Project Zomboid

Project Zomboid

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incogme  [developer] Dec 8, 2014 @ 5:18pm
Survival Mode - "IT'S TOO HARD ETC"
So in case you're not aware, in Build 30 which we just released on the I Will Backup My Save beta branch, and in future builds, we're making big steps to increase the difficulty of the vanilla survival mode of the game. We're not just tweaking the difficulty, we're going nuclear on it. Survival will be mind-meltingly more difficult than it has been previously.

Survival times of a month or two will be squeezed into a week or two. Survival times of a year will be squeezed into being a few of months tops. If we do our job properly, surviving a year in post 30 zomboid in single player Survival mode should be achievement only a handful of players should ever accomplish, and everyone in the community should know their names and speak of them in hushed reverential tones. Youtube videos of their survival achievements should be studied by future generations for tips, for they are surely gods amongst Zomboid players. Back in the day a PZ player by the name of Adric The Great cracked a year in Zomboid, and this blew people's minds. It was a thing of legend. Someone doing that these days would probably barely raise an eyebrow amongst the more experienced players, except perhaps to wonder how they didn't get bored.

A few people have expressed concern at the latest build, which is still in early balancing and likely will need many changes before it goes out proper. But remember, Sandbox exists.

In short - If its genuinely too hard, we'll try and balancing it so its JUST hard enough. There are likely bugs and balance issues still. It's still in balancing and its possible we've gone OTT with some changes and there are still bugs. [/b]Some people are reporting getting exhausted off killing 3-4 zombies and if that happens its a bug[/b]. In other cases. it's also possible the game's difficulty in previous versions has let you learn bad habits that are your undoing, or that surviving for months has become such an expected outcome that anything short of that strikes you as broken.

Survival mode is meant to be hard. It's meant to be REALLY hard. Every day you don't get eaten or starve to death should be a blessing. Escaping the horde should be an unending challenge and you should rarely feel safe. That's the genesis of Zomboid, and we lost our way over the years to try and be inviting to new people. So now we provided the beginner mode to give those newer people a helping hand, as well as sandbox with (ultimately more) presets to allow anyone of any skill level to play the game at any level of difficulty or amount of pressure they desire.

The whole reason for this is is to free us of the shackles of trying not to alienate those looking for a more casual less brutal experience, but at the same time giving us the power to really drive up the brutal hardcore difficulty that is Zomboid's heritage for all those who supported us in the early days and have found the game has been watered down and compromised and no longer offers any challenge to them. As early supporters they deserve more than that.

It may well be that due to early balancing, it's harder than it should be, even for Survival. OR it may be you're so used to your bad habits picked up in the easier builds, running, or swinging wildly, or X, or Y that are causing your downfall. Or maybe you're so used to surviving for months in every game, that post-patch you dying each time in the first week was unexpected or offended you. But you're not meant to survive for long, and making it even a month, especially in single player, should be a massive MASSIVE achievement you should feel eternally proud of. Not something you should expect from every game, or most games, but an achievement worth screenshotting or youtubing and boasting around the internet about. Then it all comes down to surviving a month and a week. Maybe next time you can survive a month and two weeks. Two months? One day. One day.

The expectation of months of survival time is a problem and perception we've likely created by diluting the difficulty levels over the past year, somewhat out of fear of being too niche in hardcore difficulty to appeal to enough people on Steam to maintain popularity of the game. So we're readdressing that and making a bigger deal of the Sandbox mode as the go-to mode for people who aren't looking for sheer brutality.

Either way, we'll continue to balance it to try and strike a balance that keeps the hardcore players happy but doesn't alienate those experienced players that have not felt the bite of the true evil Zomboid of yesteryear. Your feedback is appreciated and we'll try and consider the bigger picture in our future balancing efforts, but we need to consider those that have put hundreds of hours into the game as well as those who have put in 1 or 2, maybe 10 or 20, and make sure everyone is catered for in the long term.

In the meantime just consider each day on your survival time as an achievement. Also consider your skill level as a player in the future. After a week, or in a month, or a year, in your evaluation of whether it is 'too hard' right now, since once you do finally reach that level of skill you may find the game boring as many of our long time players did prior to these recent builds. This difficulty is to provide the game with everlasting life, since there will always be another day, or another week, to stretch your PZ survival skills. If you can survive indefinitely after some practice, only dying when you get bored and decide to go postal with a shotgun, the game soon gets stale, and this is worth worrying about even if you're not at that skill level right now. You in a few months will thank us, even if you right now is swearing at us as you load Sandbox mode and feel inadequate as you turn options down to easy.

Just remember, the sandbox is there to provide you with the experience you want, so please consider this and even if you feel Survival to be too hard or too stressful for you personally, bear in mind it was always intended to be the ultimate hardcore mode, the pinnacle of PZ prowess, for the competitive players looking to push against each other for survival times, eeking days on each other for forum and youtube prestige, and sandbox is there for those who want to craft their own experience and level of difficulty.

