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Sunday, February 24, 2013

State of Decay follow up QandA A Matter of Character

State of Decay has released a new blog post recently with a new shiny Q and A for us to read. A lot of questions were answered. Check it out Below or read the copy and paste.


--copy and paste--

The Survivors

Q: [Multiple]: How random are the characters? Will we ever see two characters that have the same skills and abilities? What about replays, will the survivors be the same?

A: Storyline characters (you start as a character named Marcus Campbell, for example, and quickly meet Thomas Ritter, along with Maya, Ed, Alan, and others) will be the same every time you meet them. They have extensive histories as well.

Many of the other survivors are generated, with their names, appearance, traits, and skills all potentially varying each time you play the game.

Q: Fleshblight: [Is the game designed such that] no two NPCs (all of whom may potentially be recruited and controlled by the player) look or sound the same, or have identical sets of skills and abilities?

A: There is a limit to the amount of art we created. You’ll probably never encounter two Npcs who look exactly the same at the same time, but if enough people die, you may start encountering survivors who bear a “striking resemblance” to those you’ve met before. In these cases their abilities and names will almost certainly be different. (Though there’s some randomness there, so no guarantees. It’s possible for two survivors to be similar in the same way it’s possible to flip a coin and get tails ten times in a row.)

Q: Major Warpath: Is it possible to have a character who is completely useless? Hey, I know a few people like this.

A: Oh, I wouldn’t say anyone is useless, but certainly some provide key skills that others do not and some survivors are more immediately useful than others. With time and effort, anyone can become a good shot, competent at hand to hand fighting, and bright enough to come in out of the rain.

Don’t underestimate the value of that. More than one project has been scuttled by “too many managers, too few workers.”

Q: Screenamesuck, VladimirKenju: Will we be able to see everyone's skills BEFORE we recruit them to the group? Can you talk to them or read a bio, or are you only able to find out their skills after they become one of the "family"?

A: You get a limited glimpse into this and have to make your decisions based on the information you have. When you talk to someone, you’ll be able to see their personality and one major background trait.

Q: [Multiple]: How do you switch between characters? What are the limits on switching between characters? Is there a proximity range for switching between characters? What happens to the one you switch from in general?

A: You can walk up to a Friend and make the switch via conversation, but if you’ve been watching our videos, you know there’s also a journal you use to keep track of everything that’s going on, including keeping track of all your community members. You can also find your Friends in the Journal and switch to them with a press of a button..

There are limitations, though. For example, you can’t switch survivors while you’re in the middle of a mission or in combat, and you can’t switch to someone who’s gone missing.

Q: Bronxsta, Creed: Along with potential SWAT backup, can you also request help from your survivors? Is there a way to get a survivor of your choice to come and kill zombies with you until you sent them home?

A: You can’t call your base and ask for a specific person. You can switch to the survivor you want and run over to the trouble spot. There is no way to switch when you’re in combat, so your best bet is to find a safe place to hide, switch to the survivor you want, and get to the source of the action.

Q: Capt.C.Baker: Let's say I have a 2 star cook named Wendy back at my base. While I'm out scavenging, I come across a 4 star cook named Chris who also has some woodwork under his belt. What options do I have for this situation? Do I have to replace one character for the other? Can I have both? Will the food get cooked quicker or something if I have both?

A: Your survivor best suited to a particular job will be automatically “assigned” to the appropriate facility upon joining your community. Having two of something in your group means you have a backup. Redundancy is good.

 Skills and Abilities

Q: TwilightSparkle: Do you mind telling us how many skills are in the game total right now?

A: Well, if you count “Spike Handling”, it’d be 35. So one fewer than that. (Note: a little more than half of these are not all that useful.)

Q: Kurnster: We know there are 4 basic skills everyone has. From the screenshot shown, can we assume that the number of total skills is limited to six? Likewise, for the traits, I'm assuming a limit of 8 although that would be a lot of traits!

A: The survivors can’t have more than seven skills and six traits, and they probably have fewer. The seventh would be the survivor’s Weapon Specialization. It’s special, so it gets that blue background.

So why six traits and eight slots for displaying traits? We sometimes use this space to display some additional temporary status information.

Q: Workhorse, Bronxsta: Can you give some more examples of Signature Abilities? Can you have more than one?

