Author Topic: [BRAINSTORMING] Z-COM: The Zombie Apocalypse  (Read 3368 times)

Offline Hobbes

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[BRAINSTORMING] Z-COM: The Zombie Apocalypse
« on: December 02, 2015, 04:38:21 am »
ZCOM is an idea that has been mentioned here and there for quite a long time amongst the XCOM community and that I've started considering how a total conversion could work, now that OXC has so many available assets to play with and it is possible to create something without using any of the original units, terrains or weapons :)

I haven't made my mind if I'll actually go for this, but I thought I'd share what I came up with right now.

Introduction
It started with isolated reports worldwide of the dead reanimating themselves, which were initially dismissed as medical errors or pranks. But as the days passed, the number of cases started to increase exponentially and the authorities started to enforce quarantines, which were quickly upgraded to martial law as fear and protests ignited riots and other disturbances. As chaos and violence soared so did the number of undead, until the governments realized that their individual efforts were hopeless and that the epidemic was out of control.
It's now a month since the initial cases were reported and the world economy has collapsed due chronic shortages of food, power, transport and other commodities. Millions of refugees have taken to the countryside, hoping to escape the zombie hordes but unwillingly helping to spread the infection. Emergency and the police/military are close to be overwhelmed and in many cases governments don't run their countries anymore since most of their territories have fallen into anarchy.
Realizing the zombie pandemic as a major threat to civilization, 16 countries decided to join their efforts to defeat this menace. A multinational team of soldiers, researchers and engineers was formed, operating out of an isolated base and provided with the latest technology in order to combat,  investigate and defeat the zombie threat. This team was called the Zombie Combat Unit.

Geoscape
* Countries still pay you money according to your efforts (until they are overrun by zombies, that is)
* Money represents basic supplies (water, food, power, housing, etc.) required for survival
* You can only hire/sack people (plenty of refugees around to recruit, if you can feed and house them) or sell items - you can't buy any weapons, craft, ammo or any other items since there's no economy anymore. Whatever you need you'll need to recover, steal or manufacture it.
* This also applies to new base modules - you'll need to get specialized materials before you can build them or any additional bases.
* Specialized materials will include things like fuel (for craft), processed metal, electronics, heavy machinery, aircraft parts, etc.
* Initial research will require the player to capture 4-6 different types of live zombies. These different types will have a regional dispersion.
* Initial base will have a Skyranger plus 2 Darkstars (in lieu of Interceptors)

Missions
* UFOs will be replaced by Recovery missions, where there will be present a target for recovery (warehouse, crates, etc.) instead of an alien craft. Success in the mission will get you specialized materials for building stuff.
* Recovery missions will appear as the green crosses on Geoscape once detected. To detect Recovery missions, the player needs first to research a topic (North America Survey) to locate possible targets, which activates the appearance of the missions on the next month.
* The player can use then a Darkstar drone or Skyranger to locate the 'green crosses' and assault them. Recovery missions will always take place in cities. After some days the Recovery site will disappear as the red dot flying off (someone else got there first).
* Once you complete the research on a specific region (Europe, North Africa, etc.) you'll also activate a monthly zombie terror site on that region.
* Alien Retaliation will be replaced with 'Zombie Horde' assault on ZCOM bases

Offline Dioxine

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Re: [BRAINSTORMING] Z-COM: The Zombie Apocalypse
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2015, 05:20:44 am »
Very interesting idea. My first major gripe is however inconsistency - if there are governments which are supplying you with cash (or its barter equivalents), how comes they cannot give/sell you weapons? And if there is no economy (nomad merchants is economy, too), how comes you can sell stuff?

I think if you want to go 'full survival mode', no economy at all, it can be done, but to be logical, requires:
- No Funding. Funding is always at 0.
- No Selling. You sell for $0.

