Who Do You Think You Are?

It strikes out of the blue.

You’re at home on the sofa. You promised you’d watch this one tonight, but you’re choosing the movie next time for sure. You grab another handful of popcorn and shake your head involuntarily. You’re at the store late at night, not entirely remembering what you came to buy. The day is a blur of exhaustion, but you still wonder where the hours all went. You’re headed down the highway, music cranked, singing along to a song you haven’t heard in years. Reminds you of a better time.

It catches you off guard.

You’re mowing the lawn. It’s way too damn hot, but when there’s shit to get done, you do it. You’re drinking some coffee and updating your status on Facebook. Was that a glance from two tables over? You hesitate before saying hello. You’re out for a little target practice. Just fired off the last round of .45 ACP. Needed to blow off some steam.

Ultimately, you don’t choose the moment. You don’t choose the situation. You don’t even choose yourself.

The apocalypse doesn’t wait for you grab your Go Bag, and the world doesn’t freeze while you reconsider your height or hair color. You don’t get to min-max your attributes to game the situation. When everything goes to hell, you are who you are; you have what you have. And once the crisis hits, it waits for no one.

This is how it would happen in the real world. This is how it will happen in Class3.

When Class3 starts, you’re dropped into the world without any detours into character creation, and your first goal is simply to survive. So does that mean you never have control over who you are? You’re assigned to be Niko or Marsden or Ezio and that’s that? No, not at all. If you rescue other survivors and earn their trust, you can switch off and play as them.

Your first goal is simply to survive.You are responsible for not just yourself, but for the whole community of survivors that you gather. By and large, it’s up to you whether or not you rescue other people, and it’s up to you to earn their trust, but the smart move is going to be building a strong community. Because there’s one thing that we can very nearly guarantee:

You are going to die.

When someone is dead, that’s it.The zombies are relentless, and any mistake can be fatal. Odds are, you will die many times and in many ways. Bitten, bloodied, torn in half. Taking a turn too fast in some dead lawyer’s sports car. Sickened, poisoned, heaving and shuddering at the end. Charred and broken, victim of your own ill-timed firebomb. Weak from hunger, struggling to get away, but failing to find the energy to break free. You’re going to die as Marcus, despite his determination and strength. You’re going to die as Maya, despite her military training and keen eye. You’re going to die as Ed, despite his speed and stealthiness. And once dead, they won’t come back.

As we’ve said in “Everyone Dies,” you can’t load an earlier saved game. When someone is dead, that’s it.

It is your community that goes on. Your strategy is up to you, but your best bet is to gather together a good mix of survivors. This was one of the first core concepts for us when we started Class3: The most valuable thing you can find is not a stash of food or ammunition or medicine or any particular weapon or vehicle. More than anything, you need to find someone you can count on. Someone who can watch your back. Someone who can cover for your weaknesses.

I wouldn’t want to try to make a pipe bomb without some really solid background knowledge.Face it. No one is good at everything. In Class3, survivors have many different talents. Some are more or less useful than others, but no one covers every situation. Some talents help you in the field (gotta love anyone who wasn’t a couch potato before the apocalypse), while others help you at home (I, for one, wouldn’t want to try to make a homemade pipe bomb without some really solid background knowledge). Other talents, like an extensive knowledge of celebrity gossip or, well, strong computer skills serve no purpose.

Most survivors are bad at a few things as well. Some weaknesses are obvious. Someone with a bum knee has a hard time staying crouched and sneaking around for long distances. Someone with shaky hands can’t shoot worth a damn. But some weakness are less obvious. Try to round up every hardcore, survivalist alpha male you can find and you may find them at each others’ throats unless you’ve got a good peacemaker, joker, or storyteller to smooth things over.

You’ll have to decide between helping a friend or hurrying home to make sure everyone else survives.The other big thing to understand is that Class3 moves forward in real time. All the time. This means that people who seem to be in danger actually are. They won’t survive forever. Leave them alone while you stock up on ammo or choose to help some other group, and you may return to find nothing but zombies and the tattered remnants of their survival gear. At times you’ll have to decide between helping out a friend who is under attack or hurrying home to make sure everyone else survives the latest zombie assault.

The state of the world even progresses when you aren’t playing. Crises happen at a slower rate while you are away (we have to leave you some time to sleep, eat, work/study, etc.), but the need for food and medicine and ammo and construction materials never stops entirely. This 24/7 real-time nature of the game also includes the need to rest up and to get a good night’s sleep.

The more punishment you take, the more likely that you’ll want to switch over to someone who’s rested up.Humans can be incredibly resilient and resourceful, but we have limitations. The dead never slow down. They never grow weary. The same cannot be said for you. Food can give you a temporary energy boost. Painkillers can numb you and keep you on your feet, but eventually you must rest. The more things you do and the more punishment you take, the more likely that you’ll want to switch off and take control of someone who’s rested up and ready to go.

So you’ll be out there looking for food and fuel and ammo, but even more so, you’ll be looking for people. People you hope to be able to call friend. People who can help you grow a garden or build fortifications. People who are strong or know how to repair damaged firearms. People with medical training or who know a lot about cars. You don’t get to manufacture the other survivors out of thin air to meet your needs. No, you find them and choose to befriend them warts and all, working first to earn their trust.

You can choose to leave everyone else to their fate, and come back later and loot their stuff. Is that who you want to be?Of course, you can focus on your own immediate needs and choose to leave everyone else to their fate, hoping instead to come back later and loot what’s left of their stuff. That is up to you. You can try to survive without rescuing anyone. That is your choice to make.

But think about whether or not that’s who you want to be. Before the apocalypse comes, you don’t have any warning. You don’t get to tweak your stats to be the ultimate survivor. You don’t choose what you have. You don’t choose who you are. But afterwards, once the shit hits the fan, the real decisions begin. Your choices define you as much as any talent or skill stat.

All your choices matter. And you must live with the consequences.

~ Phinney

(8/17/12 followup questions answered here: http://undeadlabs.com/2012/08/news/followup-qa-customization/)

To discuss this with the rest of the Undead community, please click the comment button for a ride over to the forums.

Join the Discussion