more exciting new options reveal themselves, and if the nightly zombies break through the town’s defenses then the citizens sleeping in tents or holes get eaten first.

Maybe I’m giving the impression that Die2Nite is all paranoia and tatty survivors arguing over packs of crackers. It can be that, certainly, but there’s a depth of heroism here too. Players on expeditions into the desert frequently get pinned down by zombies, and it’s a full time job to go out and rescue them. Heroism is where the game makes its money, in fact. While anyone can sign up for Die2Nite and play as a Resident, you can also purchase months of “Hero Time” that allow you to play as one of the three hero classses- Scavenger, Scout, and Guardian, who find things, spot things and protect things, respectively. Playing as a Hero also means you rack up experience, and progress through a whole collection of abilities.

Come to think of it, I haven’t logged in today. Let’s see how last night’s attack went.

Oh, no. We left the gate open. Never underestimate the incompetence of humans. 11 dead, 3 injured. That brings Horrifying Harbour of Crime down to 29 citizens.

Well, no sense standing around feeling sorry for ourselves. We need to drag those bodies out of here, or tomorrow night they’ll come back as zombies inside the damn town. But that’s grunt work. I’m a scavenger. I’ve got better things to be doing.

Heading off into the desert, it’s not long before I find something. There’s a doggy bag of food on the ground.

I wonder if it’s mine? Did my attacker take it, and… oh my. We may have lost 11 men, but it seems justice is still alive and with us. I pocket the lunch and slink on. I endure. We all do. What else is there?

, , .

137 Comments »

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  1. GamerV says:

    You had me all excited to sign up, but apparently you need an invitation key. Boo.

    • Kandon Arc says:

      Yeah I do find betas that only accept new members by referral very annoying. Oh well, hopefully it’ll reach open beta soon.

    • Grailer_Diomede says:

      invitations, *sigh.

    • Quintin Smith says:

      I’m getting my hands on a whole bunch of beta keys soon, and it will be a special November treat for RPS subscribers.

    • GHudston says:

      Oooh! I’m one o’ thems! Colour me excited!

    • Mike says:

      Man, first John says he loves me on the podcast, and now this? You spoil us!

    • Havoc3D says:

      Boooo! no fair mentioning interesting indie f2p fun that requires keys that can’t even be signed up for. Fie upon thee, sir!

    • Rich says:

      Yeah, I was excited to sign up also and became disappointed when I saw I needed a key. :(

    • R3D says:

      man now i need a key and i need to subscribe to RPS i cant win

  2. Inglourious Badger says:

    What is it with Quinns and collecting Iron?

  3. Inglourious Badger says:

    I’m guessing it’s just become a subconcious thing now, Iron Quinns!

  4. Rich says:

    Speaking of Dwarf Fortress… Onion Bog?

    • Clovis says:

      Quinns ignores our Onionbog tears.

      Maybe if we cry blood he’ll pay attention. You know, ’cause of the iron.

      (Note: the first time I tried this it failed. I got a “You are posting too quickly!” note. This was my first post on the new system. Did I not wait long enough between clicking “reply” and “opinion, away!”?)

    • Chris D says:

      Seeing how we’re begging, more Journey of Saga?

      Pretty please witth a cherry on top. Made of iron.

    • Quintin Smith says:

      Journey of Saga: Happening!

      Onionbog: Probably not happening!

    • sfury says:

      No more Onionbog? What do we have to do to melt your heart of iron, Quinns?!

    • Davie says:

      Put him somewhere where he can’t scavenge for iron. It’s how he keeps it up.

  5. Rob says:

    Looks kinda cool. Invitation keys are needed to register? Sigh.

  6. DuckSauce says:

    It says x ability unblocked, do they mean unlocked?

    • BooleanBob says:

      If it’s being translated from French into English, and you think about it from a logical angle, ‘unblocked’ is probably the more appropriate word for what in a gaming context is called ‘unlocking’/’unlockables’.

    • DuckSauce says:

      It still doesn’t make sense from a gaming context then :P

    • Torgen says:

      Sure it does. You were formerly blocked from taking that action/using that skill, and now you aren’t.

    • DuckSauce says:

      So if you stick a key in the hole of a door which is locked, it makes sense to say you “unblocked” the door, since it was blocking your way?

      Not to mention that the healthy body ability mentioned isn’t something you “use”, it’s a state of body that you didn’t have, in that sense, unlocking doesn’t make sense either, so starting a discussion about it is admittely pointless.

      And in English class I’d be sure they’d get a minus point for that… assuming it’s not french english class.

    • uggs outlet says:

      the citizens sleeping in tents or holes get eaten first.

