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June 14, 2021

Mod Spotlight: Eerie Country

Greetings zomrades! We are always amazed at how many great maps our community is making, and Eerie Country is one of the very best. Some maps go for huge size and others for high levels of detail, but Eerie Country sits in the perfect sweet spot between both.

With an appropriately eerie feeling pervading each and every area, Eerie Country has a much more apocalyptic feel than our base map, but also a wonderful variety of places not found in our Knox County like oil derricks, an airport, military watchtowers, bus stations, greenhouses, and detailed farms.

Some areas make use of custom textures but many use our base game graphics to create places with entirely different vibes than our map – no mean feat!

Every single area has clearly been thought out. Farmhouses have yards with henhouses, barns, and grain silos. Factories are filled with machinery, and you can’t blame the apocalypse for how dilapidated some of those gas stations look. Towns with narrow streets become more claustrophobic when they’re filled with debris, wreckage, and barricaded buildings. Military checkpoints and medical areas filled with body bags (SO MANY BODY BAGS) tell a story but like every story in the world of PZ they have the same ending – those pesky zombies always seem to win!

With multiple towns and dozens of cells to explore, it’s a surprise to learn the map is mainly the work of only two people, Atoxwarrior and Otomie Warrior. We spoke to both of the authors to understand how such a great map came together.

Atoxwarrior

Atoxwarrior, pictured with his sister

Who are you in real life?

“I’m in my last semester at university for a music teacher degree, and I’m very passionate about music. I’m a guitar player but lately I’ve been learning to sing for my band, Toxic Lovers. Other than that, I’m an ordinary young man who likes video games, post apocalyptic movies, going out to visit nature with friends and spending time at home with my family.”

Can you describe your Eerie Country map for us?

“Eerie Country is a map that seeks to show how society tried (and failed) to fight the zombie pandemic, but also to encourage exploration. I’ve always found it important for a map to have a great diversity of places for the player to venture, not only for the loot but for the environment itself, to encourage the player to leave the comfort of their base. My goal when making the map is to offer a fun experience that awakens players’ curiosity.”

How did you first discover PZ? Why do you like it?

“I discovered this beautiful work of art when looking for isometric games. The pixel art style along with the open world zombie survival aspect meant it was love at first sight. I remember the excitement I felt when creating my first character and exploring a world in chaos. I didn’t do very well because I ended up running away from the zombies and getting lost in the forest and dying of thirst, but it was very exciting!”

How did you get into PZ mapping? Did you have experience making maps or mods for other games previously?

“I had no experience creating mods or maps but was inspired to start when I read on the Indie Stone forums that I could make my own world. It was exciting but my biggest challenge was trying to understand what the Thuztor mapping guide said as I don’t speak English. I had to use Google Translate to understand how the TileZed tools worked, and everything was an arduous process of trial and error. Luckily I am very patient and managed to make my first map which is now “Irvington”, one of the cities in Eerie Country. I’m planning to make my own tutorials in Spanish as I want more players to have the opportunity to create their own maps.”

You collaborated on Eerie Country with Otomie Warrior. How did you come across them? Which parts of the mod are yours and which are theirs? Did you have help from anyone else?

“I met Otomie in the Indie Stone forums. We share a taste for creating maps and can speak the same language, which is very helpful. He’s a great partner who has supported me all these years. He’s contributed a lot to the map including the missile silo, the mountains, the labyrinthine church in the swamp area, along with many other buildings in Eerie and more that have not yet been released. I also want to thank Snake who helped with Lua coding, and Cyrrent Eiledoll who helped me create the natural tiles for the swamp which give that area such a unique atmosphere.”

How much time have you put into making your map mod? What were the biggest challenges in making it?

“I started the project in 2016 but didn’t have much time to work on it due to college and other work. Thankfully my Patreon has allowed me to commit more time to making the map!”

“Without a doubt the biggest challenge is thinking of interesting places to add to the map. Comments and suggestions from players are very helpful for this. My work has also helped me appreciate the developers of the official map because now I know how much work they have to do, and recreating a real life city is not as easy as many people seem to think!”

What were your inspirations for this map from real life, movies, other videogames etc.?

“Eerie started as a project to offer multiplayer players an experience they could enjoy by being able to fight or hide in different corners of the map, but as the project progresses I see it more as a work full of references to movies and video games. For example “Centralia”, the city I recently built, is inspired by Silent Hill and The Last of Us. Every time I add something to the map I look to add references, but I also like to investigate real life situations because sometimes reality is more disturbing than the imagination.”

If you had to pick one place in your map to use as a base, which area would you choose and why?

