What’s happening…

Posted in Press, Zombox on July 17th, 2013 by Tyson Ibele

Hey everyone,

So you might be wondering what is happening with regards to Zombox development. I mean, the game has been in development for over two years now! Why isn’t it out yet?

Here’s the short answer:

There’s a lot left to do, and most of my recent developments have been back-end stuff related to the new map generation system.

Here’s the long answer:

Zombox was originally conceived as a micro-game in which you walk around a neighborhood killing zombies and destroying property. It was meant to be a simple test to see whether or not I could make an iOS game on my own.

It quickly exploded into what it is today. It now features a rich character upgrade system, a massive world, a complex system of NPCs, dozens of zombie types, almost a thousand different items to find, buy or craft, etc.

The latest overhaul of features that I’ve been working on is a complete rewrite of the map generation system, to make way for the hundreds of new city elements. This is no trivial task, because the old map system was integrated into many different parts of the Zombox code base, so replacing that code is a complicated process. So far I’ve already re-written several thousand lines of code, and by the time I’m done, I’ll have added several thousand more.

In re-writing those sections of code I’ve also put a lot of work into making the map system much more efficient. As it stands, it’s about 20 times faster and uses 10 times less RAM. That will make a big difference on mobile devices, because it means the game will load very quickly and be less likely to crash (running out of memory will cause games to crash on iOS).

Now, that is all behind the scenes stuff that takes a lot of time, which means that while I am coding those types of things, I won’t have many updates to post here.

So, just because I haven’t posted an update, doesn’t mean the game is not constantly in development!

Now, that said, here are some updates that you have to look forward to, in the future:

  • Weapons will have durability, and must eventually be repaired or else they will break
  • Players will be able to swim for short periods of time in the water, even though it is toxic.
  • The prop-crafting system (for things like walls, chests, doors, etc) is going to be augmented with many new buildable items
  • Different types of workstations will be craftable, that will allow you to craft more advanced items. So, for example, you’ll need to build an oven to craft certain foods, or a workbench to craft certain objects, etc.
  • A power system is going to be implemented, that will allow you to build generators (which will require fuel) that can be used to provide electricity for more advanced crafting workstations.
  • Zone-specific NPC behaviors are going to be implemented. For example, in the military areas you’ll have to face aggressive soldier NPCs who might not be as friendly as the sewer NPCs or the random NPCs you might meet elsewhere.
  • Eventually I’d also like to add in things like NPC sub-stories and quests, but I haven’t put too much thought into those things yet.

I have other things on my to-do list as well, but those are the main things for now! I’m not sure how long it’ll be before I have some new content to post, but you can rest assured that lots of development progress is still being made!

In the meantime, I appreciate everyone’s support and patience!


City fly-through…

Posted in Procedural world, Zombox on June 15th, 2013 by Tyson Ibele

Here’s a fly-through of a city generated with the new procedural generation system. Previous posts showed what maps look like from above…this video gives you a glimpse of what those maps look like once they’re converted into in-game geometry.

All the models and textures you see here come straight from the game, and this is exactly the type of map that you’ll be able to play in. The total area of this map is about 1.25 km square. Keep in mind that every single object you see in the video can be completely destroyed or repaired. Also note that each city you play in will have dozens of different areas each with its own types of zombies….thousands of buildings to explore and loot….a nearly inexhaustible number of places to build a shelter, craft reinforcements, etc. In other words….the maps are huge!


Further map updates…

Posted in Procedural world, Zombox on May 29th, 2013 by Tyson Ibele

Hey everyone, so I haven’t updated in a while….mainly because I was in France for a bit of a vacation….but things are back on track now and moving forward! Normally I post updates on Friday nights, but I figured I’d post this one a bit early since many of you are waiting very patiently to see some progress.

The procedural city layout system is basically done at this point. Since the last update several things have happened:

  • the perimeter of each city is no longer totally square. There are now many islands (which you’ll eventually be able to travel to…hint hint) and bays to create some extra variety in the overall shape of each city
  • about 40 new map tiles have been added….everything from dusty streets to backyard swimming pools to graveyards to basketball courts to football fields, to machine gun posts, etc etc….
  • the main city ‘zones’ have been better defined. Industrial zones are dusty and dirty, commercial zones are mostly concrete, residential zones are grassy, and destruction zones are charred and full of rubble. This will help the player better orient themselves in the overall scheme of things (ie, if you see that the buildings around you are surrounded by grassy yards, you’ll know you’re in the suburbs, etc)

I think the last thing I’ll be doing to the map layout system is further emphasizing the destruction around the central meteor crater. Right now that area is mostly grassy…I’d like to make it much more charred and desolate. If all goes well I’ll have that done by this Friday…so keep an eye out for that update!

Here is an image showing 4 different maps generated with the new system:


Tweaked the center crater area I mentioned above…now the destruction zone expands further out to the borders of the quarantine fences.

Click here to view what the new center areas look like.


New developments…

Posted in Procedural world, Zombox on April 27th, 2013 by Tyson Ibele

So as many of you have noticed, there haven’t been updates in a while. That’s mostly because the current list of things I’m working on involves a lot of backend work. If you’ve seen my previous posts, I’ve talked about re-working the city generation system to allow for more variations, and so that’s what I’ve been doing.