Now how to make it work?
- Money can represent Energy. You need energy to manufacture anything from industrial level up.
- Facilities need Energy to function, albeit usually minimal amounts ('standby' levels).
- You get Energy by burning fuel (or any stuff that can serve as fuel), but this requires a Power Plant facility of sorts. Burning is a workshop project with a negative $$$ cost (thus grants you Energy).
- You can get Energy from solar collectors (negative Maintenance building), but they require major investment in energy and items. Earlier you can get some energy from some sort of Animal Pen, but first you need to find enough animals on your missions, then use them to construct that building; animals also take a lot of Storage, since they need space to live.
- Each Living Quarters is actually a house with a well and a farming plot; thus it can support humans. Maybe 2x2 LQ would be needed, and the base would have to be on the surface.
- Aboveground base means any Zombie Horde attack will be a nightmare.
- Energy needed to support humans represents costs of operating the fields, wells etc. Non-zero - humans should cost more than the house they live in, as an empty house doesn't need much. The cost of recruiting a human might be the cost required to screen and heal them before they can join you. So soldiers, engineers and scientists all cost the same.
- Every building needs raw materials to be built. You assemble a 'package' in the workshop from raw materials, then this package is used to start construction (so your construction speed increases with more workshop space).
- Much lower amounts of humans per base - I think 10-15 per 2x2 house? This also means the starting transport would be able to carry maybe 6-8 soldiers max? This makes things more personal.
- So, the major challenge in expansion is facility construction, as they require a ton of materials which might be used to construct weapons, ammo or get Energy, or jet fuel for your crafts. Shortages and tough choices everywhere, and that's what we want, right? :)
- The end goal... you don't care for score or funding, so I guess, finding a Zombie Cure through research? Or just to survive for as long as you can... since going red Energy-wise will kill you.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2015, 05:22:40 am by Dioxine »

Offline Hobbes

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Re: [BRAINSTORMING] Z-COM: The Zombie Apocalypse
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2015, 05:52:11 pm »
Very interesting idea. My first major gripe is however inconsistency - if there are governments which are supplying you with cash (or its barter equivalents), how comes they cannot give/sell you weapons? And if there is no economy (nomad merchants is economy, too), how comes you can sell stuff?

I think if you want to go 'full survival mode', no economy at all, it can be done, but to be logical, requires:
- No Funding. Funding is always at 0.
- No Selling. You sell for $0.

The setting I imagined is the one of Fear The Walking Dead: governments are starting to collapse and everyone is starting to think first of their own survival and screw everyone else. ZCOM is the last effort to keep civilization going while the rest is descending into chaos, anarchy and self-survival.

The trick here is to keep everything within the mechanics of the original game. I agree with you that it might not make much sense that you can only sell stuff, not buy it from the nomads (although I don't think things when enough down the drain so you can have trading nomads, a la Mad Max: Thunderdome style).

The main reason I thought that could justify not being able to buy guns is that transport and manufacturing facilities have just stopped working, and the national militaries are hoarding everything for themselves.

Quote
Now how to make it work?
- Money can represent Energy. You need energy to manufacture anything from industrial level up.
- Facilities need Energy to function, albeit usually minimal amounts ('standby' levels).
- You get Energy by burning fuel (or any stuff that can serve as fuel), but this requires a Power Plant facility of sorts. Burning is a workshop project with a negative $$$ cost (thus grants you Energy).
- You can get Energy from solar collectors (negative Maintenance building), but they require major investment in energy and items. Earlier you can get some energy from some sort of Animal Pen, but first you need to find enough animals on your missions, then use them to construct that building; animals also take a lot of Storage, since they need space to live.
- Each Living Quarters is actually a house with a well and a farming plot; thus it can support humans. Maybe 2x2 LQ would be needed, and the base would have to be on the surface.
- Energy needed to support humans represents costs of operating the fields, wells etc. Non-zero - humans should cost more than the house they live in, as an empty house doesn't need much. The cost of recruiting a human might be the cost required to screen and heal them before they can join you. So soldiers, engineers and scientists all cost the same.
- Every building needs raw materials to be built. You assemble a 'package' in the workshop from raw materials, then this package is used to start construction (so your construction speed increases with more workshop space).

To me this setting would be more appropriate for a game where you are a bunch of survivors, rather than an elite force. But there are interesting mechanic suggestions here.