  7. John Fellows says:

    http://www.zombiephiles.com/zombie-forums/topic7047.html

    I’m sure we can all use Google, but… >Ahem<

    • plugmonkey says:

      Nice one, Fellows! Third one from the bottom worked for me.

    • Alex Bakke says:

      That was literally the only one I didn’t try, damn. Is there any way to refer someone? If so, could I get one? :3

    • Jockie says:

      Apparently everyone in the beta can refer three people, I’d like to think I’m above begging pathetically.

      But I’m not.

      Anyone who has a spare key, i’d be most grateful if one of you could somehow find it within your gracious hearts to chuck a spare one my way.

    • Alex Bakke says:

      Ooh! Yes please; I’m totally begging. We could possibly try and join up at the same time, get in the same village etc.

    • Conor says:

      Consider me also on the begging train
      Can ye spare me a key, kind ser?

    • Pani says:

      Yes please sirs.
      If we all work together, we could get codes for anyone on RPS to get in!

    • DarkFenix says:

      Add me to the long line of beggars wanting a key, this game looks better than almost any browser game I’ve seen.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      Noooo! None of them work anymore!!

      Trying google myself, the only ones I can find either require signing up to some site and/or doing facebok/twitter junk, or are contests.

      I wanna play! :'(

  8. IWANT says:

    PLS ask these developers for some beta-key so you can give them away.. and then sent the first key to my e-mail adress, cause I came up with this brilliant plan… :)

  9. Grailer_Diomede says:

    This is even better than Organ Trail. I’m gonna sign me up quite soon.

  10. Warth0g says:

    I really like the look of this, if only because of the closing gates thing which puts me in mind of Arkham Horror. God knows an automated version of that would be awesome, so this will do just fine. If anyone has a beta key then let me know please!

  11. Jakkar says:

    I’m presently the Resident Shouty Leader Man at the Canyon of Terror, and we’ve already banished four people for building hovels. I’m enjoying this game immensely, four towns, three deaths in..

    Finest browser RPG I’ve played, with a brutal and wonderful emphasis on communication and trust mechanics. Reminds me of playing Neocron, so long ago..

    • sebmojo says:

      I thought you said ‘Necron’ and was trying to work out the connection…

    • Torgen says:

      Good God, Neocron. It’s been ages since I thought of that game.

      And why do people get exiled for building a hovel? I mean, if you explicitly state “No one gets a hovel until the workshop and one watchtower is built,” I could see it. But if someone doesn’t want to get out and bust their ass to improve their lot, why should I be punished if I work hard and can improve mine?

      Captain John Smith, where are you?

  12. Octacon100 says:

    Man, I’d totally want to join a RPS town. Also, this new comment system is much easier. Awesome.

    • Torgen says:

      YEEESSsssss! RPS-Town. If we could name the town, we could have called it Quinns Gulch.

      RPS HiveMind, do you think you can actually get enough keys for all subscribers?

  13. IWANT says:

    I found beta keys on the net, just google, there were 12 of them and I think 10 left.. Anyone wants to try the same as these french buggers did?

    • Premium User Badge

      Sinomatic says:

      Was it a place where you had to sign up to some random site to get them? I was poking round the ‘net looking for beta keys a few days back but didn’t fancy having to register at some random place for one.

  14. Premium User Badge

    Harlander says:

    I’ve been playing this and was just thinking “Hey, I should post on the RPS forum about it.” Now I don’t have to. Yay laziness!

    • Torgen says:

      Then you have keys????

      Yes, this game pushes my buttons. I even just subscribed to RPS in the chance I may get a key, but I need to get inside the town walls NOW!

      (I wonder if you can make your hole harder to find, or drag a sheet of metal over the top to make it harder to be eaten?)

    • Premium User Badge

      JB says:

      My hole is pretty hard to find already.

      I can’t wait to play this game though. Yay for subscribing!

    • Torgen says:

      Some of us begged on Facebook and got keys! Go there, and if they’re gone, he posted an email you can beg to.

      I am townsperson #13 of The Cold Hamlet.

      (No, I’m not superstitious. Really.)

      Will have to wait until later today to actually go out into the Beyond.

  15. Sassenach says:

    “Except in Die2Night you’re not controlling Dwarf Fortress’s omniscient overseer, you’re controlling a dwarf, so to speak.”

    Given the usual management style of Dwarf Fortress you might well be describing hell.

  16. starclaws says:

    I want to give this a try!

  17. pakoito says:

    You RPS guys should play Shogun’s Fate when it’s available in English. You’re gonna love it:

    Browser based strategy game. Imagine Ogame but with an ending, if one of the players kills the top NPC army and then stays undefeated for 8 real life days he wins. His allies can help him hold his throne, etc…

    Well, MASSIVE GAME indeed, I had to leave because well….I wasn’t in a big clan so I spent my time mostly annoying those by conquering border provinces and backstabbing my allies.

