Tag Archives: zombies

What to do with a graduate degree

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’ve been gaming.

The zombie shooter Left4Dead has recently seen the release of two fan generated campaigns Dead Before Dawn and One 4 Nine.

Dead Before Dawn takes the basic premise of the Zach Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead where the characters work their way to Crossroads mall where they make their final stand and eventual escape (hopefully).  The campaign does a nice job of expanding upon the idea of completing tasks beyond the ‘start the generator and wait for the horde’ task that most of the Steam generated scenarios rely upon.  Granted they’re almost all essentially re-skinned versions of that task but at least there’s a bit of variety.

It also felt like there was a lot more ‘explorability’ in this campaign setting than in the original campaigns with multiple ways to get to the same end point.  The game was a little buggy (I got hung up several times and had to restart) but not outrageously so for a non-official campaign and it was a challenging play throughout.

I haven’t played One 4 Nine yet but it uses the zombie apocalypse as a function of secret government tests theme.  It’s received very high ratings and the authors continue to tweak it with the most recent update being posted on the 14th.

I also picked up the beta version of Fate of the World which advertises itself as:

…a global strategy game that puts our future in your hands. Decide how the world will respond to rising temperatures, heaving populations, dwindling resources, crumbling ecosystems and brave opportunities.

If you buy it now you get it at a discount, can play the beta version now plus some extras and so I figured I’d give it a shot for $16.

The beta version has one scenario available for play which involved dealing with the consequences of a world wide oil shortage and limiting the effects of global warming.  You play the role of the head of a global environmental organization that actually has power and resources to do things.  The world is divided into 12 regions that act as coherent political entities that you have to engage with.  They contribute to your cash flow while members of your little club but can also assert their sovereignty and kick you out if they think you’re dissing them.

The game starts in 2020 with turns covering 5 year increments and ends in 2120.  ‘Victory’ involves keeping global warming increases under 3.5 degrees, the global HDI above .5 and maintain membership in at least 5 (I think) regions.

The beta version of the game doesn’t come with rules but the basics of the system are fairly easy to figure out.  The nuances and interactions of the numerous factors and components of game play are more difficult to figure out and time will tell if that’s going to be part of the game (‘Hey!  You’ve switched the entire North American transportation industry to biofuels.   Great work on reducing emissions!  Oh, by the way, 200 million people are dying of starvation in India because nobody is growing food anymore.  Nice job.’)

I have to admit I underestimated the complexity of the game system because the user interface is so simple.  I suppose there will be critics that argue with some of the underlying science involved but it is neat  to see how interconnected environmental/developmental/economic policies and played around with various strategies like focusing only on the developed world, trying to do a bit of everything everywhere and trying to strong arm the world.  The possibilities are endless and even within those broad strategies there are so many potential alternatives you could (and I wanted to) always feel you’re so close to success with just a bit of tweaking (I haven’t made it yet).  Focus on heavy R&D, business friendly policies, heavy handed regulation, disaster mitigation or whatever your heart desires.

And don’t get the impression that this is all about tree-hugging, feel good lefty stuff.  The game designers seemed to want to give you a lot of options to accomplish your goals.  So, in one game I launched (covertly, of course) a biological plague upon India to reduce its population (using too many resources and becoming politically unstable threatening to kick me out) by 25% in five years.  In the same game I also overthrew a government or two, launched an insurgency and implemented a secret sterilization program in China’s water supply (hey, you can’t make an omlette without breaking a few eggs).  Unfortunately, my scheme was found out and I was brought to trial for crimes against humanity but what are you gonna do?  The pressure you feel as you see that temperature creep up every turn and you get the news of species going extinct, mass famines, natural disasters and wars makes you contemplate increasingly drastic measures, especially when you start to see whole portions of the world start to kick you out and you realize you’re pulling in less and less money to do things in fewer and fewer parts of the world.

There’s tons of data and metrics here so I assume you can totally geek out if you want.  GDP, employment, demographics, energy usage by sector, etc. etc. etc.  all changing as a result of your policy decisions.

