Oh Happy Day(z): Project Zomboid Multiplayer On Its Way

By Graham Smith on January 20th, 2014 at 7:00 pm.

Fight 'em with friends.

Scene: The RPS chatroom earlier this morning.

Graham: I tried playing Rust and didn’t really click with it. It feels earlier even than DayZ.
John: Another interesting sounding game ruined by the presence of awful other people.
Graham: Haha! Do you play Project Zomboid at all? It’s singleplayer.
John W: I haven’t for a very long time.
Adam S: I played Zomboid a couple of weeks ago – still feels too empty for my liking. I end up surviving for half a day and then running around attracting as many zombies as possible just to make something happen.

Good news for Adam and bad news for John then: about an hour later, Project Zomboid’s developers revealed they had multiplayer up and working. They’ve demonstrated their ability to spy on our conversations with three videos posted on the Zomboid blog.

That’s just video #1.

When will you be able to play this “multi”-player mode for the survivalist zombie game? Soon, but not too soon. Imminently, but not necessarily in the next week or the week after. But maybe in those weeks. Or sooner! But probably not. It’s currently in closed testing, with things like barricades and the thirst system still needing to be added.

For the Johns among you, the Zomboid team stress that this doesn’t override their focus on singleplayer. They’re not looking to make DayZ or Rust, but see the multiplayer as an optional method of playing the singleplayer (in co-op or PvP) with friends. To that end, the game’s long-awaited NPCs are still high on the todo list.

We need to make clear that this in no way impacts the Indie Stone’s massive focus on single-player for this game. Remember that outside of game design, Will, one of the co-owners of Indie Stone, as well as PZ dev RingoD’s sole development responsibility on the game is single player story and NPC writing and scripting, so you can bet they will be given a ton of attention.

As a development team we vehemently uphold the principle that a game should not punish those who wish or have to play alone with less features and scope, and we are the first to complain when an RPG series we like goes all ‘MMO’ and more or less ends our interest and participation there and then.

Fewer.

Check the Indie Stone’s blog post for the other two videos and a few more details. The third video has the best breakdown of the current state of the closed test, but doesn’t start with pleasant humming, so I didn’t embed that one.

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45 Comments »

  1. pakoito says:

    Because the best idea for a delayed troubled game is to feature creep.

    • Chmilz says:

      No kidding. There’s so many great looking games out there, I’d like one to actually launch. I don’t care about beta’s, early access, whatever. Finish the damn game and let me buy it.

    • lemmy101 says:

      Try not to respond to these things, but feature what now?

      http://web.archive.org/web/20110424123900/http://projectzomboid.com/blog/index.php/tldr-just-give-me-the-jist/

      April 2011 that was. So finally getting either the #1 or #2 most anticipated feature (depending on who you ask) we promised on day 1 into the a delayed game is a bad thing now apparently?

      Isn’t getting the features we promised into the game what ‘finishes’ it? I’m confused.

      • pakoito says:

        I have edited out my comment because I don’t want to be as harsh as you deserve. Just focus on delivering your game.

        • Premium User Badge Llewyn says:

          That makes a change, your usual commenting style is to be much more offensive than people deserve.

        • Universal Quitter says:

          And what do they “deserve?” Flaming bags of poo on their doorstep?

        • Lone Gunman says:

          Are you 5 years old?

          Ignore those numpties lemmon. Keep up the good work :)

    • FurryLippedSquid says:

      In the 3 (4?) years KS has been allowing public project funding, I can honestly only think of one game to be fully released, and turned out to be pap. Strike Suit Zero. There are probably dozens, and I’m just ignorant.

      • Premium User Badge darkChozo says:

        Broken Age (half of it, anyway) and Banner Saga came out recently, both to mostly positive reception. Shadowrun Returns is somewhat mixed, but generally positive. Race the Sun and Kentucky Route Zero (again, part of it, anyway) were both Kickstarted and are generally considered to be quite good games.

        That being said, none of the games I’ve actually backed have made it past the Early Access stage at this point.

      • Kinth says:

        Your comment is filled with false information.

        The first major Kickstarter game that was funded and started the craze was Broken age in February 2012. Which is 2 years not 3 or 4.

        Project Zomboid is not a Kickstarter funded game. It is funded through sales of the Alpha/Beta aka the Minecraft method.

        Major Kickstarter funded games that have been released and their Metacritic rating:
        Broken Age: 82.
        Banner Saga: 82.
        Shadowrun Returns: 76 (original release) 86 (iOS release which included many of the fixes the original version got).

        I think people need to remember that even a new instalment of CoD, a game that barely changes, takes 2 years to develop. Building a game from the ground up often takes much longer. Sure many of these projects had unrealistic schedules and yes some of them are going to be cack but that doesn’t mean they all will or that crowd funding games is a lost cause.

