NPCs in Project Zomboid will have complex dynamic stories


Now that everyone has settled into Project Zomboid’s lively multiplayer modes, developer The Indie Stone has set their sights on yet another transformative addition to the zombie survival game. The NPC system, which the studio revealed earlier this year, is a sophisticated storytelling engine that generates detailed individual stories for each character – and you can be a part of any of them.

Indie Stone discussed NPC system in a blog post this week. NPCs in Project Zomboid won’t just be sitting in houses or fortresses, they will be in the process of working towards their goals and will be able to tell you their stories around the campfire.

This post is an interesting look at how games are made. Each NPC in Project Zomboid – as soon as they arrive in Update 43 – will begin with a set of circumstances that will determine the beginning of their story. After that, the NPC system will send them to the world, where the system will keep track of where they are and what happens to them. A family may head to a Louisville hospital when they discover that one of their members is mysteriously ill, but are forced to leave their vehicle after running into a military roadblock along the way.

Further, according to the developers, the NPC “meta” system will be able to choose one of several possible scenarios, each of which will send the family along a different branching path. If your character accidentally intersects with an NPC’s journey, Project Zomboid will launch the NPC into the game and this will create a new dynamic narrative thread in the NPC’s story.

In a nutshell, this means that Project Zomboid will keep track of what NPCs are doing even when they haven’t yet entered the game, and thanks to this, the dialogue trees available to them will be able to reflect their actual journey through the virtual game world, without the developer having to sit down and write a story for specific character.

Indie Stone claims that the “plots” it creates for the characters will have natural endings, but they can also flow from one to the other – one group of survivors can run into another group, and instead of starving to death, they will unite and continue to survive the zombie apocalypse.

Update 43 is still a long way off – the next Project Zomboid patch will update it to version 41.69, so the whole of Update 42 has yet to be worked out before the meat of this NPC system appears in the game.

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