A Song Of Light And Wood: Project Zomboid

Maybe the zombies are just in his head?

It’s been a while since we looked in on Project Zomboid, the disaster-prone survival RPG that, fingers crossed, now hopefully seems to be back on an even keel. During their time hiding and rebuilding, devs The Indie Stone have given the game “a radical engine overhaul,” a new AI system and assorted extra bits. The latest new feature on show is carpentry, which sounds like a minor, dull thing on paper, but in practice you can see just how crucial erecting ruddy great pieces of wood all over the place is to defending yourself against hungry deadheads. Also, there’s a new lighting system on the cards. Cos light is also quite handy for the whole not being dead thing. Unless you’re an earthworm, in which case a lack of light is probably more useful.

Behold: using wood to hold back the army of darkness:

Here’s the new lighting system, which devs The Indie Stone note means they can reduce ambient light at night. “We’ve added light sources like streetlamps, but find yourself in an unlit alleyway or in the woods and you’ll be in trouble.” As a result, torches, batteries, weather and moon cycles are going to become much more significant aspects of the game. Oh, and if you spend too long in the dark you’ll get depressed. Advice I could do with heeding generally, to be honest.

Also being overhauled, I suspect to the unbridled joy of the game’s community, is NPC AI. Hopefully the computer-controlled chappies will be a little better at making their way around their deadly world come the update. They’ll be able to do stuff like close curtains, go looting and co-ordinate assaults, “instead of running around randomly like mentalists.” Here’s a bit in action:

No release date for this update as yet, but there are loads more details on what’s planned in PZ’s 2012 state of the (dead) nation address here.


  1. Asher535 says:

    It’s really nice to see these guys getting somewhere! It just needs multiplayer then it might go viral.

    • Auspex says:

      I think it already went viral unfortunately. And not in a good way D:

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Eh, good news helps one to forget bad news, especially when it comes to games. I’ve already almost forgotten the break-in incident and the twitter blowup.

  2. Crainey says:

    There are a few videos in this article haha. Love you RPS and good to see development of Project Zomboid is still going well despite all the problems Indie Stone has had.

    I see Rock Paper Shotgun got my hint a while back “@lemmy101 Good old PC Gamer coming through for indie’s, I can’t remember @rockpapershot mentioning recent changes in the lighting?” on Twitter :P

  3. Meat Circus says:

    That’s pretty. I have a massive want-on for this all over again.

  4. Xercies says:

    Ooo I might actually pick this game up. It does look like everything I want out of a zombie game but was a bit reluctant to get it before because of the massive problems they have been having and i didn’t want to risk my money on something that might have stopped completely.

  5. Dominic White says:

    The past 3 or so major dev updates have been showing off something about a thousand times more interesting than carpentry: NPC AI that displays a level of freedom and agency almost unseen in gaming. They can and will do anything a player can, including forming teams that divvy up work, like foraging and building.

    There’s also a rather clever conversation system that is based on character mood. Your character isn’t going to calmly talk someone round if they’re terrified, bleeding, soaking wet and out of breath. In fact, you’re more likely to piss someone off trying to converse in a state like that.

    They mention that stuff like alcohol, cigarettes and luxury food items will be useful for both parties to help negotiations.

  6. Cryptoshrimp says:

    That carpentry stuff looks like The Sims mixed with zombies. Great!

  7. Danorz says:

    they are going too far with the “everything you do gives you a mental illness” thing

    • Auspex says:

      I think that’s an issue best kept between you and your psychiatric team.

    • Okami says:

      Usually it’s stuff other people do that makes me mentally ill..

    • Rinox says:

      Yeah, not everyone gets instantly depressed from a lack of light or winter times. I know that a lot of people get the blues from it, but I’d feel pretty silly if I’d get depressed from the dark in PZ when I could easily sit inside a dark room for days and not really be affected irl. I mean I want to feel like I’m better than I am irl in a game, not weaker/worse!

      Let’s hope there is some sort of perk system where you can customize your basic strengths and weaknesses a bit.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      Rinox, there’s already a perk system in, so no worries there.

    • Rinox says:

      Coolio! Thanks for the info.

    • JB says:

      Let’s not forget that this isn’t “sitting at home in comfort in the darkness, enjoying the peace and quiet” as much as it is “sitting and hiding in the darkness in your temporary safehouse, hoping that tonight isn’t the night that the horde breaks down the door and eats your face off”.

  8. One Pigeon says:

    I bought this last night and played it briefly just to have a quick look. I’m more than happy to give my cash over Indiestone seem to be doing a great job and are taking this game in a great direction.

    Now if only I could somehow update the java on my work computer I could then play it on those boring late/night shifts. Damn you IT!

  9. mrwout says:

    While this still sounds like the best zombie game ever, I was massively disappointed when I finally had a chance to play it. The interface and the controls really suck all the fun out of it.