If of course even with sandbox you're unable to create a satisfactory experience, then this is a problem and we'll look to balance it to provide the experience you're missing. We don't want anyone who has bought the game to feel they are unable to play it because of post-purchase patches making it too difficult. But at the same time we don't want to compromise on the vision we and a vast number of PZ players have yearned for because people don't want to go into sandbox and tailor the game to their own desires, or feel that Survival should be balanced how they desire. But if our changes mean that Sandbox cannot be tailored as such then we'll strive to improve that (an obvious thought is an option to alter the new bunching mechanic)

So yes, if sandbox fails you, then we've failed you, and will look to provide any options we can to ease any difficulty in the game we can. We want sandbox to cater for absolutely everyone. But...

We will not compromise on Survival though. Survival is where the blood will flow. And the scoreboard of survival across the entire internet should be measured in days and weeks, months for the TRUE elite, but not years. Unless Adric The Great comes back around of course.
Last edited by incogme; Dec 9, 2014 @ 4:40am
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Showing 1-15 of 486 comments
Arie Safari Dec 8, 2014 @ 5:21pm 
riverzend180 Dec 8, 2014 @ 6:23pm 
OMG this is going to be awesome : D I didnt get to see the rivers of blood and ...days of darkness from the early builds ; )
Darius Dec 8, 2014 @ 6:32pm 
Fix the itemization first please. Go as difficult as you want, but if I can't find so much as a single fork to defend myself in a 2 floor suburban house this isn't going to work.
incogme  [developer] Dec 8, 2014 @ 6:42pm 
Originally posted by Darius:
Fix the itemization first please. Go as difficult as you want, but if I can't find so much as a single fork to defend myself in a 2 floor suburban house this isn't going to work.

Of course. As I say we'll continue to rebalance till we consider the Survival fair but brutal. That said, in a game with RNG for items a bad run with poor starting conditions is to be expected in some games, as well as those where you get a flukey awesome start with a rare item in your starting house.
Last edited by incogme; Dec 8, 2014 @ 6:43pm
Sun Bro Dec 8, 2014 @ 7:03pm 
all i ask is... when it starts?!
incogme  [developer] Dec 8, 2014 @ 7:05pm 
Not sure I understand hjanuzzi?
The Modern Man Dec 8, 2014 @ 7:20pm 
Took a quick break, but I'm 3 weeks in on my first survival attempt since 30.7. Prior to this, months were a breeze. Now I'm afraid to venture out anywhere because one misstep brings entire hordes to block my escape! I LOVE IT!

Will definitely be posting my best times here ;)

I must add, that in 30.6 I had resorted to playing exclusively online because the lack of supplies (everything is looted!) meant I had to get to self sustaining quick and was the best way to challenge myself. With the zed AI being what it is now, and the sheer numbers that congregate in loose hordes, I can actually get satisfaction from survival mode again.
Last edited by The Modern Man; Dec 8, 2014 @ 7:22pm
Darius Dec 8, 2014 @ 7:26pm 
All this says to me is that after several months of not working on core game mechanics that haven't worked correctly from jump street, you all have decided that it's not worth your time to fix them. Instead, we'll just up the difficulty to arbitrarily high levels so you'll never get to utilize those mechanics and silence complaints with - Go play sandbox.

The game isn't hard - it never was, it's just tedious to varying degrees. There isn't anything you can do to make it "hard", just more tedious or in this case, staged. Along the same lines, there is nothing scarey or terrifying about it, any hopes of that are lost instantly with your chosen engine. Since there is no atmosphere to speak of, it is not possible to produce that result.

All you've really done with this clumping is make it easier to clear out any area. What's next, each weapon - should you actually have access to one - breaks after 2 uses?

Looking back on this year, I just see wasted time. Multiplayer? Split-Screen? Controller support? FFS, work on fixing the game itself and making it better.
incogme  [developer] Dec 8, 2014 @ 7:34pm 
Thanks for the feedback Darius.

"FFS, work on fixing the game itself and making it better."

So please tell us how you consider the game to need fixing and we'll for sure consider it, but I think you'll find the vast vast vast vast majority of experienced PZ players welcome this very move and consider these changes exactly the 'fixes' and 'making it better' you say we are avoiding. Just look one comment above your own for a perfect example of that. There are many many more.

Since you're basically blaming our inability to be a scary or atmospheric game on the engine, I can't imagine we can make any move to make you happy, the game being 4 years into development, so perhaps you have wasted the past year, which of course we're very sorry to hear. But at the same time it's not clear what you thought you were getting into if not this as we've been nothing but upfront on the game's goals, philosophy, strengths and weaknesses, and can't imagine you were misinformed on what the game offers as we've laid it out in some detail since 2011 and have stuck pretty rigidly to the original planned features. Many others seem to find our game scary and atmospheric despite the engine so all I can say I guess is I'm sorry it doesn't do it for you, but I'm not sure how or why you bought into the game based on the screenshots and videos if you felt this way.

"Multiplayer? Split-Screen? Controller support? "

Three features that have meant a huge massive deal to a lot of people, as well as (and this is crucially important and oft not considered) multiplayer has SIGNIFICANTLY helped ensure solid development funding to allow us to increase the dev team size significantly to better work on other features that people who don't care about multiplayer may care about a great deal.

