Available on:WIN PC

Town of the Dead


Town of the Dead is a survival horror game for Xbox and PC developed by a team of game programming students at the University of Huddersfield. The game takes place in a quiet university town situated in the English countryside where, after falling asleep in the 24 hour computing laboratory, the lead character Chris awakes to find flesh eating zombies roaming the corridors in the place of other students. He finds himself trapped in the building and must try to escape, but with no weapons, one life and a building full of the undead the odds are stacked against him.

There are three main focuses in the basic game design. The first challenge in the game design is presented by various situational obstacles, in the form of a puzzle or a locked door. These challenges are easily explained and executed and are completely independent from the other two focuses of the gameplay.

The more difficult and pressing remaining two challenges can be summed up as 'resource management'. The second main challenge is managing your characters' health. Throughout the game a player will rely on the same health bar; at no point is the player's health magically refilled for free and there are no multiple lives to work with. However, the player does have items such as medi-packs to replenish health.

The third challenge is managing ammunition stocks. The game does not supply the player with an excess of ammo, so if he/she tries killing everything in sight, the player will quickly run out. Deciding when to shoot and when to run is very important, as wasting bullets can irreparably affect the players' situation later in the game.

Game Structure

The university building is sub-divided into floors and rooms. The player moves through pre-rendered environments trying to escape from the building. Throughout the building there are items and weapons to help and allow the player to proceed, with the environments getting progressively harder with more enemies.The player gains access to different areas of the building by finding keys and solving puzzles.

The game view is in third-person with the camera moving from fixed position to fixed position as the player is moving throughout the building, giving it a 'cinematic look'.

Challenges

There are two main puzzles in the game. The first puzzle takes on the form of a keypad. The player must find and input the correct code to gain access to a new area. The second puzzle requires the player to fix a lift. Once the lift is fixed it provides the player with the ability to get to a new area. The puzzle is in the form of a jigsaw built up of nine pieces each representing a microchip. Once the player has found and is holding all the pieces they must place them into their correct position to complete the puzzle.

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Player Character Mechanics

For movement, Chris can walk and run but can not use a weapon at the same time. The speed at which Chris walks or runs is dependent on his health. The less health Chris has the slower he is.

The player doesn't have lives in the traditional sense. Chris only has one life, but his health can fluctuate and is displayed in the inventory as a status bar. When the player receives damage, his health is reduced, but he is able to replenish his health using the medi-packs placed throughout the building.

Game Items

small Medi-Pack       Medium Medi-Pack       Large Medi-Pack
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Handgun                   Handgun Ammo                   Key
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Magnum                    Magnum Ammo                    Computer Chip
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             Shotgun                    Shotgun Ammo
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Inventory System

There is an inventory system so the player can manage all items he/she can collect. Each item has to be placed in a space within the inventory. It's up to the player to organise the inventory and move items around to fit new ones in. The player can combine items such as ammunition for a gun and discard items to create space. Some items may also be combined to increase their effectiveness while freeing space such as two small medi-packs can be combined into a medium medi-pack etc. The inventory also displays what is currently equipped in Chris' hand and the current strength/weakness of his health status bar.

Map System

The player has access to a map at any time. When the map is activated it displays each floor of the building, showing Chris' current position and the areas that have been accessed by him. The map acts as sort of a note pad, identify doors that are open, locked or jammed once the player has tried them, and key events like puzzles are marked on the map.

Artificial Intelligence

Zombies are the only antagonists in the game. They are creatures that exist in three difficulty levels, easy, medium and hard with varying attributes. They generally patrol the environment (a room) searching for living flesh to feed on.

Each type of zombie has the same behavior and rules:

  • A zombie patrols the environment until it has detected the player, unable to open doors confining them to closed rooms.
  • If the zombie detects the player, the AI will trigger the zombie to investigate and track the source. The zombie then finds the quickest route to the player.
  • The zombie attacks when it is close enough to the player.
  • If the player moves while being tracked, the zombie does its utmost to keep the player in its line of sight and/or sound detection by chasing the player.
  • The zombie dies when its health reaches zero.