• Hello Guest,

    Alpha v1.0 has been released on Steam! Bug reports can be made using our new in-game bug reporting system. Please consider joining our Discord if you need assistance.

    -The team at a2z(Interactive);

General Feedback from playtesting

Thread starter #1


New Member
May 23, 2015
United States of America
Hello! bought a while ago and thought i'd check in; my how far you've come! Dev is hard work and i'm excited to see the stable world design :)

Apologize in advance if you've already covered most of these -> these are just initial impressions of what i've experienced. I did not play much because im trying to stay spoiler free.

What is the core vision of this game? I have no idea still.
While playing, i kept thinking what do i want to experience as a player. I felt tense exploring lone buildings and crawling during nighttime past roamers. Daytime was less tense but i still felt like i could be jumped at any point. The feeling began to wane through open landscapes and not seeing zombies for several minutes (that's a long time in game). The initial scare is a great feel that i'd love to see more of from the design of this game. I cant see it from the (ABOUT) section on the website... just a list of features. Is it a crafting sim with zombie and survival elements? Is it a tense game with survival elements? Is it a 7 days to die clone with a different grind hamster wheel? I'd love to play the "general horror: I am weak-ish as a player, zombies are terrifying; and yet, i have to survive, somehow" game.​
GAME FEEL. The most important part of any game. How does it make you feel when you play. What makes it better/different than DayZ, Dead Walking, 7 Days to die, etc.

Right now this is a walking simulator. This is not fixed by adding vehicles. Pick a theme and max out that niche!
Give the players hope. Create long term goals. Say a recording speaks of a sanctuary on the radio, assuming you happen to find one (or start near one) but eventually finding this place it's infested and the recording is just that, a recording. A long term end goal gives meaning to the gameplay loop. People suck at creating their own entertainment, give them something to work towards.

- Give the players progression. What I dont mean is giving them a bar to fill like Ark does. I hate that; gameplay isnt filling an xp bar or maintaining a hunger meter. If you do implement a leveling scheme, i understand. There's more money and time better spent on other systems. I just would like to stress that gameplay is earning tech through exploration, killing zombies (loot), NPC trade/jobs etc. I want to feel rewarded directly for actions instead of grinding it out indirectly through a level unlock.

- Give the players reasons to explore. Sure i can find a can of beans in that house over there. See that house? The one with the leaning chimney? But what is its story. Who lived there. You can tell so much by tiny details. For example, maybe someone had a huge collection of porcelain dolls. Maybe one of the dolls is split in half, laying on the floor covered in dried blood next to a zombie corpse with a beat in head. maybe that blood streak continues into the next room and you see a body on a pile of dolls. The body gets up. It's an old woman. Suddenly it's more than just another zombie - it's a dead person. You can relate to this on some level.
- find someone that OD'ed on drugs
- find someone that broke their spine falling down some stairs and just starved, preferring that to being found by zombies.
- find someone that ended their life instead of facing reality. A hanging corpse in a barn is cliche but works well.
- Find very obvious signs of struggle such as broken furniture, caved in doors hanging on a hinge, bullet holes, a grenade explosion, signs of fire. you can use mesh deformation with a little noise to create some wonderful results for existing assets.

- Give the players reasons for fear. 7 Days to die does this well with a countdown towards a blood moon. It's something you know is coming. The event is terrifying. You dont need to copy them but you get what im saying. Zombies existing is not as scary as zombies becoming restless. Imagine a hyper aggressive zombie just sprints by you at breakneck speed. It looks difficult to kill. You have no idea where it came from or if there are more. suddenly it stops and turns towards you (it doesnt actually see you but it acts like it does) and makes a show of looking around. Maybe it sees you, maybe it doesnt. But it makes you sweat. Do you use the scarce ammo you have and risk a convergence? Do you try to brawl out in melee and risk infection?

- Give the players a reason to be immersed. Perhaps get rid of the "TAP E / HOLD E TO STUFF" text. All you need to do is flash "E is to Interact" once on screen when a player enters your world. Leave the highlights, remove the text.

- each town is in various stages of infestation. I bet you have this covered since youre still making your assets, but, just in case... If you code your zombie spawn engine to be abstract enough, you can get really creative with how you punish careless players. (On a basic level, populate base on an RNG slider through a heatmap that procs off building proximity or layers or something). You can go from sparse to 'omg why' density.

- Hordes exist. Just large roaming hordes that spawn in a relatively empty area and start moving in a vector of the most amount of players then despawn in another area. Oh man, these dudes could really freak out an unaware player. This tech will stress servers and clients, depending on how you implement zombies and asset loading. I recommend throttled background loading the horde to all players within the grid and then spawning them. Poll relative position of the parent object then kill them off if they get stuck somewhere.