Quote
- Aboveground base means any Zombie Horde attack will be a nightmare.

Yup. I haven't made my mind about if the bases will be underground or above ground and how that defense will work out. Bases above ground will need fences and stuff to keep away the zombies.

Quote
- Much lower amounts of humans per base - I think 10-15 per 2x2 house? This also means the starting transport would be able to carry maybe 6-8 soldiers max? This makes things more personal.

Yeah, I also think that using less soldiers for missions will be better, and I'm considering having most Resource missions using a 40x40 battlescape. And this would apply too for scientists/engineers, where instead of 50 scientists to man a lab, you'd only require 5 or 10.[/quote]

Quote
- So, the major challenge in expansion is facility construction, as they require a ton of materials which might be used to construct weapons, ammo or get Energy, or jet fuel for your crafts. Shortages and tough choices everywhere, and that's what we want, right? :)

Exactly :)

Quote
- The end goal... you don't care for score or funding, so I guess, finding a Zombie Cure through research? Or just to survive for as long as you can... since going red Energy-wise will kill you.

I left out on propose the end goal from the original post, to see what people would suggest. My idea is that scoring/funding will still be very important, the first to pay for maintenance and salaries, and the second to prevent you from losing the game.

But I also have a few ideas about how to win the game. The goal will always be to end the zombie menace, which will include how discovering the origin of the epidemic. Here there are several possibilities: aliens created zombies to cull Earth or evil corporation/group/terrorists designed them to conquer the world or it's merely nature's payback.

Also, besides the zombies there will be other hostile factions in play: survivalist groups, remnants of military forces, religious fanatics and rogue governments. I've also considering adding additional ZCOM factions: instead of creating just one unit, the Council has decided to create several of them, to ensure that at least one would be able to achieve its goal, but kept them secret from one another, to prevent anyone from knowing the location of all and destroy them. While investigating each region the player could also ran into these units, which would either be hostile (their commander decided to go rogue) or have been already overrun by the zombies (but leaving a lot of loot for player to recover).

Offline jgatkinsn

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Re: [BRAINSTORMING] Z-COM: The Zombie Apocalypse
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2015, 11:13:02 pm »

I left out on propose the end goal from the original post, to see what people would suggest. My idea is that scoring/funding will still be very important, the first to pay for maintenance and salaries, and the second to prevent you from losing the game.

But I also have a few ideas about how to win the game. The goal will always be to end the zombie menace, which will include how discovering the origin of the epidemic. Here there are several possibilities: aliens created zombies to cull Earth or evil corporation/group/terrorists designed them to conquer the world or it's merely nature's payback.



I'm partial to the idea of it being an alien threat.  Could be retaliation from a remnant group of aliens from the previous conflicts (TFTD or EU) as a way to strike back at Earth.  If they can't conquer us, so  they want to destroy us.  You could basically tie it in to the storyline.  Maybe the final mission leads to their hideout on Earth in how they started the infection.  The materials are there to create the antidote needed to stop the epidemic.  I also like the idea that the zombie threat becomes almost like dealing with loads of Chryssalids that can zombify your units on every mission.  Maybe some of the zombies have a zombifying ranged attack (smaller numbers of course but maybe the most lethal).

Offline XOps

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Re: [BRAINSTORMING] Z-COM: The Zombie Apocalypse
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2015, 07:07:41 am »
I left out on propose the end goal from the original post, to see what people would suggest. My idea is that scoring/funding will still be very important, the first to pay for maintenance and salaries, and the second to prevent you from losing the game.
Too bad you can't divorce the money part from end month score screen to survivors. ZCom's performance would be measured not by an increase or decrease of money, but an increase or decrease of surviving population.

Spoiler:
Month: Nov 2017
Remaining Survivors: 18,475,242 (+624,000)
ZCom Needed Population: 6,452,712      Balance: 4,272,341
The surviving nations are reclaiming territory due to ZCom's efforts. Keep up the good work.

UK, USA, MEXICO, and CANADA have benefited from Zcom's progress and have made progress rebuilding.

