Google Your Way Out In World Of The Living Dead

By Craig Pearson on March 16th, 2012 at 3:20 pm.

Not a screenshot: a Street View of Clydebank
I’m a big fan of games that use existing, but non-game tech in interesting gamey ways. World Of The Living Dead is a Google Maps based zombie survival MMO. You’re a watchful protector trying to guide survivors around real world city streets. You use Maps’ pathfinding to set destinations, and the zombie density reflects US census data. You need to manage the survivor’s fear, fatigue, hunger and route as the zombies increase their grip on the world.

The complexities are in the micro-management and pondering your moves ahead. Every little detail of the squad of people you’re looking after needs managed to drive them through the streets. Overlaid on the the map are missions, safehouses, a well as the raw data of the outbreak scale: the immediate city blocks around you are coloured according to risk, so for everything you do you have to factor in the danger of the surroundings.

When you eventually make it to a place, you can leave messages for those that come after you, encouragement, help, even warnings if you’re feeling territorial. There’s also a twitter-ish messaging system that does the same, and you can chat to other players, or use it to tell your story. One update reads: “Locations beginning to thin. Density of Zombies growing steadily to the north. Thinking about moving south soon.”

I’ve only played an hour or so, but there’s an sense of dread whenever I look away from my browser: the world ticks along if I’m there or not. I’m already pondering telling the survivors to hide so I can get back to work: there’s a lot of information to parse, and plenty of missions to leap into, and it feels like it might be just a little too involved as a game to play while at work, even if you need to rest the survivors after running them from place to place. It’s rather intense.

It also got me thinking about a game based on hyper-local knowledge: imagine being able to play a game based on knowing which alleyways are safe? In that regard, the place I grew up would be a Deus Ex Revolution style boss fight.

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16 Comments »

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  1. reillyse says:

    Great game, love it!

  2. Brun says:

    Normally I’m not one for browser games but this is a very intriguing concept.

  3. iisjreg says:

    But it’s sooooooooo slooooooooow. sadface

  4. Bennus says:

    Been waiting for something like this. I played two games of Die2Night, which was immense fun (got lucky with the group I was in). Something that’s a bit less dependent on others but still a slow burner would be luvberly.

  5. nearly says:

    It’s interesting that it uses real-world population data for zombie density, but now I’m curious how it’s dynamic? I assume that the zombie density isn’t based on players who have led survivors to their deaths (or undeaths) at the hands of zombies in the area, but it seems as though population data is relatively static.

  6. Mirhepo says:

    I’ve been testing the few zombie game’s on the browser market. And the only one I keep playing is WotLD.

    That its slow is just temporary. Ive played since the closed beta, and its ninja fast normaly. So give it some time as its really worth having patience with. In a week or so it will be back to normal.

    Mirhepo

  7. Quasar says:

    I haven’t played the game yet, but that’s the worst trailer I’ve ever seen.

  8. Dizzard says:

    I just tried this out. It seems fun if you have the patience for it.

    It’s all very cluttered though.

  9. LifeSuport says:

    Umm, what is the game here? It looks like a facebook game which is usually like a stat-manager with clicking. I checked out the website but the gameplay is really unclear. Do I just select a location and then a digital-die rolls to see if I get attacked?

    Wow, even their video doesn’t get to the point until 1:30 in. I don’t have time for this kind of unfocusedness; that coming from an 80’s adventure gamer.

    It is like a Microsoft manager training simulator: 10,000 foot view with no specifics on how, what, and why you are doing things.

    It doesn’t even focus on that community aspect as much as a “game” like this should.

    • Mctittles says:

      I’ve been giving it a fair shake myself here, and I agree I think it’s a facebook like game. It’s too bad because there is so much potential with this idea, but it seems to boil down to clicking and paying to click longer or waiting so the underlying gameplay is no different than any other facebook game so far.
      Still going to stick it out a bit longer to see if there is something more, because the idea does intrigue me. Good for inspiration if anything.

  10. Darkwings says:

    If this was implemented as augmented reality it would be fun to see people actually moving away from a virtually infested place while checking their smartphone.

    iLARP anyone?

  11. ged says:

    I generally avoid such games, but I’ve played wotld for a couple of hours and it’s impressive, if a bit unpolished. Love the game mechanics, keep up the good work.
    Ged.