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Simulated Fear and Loathing in Knox County

October 31, 2011

Hi everyone. Will here. Seeing as my dialogue work for the next update was roughly 350 miles away from the grasp of evil robber-types, and was as such safe from being exchanged for crack, I thought I’d fill you in with a little bit of what’ll be going into it from my end.

What Lemmy is hard at work rebuilding is an NPC system that’ll give a degree of life and sociability to the chaps you’ll occasionally come across roaming the wilds of Knox County. There’s still a way to go, but once the update hits they’ll exchange greetings, insult each other and team up – with their responses governed on their current outlook on life. If they’re aggressive they’ll snarl, if they’re friendly they’ll attempt a slice of camaraderie.

As such I’ve been given a shopping list of dialogue variations that are required, each of which I’ve busted my brain providing multiple potential conversations. Some of them destined to be heard infrequently, some of them more common.

Here’s an example demand from the design team: “Aggressive NPC (X) meets Non-aggressive NPC (Y) and asks them if they can tag along. NPC Y disagrees.” So:

X: Hey, want to join forces?

Y: Ha, you’d shoot me in the back and steal all my stuff the second I turned my back.

X: You get that just from looking at me?

Y: I’ve met enough people like you these past few days.
Y: Just back off. Leave me alone.

Alternatively, given the possibility that one of the chaps might have taken a bite something like this could play out: “Cowardly NPC (X) meets suspected bitten NPC (Y) leaves alone.”

Y: Hey you! Hey you!

X: What?

Y: I’ve taken a… bite.
Y: Kill me. Kill me before it happens.

X: I don’t have the ammo to waste.
X: You’re on your own.
X: Sorry


X: I can see the tooth-marks from here y’know!
X: I’m turning around, I’m walking away!
X: Go play with your new dead friends!

Thinking about it, there’s also the potential for two NPCs who’ve been bitten meeting up. So tomorrow I guess I’ll be writing a few suicide pacts. (Fun day!)

Clearly I’ve also been tasked with coming up with the noises, gasps and general screamed last words we’d all come out with if munched upon by a deadhead scumbag zombie. We’ll need a bunch of these, so any suggestions are welcome! I do think that we’ll probably have to put a parental advisory at the start of the game now though. There’s going to be a lot of cussing in sandbox, as they’d probably call it in Knox County. There’ll still be a lot of “No! Noooo!”s, “Please! God no!”s and “No! No! Argh!”s going around though…

The NPC system has quite a few more tricks up its sleeve, I’ll expand on it later on and also don’t want to ruin any surprises, but it should certainly give more life and variety to your survival. We think the danger of overloading the game with too much dialogue, and too much incident, is a real one though. We still want you to feel lost and alone, so we’ll be careful to balance it right. In any case, if you don’t like your new friends then there’s nothing stopping you from nail-batting them in the head. Just be aware that they still might be thinking along similar lines…

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