Tag Archive for zombie

From A to Zed

Around six months ago, I wrote about the CDC embracing the zombie apocalypse as a teaching tool for disaster preparedness. Some people laugh at stuff like this, but as I said then, as I’ve said for a long time, and as I continue to say, if you are prepared for zombies then you are prepared for just about anything.

Since then I’ve had their little badge up on my site and I hope people take it to heart. Seriously, just the simple act of having a flashlight with batteries (or one that doesn’t need batteries), a radio, some food, some water and a plan just puts you in a great position to handle even minor things, not to mention when a storm rips through and the power is out for a few days.

Randomly, earlier this week, I clicked that link myself, just to make sure it still worked, and was rewarded with finding out that they’ve made some changes.

Now, in addition to their one sheet about zombies and links to other disaster preparation information, they’ve put up a short graphic novel, Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic. It is available as a PDF from their site. I love that the CDC is doing this, and I hope they keep doing it.

Perhaps they need a page that uses werewolves to illustrate how to handle animal bites…

Rising in my queue

Dead Rising 2

The Chuck Stops Here

Having received Dead Rising 2: Off the Record for my birthday, I decided I should finally get around to playing Dead Rising 2. I love the DR franchise and always wanted to play DR2, but it got pushed back in my queue by a few other games I also wanted to finish. So I put the game in a couple of nights ago, loaded up my last saved game, and quickly realized why I’d put it aside before in favor of another game. Of all the things I love about the DR games, the one thing I don’t is that it is nearly impossible to “win” on the first time through.

If you aren’t familiar with the games, your character gains experience (PP) and levels up as you complete tasks, save people and kill zombies. When you lose, and you will lose, you can start over, retaining your levels and unlocked abilities, thus making the second trip through easier. During the first game, this was an interesting mechanic, but in DR2 I found playing the first run through a bit disheartening as I knew I wasn’t going to succeed. I last saved my game just moments away from failure.

Of course, failure of the game’s main mission has its own reward: you can keep playing. Once the mission failed and I was informed that the truth had vanished, I was reminded why I didn’t mind failure in the first game. Now with an open world and no real reason to be there, I’ve been going on zombie killing sprees and saving random people when I’m able.

In the zombie genre, there tends to be two stories to tell. The first is full of hope, that our intrepid band of survivors is going to make it – final stand not withstanding. The second is stubbornness. Our survivors are only survivors for now, everybody dies, it’s just a matter of when. When in a DR game you fail the main mission and the story, the path to hope, fades, your game shifts from the first type of story to the second. Hope is gone, you’re all going to die, but not yet, not if you can help it. It’s sort of a “rage against the dying of the light” feeling.

I love it.

Originally posted on Google+, but I just had to repost it here since it isn’t public over there.

The Dead. Finally!

Over two years ago I posted the trailer for a movie called The Dead.

Well, this month, us zombie movie fans in the United States will finally get a chance to see it. The slow roll out is here. Being in Atlanta, I’ll get to see it on the 28th, and see it on the 28th I will.

Death Valley

Years ago (or can it be measured in decades now?) when MTV pretty much stopped airing music videos, I pretty much stopped watching it. Occasionally I might drift back to it for the odd awards show, special event or boredom, but that came to a complete stop when I canceled my cable TV and no longer had easy access to it. Which is why I find it so odd that I’m now watching (by *ahem* other means) a show on MTV.

But how could I not watch Death Valley?

The show is set in a world where zombies, vampires and werewolves (and possibly other things) exist. Shot as a reality show like COPS, the camera crew follows members of the Undead Task Force (UTF) of the Los Angeles Police Department as they deal with the shambling undead, ones that are fresher and run faster, vampires involved in the “blood for sex” trade, werewolves who forget to lock themselves up for the full moon, and more.

Being that it’s on MTV, this show is far better than it has any right to be. While occasionally there is an effects shot that looks off, the majority of them are quite good, probably because CG work is becoming so cheap while quality keeps improving. The acting is also pretty good as well. Anyway, this totally gets a thumbs up from me and I recommend at least checking it out to see if it happens to be your cup of tea.  Check out the trailer below for a start.