I hesitate to say this is a ‘fun’ game in the same way L4D or even another strategy game like the Total War series but I suspect that’s because there’s less opportunity for periodic payoffs.  Things are grim and probably going to get grimmer and the best you can hope for is a pathetic crawl across the finish line by the skin of your teeth. But I was hooked for gobs of time on it over the weekend and have a half a dozen strategies peculating in my mind that I’d like to try.

The game has definite teaching potential and I’d like to see a co-operative version (with players either playing as the heads of regions that can cooperate or not as they see fit or on some executive council where negotiations could add a whole additional level of complexity and realism to the game).



Zombie crocodiles…game over, man. Game over

Oh yeah, the end is totally near.  Now crocodiles are bringing down planes

A crocodile on the loose is being blamed for the crash of a small plane in the Democratic Republic of Congo that killed 20 people after passengers panicked and stampeded down the aisle.

…a passenger had smuggled the reptile, whose size wasn’t noted, on board in a sports bag. It somehow got loose on a domestic flight from the capital of Kinshasa to a regional airport in Bandundu,

The panic started when a terrified stewardess “hurried” toward the cockpit, followed by passengers. That threw the small aircraft off balance, sending it into a field of thatched huts “despite the desperate efforts of the pilot,”

But that’s not the weird part (believe it or not).  Ready?

Even though 20 people died in the crash, the crocodile survived!  It was killed after the crash by person or persons unnamed with machetes.

I’ll bet it was killed in the traditional way…


Swedish Zombie Attack (with a kiwi surprise)!

Zombies have escaped yet again from Swedish research/military facilities.  And, yet again, the Swedish press does a completely incompetent job of attempting to conceal it.  According to the latest pathetic cover up:

A stage guard had part of his ear bitten off during a concert by US hard-rock legends W.A.S.P. in Örebro, Sweden on Friday after he was attacked by a drunk 40-year-old man.

Who are they trying to fool?  Nobody’s gone to a W.A.S.P. concert since 1988 and even then I doubt anyone went without heavy coercion.

The man is reported to have been heavily inebriated when he bit the guard so tenaciously that part of their ear came away.

Not inebriated…the ‘man’ was the living dead and shambling around.  Just check out how they walk (of course these are Irish zombies and so they could be drunk as well).

And just to make sure my friends in the Southern Hemisphere don’t feel left out, here’s a New Zealand zombie videogame (a la YouTube) advertising a Pizza company.

Zombies…it’s been awhile

Feels like it’s been too long since I’ve had some zombie news to write about but today, consider the dry spell officially over.

I was cruising through my ‘on demand’ section of cable and came across ‘Zombie Roadkill‘ which is an amazing 6 part mini-series (and when I say ‘mini’ I mean it, each installment is about 4 minutes long) about various roadkill victims which rise from the dead seeking revenge.  It’s got that Evil Dead over the top, campy humor (which makes sense since Sam Rami was involved) and Thomas Hayden Church stars as a tougher than nails Park Ranger.

And in my book, any film that stars a zombie squirrel that rips out your eyes and then inserts one of them into its own socket is worth watching:


Freddie Kruger was a wussy!


Amazingly, for a 24 minute series, it looks like they made another 5-10 minutes of special features and behind the scenes stuff.  All of which you can see here.

Here’s the trailer:

And the Thomas Hayden Church ‘PSA’

Mark your calendar – zombie edition

There’s a trailer up for the AMC series The Walking Dead and it looks totally awesome.  It’s going to be a pretty cool Halloween this year…

Devouring your brain through your earbuds

Just a notice that the quite excellent full cast zombie podcast ‘We’re Alive‘ is back with season 2.  I strongly recommend listening to the whole thing (you can download and listen to season 1) but if you don’t have the time they actually made a two episode recap of the first season so you can jump right into the new stuff.

A little bit of this and a little bit of that

I know my posts have consisted of a bit more fluff than usual but:

  1. I’m working on a project at work and need a bit of a break when I get to blog and,
  2. that’s one of the things I really enjoy about my little project here.  I can follow my whims and not get bound by artificial restrictions.

Anyway, I imagine I’ll be getting back to more weighty topics next week.  But for now:

Your Swedish headline of the day:

Blow for bishop as orgasm church flops

Comrade Bear shoots a whale.  Does the Kremlin count as his lair or should he really have a base under a volcano or something?

