Three new zombie types (Late Game)

All three of these zombie types would only be introduced after we have a gradual-introduction system in place, and will appear after several weeks.

Incubator - These zombies are large, and their torsos and the base of their limbs are grossly swollen. They are non-aggressive, though they will attack players directly adjacent to them, and will move about slowly. Their skin seems to bulge and shift as if something is moving underneath.

If an Incubator is killed, an immature nether creature will emerge from the corpse a very short time later, or if butchery is attempted. Any overkill damage dealt to the corpse will be dealt to the nether creature as well, and the nether creature will spend a few turns “stunned” before acting. Incubators do not revive.

Skinwalker - This creature can barely be called a zombie. Human skin is stretched taught over an alien frame, with elongated limbs, joints in strange places, and places where the skin shifts and bulges as something writhes beneath it. The hands and feet of the skinwalker hang useless from the side of a large claws that erups just below the wrist and above the ankles - the claw itself seems almost corroded, pitted and with sagging, sickly green flesh, but it’s clear that they are still sharp. The head is more than twice the size of a regular zombie head, the neck just as wide, and its facial features are askew and stretched, the orifices filled with the black scar tissue of goo regeneration. It’s eyes and mouth have both become blocked by this substance, and do not function as such any longer.

This creature has decent regeneration and a special attack it will use at low health or when sufficiently demoralized (by having allies die, for example) where it becomes a new creature (although damage is carried over).

Lacerated Skinwalker - Like a skinwalker, but the forehead opens into four tooth lined pieces, extending down to the neck, with multiple tentacle tongues writhing inside, as it lunges at the player. The split in the arms and legs extends up further, as its true legs unfurl, now eruupting from just above the elbow and knees.

If it hits, it does fairly massive damage, and it’s landspeed is great increased. It loses its regeneration, however, instead taking steady damage over time.

Sounds very interesting, both the Incubator and the Skinwalker. The skinwalker’s description seriously give me the creeps.

Anyone played Lakeview Cabin?

That incubator…oh god the nightmare all over again!!!

I like the concepts but I wouldn’t like my "late/mid/early"game city looting be interrupted by any of them, as i feel that they would stand out to much from the “relatively” down to earth zombie slaying and IMO they would break all conceptions of city looting scene and greatly ruin the taste of the hole zombie city apocalypse thing. AKA making zombies to set us apart from mainstream is not good design when all of our other zombies are the run out of the mill thing.

Now I would love them if you were to implement another type of dungeon, that is a mix between stalker and dead space perhaps, dedicated to this and more types off mutated aberrations; something like waste sarcophagi could be easily reporposed for this, being creepy military sealed underground locations storing insane amounts of what-has-science-done type chemicals. You could even have massive contaminated underground forests emanating from them. (complete with pools of acid and blood secreting fleshy mushrroms and all that gory animal flesh based plants)

If I’m reading GlyphGryph’s intentions with these correctly, this would be one branch of development for zombies, not necessarally something that would happen everywhere there are zombies. In particular it sounds like a branch of what he was proposing for “portal sites”, where THE THINGS FROM THE OTHER SIDE are trying to invade.

If not, I share your concern, I don’t want all, or even more than a minority of the zombies to stop being zombies in mid/late game.

None of our zombies have ever really been run of the mill, except superficially. Masters, Necromancers, Hulks, Jabberwocks, etc. and so on.

If the player digs into the lore (which you should have plenty of time to do by the time these things start appearing) you will understand why it’s happening.

I do want to stress though that these would be late game enemies, and they wouldn’t occur everywhere - and its fitting with the long-term themes I want to explore in the game, but there’s also discussion to be had about that. A world growing increasingly more alien, trying to rebuild in a place much different than the one we left behind, a reason for players to continue experiencing challenges, and an understanding that the world will never go back to the way it was before. We’ve already spent some time talking in other threads about ways to expand the fungals and triffids over time, but we need a way for the Netherum to do so as well. this is how - eventually, they adapt, and the creatures that were common on Day 0 (but died off because of the unexpectedly hostile environment) will return in some form or another. At least in certain areas, under certain conditions.