The old city system had about a dozen different ’tiles’ that were used to create the city….a couple building tiles, a few roads, grassy areas, rivers, etc. The new system now has over 100 tiles (60+ of which were shown in previous posts), and the cities generated with them are much more robust.

Now, I haven’t finished updating the city generator yet, and there’s still more work to be done. In the below image you can see some city layouts generated with the new system, and they’re fairly square and uniform. The next step will be getting more variety in the overall shape of the map, as well as more variety in the placements of the various city zones. Regardless, you can still see how huge and detailed the cities will be.

More city tiles…

Posted in Procedural world, Zombox on March 22nd, 2013 by Tyson Ibele

I was very busy with work the last two weeks, so Zombox work was put on the backburner, but I managed to finish texturing the latest city tiles, as well as create a giant new one that will serve a special purpose.

In the following weeks, I’ll be integrating these tiles into the map generator. The map generator itself is getting refurbished, since I’ve decided to try and make map layouts randomized after all (until now, buildings and props and things were randomized, but the overall map layout was not random, so things like roads and rivers were always in the same place). The new randomized layouts will mean each time you start a new game, you’ll have a whole new city to explore.

In the next couple of weeks I also want to render out a Youtube video showing a fly-through animation of the entire city, so you can see all of its different features and areas, as well as its size. So, keep a look out for that!

City tiles…

Posted in Procedural world, Zombox on March 8th, 2013 by Tyson Ibele

This week I finished up modeling the new city tiles I’ll be adding to the game. Each square represents a chunk of the map, and the elements on each square (fences, trees, walls, rocks, etc) will be randomized when the map is generated.  For example, if a “farm” zone is being created, it’ll choose one of the farm tiles and then randomly choose whether or not to add the fences, hay bales, ponds and such to that specific tile.

This system has been in place from the beginning, it’s just that now I’m adding a lot more variety to it. Previously, the map consisted of either buildings, roads or grassy areas….now you can see all the new areas that will be added (parks, farms, military bases, quarantine zones, demolished buildings, etc).

Here’s an image of the new models. They haven’t been textured yet so that’s why they’re white.

I also analyzed the visitor traffic this development blog has gotten over the last two years, in response to a thread on reddit where someone asked which marketing avenues they should pursue in order to drum up interest for their game. If you’re a game developer who wants to know which forums or websites it would be best to spread the word about your game on, this information may be useful to you!

To read the post, click here.


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.

Fainting, hunger pains and more…

Posted in Characters, Zombox on February 15th, 2013 by Tyson Ibele

Smaller update this week because most of what I worked on was just optimizing code…

The ailment system has some new additions:

  • When your character is bleeding, he’ll now attract all nearby zombies
  • When your character is too sleep deprived, there’s a chance he could pass out. This leaves you vulnerable. Clicking your character repeatedly, however, will slap him back awake
  • When your character is too hungry, he’ll clench his stomach to ease the hunger pains. This prevents you from using weapons until you eat again (although you’ll still be able to attack with your fists)
  • When you’re suffering from one or more ailments, you’ll slowly become delirious. This will cause the screen to wobble and your character will stumble around, unable to move in straight lines

Special attacks and attack bonus upgrades are also disabled while you’re in the later stages of suffering from any one of the three main ailment types.

Also, all 900 item icons were re-rendered at double resolution to make them look crisper at higher (retina) resolutions.

I’m also thinking about adding some food/sleep/health bonuses, that will give the player extra damage/speed/defense bonuses when you get extra food/sleep/meds. That will help to balance things out so you are inclined to eat/sleep/medicate yourself more often — not just to prevent death.

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!



Eat, sleep, kill…

Posted in AI, Characters, Zombox on February 1st, 2013 by Tyson Ibele

So I’ve got all the new zombies integrated into the game now, as well as all of the various different behaviors they can exhibit.

Zombies can now also get their heads crushed and destroyed, their arms ripped off, and their legs removed (forcing them to crawl after you). Depending on the occupation of the zombie, it may also carry a weapon or have extra armor. Zombies that wear helmets have to have their helmet knocked off before they’ll take any bodily damage.

There’s also a new three-tier wellness system I added (which replaces the old hunger system), which keeps track of your hunger, tiredness and blood levels.  Beds that are found (or crafted) can now be slept on, and sleeping can also regain some HP depending on how tired you are when you fall asleep. Explosions and zombie attacks can also cause you to bleed out now, and if you do not find medical attention after the bleeding starts you’ll slowly lose HP and eventually die of blood loss.

Other various tweaks to the UI have been made, like popups showing important information and the amount of HP lost/gained after an injury/heal.

I’ve also optimized a lot of the background functions controlling the AI. The A* pathfinding algorithms now use about 40% less memory and are faster as well.

Here’s a youtube video showing most things mentioned above. Only thing to keep in mind is that the zombies in it are just generic neighborhood zombies, so you won’t see any of the ‘special’ ones like animals, clowns, swat members, etc…but don’t worry! They’re still in there!