Research Photography

I got excited when I found a camera and could take photos of critters, but (as far as I know) there isn’t really anything you can do with the results - you can look at them, but you just seem to get the description of the critter’s appearance. I was thinking that it could be fun to flesh this system out a bit as a way to research your foes for combat advantages, somewhat like the research system from Bioshock.

Since it would cause power creep to give the player a source of advantage for free, I imagine that it could be implemented as a positive Trait, cost to be determined based on the significance of the benefits. Having this trait would allow you to spend time and batteries (less of each on a larger, more efficient E-Ink Tablet screen than the small screen on your camera) examining pictures you’d taken to get insights into that particular enemy’s weaknesses, and thus permanent, minor buffs against that enemy. I believe it could also be coded to start the player with a camera, like how the negative Sight traits start them with glasses.

For example, one ‘step’ of research against a given enemy could give you a higher chance to crit or a bonus to armor penetration by identifying their weak points, or a bonus to dodge their attacks by examining how they move in an action shot. Certain enemies could also have unique bonuses available, hooked into their json files, but that would be more involved.

The quality of the photo would influence the likelihood of adding a bonus for that monster when you review it, and only one photo per enemy could be taken, though if you got a low-quality one you could try again to override it with a better one. There could also be a chance to get a benefit against the entire monster group the critter is part of instead, higher the more research into that group’s members you’d done so far. These benefits would be smaller, but let your research contribute to fighting new things similar to what you’ve seen before. Note that I haven’t delved into the source to see how monster groups actually work - this part may or may not be viable.

As for displaying what benefits you’d accumulated, I was thinking it might be best to just list them in the description of the Trait on the character screen, but that might get very crowded on a late-game character with the number of enemy types that exist - if anyone has a better idea I’d be open to suggestion.

I think this could be fun, because I really like character options like Robust Genetics or Stylish that don’t give you much out the gate, but afford you the opportunity to develop in different ways as play progresses. I’d love to hear what people think of this idea, especially regarding balance specifics and ways to make it more interesting!

Seems pretty neat, though, I don’t think the current system would be very friendly to Yet Another Proficiency Rating System, especially as niche as it is.
I’ve got a really good idea though: What if, when deploying robotics and turrets, you’d have an option to get more features by providing it with pictures?
For instance, set the initial robot/turret settings (passive, to ignore everything, or aggressive, to shoot everything on sight), and then feed it exceptions to this setting via photographic recognition. Make turrets and robots and the like get a buff to-hit against things you feed images to it and let it attack, or likewise give it a picture of you and your friend to make extra-sure it won’t target you on accident.
Would be a lot thriftier to have than the current automagical hostile identification that turrets, bots, and the like maintain.

Maybe make the facial-morphic CBM accept photographs, which you could download from hacked consoles? That way, if you’re in a place which has serious perimeter security, you could actually have incentive to disguise as someone who works there, rather than just suddenly going Anonymous-incognito and getting away with it.

I don’t think buffs are in order, but perhaps some hints could go along with the description, like:

“This is a photograph you took of a shocker zombie. Jeez, he sure does look like he could cause some pain. Maybe you should use something non conductive to attack it with.”

For a while I’ve wanted to see the option to catalogue and research all the monsters in greater detail. This would include:

  • photography
  • taking blood samples
  • examining the blood samples
  • performing autopsy

Additionally there could be ranch or vault missions for:

  • taking a picture of a randomly chosen zombie type
  • performing a complete study of several randomly chosen zombie types
  • fetching certain zombie corpses in pristine condition (which are heavy and could reanimate unless that’s disabled)

The rewards:

  • Ability to extract previously unavailable body parts (organs), which could be processed further (weaponized, otherwise utilized, or sold).
  • Minor crit chance boost.
  • Ability to sell the autopsy information to various factions.
  • Other generic info gained about the monster such as armor level, immunities, vulnerabilities, less obvious special abilities, speed, vision range, etc. Some of this could be copypasted straight from the game files.

that sounds really neat. And a fun way to give the details about monsters so players know how best to counter them.

Yeah, I’m not too sure about the buff angle. On the one hand, it is one more aptitude system in a game that has quite a few at play. On the other, it would be an easy mark to implement, at least at a base level - it could just scrape the critters from the files and keep track of Generic Buffs 1, 2 & 3 for each without needed nearly as much custom implementation as, for example, hints, which would need to be written for each critter, and maintained as more were added, plus mod-added critters wouldn’t be supported by default.

I haven’t done any modding of this game yet, but I think I’m going to look into that as a baseline and see what we can do from there. Incidentally if anyone WANTED to write a hint-blurb for each enemy, I could definitely use it, but it’s not an effort I want to undertake myself.

I don’t think the photography/buff angle makes much sense, but I like the extended research option. The way I see it, it doesn’t make much sense that a character that has completely avoided engaging monsters and just taken pictures of them has an advantage against fighting them that a character that has fought them for years doesn’t have. The advanced research angle though I think makes a lot more sense, especially when it comes to things like triffids, fungals, and nether creatures (because zombies still have mostly human anatomy). I don’t think it makes much sense to make it an entirely player driven process though. I see it as something more like once the player hits a certain level of stability with NPC settlements, they can recover NPC scientists and direct/assist in their research. Instead of just straight buffs vs a monster, I could see the research providing a variety of things, like consumable buff items (chewing on this gland from a mi-go provides a strong stimulant effect, etc), advanced tools or weapons based off of portal tech, controlled triffids modified to be docile and provide fast growing fruits, advanced mutagen lines, and so on.

