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Humans vs. Zombies Season 3 Postmortem

Humans vs. Zombies Season 3 Postmortem

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Humans vs. Zombies Season 3 Postmortem

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  1. Humans vs. Zombies Season 3 Postmortem Kevin Sheehan

  2. ARG’s (What are they?) • Alternate Reality Games • Live Action Games • Blur the Magic Circle • Often involve use of media • Examples • Assassins/Killer • The Beast • The Amazing Race

  3. Humans vs. Zombies • Base Game • Started at Goucher College, Maryland in 2005 • Played on large college campuses • Typically 500-2000 players • Zombie Tag + Nerf blasters • “Lasts until it ends” • Occasionally have “Missions”

  4. Humans vs. Zombies • The DigiPen Game • Started Fall 2010 • First Game (Season 1) • Roughly 60-80 players • Missions every night • Zombie Starvation hardly enforced • Heavily plot-driven • Fixed-duration game • Big rescue “finale” on Friday night

  5. Humans vs. Zombies • The DigiPen Game • Second Game (Season 2) • Roughly 70-80 players • Missions every night except Monday • Zombie Starvation abolished • Not as plot driven • Still fixed-duration game • Another “finale” on Friday night • Lots of player complaints

  6. Humans vs. Zombies • Goals for the Third Game (Season 3) • Make the game more manageable for players • It’s an enormous time commitment • Better risk/reward from previous games • Poor R/R flourished in Season 2 • Improved narrative integration • Why did I get this for doing that ?

  7. Humans vs. Zombies • Goals for the Third Game (Season 3) • Make Zombies more than “the Losing Team” • Zombies would often quit the game • Appeal to a group of new players • Fresh batch of incoming Freshman • Appeal to a group of veterans • Experienced Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors

  8. What Went Right

  9. What Went Right • Joining Late • Player could join on Wednesday night • Roughly 18 Late Joiners • Mission Mailers • Consistently mailed out every day at noon • Communicated essential information clearly • Aided the narrative

  10. What Went Right • Stronger Risk/Reward • The four mission rewards were proportional to the mission difficulty • Stronger Narrative • All missions made sense sequentially • Mission Rewards made sense with the mission

  11. What Went Right • Zombies were totally into the game • Zombie pride was beaming all week • Zombie mission attendance was very high

  12. What Went Right • No legal conflicts or interruptions • Communication with neighbors was high • The police were preemptively informed of the event • Designer as player • I was able to play without perfect information • Game Director handled all sensitive information

  13. What Went Right • Marketing • Hugely successful (150 players!) • Orientation Promotion • Word-of-Mouth • Flyers & Facebook

  14. What Went Wrong

  15. What Went Wrong • Zombie spread was out of control • More Players = Faster Spread • We expected 100 players at most • 37 Zombies at the end of Day 1 • Tuesday mission simplified • Wednesday reward buffed • Thursday mission cancelled • Finale was brief

  16. What Went Wrong Right! • Wednesday reward buffed • Zombies reached Day 5 numbers by Day 3 • Full-team Vaccination to retain Human numbers • The game was more casual until the finale

  17. What Went Wrong • Late Joiners….joined late • Wednesday night starters didn’t sign up until Wednesday • This influenced Wednesday’s mission objectives • Legion Combat • 150 players means large-scale combat • Combined with new Zombie tactics, this means mass confusion during encounters

  18. What Went Wrong • Friday Night Finale • Hardly resembled intended finale • Wasn’t a climactic ending • Humans were killed shortly after reaching the first objective point • Human backup plan ended up prolonging a Zombie victory

  19. What Went Wrong • Administration change threatened the game • Change in faculty meant the game might not happen • Weeks of meetings, often cutting into class time • Game wasn’t green-lit until 10 days beforehand

  20. Looking Ahead

  21. Looking Ahead • No more original zombies • Multiple Starters creates a more reliable bell curve • Day 1 no longer contradicts core dynamic • Tested in 2012 Post-Season Game • More dynamically different missions • After various mission changes, missions were very similar conceptually

  22. Looking Ahead • Zombie Respawning • One of the most tedious elements of play • We will be testing an airsoft-inspired respawn system • More small-scale encounters • 81% of survey takers said they preferred small-scale encounters over legion combat • Tested in 2012 Post-Season Game

  23. Looking Ahead • New Game Tracker • Passionate HvZ player developed an in-house game tracker • Tested in 2012 Post-Season Game

  24. Looking Ahead • Strategic Escalation • Every game introduces new strategies from Human and Zombie leaders • New N-Strike Elite series could change the game • These details, while uncontrollable, must be accounted for

  25. Looking Ahead • Larger Development Team • What was a 3-person development team will soon be 10-12 people • New positions created within Art, PR, Design, and Production fields • Each position will result in portfolio-worthy content • New recruits will work closely with each of the 3 former developers to ensure quality

  26. Looking Ahead • Larger Development Team We’re still recruiting. 

  27. Q&A