A taste of what’s to come…

Posted in AI, Characters, GUI, Items, Press, Procedural world, Zombox on July 20th, 2016 by Tyson Ibele

So a huge amount of time has passed since the last update.

The good news is that a ton of stuff has been added to the game, and I’ve been working on it harder than ever…I just haven’t posted any updates because I’ve been focusing on getting a playable version of the game ready for beta testing. I’m also knee deep in reworking the NPC/story AI, and want to hold off on posting any real updates until the NPCs are done….since they’re the biggest hurdle left in the game’s development.

However, here’s some stuff that I’ve done since the last time I posted:

  • I’ve added a character upgrade that allows you to pick up, carry and throw zombies
  • there’s a fast-travel subway system you can unlock throughout the world to travel quickly around the map
  • on-screen indicators alert you to nearby hideouts and landmarks
  • many buildings now have basements you can explore
  • there are 4 new hero zombie types, each with special attacks and much higher difficulty
  • a new achievement system was added with 90+ unlockable achievements
  • the Zombox world map has been expanded to be nearly twice as big as before, with tons of new areas, islands, etc
  • crafting system improved: you can build bridges over water, you can build doors into empty doorways, etc
  • craftable structures must now be constructed from the ground-up, after placing them in the world
  • the original book-reading system for unlocking new crafts has been improved
  • structures that require power now indicate visually – through animated electricity textures – whether they are functional
  • new craftable tesla coil trap zaps nearby enemies with electricity
  • save data is now much more efficient – save files are 5x smaller than before, on average
  • items dropped on the ground are now saved to the location they are dropped at, so they won’t disappear when you walk away
  • bombs/molotovs/etc you throw now have an on-screen indicator showing direction of throw, as well as time until detonation

As you can see, I’ve been busy! Once the NPC/story AI gets closer to completion, I’ll post some images and videos of the things listed above so you can see them all in action.

Upgrades, vehicles and perks

Posted in Characters, GUI, Items, Zombox on November 20th, 2015 by Tyson Ibele

While playtesting the game over the course of development, there were a few nagging things that I’ve finally got around to fixing.

Firstly, the old upgrade system was very limited, for several reason:

  • Each upgrade functioned as an on/off switch for a particular character stat. There was no room for focus or progression…once an upgrade was purchased, there was no way to invest in it again or boost its value.
  • The upgrade window itself was limited to 5 upgrades per category, by design…meaning it would need to be overhauled if I wanted to add a 6th upgrade to any category.
  • Upgrades themselves were a pain to implement, since each one required a full looping animation to be displayed beside its description. This looked nice but meant each upgrade took a lot of time to implement.

The new system solves all of these issues:

  • In the new system, each upgrade can be progressively boosted several times. So you can pour lots of upgrade points into a single upgrade type (for example, firearm damage or walk speed, etc), or spread your upgrade points out between many different upgrades. This allows for much more precise character customization.
  • The new system looks similar to the crafting help panel, and an unlimited number of upgrades can exist for each category.
  • In the new system, upgrades are displayed as unique icons, rather than animations, so adding new upgrades is very easy and requires minimal artwork.

Overall, the new system looks and functions much better than the old system. Also, there are 54 different upgrade types and about 275 total upgrade possibilities….in contrast to the 50 total upgrades of the old system. So I think the new system will allow players to have a lot more fun testing different character builds, and feeling the satisfaction of progressively upgrading various character proficiencies over time.

Secondly, vehicles have been completely re-written. Unfortunately, with the release of Unity 5, WheelColliders changed in a drastic manner. I previously relied on them for all vehicular motion in the game, and since I could never get the new WheelColliders to function the way I needed them to…I was on the brink of removing driveable vehicles from the game entirely. But while digging around with alternative solutions, I discovered some legacy Raycast-wheel scripts written by an absentee Unity developer named Forest Johnson. I was able to modify his code in such a way that vehicles are now working again, using Raycasts instead of WheelColliders to simulate proper tire friction and velocity. The benefit of this system is that it won’t be made obsolete if Unity devs change the inner workings of WheelColliders again, and I’ve found it to be more stable than the old WheelColliders, because I have full control over all friction settings and am no longer at the mercy of finicky WheelCollider physics.