RUSSIA, JAPAN, INDIA, AUSTRALIA, Etc, have been ravaged by the zombie horde.

BRAZIL and CHINA have been completely wiped out by the zombie horde.
Don't think it would work though. Kind of depressing if the player is spending survivors.

By the way. ZCom was actually in a video game. Plague Inc. Though you actually play the virus in that game.

Offline Hobbes

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Re: [BRAINSTORMING] Z-COM: The Zombie Apocalypse
« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2015, 05:42:34 pm »
I'm partial to the idea of it being an alien threat.  Could be retaliation from a remnant group of aliens from the previous conflicts (TFTD or EU) as a way to strike back at Earth.  If they can't conquer us, so  they want to destroy us.  You could basically tie it in to the storyline.  Maybe the final mission leads to their hideout on Earth in how they started the infection.  The materials are there to create the antidote needed to stop the epidemic.


I agree that aliens behind the zombie apocalypse would be the most convenient explanation. One possibility I remembered was the plot of the movie Prometheus, where it is implied that the Engineers decided that humanity was a bad idea and decided to create a biological weapon to reset the planet. This makes more sense to conserve Earth for whatever proposes the aliens might have rather than nuking the planet from orbit using asteroids (more effective and less time consuming if you just want to get rid of humans).

Quote
I also like the idea that the zombie threat becomes almost like dealing with loads of Chryssalids that can zombify your units on every mission.  Maybe some of the zombies have a zombifying ranged attack (smaller numbers of course but maybe the most lethal).

There are two possible implementations of the zombies: first is the classic zombifying attack, where a zombie melee hit would cause soldiers and civilians to become zombies. This could be explained by a zombie virus (or nano-particles, or something else) quickly taking over the victim; the second is to assume that everyone on Earth is carrying the zombie virus and that upon death it becomes active. This isn't possible to be implemented at the moment, but would mean that any death, regardless of its cause, would cause a human to turn into a zombie. So you could have a situation where you're fighting scavengers or rogue military, and the more you or they kill, the more zombies pop up.

Don't think it would work though. Kind of depressing if the player is spending survivors.

It's only people

Offline Dioxine

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Re: [BRAINSTORMING] Z-COM: The Zombie Apocalypse
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2015, 02:00:19 am »
Well, sacrificing 250,000 people on some sort of ritual altar to build a Hangar sounds rather ridiculous and funny than scary or depressing :) But a parody could be a fun thing to play as well! (like te Enemy Unclothed X-Com parody game).

EDIT: Oh yeah! In a parody game, imagine your mid-game squad versus a horde of 1000 zombies armed only in their teeth and walking slowly. Hmmm.... should I call a tactical nuke or heavy artillery barrage, then proceed mopping up with Flamethrowers? Or should I start clearing the place with copious amounts of Zombie Gas Grenades, a gas that causes zombies to die singing and dancing while to humans, it smells like lavender, completely killing off the smell of rotting flesh? OR MAYBe I shall send my Armored Berserkers with axes and swords, and chaisaws to commence a few hours of insane, glorious slaughter? Or maybe I will use Zombitrons to turn some of them to my cause, then order them to kill the others? Decisions, decisions... but so much fun! A Parody game has a potential :)
« Last Edit: December 04, 2015, 02:10:09 am by Dioxine »

Offline Hobbes

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Re: [BRAINSTORMING] Z-COM: The Zombie Apocalypse
« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2015, 05:15:29 am »
Or maybe I will use Zombitrons to turn some of them to my cause, then order them to kill the others?

This reminded me of Syndicate Wars.

Offline Malekron

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Re: [BRAINSTORMING] Z-COM: The Zombie Apocalypse
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2016, 03:31:05 am »
So what kind of types of zombies are you considering; zombies that infect on hit like the chryssalid, zombies that infect by attacked from a distance like chryssalid that shoots, psychic zombies that mind control you, and zombies that explode to infect humans.

Are raiders/bandits gonna be a problem in this hypothetical game?

Offline RogerBennett

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Re: [BRAINSTORMING] Z-COM: The Zombie Apocalypse
« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2016, 02:48:51 pm »

I think Z-Com is a good idea for a TC project.
Colour me interested.

