It’s been nearly three months since my last post here because I decided it would be a good idea to take an extended break from all things social media related before the final push towards the alpha release of RIZN. I’m happy to be back and sharing progress now and, although I’ve been silent since March, I was still hard at work and have a lot of updates to share with everyone. I’ll be splitting this work between two articles to save everyone from a single, novel-length post, so expect another post to follow this one within the next few days.
First up is the new game mode selection screen. This was created using screenshots I captured in a custom scene, very similar to the way the character selection screen was done months ago. In keeping with the graphic novel theme, modes are split into cells on the page and their color fades in when hovered or selected. A brief description of each mode is provided as well, and although the images themselves may change a bit in the future, the core concept is working well enough for me to continue with confidence.
I decided early on in development that I wanted my zombies to be fairly barebones, relying on the sheer number of undead that stand between the player reaching their goal as the main obstacle rather than giving zombies any form of special abilities or magical attacks. In the most basic of terms, I wanted a single character with ranged attacks going up against a massive horde of objectively dumb enemies that were limited to melee attacks. After countless hours of playtesting, it was becoming apparent to me that I was going to need to add a few things to spice up the gameplay a bit; things to throw the player out of their rhythm that, when forgotten, they’ll ultimately pay a heavy price for.
The first of these was the implementation of zombies with head armor, which is a very simple mechanic that has some game-changing consequences. Speaking as the developer and the only person who has played this game up to this point, suffice it to say that when you have a large horde of undead bearing down on you and you spot a football helmet-wearing rizn coming at you from among the crowd, you tend to tense up a bit. Just those few seconds in which it takes extra time to eliminate this single threat allows others to gain a fair amount of ground, and when it comes to a large horde that is constantly closing the distance, something as simple as requiring a reload can be the difference between life and death.
Helmets have existed for a while now, but I’ve since found another way to add an even greater challenge to the gameplay while staying true to the “dumb rizn who walk towards the player mindlessly” theme. Scuba divers and firefighters who’ve turned now carry oxygen tanks on their backs, and these tanks are on fire and will explode when one of two conditions are met: either the player kills the zombie, which results in a slightly delayed explosion that works in their favor as it takes out any other rizn nearby, or the tank carrying zombie reaches the player, which sets off the tank immediately and results in a fair amount of damage applied to the player.
I used to fear the footballer; these days, I fear the firefighter, which is essentially the same as the footballer due to his helmet, but with an explosive device attached to his back. Make short work of him and the tank favors the player, serving as an equivalent to the Powder Keg lethal that can be crafted. However, if you’re not careful and one either closes the distance or flanks you, the results could be catastrophic and game-ending.
The last feature I’ll cover in this article is the addition of player damage and death. As featured in the video above and screenshot below, a damage overlay has been added to the game that both indicates when the player has taken damage as well as making them aware when they should consider using some bandages to mend their wounds. When damage occurs, the overlay fades quickly to indicate how close the player is to death, then fades away partially (or completely if they have more than 50% health remaining) to keep the player aware of their current state while also getting out of the way of gameplay.
Bandages now work to heal the player as well and are easily applied using the medical items hotkey. More importantly, this is the first video in which the game actually ends in the player’s demise. I’ve basically set up the player avatar to work similar to the rizn insofar as ragdoll physics go, so when the player is killed, their body ends up flopping onto the ground in much the same way all the rizn they’ve killed up to that point do. A bit of code to fully apply the infection shader effect and a simple canvas to turn the game view into a scene in a graphic novel was all that was required to complete the mechanic.
The addition of player damage and health has had a substantial impact on immersion when playtesting. This project feels closer to a game with a complete core loop now that it ever has, and it is always surprising to me even after all these years of development just how impactful the illusion of being near-death can be. It raises the stakes, keeps the player invested in not only playing but playing intelligently, and provides a reward for doing so in the form of severe consequences for failing to make smart decisions.
As you can see form the length of this article, had I shared everything in a single post it would have been a bit much (although one could argue that this article in and of itself already fits that bill). Point being that although I have been silent on the internet these last few months, I have been as busy as ever getting Rizn prepped for public consumption. In the article that will follow within the next few days, I will cover the new pooling system that has been implemented as well as updates to the zombie grapple attacks which are now working alongside everything else and can be seen in the video above. I’ll be spending the time in between now and then finishing up work on basic attacks for zombies, which will be simple melees that are used when the zombie isn’t immediately in front of or behind the player.
Source: Indie DB