A: As the article said, each survivor can have four Signature Abilities, but only one of each type. (Offensive, Defensive, Utility, and General.) Here are a few more examples:

* Decapitate (Offensive) -- Hold [LB] and press [X] to launch a slow, focused attack guaranteed to decapitate the target.
* Rage (General) -- Sometimes taking your anger out on something is therapeutic. Every time you kill an enemy, you regain a small amount of Stamina.
* Thievery (General) -- You are the night. Doors are never considered locked for you, and you make no noise when you search. You can also move quickly while sneaking by holding [LB].

So you can have both Decapitate and Rage because they’re in different categories, but you can’t have both Rage and Thievery because they’re both in the General category.

Q: Workhorse: Do wits affect other things, too, or just search speed?

A: There are also a few abilities that you gain automatically from Wits, and some Signature Abilities. The Thievery ability I mentioned above requires 7 stars in Wits.

Q: VladimirKenju, PoolBoy: Can skills like construction or vehicle repair be taught? For example, if I consistently use a character to build alongside an established construction expert, can she eventually get the skill?

A: No, though that would be pretty cool.

Q: Loco Little: Does a maxed out leader character effectively/automatically become the leader of the group (as in other characters start referring to him as leader, some characters like him taking charge while others don't, etc.)

A: There is no formal leader in a survivor community in the sense that you’re using the term, but survivors can temporarily take on a special role within the community based on what they accomplished the day before.

Q: Kurnster: Will all traits and skills have flavour text or info text to explain what they do in more detail of you highlight them in game?

A: Yes, though we don’t spell absolutely everything out. There are a lot of mechanics working behind the scenes, so instead of trying to explain all of them all the time, we try to make sure the consequences of your choices are sensible and to call things out if and when they matter. So someone with a potentially disruptive personality won’t constantly be causing problems at random. We’ll let you know before they start acting up so you know what to pay attention to.

Q:Wake Up Ne0: Is there only one type of attack with a weapon, or are there multiple 'moves' you can gain/unlock as there are in unarmed combat?

A: Increased skill with melee weapons unlocks new moves, yes. Increased skill with a gun gets you reduced recoil, more headshot accuracy at distance, faster reload times, faster jam clearance, and reduced wear and tear on the gun.

Q: Joey: Is sexting actually in the game or was that just a joke?

A: It is indeed an actual skill in the game (as are Sudoku and Reality Show Trivia), but it does nothing in a world where cell towers no longer function.


Q: Multiple: How hard is it to raise the skills of a character? How long does it take for a character to max a skill?

A: YMMV, depending on how you play and whether or not you’re good at pulling off some of the feats that give you bonus XP.

Here are a few things you can expect though:

* The overall rate of progress is a lot quicker than it’d be if there wasn’t permadeath and character switching.
* As you might expect the early stars come in more quickly than the later stars.
* You shouldn’t expect to completely max out a skill in a single play session, but you shouldn’t be playing for a long time without making any progress.
* Thinking in terms of trying to “grind” for skills is probably a bad idea. Remember that your ammo is limited and melee weapons get damaged and break. And you’ve got a community to feed and protect. It’s probably more important for you to save those last ten rounds for the next incoming horde than it is to try to go out and shoot zeds in a field for target practice.

Q: Demonslay999, Joey: What is the effect of more skill? Say if a person with level 1 melee skill used a lead pipe on a zombie, would it take multiple swings in order to kill it? As opposed to someone with level 5, would he just insta-smash the head of the zombie in? If I had some superhuman all star survivor, would I be 1 hit KO zombie mashmaster every time?

A: Our goal was to never let the survivor’s stats override player skill. So, yes, your odds of smashing a zombie’s head with your first swing is a little better if you have 5 stars in fighting instead of 1, but your primary advantages are the additional abilities you’ve unlocked and the fact that you have +20 Vitality.

Q: SpcB: How much of an effect does the skill "leadership" have on the amount of influence I gain in a common mission?

A: The bonus is currently +10% at 1 star and +100% at 7 stars of Leadership. The exact numbers and names are still subject to change as we continue to refine playbalance and playability, of course. (One note of clarification: the bonus is for Trust, not Influence. You’ll find that Trust is the more valuable and scarce of the two. That’s why we put the bonus there.)

Q: Madmock: Will unused traits ever lose stars? If I got 2 stars in fighting, but then never fight, will I become "rusty" and downgrade to 1 star?

A: No. We’d talked about doing this for the seventh star, but decided to keep things simple.

