DoubleBear's Dead State has quickly taken a place on our most wanted list, so we decided to go to the source himself - Brian Mitsoda - for an exclusive Q&A about the zombie survival RPG. A bit of what to expect:
GB: Take us through the character creation and progression systems you're working on. How will the advancement system compare and contrast to other RPGs?
Brian: Character creation shouldn't be too different than what people are used to - you can choose your character's gender, skin color, hair, some cosmetic details, then assign their starting stats and skills. We have four stats which are mostly related to combat ability and eight skills that can affect a wide variety of actions. We really focused on making the skills have such an impact on the game world that leveling them up would have an instant impact on ability, rather than have a bunch of redundant or mostly useless except for special occasion skills.
Unlike a lot of other RPGs, you don't gain XP from killing things - you get skill points from completing objectives, which means that the player can go about things in any way that completes the task, rather than have to kill everything that moves. These objectives are both reoccurring and also reactive to events that have been set off by the player's actions. In a lot of cases, avoiding combat or using the zombies against opponents is a better strategy than going in guns blazing. Reaching certain key milestones (like recruiting a certain number of strangers to your shelter) or making critical decisions in your role as a leader can unlock choices of new perks for your character. We definitely want to encourage players to play the way they want rather than grind for success.
GB: What are some of the non-combat skills we'll have access to? How often will each of these be used throughout the game?
Brian: Every skill in the game has multiple functions, except for Melee and Ranged, which are the 100% combat skills. The Medical skill is used to restore HP and cure temporary statuses, but it also has applications in speeding up recovery of HP and long-term statuses (such as sprained arms) for doctor types who are willing to spend a day or two treating the wounded. The Science skill allows the player to create everything from enhanced armor to explosives. The Mechanical skill is useful for lock-picking and weapon and shelter upgrades. Survival allows players to travel more quickly on the area map, as well as identify wild food sources and avoid or ambush enemies in random encounters. Leadership and Negotiation open up different dialogue options, as well as confer bonuses to either ally combat ability (leadership) or overall morale loss (negotiation).