While re-doing the vehicle motion system, I also implemented the fuel system for motorized vehicles. Any vehicle with a motor now requires fuel before it becomes driveable. Each motorized vehicles has a special fuel slot in its GUI interface, allowing players to re-fuel vehicles with ease. Fuel can be purchased from NPCs, retrieved from care packages, or distilled manually from toxic sludge in the craftable chemistry lab.

Finally, along with hundreds of other little tweaks and changes that I won’t list here, I took a second look at the item perk system previously implemented into the game, and improved it. It used to function similar to the old character upgrade system….once you perked an item, that was it…you could never improve the value of its perk and it was set in stone. The new system, however, is progressive. Items can be continually combined over and over to increase the value of the resulting perks. So instead of two weapons combining to make a perked weapon with a static perk value, you can combine weapons over and over to progressively increase the value of the resulting perk. This means that just because you come across multiple instances of a particular weapon, that doesn’t mean those instances are redundant. Having this progressive perking system means players won’t feel disappointed if they have a large number of the same weapon type, because those can all be combined to create a super powerful weapon with maxed out perks.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for future updates!


Crafting continued…

Posted in GUI, Items, Zombox on January 18th, 2015 by Tyson Ibele

So with the successful release of my mobile game Bean Boy (get it on iOS or Android), I’ve been putting all of my efforts into Zombox again, getting all of the kinks worked out of the crafting system.

Last time I discussed the method I’m using to greatly reduce draw calls in the game world, and this time I’d like to talk about the actual implementation of the crafting system in general.

There are currently three ways to craft items in Zombox:

* Static crafts – these are your basic player-made crafts, as well as crafts created by constructable objects whose crafted results appear instantaneously. A static craft is just a craft that allows you to input ingredients, for an immediate output result. Ie, drag your ingredients into the crafting window and *voila*, your resulting item appears instantly.

*Dynamic crafts – these crafts take time to produce their result. Imagine if you planted a seed in the ground — the tree would not appear instantly! The same goes for these crafts. They have a measurable time it takes between inputting your ingredients, and getting an output result. Usually these crafts involve the production/cooking of food.

*Automatic crafts – these crafts are produced by constructable objects that generate resources automatically. Water collectors, solar panels, etc…basically anything that doesn’t require input ingredients in order to produce a result. Like the dynamic crafts, they take time to appear. They also have certain stipulations. For example, solar panels will not generate electricity at night, a water collector won’t collect water when it’s not raining, etc.

It’s taken a lot of work to iron out the bugs, but I’m *nearly* done working out all of the different crafting systems, methods and objects. Right now there are currently *hundreds* of things to craft in-game, and many of the crafting stations are upgradable, allowing players to craft increasingly awesome stuff!

Here are some example .gifs showing the basic interfaces…

To craft, you click the move/rotate icons to place your object, then click the checkmark to build it:

Grilling some fish and growing some plants….note the progress bars that appear on these dynamic crafts letting you know how long it’ll be before it’s done:

Here we see the fish finish cooking…time to eat!:

Here’s a water collector gathering some dirty rain water, which can then be filtered and used for cooking:


October/November development info dump…

Posted in AI, Characters, GUI, Items, Procedural world, Zombox on November 29th, 2013 by Tyson Ibele

So it’s been almost two months since the last update…I guess that means it’s time for a new one!

I’ve done a huge amount of work on the game in that time…..here’s an overall outline of the new stuff, followed by detailed explanations of each one:

Front-end features:

  • weapons now have durability
  • individual items can now have perks
  • the ailment system (hunger, fatigue, bloodloss) was completely redone.
  • new shaders on everything allow for more precise damage decals

Back-end changes:

  • item import system re-written
  • character controller re-written
  • vehicle management system re-written
  • navgrid pathfinding replaced with navmesh pathfinding

Click any of the following images for previews of some of these changes, or click ‘Read More’ below to see all of the explanations in the full post.

Read more »

Health bonuses, gambling, lock-picking and more…

Posted in GUI, Items, Procedural world, Zombox on March 1st, 2013 by Tyson Ibele

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve added a whole bunch of stuff to Zombox.