Offline Countdown

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Re: [BRAINSTORMING] Z-COM: The Zombie Apocalypse
« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2016, 04:53:54 am »
+1 for  Z-Com, great idea. I'm a big Walking Dead fan so would love to play it.

I'm partial to the idea of it being an alien threat.  Could be retaliation from a remnant group of aliens from the previous conflicts (TFTD or EU) as a way to strike back at Earth.  If they can't conquer us, so  they want to destroy us.  You could basically tie it in to the storyline.  Maybe the final mission leads to their hideout on Earth in how they started the infection.  The materials are there to create the antidote needed to stop the epidemic.  I also like the idea that the zombie threat becomes almost like dealing with loads of Chryssalids that can zombify your units on every mission.  Maybe some of the zombies have a zombifying ranged attack (smaller numbers of course but maybe the most lethal).
I like the idea to tie the storyline into the original game, kind of like I read X-Piratez does. Maybe chryssalids or other aliens could even make cameo appearances.

Offline Slaughter

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Re: [BRAINSTORMING] Z-COM: The Zombie Apocalypse
« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2016, 08:28:20 am »
Could be a good idea to drawn into different varieties of zombies to keep enemy diversity up - Slow Romero Zombies, Fast Zombies, Mutant Zombies (think Resident Evil), Crossed/Doom style zombies that can use guns and tools, Vampirish Zombies, zombie animals, Plague Zombies, etc.

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Offline Solarius Scorch

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Re: [BRAINSTORMING] Z-COM: The Zombie Apocalypse
« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2016, 02:20:00 pm »
Could be a good idea to drawn into different varieties of zombies to keep enemy diversity up - Slow Romero Zombies, Fast Zombies, Mutant Zombies (think Resident Evil), Crossed/Doom style zombies that can use guns and tools, Vampirish Zombies, zombie animals, Plague Zombies, etc.

And the Big Fat Lady... :P

Offline Slaughter

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Re: [BRAINSTORMING] Z-COM: The Zombie Apocalypse
« Reply #13 on: March 16, 2016, 11:04:20 pm »
Here's some ideas I got while on the bus:

- No fancy Interceptor or Skyranger for you. Have fun with some old chopper and two (old) Super Tucanos that Embraer was very kind to loan to you, because they're making INCREDIBLE ammounts of bank selling Super Tucanos to everyone fighting zombies.

- Open X-COM has timed missions now, seem very suitable here - say, rescue a scientist before a zombie horde from out of Czech Republic swarm his farm in the Alps. Or evacuate civilians to a safe point in X turns. Or disarm the bomb and kill the terrorists before their viral canister is ready for release.

- "UFOs" can be kept - as in, "Irregular Aircraft" piloted by criminals/terrorists/wealthy citizens/warlords. Maybe even civilian airliners and totally innocent craft, but you have to down them and kill everybody because there are infectees on board and its better to be safe than sorry.

- Governments as aircraft/missions to attack, with negative points as consequence but you can get some nice loot that way, PirateZ-style. Hey, their fault for not being more forthcoming with the things you need to defend them!

- Tech evolution would be interesting. I can see Z-COM early on using some military/police equipment they were given, but eventually reverting to more low-tech gear - bows, crossbows, ordinary shotguns and pistols, home-made guns, melee weapons, plate armor, etc as the ammo runs out. Does the game preserve partly-spent clips? I like the idea of going on a mission with a half-loaded assault rifle.

- I'm thinking tech would go widly differently from classic X-COM. Less Science Fictional, more Simple, Practical and Reliable/Early Future things.
- End-game weapons woud tend towards high rate of fire, big magazines, low firepower and Area of Effect. Stuff to kill large crownds of zombies - say, Man-portable Miniguns (Microguns is the correct term), Portable Cluster Bombs, Automatic Shotguns, Anti-Materiel Rifles for fighting human vehicles, mutants and enemies in Powered Armor, High-Caliber Marksman Rifles, etc. Good for killing numbers, but inferior to X-COM gear in portability/firepower.

