User:Katthew/Zombie Improvements

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A long, long time ago a totally rad chica by the name of Katthew started playing Urban Dead, and she saw that it could be fixed. So she made a list of improvements for the game, and the developer behind the game saw these improvements and knew that they were good... but did not understand the reasoning behind them. He took them anyway.

This is my ongoing quest to utterly destroy fix the broken mess that is Urban Dead by bringing about balance and fun to everyone. Show off your approval of these awesome improvements (and me) in the true wiki manner, by sticking {{ZombiePlus}} on your userpage and getting this sweet business on it:

Grave.png Improve Urban Dead
Katthew's Zombie Improvements should be incorporated into Urban Dead.

Support for these improvements is support for zombies and support for the game, don't be a loser.

History (or, Katthew Is Always Right)

Blood Smear

A proposed skill to allow zombies to smear blood on walls to mark territory, in the same way survivors use graffiti, was on this page for years before the recent update that gave zombies the ability to partially cover graffiti with blood.

Unlike the proposed skill, zombies will not get any experience for smearing blood anywhere, as is the case with survivor graffiti. Unlike the proposed skill, it is impossible for a zombie to fully obscure survivor graffiti. Unlike the proposed skill, there is no variation to the blood smears, making its only purpose to obscure graffiti.

STATUS: Implemented Poorly

Dark Building Benefits

This page proposed a skill, Scent Life, as part of the Scent branch of the zombie skilltree. It would remove hit rate penalties for zombies in dark buildings, meaning a zombie could attack equally well in light or darkness.

A recent game update states that it is "harder to escape [...] tangling grasp in the dark". With hit rates still halved in the dark to 25% or less for a zombie's hand attack, escaping their tangling grasp is a non-issue since zombies remain incapable of damaging survivors in dark buildings.

STATUS: Scarcely Implemented

Eating Corpses

The mechanic of zombies eating corpses to regain health, including the inability to consume the flesh of revivifying bodies, was listed here long before it was implemented in the game.

STATUS: Implemented Well

Flesh Rot

Two skills formerly on this page - Derma Mortis and Recomposition - were proposed to provide the same benefits as a flak jacket (damage reduction) and Body Building (health increase) to stop the need for zombies to spend time as survivors in order to become effective. Just a shame that it had to be stuffed under Brain Rot, but we can't have everything.

STATUS: Implemented Fairly Well

Main Issues (or, Zombies Are Boring)

  • Survivors have more ways to have fun. Survivors can communicate with each other through speech, radio and phone. Zombies have a gimped method of speech that, in order to make any kind of conversation, requires its own damn dictionary.
The closest thing zombies have to phones or radios is feeding groans, which don't say much except "food here". Zombies entirely revolve around finding things to hit and then hitting them, making them vastly more boring than survivors with their ability to graffiti messages on buildings and suchlike.
  • Zombies have it tough. At low level, a zombie can spend hours days tearing apart barricades - smashing away heavy furniture and appliances - and end up baffled by a flimsy locked door. And then find out the building was empty anyway.
At top level, a zombie's maximum damage is approximately one third of the maximum damage a survivor can inflict - and its best attack rate does approximately one third of the damage a survivor's best attack rate.
At any level, zombies have very few ways to get XP besides hitting something, while a survivor can get XP by reading a book.
  • The game is stagnant and dying. If you look at the March of the Dead page and pay attention to the stats shown there, you can see that in February 2008 (before the murderous rampage) there were about 33,000 active players. According to the game stats page, there are currently 18,500 active players. That means that in the last two years, 14,500 players have left the game.
This is equivalent to twenty people every day, more or less. Is this caused by the game being stagnant and boring, with little to nothing around to keep people interested? Yes. Yes, that is literally what it is. There is no other reason. This game is miserably unfair to new players, and excruciatingly monotonous to existing players.
There is only one source of excitement in this game, and that's when me and my guys decide to make some noise and scare some pubbies. The game itself only operates at our whim. While this power is intoxicating, it's also a responsibility we could do without.

Solutions (or, Watch Katthew Fix Your Game)

An Actual Difficulty Curve

If you've ever played a game designed by someone who actually knows the basics of game design - like, the absolute basics, the stuff that any idiot can learn in five minutes - then you'll know there's always a difficulty curve. Especially in RPGs and MMORPGs, of which Urban Dead is (supposedly) one.

What is a difficulty curve? Put simply, it's why level 1 night elves (when they're not cybering each other) go around punching rats and wolves, while level 60 night elves take on lesser gods and the entire host of hell (when they're not cybering each other).

Low level characters are supposed to have an easier time, so they don't go "what the fuck is this bullshit" and quit. High level characters are supposed to have a tougher time, so they don't go "fuck this is so boring now" and quit. Urban Dead has both of these things happen! This is why it is a terribly designed game.

Solution: Exponential costs for skills.

Quite frankly, I know this is not only too late to be implemented, but will never see the light of day because Kevan is an incompetent designer. But this is the solution to the reverse difficulty curve where low-level players are punished and high-level players are bored. Simply put, to a level 1 character, all skills cost 10XP.

The moment you buy a skill, however, that price increases to 25XP, and then to 40XP, then 55XP. The cost increases by 15XP each time, meaning you will have seven skills (including your starting skill) before the cost reaches 100. But it will, of course, keep going up. So skill number 28 will cost 400XP.

The total cost for all skills, experience-wise, will be 15300XP - which is far more than the current 4500XP (including all zombie skills), but it will still manage to be much easier for the low-level players to reach the pleasant mid-levels.

But wait! Katthew! You sexy bitch! I hear you say. That's all very well and good for civilians, but what about the military and the scientists? They have cheaper skills and more expensive skills!

Simple, my imaginary audience member! Fuck that shit. The "class system" that this game has is stupid and broken, mainly because it is just "skills cost different amounts" and that is the worst kind of lazy mess I've ever seen in my life. I have neither the time nor the patience at present to fix it, so once again - fuck that shit.

Barricades

Zombies can only groan when survivors are present, so it's not really possible to attract other zombies to a building you're trying to open until you actually get in there and groan at the survivors inside. Who, of course, will inevitably be barricading as fast as possible. Sisyphean, right? Worry not, because Katthew has the answer.

Solution: Breaking barricades makes noise.

Upon bringing the barricades down a visible level (from extremely heavily to very heavily, for example) there would be a noise. You have, after all, just pulled apart a pile of junk and made it fall to the ground. So everyone in that block, and in the surrounding eight blocks, would hear "A crash coming from 1 block north/west/south/etc." (for example).

Anyone (both survivor and zombie) inside a building in one of those eight blocks will hear nothing. The survivors inside the building being opened up will hear "A loud crash coming from outside" and thus be alerted to the zombie demolition crew working on their defences. Whether they want to keep barricading or run is up to them.

In addition, hit rates to bring down a level of barricade should be increased. The current level is too low to work effectively.

Doors

Without the Memories of Life skill, a level one zombie can tear apart heavy duty barricades but be foiled by a single, flimsy door. Shut doors are one of the more common frustrations for low-level zombies, especially since the Memories of Life skill isn't as important as skills like Death Grip and Lurching Gait when it comes to making the most of one's AP. Letting out a Feeding Groan is not an option, since there are no humans around, so the poor zombie has to sit back and wait for either another zombie to stumble across this unbarricaded building, or for the survivors inside to rebarricade the place back up to EHB because oh my God you guys there's a zombie outside.

Solution: Introduce the ability to attack the door.

Attacking the door should take three hits, and therefore cost more AP than just entering the building. Doors would only be able to be attacked once the building's barricades are down. However, for low-level zombies without Memories of Life, it would be a useful thing to have. Once a door has been smashed open, survivors can still close it as if it had been opened normally by a zombie with Memories of Life, but since it can just be smashed open again they may want to, I dunno, run instead.

(The door attack takes "three hits" for the following reason: the shitty, abysmal, poorly-coded RNG means that a "30%" chance of success could take somewhere in the region of 100AP or more for some. So instead, each hit smashes the door a little more until it's opened. It's not like doors can dodge, anyway.)

Additionally, somehow zombies find it impossible to enter a building unless they can open the door, but have no trouble leaving without opening the door. Maybe they are climbing out the window, or up the fucking chimney. Either zombies with Memories of Life need to automatically open doors when leaving a building as well as entering, or some kind of "Open Door" button should be visible when inside a building with a closed door much like there is a "Close Door" button when they are open. Hell, have both. In fact, definitely make it both. Before survivor start wetting their pants, remember that barricades are the important defence against zombies, not doors. If you are seriously going to rely on doors to keep you safe then you're a colossal idiot who doesn't deserve to be playing the game. C'mon, they're doors. They don't hold back any monsters except if they're barricaded.

Lastly, the doors to ruined buildings should not be able to be closed. Attempting to close the doors should cost 1AP and give the message "The door swings uselessly back and forth on its hinges." or similar. This will, if nothing else, stop zombies from wasting AP checking ruined buildings with closed doors - and stop survivors from hiding out in them so much, because seriously.

Empty Buildings

We've all been there (unless you've never played zombie, in which case you are part of the problem): you've been hammering on the barricades of a police department for hours and hours, finally getting inside after spending 40AP bringing them down from "very strongly" to completely gone. You lurch inside and... it's completely empty.

