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New zombies for labs (done; playtesters would be nice) #28174

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merged 19 commits into from Mar 8, 2019

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@I-am-Erk
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commented Feb 11, 2019

Summary

SUMMARY: Content "Adds some less dangerous but still thematic zombies for labs."

Purpose of change

Labs are currently totally unpopulated. I think a large part of this is that scientist zombies are pretty hard to deal with at low levels, firing manhacks out like they're going out of style, but also pretty major loot drops at high levels as they may have CBMs. Regular zombies look a bit out of place in labs.

Describe the solution

As part of an effort to expand labs and give them threats and variety, I'm adding some new lab monster types. Based on discussion with Kevin, part of this is changing around the function of the zombie scientist

  • Zombie Scientist: No longer so intelligent, the zombie scientist can still pathfind and select targets slightly better than your average zombie, but it has stopped using tools and is more like a regular zombo. As a result, it also carries much less in the way of cool bionics. Sorry dudes and ladies.
  • Zombie Security: Once a security staffer in a secret research facility, this guard now stumbles about, a faster but less durable version of a zombie cop.
  • Hack-mother: A robotic spider the size of a human, this nightmarish creation launches manhacks from holes on its back. Hooray, that's what we all wanted to see crawling down the wall in the flickering lights of the abandoned laboratory.
  • (not yet added) Escaped Subject: A plain zombie (or possibly mutant human? Hard to tell...) at first, these guys mutate rapidly down several lines, gaining claws and feathers and things.

Describe alternatives you've considered

Not sure I need the Escaped Subject to be a common zombie in labs or not
There will be a few more zombie types wandering the halls. A few regular zombies are fine, for example.

Initially I had added a new type of zombie scientist to supplement the hack-tossing variety, but the preferred lore direction is to ditch the hack-tossers in favour of hack-robots. I'm into that.

Additional context

I will probably make a couple evolutions for these as well, to keep the challenge up, but likely won't go overboard as these are meant to be the lower level threats in the lab hallways. Higher level threats will be going into special rooms. Also thinking the Scientist should get a level-up.

I-am-Erk added some commits Feb 11, 2019

Create zed_lab.json
WIP. Adds more scientists and similar enemies to prowl the halls of the lab.
Update zed_lab.json
gonna need labsecurity death drops and harvest data
@Fris0uman

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commented Feb 11, 2019

Could you rename Zombie Researcher to Zombie Lab-Assistant or something like that to differentiate them better from zombie scientist and maybe point out that they are a lower threat ?

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commented Feb 11, 2019

Instead of making the researcher/lab assistant more of a brute how about adding a few new room types representing post-Cata holding cells, with a high chance of being busted open releasing a few regular zombies into the hallway? Assistants could start out as "CBM duds" as not everyone would have equally embraced transhumanism (beyond any mandated essentials) and could lead to less grotesque but more "functional" mutants in the future (i.e. jumping spiders, mermen in the sealed flooded rooms, sapiovores in the living areas)

The escaped subject sounds like it should start a bit weaker than described i.e. only token armour and one special attack, then quickly start evolving into "roaming mutants". If you can adjust scaling times I'd say roll them out at day 3-7 and start mass conversion at day 30-60 to take the heat off lab spawns but make staying after the initial scramble quite dangerous. Those would have decent armour and possibly multiple special attacks or other abilities (i.e. roadrunner trait if allowed, acid blood, shrieking etc.) Then upgrade them to "rampaging chimera" as the "hulk" level with multiple active attacks, a guaranteed passive trait but some major weakness such as disintegration or extra-slow movement speed (mini Tetsuo blob)

Considering most late(r)-game lab explorers will have access to guns some form of ranged counter or noise-sensitive mechanic might be a good idea for late-evolution scientists. With the sturdy walls and many doors being loud has no real downsides right now and if anything might alert the hearing-enhanced to nearby threats. Acid splatter and electroshock-counter feel like they might be a little overdone if the soldier evolutions also get any but those would make martial artists and most melee attackers think twice.

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commented Feb 11, 2019

I dig the idea of the escaped mutants starting out weak and getting stronger quickly. Good thought.

I had originally called the researcher a lab assistant, I changed it because they're still pretty intelligent and in their own way are even a bit more dangerous than the scientists, with the (major) exception that the scientists toss out manhacks. I could revert it though.