  • Health bonuses

In a previous update I showed how getting too low on food, sleep or blood could result in dire consequences for your character. Well now, to even things out, I’ve added health bonuses to the game, which give your character temporary boosts when you get extra food/sleep/medicine. Extra food gives you an attack bonus, which temporarily doubles your attack damage. Getting extra sleep gives you a speed bonus, which temporarily increases your movement speed. Getting extra medicine gives you a defense bonus, which temporarily doubles however many defense points you have at the time (based on your equipment and upgrades).

  • Vending machines

NPC sewers now contain vending machines from which food can be purchased. They’re stocked up with many inexpensive items, although they don’t get restocked so you have to use them wisely.

  • Slot machines

Near NPC stores you’ll now sometimes find slot machines. Gambling on these machines can earn you large prizes and jackpots if you get a 3-of-a-kind match, or cherries. They also have a tendency to malfunction, and each time a malfunction occurs you get a special bonus (free spin, double your winnings, or 2-of-a-kind prizes). Your winnings are multiplied by the amount that you bet each spin…the larger your bet, the more you can win!

  • Lock Picking

Previously, locks could be picked using either a lock pick item, or Pete. You would walk up to a locked item, press the ‘unlock’ icon and wait. Now, if you want to unlock something you have to manually unlock it yourself, in a lock-pick minigame that pops up on screen. In order to complete the minigame, you have to bump the lock’s pins in the correct order. Bump them out of order and the lock resets. This provides quite a challenge when you’re trying to unlock something while zombies are nearby, since you’re still vulnerable to attack while picking locks. Depending on the security of the lock you’re trying to pick, it could have anywhere from 3 to 7 pins.

  • More buildings and locations

The next big thing I’ll be adding to Zombox is a more fleshed-out overworld, that first requires many new areas and structures to be made. Here are the first 16 that I’ve created…and there are lots more to come! Places like military outposts, quarantine centers, etc, will all be revealed in future updates.

Stacking and shield switching…

Posted in GUI, Items, Zombox on February 8th, 2013 by Tyson Ibele

So, I made a fairly substantial change to the inventory system in Zombox this week…

Now you can stack similar items on top of each other! This will allow you to carry many more items (so long as they are within your carrying weight limit — which I also doubled for each character), and make it a lot easier to quickly craft large numbers of things. Also, single-use items like pipe bombs, molotovs, bear traps, etc, will be easier to carry around in bulk. Each slot has a 99 item limit, which should be more than enough for all of your toting needs. When an item socket contains a stack of items, clicking once will grab the top-most item, and double-clicking will grab the whole stack. This makes it easy to quickly move stacks around.

This new system required a complete rewrite of all the existing inventory UI code, so it’s what I spent the majority of my Zombox development time this week doing…but in the meantime I also added another feature: players who are holding a shield in their passive item slot can now manually switch it from front to back (by pressing on the passive item socket). This will give players a strategic advantage in many situations. For example, if you’re trying to unlock a door but have zombies coming towards you, switching the shield onto your back will give you added protection.

Below are two animation…one showing how stacking works and the other showing how shield switching works!



Item weight….

Posted in GUI, Items, Zombox on September 22nd, 2012 by Tyson Ibele

Small update this week!

All items now have a weight (although many light items have a weight of zero), and each character can only carry so much. This will make choices about which items you choose to carry with you more important.

Also, Susan is now able to use guns, and Roy can now used 2-handed weapons. The consequence is that Susan cannot carry as much as the other characters, and Roy’s 2-handed melee attack is much slower than the other characters’ 2-handed attacks. The reason for this change is that I found the no-gun/no-2-handed-weapon limitation that those characters previously had to be quite annoying during gameplay, rather than challenging. By taking away the item restrictions and replacing them with a more flexible restriction, it’s more fun to play as those characters.

The following images show where the item weight data is displayed in the character inventory, as well as the Fitness Center upgrades — one which now allows you to increase the amount of weight you can carry:

Passive items…

Posted in Characters, GUI, Items, Zombox on September 15th, 2012 by Tyson Ibele

As mentioned in the last update, I’ve been working on the new passive item system and now it’s fully implemented.