Q: G0lgothan: If someone had a Bum Knee, could you get them the equivalent of some physiotherapy through Training and eliminate the negative side effects?

A: No.

Q: [Multiple] Will NPCs level up skills when using them, or do you have to be in direct control of the character for them to improve? What about NPCs who aren’t part of your community, are they just out there in the world getting better at stuff? Can a survivor level up while offline? How exactly do the survivors in the community level up skills if you can't directly control them?

A: Survivors only improve their skills while you are controlling them directly. Their skill levels stay the same while they are running around as NPCs, and they don’t gain XP while you are offline. We discussed having them gain a small amount over time, especially as they carried out actions like supply runs and home defense in the game, but decided to save the progression moments for when you directly use the skills.

(*Note for Facebook/Twitter followers: This was the cause of the one day delay. We were investigating the possibility of getting the gain working as described and making this answer completely different. )

Q: [Multiple]: Can all skills get maxed out to seven, or do you continually improve them? Do characters with less ability “cap out” sooner than seven?

A: All of the skills to which a character has access can be maxed with endless time and focus. It will take the characters with less natural ability significantly more time, time you may prefer to spend on finding food and making landmines.

Also, remember not every character will have access to everything.

Q: Andrewdogg: If a successful headshot streak helps level up gun skill faster, how do wits level faster?

A: Certain activities provide a bonus to Wits. For example, climbing up to a lookout point and surveying the area for infestations and hordes gives you extra Wits XP.

Q: Joey: Will there be a way to safely train your skills, like on dummies?

A: Not exactly. If you build a Dojo and institute “Combat Training”, your community gains a temporary bonus to how fast everyone gets Fighting XP, but you still have to go out and fight actual zombies to improve your skill.

 The Things They Hold

Q: Warpig: What do you mean by starting weapon? Do you mean that is their best weapon that they are good with or when you find them they have that on them?

A: It’s whatever they happened to have on them. That may or may not be related to their existing skill, and if it’s at all related to the survivor’s potential, it was due to random chance.

Q: 2016kellamni: Will the survivors always have starting weapons, or could someone arrive with nothing?

A: Nothing is certainly a possibility. Not everyone is equally prepared for the apocalypse.

Q: Norannyo: If your character is carrying a bag of supplies as we saw in the Distraction trailer, can that character drive a vehicle with the backpack? or can he/she only run back? If he can drive with a backpack, what happens to the backpack when you get inside the vehicle?

A: Your stuff stays with you. As you may have noticed in the video, the backpack doesn’t show when you get into a vehicle. Just assume the survivor tossed it on the seat.

Q: Quinico1: Does increased firearm ability prevent (or reduce, or slow) wear and damage to the weapons themselves?

A: Yes.


Q: Tarman, G0lgothan: Can negative traits be improved? For example, a Selfish Asshole might realise that the way he's going isn't going to work in the current world. Could he bust his ass to become a Team Player (or something). Similarly, could a Coward, with enough combat exposure, become Battle Hardened (or something)?

A: Generally speaking, people don’t change who they are. There are a few situations where personalities can change, but you should not assume that you can smooth all the rough edges off of everyone and eliminate all their drawbacks. (Our reasons for that are gameplay-related as much as anything, but it’s also an attempt at realism; I don’t know how many Selfish Assholes you’ve had to deal with in real life, but I’m pretty certain it’d take a hell of a lot more than a zombie apocalypse to turn around most of the ones I’ve known.)

Q: Tarman, Atreyu113: Does a character with negative personality traits (like Alan Gunderson) need to be at the base/near others to affect community members? Or is whatever any character is feeling anytime, anywhere immediately affect all community members across the map? Could I keep my community happier by assigning a rude person to an outpost?

A: Oh, that’s a fun idea, but no. He can ass things up for the community no matter where he is.

Q: Bronxsta, Lynch74: Can injury and/or poor morale permanently affect a survivor's Personality and Traits? If a survivor has good Leadership and is friendly, and then his friend dies, will his personality and mood degrade accordingly? If a survivor is faced with several of his group getting killed – will that potentially have an everlasting effect on his mental state?

A: There’s a little bit of this, but it’s pretty rare. Attitude changes are much more common (and frequent) than permanent personality changes.

Morale is always a concern. Unattended morale problems lead to mutiny, survivors leaving, and even suicide.

