Patching The Apocalypse: New Project Zomboid Alpha

By Craig Pearson on March 13th, 2012 at 11:02 am.

Hiding in plain sight: zombie lampposts
Project Zomboid developers The Indie Stone aren’t have-and-have-not types. They’re more egalitarian in their views, and have just released a newly updated public version of the Project Zomboid alpha for everyone. This is actually a test-build of the public build that’s being worked on, with a full, working release incoming in ‘a week or so’ – that’ll have story-based content reinstated and a working launcher. As such this is a somewhat crippled version of the game, as the lengthy list of troubles you can expect demonstrates, but they’re releasing it in the knowledge that a) you know this to be the case, and b) zombies!

Usually I’d link to an amazing video, showing off something so exciting that you can’t possibly do anything but hit the comments and thank me for brightening up your existence, but as this is an isometric in-development indie game, such Youtubery is thin on the ground. It is an excellent game, but that comes across at three in the morning when you realise that the muscles inbetween your shoulder blades are making a sad face. A difficult thing to capture in video form. But the Zomboiders are cracking open the chest of their game development process, and letting us all see the layers and layers of gristle and guts. Behold: a video about mouse control!

No idea when it’s out, but you can access the Alpha and all future updates for £5 right now.

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38 Comments »

  1. Meat Circus says:

    I alphafunded this on Desura. Partially because I have a massive want-on for this, and partially as a way to assuage their much-discussed permatragedic 2011.

    But it’s good to see this back on its feet. I am expecting this to be one of the most emergent and moving game experiences when this is done, so keep up the good work.

    • jonfitt says:

      I bought the alpha on Desura a while back, but I’ve no idea how it handles updates. Does Desura auto-patch?
      I loaded PZ up fairly recently and it seemed the same, but I have no idea if that was because it hasn’t been updated, or Desura doesn’t auto-update.

      • Fattsanta says:

        While im not sure that Desura auto patches, as ive done the same thing you both have, but all you need to do is download the build they have up on the site, just put your cd key in when it asks you and your good to go.

  2. MajorManiac says:

    Can’t stand the way the player only closes about half the doors they open. “Close the frick’n doors!”

  3. dawnmane says:

    Finally preordered it. Can’t wait. The alpha demo probably has the highest played game time per inch of game content ratio in my gaming history, ever. Im not sure that made sense… anyway, I played it A LOT.

  4. Dakia says:

    I picked this up on Desura the first time I heard about it. I absolutely loved what it had to offer at the time. I’m really looking forward to some updates and increased functionality.

  5. sneetch says:

    I picked this up on Desura and although I haven’t played it all that much I am looking forward to seeing where they bring it. I think it’s kinda odd how the guy has such a narrow field of view and how the zombies just “disappear” when you’re not looking at them, I’d like some kind of sound indicators (like some kind of a shadowy figure with a ? in the middle) but it’s still early days for that kind of stuff.

    • Chaz says:

      Yeah, I’ve not played it, but going by that video I’m not keen on the way his vision is restricted to such a small bubble, the indoor bits especially so. If you’re stood in a room or at the end of a corridor or street, then you should be able to see the length and breadth of it, not just the 15 foot in your immediate vicinity.

  6. JB says:

    PZ just got a lot tougher. Even in the current semi-broken state, I’ve been loving this. Not played PZ for a little while but I can see that this and the impending actual update will have me running around Muldraugh for some time to come.

    Pro-tip: Don’t try to fight Zs with a butterknife. Kitchen knife is the absolute minimum. Pen and pencil are probably not worth trying ;)

    • Spakkenkhrist says:

      What if you want to write them a sternly worded letter?

      • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

        Then you write it in blood. What are you, some sort of fancy-pants writer too good to use what we real men call nature’s ink?

      • Phantoon says:

        Then you either better write fast or be too far out of reach because they will grab you and eat you before you can even proofread.

  7. DrScuttles says:

    Even in its unfinished alpha state, Project Zomboid is probably better than the Walking Dead tv show.

    • Elusiv3Pastry says:

      This. I keep watching it only for the vain hope that it will start to suck less and the characters will finally stop being morons, but alas…..the zombies are the best characters yet they hardly get any screen time.

      • DrScuttles says:

        I like to imagine back stories for the featured zombies. They typically end with Zombiemamma explaining to young Zombin and Zombmaiden that Zombiepappa won’t be coming home tonight because some annoying idiots on a farm stuck a pitchfork through his head.
        Certainly more entertaining than what’s on the show, anyway.

    • dawnmane says:

      @DrScuttles Seriously? What’s wrong with the Walking Dead? I actually think it’s getting better every episode. and Elusiv3Pastry: I think the fact that the characters won’t “stop being morons” is what makes The Walking Dead the only “realistic” zombie apocalypse show out there. Of course they’re morons! They’re human beings stripped of everything but their most base survival instincts. It’s a classic fable of how vulnerable Western Civilization, and Western Thought, is.

      • DrScuttles says:

        What saddens me about the Walking Dead is that it has the potential to be fantastic (meaty drama with zombies! no pun intended), but the characters are too irritating and stupid to be sympathetic and the writing too shallow.
        Idiot wife crashing her car while going to retrieve husband for *no* reason?
        Newly empowered female character idiotically shooting a group member across the head despite things being clearly under control?
        Leader unable to make and stick to his decisions?
        Other things that bother me are the show’s obsession with the womenfolk doing chores, T-Dog’s complete lack of character, how plots get stretched over an obscene number of episodes (the Sophia and Randall situations) and how any difficult and potentially audience-alienating decision gets given to the ‘bad guy’ of the group rather than let us see the drama of how good people can be forced to do bad things.

