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November 16, 2012

#4: Building a Better World

One of the problems with modding a game that’s in ongoing development is that occasionally the developers are going to pull a fast one and change something fundamental about the game that makes your mod redundant. What with the new animations of the RC builds a good amount of mods now don’t quite work with the Project Zomboid public test releases.

It’s a necessary evil, and you’ll hopefully agree that the new engine is considerably more fluid and pretty, but it’s one that does come at a cost, so please, have a seat, get yourself a cup of tea, and join me as I wander the halls of the modding forums nodding solemnly at the mods that I deeply desire will one day receive a dose of cosmetic surgery. If you fancy though, of course, you could always boot up an older build and reminisce a little.

There’s mods like zombaxx’s Crossbow Mod for instance, which does exactly what you might think. Just plop it into your Zomboid folder and you can craft yourself a lovely long-distance zombie-skewerer, silent as a whisper in the night and at least three times as deadly.

You’ll need a whole load of planks, a handful of nails, a hammer, a saw, a knife and a pillow (for feathers), but after an hour or so in the workshop (an entirely metaphorical hour) you’ll have the crossbow up and running. While you can’t quite go as far as retrieving arrows from the corpses of the twice-fallen, that is on the cards for a future update.

Or there’s Stormy, a sprite virtuoso who’s come up with outfits for old baldspot that are really quite something. There’s a Sherrif Outfit, Tracksuit and Trainers, the old army veteran Combat Trousers/Jungle Boots combo, and even a Shirt and Tie Combo that I featured in the last column. All of these aren’t going to make the transition to the new version of the game, which is a real shame.

That’s not to say that the modding scene is going to fall apart just because of a few changes, however. The new engine should make things easier, rather than harder, because it just requires reskinning rather than modelling every little sprite animation by hand. And we’ve already seen some great new mods pop up that take full advantage of that, like Spaz’s Spiked Bat and Poolcue, which add a little more variety to your arsenal.

It’s also important to realise that this only affects those mods which focused on the player character himself, and the weapons and tools he could use. There’s still a great deal that should work fine with the new version of the game, right down to being installed in the exact same way; just dropping the files in the appropriate folders as specified by the mod.

Mods like Duck and Cover, by Ontogenesis, decides that the constant threat of having your brains nibbled on by Hannibal Lecter’s spiritual if brainless children is clearly not enough of a danger, and so throws the odd air strike your way.

They’re completely randomised, meaning you might have just a few hours between the air-raid sirens, or even a couple of days. It’s a constant threat, and one you can really do nothing about. But when those horns start blaring, you have to rush indoors just so you don’t have your head blown off. It creates constant tension, as well as lovely little emergent stories where you might rush into the nearest building only to find it’s full of a whole pack of walkers, leaving you furiously defending yourself while the bombs provide an apocalyptic beat to the proceedings.

So lets give 1.5 a nice round of applause, because we’ll hopefully soon be taking it out behind the bike sheds and putting two in its little head, to make sure it doesn’t come back as a zombie and eat all our brains out.

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