        • kalirion says:

          Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams (Project Giana Kickstarter) – 77

        • Shuck says:

          @Kinth: And your comment is filled with irrelevancies. The commenter was talking about how long Kickstarter has been allowing the funding of games (which is 4 years), not how long it’s been since the “craze” started.
          Metacritic is a pretty meaningless measure of whether a game is good or not, especially for Kickstarted games that went with crowd funding precisely because they didn’t promise the sort of mass appeal that might interest a publisher.
          You also need to keep in mind that with only a few exceptions, all Kickstarter game campaigns start off partially done, otherwise they wouldn’t be able to generate interest by showing what they have. Most Kickstarter campaigns are asking for a year or less of operating funds. They’re all much, much smaller games than a CoD that requires a long time to make quantities of AAA-level content.

          • Premium User Badge Thurgret says:

            I think it’s telling when games that haven’t attracted publishers, and that have relatively small budgets, receive some rather high Metacritic scores, and IGN, for example – an outlet sometimes accused of pandering to big publishers – gives The Banner Saga 87.

        • bazbarrett says:

          You can add Expeditions: Conquistador and FTL to that list, Kickstarted, released, good. I have backed 20 or so games, with only one to bail (Unwritten) and the rest are either released or progressing nicely.

      • Leb says:

        Guns of Icarus was one of the very first to be KS’d, and never had this “endless early access” bs either. They released what they said they would – and have since even built and improved upon it

      • bladedsmoke says:

        Sorry to rain on your hate parade, but PZ was never Kickstarted and this conversation is irrelevant.

      • Talksintext says:

        Xenonauts also. They’re about 98% finished at this point (game has been very playable for 6-12 months actually) and preparing for a final release.

        Also, related to my post below, KS started basically in 2009, but it didn’t really pick up steam until 2012. Games actually do take years to develop, so given that a lot of KS projects start in pre- or prepre-alpha, it’s unrealistic to expect many to have finished by now, since it’s only been like 1.5 years since KS was really “the thing to do”.

        But yeah Zomboid wasn’t KSd.

    • Talksintext says:

      What are they supposed to do then, release an unfinished and boring game instead? These are all very small teams making very complex games. You can’t expect them to rush them out in 6 months. How long does even a AAA title with hundreds of devs take?

      You can play PZ right now. It’s mostly complete in terms of core functionality. There are a few bugs, but it’s quite playable and enjoyable… for a little while.

      However, it’s lacking an endgame. They actually do _need_ more features to make it “complete”, ie, playable for more than 10 or 15 hours before becoming pointless.

      Right now, they have the survival basics, looting, hordes, etc, but once you’ve geared up and established a safehouse or two (takes no more than several hours of play), you’re sort of on autopilot and it can take dozens of hours of gameplay at that point before you die to some random unfortunate thing (like a scratch or unseen crawler), with little to do in the meantime except expand your “fort” and farm (and building/crafting options are still quite limited). Weaker players will find the early game more challenging (and a longer challenge), of course, and you can make it more challenging in the settings, but ultimately there’s still no real endgame because it hasn’t been fleshed out enough yet.

      Without MP or advanced NPCs or a “sadistic director” or more map/crafting content or something, the game is still unfinished. So feature creep is necessary here before launching.

      That said, it’d be nice if they cleared some more bugs and improved a few things, but I’d actually prefer more features first!

  2. Emb3rSil says:

    This does not sound good. I’ve followed PZ on and off since it was announced three (!!!) years ago, and it’s still a buggy game, but there have been definite improvements.

    But ugh… multiplayer? Really? I could not give a fuck about multiplayer in this game. Having a friend with you does *not* a scary game make. In fact, it nearly always makes things less scary/atmospheric. I’m really disappointed with this, it does not bode well for future development.

    • derbefrier says:

      why are you people acting like this came out of nowhere? Multiplayer has been a planned feature for as long as I have known about this game(which is a long time now).

      edit: just saw lemmy101′s post I knew i wasn’t crazy.

      • Snids says:

        Lots of people just buy games and then just play them.
        Not everyone follows development blogs and stuff.

    • SillyWizard says:

      Oh man, it’s really too bad then that you’re going to not only be forced to purchase this game, but also be forced to only utilize the multiplayer portion of it. For your copy only, the single-player option will be disabled. :(

      I am truley sorry for your lots. My pary are with the father.

    • Nenjin says:

      I bought it nearly on day 1, before the whole leeching problem. This game has had ups, it’s had the downest of downs, but I finally feel like it’s on track. The current game is basically everything they intended to do, sans better NPCs. It’s at a beta-level of stable and feature completeness.

      So, getting MP in there and functional, even if it sucks and is poorly optimized, isn’t that big of a deal. It clearly already works at least on an internal network, and with such an emphatic statement about how important SP is to them, I don’t see a lot to worry about. For Indiestone, they dev’d that in record time. (Considering it took over a year and a half just to be able to save your game!)

