Junkie Diseases and how they could be coded

So, right now, there’s no real downside to using drugs, besides addiction and heart attack. Am I the only one who thinks that in a post apocalyptic zombie wasteland, that it would be a bad idea to pick up a syringe and go to needle town?

No. That would be how you catch a disease.

Now, I was looking at the mutagen code, and I was thinking, you could use a modified version of such code and add in custom junkie mutations.
Use heroin, and you get sick. Use some more, and you’re ill. After a while, it could progress to full blown aids.

You could have track marks from shooting up, or a deviated septum from snorting too much coke.
Just a few ideas.

Uhh. You either have HIV or you don’t. It’s not one of those things where you use a contaminated needle and get a little sick and shake it off. If you use a contaminated needle that has enough virus to cultivate in your body, you are boned. If it doesn’t, your body fights it off and you never notice it in the first place. End of story.

Second, the HIV virus cannot survive long outside the body. In fact without blood to survive in it has a shelf-life (so to speak) of only a few minutes. The reason why HIV can(doesn’t always but can) survive in a used needle is because sometimes trace amounts of contaminated blood get inside the syringe needle and remain there. However this will also not last long; as soon as the blood begins to dry out (clot) the virus begins to break down as well. And there is generally only trace amounts of the virus in the blood remnants to begin with.

It is basically extremely unlikely that you could contract HIV from a used needle after a reasonably short period (roughly a few hours). The reason why drug users tend to spread diseases is because a group will get together and share a needle one after the other. If they were doing it hours apart, there would be far fewer cases of HIV being spread between users. It’s still not recommended that needles are reused, of course.

Basically, in the timescales we are looking at in Cataclysm, needles would not be a good way of preserving viruses such that they could infect the player character.

Something not exactly AIDS. Something sufficiently futuristic.

Neo-AIDS, created in a government lab.

And I wasn’t saying it was an over night thing. There would be a bunch of random potential outcomes. Maybe you just have track marks, maybe you have nausea, maybe you feel like you’re under the weather. And then, with every shot, you get a little bit sicker. A gradual process. Just an idea.

You already suffer withdrawal symptoms that give you many of those effects. And track marks are just scars, I don’t see what gameplay purpose they’d serve.

I’m not sure I see the point of layering on a specifically heroin-use related disease system when a) it’s not realistic by any stretch of the imagination, b) serves no gameplay purpose other than to smack your hand for using drugs, and c) essentially is doing the same thing that withdrawal symptoms already do.

The only reason that some people who do drugs become sickly and emaciated junkies is not because of the drug, but because of what addicts do to their bodies - or neglect to do, like eating and getting sleep. Not maintaining a healthy diet and not sleeping regularly result in a lowered immune system as well as crucial vitamin and minieral deficiencies which can make a person appear sickly.

Let’s not impose a fabricated, unrealistic heroin-specific disease system just to force that stereotype. Doing heroin in Cataclysm is already dangerous. Recovering from an addiction is a seriously tricky affair. It doesn’t need imaginary diseases to make it less palatable, IMHO. Especially since it’d be trivial to sterilize a needle with a pot of boiling water and then you can personally use the needle forever without fear of any kind of infection, so unless you arbitrarily don’t allow people to do this and force them to keep using new ‘found’ needles for some reason, it would be a system that only has an effect when you don’t know it’s there. Once you do, everyone is going to do whatever is required to not get sick; Ie, use the same ‘clean’ needle over and over again.

Not JUST heroin based diseases.

And I think sterilizing needles would be a good gameplay element. A person should not be able to pick up a needle off a zombie’s corpse and go to Smackville without worrying about microbes.

Why don’t we add something like soap, toothbrush, toothpase.

With soap if you don’t use it once a week (consumes 2 water), your scent increases, and after a few weeks, you get athletes foot or other rashes, reducing mobility and possibly becoming infected if they blister. Can be crafted from animal meat, ammonia and fire, for 20 uses, or found in bathtubs for 5. (anyone else think there should be renewable ammonia, like it’s what happens in winter instead of acid rain?)

Toothbrush and toothpaste would be used to prevent gingivitis and tooth decay. Gingivitis gives everything -enjoyability to eat, severe tooth decay causes pain and tooth loss, which confers a continuous eating detriment (lose too many teeth and you can’t eat meat and normal eating hurts), unless you go to the stem cell machine. Consumes some oxidizer, water, and requires a toothbrush.