  18. Premium User Badge

    SimianJim says:

    I need this game like a zombie needs brains

  19. Redd says:

    Damn, I was hoping the character names were randomised too. It’d take play one level deeper if people with the same surname were a family within the town. You wouldn’t have names like shitty21 and killacash detracting from things then either.

    • Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

      I used the 4th from the bottom, gave no name for who recommended me, and it worked.
      Some do work!

    • Conor says:

      Seconded, got one. Joy!!!

      Und ma name is CWalker00. What I used to be here before I decided to be more personal and cuddly.

    • CakeAddict says:

      Thanks got a working one from there!

    • Premium User Badge

      Sinomatic says:

      Bah, seems I picked the wrong hour to go off and study. All been taken by the looks of it.

  20. IWANT says:

    Here you go, I took 1 and maybe another poster, so 10 left..:

    http://forum.horrorfind.com/cgi-bin/boards/YaBB.pl?num=1289471067/1

    They work, no need to register, have fun! Btw, my name is Esfear in-game

    • Quasar says:

      Heh, you’re in my village. Don’t worry, we’ll save you!

      Probably.

    • Quasar says:

      Hey, log back on! You’ve been rescued.

    • Alex Bakke says:

      Holy shit, I was the guy who rescued you :D

      And Quasar! Small world.

    • solidamus says:

      Wow, hey, I live in the same town as you guys! So many RPS readers in the same town, my mind is blown.

    • plugmonkey says:

      Holy crap! I was the guy who stole the pharmaceuticals that Quasar used to make the drug that Alex Bakke used to save your ass!

      Small world. :)

  21. Torgen says:

    Ok, from the story above about 6 friends in the same town, it sounds like there is the ability to play together with friends. We need to figure this out.

  22. Inigo says:

    “Victimes”?

  23. Cromwell says:

    Ok, is it possible to choose a starting town? If yes, what about getting keys and joining a town together and take it over?

    BTW, I want a key… ;)

    PS: One question: How many subscribers do you have here on RPS?

  24. loGi says:

    http://www.betakeygiveaway.com/

    Dunno if this is legit

  25. starclaws says:

    Alright RPSers! If you made it into the beta. Help others get in: To access your invitation keys, simply go to “Your Soul” ! Good luck, citizen !

    • Cavfox says:

      I would appreciate someone sending a friend key if they have one available. Thanks much.. and.. BRAAAAAIIINS

  26. Sublett says:

    Aw man.. Just heard about this and it looks all great and stuff.. but tried all the keys on most forums and no luck :( Sad face indeed.

  27. RadioactiveMan says:

    This reminds me a lot of Urban Dead, only nicer-looking, and maybe without the daily action cap (which I loathed).

    similar to others, I tried most of the keys and had no luck. If anyone would be able to send me a key I would be very thankful! I promise to help protect you when the zombies come!

    • Thants says:

      There is a daily action cap still.

    • plugmonkey says:

      It also doesn’t feature Urban Dead’s relentless stalemate.

      They started a new city in UD to celebrate the release of a new Romero film where no-one could be revivyfied. It was much more fun, and I kind of assumed they’d reset it when the last survivor died so that everyone could play in again, but they never did.

      I’m REALLY liking Die2nite so far.

  28. Jova says:

    This sounds pretty cool. If anyone got a key to share after registering, don’t be shy. =)

  29. Enzo says:

    Looks great, I hope the closed beta will end soon. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any working beta keys : /.

  30. roy7 says:

    If anyone gets in and has a key to spare (I think you get 3 invites), I’d like one. :) jonroy 7 @ gmail.com.

    Thanks!

  31. Torgen says:

    CHRIST!

    Peter, no one locked the gates and the zombies just attacked!

    DOOOM! DOOOOooo….

    grahahahrah…..

    (stumbles about)

  32. Alex Bakke says:

    Attention All: There is a thread in the RPS-Forum now, I suggest that everyone who’s in a game jump in there for effective coordination. Especially IWANT and Quasar :3

  33. Gehrschrein says:

    Um, has anyone noticed that one of the other games these people developed is a Minecraft copypasta?

    here -> http://kube.muxxu.com/

  34. Gehrschrein says:

    Um, has anyone noticed that one of the other games these people developed is a Minecraft copypasta?

    this

  35. Mr Chug says:

    I really really miss Urban Dead. Not that it’s gone, but I just can’t get back into it.

