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The NPC dance of death

December 9, 2011

Hi everyone, time for another development update – and this time with something a little more exciting to show.

This is a demo of the NPC behaviour we’ve put into the game, on display using a debug rendition of the entire suburbs map. It shows the new zombie horde system – pumped up to 11 on the zomboid-ometer for demo purposes. It also now shows how zombies (in red) are now completely persistent across the entire map, instead of being virtualised when they got out of range. This will be more taxing on the CPU, but means the cell you inhabit will be completely alive with no trickery, and also that full-tile barricades will be able to cordon off safe areas based outdoors.

On top of this zombies will only ever spawn on the edges of the map, while the flocking and wandering behaviours have been altered to provide much more interesting zombie migration and hunting. They’ll now never ever start thumping at a door unless they seen or heard a noise from directly inside, for example. This will keep door genocide to a minimum, even though with NPCs about those deadheads will often have a perfectly legitimate reason to give those doors a hard time.

NPCs in this video (the white dots) are attempting to survive by grouping together -if their personality suits it. They are also establishing a safehouse, going on looting missions to other houses, eating, bandaging and fighting/fleeing zombies where appropriate. It’s difficult to tell what they’re doing a lot of the time from blobs, but they are a certainly a lot more intelligent now. If you see any odd behaviour then thisis likely either a bug, or a particularly mental NPC (they have stats).

At the moment their fleeing takes no consideration to where their friends are, so when there are a shit-ton of zombies surrounding them, they soon get split up. This coupled with the fact that NPCs try to avoid bringing zombies back to their safehouse does mean that things go a bit mental when the zombie count is high – they can be a little reckless. Then again it does make for more interesting video than a bunch of NPCs hid in a safehouse unseen by zombies for the whole time! Additional work needs adding to their tiny NPC minds too, since they can occasionally forget seeing a hordein a particular place and go back there to forage. Which is somewhat silly.

Oh, and as ever the music is by the awesome Zach Beever. We thought we’d add a couple of the new tracks as a taster of what’s to come!

Best to watch on HD to see what’s going on clearly.