From both a lore perspective (following things through to their logical conclusion) and a gameplay perspective (introducing new and more difficult challenges as the game progresses, and reasons for the players to engage with them) some sort of “stepping up” is needed.

What exactly those conditions should be is certainly open for debate, of course.

I think the skinwalkers, at least, are already perfectly in keeping with the infection mutation progressions already in game - they have some similarities with the graboids, intentionally. I could see them, after a certain point, being uncommon but existing in small groups throughout the game. They are simply another path the zombies can take, like the hulks, necromancers, masters or ferals.

The incubators would probably be limited to core areas of netherum expansion, although they’d also be the first sign that an area has become such, giving you time to do something about it before it escalates.

A thought: These (and, unimagined others) versions of zombies could appear within the netherum colonies, which share connection with their home plane (i.e. there is a tear to other dimension nearby). Additionally, other colonies have diverged enough from source, thus consider each other enemies.

I think we’re already planning for divergent symbiotic colonies to have that potentiality. (Zombies and Giant Ants are both netherum infected, but we’d still like to see them fight sometimes)

The major probably with NOT doing something like this is that unlike every other creature in the game, zombies don’t really have a way to make more of themselves. The longer the game goes on, especially if we introduce interfaction attrition, the less of a threat zombies are going to be, and the greater the need to replace them with something else.

IF we do some of the things we want to do - roaming and conflict - the options are either going to be ‘eventually turn the zombies into something more frightening than zombies’ or ‘there are no more zombies’, roughly.

Or we could just have a bunch more zombies spawning all the time, but personally I think that would be worse for the lore than having them turn into proper netherum critters. Also, it would kind of bug me to have gone through all the effort to make them static and then essentially decide that in the end what we wanted all along was for them to spawn dynamically in infinite numbers.

I think we’re on the same page, zombies in proximity to nether or fungus (maybe even triffids or nanites) would get coopted into whater ineffable plans those factions have, but the default shambling zombies we all know and love to smash to bits will always have a place in the world.
Amusing sittuation, “oh good, it’s JUST a city full of zombies” :smiley:

This has sparked some ideas about vanilla zombie development, think I’ll start a thread about that.

I think what you’re missing from the equation for zombies as a long term threat is numbers. I’ll go into that elsewhere, but I do have plans that allow zombies to be a continuing threat without being overwhelming from the start.

It’s also important to note that zombies are ALWAYS in proximity to nether, since they are nether critters in the current lore. (Just a not terribly combat effective part of it).

So what I was thinking was something like this:
There is some ultra-rare zombie mutation where the zombie itself (perhaps an upgrade on an existing master or necromancer) becomes what is essentially it’s own portal. It probably ends up being static, maybe holing up in a basement somewhere.

But then things like incubators would be the first sign that a region is falling under the sway of such a creature, and if you hunted it out and killed it, and true nether creatures that had already been birthed would die off, and incubator progression would probably halt where it was or they’d turn back into normal zombies.

Does that sort of thing sound acceptable?

As for the Skinwalkers, I’d like to see them introduced around the time we introduce a handful of True Nether mutations for the player.

I already cleary stated my position, that’s acceptable as long as it’s the minority, and the majority of the zombie population remains zombies (I mean 10 years out, whatever, we aren’t designing for that kind of timeframe). It doesn’t matter HOW the portal appears, just the frequency.

Frequency-wise, I was aiming for something on par with the Triffids and Fungals.

There could even be some world setting on what this rate should be (and how it changes over time, because I would like all of them to become more common over time).

Is that the sort of minority you were thinking, or would you want this even rarer?

“same frequency as triffids or fungaloids” is kind of apples and oranges, the frequency I care about is percent of zombies converted, which should default to well less than 50% of all zombies (across everything that does zombie conversion, so it includes fungal spires colonizing cities, etc). Sure that can be tweakable, any time we’re discussing frequencies, we’re talking about the default, and I’m open to basically anything being tweakable.