Solution: Zombies should be able to tell if buildings are inhabited or not.

Make it a new skill, make it part of an existing skill, but it has to be implemented in the game to stop zombies from quitting out of frustration. Appending "This building smells empty" to the end of a description will save a lot of heartache. Why smell? Because every other detection-based skill is based around scent. I don't know why zombies are apparently big on sniffing, especially when the nose is typically the first thing to rot off, but whatever!

In order to make it not a magic key to finding everyone in the city, have the threshold be 3 survivors. Four survivors or more, the building smells like dinner. Three or less, it may as well be empty. That way survivors have two choices: stay on their own, or trust that there's safety in numbers. Just like a real zombie film! Will this provide tense moments when a stranger arrives and tips the balance from safety to danger, and the moral choices could tear our survivors apart before one of them realises it's just a game and shoots the guy dead? Oooh, I hope so!

If a building is ruined, the threshold is 0 survivors. That's right, bucko, if a single human is inside a ruined building, the zombies are gonna know about it. So don't do it. It's retarded anyway. Go find a Goddamn junkyard or something.

Hit Rates

The starting zombie hit rates are atrocious, and are the main reason why many new zombies quit the game. In principle, in an MMO the higher level you are the more difficult things are supposed to get, to increase the challenge as you become more powerful. In Urban Dead, everything gets easier. Like, way easier.

Solution: Increase the starting hit rates by 10%.

That would see starting zombies have a 45% chance to hit with their hand attacks, a better rate even with the unpredictable RNG. Finding survivors and bringing down barricades is already a massive waste of AP, with low-level zombies sometimes spending days trying to find a target, often starting their day spending a whole 10-15AP to stand up. Giving them a better chance at dealing damage would give a quicker return of XP per AP spent, and maybe stop them from considering the game to be massively slanted against them (which, to be fair, it is) and quitting.

An increase of 10% would make the top zombie attack a 60% chance to do 3 damage - still a far cry from a survivor's 65% chance of 10 damage, but decent enough. Bite would be a 40% chance - actually worth using.

Quickly maxing out combat skills would turn zombies into lean, mean, XP-gaining machines who would then be able to easily gain all the other skills necessary for fun and frolics. Provided, of course, that they could find a ready supply of survivors just sleeping in the gutters. Otherwise it's just more days of fruitlessly hammering on barricades.

Inherent Digestion

Digestion, as a skill, is pretty worthless and only useful as a stepping stone to Infectious Bite. This basically means it's 200XP to get to one of the more useful skills in the zombie arsenal (one that's somewhat neutered by the fact that if it was any easier to find FAKs, you'd be able to find two with 1 AP). In any case, infections can stop survivors from killing you (as quickly) or rebarricading (as quickly), so it's a nice skill to have.

Once, of course, you've also got Neck Lurch so it's not an absolute waste of time trying to hit. And probably Tangling Grasp, too. You can miss up to 20 times in a row even with 30% to hit (which isn't "bad luck", it's "shitty coding") which means that having to spend 400XP on a skill that might work occasionally is utter bullshit.

Solution: Scrap Digestion.

Make its effects inherent to the zombie - all bites, from the start, give back health. Move Infectious Bite down to where Digestion was, and now you only have to spend 300XP to be able to infect people. Or perhaps only 200XP, if the RNG ever starts generating random numbers for real.

More Experience

Zombies have one basic way of gaining experience - hitting stuff. Hitting survivors provides experience. Hitting generators and radio transmitters provides experience. Hitting barricades provides experience. Hitting things to ransack a building provides experience - but just barely.

Solution: More varied ways to earn XP.

Giving 1XP per level of ransack, with a 5XP bonus for getting in the ruin (rather than just 1XP for ruining a building), would give zombies a reason to buy Ransack besides messing with survivors. A low-level zombie could buy Ransack to ensure that opening an empty building wouldn't only give a small handful of experience for smashing the barricades, but an extra 10XP on top of that.

Barricades should give 3XP per level, not one. Lone zombies do not often get any eats out of bringing down barricades. If they manage to get in somehow, and haha good fuckin' luck with that, then what can they do? Make a few attacks, possibly groan? Then when they log in later, they've either been headshot or beaten to the kill - either way all they have is the XP from bashing the barricades. So let's up that a bit, make it so breaking into a building isn't a worthless chore.

Giving a flat 10XP bonus for infecting a survivor (and only survivors, not zombies) instead of the usual 4XP from damage dealt would also give mid-level zombies a way to progress faster. It would be a one-time deal, any further bites would not give the same bonus. It would encourage feral zombies to infect survivors and help them progress faster than they otherwise would.

