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Sophie Ames on 404: Barhah not found

"A draft of a rant about 404, missing about 1/3 of it cause I forgot -_-

Posting for Ross. I'll drive this to a conclusion soon.


So. In Urban Dead, and all derivations I'm aware of, people who are online have all control in combat; their characters attack, and offline characters take damage passively. This is the fundamental game paradigm, even more basic than immortal zeds and cade-raising harmanz.

Games like Shintolin, DIL, and I assume Shartak and others I haven't played, make this interesting by way of weapons and skills, like, if you have better weapons and more skills, you are more likely to kill someone you attack. Urban Dead is different: there's a faction that always plays offensively, and a faction that usually plays defensively.

... but there is no defence in this paradigm, it's all about attacking!

That's where barricades come in, and dark buildings to an extent. They provide a defence that works even when you're offline, they allow offline characters to defend themselves. This is necessary to allow defensive gameplay, which in turn is necessary for survivors as implemented in Urban Dead.

... because, unlike those other games, in Urban Dead the streets are festering with living dead.

As a sidenote: observe PKing/BHing is an alternative play style that does away with most of this and focuses on the offensive, much like DIL and Shintolin; Urban Dead is flexible enough to allow this. Good game.


Both zombies and survivors can coordinate to make themselves more effective. The way they coordinate is very different, but the difference is not about zeds being zeds and harmanz being harmanz; it's about offensive coordination vs defensive coordination. PKers and BHers, for instance, despite being human, coordinate much like zombies, because they play offensively.

Offensive coordination works like this. You arrange a date and time for a group of people to come online and meet on IRC. Once they're all ready, the coordinator gives green light, people do their thing, the coordinator may manage details and issues in real time. Once the attack is finished, people laugh and pat each others' backs (except Kempy, who usually pats bums <_< ), and then all go about their lives until the next strike. This is the zombie M.O., and that of PKers and BHers as well.

Defensive coordination, as it used to happen once upon a time (I think) is a different affair. It's all about covering needs sustainably: providing supplies, healing, reviving, keeping the cades up, clearing break-ins with guns. So it's about designing a balanced, organised workforce that can take care of all that, much in the way a project manager assigns people to cover the tasks and needs in a big project, and then just lets them work, reviewing progress say every day, making adjustments when appropriate.

These days, though, no one does defensive coordination like that, because there's that game mechanic that makes it pointless to try to defend. I won't harp on it, did enough of that on the wiki already. But the point is: defensive coordination, as described above, works over days and weeks; as things are just now, fights are over in hours. In the best case, they proceed like "CAPD vs. The Good Doctor's Lost and Lonely Children": the building is lost by survivors every day in the course of a couple hours, but zombies are too few to hold the place so they are kicked out every other day, only to return on their next AP cycle. In the worst case, it all goes like Escape went.


So, 404. 404 were a group that actually coordinated defensively, under current game mechanics, and did it effectively and successfully. How did they do it? They managed their resources well, they very much did "defensive coordination" as described above, of course, but the big difference is: they subverted the fundamental paradigm, "people who are online have all control in combat". They bypassed all the above by always being online, so zombies could not attack them successfully. In general, I mean. 404 were not invincible, of course, but unlike every other contemporary survivor group, they actually had good odds of winning their battles.

The 404 play style, however, is very expensive in terms of effort and time required. Compare with the "coordinated offensive" described above, which requires people involved in the game beyond a casual level, but not unduly so, it is very doable, and regularly done, by many groups. The 404 model instead requires people active and watching all the time, every few minutes, 24 hours a day. You need people from all over the world who don't mind staying online for hours chatting in an IRC channel, and watching the cades while they chat.

In a way, 404 were an IRC channel, a bunch of people who enjoyed chatting with each other so much they stayed doing it for many hours every day. The Urban Dead group was the binding theme, but I submit these people would have had long chat sessions anyway; the fun was not so much Urban Dead, but the chat itself.

In any case, it is reproducible. We at DSS did it several times, and got away with it. It is very hard to sustain tho, it burns people out."

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