- You can strip materials from things and use them to make other things. Crafting ftw! If one could implement equipment durability...

- Zombie captures are important as part of the investigation. Maybe giving extra damage as well.

- Different soldier types are possible now, right? If yes, I'm imagining you could separate random recruits in many categories, each with different stats:
 - Refugee (average person that managed to survive, pretty much a normal dude with wear and tear taken off the streets and given a gun. All-around shit stats cannonfoddery)
 - Trained Civilian (Civilians who are a bit more up to spec - More fit, with some sort of weapons or martial arts training, smarter, etc)
 - Survivalist/Militiaman (survivors who got some limited training, good enough)
 - Police/Conscript Recruits (Shoot straight most of the time, can take orders, doesn't break and run as easily, etc)
 - Military (Good, decent soldiers. Nice and reliable)
 - Spec-Ops (hardcore badass well-trained soldiers who can chew nails and spit napalm)

Of course, a shitty Refugee can eventually become as bad-ass as a Spec-Ops soldier, but he better have a lotta luck and be very badass to eventually level all that way. One cool idea might be that Military and Spec-Ops troops already have ranks, so you sorta have a small chance of randomly getting a veteran seargent or even find a army Commander among refugees.


About the End Game:

Spoiler:
If you want to use the aliens as being behind it, there could be a lot of nice twists, like say:

Twist 1: The aliens created the zombies to destroy human civilization, or failing that, so they could show up and say to all human nations "Hey pathetic homo sapiens, we have THE ONLY CURE - for the low, low price of... Planet Earth, and everything within."

Twist 2: Guess where it is.





Cydonia!


Twist 3: You don't know anything about no aliens or UFOs, other than what you find somewhere in the game - the fact they're out there causing this. Damn aliens!

Twist 4: You don't know anything about "Alien Alloys" or "Elerium". What's that?

Twist 5: That means no Avenger. So, how to get into Cydonia?

Twist 6: The old-school way, baby: A Rocket.

Twist 7: But not just any rocket - a BIG-ASS HUGE MUTHERFUCKIN' ROCKET that makes the Saturn V look like a firecracker. Because its not just going to Mars - its going to Mars, there AND back - to retrieve THE ONLY CURE! It needs radiation shielding, enough space and support systems for, say, 50 soldiers (you will need every one), enough weapons and armor to blow any hypothetical alien attack coming its way (or are you going to just build its smaller escorts?), etc.

Twist 8: You're not even building this on a X-COM budget, you're building this on a Z-COM budget. Its a freaking spec-ops home-made space program to freaking MARS made by a ramshackle organization that tries to survive against zombies.

Twist 9: You need to build/steal/research every component that huge rocket has. During a cataclysm situation. You need engineers, you need workshops, you need scientists and modern science. Also pretty much a entire base dedicated to launch it, make on-site components, AND a component to defend it.

Twist 10: Once you prepare it all nice and build it, then send your best soldiers to Cydonia, don't think that this is it already. Its not a Avenger, with the best tech we have I have heard estimations of 3 months to Mars with nuclear rockets. So you have to wait for three months until your rocket gets into Cydonia, and meanwhile the aliens go for broke and start frantically trying to destroy Z-COM and subvert/overwhelm with zombies all nations of the world that still exist.

Twist 11: You finally get to Cydonia! Which is... a lot like the final mission of the original X-COM. The aliens have all their horrible monsters and fancy plasma guns... except you don't. Your gear is made for fighting zombies/humans with good tech by then, not freaking aliens with plasma guns and psionic powers.

Twist 12: What is "psionics" and why are my troops shooting each other? You have no idea what is this, and no protection, nothing. You also never thought Plasma Weapons were practical. You don't even use lasers as side-arms - waste of precious energy.

Twist 13: Good luck!

Offline Slaughter

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Re: [BRAINSTORMING] Z-COM: The Zombie Apocalypse
« Reply #14 on: March 18, 2016, 04:15:06 am »
This link might help with that enemy variety:
https://zombie.wikia.com/wiki/Types_of_Zombies