‘Project Zomboid’ developer outlines ‘Crusader Kings’-style NPC generation

"And thus the pot has been stirred to start the evolution of the world from an NPC perspective"

The Indie Stone‘s managing director Chris Simpson has shared an inside look at the intricate detail going into adding NPCs to Project Zomboid.

Earlier in the week (February 23), Simpson took to Twitter to dive into some of the behind-the-scenes decisions that NPC generation in Project Zomboid will make.

Before the game even starts, Simpson says he is “generating a ton of families” and then giving them children, who in some cases then go off to marry into other families if they’re old enough.

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“I potentially kill off anyone who may have died of old age in the family tree. Then I split them all into households. Grandparents likely living alone, perhaps with their children. Older children move out into their own place, fiancés or partners maybe move in together etc.”

“Then, I assign each household a random house on the map to live with sufficient bedrooms. That becomes their start safehouse.”

Simpson adds that from there, a “random amount of people” from each home are chosen to be “away from home” at the start of the zombie apocalypse, which splits some families up across the map. These NPCs will have a goal to get back to their loved ones, while at-home families will potentially decide to try and flee the area.

Project Zomboid
Project Zomboid. Credit: The Indie Stone.

“Then we kick off the meta sandbox, and let it all unfurl. NPCs may have a burning need to find love ones, they may arrive home to see them all as zombies, so on. And thus the pot has been stirred to start the evolution of the world from an NPC perspective.”

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Simpson explains that “the idea here is for realistic ties between characters to exist,” which should hopefully give NPCs better background stories and motivations within the game itself.

On how these decisions will affect players in Project Zomboid, Simpson said “every character will have a story from the start of the game. Sure, we’ll probably spawn in new out of towners or randoms when needed, but the survivors of these core families will persist and have events (that they’ll hopefully be able to recount to the player) since game start.”

The depth to NPCs in Project Zomboid sounds similar to the branching family trees of the Crusader Kings strategy series, but Simpson has previously talked about his other inspirations for the game. Speaking to NME, Simpson said The Indie Stone has been “taking a lot of cues” from GTA RP.

In other gaming news, Fallout: New Vegas 2 is reportedly being discussed between Obsidian and Microsoft.

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