Hmmm… I think I may be misunderstanding some of what you’re saying then. While some would no doubt think you clearly stated your position, I think there’s been plenty of evidence so far that if it’s possible for something to be misinterpreted I’ll probably pull it off.

Basically, I was talking about some sort of “zones” within which zombie conversion in the form of incubators would be very high, definitely over 50% long term, but that these zones would only be about as frequent as triffid or fungal zones.

Well even through Incubators and skin do make sense lore wise, they really break the flavor of the zombie apocalypse in ways that neither Necromancers, masters, hulks, or Jabberwocks do; those for monsters sure have a level of well something strange is up with these zombies but they descriptions and behaviour still easely fit in what can be classified as clear zombie humans/fauna , while these are too alien in both description and purposes to be classified as zombie and more actually fit in the category of eldritch horrors.

Making the game even slowly switch from the starting survive in cities infested with zombies and trying to bring some sort of hope back into your world and fellow survivors (which I assume would be working by the time lore even becomes a significant in game play) to some sort of laughably fail to protect the small remaining sanity of the world as everything irremediably turns into a mockery of its former self is very prone to turn off a lot of possible gamers ( I for one know that it would turn me off from the game if it happened to me in my first plays) and its IMO just plain bad game design to introduce such strong genre changes halfway into the game. What would you do if you were playing say Red Dead Redemption and the game suddenly changed into the modern age? At least I know that I would throw my controller at the screen and then start playing again the parts that are not GTAIV.

Thats exactly my point, and i dont like the idea of needing to go on lengthy crusades to slay great nether horrors to keep the game being about the zombie apocalypse and not some sort of The Mist videogame. When i could spend that time meeting survivor groups and helping them protect their settlements from the hordes and military remains in a say properly simulated recreation of Boston without feeling worried about Cthulhu suddenly awakening and imposing its will upon our reality.

Also Its important to state that i don’t oppose towards certain areas being under influence of the nether, its just that i would like for the majority of the game to remain a down to earth zombie apocalypse scenario like it original was. So I think that this weird nether stuff could be found like I said deep in the underground, or on small pieces overmap near big portals on its own reality plane, because in that way they could add more flavor into the game instead of forcing that flavour upon you.

TL:DR My possibly unimportant posture is this: keep cities and the mayor part of the gameplay about surviving in zombie infested nightmare (which I am certain will become dangerous one the proper numbers and city generators are in place) and keep the nether stuff limited to wilderness and small towns so we can just mark that game zone off limits.

I don’t think the game has ever been about a “basic zombie infestation” - I’ve been playing from early on, and most of my memorable experiences have been about tirffids, graboids, fungals, giant bugs, mutants, cyborgs, strange things deep in labs, etc. and so on and so on.

The zombies have always been the sort of “basic introductory first experience”, in my experience, the main feature they possessed simply being the fact that they were common.

The vast majority of enemy types in the game, for the longest time and well into the old versions of the , have been “not zombies”.

Making the game even slowly switch from the starting survive in cities infested with zombies and trying to bring some sort of hope back into your world and fellow survivors (which I assume would be working by the time lore even becomes a significant in game play) to some sort of laughably fail to protect the small remaining sanity of the world as everything irremediably turns into a mockery of its former self is very prone to turn off a lot of possible gamers ( I for one know that it would turn me off from the game if it happened to me in my first plays) and its IMO just plain bad game design to introduce such strong genre changes halfway into the game. What would you do if you were playing say Red Dead Redemption and the game suddenly changed into the modern age? At least I know that I would throw my controller at the screen and then start playing again the parts that are not GTAIV.
You mean like a game of D&D where in the beginning you're fighting bands of goblins and kobolds in little camps or abandoned mines, and by the end you're fighting dragons, demigods and planeswalkers? There's a progression, and the world changes, but that doesn't mean the core theme of the game, whether "go on adventures and fight stuff to gain loot and experience" or "survive in a hostile world where everything seems to want you dead", is changing. Cataclysm's genre, or the closest thing it has to one, has always been a combination of horror/survival, exploration/discovery, and rebuilding/improving(both the players surroundings and themselves).

So you could argue the setting will be changing, but settings changing gradually over time is actually really common in games and is not something that tends to turn players off. Heck, take a mainstream game like Halo: it is fucking huge, and that starts out as a very different game (setting-wise) than it ends as, even within the first game taken by itself. The setting change isn’t anything I’ve ever heard people complain about (though they may talk about certain bits of it).

So yes, this would mean the setting would change a bit, slowly, gradually, in certain limited areas, but there is nothing genre changing about the changes discussed here, because the genre has never in any way been “zombies!” (unless you play classic zombie mode, of course, where this wouldn’t happen), it’s always been “everything that can go wrong is going wrong and all the disasters are true!” I’m of the opinion you’d get a game much truer to the Cataclysm by removing the zombies than you would by removing the not-zombies. (Luckily, there is no reason to remove either, as the zombies definitely have their place)

Personally, I am definitely not aiming for “some sort of laughably fail to protect the small remaining sanity of the world as everything irremediably turns into a mockery of its former self” - I definitely want the player to be able to rebuild and carve a place for themselves, and eventually their followers, in this new world. But it should require the player to change and adapt to do so. You may have noticed that cybernetics and mutations play a core role in advanced gameplay - this sort of theme, where this is a new world and the best way to survive is to become a new man, is something I definitely want to continue.

Especially since none of the non-zombie creatures are even all that insane. Certainly nothing Cthulhu level going on here, or even D&D level - hell, for how disturbing the nether creatures can be, they are incredibly mortal and less than supernatural in many ways: note that they are so weak they can’t even survive in our environment with the shielding embrace of human flesh! The Lacerated Skinwalker, for example, dies shortly after it appears, without the players input.

It’s more like an invasive species finding it’s niche, and the local ecosystem changing to accomodate it. When aa patch of barren and burnt ground turns into a field, does it become a mockery of what was there before? When that field is eventually reclaimed and turns into a forest, is that a mockery?

A big part of what I’d like to see late game is how the player and various NPC groups adapt and change to deal with these invasive species, how they create their own niche in this new forest. Some end up living with the fungus, finding a way to not only survive but thrive within its confines, much like the Forest People in Nausicaa. Some will augment themselves, consolidating and building upon the science we had previously to adapt it and maintaining something vaguely similar to what we had before through overwhelming power. Others may simply attempt to distance themselves and hide, others may give in, becoming mutated creatures able to operate effectively as true denizens of this new world.

But the game has always been about a lot more than zombies, and I see no reason why would should allow the mere existence of zombies and the fact that some people insist on seeing the game as nothing but a zombie simulator (despite extensive and overwhelming evidence to the contrary) prevent us from making a game that expands upon and digs deeper into the variety of themes that already exist.

Yes it is true there have been blobs/triffids/fungaloids/nethercritters/ants since my short sporadic play thoughts during the time of Whales. But zombies have always been IMHO the main opponent of the game, even if they are one of the easiest one and because that, and partly because I discovered the actual lore of the game way after I had created my own version of the lore my mind and when i first read the terminals about it i just went: NOPE this places to much importance in that dimensional thing, makes zombies secondary, and breaks almost everything i had imagined about the game. So I will just ignore it, its not like if it were that important right? And perhaps my vision of this game is deeply flawed and stupid, but the problem is that it is MINE and developed to such an amount that my mind refuses to let it go. And you can easily see that the same thing happens to many other people. How many times have you seen a Huh? No idea the game was about that? type reply when we discuss the lore in here, bay12 or the IRC. The only difference being that most people possibly don’t fix themselves with their own version of the lore or decide not to make a hassle about it.

Which brings me to what I think is a very important defect in the game: Gameplay barely reflects the lore of the game if at all. I mean from were in game can you see that huge portals pour caustic chemicals into our atmosphere, were is it implied that the nether creatures were the ones who slayed everyone and not the zombie, were is it implied that the blob is actually what cause all this mess? A player is surely going to answer all this questions in his mind, and they are very likely to contradict the lore of the game (this is by no account something bad mind you total predictability is terrible but so is reading inside a computer or in the game forums that the official answers go completely in the opposite way you have imagined after you have played the game for months.) Now I think that if its ever planned to make the lore significant at all inside the game you have to start throwing bits of it at the players since the start of the game. (Public service announcements that loop inside cities that implying that otherworldy experiments are to blame and not the so common causes other works of fiction make us assume).