        It’s like there’s a good concept that’s been totally ruined by a game of 5 a side Idiot Ball. But hey, it’s popular enough with plenty of people and I certainly don’t hate the show as much as some of the idiots on the IMDB board. Do not go there. Really.

        I gave it the benefit of the doubt in the first series because… well, only 6 episodes. I can forgive it being a bit shakey. But now, 12 episodes into series 2, it’s still got massive problems. It must be noted, however, that the show has become slightly…. slightly… snappier without Frank Darabont at the helm.

        • dawnmane says:

          I totally agree on T-Dog, and somewhat agree on the women and chores thing, apart from the way it emphasises the transformation of nearly all the males into some kind og chauvinist cave warriors, which I think is a theme in itself. I see it as a drama where I usually dont really sympathize with anyone, so the identification problem isnt there for me. And why is it a problem that the leaders are unable to make and stick to their decisions? Few leaders do that in real life, and if you add zombies and grief I guess that would just get worse.

          However, I also agree on the stretching of plotlines and, even though it didn’t strike me as odd when I saw it, about Lori having no reason to get in that car.

        • Synesthesia says:

          yeah, the csi-you-are-an-idiot science at the end of the first season pretty much steered me off it. Got the comic though, still got to make time to read it. Dead set was a lot better.

    • Phantoon says:

      I tried to watch it, stopped after a couple episodes.

      The comic is just far better. The pacing is a lot better, for instance.

      A friend of mine attributed the slow burn to “needing to remind the layman who the characters are since you can’t flip back a couple pages and read the name again”, but I don’t buy that.

      Character is about who someone is, not what their name is. Show, don’t tell.

      • psyk says:

        The comic ruined the tv show for me, why couldn’t they of followed it more.

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  8. Casimir's Blake says:

    If anything, it makes a pleasant change to see a game exploring some simulatory aspects, without being a generic RTS / Civ clone / full-on-strategy game. Zomboid receives huge points for little things such as having a full time and date (and I presume day/night cycles?), being able to open pretty much any cupboard, fridge, trunk etc. The game world is given a little depth when it has details such as a door’s barricaded state determines how easy it can be destroyed by zombies. And is that an NPC at 1:30? This feels like a game that could have been released by Microprose in 1994.

    • JB says:

      Yep, NPCs are in and you can talk to them now, and even team up (though it’s a little basic/broken right now). Yes also to day/night cycles. The nights are very dark now, too. Curtains can be closed, lamps can be switched on. Now they’ve added coffee, sugar, mugs and kettles. So at least while the world goes to hell you can enjoy a hot beverage.

      • Casimir's Blake says:

        Excellent, giving the world some measure of realistic (if unnecessary, and not actually “useful”) interaction goes a long way to making the game feel more like survival simulation. This gets a few billion thumbs up in my book.

  9. Sirico says:

    Someone make sure these guys have a Dropbox account

  10. yobobjm says:

    I have been putting off getting this for far too long.

  11. Dominic White says:

    PZ is the ‘realistic’ zombie survival sim that the internet has been clamoring for over the past decade. Your death is just about inevitable. One tiny mistake can lead to infection and death. Survivors are unpredictable and deadly, and the zombies are an overwhelming, never-tiring horde that will wear you down through sheer attrition, as they don’t need to eat and sleep, while you do.

    They seem to be on the right track with all the features so far, too. They’ve confirmed that the sandbox ‘campaign’ is going to evolve over time, too. You start out while the city is still largely functioning, but eventually the power will start to fail and you’ll have to rely more on canned supplies, rather than fridge/freezer storage, meaning that there’s fewer food items to be found. Of course, lights start failing too, and nighttime becomes easier to move around unseen in, but also much more dangerous if you bump into something.

    They had a whole mess of trouble last year, but I really see 2012 being the Year of Zomboid. The game is already very moddable and customizable, too. Once the foundations are all laid, the game will just keep growing so long as there’s wannabe zombie survivalists out there.

  12. puppybeard says:

    I’m filled with inner turmoil. I really want this project to do well, and I love when small studios make a name for themselves. On the other hand, I have extreme zombie fatigue. Change the flippin record, games industry.

    • B1A4 says:

      Change to what? Modern war with M16, AKs and russian/terrorists? Or some fantasy with elves and dragons? Or world war 2?

      Good zombie games are rare! Plus, what can you put there instead of zombies? Robots? Aliens? Dwarfs? It couldn’t work with them like it works with zombies.

  13. equatorian says:

    All right. I am preordering this. Was holding off to see if the permatragedy of 2011 would’ve led them to cancel the game, which may be a bit of a dick move, but now that everything seems to be on track and everyone seems hell-bent on delivering at all costs……..yes, this does look like a terrific game.

  14. One Pigeon says:

    I preordered this and have played it a few short times. It’s really fun as it is but I’m happy to wait a while before trying it again so that there are a few more features present.
    The one’s I’m keenly awaiting are the ability to save and also either a much larger map, or being able to go between many, many maps for one huge world!

    Also modding seems to be doing great things. Overall a worthy investment I think.

  15. The Colonel says:

    What made them think Comic Sans was ok? I thought it was widely known that it is NOT ok. Not even if you’re selling cupcakes.