Day by Day Armageddon

Day by Day ArmageddonI owned J.L. Bourne’s Day by Day Armageddon for quite a while before I read it.  In addition to being a slow(ish) reader, I have a pile of books, a three shelf bookcase actually, of books waiting to be read, so sometimes books wait.  After plowing through DBDA in March of this year, I picked up the sequel, Beyond Exile, which I just finished last night.

Both of these books are excellent.  Written in the style of a personal journal, we follow the story of an unnamed Naval Officer as he notes his thoughts and experiences in a world quickly becoming overrun by zombies.  Personally, I thought the journal style worked very well, the only drawback being that since things are always written after the fact, you know that no matter what is being written about the author has to survive or else he wouldn’t have written it down.  This journal style, however, is also one of the complaints many people have about the books, so you have to know about it going in.  They claim things like “I just read a guy’s personal diary and I didn’t learn anything about them.”  I have to wonder if they’ve ever read anyone’s personal journals that weren’t fictionalized.  Most journals, especially those started by men later in life (not as kids) tend more toward facts and what happened, and are not full of emotions and internal dialog about how they feel.  Think of it less as a diary and more of an After Action Report by a military officer and it’ll probably work better for you.

Another common complaint on zombie stories is they seem to have a “right wing slant”.  And while these critics might have a point, when flesh eating zombies spring up, who is more likely to have a gun ready to shoot them in the head, an NRA member with a right leaning political view or a liberal gun control supporter?  Similarly, why are the survivors always military or people with training?  I think that’s a question that answers itself.  I mean, I go to Dragon*Con every year, and when I go to panels about apocalyptic themes I know every person in that room thinks they are going to be victorious if the zeds should ever start walking, but realistically most of them wouldn’t last a week, and probably not more than a day.

Anyway… back to the tales at hand.  I found both stories to be very entertaining and engaging.  I especially enjoyed the use of slower shambling zombies and opposed to having them all running and jumping and stuff.  I highly recommend both books, and I believe there will be a third next year.  The second book takes a turn at the end that I’m interested to see where J.L. Bourne goes with it.

Not Quite Radio Days

Old RadioThe other day I was thinking about when my family used to go on vacation.  The topic came up because someone else was planning their vacation and booking flights, and I asked if they ever considered driving.  They immediately shot down that idea, not wanting to be “trapped” in the car for long stretches with their kids, or taking multiple days to get somewhere.  I’m sure that my rose-colored glasses are firmly in place, but I look back fondly on our vacations when I was a kid.  Of course I remember some of the fights too, but there were so many good things that came out of them.

Early vacations with both parents and three kids in a regular car were a bit tight, but in those days our vacations were shorter.  We lived in Florida and drove to other places in Florida, like Disney or the beach, or north to Georgia to visit family.  When we moved to Pennsylvania though, and trips to Georgia and Florida and other destinations got longer, the family bought a mini-van.  It had two bench seats in the back, my older brother taking the front one, while my younger brother and I took the rear.  In order for us both to be able to stretch out back there, we’d put a sleeping bag on the floor.  It turned out to be the best place to nap because down on the floor you avoided most of the light that came through the windows.

The key, however, to long term survival in the car for our family was the purchase of three Walkmans.  It is hard today to imagine the impact that portable tape decks that ran for many hours on a couple of AA batteries had on the world, but it was huge.  Suddenly we kids weren’t fighting with the parents for where to tune the radio.  And while music tapes had their place, for me, for vacations, there was something better.  I have no idea how I got it, but I imagine it come from my older brother, through some friend of his, but I wound up with a tap of Dr. Demento’s radio show.  It wasn’t a real tape, it was copied – maybe from a real tape or maybe from the radio.  But it had songs like Fish Heads and Another One Rides the Bus and more, as well as other comedy bits and longer stories.  This, along with a couple of Bill Cosby tapes would end up being the things I listened to most… until we wandered into the Cracker Barrel one day.

