Howdy, deadites! As PZ players, we’re all acquainted with the tricky balancing act of character traits. Should I be Cowardly or Brave? Should I be an illiterate cook, or a mechanic who’s scared of blood? This month we’re taking a look at Dynamic Traits, a popular mod by PepperCat that expands on our system by giving you the ability to gain (or lose) traits during gameplay – but it’s not going to be easy.
The mod adds several new traits like pluviophilia/phobia (love/fear of rain) which are available at character creation, but its main focus is allowing you to lose your negative traits and gain positive ones through hard work and diligence. And by hard work, we mean killing a few thousand zombies to get rid of Cowardly, for example. But it isn’t all positive: you’ll suffer from nightmares if you’re stressed, will need to eat more to fill the hole in your soul if you’re sad, and can become a Nervous Wreck if you’re not careful with those antidepressants.
This is a mod for the player who wants a return on the long hours they put into a single game, and adds a layer of long-term strategy as your character becomes a whole new person in the post-apocalypse (just, almost certainly, in time to get bitten). We overcame our Unfitness to track down PepperCat in her lair and dynamically asked her questions about herself and her mod!
Who are you in real life? Tell us a little about yourself.
“My name is Alexa Altez AKA PepperCat (which comes from the anime ‘Medabots’). I’m 27 and from Uruguay, that often forgotten little country in South America. I currently work as a Software Test Lead, and previously was a Game Testing Lead for the AAA games industry.”
How did you first discover Project Zomboid? Why do you like it?
“I first found Project Zomboid while searching for a game my girlfriend could play on her laptop around November 2020. Guess who has over 2,000 hours now in the game that wasn’t even supposed to be for her!”
“I really enjoy PZ’s ridiculous amount of deep mechanics, and how the zombies don’t need to have special skills to be dangerous. Despite being ‘slow’ and ‘stupid’, it only takes one mistake for them to bite you. There are many other things I love about the game, and I get the same feeling of hype I used to get from Blizzard Games trailers (which I loved) every time I read a new blog post or see new features being worked on!”
How did you get into modding for PZ? Have you made mods or maps for other games before?
“I’ve never made mods for other games, though around 2010 I was making a hackrom for Pokemon Fire Red which I never finished (which probably doesn’t count).”
Explain your mod to us. How does it change the traits system and the game itself?
“The mod started as a simple one that made some traits dynamic, but with time it’s changed so much that the name may not be accurate now!”
“Of course the main part of the mod is still to make traits dynamic (which means that both positive and negative traits can be obtained and lost during the game, instead of being the same forever) and I’ve made new mechanics for my traits (eg. some are obtainable by moving objects, others by kills and time survived, others by perk levels, etc.) but right now the mod affects many more areas of the game. For example, it balances all the vanilla trait costs with the mod traits, all the professions are reworked, and there’s a LOT of background code that ties things together. To take one example from dozens, if you are a Park Ranger you’re going to gain Outdoorsman faster.”
“You can also learn all the vanilla recipes by leveling up perks (hey, you can learn something by practicing!) so it makes Illiterate playable. Also changed is how fast you get wet by being in the rain (affected by wearing ponchos and/or umbrellas) and obtaining XP multipliers to Strength and Fitness if the regularity is maxed (do exercises, it’s good!).”
How long have you spent making your mod? What was the most difficult part?
“The first version of the mod was uploaded to Steam on 16 April, 2021 and I continue updating it, so it takes a lot of time!”
“The difficult part is Lua in general as I said, as I’m not that good with it (and my mod is basically just Lua with little scripts in the middle).”
Has your mod inspired any fun or interesting player stories?
“There are quite a few memes in the Spanish community: each time someone asks what the mod does, everyone answers like: ‘It gives you Restless Sleeper’, ‘It kills you’, and many other things.”
“But talking about a specific moment, during a live stream of 4fungaming he was building a bridge and everything was normal until he slept without enough clothes on and caught a cold. In my mod, a cold can kill you if you don’t heal it fast. So as soon as that happened the stream went from a chill moment building a bridge to a very tense moment (which lasted over an hour) as he tried to find a place to rest and cure the cold!”
Is there anyone in the PZ community (or beyond) you would like to give a shout-out to? Which mods or maps by other users do you enjoy or find interesting?
“I use a lot of mods (I have a modlist in Steam which I’m continuously updating to make sure all of them are compatible) but specifically: Snake’s Modpack, Ki5 Vehicles, Shark and Authentic Peach clothes mods, all the mods that makes the world looks really apocalyptic like Worse Vehicle Condition, 10 Years Later, Trash and Corpses, and many, many more.”
“I’d like to thank everyone in the PZ community who has helped me by answering my many questions, especially Chuck, Aiteron and Blair, who also make great mods themselves. Recently Konijima has saved me hours (maybe even days) by explaining things to me, and thanks again to Shark and Authentic Peach for their awesome mods. And of course, a huge thanks to Snake and Ditoseadio from the Spanish community!”
What’s next in your modding plans? What’s the dream?
“My plan is to keep learning as much as I can about modding to keep expanding Dynamic Traits and make it a true game changer. I’ve recently been playing around with Moodles to make them much more dangerous and plan to add new ones, and (of course) have them all be affected by traits.”
“Other than that, I want to mod the health system and other mechanics which directly impact the player so they are constantly challenged!”
Thanks to PepperCat for answering our questions! You can find their Dynamic Traits mod here.