Shh,Zombies

title
About
Shh, Zombies originally started out as a companion mobile game to an MMO game concept, but as that MMO was never going to get made I turned SZ into its own, full, game. Shh, Zombies is a puzzle game where the player must get Jim safely to the exit, they do this by placing waypoints down to complete a path to the exit and then watch the action unfold. There are two types of zombies to avoid: the idle, but ever watching, zombie – if they spot Jim they will give chase. Then there’s the walker, these just walk in a straight line, oblivious to what’s going on around them.

There are 40 levels, set during the day and at night. Night levels offer greater difficulty, as it is night time there are more zombies and lower lighting. Each level has 2 objectives:
1- Complete the level in a set number of moves (par).
2- Collect all the zombie heads.

For more details about Shh,Zombies, please visit the dedicated website Enigma 23 Games – Shh, Zombies

Game design
Shh, Zombies is a fairly original game which started out life as an early concept to be a companion app to an MMO concept of mine. Obviously an MMO is unlikely to get made, so Shh, Zombies was turned into a full game. I planned and implemented all aspects of the game design including: mechanics; puzzles; characters; and art style. The basic concept of Shh, Zombies remained almost intact, with just the art style changing to be vastly different (and any links to an MMO not being used). Shh, Zombies art style went from a realistic(ish) look to the cartoony cubed world that Shh, Zombies is now.

Coding
Coding for Shh, Zombies is all in C# contained in about 52 scripts. Some elements that I’ve coded are:
Gameplay – placing of waypoints and the paths between two waypoints, following the path set by the waypoints, enemy AI to detect if the player comes close.

AI – There are two types of enemies in Shh, Zombies, a simple “walker” that just walks aimlessly forward and an “idle chaser”, which sits idle until it sees the player come close enough, then it will give chase. The player is slightly faster than the zombies, so he can get far enough away that they will stop chasing, however the zombies aren’t limited to moving along X or Z on the grid like the player is.

UI scripting – I’ve used the NGUI plugin for Shh, Zombies, a lot of coding and time went into the UI, making sure it works across all areas of the game, all screen sizes/ resolutions and across multiple platforms.

Multi-platform controls – Shh, Zombies automatically detects the platform it is running on and displays the correct information for controls, and loads the correct control method (touch screen or mouse).

Integration of plugins – I’ve used some plugins from the Unity Asset Store to achieve some aspects of the game, a list of the plugins used and what they were for are below.

Unity
Level creation – All levels, and their puzzles, in Shh, Zombies were hand done, using models created in Qubicle. From the start of development I made sure there was a standard import size for all 3D assets, so that all objects that sat next to another would be in multiples of 1×1 (X, Z) Unity units – height didn’t need to conform so strictly.

The first few levels are indirect tutorial levels, in that they don’t use any dialogue to teach the player how to play or what is happening, but use level design to teach. Level 1 is a very simple level, using the Par to see that only 1 waypoint is required, the player can see to place that waypoint on the exit and press ‘Go’. As Jim is then running along the path, they’ll see that the zombie heads are collectables (also displayed on the UI next to the level Par) and that the zombies react when they see Jim, but are unable to reach him. Level 2 is the same as the first level, with the barricades removed and the zombie heads moved 1 square away from where the zombies can see, this is teaching the player that there is a limit to how far the zombies can see, and that waypoints can only be placed in line with the previous waypoint.

Multi-platform builds – Unity was chosen, not only for its ease of use, but thanks to its multi-platform support. Shh, Zombies has been released on iOS, Android (both Google Play and Amazon) and Windows Store (desktop).

3D
To create the 3D models for Shh, Zombies a program called Qubicle was used, this allows quick and easy creation of cubed models. I used Qubicle to create: characters; environment elements; buildings; collectables; etc.

The characters are specifically looking upwards in an odd way, this decision was made for two reasons:

  1. I didn’t want the player to just be seeing the tops of heads, knowing all they would see would be black squares.
  2. It added a unique quirkiness to the game.

Unity Plugins

The main plugins utilised in Shh, Zombies are:

GridFramework – This plugin was used to display the grid area where waypoints are placed, this allows for easy working out of where the player is pointing (to highlight a grid square), where the waypoint was placed and to easily convert that Vector3 so the waypoint is placed in the correct alignment, and to work out where to place the path between two waypoints.

Madlevel Manager – MLM manages all aspects of level tracking – whether the level has been completed, if the extra goals (complete in par/ collect all heads) have been met and saving of this information.

Everyplay – Mobile video recording, allows players to share their gameplay on the Everyplay social network.

Achievements Service Manager (ASM) – Achievements for Game Center/ Google Play.

Game Analytics – The analytics’ service provider ‘Game Analytics’ was used to track player stats, see the completion of levels, goals, etc.

NGUI – Implementation of UI for cross platform support.