As much as I respect your disappointment that these were added at the expense of whatever features or changes you wish had (yet not explained in your post) they do matter to a lot of people so you have to consider that maybe this is not a case of the game letting everyone down but just you yourself personally, along with some others that feel like you. Of course there's little I can do to defend or address your concerns since your criticisms are very cryptic.

If you can let me know we can for sure try and consider and resolve your issues, but as yet they remain unclear except to say our game generally 'sucks' by your opinion and that the multitude of features we've introduced in the past year are not the particular features you wanted. "work on fixing the game itself and making it better." is generally not that useful advice to us as this is entirely what we were under the impression we were doing and feedback from the community has tended to suggest we were doing a good job of that.

Unless you're willing to offer some specific constructive criticism on exactly why you feel our game is bad, or we're not living up to your expectations, or have let you down, or how we could improve it and make you happy, or anything else, and just use vague negative terms like boring, tedious, bad, then your comment just comes across as an attempt to be hurtful. I'm sure that wasn't the intent.
Last edited by incogme; Dec 8, 2014 @ 8:20pm
I'd say that's a bit harsh Darius. Multiplayer was one of the most requested features for this game before it was implemented. Also, MANY other mechanics have been added or reworked recently... Cooking, Trapping, Fishing, First Aid. So no, I don't think the developers are wasting their time, especially considering all the great things they have coming down the pipeline.

By the way...

"All you've really done with this clumping is make it easier to clear out any area. What's next, each weapon - should you actually have access to one - breaks after 2 uses?"

That's called the slippery slope fallacy. You're pulling that out of your♥♥♥♥♥
incogme  [developer] Dec 8, 2014 @ 8:15pm 
Originally posted by A Fresh Pack of Gummies:
"All you've really done with this clumping is make it easier to clear out any area. What's next, each weapon - should you actually have access to one - breaks after 2 uses?"

That's called the slippery slope fallacy. You're pulling that out of your♥♥♥♥♥

I'd also like to raise the question as to how this change possibly makes it easier to clear out an area, having a group of zombies together, over the previous versions where zombies would often be stood solitary and could be tackled one after another with no danger of being overrun.

Seriously, we're very open to criticism and discussion, even if harshly worded (providing its civil), as long as its a meaningful discussion with some explanation and backing up as to the reasoning of your criticisms. If you have genuine grievances then not only could we potentially help you with them, we could potentially improve our game by discussing it and that's definitely worth the hurt feelings of reading your negative comments. However, it's genuinely difficult for me to puzzle out exactly what your grievances are with the game, so I'm unable to do anything to ease them, resolve them or defend our decisions regarding them.

The statement that this change makes it easier to clear out areas flies in the face of not only our own experiences, but every comment we've had on this change since we released the beta build.

There are many more saying it's made it way too difficult which was in many ways the reason for writing this post.
Last edited by incogme; Dec 8, 2014 @ 9:27pm
The Modern Man Dec 8, 2014 @ 8:17pm 
Darius, how is it you say "All you've really done with this clumping is make it easier to clear out any area. What's next, each weapon - should you actually have access to one - breaks after 2 uses?"

If you can clear an area so easily now, then how is it you can't access a weapon? I've been alive a short time in the new build and I already have a pistol, a shotgun and 2 axes without even hitting up the warehouse or leaving Muldraugh. Plus 2 boxes of ammo for each weapon. I myself prefer axes, but more to the point you are contradicting yourself.

And as Lemmy said, you did not say once what exactly is broken with the game. You just ranted about how broken it is. Please explain because I'm really interested in what you could possibly mean by that.

The zombies are more lively, moving and unpredictable now. Surely this is a good thing to keep it fresh.
Last edited by The Modern Man; Dec 8, 2014 @ 8:18pm
I played the new IWBUMS and one of the things that I don't really like is that you can stand at the edge of a horde and kill the ones in the front, run back, and do it again. The new stamina system helps prevent this when you're tired, but it makes it easier when you're not tired. It's pretty hard to accomplish, and if you make a single mistake you're dead, but I think it needs to be tweaked a little.

You should have a short-term stamina system where you become out of breath after too many swings in a row, and a long-term stamina system for your endurance throughout the day (with the long-term maybe being affected if you're malnourished?). Another way to do this is if you swing a big weapon (like an axe) you should move very slowly for half a second or a whole second after you swing. So if you swing an axe at the first zombie in front of a horde, you'll be stunned for a second and you'll probably get grabbed and die.

Melee is too overpowered compared to using guns or running away as-is. In my opinion, melee should be used when you're only fighting a few zombies at a time (1-3 that are right next to each other, more than that if there is space between them), guns should be used if they're close together and there are so many after you already that it doesn't matter, and you should run away in pretty much any other situation.

Also, now it's too bright outdoors at night. Otherwise I love the new changes, can't wait for more.

@Darius. You're a bit rude, aren't you?
incogme  [developer] Dec 8, 2014 @ 9:21pm 
Cheers Turnip! We'll look into this and see if we can nerf it :D
SodlidDesu Dec 8, 2014 @ 9:26pm 
Sooo... Basically I'll get an hour tops now? Damn, There go my full day runs.
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