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Thoughts about the Zombie genre

posted by American Foreign Policy on - last edited - Viewed by 586 users

First off I like to say that I'm a fan of the Zombie genre and RPGs, but not JRPGs or the doom & gloom European Zombie genre.

There's the obvious appeals:

Anarchy, chaos & breakdown of order.
Violence & shoot em up.
Survivor horror.

But then there's the genre's cliches:

Hand-waving modern military power.
Hand-waving the physics of decaying bodies.
Hand-waving the existence of militarized borders and quarantine.
Supernatural infection.
Massive inflation of the undead.
Everyone dies.

The power-gaming stat fiddler in me is bugged by the hand-waving of reality, but it's not a big bother.

I can stand most the the cliches but the RPG enthusiast in me can't get around the last one; everybody dies. It's the same problem I had with the book series, if the supporting characters keep getting killed off and replaced then it's hard to get invested especially if the main character is just a sock puppet for the player. (yes yes not everyone dies in the book but I hated the frequency of character turnovers)

What characters do we have left? Kenny the broken, Ben the traitor, 3 strangers, and the child. There isn't much to go for except the child-guardian relationship. I don't like it, I don't expect it to change since it's a bad precedent to cave to fan pressure post-release, I guess I was just in for another type of RPG.

102 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • I disagree with some of the staples of the genre being bad. I'm not on a good interface to argue so I'll just stick with one question: since there is no definite cause for the zombies, do you consider this a supernatural infection?

  • I see. I think....

    You want to know HOW it occured rather than being in a story where it has occured that is walkers are everywhere and it's a full blown ZA and you're just asked to accept it all without a plausible cause. if that's the case then I would say:

    1) The people who make the movies and games simply do not want to tell that part of the story. They could but would rather focus on a group (not a group that is doing well or one where they got trapped and killed themselves for example) that maybe has a 50/50 shot of seeing tomorrow if they could just get along with each other.

    2) There are many stories out there that would make a good game or movie those stories just are not told for some reason. I understand why Kirkman does not tell those stories but that does not mean those kinds of movies would not sell tickets. I think a Marine Colonel in charge of a Marine expeditionary force sent to Miami to quell a walker uprising would be pretty nice.

    3) Lastly, there is a demand for what happened during the outbreak. That scene in the walking dead where the helicopters were moving towards Atlanta and people on the highway saw just how desperate things were becoming was very popular. More flashback scenes like that were requested from the fans.

    Of course, when all else fails, YOU could write a story that focuses on exactly how a zombie comes into being and the worldwide civilian and military effort to contain the outbreak. Then everyone else can just say their movie or video game takes place 15 days after your story ends and is focused on how these few survivors deal with one another in a world overrun by zombies.

  • @American Foreign Policy said: The power-gaming stat fiddler in me is bugged by the hand-waving of reality, but it's not a big bother.



    So you're a munchkin who believes everything should work out as long as you have a strong understanding of the rules? Man, I would hate to DM one of your games.

    Dude, Australia can't even control frogs and rabbits. Americans can't control an amphibious fish, salmonella, or west nile virus.

    The chances of the US military neatly swooping down, containing, and quarantining a population of 400,000 people (Atlanta) who are effectively inflicted with rabies and must be killed on sight would be slim. That's 1/8th of the entire military combined. Unless they plan on carpet bombing the entire population, you've seen how effective the military is at containing urban conflict (not very).

    I'm not saying that it's impossible. I'm just saying that there's never been evidence that the US military can handle anything even close to this. We're very good at blowing things up, but a chaotic populace of infected people with an unknown vector of disease that drives them insane and then magically turns them invincible to anything but headshots? I'm sorry, but that's not a pretty picture.

  • @American Foreign Policy said:
    Hand-waving the physics of decaying bodies.



    Do what?

    That doesn't even apply when you consider the fact the bodies are re-animate. :p

    If you're going to hand-wave reality - might as well hand-wave it all.

  • speaking about decaying zombies, isnt the problem self solving?

    sooner or later all zombies should be decayed to the point where they cannot move anymore, or is it different in kirkmans world?

  • depends on the genre... in some, re-animation seems to retard the decay process.

  • You should read World War Z.

  • Thing is, because of the world this is based on, that's how it is. Everyone's on borrowed time. It's doesnt bother mean in the comics because its not ending anytime soon so you know you'll have the time to learn the new entries into comic..
    But since the game is only 5 parts I find myself thinking of these 3 new people as shields/bait

  • I've heard that one of the limiting factors on human strength is pain, and since walkers (presumably) feel no pain than it is feasible that they could be stronger than ordinary humans, no? And remember that in Ep2 Mark said that in the opening days it spread quickly, as in all over the country. I'm fairly certain that if that were the case the military wouldn't stand much of a chance. All bases would be under attack at once, and not a single soldier would know how to bring down a walker. Sure, they'll probably find out that head shots do the trick but they have no idea that the bites kill, and after death, no matter how you die, you'll reanimate if your brain is intact. Bases that held out against a seige could fall from the inside when dead comrades rise and nobody knows what's going on.