People got by fine without soap for hundreds of thousands of years, right up until they started living in tightly packed squalor with other humans, and threw their waste into the streets. The body is actually remarkably self-cleansing but when you wash regularly the body produces much more oil much more quickly in order to combat the dryness that soap leaves. Excess oil and a lack of natural, healthy bacteria living on the skin leads to excess scent-producing bacteria putting down roots. This goes away, however, as oil levels even out and natural bacteria levels stabilize. Humans are not unique to other animals - they have a recognizable scent to them, but they aren’t biologically required to have baths in order to function normally.

I actually find it a little odd that the flu and colds are still things that happen, since these are effectively communal diseases. I’m not sure how the game spreads them, admittedly. Maybe it’s something you get in contact with zombies and the implication is that some of these illnesses are still alive and well in necrotic flesh - not something I’d expect but passably believable. Normally you’d need to be sharing living space and contact with sick people.

I’m not against the idea of having soap in the game, but I’d rather see it as a mood stabilizing device rather than something you need to do to avoid harm. Similar to how we use the MP3 player and magazines. You use some soap and get a passive ‘cleanliness’ mood buff (and helps with NPCs when that becomes important). Also I’d like to see certain things give you a ‘filthy’ mood/social debuff, such as getting vomited on or walking around in sewage. These would last a few days until soap and water is used. Case in point: cleanliness is relatively important but I don’t want it to become the Sims. It should primarily be something you need to do in special circumstances, not something you need to do to avoid problems.

Also, body soap isn’t made with ammonia it is made with lye. Fortunately it’s not hard to make lye water, it just involves leaching ashes and is well within the capabilities of our lone survivor, using readily available materials (primarily wood, fire, and water). You could also have smokers leave some amount of powdered lye on the corpses, as a simpler way of getting the stuff.

Edit: @TheGrifter, apart from morphine - which can easily be (and is commonly) taken orally - none of the other drugs in the game are associated with needles. Even heroin is commonly vaporized and inhaled rather than injected. So really you don’t expressly require a needle for any of the drugs in the game that I’m aware of, but the game doesn’t require a pipe or a heat source to take heroin so I’m assuming that it is taken intravenously. Morphine, however, I have no doubt is taken orally. So any disease system that is built around the idea of using needles, is probably only for heroin. And maybe morphine. But they’re both opiates and extremely similar (heroin is actually converted to morphine in the body when taken orally), so either way. It just seems like a lot of work for one or maybe two drugs, especially considering the idea doesn’t replicate reality or really add anything interesting that’s not already there in the form of withdrawal symptoms.

Well we don’t get ash yet, enough though it’d be a nice source of nitrates or charcoal or something, which I was really disappointed by when my first shovel gave me nothing for digging through it.

Soaps are made from basic things, not exclusively lye, so I meant bleach.

As for cold things, I’ve heard a common way of getting it is to be cold - that the virus is usually dormant, not eradicated in the body, and a common source of infection is cold feet during winter.

And on illness, you come in contact with enough stuff and no matter how natural your skin is, stuff will infect you. We used to get easily infected going to far away cultures/environments/eating strange food, especially if not cooked the way we’re used to. Modern society masks that obviously when we sterilize everything, eat foods from across the planet, and are in contact with distant peoples. In a post-human mutant contaminated world, there would be no sanitation, abhorrent life, and all those things. Maybe associate infection likelihood with environments, cities are medium with higher risk from being attacked by zombies and butchering their corpses, low risk from woods/plains/labs, high risk from swamps/triffid towers/rivers.

There is actually ash in the game, it is just not an item yet. If you want ash (tile) than you should burn a bush (and maybe trees too). These give the ash (tile). After this just make sure that after clearing the tile with a shovel ash (item) is placed in the inventory.
You also have to program ash (item).

On topic:
I don’t think its a good idea to just randomly give druggies diseases. What I would like to see is eventual long range effects on health due to drugs, slowly causing the player’s health to degrade and weakening them.

This is long and full of stuff so feel free to skip if you don’t care how stuff works:

An ash item would be fine, but really if you have wood + heat source then you have ashes. So it’s just an unnecessary extra step to add ashes as a crafting ingredient.

I have never heard of soap being made from bleach or ammonia. ‘Soap’ is made by mixing animal or vegetable fats with an alkali salt, such as lye (sodium hydroxide, or potassium hydroxide which is easily liberated from ash). You can even make a ‘soap’ from other alkali salts like calcium hydroxide, however these are industrial lubricants more than they are cleaning products. But because they result from the same chemical process they are still referred to as ‘soaps.’

Ammonia and bleach aren’t alkali salts, and as far as I am aware, the alkali salt is critical to the chemical process and you simply cannot make soap from chemicals which are not alkali salts. You can add them to soaps for the purposes of enhanced disinfectant and whitening properties (though this is not done for body-soap. Ever. Because it results in chemical burns. So unless you need to disinfect a counter top…) but they can’t be used as a lye substitute for the creation of soap as far as I am aware.

