Okay, I know many people are done with the zombie survival style games. I’m too, kinda. But I just watched “I am Legend” again and I can’t help to think that its world and mechanics would make a great game. Brutally hard, but great and more importantly, something that hasn’t been done yet.
Let’s go deeper into it, but first, in case you don’t know or remember the movie, here’s the trailer for a recap.
Yea, awesome movie, I have now seen it 6(?) times. The following will (kinda) include spoilers for the movie. So if you care about that kinda stuff on a 10+-year-old movie. Go watch the movie first, it’s on Netflix 😉
I’m not saying the game needs to be a carbon copy of the movie or even close enough to require licensing, but there are many potential ideas and mechanics that so far have not been used in a single game. Sure all of them have been used separately. Also obviously this idea is no way complete and even I know it still has flaws and some making a game with all of it might not even be possible with current tech. (system requirements)
I see this game as an open-world survival, with permadeath, so your life actually has value to the player. For some people, the things we learn might be enough, but maybe there could be some roguelite elements in it. Just need to be careful not to tip the balance.
What could the game be like?
The enemies should be feared and avoided if possible because they can really make your life hard. while they can’t/won’t come to the sunlight, they are always lurking in the dark. If you have to face them you are slower, weaker and less agile then them. All you have is your weapons, weapons that make noise, noise that attracts more enemies.
You might be able to kill a single enemy or even a couple if they are alone, but more then that is next to impossible when the rest of the group still standing screaming. At that point the task requires weapons, explosives or such that create loud noises, that will attract more enemies that will result in you getting over flooded, if you are not very careful, preplan your escape or are very lucky.
At night you cannot survive outside. Maybe, just maybe you could use some type of vehicles as a very high-risk shelter, but in the long run, you need a safe house.
In the movie, his safe house is his home. But for the gameplay’s sake, that could be changed in a way that player can occupy almost any building. Depending on a building type, it could be high-risk high-reward, low-risk low-reward, or something in the middle.
For example, you could have a small place that is instantly secure from scavengers, but it only has a bed and maybe a place for an extra weapon or a small amount of food. Then at the other end a house that has a kitchen, storage, workshop and maybe even a gym, but needs to be fortified to get cover from even a solo scavenger.
The main enemy of the game would be the basically unstoppable horde of enemies. If you are caught in the middle of the road at night by them, you are dead, right there, no chance at all. If they find your safe house, you need to get out right that second. You’ll lose all the supplies in storage, but you just might get out alive.
Longer you live in one place harder it gets
While you can collect supplies to your safehouse, there is a limited amount you can find in an area. Like in the real world, nothing respawns. So if you take a can of food from a house, that will no longer be there for the duration of your game.
If you stay outside too long at night, enemies can track you back to your safe house. For balance reasons maybe not that whole way at once. But over time, if you keep doing it the horde finds you.
While you can fortify the building. That that will only help you stay hidden from a small scavenger group. If the horde finds your safehouse, they will still get in. Just a question of time.
You could be able to build ways to escape the safe house and using vehicles can get you around faster, if you are in a hurry. Maybe even help you to make another safe house, but with all the other mechanics, the question becomes, if you want to endanger both of your safehouses with loud noises.
Living the life
Like any other survival game, this needs to basics. You should get hungry, need a drink from time to time and sleep to keep you sane. Maybe even workouts to affect your stamina and carry capacity.
Here actually comes the thing that I haven’t yet figured out. What do we do while we can’t go outside, without it getting boring for the player? Sure, the nights you can skip by “sleeping”, but what if there are days you can’t go out? Dark stormy day for example.
The end, for now.
There’s still a lot of ideas about how this could be expanded, but I think this is going to have to be it for this time. I might expand this in another post later and I’ll be easily baited into talking about this in the comments or Twitter.
Lastly, I’m not a game developer and I have no illusions of being able to make this game myself to the standard I would want it to be, even if I tried. If this inspires someone else to make it or benefits someone in some way, then awesome!
There are upcoming games in this genre that I’m watching. However, I’m not expecting them to fill my hopes for this exact kind of game. Worth checking out still:
Also while the Division 2 is totally different, some of these ideas could make an appearance in it, that could be awesome. I actually also wrote a separate post about my hopes for the Division. So if you liked this post, you might also like: My hopes for the Division 2 personalization and a living world