    The virus spread quickly, too quickly for the military to effectively combat or contain is what it seems like happened. I kind of agree with you about the whole "everyone dying" aspect, but in reality we'll all die from old age anyway, even though "old age" is likely to be somewhere around 50-60 with walkers everyone, if that. As for borders and quarantine, who are we to say that the entirety of the world has fallen? We actually have no idea about the situation outside of the United States, or even within since we'll never be going further west than Georgia. While the situation seems bleak, and saying that rest of the world is in the same state is likely an accurate conclusion, we'll never truly know. For all we do truly know Canada and Mexico could be high-fiving each other for successfully containing the outbreak inside America, and saving the rest of the world.

    And, I don't get what you mean by zombie inflation. Could you please explain that?

  • Huzzah, back at my computer. Now let's kick this LARPer's ass.

    @American Foreign Policy said: First off I like to say that I'm a fan of the Zombie genre and RPGs, but not JRPGs or the doom & gloom European Zombie genre.
    Jeez, you like RPGs but not JRPGs? I already hate you. Maybe that's a little harsh. Let me try softening it, okay? Get off my planet. Get OFF. Sorry, I seem to be unable to acknowledge your credibility. Let's move on.

    @American Foreign Policy said: There's the obvious appeals:

    Anarchy, chaos & breakdown of order.
    Violence & shoot em up.
    Survivor horror.
    Is survival horror just a loose term here, or are you using it to allude to another genre? The zombie genre and the survival horror genre do not go hand in hand. In fact, most times they're at odds with each other. Since you made "shoot em up" a point before that, I'll take it to mean the Resident Evil 4 definition of survival horror and erase another tally from your credibility pool. You seem like the "rock and roll apocalypse" sort. I bet your d20s have REAL SHARP edges.

    @American Foreign Policy said: But then there's the genre's cliches:

    Hand-waving modern military power.
    Hand-waving the physics of decaying bodies.
    Hand-waving the existence of militarized borders and quarantine.
    Supernatural infection.
    Massive inflation of the undead.
    Everyone dies.
    I understand a lot of people's collective gripes about the zombie apocalpyse. Mostly that it's overdone and stale. Some of these staples are cited as problematic. Why are the military always useless? Why do half the survivors do stupid things?

    To me, The Walking Dead is the definitive zombie story. It gets a pass on a lot of things because I feel that it's the ultimate form of the story. Things that have been "evolved" away in modern entertainment, like runner zombies, are still played straight. The focus is boiled down to a small stage with a psychological threat over a physical threat. My favorite thing about the Walking Dead is that it's the Christian apocalypse done through an atheistic scope. If endtimes simply means that there is no longer a set rule on death and corpses roam the world eternally, but this means nothing about Jesus returning or salvation or anything supernatural, then the apocalpyse has no easy ending. You can't just get to civilization or find a cure. Mankind will grasp at straws, but will not allow themselves to rebuild what they once had.

    Anyone that hates that people die in media bothers me. I feel like someone should die every season at the very least. The status quo cannot stand. You know who should really get that? Someone who plays role playing games and is used to character death and the revolving door of PC/NPCs. So Carley died. Reroll.

    @American Foreign Policy said: The power-gaming stat fiddler in me is bugged by the hand-waving of reality, but it's not a big bother.
    Show me the die roll that killed Carley! If it happened behind the screen, it doesn't count! It doesn't count! I'm taking my Mountain Dew back home with me!

    @American Foreign Policy said: I can stand most the the cliches but the RPG enthusiast in me can't get around the last one; everybody dies. It's the same problem I had with the book series, if the supporting characters keep getting killed off and replaced then it's hard to get invested especially if the main character is just a sock puppet for the player. (yes yes not everyone dies in the book but I hated the frequency of character turnovers)
    This is the part I really can't get around. Lee is not a sock puppet for the player. Link is a sock puppet. Cloud is a sock puppet. Commander Shepard is a sock puppet. "Sock Puppet" to me, implies that the model is nothing but a mouthpiece for your own voice to fill. For that, they have to have a bland personality and no strong character traits to latch onto. Lee is not that. Lee is a surprisingly defined character for this style of gameplay. We know a lot about him. Shockingly, we know he's a killer and how he feels about a lot. Someone we can dictate their opinions and choices fully is a blank slate. If we could choose to kill Clem and rob Hershel, then Lee would be a sock puppet. Instead, Lee chooses for us that we like Clem. He states that he's in Hershel's debt.

    @American Foreign Policy said: I don't expect it to change since it's a bad precedent to cave to fan pressure post-release, I guess I was just in for another type of RPG.

    The game's been fully written and nothing's getting changed. (BioWare are sellout wusses.) This isn't an RPG, it's an Adventure Game. If you can't level up, gain abilities or change your character's name: it's not an RPG.

    In closing, I don't like your stance on the zombie genre or RPGs. No hard feelings, but I think you'd be better off with a more fantastic take that you could roll some dice to.

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