Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Animal Crossing: Zombie Horde

Recently I watched Yahtzee Croshaw's review for Animal Crossing: New Leaf, wherein he laments that the game is, at its heart, a simulation of a suburban hellscape. You eagerly wait for the fish to respawn so you can go fishing, then you go catch your butterflies and pull your weeds. Eventually your neighbors will complain about something, so you'll take care of it. Animal Crossing is apparently a game about being a British pensioner that got into the good mescaline and has been hallucinating that the drifter outside his apartment is a terrier with a guitar.

Which sounds boring to me. I remember the first Animal Crossing game, back when I had a subscription to Nintendo Power and no Nintendo. It sounded enchanting! Then, after a year or two, I got the game for the DS and was disappointed to find the game came with a prescription for digital Xanax and a pamphlet on surviving postpartum depression. Finding the rare items that required social contact with other Animal Crossing players was impossible since I didn't know any, and I found the game's capitalistic obsession with house decoration to be dreary. I think I'd mistakenly thought that Animal Crossing was like the Sims but with an actually interesting art direction. Or I don't know what I thought.
It's like the logical progression from the Dancing Baby GIF

Looking at the game, I think we could pull a more conventional, conflict-themed game out of Animal Crossing. And that is to take the basic gameplay of Animal Crossing, and add in the zombie apocalypse. Well, not the zombie apocalypse, actually. Zombies are played out as a narrative conceit. In fact, on the off chance that somebody reading this decides to make this game, if you use zombies as the game's antagonists I will poison you with fugu powder then sacrifice you to Papa Ghede. Do I make myself clear?

Anyway, so you're put in charge of a randomly generated town populated by a manageable cast of neighbors. You're free to decorate your home, fish in the deep end of the ol' Swimmin Hole, head out back and dig for treasure, whatever. However, your village is under attack! Periodically, it will be attacked by something and it's your job to repel the invaders as best you can, with the help of your neighbors.

In addition to the decorations you can hang in your house, you also have options for a number of suitable fortifications. Will you build a gym and turn your neighbors into a ragtag team of monster killing experts? Or will you hire carpenters to build a defensive wall with sentries and turrets? Will you appease the monsters with a sacrifice of blood? Each option will have its strengths and weaknesses: the economy would be designed in such a way as to allow you to mix and match options, and change styles fluidly, but prevent you from utilizing every strategy simultaneously or optimizing excessively.
Unlike Animal Crossing, where neighbors pester you to do minor chores for them, in this game you could assign them to do minor chores. Learn your neighbor's personalities, find the job that's best for them, and assign them to it! Do you have a flighty, unreliable neighbor? Put him on guard duty where his panicky nature keeps him on high alert! Hardy, courageous neighbor? Direct combat! Adjust your strategy to play to the strengths and weaknesses of your neighbors.

There would also be ruins on the outskirts of your village. These places might host new neighbors hiding in the squalor, valuable parts for home defense, or just cool decorations!

The antagonists should be diverse and, like Animal Crossing, be partially randomized. Will you be beset by a giant dragon or a swarm of giant beetles? Will enemies attack with brute force, or will they try to infiltrate your neighborhood as new neighbors and sabotage the works?

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