Being an NPC-based feature, there could be something like a lead scientist NPC that presents the player with a list of things available to research and a set of requirements, and then however many regular scientist NPCs. The lead scientist does all the interacting with the player, and the regular scientists just determine the pace or possibly what options you have to research (one scientist might be a portal expert, another a mutagen expert, etc). There could be some baseline requirements, like you have to set up a lab building, provide a basic set of tools, and a variety of chemicals and other materials. So, once the scientists and basic supplies are built up, the player can go to the lead scientist and the scientist has a list of available research topics (probably broken down into submenus), and each topic has a set of requirements, like 1 mi-go corpse and a variety of chemicals. Assuming the chemicals are stocked up, once the player provides a mi-go corpse, the scientists spend a certain amount of time researching, and then they are provided with the reward, which might be that future mi-go butcherings provide a bile gland that can be consumed to give an adrenaline like buff.

I think there’s a ton of potential with a system like this, especially considering that it encourages players to explore and find NPCs and ingredients, and it can be built into an interesting set of story missions, especially once we get to some of the more interesting longer term discussed features like transporting to nether worlds or randomly opening portals around the world. It can also be used to expore the player to more lore, if we can structure research based missions to include things like visiting labs and downloading their materials on the blob.

The advanced research angle definitely has a lot of potential - unfortunately, I think a lot of those ideas are too complicated to hope to implement as my first modding effort. It’s a good space to explore down the line, though! Similarly, the idea of hint descriptions is good, but I want to avoid anything that involves adding a custom entry for each monster that exists. However, I think that scraping monster data from the JSON and exposing things like armor values could be a useful perk that makes thematic sense. What would you guys think of displaying enemy health in numbers rather than bars for researched monsters, a la the Self Aware perk? Our survivors already have a good eye for how damaged a given foe is - maybe a little study could make it more precise.

After reading BorkBorkGoesTheCode’s post in the ‘Needful things’ thread I found this topic here. And I have some ideas to expand a little.

As a analog photographer I would be very pleased to have analog cameras in game. But with that comes the whole development of films you need bevor getting a final picture. I don’t see this as a disadvantage. There is chemistry in the game and with little enhancement a darkroom is possible. Thinking further you could craft a development bundle like the toolbelt and it needs to bee dark to craft which should be possible I think.
In addition to that lets include polaroids as well. Much easier and quicker, but very rare these days.

Beside usage in a scientific way, I got some other situations in mind where photos could be a thing:

[ul][li]As a simple quest item. Like: “Go kill the Jabberwock but take a picture from its corpse - I don’t trust you” Or: "I don’t know if my beloved has turned to a zombey, could you take this picture and look in the hospital if he/she is still alive?[/li]
[li]Maybe a photo can be used in the way of a book. You find a detailed picture of some construktion -> This picture shows a wheelbarrow. With a mimimum level of 2 in mechanics you are able to learn the recipe “wheelbarrow”. After inceasing the skill some books have recipies left. If you don’t have the required level to learn these it might be better to take photos from the recipies and have them on your SD-card instead of carrying the heavy book[/li]
[li]Look at some holyday pictures for moral boost[/li]
[li]Using of tele-objectives will give you the same sight as the binoculars [/li]
[li]… [/li][/ul]

If someone wants to play around with photographics in a mod, I would offer my help!

Hello Firn. Analog photography is one of the things I need to have in order to make a realistic game era mod for any year before the widespread adoption of digital photography. If it is implemented, could you work with me to flesh out the in-game descriptions of photographic history and technique?

Hi Bork

Of course I will do that. With pleasure.
Maybe you could write me a PM with a vague summary of the object, so I could start collecting information and pre-write some descriptions?

Hello, Firn, and thank you for collaborating! The mod series I currently have planned will allow a player to create a world set in any decade between the current default era and the year 1800 AD, but I may expand the series to include every year within that time. The first mods will be set in the present: From there, I plan to make a mod for the 1980’s, followed by the 1960’s.
I hope to add every camera and film developing technique that could be found in New England during that time. The Polaroid SX-70 and it’s descendants might be a good start. I don’t have a lot of practical knowledge of film manufacture or development; do you know of a good real-world recipe for improvised polaroid paper that can be manufactured using in-game tools?

Combat gets too easy too fast for any kind of buff system is feasible. You don’t need them. Get survivor armor (heavy) and a sword of your choice and start hacking limbs. Your only speed bumps may be electricity and acid, and the largest enemies in the game, MAYBE, but those are also avoidable.

When a player can no longer fight anything on a whim, THEN we can think about buffs. In the meantime this is just making something that can be trivialized even more pointless.

Defensive buffs can still be useful. Buffing dex before getting hulk smashed, for example.

Bork and I are more planning to use photography for lore and fluff (primary)
Photos make good quest items, or could be used similar to books for morale boosts or even learning small recipies.
Maybe we found a way to implement pictures shown as ascii too

I’d love to see how I could remove organs from corpses to sell to random survivors.