Currently I'm planning on changing a ton of the lab doors to frosted glass soon, which will help with zombie containment making things too easy.

As for evolution, I'm leaning toward the following:

  • whitecoat wraith: fast moving evo of scientists/researchers, similar to a hunter zombie but also has intelligent pathing and stuff
  • zombie revenant: upgraded scientist, can open doors and possibly has necromancer powers on a slowed down timer
  • shocker: both scientists and researchers (or whatever they're called) can turn into OG shockers
  • security guard will have a couple mutations into just normal special zombies (thinking shady, shrieker, grabber, and brute) using copy-from and then adding the special features of the security guard (armour and the baton attack)
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commented Feb 12, 2019

I changed it because they're still pretty intelligent

As are real-life lab "assistants" unless we're talking Hollywood guinea pigs/fodder. In fact you often have to do a fair number of "assistant" jobs before getting promoted to a senior research position like a professorship. Maybe I'm misinterpreting your vision though, the workshop techies and secretaries would still pick up some high-level knowledge but usually aren't Ph.D.s.

Currently I'm planning on changing a ton of the lab doors to frosted glass soon, which will help with zombie containment making things too easy.

Including the map tile borders? As long as those and turret rooms stay unchanged it'll still be fairly safe, you just can't pull off as much really crazy stuff.

whitecoat wraith: fast moving evo of scientists/researchers, similar to a hunter zombie but also has intelligent pathing and stuff

Giving any of them jumping abilities when you have all these animal mutants running around feels kinda wrong. Maybe something emulating the cloaking and flashbang bionics for a semi-nonlethal ambush?

zombie revenant: upgraded scientist, can open doors and possibly has necromancer powers on a slowed down timer
shocker: both scientists and researchers (or whatever they're called) can turn into OG shockers

Shockers would be a loot downgrade though, so why not combine these two and make the "revenant" raise fallen science-y zombies as shockers? Broken cyborgs too, and either a lategame upgrade or letting them do it a second time would upgrade to incandescent husks...

security guard will have a couple mutations into just normal special zombies (thinking shady, shrieker, grabber, and brute) using copy-from and then adding the special features of the security guard (armour and the baton attack)

Shady seems excessively annoying (or useless for lit rooms) and shrieker won't do anything unless you add actual noise penalties (in which case it won't be needed as labs are fairly cramped). I'd also avoid smoker/bloated as the gas takes ages to disperse while offering little tactical advantage to the zombies (again labs are cramped, and there's no risk of a flashmob suddenly emerging from the smoke like in the middle of town). How about tear gas/riot gas hacks and indeed the grabber? Guards in these places would probably handle the "subjects" more than intruders as they had military personnel on-site.

And if you want to be mean maybe a lategame upgrade to armored zombies, there is a nanofab finale which can spawn power armor blueprints after all.

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commented Feb 12, 2019

...wanders around with its baton extended, swinging at nothing

I’m pretty sure any kind of tool-wielding zed is considered a no-go by Kevin. It’s a slippery slope to zeds with guns and all kinds of other thematically questionable stuff. I recommend leaning away from that.

@I-am-Erk this was discussed briefly in the conversation regarding your new Zombie Soldier evos.

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commented Feb 12, 2019

I’m pretty sure any kind of tool-wielding zed is considered a no-go by Kevin. It’s a slippery slope to zeds with guns and all kinds of other thematically questionable stuff. I recommend leaning away from that.

The bio-operator and grenadier clearly perform some very rudimentary interactions, so maybe make it a Wolverine-style baton CBM? That would also avoid spamming the player with even more half broken batons in these places.

A (living) bone club or brass knuckles fused into engorged fists would also work as far as gameplay goes.

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commented Feb 12, 2019

I know Kevin hates when people use examples of lore-breaking stuff to justify more lore-breaking stuff. I would tread lightly there.

That said, I don’t personally see anything wrong with it having hard arm guards which naturally increase bash damage, or mutated hammer-fists, or perhaps even a bionic (though I would expect that to get shot down by Kevin or others as well unless it was a particularly creative idea).