I think its also important for me to state that while i love both the triffids and the fungaloids and would really like things like complete forests of fungal fauna and big metropolises being reclaimed by the forest and triffids, I hate the idea of the Nether world things doing the same thing, possibly because I feel that they are only here to mindlessly destroy our world and perhaps their hole concept hits me as cliche’d creepy horror stuff that is in game just for the sake of having more enemies.

Now if you plan to force it into specific areas and make the places that are not their domain nether creature free i would be more than pleased with the changes. I just want for some down to earth zombie action to remain in game. And also remember that alto of the rules for zombie difficulty could change once we have proper cities with z levels and that hitting the downtown of a metropolis would possibly a much harder thing that hacking through triffid groves if implemented correctly.

A lot of what you see in game is actually intentional misdirection, spread by people who know little more than you do. What I’d like to see from the beginning of the game is some idea of competing theories as to what is actually happening, and the player coming across contradictory “evidence” that doesn’t make sense until they dig deeper and then suddenly a new explanation seems more likely, but then there’s another piece of evidence that doesn’t quite fit…

I’d like to make the process of uncovering the lore something that the player can discover through gameplay (I think the terminal system is vastly lacking for that, but it’s a long term change), through a series of false starts and half formed theories getting closer to the truth over time.

Even the dudes who brought the creatures over didn’t have all the answers, after all. I’d like a lot of the people involved with this new and strange thing to have perfectly reasonable explanations that later evidence reveals was grossly incorrect. I like the idea of the players, in some way, going on a voyage of discovery in search of the real “Truth”.

Even when Whales was working on the game, that sort of “convincing the player to make false assumptions about how things work” was in place.

I would DEFINITELY love to have a better idea of the lore you built in your head though (probably in another thread), because once we get better ways to deliver lore we’re also going to need a variety of convincing “cover stories” to hide the truth, stories the player eventually has to push through to discover what is really going on.

I think we’re in agreement about the extent of the “netherizing” influence in broad strokes, but we’re just looking at it from different perspectives. You say “similar in extent to triffid or fungal infestations”, but in practice that could range from “plunk down a portal with a small zone of influence in the center of each city” (which would convert the majority of the population) to “randomly plunk down a portal in similar numbers to triffid or fungal spires, and this colonizing effect only happens if it happens to overlap a city”, which would only convert a tiny minority of the zombie population.
I can’t frame what I want relative to other populations because:

  1. I’d have to assume a great deal about the implementation in order to do so.
  2. I don’t know the extent of triffid and fungal spawn locations offhand.
  3. It’s a moving target.

What I can do is state what I want the outcome to be as precisely as possible, which is, "the majority of zombie population in a given overmap should stay vanilla zombies thoughout a typical playthough."
Applying that goal to a particular implementation might not be all that straightforward, but that’s the goal as clearly as I can state it.

Another way to frame it is, “when a player enters a zone where zombies spawn, the majority of the time it should be inhabited by zombies, not modified zombies”. The main zombie spawn zones are towns, but also FEMA camps. In general, places where people congregated immediately before the cataclysm.

I know its very bad form to reply to arguments in this way, but that’s what i think the endgame should be about. No mattering how powerful and numerous monsters get, nothing could be as interesting as actual conflict for limited resources between factions as it would add a lot of strategy elements into the game (secure farms, factories defend caravans from raiders, assault still functioning military bases with your army of crazed raiders) with monsters moving to a secondary position and attempting to defend yourself from your cataclysm hardened crazier/saner neighbor.

Even the hardest of crush kill destroy monsters get easy with enough grinding, faction wars would never stop being so IMO even if you could become the leader of one (but that would possibly require unseen levels of coding prowess)

But yes introducing at least conflicting theories pointing in an acurateish direction at the game start would help a lot. Other than that I may post my lore tomorrow