Howdy, fellow survivors! This time, we’re taking a gander at Camden County, a large custom map set in rural America, made by Spoon. At 20×20 cells, and with the map purposely turned off by Spoon, Camden County is a place you’re likely to get lost in – but that doesn’t mean your journey through its cracked streets and overgrown woodlands won’t be enjoyable.
Camden County features not just towns, villages, industrial areas and trailer parks, but also mines, army camps, hand-crafted fields and forests, along with unique swampland and passable river tiles. It’s certainly a place for the rugged, survivalist type with plenty of remote areas to build, fish, and forage in. Spoon also recently tweaked some of the in-game media to better fit into Camden, and added vehicle and clothing decals for more of a rural feel.
We chopped our way through the dense mangrove, and found Spoon brewing up some moonshine. After sharing a tin cup of the good stuff, they kindly agreed to answer a few questions about themselves and their map!
Who are you in real life? Tell us a little about yourself.
”I am a friendly alc- I mean, malt water enjoyer, sad party clown, and self claimed philosopher from Eastern Europe. I like to go to the forest, eat soup, watch old movies, and tinker with games. I enjoy history and politics, and most of my ideas come while I sleep.”
How did you first discover Project Zomboid? Why do you like it?
“I think it was around 7-8 years ago when I saw it somewhere, and it was something different and unique. I have always considered gameplay/story to be more important than visuals so I instantly fell in love. I’ve been playing it on and off ever since.”
How did you get into mapping for PZ? Have you made maps or mods for other games before?
“My heart belongs to political games such as Command Ops 2, Hearts of Iron, Victoria, Europa Universalis, and Crusader Kings – but also Rimworld, Arma, 7 Days To Die (and PZ, of course). I often create mods, usually doing a complete overhaul of the game, or creating an environment that, in combination with the game base systems and tweaking AI competency, gives the player a long, realistic, and dynamic game.”
“Usually, a completely new (or at least heavily modified) map is part of that process. For example, I still play Rimworld and it took me four years to overhaul it. Now I am at a point where I can just enjoy my creations, and sometimes don’t even know the deep dynamics behind some systems I have made.”
“My main goal has always been to give both the items and characters a real value – this can only be achieved when things are created through a complex chain of events, and when every small decision matters.”
“It’s less ‘how’ I got involved in this than ‘when’ – if a game can be mapped, then I WILL map it! For Camden County, my friend suggested I actually get involved and let other people enjoy my stuff, as I have never uploaded my mods anywhere before.”
“While mapping, I often dwelled into PZ code folders as well, and when the map was finally finished, things went their natural way. As I am more of a visionary (fancy word for lazy people) then a hardcore coder, it was harder to make mods for Project Zomboid, as I usually just take vanilla systems and other people’s mods, learn their mechanics, change them to fit my purpose, and then use them privately.”
“But now I had to learn almost everything from scratch. I also had to adapt for the needs for others and often make multiple versions of the mods, constantly checking the comments and seeing if the bugs are real or someone just missing a step – although I am kind of determined in what I create, and mostly do not take suggestions.”
Tell us about Camden County. What sort of locations can players expect to find, and which might make a good base? What sort of player will most enjoy the map?
“Camden County is a fictional standalone map (with no connection to My Name is Earl’s location). Its name was originally called Munston but that sounded too British, so I went with a more American vibe.”
“I tried to paint a picture of a typical rural county with all of its basic infrastructure. There are a lot of places to set up a good base, such as a sewage plant, summer camp, sawmill, grain silo, or an abandoned coal mine.”
“This map was made for players who enjoy long games and extra challenge from difficult terrain – although to fully enjoy it I suggest some of my other mods with it (Slower Actions is my personal favourite).”
What were the inspirations behind Camden County (whether it’s other PZ maps, real life locations etc.)? How long did your map take to make, in total? What was the most difficult part?
“I have always been a fan of American rural settings. Most of my inspiration comes from all kinds of old 1970s-90s movies. After I started to make Camden County, I found myself rewinding movies again and again because I was inspecting the house and yard details, instead of watching the actual scene!”
“It took me around three months to make the map. A lot of time was spent just scrolling around and imagining how, where, and why the roads and buildings would fit most logically. The most difficult part was to draw a realistic pattern for the forest, and then make most of the deep forest actually deep and semi-impassable.”
Camden County is a huge map. How do you make sure that each area feels unique?
”Everything is placed in a manner so the pre-apocalyptic industrial logistics make sense. Areas then naturally feel unique, based on their different purposes. But even if we compare eg. one sawmill area to another, you can notice different placement of vegetation and smaller props, and how some buildings seem similar but are actually not.”
“I’ve made sure the only buildings that repeat themselves are some civilian houses/trailers – and even then I’ve tried editing as much as I can to give the entire thing a more realistic look. I’d call my style of mapping “organized chaos”.”
Your map has some interesting features like passable rivers and patches of swamp. Can you tell us more about these, and how they make the map feel different to the base game?
“I’ve intentionally made only one, quite narrow river as a primary source for fish. There is also a small lake. Both the riverside and the lakeside have extra-thick vegetation, plus zombies are more attracted to that water source as well. Some parts of the river are passable to create alternative routes for the player to use.”
“All other bodies of water can be considered dried up, swampy or just small ponds that have no fish, but from where you can still gather water. Swamps are impassable, and combined with the bushes and high vegetation that slows your movement similar to hedges, forms a labyrinth for the player to navigate in.”
“I actually started this map as a full-blown forest map that only had few houses on it, but as usual I quickly fell in love with its bird’s eye view, and kept expanding it.”
“The main thing that is different from the base game is the forest, which got most of the love. I went through all the tiles multiple times to adjust the forest and add all kinds of vegetation and rocks to make them feel like a real hyperborean jungle. There are all sorts of roads that wiggle across the forests, and you never know if these roads actually lead you somewhere or not.”
You made the decision not to show Camden County on the in-game map. How does this change the feel of playing in Camden? Do players enjoy the extra challenge of orienting themselves?
“Most people who like this kind of map will like the feature and the ones who don’t should not have played it in the first place – the map has a subscription drop-off rate of 30%. A GPS tracker (without the map) was added a bit later so server admins would have better view of their servers. I still hope most of the players don’t use it at all.”
“I can’t personally comment on how it feels to play without the tracker in Camden as I unfortunately know every corner of it and can’t get lost even if I really wanted to, but I have heard people say good things about it and how enhances their immersion.”
Is there anyone else in the PZ community (or beyond) you would like to give a shout-out to? Which maps (or mods) by other users do you enjoy or find interesting?
“I like that I can intentionally forget everything about mapping, because I can always watch Daddy Dirk’s tutorials again. Biggest thank yous go to everybody from Unofficial PZ mapping community discord, especially Gabester, Dane, Melo, and Azakaela.”
“Also Glytch3r from Team Orbit who has been my mentor and helped me a lot. Big shout-out also to Chuck Finn, albion, haram gaming, Poltergeist, Jab, Konijima, and many others who help people in the official PZ modding Discord.”
”Mods that I greatly enjoy are Surviving Through Seasons, The Scent of Blood, Prepare For Winter, Stable Weights, Manik’s A Decade Later Retexture, and Water Goes Bad! Also a big fan of the 10 Years Later mod, and everything TEAM ORBIT does.”
What’s next in your mapping plans? What’s the dream?
“There is no plans or dreams – it’s an addiction, and I need help! No, I’m kidding, but mapping is a game on its own, and my favourite one. I’d like to actually make that basic forest map someday, and maybe something underground-ish once Build 42 drops!”
Thanks to Spoon for answering our questions! You can find the Camden County map here.