If you’ve never been to a Cracker Barrel, it’s a restaurant with a gift shop attached to it.  The shop is full of candy, folky art and decorations, and a random assortment of toys.  We’d been there many times, and I’d often perused the tape rack, which tended to contain the works of John Denver and a variety of country singers which after I discovered MTV I just wasn’t into anymore.  But one day I was spinning the rack and found a tape that had two “radio dramas”.  I asked my mom what they were and she explained it to me.  I don’t remember who bought them, but we ended up with three tapes.  War of the WorldsThe Shadow and The Green Hornet.  I played those things so many times, I’m surprised they tapes didn’t break.  I’m pretty sure if I look around, here or at my dad’s house, I could find those three tapes.

Many years later, after the Walkman had been replaced by the Discman, I found a radio show style recording of Stephen King’s The Mist.  I love movies and I love TV, but there is just something special about putting on headphones, sitting back, closing your eyes and letting the audio wash over you while imagery explodes in your mind.  It’s like reading a book but without the reading.  In fact, I’m pretty certain stumbling onto those tapes decades ago actually affected how I read, because I let the words sink in and I build the scenes visually within my mind.  The downside is that I read slow.  The upside is that I remember what I read very vividly.

We're AliveAnyway… despite loving those things and them being an integral park of my growing up, I admit I don’t keep track of what’s going on in the world of radio shows.  I mean, yes, I’ve been lusting after the Dark Adventure Radio Theater set for quite some time now, and I run across things now and then, but I haven’t actively sought things out.  But recently I’ve discovered (years later than most) podcasts.  While I tend to hate most talk radio, I’ve been enjoying a few podcasts, mostly entertainment or comedy related like The Nerdist.  It’s actually through that site that I’ve found We’re Alive, which is just awesome and one of those “Why did I not know this existed?” sort of things.  (Mental note: make sure the Apocalypse Rising track knows about this for Dragon*Con.)

So now I’m looking for more.  Know any good radio show podcasts?  I don’t want people just sitting around and talking (but if you say it’s completely awesome I’m sure I’ll try it out).  I want radio dramas, mysteries, horror, adventure, whatever.  Point me in their direction…

Foreign Policy

I don’t normally get political on this blog.  I tend to want to keep this about game design or movies or zombies or other random passing thoughts. However, lately I’ve been thinking about all these wars that the United States is getting involved in and the common refrain that we should “bring our troops home”.  The reality, of course, is that we will never see all the troops come home from the Middle East.  As far as I am aware, and I could be wrong since I’m not a history professor, the United States has never completely left a country that we weren’t forced out of once we went in.  We’ve got military bases in Japan and Germany and every other country we’ve ever invaded.

“But that’s not what they mean” you might be saying, and you are right.  They don’t really want us to bring all the troops home.  These people just want us to stop fighting, bring our large combat units home and leave the usual peace keeping forces behind.  But I’ve got another idea…

We should recall all troops.  All troops.  Everywhere.  We should close all foreign bases and begin construction on a giant impenetrable dome to enclose the United States.  Think of it as a jobs program.  To make this happen we will be required to annex parts of Canada and possibly some of the Caribbean.  A dome, after all, is a circle at the base and the United States isn’t exactly an island.  In exchange for the parts of Canada we will be required to take we will give them Alaska.  Hawaii, being too far away to include inside the dome, will be allowed to form their own country, taking the US’s seats in all international forums since we won’t need them anymore.  I do not envy them their fight to retain a voice, seeing as how they won’t wield much in the way of military power, but perhaps they’ll be able to cozy up to a few European nations and trade vacation homes for protection.

Once the dome is completed, we will begin phase two, wherein the dome is converted into a sphere with large engines constructed deep beneath the earth.  At the end of phase two, the sphere will separate from Earth proper and take position as a second moon to the remaining planet.  Should the separation of the United Sphere of America cause the destruction of the rest of the Earth, we apologize in advance and promise to build a memorial garden, with both a commissioned work of art and a commemorative plaque.

This is the best, and in my opinion the only, option for the future.  It must be done to protect freedom, justice and the American way.

Space Pirates And Zombies

And that isn’t just the title of this blog entry, that’s also the name of this game.  Space Pirates And Zombies (S.P.A.Z. for short) is a top down shooter.  It isn’t your traditional zombies, but hey, it looks fun.

Right now you can only buy it from Impulse, but hopefully there will be other options (like Steam!) at a later date.