    • jp0249107 says:

      The current demo is awful. It wasn’t really meant to be a massive demo more like an alpha release. If I were them I’d update the demo along with the paid alpha test release so that anyone who is on the fence can see the potential the game has.

    • alms says:

      It’s not a proper demo… they released it because that version had already leaked on 4chan (RPS coverage)

      Anyway, glad to hear PZ is coming along nicely. The tech demo with all of its limits already gave me a good vibe.

  10. sneetch says:

    Well, I bought this a while back, might download it soon, I mean I’m happy to buy while they’re developing it in order to help out a little but I’d prefer to wait until it’s a bit more “fleshed out” (or should I say “brained out”, fnar fnar fnar) before I play it.

    The carpentry stuff seems too quick though, I mean, it seems you could throw up an entire house in the time it takes a zombie to shuffle across the street.

    • zeekthegeek says:

      Look closely at the carpentry video and it will tell you that they have debug mode on for Carpentry, that’s why it’s so quick and easy. Real wood will have weight that will slow you down, and won’t be nearly as fast.

  11. Navagon says:

    It’s shaping up nicely!

    • BarneyL says:

      They’ve certainly carved a niche in the market for themselves.

  12. olemars says:

    Hope they’ve read a tutorial or two on proper VCS and backup routines by now. That said, I love the game and the concept.

  13. Raiyan 1.0 says:

    Project Zomboid is undead!

  14. JackDandy says:

    Very neat.

  15. jealouspirate says:

    Looks very cool! I’ll be purchasing.

    Convenient that the electricity is still running after the zombie apocalypse.

    • Dominic White says:

      Apparently that’s a gameplay element – when you start out, the power is still running. After a while, electricity becomes intermittent, and then goes completely dead. In addition to nighttime being harder to navigate, without refrigeration, only tinned or otherwise non-perishable food will survive, so scavenging becomes tougher, too, and batteries and generator fuel become much bigger priorities to find.

    • jealouspirate says:

      Wow, that’s awesome. Thanks for explaining that Dominic.

  16. DocSeuss says:

    While I do still feel sorry for the terrible things that have happened to them, having played it, I didn’t really like it. I couldn’t even figure out simple stuff like how barricading doors worked.

    The ideas behind it are cool, but honestly, I’d rather have seen the concept played out as a STALKER-like immersive sim.

    Of course, I’ve been wanting that game ever since I first read The Walking Dead (before the governor showed up and it started sucking) and played STALKER.

    • Dominic White says:

      “While I do still feel sorry for the terrible things that have happened to them, having played it, I didn’t really like it. I couldn’t even figure out simple stuff like how barricading doors worked.”

      Given that the first half hour of the game very slowly and deliberately walks you through every step involved in that… I don’t think that’s a problem with the game.

      It was also the first public alpha build, not a finished game.

  17. zeroskill says:

    Time to search though my e-mails and look for that login key. Although its coming along slowly, game looks more fantastic with every new update.

  18. SiHy_ says:

    I love the idea for Project Zomboid and played it for a while back when I bought it. I do hope they do some serious work on the UI though, it’s bloody awful! Good luck to the Indie Stone guys!

  19. sinister agent says:

    They’ve done very well to make this look like something I might want to play, considering how utterly bored to tears I’ve been by zombies for the past few years.

  20. wonkavision says:

    Where did he get all of that wood? That’s mental–gamebreaking IMO. Rogue Survivor had a much better carpentry system, though the developer stopped work at barricades.

    • JB says:

      As Dominic says further up the page, they do mention (either in the video or on the YouTube page) that the video is filmed in debug mode, so the character is carrying LOADS of wood and building a lot faster than we’ll be able to ingame.

      As for where the wood came from, there was a picture tweeted recently of the player character chopping trees with the fireaxe and then using a saw to make planks. I think a structure the size of the one in the video will involve a hell of a lot of work, and maybe even cooperation with NPCs =)

  21. dmastri says:

    Enjoyed alpha for what it was.

    Good concept, ok execution thus far, minus the dev debacle.

    Look forward to the finished project, though am I hoping too much for a coherent interesting story? As technically sound as the game may turn out, ultimately personality and story will drive it to (or from) success.

  22. Zarunil says:

    I bought this seemingly decades ago, and can’t wait to try the finished version. One of the most exciting games, indie or not.

  23. DodgyG33za says:

    Big fan of survival games, not so much zombies.

    I know it is only a demo video, but WTF would you want to build a two story wooden building with wooden doors next to a brick one? Surely you would just go into the local telephone exchange (or other windowless building) and close the sturdy door behind you? If you REALLY needed greater protection you would build barricades inside that building, not on the roof.

    If that didn’t cut the mustard the I think you might need a welding skill rather than carpentry.