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commented Feb 12, 2019

Remember, the list of zombies will be randomly selected, and includes all their upgrades. Shady leads to nightstalker, which is definitely worth having in a lab. The meta for shrieker should matter more with destructible doors and more zombies and other beasties around in the lab. I'm avoiding smokers and probably boomers, although I'm not completely decided on boomers yet.... Have to see how it holds up. However, I had planned on toughs/brutes and grabbers being the primary evo lines for guards just because the rest are "specialists" while those are pretty plain jane zombie types. You'll probably see an evolution ratio of around 5 tough:3 grabber:2 shady:1 each of any other type.

Good point on shocker loot, I'll probably have to use copy-from to change their drops to match the scientists'. Oh well, it's only one line.

A small point related to military stuff, I'm working on removing the military presence in most parts of the lab, otherwise I'd be adding more soldier zombies to the halls. I'm switching them out for an on site security force, and in particular specials there'll be military present (eg the portal ending). Although my current plans don't have me fiddling too much with lab finales, I'm more interested in the upper z-levels.

Bear in mind with any of these changes that I'm not a coder. I can mix and match existing features, but I am limited in what new stuff I'm able to add.

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commented Feb 12, 2019

Thunder Hawk, I think an undead guard swinging a baton blindly, mimicking its behaviours in life, is very much within expected zombie behaviours. There's a world of difference between swinging a club that you had when you died and operating a gun, or even picking up a new club and using it

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commented Feb 12, 2019

I don’t think there’s any expectation that zombies in this universe might mimic their behaviors in life. Basically the only example of that is the Grenadier, which is itself a super contentious issue. This has all been discussed before quite a few times IIRC.

Anyway, you don’t have to convince me of anything, I’m just lending my advice. I’ll be interested what @kevingranade has to say about it.

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commented Feb 12, 2019

Grenadiers, scientists, flamers, and bio-operators all mimic life behaviour. Several others like soldiers, necromancers, and masters exhibit some other type of intelligence. It's not especially controversial.

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commented Feb 12, 2019

As far as zombies mimicking tools goes, I think this one is fairly acceptable. Bio-ops have their martial arts because the CQC bionic is wired directly into their brain, but grenadiers have nothing like that, just intelligence, so I think that precedent states it's okay.

Do you think maybe the security zeds could replace the soldier zeds in the Barracks rooms, or at least spawn there? I always viewed it as strange that labs didn't have dedicated security force beyond soldiers assigned to the place.

(Also, I love the name whitecoat wraith.)

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commented Feb 12, 2019

The behavior of scientist zeds is very old and ripe for an update, Grenadiers and flamers especially are very contentious, and bio-operators’ intelligent behavior is influenced by hardware bionics.
Soldiers don’t exhibit any intelligence, idk what you’re talking about there.
Necromancers and masters are “blob intelligence”, that is, those are abilities manifested specifically by blob evolution.

From the zombie soldier evo conversation (and thumbs-up’d by Kevin himself):

...the blob doesn’t think of inanimate objects as useful and so doesn’t dedicate the effort to figuring them out. The blob writ large is arguably highly intelligent, but not in a way that’s relatable to human intelligence. It wouldn’t occur to it to use a tool that isn’t part of itself. IMO when the blob intends to gain some specific capability, it develops both the requisite skills and the necessary tools by itself. Perhaps if the blob had a specific form designed for outside the box critical thinking (brain blob leaps to mind) some part of it could decide to emulate human tool use, but in general the blob won’t spend the time or energy on that.

I know it seems like very innocuous behavior, but I think even that most basic of tool use is outside of the blob’s “skill set”.

Again, you don’t have to convince me of anything, I’m just relaying to you what I believe to be the general understanding here.

EDIT: Also, I think you could easily make this zed more lore-friendly without changing the underlying mechanics at all. Everything else aside I think it’s weird to have a specific monster that represents a zed holding an object. You can’t disarm it? Every security officer in the lab managed to turn zombie while clutching their baton?

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commented Feb 12, 2019

when people die they tend have a sort of a clench reflex, this along with rigor mortis could allow them to hold it with a very, very strong grip, but yeah, perhaps having two variants, one with a baton could be better, the baton one evolving to have a better, less clumsy grip, and the non-baton one evolving like a grappler zombie brute perhaps

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commented Feb 12, 2019

I'd really prefer to steer clear of more smart zombies. That doesn't mean monsters with these abilities can't exist, but we should be able to come up with a different spin on them.