I’m only going into detail because I can see soap getting added and there’s really no reason to ignore reality when actual soap creation is pretty simple. Simple enough to happen accidentally, even.

As for illness, as far as I am aware there is no evidence that the rhinovirus etc (cold virus) ‘lies dormant’ in the body until you get cold. There is evidence that cold weather plays a role in the cycle of the virus (though theories suggest it is because people spend more time in close quarters, indoors, during the winter and wet seasons, making for a better environment for virus transmission), but the notion that a lone person could develop a cold on the Space Station after ten months of isolation if he just got cold enough is silly. I will go into more detail in a spoiler since it’s not on-topic, but if you’re interested, it’s in there.

[spoiler]Once you have had a cold and fought it off, you are effectively immune to that cold virus for the rest of your life - that is the purpose of antibodies. However, this doesn’t prevent you from transmitting the virus to someone else, at which point it will reproduce and evolve and eventually come back as a virus different enough to confound your antibodies. And so the cycle repeats. However the critical thing here is that the virus needs to be actively attacking cells in a body in order to reproduce and evolve. That is by definition the only way a virus can replicate. Once your body develops antibodies for a virus, there is no way that virus can infect you again unless it leaves your body and its great-great-great grand-kids come knocking next year with new tricks. The same goes for the flu.

More on illness, other cultures, etc; the reason we more easily get sick when visiting other parts of the world is that we are immersing ourselves in an environment full of common viruses that our body has not had an opportunity to develop antibodies for. But that still requires people. You will not get communal diseases if you travel to Alaska and live in the woods by yourself. You get communal diseases from people. Sanitation is an attempt to mitigate what is normally a perfect environment for communal diseases, and reduce the transmission of them. We wash our hands to prevent the transmission of viruses to or from other people. We clean our surgical implements to prevent the transmission of viruses and bacteria to or from other patients. We flush our sewage into treatment facilities to prevent the transmission of viruses (and bacteria) from our waste products to and from other people.

All of these things require people.

It is perfectly possible to get bacterial infections from the environment in the absence of people - fecal coliforms, tetanus, certain animal-born infections and viruses (H1N1 as a famous example). However, the most common illnesses in human society cannot exist in the absence of us. They are viruses which require human populations to exist. They cannot live or reproduce outside of the human body. Therefore you cannot get them if you aren’t around other people. They aren’t floating around in the wilderness or waiting in your body for a moment to strike. Human bodies are the factories for these diseases. If they are floating around in the air it is because an infected person has been there recently, and for no other reason. If they are sitting on a watermelon it is because an infected person touched it.

And for the record, the bacteria on your hands, in your mouth, in your nose, and in your digestive system is constantly fighting off dangerous bacteria. You only notice it when there is too much dangerous bacteria to fight off, and you get sick. And that is when antibodies take over. Without a healthy internal biotic population you would basically not survive long at all. They do a lot of the heavy lifting where it comes to preventing infection. There have been plenty of studies showing how the overuse of disinfectant in ordinary day-to-day life can lead to more and worse illness, for a couple of reasons. One, it leaves the hands barren of harmless bacteria which would immediately attack dangerous bacteria on contact, meaning that dangerous bacteria survives longer on the skin and has a higher chance of reaching the mouth or nose. And two, because small amounts of virus and bacteria being introduced to the body primes our immune system to fight them off more effectively. If you deny your immune system these primers then it is starting from scratch every time a new virus/bacteria is introduced to the body.[/spoiler]

That all said, however; as I stated earlier, I’m not necessarily opposed to the idea that these viruses are getting along just fine in the new zombie population. As long as that is the vector through which the cold and flu viruses are being transmitted, and we aren’t pretending that these viruses are just chilling out on toasters waiting for us to touch them.

As for drugs leading to poor health; this is another misconception. I have a university textbook (‘Drugs and Behavior: An Introduction to Behavioral Pharmacology’ by William A. McKim) right in front of me that says, and I quote;

‘Surprisingly few medical problems arise as a direct result of chronic heroin use.’ It goes on to list just two things; constipation and higher risk of bladder cancer. Not exactly the ‘junkie’ stereotype imagined. As I said before, the ‘junkie’ stereotype is generally not a result of chronic heroin use so much as chronic use often leads to behavioral changes that result in secondary harm. Mostly in the form of poor hygiene, lack of sleep, and diet.

