Beware And Be Square: Zombox

By Adam Smith on June 25th, 2012 at 2:00 pm.

Sometimes I spend my days in the company of mythical creatures, devious kings and diplomats from distant stars. Other times it’s just zombies from dawn until dusk, broken up by the occasional yet-living survivor to exchange words and supplies with. Today is shaping up to be one of those days, with the last half hour having been spent watching videos of Zombox, a sandbox game with crafting, barricading and horticulture. It’s not available yet but the informative development footage has me imagining grotesquely under-appreciated freeware game Survival Crisis Z, except with more of everything. There’s also a bit where an NPC says ‘buzz off!’ in response to being clobbered with a baseball bat.

Here’s the latest video, which shows NPCs burning, blowing up and having curt conversations. Oh, and being eaten by zombies of course.

This could turn out to be very interesting, with plenty to see and do, including farming, driving, recruiting, crafting and fortifying. Despite all of that it also looks quite simple rather than sprawling and worryingly incomplete. My biggest worry is that everything seems very slow, even to me, a man with the reflexes of a puddle of porridge. It’s not just the relaxed pace at which people flee from explosives and hordes of cannibalistic corpses, it’s the lengthy chipping away at hit points and the time it takes to destroy scenery, as shown in this next video.

I think it’s brilliant that walls can be constructed out of broken chunks of furniture and scenery, but I also find it weird that it takes a few clicks of the mouse to cobble them together and place them, but laborious thumping of mighty hit bars to break bits off in the first place. Obviously it couldn’t happen instantaneously or entire buildings would collapse every time a bullet missed a zombie and pinged off a windowsill, but it’d be grand if there was a quicker way to dismantle objects when not under pressure.

That said, my immediate complaint about almost everything zombie-related is that there’s no way to board up doors and windows, cowering in the dark with a dwindling supply of food as the world outside, like pop, eats itself. Being able to do that, while also having the option of growing vegetables in planters would make me very happy indeed.

EDIT: the developer responds in the comments section!

The construction mallet has repair and destroy mode….destroy mode will take down props quite easily (and since the creation of the destruction video that you posted, destroy mode has been buffed quite a bit). So, for those who don’t want to wait the time it would take to break down a wall with a paperclip or shoe, there’s another option.

Also, doors can be boarded up!

Loads more videos showing features and progress can be seen at developer Tyson Ibele’s Youtube channel. There are also animations at the official website showing the dinky but deadly vehicles in action, as well as much more NPC and crafting variety.

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40 Comments »

  1. Hoaxfish says:

    As much as I don’t want to see another zombie game for the rest of my life, I can’t help wonder exactly what we could replace them with and still have such an effective “short-hand” in terms of danger and general behaviour.

    • Adam Smith says:

      Extremely persistent personal injury claims advertisers. They surround your home with clipboards, all wearing the same shirt and tie, while you hammer a table to the doorframe while screaming ‘I’ve never had an accident at work or tripped over Boris Johnson and landed in a pothole’.

      Still they wait, still they clamour.

  2. affront says:

    Why do people keep making games like this without co-op?
    Do I overestimate the potential sales increase due to knowing at least 5 people who will never buy something like this without co-op?

    • 4026 says:

      Judging by the next comment, you are not.

    • zombox says:

      Hey affront,

      The reason the current version of this game has no multiplayer is simply because the main platform I’m targeting (iOS) wouldn’t be able to handle the game on its newer devices with multiple players. I’m already squeezing out every last bit of power to get it to run smoothly as it is.

      I also hope to release on Steam since the game is technically cross-platform, so in the future I would love to be able to implement a multiplayer element to it as well.

      • Kazz says:

        Local / online co-op would give me an interest in this one, seems like the ideal game to play with your other half :)

        • abandonhope says:

          Hearing about in-relationship co-op is a lot like hearing about dirty sex that you aren’t having. Have some decency, man; keep it to yourself.

      • StranaMente says:

        I know that this isn’t the place to talk about cleverphones, but is there a chance of a port to android too?

        • zombox says:

          My current stance on porting to Android is: if it does well on iOS then for sure!

          • Kamikaze-X says:

            Zombox, why, exactly? You realise that Android also has a massive market share right, and you will do better releasing on both platforms, rather than 1, right? I just don’t understand this mindset with mobile developers. Com2US do it, Zynga do it, why follow the ridiculous trend?

          • zombox says:

            Hey Kamikaze-X,

            Unfortunately releasing on Android is a lot more complex than releasing on iOS, so I want to make sure it’s worth my while (hence waiting to see if the game is successful on iOS first).

            Here are some things to consider when releasing on Android:

            -There’s no real device unity like there is on apple devices. There are dozens of different devices, each with their own varying specifications, screen aspect ratios, list of quirks, etc. In order for me to ensure that the game works on the maximum number of devices, I really have to test on them individually (which is expensive and time-consuming). Alternatively, I could find people to test the game on those devices for me, but that comes with its own set of issues.

            -The marketplace is far more seller unfriendly. Unlike the app store, the marketplace does not handle or calculate international taxes for each purchase. Sellers must do that themselves. This alone is almost reason enough for me not to want to try and sell there.

            -Piracy is far higher for marketplace apps than iOS apps.

            Obviously these are not insurmountable obstacles, and I am well aware that many people have experienced success selling on the marketplace, but right now it’s not a top priority for me as I don’t want to have to worry about these challenges yet.

          • subshell001 says:

            Kamikaze-X, for comparisons sake, Cardinal Quest sales were recently announced. On June 20, Ido said it sold 972 copies on iOS, and 394 on Android – while it was pirated quite a lot on Android as well. More market share does not equate to more sales on Android unfortunately. iOS users are much more likely to spend their money.