As a reminder, passive items are stat boosters that can be swapped in and out of the main passive item slot at the top of the screen.

There are 39 passive items in total right now, which fit into the following categories:

Shields: These block or dampen attacks that hit them. Each shield has different properties…some shields just block attacks, some block and deflect damage onto the attacker, some can be used to shove attackers onto the ground, etc.

When using a 1-handed weapon, the shield is held by your left arm in front of you. When using a 2-handed weapon, the shield is carried on your back. Since the shield only protects the area that it covers, how you carry it affects what part of your body it protects.

Watches: These affect the speed at which different things occur in the game. For example, some watches speed up your ability to pick locks, others extend the length of time special attacks remain activated before requiring a recharge, etc.

Music Players: The adrenaline rush from listening to awesome tunes with these players while fighting the undead hordes gives you damage/defense boosts, at the cost of electricity.

Health Monitors: Breathing monitors, heart rate monitors, step counters….these various monitors measure your vitals as you move throughout the environment. The more steps you take, the more bonuses these monitors will provide for you. Depending on which one you’re using, they can earn you HP, XP or both based on the distances you walk.

Bracelets: These bracelets of various shapes and sizes give you a health boost each time you successfully land a critical hit on a zombie.

Necklaces: Necklaces offer a variety of stat boosts. Some increase critical hit strength, some boost defense, and some allow firearms to shoot through multiple targets. Necklaces are sort of a ‘catch-all’ for cool passive bonuses that don’t fit into other categories.

Armor: From wrist guards to historical pauldrons, these armor pieces offer the player various defense boosts.

I also created a lock pick item that can be used to open any locked items in the game. Pete is the only character that can pick locks without using it. A backpack item has been added as well, which allows you to increase the size of your inventory when you start the game, you only have 4 available inventory slots, and must purchase the backpack upgrade to unlock all 12 slots).

I also implemented some of the other upgrades from the upgrade menu….for example, the upgrades which allow zombies to drop HP boosts when killed instead of just dropping coins.

Here are some images and .gifs which demonstrate some of these new features.

Sneak peek of what’s to come…

Posted in GUI, Items, Zombox on September 1st, 2012 by Tyson Ibele

I’ve been changing some things and working on a new ‘passive item’ system.

Passive weapons and items are equippable items (similar to certain special types of in-game clothing) that offer a defense/stat boost. You don’t have to do anything other than place them in the passive-item socket to reap their benefit (hence why they are considered passive).

Current types of passive items include shields, protective pads, music players, bracelets, watches, necklaces and more.

So for example, if you have a shield equipped, zombies that hit the shield won’t be able to do as much damage. If you have elbow pads equipped, you’ll have an overall defense boost. If you have a heart rate monitor equipped, you’ll regain a certain amount of HP for walking certain distances. Etc etc… Each one offers a unique benefit to the player, and you’ll be able to swap them in and out like any other socketable item so you can strategically choose the best situation to use them in.

Below is an image showing where they’ll appear in the layout.



Upgrade integration…

Posted in Characters, GUI, Items, Zombox on August 17th, 2012 by Tyson Ibele

So I’ve been working on getting the upgrade system actually implemented into the game.

The upgrade menu can now be opened by clicking your character in the inventory panel. The various categories in the upgrade menu can be examined by clicking the arrows to the right and left of the category name at the bottom. The actual upgrades for each category can be examined by clicking the arrows under each upgrade animation.

The main guy in the upgrade animations is no longer nude, and instead he adopts whatever clothing your character is wearing.

Also, I’m about half-way done implementing all of the actual upgrades into the game. There are now special attacks you can perform, all kinds of stat bonuses, special items to get, etc…all purchasable with upgrade points within the upgrade menu. And in case it wasn’t clear, every time you gain a level from earning XP (by killing zombies, performing quests, etc), you get a new upgrade point you can spend in the Upgrade Depot.

The following animated .gifs demonstrate how the animated menu looks, and a few of the special attacks (special hand attacks, special 1-handed melee weapon attacks and special 2-handed melee weapon attacks)