There are drugs which do have chronic longterm health effects (cocaine taken regularly in high doses can result in what amounts to paranoid psychosis until the cycle is broken, which actually would make for an interesting system in-game), but they are typically not what you’d expect. The vast majority of health and psychiatric problems commonly associated with chronic drug use comes down to two things: a lack of a healthy diet, and a lack of sleep.

If someone is interested in having a conversation about the accute and chronic effects of drugs I am happy to oblige; I have (an academic) background in drugs and psychopharmacology. I’m not an expert but I’ve done the courses and I have the texts available. And it certainly interests me.

TLDR; let’s be careful to understand how things work in reality before we start making suggestions for how they ought to work in a game. Although games don’t have to mimic reality, reality is always a good place to start in games which are at least partially simulation. Chemistry and medicine will tell you how this stuff works if you look it up. Me, I’m in favor of relatively simple systems which more or less achieve the same results you’d expect in reality, except in cases where the fantastic is implied (like zombies etc).

From all of the stereotype zombie movies i have learned that the survivors always get zombie blood and other liquids all over them. It’s just logic to assume that a baseball bat can crack the skull of the common cold zed and splatter some blood in all directions.
In this case poorly washed hands can actually be the cause of an infection.
Also martial arts. Flying fists. Potato chips. Heavy diarrhea.

I already said that if the zombies are carrying it for some reason, that’s fine. In fact I’ve said it twice now. I’m not positive if the code requires you to actually engage with zombies in order to get sick, however. If not, it should.

That said, I’m skeptical about the flu or cold virus being able to survive in necrotic tissue. See, viruses need healthy living cells in order to infect and reproduce in a body. They use the cell’s living parts in order to reproduce - studies have been done that show that viral reproduction will only occur as long as living tissue is available. Meanwhile, cells without a steady supply of oxygen die. In order to supply oxygen to cells you need blood flow. Which means that a zombie could bleed to death, and that its heart must still be beating, or else its tissue will become necrotic. So in a way you kind of have to decide between having ‘living’ zombies that rely on blood flow and a functional heart to survive - which doesn’t really match their behavior in the game - or you have more classical necrotic zombies that are not adequate hosts for viruses because they are comprised of dead cells which cannot sustain a viral infection.

Bacterial infection is possible - and this is actually already in the game, though I think it is implying that it is the zombie infection and not generic infection. However, it’s worth noting that corpses are not as virile a host for dangerous pathogens as myth would have you believe. But either way, viruses? Just due to the way they work, ‘dead’ zombies and viruses don’t go together well.

But since the game doesn’t go into much science fiction about how this particular version of zombies works, I’m happy to handwave it. Whatever magic/biology allows the dead to walk also allows for viruses to persist in zombies. Totally fine with that.

This thread is more about drugs and disease/health complications associated with drugs, however. My major point in this whole thread is that people seem to think that post-zombie apocalypse would be a prime time for sickness and disease, when the opposite is plainly true. Without living people around, you would be safer from disease and illness than you’ve probably ever been.

The major contributor to sickness would be mold and its toxic compounds called mycotoxins. I honestly think that the entire sickness system should be geared toward preventing illness from contact with mold and its byproducts. Even wandering around in leaky houses, let alone sewers, should have a risk of breathing airborne mycotoxins and spores. Wearing dust masks or better in enclosed spaces and places subject to moisture and decay should be recommended, and fungal/mycotoxin illness could be a variable risk in eating less than fresh food. I think that’d be more interesting and true to form than just throwing the common cold and influenza in there just because we’re used to them.

Just my opinion, though.

You already get a sad stomach after eating rotten food.

The zombies were infected by goo from another dimension. I thought since the zombies are pretty nifty runners , they could have some tissue that’s still somewhat alive (the goo is keeping it alive because it’s goo that can do it) , because even skeletons don’t break apart when running.
Im still against getting common cold just by getting my legs cold for a moment.

‘Sad stomach’ doesn’t really cover the range of problems that can result from eating moldy food.

As for zombies/goo whatever, that’s all fine. Whatever works. I’m gonna bother with a different thread about mold and illness.

Well the zombies COULD just sneeze on that loot you pick up, or maybe that dog you ate was infected with swine flu? (or the high tech future variant, bear flu)

On topic though, you should NOT get random illnesses from taking drugs, you SHOULD get long term habitual use diseases though, i mean i’ve been taking drugs for a pretty long time now and i’m fairly sure i have never randomly gotten HIV or leprosy, worst thats happened so far is it’s pretty easy to turn the flu or the common cold into bronchitus from non-stop bong use.