The new, practically worthless "Bellow" skill could be put to some use - 5XP the first time you bellow. That'd be a sweet little reward for managing to find a large group of survivors and lasting long enough to alert your fellow undead about it. Perhaps 1XP per first-groan as well? That would be useful.

If blood smears were implemented properly, as they should be, you could get XP for defacing buildings like malls, hospitals and other traditional "safehouses". That'd help provide a little bonus to those zombies wandering the empty streets with nothing but ruined buildings and extremely heavily barricaded safehouses around.

Protection

Survivors, mostly being one big happy family of like-minded assholes, protect each other. A survivor who gets attacked will be healed, if he's lucky. If he's not, and gets killed, he has to endure the horror of being a zombie for the fives minutes it'll take for him to get a revive so he will never, ever have to soil himself by playing as "the enemy".

Zombies don't get the same deal when it comes to co-operation. Zombies cannot heal each other, and "de-viving" a comrade involves burning all your AP on killing him - and finding a window to jump out of can take just as much AP thanks to the overbarricading of the city. Zombies basically stand about in big groups for one reason: to be a herd. Because when big survivor man comes out and headshots three zombies with his impeccable hit rates and superior damage, those three might not be you.

Solution: Better benefits for being in a horde.

If you're dead and there are 20+ zombies in the same square as you, standing up takes 1AP. Always. Regardless of ankle grab status or whether you've been headshot: 1AP. The survivor solution is, then, to make sure they kill enough zombies to make sure there's 20 or less so their headshots count.

Every hour you spend in a group of 20+ zombies, you gain 4HP. Unless you're at full health, of course.

A survivor taking non-combat actions (ie, not directly shooting, stabbing or punching the zombies) when in the same square as 20+ zombies carries a 10% risk of becoming infected. Speaking would not count as a non-combat action, so you survivors would still be able to roleplay to your heart's content. But barricading the building would count, meaning you'd better kill the zombies before trying that. If killing 20+ zombies seems like an impossible task, then there's always the choice of running away.

While in a horde of 20+ zombies, your damage increases by 1. So max-level attacks would be 5/4, rather than 4/3. Bite attacks would be affected by flak jackets, making it 4/4 for most cases, but whatever - not everyone has a flak jacket. This damage increase would also increase experience gain, of course, prompting zombies to stick together and not wander off by themselves.

Ruined Buildings

It takes a zombie 6AP to ruin a building, and it takes a survivor 1AP to repair it. Seriously? Seriously? So a building has to be ruined for a week before our happy little survivor has to spend as much AP as our miserable little zombie? Bullshit. Retaking ruined buildings should be a case of multiple survivors being forced to work together, not some asshole strolling in with a toolkit and patching the place up in five fucking seconds.

Solution: It should cost 5AP to repair a building, plus the 1AP bonus for every day it stays ruined.

Searching a ruined building, for whatever retarded reason anyone could possibly have to do such a thing, should carry a small chance (let's say 15%) of hurting yourself for 3HP. There's all kinds of things in desolate buildings that could hurt you, after all: broken glass, exposed wiring, upturned hairbrushes, etc. etc. etc. and so forth. Survivors will still be able find items in a ruined building, of course, but they'll also be able to hurt themselves in the process. The zombie apocalypse needs more risks, more solutions to outright stupidity.

Speech

Zombie speech is unintelligible and runs your input text through such an overzealous filter than your meaning can't be even guessed at unless you specifically use only the letters you're allowed. Really? Seriously? This is a thing that has to happen? Christ, dude, this is bullshit.

Solution: Zombie speech only appears "translated" to the living.

Zombies should be able to understand other zombies in plain text. I literally could not give a shit if this ruins your precious verisimilitude at playing pretend zombie apocalypse. This isn't a Goddamn simulation of the end of days as spurted out gloriously from George Romero's sweaty ballsack on all of your dumb fucking faces. This is a game. Games are supposed to be fun. Trying your fucking best to co-ordinate your team against the enemy through singsong and pantomime like a fucking hippy communicating through the medium of interpretive dance is not fun.

Zombie Clothes

Zombies can't change their clothes. Why? Because verisimilitude! It's not a perfect simulation of a real zombie apocalypse if zombies can change their clothes, therefore heh Smugface.gif

Solution: Zombies can change their clothes to special zombie clothes.

Look, I am not a complicated person. I want gothic lolita clothes to dress my character in. I want to be able to lurch my stupid zombie ass into a ruined building and be able to change my outfit as a zombie and dress in gothic lolita clothes because GIVE ME SOME FUCKING GOTHIC LOLITA OUTFITS FOR FUCK'S SAKE.

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