Time for another drive, survivors! This time, it’s time to look at the varied vehicle mods of the difficult-to-spell Fhqwhgad. Fhqwhgad is passionate about cars, and it shows in their mods. Their largest vehicle pack adds a variety of period appropriate American and imported cars to Project Zomboid, all of which fit nicely with our art style. The cars have varying rarity, and some are a lot harder to find than others. Let’s hope you don’t wrap them around a telephone pole at 120 mph! The pack is also constantly updated with new vehicles.
If you fancy decorating your base with something other than the cars themselves, Fhqwhgad’s other mods add colorful posters featuring many of the vehicles, and die-cast model versions of the cars, for a more space-efficient vehicle collection. Some of their other mods add standalone cars like the Flea Supreme from Fallout 4, the Assoluto Bisonte from Ridge Racer Type 4, and more detailed versions of cars from the vehicle pack, like the Lexus LS400.
We took the company car (a Spiffo-branded Reliant Robin, of course) to Fhqwhgad’s gargantuan garage where they were kind enough to answer a few questions for us about themselves and their vehicles mods!
Who are you in real life? Tell us a little about yourself.
“I go by Fhqwhgads (pronounced fuh-HOO-kwuh-gahds, it comes from Homestar Runner), and am very passionate about cars and their history, along with racing games and motorsport. Most of the games I played as a kid were racing games like San Francisco Rush, Cruis’n, Burnout, and Need for Speed. The first few Gran Turismo games in particular are some of my favorite racing games, and they definitely influenced my appreciation for the world of motoring.”
How did you first discover Project Zomboid? Why do you like it?
“I came across Project Zomboid through Steam’s discovery system at the end of 2019. I distinctly remember one of the lines in the video that hooked me: “How would you survive the zombie apocalypse?” PZ’s focus on realism, the depth of its mechanics, and the variety in the character traits is what really intrigued me and still keeps me playing. Base building is also a big draw for me – I keep wanting to start new saves with different bases. I’m very excited for the future of Zomboid, and I’ve already put hundreds of hours into the game as-is!”
Please give us a quick overview of all the vehicle mods you created. Do you have an interest in vehicles in real life?
“My main project is the Motorious Zone Vehicle Pack, which adds a wide variety of era-appropriate vehicles in a style very close to PZ’s vanilla vehicles. It has everyday vehicles like the Toyota Previa and Volkswagen Scirocco, to sports cars and supercars like the Nissan 300ZX and Lamborghini Diablo, and more. I also love making rare Easter Egg cars, some of which reference movies/TV shows, and my favorite games. I really like the “vanilla plus” approach, so I try to make sure the features and visual style of the vehicles in the pack fit with the base game.”
“I’ve released several other mods too. Vehicle Spawn Zones Expanded was something I made originally for Motorious Zone as a way to provide more spots for rare cars to spawn. It eventually became much more, covering most of the map with new themed spawn zones for vehicles of all kinds. I’ve also released a set of car-themed posters to decorate bases with, and diecast car models for collecting, which come with a brief history of the car they’re modeled after. The extra cars I’ve made outside of the pack include the Fusion Flea from Fallout 4 and the Bisonte from Ridge Racer Type 4, as well as the Pursuit Special from Mad Max 2. There’s also the Hot Pursuit Pack, police variants of cars from Motorious Zone inspired by the NFS Hot Pursuit games, and the LS400 Redux, a version of the LS400 from my vehicle pack with extra features.”
“I’m very interested in cars, car culture, and motorsport. I even planned at one point to give the vehicles in the vehicle pack some form of in-game description with the history and information on each car before eventually doing something similar with the diecast cars. I like pretty much every type of car, but some favorite types are Japanese cars from the 70’s and earlier, sports sedans, and some of the odd cars from the mid-80’s to 90’s. There’s plenty of times when I set out to find information on some car I’m working on that will lead down a rabbit hole of learning about some obscure cars that I didn’t know about, which become new favorites!”
How did you get into making vehicles for PZ? Have you made vehicles or models for other games before? Do you have any training in 3d modelling/coding etc.?
“I actually had no prior 3D modeling experience before working on PZ mods. The model for my original 240SX Coupe mod was the first complete model I had ever made, after watching some Blender tutorials. Most of my experience in modifying games came from doing some small mods, tweaks, and fixes for Fallout: New Vegas and Fallout 4, so I was very glad that PZ is also a game built with modding in mind.”
“What really inspired me to start making cars for PZ was Filibuster Rhymes’ Used Cars, which was the first mod I downloaded for PZ. The extra vehicles added a lot to the experience for me, and I really liked that it all meshed well with the vanilla game.”
Tell us about your vehicles. How many have you made, in total? How long does it take to make each vehicle? What is the most difficult part?
“The vehicles are a bit tricky to count, with so many different trim levels, configurations, and variants. Counting only different models and some body styles, the total is around 70. Including all of the variants of each vehicle, there are 182 in Motorious Zone, 15 police variants from the Hot Pursuit add-on, and 4 cars only featured in standalone mods.”
“For a while after the vehicle pack first came out, I was adding new vehicles to it weekly. Now I try to do at least one update a month, but also add a few more cars/variants per update than I used to. I also try to balance it out with separate projects I have going on.”
“It might sound a bit cheesy, but one of the hardest parts is trying to decide which car I want to work on next. I usually try to plan ahead, but there are so many cars I want to make, and sometimes another car will pop into my head that takes my attention. The part that usually takes the most time when making a car though is the UV and texturing, and trying to capture the details of each car.”