Note to self, buy a vaporiser.

on a side note what long term effects from drugs CAN we list?
Cocaine: Enlarged heart, arythmia, psychosis
Meth: psychosis, nasty arse teeth (which leads to a lot of problems), open sores on skin, in ability to feel joy (long term use)
LSD: One day lose all connection with reality (havent gotten there yet though!!)
Marijuana: Respiritory issues, General lack of motivation, mild depression, short term memory loss (Mental issues if you have a predisposition towards)
Alcohol: Brain damage, Organ damage, Gastro-intestinal issues, Diabetes (if you drink pre-mixed)
Cigarrettes: Severe respiritory issues, emphisema, cancer, stroke, blood clots, gangrene, blindness

I’ve really had no personal expirence with downers like Heroin, but most of the recovering junkies i\ve seen look very weak and sickly.

If anyone has first hand expirence (not saturated with emotion, because emotional accounts are SO bias) please share

But think of the coders. How easy do you think it would be to implement these long term disease?
I am no coder so I am not sure.

Also, IIRC drugs were supposed to be the player’s escape from the doomy gloomy apocalyptic world. If we take that away by adding in some:
Enlarged heart, arrhythmia, psychosis, psychosis, nasty teeth (which leads to a lot of problems), open sores on skin, inability to feel joy (long term use), One day lose all connection with reality, respiratory issues, general lack of motivation, mild depression, short term memory loss (Mental issues if you have a predisposition towards), brain damage, organ damage, gastro-intestinal issues, diabetes (if you drink pre-mixed), severe respiratory issues, emphysema, cancer, stroke, blood clots, gangrene, blindness

than the enjoyed escape from the world will not come as easily. Furthermore we players would need something else for our dear loved survivors to turn to for enjoyment that does not have such severe consequences.

As a side note: Really? cocaine can give you a larger heart?

[quote=“Otaku, post:17, topic:2228”]But think of the coders. How easy do you think it would be to implement these long term disease?
I am no coder so I am not sure.

Also, IIRC drugs were supposed to be the player’s escape from the doomy gloomy apocalyptic world. If we take that away by adding in some:
Enlarged heart, arrhythmia, psychosis, psychosis, nasty teeth (which leads to a lot of problems), open sores on skin, inability to feel joy (long term use), One day lose all connection with reality, respiratory issues, general lack of motivation, mild depression, short term memory loss (Mental issues if you have a predisposition towards), brain damage, organ damage, gastro-intestinal issues, diabetes (if you drink pre-mixed), severe respiratory issues, emphysema, cancer, stroke, blood clots, gangrene, blindness

than the enjoyed escape from the world will not come as easily. Furthermore we players would need something else for our dear loved survivors to turn to for enjoyment that does not have such severe consequences.

As a side note: Really? cocaine can give you a larger heart?[/quote]

Hahahaha, people escape reality every day with drugs that kill them, and yes, you can die from taking too much cocain cause it causes your heart to swell (among other things), and it’s not overly hard to program either, whats overly hard is finding a general concesus for what should go down

I don’t think there’s a single chronic health effect from drugs that belong in the game. There are few definite chronic effects; most just increase your risk of developing problems, many are outright misconceptions and don’t actually happen. As I said before, heroin users have just two chronic effects: constipation and higher risk of bladder cancer. The other health problems that develop are due to heroin’s accute effects; heroin addicts eat little and sleep little. That leads to some of them being emaciated and sickly. But that’s not heroin, that’s poor choices. A heroin addict who maintains a healthy diet and keeps a sleep schedule will remain perfectly functional and healthy.

There are accute effects (not chronic effects) that might be interesting to tie into drug use, like smoker’s cough or jitters that can crop up from time to time. Many drugs play havoc with a user’s ability to sleep and their appetite as mentioned above, which could lead to problems with malnutrition and sleep deprivation - something which could be done in-game. But the junkie stereotype people have of chronic drug users is more myth than reality.

More than that, all chronic effects require extended use. How many characters live for a year, two years, three years? Most characters won’t survive long enough to regret drug use. And none of them will live long enough to die of cancer due to drug use. And for the scant few who do survive for two or three years, the health problems will, by in large, be pretty minor.

I really, really think the developers should focus their time on stuff that will come into play within the first two or three months of in-game time.

Drugs are no problem in the apocalypse.
Every person who really wants to survive would avoid using drugs for recreation and only use them in tight situations (painkillers , stat boost) so even getting addicted to a substance is hard enough and getting rid of a little addiction you got by consuming more than 3 units of the substance is as easy as not using the drug and maybe staying home for a day.
In a real life apocalypse nobody would probably even consider drugging up , because of the huge drawback that is not yet in the game (big enough to make every player consider the drugs more of a threat than boost) - hallucination effects , losing the grasp of reality and seing zombies walking through walls.