          • Kamikaze-X says:

            Surely another 40% thereabouts more sales is still worth it…. and a lot of the time, when you release a game on another platform much later, you miss out on a lot of sales due to the hype dying down.

            In regards to piracy, you are on a site that has a readership who have a very good knowledge of the arguments surrounding whether piracy actually affects sales to a significant extent.

            What this is is akin to releasing a game on Playstation, seeing how it sells, and then fudging a PC port. We see it so often, we really do. If mobile developers think this is the way forward too, then little wonder that you don’t get the sales you ‘expect’.

            Why am I so, shall we say, emotive, about this? Because I want to play your game, and I want to play it the day it is released, and, you know, PAY for it. I have an Android device. A couple, actually, and I bet that there are a fair few of us out there.

          • zombox says:

            Well I really do appreciate your input, Kamikaze-X.

            I will have to think more about it. You are obviously correct with your hype-dying-down comment….that’s one thing that does make me want to maybe push and do a Day-One Android release. Really, if it wasn’t for the tax issue, I would just suck it up and release it regardless of the other problems. However, after reading about the developer of Zombieville USA’s experiences with managing the taxes and refunds (that’s another thing I forgot to mention…the developer has to handle refunds) on his purchases, it makes me very leery still…

            I’ll still put some serious thought into it. Maybe a compromise is that the release date is pushed back a bit, so I can spend some serious time getting it ready on Android right away. Can’t make any promises, but it’s an idea.

            Thanks again for the comments!

          • Kamikaze-X says:

            Zombox, thanks very much, it’s really refreshing to see a developer, particularly with mobile games, at least take on board what members of the community say. Obviously, i’m only one person, but if the game is good, and the developer is good, then I’ll tell as many people as I can about the game.

  3. Torn says:

    Will there be coop or multiplayer? If so I’m interested; building bases and forts solo just doesn’t have the same appeal.

  4. Premium User Badge

    golem09 says:

    Filed under I for “Interesting”

  5. YogSo says:

    I find weirdly charming the way the NPCs casually greet you in the middle of a zombie apocalypse: ‘Hi there’, ‘Hey bud’, as if nothing of note was happening around them :D Also, the way they run away from the dynamite while screaming ‘Ahh! Bomb!’ is adorable and hilarious at the same time.

    • JFS says:

      The NPC statements are great. As is the art style. Really like that.

      • StranaMente says:

        There should be a timer for how often the npc’s talk bubbles appear, to avoid repetition and cluttering, I think, unless there’s a gameplay reason for that.

        • zombox says:

          I made NPCs extra chatty in that video so I could show off the capabilities of the dialog system….in the actual game they don’t initiate friendly banter as much, and it’s fairly rare to run across an NPC outside of the sewers.

          • StranaMente says:

            I supposed it was meant to show the feature, thanks for answering!

  6. Malk_Content says:

    The construcion mallet seemed to pull things apart quicker so perhaps the intent of that was that you could pull things down with your weapons alone but it won’t be as effective. On the other hand perhaps the construction tool has some kind of durability so you wont want to always use it.

  7. alilsneaky says:

    This just looks like another non-game to me.
    Repetitive menial tasks, filling bars, pressing mouse 1 a lot in no particular direction.

    Sigh what happened to gaming.

    • Premium User Badge

      Anthile says:

      Gaming died when people buffed the queen back in the 15th century. It’s been a steady decline ever since.

      • Premium User Badge

        HermitUK says:

        Pretty sure the late-17th century patchnotes mention nerfing the monarchy, as part of a big rebalance in favour of Parliament.

  8. MichaelPalin says:

    Zombies is kind of the experimenting ground for indies these days. Whatever you want to do, you develop a zombie game that will sell some units by default and get some experience with gameplay. Personally, I hope all these indie zombie games mean indie developers doing more interesting things in a few years, because it’s really getting tiredsome to pretend that indies are super creative at this point.

  9. Brilhasti says:

    Is that a Pop Will Eat Itself reference I saw?!

  10. zombox says:

    Hey RPS,

    Thanks for doing your write-up for Zombox! A couple things worth mentioning:

    The construction mallet has repair and destroy mode….destroy mode will take down props quite easily (and since the creation of the destruction video that you posted, destroy mode has been buffed quite a bit). So, for those who don’t want to wait the time it would take to break down a wall with a paperclip or shoe, there’s another option.

    Also, doors can be boarded up! It’s something I posted about a few updates ago. Although…will the zombies eventually die out or be exterminated while you wait? Currently no…but I quite like the idea.

    Cheers!

  11. Kestrel says:

    Well I think it looks very promising, and based on comments here and on the Youtube videos, the developer clearly responds to and cares about community feedback, unlike so many other developers I can think of right now…

    I look forward to a release!

  12. Mattressi says:

    Really looking forward to this – it looks great! I actually like the slower pace of it; it allows for more thinking than typical fast-paced games (like shmups…oh, how I hate them!), while still giving a sense of urgency that wouldn’t be found in a turn-based game. It looks like it’s more involved than simply killing zombies, which is awesome for me. I’m hoping there’s some reasonably in-depth crafting/progression and maybe some communities and varied locations (not just all city, maybe some towns or even forests), but if I’m honest, I’ll probably buy it as is anyway.

    Edit: I might have missed it, but is there any release date or alpha version release date. Or a rough time frame?

  13. knux81 says:

    SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!!!

  14. loud says:

    Sonofabitch. I’ve been a fan of Tyson’s stuff for a while. Now he’s doing indie games? SUPPORT!

  15. Kaira- says:

    Seems mighty interesting game, though it seems that zombies are far too weak to be a proper threat (at least if you have a proper weapon to swing at them). But I’m going to keep my eyes on this in any case.

  16. Melf_Himself says:

    This game looks fantastic, hope it’s released on PC