      Besides, as the article says, for people that found PZ too empty, bland and boring to get interested, MP is what might make them see what’s fun about it. I already know a couple friends who didn’t seem interested in PZ as a singleplayer game, but will be more than happy to play it MP.

  3. supernorn says:

    Looking forward to Multiplayer co-op, I might have to finally pick this up then.

  4. Runty McTall says:

    ” Fewer. ”

    :D Not just me then!

    • Mattressi says:

      No, it appears that you aren’t the only person trying to arbitrarily enforce a grammatical preference created by one writer in 1770…

      Seriously, I understand that some people prefer to say “fewer”, but I don’t understand why they complain when people use “less” instead – it’s not incorrect.

      • wwwhhattt says:

        Ooh, whose the writer?
        I have pedants to out-pedant.

        • Mattressi says:

          Robert Baker in his 1770 book “Reflections on the English Language”.

          See here for a brief overview of the historical usage: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fewer_vs._less#Historical_usage

          An interesting quote on the matter from the Merriam-Webster dictionary: “Baker’s remarks about ‘fewer’ express clearly and modestly – ‘I should think,’ ‘appears to me’ – his own taste and preference….Notice how Baker’s preference has been generalized and elevated to an absolute status and his notice of contrary usage has been omitted.”

          • Geebs says:

            So we’re only allowed to use linguistic conventions which were simultaneously and independently developed by lots of different people now? I’m going to spend the day trying not to use any words invented by Shakespeare in honour of this incontrovertible law of language!

          • Mattressi says:

            If you read what I wrote you’ll find that I have no issue with the use of the word “fewer” – rather, I take issue with certain people insisting that it is correct (edit: more to the point; insisting that “less” is incorrect). The use of the word “less” rather than “fewer” dates back to at least 888 AD and has never gone out of use since then. There is no basis to state that “fewer” is correct and “less” is incorrect. The point about one writer in 1770 was to show how ridiculous it is to try to make everyone use the needless grammar (and needlessly complicated rules which dictate its use) of a relatively unknown writer from such a short time ago. If it were popularised/created by a literary great such a Shakespeare, I might at least understand.

          • Geebs says:

            It’s more a general point that just because somebody has traced a linguistic quirk back to an individual, it doesn’t immediately make it invalid, especially not if it was subsequently generally accepted. If you have a look at the references to that wikipedia article they’ve cherry-picked a lot – a good half of the cited articles state that “fewer” is correct, including the OED.

            Oh, and I dare you to carry out one conversation today using all of Alfred the Great’s syntax, not just the ‘less’ thing :-P

        • fish99 says:

          Who’s.

      • bazbarrett says:

        I can’t help myself, my mum was an English teacher and enforced this rule throughout my childhood. I’m now helpless but to mutter “fewer” under my breath whenever someone drops less with a counting noun.

  5. Synesthesia says:

    This sounds awesome. I hope gamer instinct doesnt instantly kick in, turning it into yet another slow deathmatch. Please, let this one be the one.

  6. SillyWizard says:

    Ha ha ha I’ve been looking for articles on which to post requests for more videos featuring John. Yay!

    Also: moar pls!

  7. Viceroy Choy says:

    I bought PZ quite a while ago and every now and then dip in. I can’t stand games like DayZ or Rust because unless you play with a group (3+) with VOIP, then you’re not going to have fun. However, PZ co-op seems right up my alley :D

  8. Premium User Badge cpt_freakout says:

    This is what was missing from this game to make me get it. Excellent!

  9. sinister agent says:

    I am with John. Other People ruin too much these days.

    However I also agree with Adam. I felt like I could have survived forever really easily, unless I got careless because of boredom. This only makes me even less likely to pick it up again… although to be honest I only really bought it in the first place to show some support after they got a boatload of abuse after they were burgled. Zombies, yawn, etc.

    • Talksintext says:

      Agreed. They’re working on NPCs and slowly filling out the game (and modders are pitching in). Now they also have released a map editor, which should help filling out the map (they have 2 major towns now and keep adding new features).

      I imagine in 6 months the game will be a good bit fuller and the late game a good bit more challenging.

      And agreed, people ruin a lot. I probably won’t touch MP for a while in this game just because if I want THAT I will play one of the DayZ variants. It feels a lot less like an apocalypse and a lot more like a bunch of sociopathic kids running around shooting and griefing everything they can find. PZ I go to specifically to get away from that. If I can find some people interested purely in COOP, I’ll wander into that, but PvP doesn’t work for me here.

  10. Talksintext says:

    @ RPS editor

    Why use such an old screenshot for the title image? That’s from a much, much earlier build. The game looks MUCH nicer now. Give em a fair shake!

    • Chickenfeed says:

      I actually preferred the older graphics style, it had more character, in my opinion. I understand why they switched and that it’s easier for them and better for performance and yaddayaddayadda, but it used to have a nice, stylized look, instead of just being gritty.