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Choose your side and help evolve tabletop gaming with this ambitious and groundbreaking hybrid zombie experience.
Choose your side and help evolve tabletop gaming with this ambitious and groundbreaking hybrid zombie experience.
Choose your side and help evolve tabletop gaming with this ambitious and groundbreaking hybrid zombie experience.
1,147 backers pledged $124,288 to help bring this project to life.

Social implications of the zombie apocalypse

by Sebastian Haley, Creative Director

I woke up today wondering why I was light-headed, and it turns out my girlfriend decided to spray paint her steampunk pistols outside our window last night. -_- 

In a couple hours I’ll be sharing the first major details on how the hell Z. actually works, and what the differences between playing as zombies and survivors are. But first, I received a question from backer "jezorin" this morning that I’d like to address publicly:

"I think one of the more interesting things about a zombie apocalypse is the social implications. Will this play into the game? For example, a 'cat fight'who if played makes two female heroes miss a turn, or a 'girlfriend' who gives +1 to any male hero, or a 'sibling' who if they die, you are distracted for one turn. I always liked the romance substories in shows such as walking dead, and thought that would be a cool concept." 

This is something I’ve thought of quite a bit, and the answer is a definite “yes.” Part of what choosing the zombie outbreak as the setting for our game allows us to do is play off of iconic horror film stereotypes. The Twisted Ankle trap card, for instance, where the zombie player can temporarily cripple a survivor unit. Someone always trips and falls while running from monsters in the movies, right? So we want to represent and enable those moments in our game.

But on a deeper level, we also want to have those character interactions and “relationships” between cards. The story mode is one way we’ll be able to do this a lot, not just in the cutscenes but then in the gameplay too, similar to how the backer suggested above. Perhaps a character is afraid of tight spaces, or is stunned when their father (a separate card) dies? There’s a million different ways it could work.

There’s a tabletop game called The Last Night on Earth by Flying Frog Productions, and the “Last Night on Earth” card actually causes a male and female character sharing the same tile to be...distracted....for one turn. I always liked how that was worked into the game, and will definitely explore that in Z.

ABOVE: I watched 28 Weeks Later again for like the 300th time, and there are lots of social implications in that movie: protecting your brother, being hunted by your infected father, deciding on fight or flight when faced with impossible odds and your own fear and mortality... just to name a few. 

Off the top of my head, here’s an actual example of a card where the character’s personality can have a dynamic effect on the game:

A survivor “hero” card (common rarity). He’s an escaped convict with a bald head and scar on his face who deals extra damage with knives. 

  • He has the Murderer trait, so if he doesn’t kill a zombie unit within two turns, he will kill the nearest or weakest survivor instead. (He also has the Bloodlust trait which allows him to attack again if he kills someone, so he could end up going on a murder spree if you’re not careful.) 

Jackknife is a little cheaper to summon to the field than most hero cards, but you also take a pretty heavy risk if you don’t constantly satiate his need to stab things.

Above: Joseph McKenna as One-Eyed Jack from The Long Kiss Goodnight (inspiration for “Jackknife”) 

We will also have this “social link” (to steal a term from Persona) between cards in the RPG mode (aka “The Depths”), which is one of our stretch goals, and one of the modes I’m most excited about in Z. I don’t want to get ahead of myself since we’re still a long way from even reaching our original goal, but to re-answer the question: Yes, it’s something I have thought of for a long time, and there are lots of ways to work it into the game. Okay, I’m going to reply to everyone’s messages that you’ve sent me (keep em’ coming! I love talking with you all) and then push out those survivor and zombie posts.

Before I go, I thought you might like this: George Takei’s Facebook robot shared this today and it helped remind me why I wouldn’t rather be doing anything else than making Z. with a bunch of passionate gamers and zombie lovers like all of you:


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    1. Stephanie Carmichael on June 20, 2012

      @jezorin Thanks for your insights! We're working hard to make the deepest experience possible, so keep the feedback coming!

    2. jezorin on June 17, 2012

      I wanted to add one more thought on the issue. If two hero cards have the same last name (married, siblings, child, etc.) then when the second one comes on there could be some form of benefit, but when one of them leaves play, there is some form of detriment. I think it will give collectors sort of a goal in trying to get certain pairs of cards, or compatible cards.