Be Prepared

Not only is “Be Prepared” the Scout Motto, but it’s also a really good idea.  Or to quote Nathan Muir from Spy Game:

When did Noah build the Ark?  Before the flood.

When disaster strikes, it is too late to begin planning for disaster.  So, obviously, the answer is to be prepared.

Zombie Banner from the CDC

The CDC agrees, and last week they published Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse, which I have now permanently added as a link over the right hand side.  They aren’t the first to utilize an undead plague to illustrate proper planning.  A group called the Zombie Squad has been doing it for some time.  The main idea being, if you are prepared for zombies, you are prepared for anything.

While the CDC article and the materials provided by the Zombie Squad are good, the key element to disaster preparedness to understand is that you are not a priority for anyone else, and that includes the government.  In the event of any disaster you should be able to survive on your own for at least 72 hours.  That’s three days.

Let’s just say, for example, a hurricane comes tearing through your area.  The first job of the government is not to rush in and rescue survivors.  What would it do with them?  No, the first job is to set up hospitals and aid stations so that survivors who can come to them can be taken care of.  They will work on re-establishing communications and power, and only once they’ve gotten themselves firmly dug in will they begin ranging out to find stranded survivors.  If they ran out and got people first they’d simply be dumping them all into an unprepared cluster without power, communications or medical treatment.  Not to mention that if they rush in they could be putting themselves in great danger.  They are “slow” for a reason, and that is because when they get to you, you will be saved, not just temporarily reprieved.

Even more than that, however, is that by being able to help yourself, you free up resources for people who cannot help themselves.  If you have food, water and shelter for three or more days, then the rescuers can leave you alone and spend their time finding people who have been injured or are trapped or who didn’t plan ahead and have no food or water.  By being prepared, not only are you helping yourself but you are indirectly helping others.

The best thing about being prepared is that it doesn’t cost very much.  A few dollars and a little time will put you leagues ahead of those who don’t.  You probably have many of the things you’ll need in your house already, and if you don’t a quick trip to Wal-Mart will solve that.  Then you just need to pick rally points.  Your home, just outside your home, miles away, states away.  Make sure everyone knows where to go and how to reach each other.  Just like that, you are better off than you were before.

It’s so easy that there is no excuse to not be prepared.  If you aren’t, do it now.  Do it within the next week.  Pick a day and get it done.  Because after the zombies come, it’ll be too late to prepare.

Losing With Style

Lately I’ve been getting a bit of traffic on the site, mostly because of the Urban Dead post I made over 3 years ago.  So, I decided to take another look at the game… which lasted about ten minutes before I remembered exactly why I left.

The main crux of that old post, and the reason I quit the game, and the reason my return was so brief is that I have no desire to play a zombie.  On the whole, I tend to find stories about zombies to be boring.  Stories about survivors in a world of zombies on the other hand are awesome.  Even when the survivors don’t win and they all die, because a good zombie story is about humans, and what we will do to and for each other to survive.

Imagine this: you are playing a game where you are a cop hunting down rapists.  You find clues, perform interviews, gather evidence and eventually, if you are lucky, you get to shoot them.  Now imagine if in this game, when you fail to catch a rapist you are forced to be a rapist until you can be turned back into a cop.  Totally unappealing, right?  I mean, I hope that is unappealing, because if you want to play a rapist in a video game you need to stop reading and seek help.  Now.

I don’t want to be a zombie.  I don’t want to eat people. That game just isn’t fun for me at all to play.

What would make Urban Dead worth playing for me?

First, a simple “reset” button.  When I die, rather than be a zombie, I’d like to be able to just start over without having to create a new account.  I don’t mind losing experience and skills or having to wait a period of days, I just don’t want to be undead.

Second, a world reset event.  If all the world is undead, if no survivors remain, wipe the slate clean and start over.  If you let people pick zombie or survivor from the start, had levels and skills with the personal reset button causing some skill loss and a waiting period (24 to 72 hours), then you create a true “us versus them” style of PvP, and at that point you can define a win condition.  If all the survivors are dead or all the zombies are dead, the server declares that side the winner and the entire game resets.  When the world resets, everyone starts off human, but people who pick the zombie side start infected and in X days they’ll all die and be able to stand up as zombies.

I think that would be a great game.