I'm intending to remove or reskin both the scientist and the grenadier.

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commented Feb 12, 2019

Zombie scientist turning into a robot hack launcher, and current zombie researcher taking its place in five, four, sometime tomorrow if I have a break at work, three, two...

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commented Feb 12, 2019

I'm working on removing the military presence in most parts of the lab

Uh, not that I disagree with the idea but do you have a corresponding rework for actual military locations in the works as well? Not just the enemies, right now lab barracks are the only military-level threat which feels reasonably rewarding.

And regarding the whole baton thing, why not make the base version have some basic pre-Cata remnants (i.e. brass knuckles, arm guards or a baton strapped to the arm) then split its evolution into one with a Blob-evolved bone club and brute-level strength but next to no grabs, and a second line with grabber arms and "nonlethal" takedowns like Judo throws, tear/riot gas and maybe electric stuns which the Blob can generate "biologically" (perpetual motion electric eel).

Edit: @kevingranade's post (and the reply) didn't show up for some reason. Since you say "reskin":

  • Taze would suit the guards better, bioelectric or the usual faulty CBM excuse
  • Radiation beam always felt like it should be Nether-powered anyway. Rephrase to imply similarity with Flaming Eye or do those hold a "special" place in lore?
  • Manhack dispenser robot sounds good, also a chance to have dangerous enemies wandering the halls without making them outright secubots by giving them semi-auto guns.
  • Acid would go to mutants anyway
  • The "flavor" move does not have any actual effects coded elsewhere, correct?
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commented Feb 12, 2019

Grenadiers and flamers especially are very contentious

Flamers do nothing even resembling intelligence. They just wander around with their flamethrower stuck on the sling, nothing more.

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commented Feb 12, 2019

zombie revenant: upgraded scientist, can open doors

Why not just 1) make most of double-doors sliding, 2) make most them auto-opening when anything is adjacent. It doesn't require exception from lore and would definetly make labs less a cakewalk.

Edit: if some random doors were locked by keys (e.g. to apartments, mini-living rooms and pantries), more rooms you'd really rather get into locked by terminals or requiring science id (e.g. chem labs) one might get trouble hiding anywhere too. Works with easily breakable / transculent frosted glass doors nice too.

Furthermore, if I were building a lab, I'd lock the stairs by key / card and put them behind doors probably with rare exceptions making elevators controlled by a cards a primary way to move which is out of power now.

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commented Feb 12, 2019

Flamers do nothing even resembling intelligence. They just wander around with their flamethrower stuck on the sling, nothing more.

Good point, you’re right, my bad.

I look forward to the reskins/removals of the scientist and the grenadier. IMO labs could use new robots and especially more of the extradimentional “nether” creatures. I always envisioned labs as “ground zero” for the nether invasion à la Half Life.

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commented Feb 12, 2019

Making automatic opening doors is beyond my JSON ability, and generally when the power is in brownout, automatic doors are the first thing to shut off. Using glass doors for most of the lab is sufficient for difficulty needs.

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commented Feb 14, 2019

I feel like Escaped Subject needs "zombie" in its name to clarify its undead status

Maybe "zombie experiment" or "zombified experiment" or "experimental zombie"?

Skitterbot and Manhack Dispenser into defense_bot.json
Move skitterbot here, and adds the Manhack Dispenser

I-am-Erk added some commits Feb 15, 2019

remove skitterbot from monsters.json
moved it to defense_bot.json
"default_faction": "zombie",
"description": "Apart from the jet-black eyes, this zombie looks less decomposed and inhuman than most. Clad in a tattered lab coat, it seems to have a glimmer of awareness - not a human awareness, but something more sinister. As you watch it, its movements look almost marionette-like.",
"default_faction": [ "zombie", "defense_bot" ],
"//": "zombie scientists are recognised as friendly by the lab's defense system",

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Do you think it'd be too overpowered for the Lab Technician start to have this, too, through a profession trait?

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I-am-Erk Feb 15, 2019

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I don't think lab technicians are meant to be XEDRA personnel. There are many other, more common, types of labs.