- Roamers exist everywhere. I expect to see the occasional zombie in the forest. Just because they happened to have wandered there. Just pepper these in a density within player populated grids and spawn them elsewhere when they die.

- Zombies are frightening to fight or encounter. How are you implementing this in your game? Here's my take on zombies:
  • They dont stop: Zombies struggle to die unless you destroy the head. Some examples... Shooting a leg with a shotgun has a chance to pop the leg off (if you have the legs/arms/torso/head as separate game objects this is much easier to convert to). Shooting the torso staggers them significantly depending on the caliber of the round. Fire only kills them eventually. Blunt trauma keeps them stunned (not a percentage chance. something unique. say, hitting the temple / top of head / shattering the neck) has the greatest impact on keeping a zombie staggered and away from you. 7 days to die does this but it suffers from ping and predictability. If you offload each zombie movement to the client then sync through to the server (instead of the other way around) you can explore extremely smooth and interesting combat mechanics. Each fight with a zombie should be satisfying - dying light satisfying? Or 7 days to die "satisfying" aka meh? up to you. You could really double down into animation porn in this department and give each weapon the love it deserves from a "feel" point of view then worry over balance on release.
    • Speaking of difficult to kill, have you read world war Z? Frozen zombies thawing and coming back. Underwater zombies grabbing you under while you swim. Zombies stuck under debris crawling out to bite when unearthed. They are insanely fast if uninjured. They arent afraid. They grapple you and you cant get away. Terrifying.
  • They attract other zombies: An initial shriek from some zombies causing a sound disturbance that pulls more in to investigate should be a threat! This enables you to create some good sneaking / assassination gameplay, if that is something you'd like to pursue from your game. This requires your sound engine to be really really good. Not exactly Overwatch levels good. but still good. A sound generating event creates 2 searches, one for a weighted A* pathfinder respecting collides and a linear pathfinder (check on hearing through walls), take the maximum every fixed update or something for every zombie within a min radius * sound volume; aggro on passing a threshold. You can even keep it limited to nearest 10 zombies within range (a constant computation done on the player) If you offload this computation to the player's client you can let the server just track the zombie's aggro status.
  • They spawn more of themselves after a bite. perhaps an infected friend becomes a zombie and rises with all the gear they used to have. Imagine spawning and pursuing your own shambling corpse! Imagine it also being harder to kill due to protective gear / level / relative value of items on that zombie -> That last point might be more annoying than fun so tinker with the idea wisely.
  • The imagination is more powerful than the actual thing. The noises coming from behind a locked door. The slowly swaying shadow cast on a wall from a well placed barrel fire. Resident evil does this perfectly. Study it.

I noticed a couple minor things as well that will add polish and player experience but dont add much selling value.
- Water shaders, you could use some. The difference between shore and water is extremely obvious.
- World Size reduction. I dont know what you have planned for your world but it is certainly quite large. Is there a gameplay reason or is just because you can? if it's the latter, please rethink. There's a reason why no one was impressed with No Man's Sky infinite but boring expanse.
- The detail fade/asset load at highest graphical settings needs more range. There are some very powerful cards out there now that can handle a lot more than what you put on the screen. Add more range! Look at what Day's Gone is doing with their system and they're running on a PS4.
- Nighttime darkness needs adjustment. The world isnt nearly as dark as you make it out to be. Go into the country side at night and you'll see what i mean. Unless youre in dense forest, the moon gives enough light to see by. Even stars on their own are sometimes enough.
- Add Weapon Sway. Oh man if you tie weapon sway to increase by a function dependent on the missing stamina percentage that would be dope. Maybe even add hit stagger so melee from a zombie is extremely dangerous to a person armed with a sniper rifle.

Dr. J

Aug 14, 2014
A lot of comments in that, most of which I'm not qualified to answer.
But perhaps you can find your own? Or even create your backstory? There's things going on here: https://community.survivethenights.net/threads/player-created-lore.8136/page-26#post-96718
I haven't played the other zombie survival games you mention, but this one is perhaps a bit more unique.
Zombies are attracted to light and sound, so they will be drawn to weapons fire. I like the idea they could also be attracted to another zombies shriek, it could get the whole hoard thing snowballing!
On the subject to rendering, yes I'm having issues with my old GTX770 dual SLI cards at the moment in this build of the game. But it's always a trade off when writing code. In a way, it makes me more cautious and scared when playing. I move slowly towards structures, looking and listening as I go. The Dev. team (I believe) is trying to make this game as inclusive as possible, so supporting players with lower end equipment might be one of their ideals.


Jul 12, 2017
Last edited: