I woke up early this morning with a headache. Played a couple of hours of Mad Max in a despondent funk. While I was doing that I came up with a gameplay plan to try.
In yesterday's version I had chests to collect; a leftover from the Goblin Gold game I'd started with. The monsters collected around them. It kind of reminded me of zombies collecting around defended houses. Plus, running people over with cars is pretty bad; zombies are about the only valid targets for that kind of thing. It pains me to make a zombie game, but there you go.
I thought that maybe I could replace the chests with control points, like in a Battlefield game or something. You'd drive soldiers to the abandoned farmhouses, they'd fortify them, the zombies would go after them, etc. I worked through a fair chunk of the day getting that put together. I thought I'd have something where your expanding controlled area would present a harder-to-defend front against the zombies. So I had the zombies only go after the defended houses. This was ridiculous. You'd fortify one house, and wait while all the zombies came to it. Couldn't be easier. I returned to having zombies collect around all of the houses, fortified or not. But then what's the point of fortifying them?
Eventually I resorted to the oldest trick in the book: spawning more monsters. Zombies spawn on a regular schedule. Fortifying a house ensures they don't collect as heavily around it, because the soldiers shoot the zombies. The zombie-spawning schedule ramps up as you fortify houses, too, to amplify the feeling of panic. When you get down to the last house there is usually a giant mob of zombies milling around it and they all surge toward you when you roll into view.
There was a lot of logic involved in making the soldier run out of the headquarters (once there aren't any zombies around and you're stopped within an acceptable distance), then exit your vehicle once you're stopped near an abandoned farmhouse and there aren't any zombies immediately threatening. It's kind of half-baked right now in terms of pathing and so forth, but it proves out the concept. I added a bunch of dialogue lines from the guy to help guide the player through the process as well. You can see the first one in the screenshot above.
Tomorrow is polish. I would dearly love to get multiple playable vehicles in, but haven't tried it yet to see if it holds water. I'm thinking there'd be a truck that is slow but doesn't take environmental damage; a dune buggy that is faster off-road and middling on the road; a car that is fast on the road and slower off-road; and a motorcycle that goes blisteringly fast everywhere but takes damage more readily.