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On the contrary, the description of the profession says something along the lines of:
Can you help undo the very Cataclysm you helped create?
It's pretty heavily implied that they were employed in these labs, further backed up by the fact that the profession is a valid choice for lab escapes.

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I-am-Erk Feb 15, 2019

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I would suggest that in general, that's more of a problem with the lab tech description than anything. It shouldn't be an option to be an evacuee who is also a XEDRA lab employee.

In the lab escape, it would be worth considering having the 'lab personnel' get a faction flag that makes them friendly to the automated defenses. 'defense_bot' is not a valid answer though, and personally I think it would be better to write in a reason the player isn't immune to IFF, because of the number of other problems it causes that zombies don't worry about - like being immune to the bots in a totally different XEDRA facility.

I-am-Erk added some commits Feb 15, 2019

Move sci zombie death drops to new file
Will add security guards soon
nerf scientist bionic options
Now that scientists are a much lower level zombie, they need to have less awesome treasure.
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commented Feb 16, 2019

Disregard the following if there has been an in-depth discussion elsewhere.

The scientist loot nerf seems excessive and not at all in the spirit of this PR. I agree they were pretty generous grab-bags but they were still rather unreliable due to the sheer variety of loot they carried. This change also has wider ramifications to e.g. body sites and FEMA camp spawns plus anywhere else zombie scientists might appear. At the same time the bionic lab finale feels distinctly unrewarding both in terms of playable content (it's the same square room with bots/turrets as most of the others) and in terms of the actual reward given the time and difficulty of getting there.

In fact at a glance I can't even tell whether all the removed CBM loot would be available from other locations, could this be split off into a separate PR dealing with the general risk/reward structure of labs once the new enemies (and potential WIP room/layout stuff related to your furniture) are actually ready for playtesting?

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commented Feb 16, 2019

I don't think that it's really appropriate to leave reality bending and teleportation cbms on what is now an early level zombie that's about to be very common. This is part of a larger group of PRs that will be doing a lot with labs. The pr where the zombie goes from a fairly easy mini boss to a basic zombie seems like the right one to change their loot tier to basic as well.

Besides that, I can't find a single bionic removed that isn't part of eg the military or bio operator groups, quite a bit more appropriately, and in much higher spawn numbers overall.

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commented Feb 16, 2019

@I-am-Erk oh yes I agree with the change in itself down the line, it's just that I personally hadn't seen any such PRs here yet nor any discussion of out-of-lab spawns. On that note could it be a good idea to split those and introduce a new "XEDRA field-op" enemy as an "elite" closer to the old scientist? Or rather a hazmat/scientist/bio-op hybrid with an AI-controlled drone launcher backpack for the manhacks which I presume will become necessary for the grenadier if it is not removed entirely. With the basic scientist nerfed body sites might become too easy when they spawn and they could also be used as proper minibosses in lab finales/high-value rooms.

Or for the simpler solution replace some of the scientist spawns with bio-ops, especially where military personnel were already present (the structure in FEMA camps for example)

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commented Feb 23, 2019

An AI controlled manhack-dispensing backpack? I know for sure if I see a zed with one I’ll want to be able to acquire one for myself.

@kevingranade kevingranade force-pushed the CleverRaven:master branch from f07c447 to c5d1def Feb 25, 2019

I-am-Erk added some commits Feb 27, 2019

@I-am-Erk I-am-Erk changed the title (WIP (CR) New zombies for labs New zombies for labs (playtesters requested) Feb 27, 2019

I-am-Erk added some commits Feb 27, 2019

@I-am-Erk I-am-Erk changed the title New zombies for labs (playtesters requested) New zombies for labs (done; playtesters would be nice) Feb 27, 2019

@ifreund ifreund removed the 0.D Freeze label Mar 8, 2019

@kevingranade kevingranade merged commit 3ba18ee into CleverRaven:master Mar 8, 2019

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commented Mar 9, 2019

This pull request has been mentioned on Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead. There might be relevant details there:

https://discourse.cataclysmdda.org/t/32x32-msx-dead-people-tileset/18775/92

@I-am-Erk I-am-Erk deleted the I-am-Erk:lab-new-zombies branch Mar 21, 2019

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commented Apr 2, 2019

This pull request has been mentioned on Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead. There might be relevant details there:

https://discourse.cataclysmdda.org/t/fire-type-zombies/19482/14

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