Which would be the best, and worst, of your modded vehicles to have in a real zombie apocalypse? Which would you most like to own in real life?
“Station wagons seem like they would be good vehicles to have for a zombie apocalypse: they’re roomy and are usually based on more common models, so the Subaru Loyale wagon would be one of my picks. The McLaren F1, while a great car in its own right, would probably be the worst to own in the apocalypse. There’s barely any space to store anything and the exhaust noise would drag a whole town’s worth of zombies your way, though the driver does sit in the middle, so that has its own benefits.”
“I’ve added a few of my own dream cars to the game, so it’s hard for me to pick a favorite. It’s pretty close between the Lancia Delta Evoluzione and the Lancia Stratos for me, they’re both legendary in the rally world.”
You have collaborated with other modders on some of the vehicles and vehicle packs. Tell us about these collaborations, and how they came about. Do you enjoy working with others? Is it easier or more difficult than working alone?
“The biggest pack I helped with is StarFireReaper’s 1993 American vehicle pack, a massive pack focusing on American models. I had helped with some of StarFireReaper’s earlier vehicle mods, so when work on the pack started, I helped out with the tuning of some vehicles, and some of the vehicle scripts. Skizot is another modder who I’ve worked with, which started out with helping with the riding mower mod. I also did the drift tuning for their Initial D Sprinter Trueno, so any drift-related accidents are on me. I do enjoy helping out other modders, and have helped a few other mod authors like KV and ExtraNoise with their first few vehicle mods.”
How do your vehicles change how PZ is played? Have any fun player stories arisen from your mods?
“For those who like to collect things, there’s definitely a lot to find in the vehicle pack, including rare cars scattered around the map. Some of the vehicles also fill small niche roles in the gameplay itself. For example, the muscle cars have speed close to sports cars, but are classified as standard cars and use standard car parts. Kei cars are small and quiet making them great for navigating through hordes and densely populated areas, but they are very rare, and are much slower than most cars while also having very limited cargo capacity. There’s also some that are essentially whole different categories of vehicle, like buses.”
“Many of the player experiences I’ve heard regarding my vehicle mods are of people collecting the cars that are their favorites, or they actually own in real life, but I also really hope to introduce someone to a car that’s new to them that they’ll come to like. Something I really aim for with my mods is sparking a player’s interest in a car they find, or in cars in general. I find PZ has an opportunity to give some form of ownership and connection to cars you find in the game, since they can create their own little stories from gameplay moments, and the maintenance you have to perform on cars (with sometimes limited resources) can make you choose ones to stick with, and grow fond of.”
“I’m also very much inspired by Gran Turismo, and the feeling I had browsing the in-game used car dealerships in the first few GT games. One of my favorite things was coming across a weird or interesting car that I hadn’t seen before. As I said, I’d like to pass on that feeling to other players in some way, particularly with some of the more obscure and odd cars.”
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?
“One mod that I really like and always support when I can is NoctisFalco’s Paint Your Ride. The ability to repaint your car seems like a small feature, but I love that it gives an extra bit of personalization to your vehicle, and the way it’s implemented has a level of detail and realism to it that fits well with PZ’s other systems. Lifestyle: Hobbies is also a mod I’ve had a good time with. It’s heavily inspired by The Sims and is great when playing with friends.”
“There are also some vehicle mods fitting PZ’s style that have flown a bit under the radar that I like: MatrixRebel’s Land Rover Discovery, KV’s Vehicle Bonanza, and Ivailo’s BeamNG cars to name a few. Standardized Vehicle Upgrades is also a great mod, and thanks to NightScale for helping get Motorious Zone to support it. Redstone Raceway is one of my favorites too, it’s a fun and unique addition to the map. There are many, many more maps and mods out there for PZ that I enjoy in addition to these, the modding community is always creating great stuff!”
“Shout-out again to Filibuster Rhymes and his excellent mod Used Cars for being a big inspiration and a great guy, and to the mod authors that I’ve mentioned earlier and their mods: StarFireReaper, Skizot, and ExtraNoise. There’s also the Zomboid streamers and creators whose videos or streams I’ve had on while working on mods: Djackz, Pr1vatelime, Nurse, AuthenticPeach (shout-out to his mods too), and Retanaru, especially for the rigorous testing and informative videos on PZ’s mechanics. I’m also very grateful for everyone who’s been very supportive and sent many kind words, and to The Indie Stone for making this amazing survival game!”
What’s next in your vehicle plans? What’s the dream?
“At the moment I’m working on a few mods to celebrate Ridge Racer Type 4’s 25th anniversary. There are a few cars from the game I’d like to work on, and maybe even a few clothing mods inspired by the game. There’s still a ton of cars I want to add to PZ, so my vehicle pack gets updates regularly. I’ve got a few themed updates planned for the vehicle pack alongside some other regular additions, such as Kei Trucks, Heavy Utility, Vintage JDM, and Forgotten Cars. I’ve seen people refer to PZ as “The Sims with zombies,” and my goal is to ultimately add enough cars to PZ through my mods, and other’s mods, that it eventually becomes sort of a “Gran Turismo with zombies” as well!”
“I’m also planning to release a few cars from my vehicle pack as separate mods with extra features like I’ve done with the LS400 Redux mod, as well as getting all of the existing cars in the pack ready for animations. There are some mods outside of vehicles I want to do too, including a few weapons, clothing accessories, and, though it might be ambitious with everything else, I would like to do a race course map at some point.”
Thanks to fhqwhgads for answering all our questions! You can find all their mods here.