“At first I liked living in the junkyard that was south of the map in the middle of Highway 3, but now I like living in the other junkyard in Centralia. Maybe later as I make more progress, I’ll change my mind again!”

Which maps or mods by other users do you enjoy or find interesting?

“I highly recommend Snake’s mods since they have such a wide variety and are of special value for the Spanish-speaking community. I hope they’ll be translated into English and on the Steam workshop some day because they are pure gold!”

“I would also like to recommend Relihschneider’s mod SWAT & RIOT PACK, which has lots of great equipment, and Toxic Fog by Planelalgol. (I wish PZ had a greater variety of gas masks, seeing as I collect them in real life!)”

“Another one I find very interesting is Peppercat’s Dynamic Traits which lets you gain or lose traits based on your playstyle. Finally I have a long list of maps I love to explore and that inspired me the most: Downtown, Radcliff, Drayton (Rebuild, Phoenix, and Cherbourg.”

What’s next in your mapping plans? What’s the dream?

“Right now I’m continuing the development of the capital city of Eerie, trying to recapture the atmosphere of Resident Evil 3. Of course, only the community can judge if I get it right! My dream is to be able to finish the Eerie map and make a multiplayer server filled with entertaining stories for the Zomboid community. I also hope my map becomes an inspiration for other mappers!”

Many members of the Project Zomboid community will be aware that your family recently encountered some extreme difficulties. If you feel able to, could you let us know what happened – and, importantly, are there any further ways that people who use your maps and appreciate your work can contribute to help this situation in any way?

“My family is very grateful for all the support from the Zomboid community. There are details of the accident we prefer not to tell, because of the implications it had locally, and since the loss of a member of our household so tragically and almost losing my sister has left scars that will be difficult to heal over time. I hope you understand, and that someday justice for so much corruption comes to Venezuela.”

“My sister has been able to recover satisfactorily and continues to fight like the strong woman she is (as her younger brother, I admire her a lot). I know it is not easy for her, but as a family we are all together in this. She is working on her own business at home, creating personalised notebooks. You can find her work at AbiBookCa on Instagram.”

“Currently the only way I have to help my family is my work and what I receive from the people who support my Patreon (which can be found here). I owe my patrons a special mention because without their financial support, this young Zomboid fan would not have come so far. In the future I would love to be able to pass on the support I’ve received to other creators who do not have the necessary resources to survive.”

“The Zomboid community is one of the best communities and I feel proud to be a part of it. It has taught me that despite adversities we can always help others. Thanks to all the Indie Stone team for giving me the opportunity to tell my story, I appreciate it very much.”

Otomie Warrior

Who are you in real life?

“In the old Indie Stone forums, I was 956 Texas, and I was born and raised in McAllen, a city in the southernmost region of Texas close to the Mexican border. I work as a construction safety officer and have a family to take care of, so I work on PZ buildings in my spare time.”

How did you first discover PZ? Why do you like it?

“I first discovered PZ in 2016 on Steam and liked the retro Super Nintendo vibes the graphics gave. Seeing it was a survival horror zombie game made it even better!”

How did you get into PZ mapping?

“I got into creating buildings after realising the game could do with more variety. I also wanted to design my own buildings with traps in them so the player would have to be cautious while exploring them.”

Can you describe your contributions to the Eerie Country map and what it was like working with Atoxwarrior?

“Working with Atoxwarrior has been a great experience! I’ve learned a lot from him and we’ve become good friends. Even though he lives in Venezuela, we keep in touch through social networks. I hope one day I can reunite with my good buddy in Colombia and enjoy a good chat and some coffee!”

“I have contributed over 300 buildings to the map and they come in all shapes and forms, from urban cities to forest camps and even missile silos!”

Which of the areas/buildings you worked on is your favourite? In which of your buildings would you most like to set up a base?

“I most enjoyed working on the buildings of the Old Town section. It’s inspired by Resident Evil’s Raccoon City with narrow alleyways, traps, and many rooms to explore. I would most like to set up a base in an old forest camp I made that has a good wood wall space for ten people. I wouldn’t want to set up a base in the old city – it’s crawling with zombies.”

Which maps or mods by other users do you enjoy or find interesting?

Superb Survivors is lots of fun, but I wish it worked in multiplayer!”

What’s next in your mapping plans? What’s the dream?

“I plan to keep helping Atoxwarrior. My dream is to finish the Eerie Country map and make it an all-time favourite thanks to its unique buildings and the vast map you can explore!”

Thanks to Atoxwarrior and Otomie Warrior for taking time to answer our questions! You can subscribe to the Eerie Country map here.

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