Death certainly affects morale, but if you can get people cheered up, they won’t start having flashbacks or anything. They’ll just get depressed over the next horrible thing to happen.

Q: Zombiepreacher: Will there be relationships stronger than friends? I'm not talking about having babies included in the game, but a lover and number one go-to-guy would be so amazing (seeing how it's a community based game).

A: No, sorry. Friendship is awfully meaningful, though.

Q: 2016kellamni: It says in the examples of fear that some people are resistant to fear does that mean they are going to run out in a blaze of glory or what?

A: It means their attitude won’t tend to switch to a fearful one, which means they won’t be responsible for events like wasting a bunch of ammo firing off in a panic.

 Kicking People Out

Q: Norannyo: How do you tell a survivor he/she is no longer welcome in the group? What happens right after this option is chosen? Does the survivor walk away into the distance, or just disappear completely?

A: First of all, the survivor might tell you hell no, he won’t go. So there’s that. (Use someone with Leadership if you want to be sure he’ll take you seriously.)

If he does leave, he may help himself to supplies, depending on his personality. Then he’ll head for shelter. Possibly another community, possibly on his own. If he’s out alone, you may hear him screaming for help someday.

Q: Jexz: If we kick someone out of our clan, can we later add them back?

A: Yes, if they survive and they’re willing to come back. You’d need to earn trust again to be able to invite them, though.

Q: Joey: Will a family be mad if I kick out a family member? Like if I kick out the autocrat because he’s a dick, will I get resistance?

A: Resistance? Not exactly. You’ll want to pay close attention to everyone’s feelings. Some of your other members may think to themselves, “Hey, if he’ll kick out that guy, I could be next.” Others might be relieved.
 Changing and Evolving

Q: MatchesMalone: I would like to know if you folks have something that keeps track of what skills your community has, and from there determines challenges to throw at you? If so, how does the system make a decision on what mission to generate? Is it an AI or some arbitrary "Duck, Duck, Goose" system?

A: We do try to tune the challenge a bit based on how well you’re doing, but within limits. A core part of this game is letting your actions have real consequences, so the primary driving force behind which missions and situations appear is what you’ve done before.

What determines whether or not there’s a mission to go rescue a missing person from your community? It’d be something like you didn’t help out someone who was calling for help and (luckily) instead of being killed, they went missing. Why are there missions to clear out an area that’s been overrun by zombies? It’s because you’ve let a bunch of places get overrun by zombies. So it’s true that the events are sometimes arbitrary, but often they are determined by your prior actions.

Q: Zombiemarch: You said there can be conflict between the groups/characters and that "counselor characters" can help fix/prevent disputes. How will conflict affect people? If one character is overpowering/angers easily and upsets another, will the upset character not perform certain tasks, run away, ask to leave?

A: All of the above. They might be less willing to cooperate across the board, and their unhappiness will lower morale across the board, sending the whole community into a downward spiral of unhappiness and lack of motivation.

Q: [Multiple]: Can in-game actions transfer to physical traits? For example, Bum Leg is a trait. In addition to being a character you start with, can you get a Bum Leg due to an injury?

A: No, though I’ve been very tempted to add that.

Q: Workhorse: Is there a permanent cough trait where some characters literally can't sneak effectively? [Could a survivor develop such a cough?]

A: No, although there are abilities that make you sneak more effectively. But it is possible to get sick and develop a cough, if not a coughing trait.


Q: Tarman: You said, "Cardio — Rule #1 for survival. If you run out of Stamina, that’s it. Can’t fight, can’t run away. You’re done." If you completely run out of Stamina but have full health, is your character then truly dead (done)? OR Can you sneak into the bushes (or lay low on a roof/water tower/outpost) for a while to compose yourself like you mentioned later in the article?

A: Sorry, we should probably tone down that description a little bit. Being out of Stamina doesn’t have any direct, immediate impact on whether or not you are alive, but you’ll find that without Stamina you are much, much more vulnerable in combat and you’ll have trouble getting away if you decide to flee.

Stamina comes back pretty quickly when you aren’t sprinting or fighting or climbing, but there’s a little more to it than that: If you’ve just used a bunch of stamina and dropped down to zero, to get it back, you just have to take it easy for a little bit or eat a snack. After you’ve run around for a long time, though, you’ll find your Maximum Stamina getting lower and lower. To get that back, you need to actually leave the survivor at home to rest, or use something more extreme like a stimulant.

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