    Still, it’s fitting that this is Quinns getting me into a browser based zombie game when it was Kieron all those years ago that got me into UD.

  36. Solaris says:

    Hey, I’d love a beta key if any are still going – solaris999 at hotmail .co.uk

    Thanks for the help!

  37. solaris999 says:

    If there are still any beta keys floating about, I’d love to receive one

    Looks amazing and an RPS map sounds pretty awesome too…

  38. Thants says:

    This looks like it just may be the Urban-Dead-but-moreso that I’ve been hoping and praying for. That game showed fantastic potential for this kind of collaborative, emergent gameplay. But, after a while it felt a bit too simple, with not quite enough to do.

  39. dave says:

    Begging horribly for a beta key, if it means anything im part of the RPS eve corp so generally a reliable chap who will play and everything

  40. clay says:

    Hey, can somebody who got in hook us up with keys? Thanks, this looks neat :)

  41. clay says:

    Hey, can somebody who got in hook us up with keys? Thanks, this looks neat :)
    What is a spamotron

  42. pakoito says:

    Got one. Hah!

  43. pakoito says:

    Got one. Hah!

    Hamlets Of Satan FTW!

  44. Bureaucromancer says:

    Key anyone?

    Yeah, pathetic, we all know.

  45. John Fawkes says:

    Whoah this looks awesome…I’ve been loving Neptune’s Pride, but adding a mix of individual and group goals sounds even better than pure competition.

    If anyone can spare a beta key, I’d love to get in on this. I promise to use my own allowance of invites to let your friends in, if you have more friends who want to join later.

    johnmfawkes@gmail.com

  46. Jesus says:

    I’m reading the article and think “oh my god, this is something I wanted to play my whole life, this is the best thing ever I can’t wait to start playing”

    And then I see it needs an invite. What a downer :(

  47. Hybrid says:

    Speaking of zombies — there’s always Urban Dead. http://urbandead.com/

  48. TheBeefiest says:

    Hello everyone, here is a quick review of the game: Pointless.

    And here is why: There is apparently only 1 very set/logical/efficient order to build buildings in, and because of this, there is nothing like you expect such as the attempt of democracy, or people trying to lead, or anyone taking control and giving direction.

    Here is what happened in my first game: I learned how everything works, so i go out and scrounge for supplies, i get 2 planks of wood and a piece of wrought iron, and some other things. Then i come back to base and donate that all to the community bank. The intention being I wanted to build this thing called a “watchtower” it doesnt even really matter what it does at this point. All that matters is that in the citys discussion centre for building there are about 5-10 posts. They basicly say “we will be building this, then this, then this” No discussion whatsoever, its basicly the most efficient way to play the game. So anyone who has already played the game more than once accepts this blindly……

    So I didn’t care about that at all, i decided, oh well I will try to build this watchtower mostly on my own (its total building costs are only 1 extra plank beyond what i scavenged myself) So I input all my resources, and i spend some turn time (about 25% of the total) to start building this watchtower. (important note, it does not take the resources from the bank until construction % is complete)

    (Whenever I say community, this is just the one game sessions message board, about 40 people not some community forum etc, this is where you are supposed to role play the game)

    At this point someone notices i am doing this, and goes “hey juru take those resources out of the bank so some NEWBIE doesnt build something other than what we want” So he does. So now I realize this is obviously silly as shit. As one or two people have control over the entire communal bank? So i officially “complained” about those two people who did this. If enough people complain about someone they are booted from the community (mob justice yay) And I start a discussion in the community thread, stating that this juru character is holding our community goods hostage. (There are clear logs that show he has taken goods from the bank for no reason)

    So i am slightly role playing and i say that it is crazy that this one person is removing our goods and holding them as hostage, that he should return them to the community bank! But nobody even slightly agrees with my point. Everyone is playing the system, they think “we must build this workshop next” no matter what. So even though i wanted to build something “for the community” instead of horde the resources all to myself, the mechanics of the game do not allow it. The mechanics of the game strictly enforce a clearly linear building methodology, which will never be unique, and never be fun.

    So no need to whine about keys to play the game now. Move on with your lives. Sorry for long post.

    • Jesus says:

      Aww you’re butthurt and now you feel you need to ruin the game for everyone.
      I have completely different experience from you in a positive sense.

      It’s not the game’s fault people are morons. D2N depends on people, it’s a game of social interaction, it is as good/bad as people playing it. You just got unlucky.

    • rrrob says:

      Hey, this sounds like the game I’m in currently! :P Wait you’re the one who is messaging me to stir up some trouble LOL

    • Tei says:

      Theres not “my planks” in die2nite, you was playing selfish.

  49. thebigJ_A says:

    Why do my comments keep being eaten??