Putin held his balance in a rubber boat that was being tossed around in choppy waters off the Kamchatka Peninsula, and eventually hit the whale with a special arrow designed to collect skin samples.

Courtesy of Balko, more homeland security nonsense.  Seven people dressed up as zombies and decided to go to the local mall to protest consumerism.  Someone saw their PA system and, freaking out, called the cops who arrested them for:

…disorderly conduct and said the zombies’ homemade public address rig looked like a weapon of mass destruction.

The zombies sued and the city council decided to settle for $165,000.  Good for them.

YT sent me this article about the unveiling of the Iranian drone bomber thingy.  Leave it to the Iranians to screw up on the messaging…

“The jet, as well as being an ambassador of death for the enemies of humanity, has a main message of peace and friendship,” said Ahmadinejad at the inauguration ceremony, which fell on the country’s national day for its defense industries.

WTF does that mean?!  I guess he had an extra dose of crazy with his breakfast.

Is it me or would Putin, Assange and Ahmadinejad make a great league of super villains?  It wouldn’t be a stretch to give them superpowers…Putin could be like Colossus, Assange could be the Leader.  I’m not sure about Ahmadinejad…someone crazy and out of touch with reality…Green Goblin, maybe?

Monday afternoon zombies

AMC is planning a series based on the Walking Dead comic books.  I’ve only just started reading them and they’re pretty good.  So far (I’m only on issue #5) it doesn’t break any new ground in the zombie genre but, really, how much can you do with zombies?  It’s really about how the writer portrays people and their reactions to life in a world gone mad.  In that regard, the authors do a pretty good job.

As part of of promotional effort, AMC is animating the first issue (at least) of the comic.  This takes you through about half of the first issue.  Check it out:

Why zombie strategies aren’t like economics…

Dan Drezner posted a short quiz about zombies as part of his research for his upcoming book “Theories of International Politics and Zombies”.  The survey was two questions:

  • You are in a fight for your life with zombies. You have acquired enough resources to launch an attack on the living dead. You can launch this attack in one of two ways. Which strategy do you prefer?

A.  An attack that leads to the certain destruction of 500 zombies;

B.  An attack that has a 50 percent chance of destroying 1000 zombies and a 50 percent chance of destroying only 100 zombie

And his findings were:

1,238 people responded to this survey question, and 61.3% preferred option A — even though the expected value of option B was (.5*100 + .5*1000 =) 550 zombies killed.  When operating in a world of gains, a majority preferred the risk-averse option.

The second question was

  • You are in a fight for your life with zombies. Your resources are dwindling, and you must choose between some unattractive escape options. Which option do you prefer?

A.  A retreat that leads to a certain increase of 500 zombies
B.  A retreat that has a 50 percent chance of creating only 100 new zombies and a 50 percent chance of creating 1000 zombies.

And his results:

Now, both options are bad ones, but option A is the less bad one:  only 500 more zombies versus an expected value of .5*100 + .5*1000 = 550 more zombies created.  Nevertheless, 57.5% of the 1238 respondents preferred option B.  When operating in a world of losses against the living dead, a healthy majority of the respondents was willing to take a risk they weren’t willing to take when they were operating in a world of gains.

He says that this supports a theory that people would respond to zombies as they would economic questions.  Maybe…or maybe he just doesn’t understand how to survive a zombie apocalypse. Let’s look.

In the first question, we can assume that there are at least 1,000 zombies in the world.  Now, it’s not clear how much ammo, gas for the chain saw or pipe bombs are at your disposal nor if we’re fighting Romero zombies or  Snyder zombies but you clearly can’t make a decision unless you have some idea of how many zombies are out there.  If there are 1,000 then you probably want to take the 50% chance of wiping them all out.  If there are 8 million of them, well, it really won’t matter one way or the other.

In other words, this is a question for total zombie nOObs and, I suspect, a plot by Mr. Drezner to identify those among his readers who can be easily duped into giving up their food, ammo and other supplies when the zombies come.  But, if forced to answer, I’d go with ‘A’ as well.

So, in the second question your choice is between creating 500 new zombies (we assume in your general vicinity) or a 50% chance of creating 100 or 1000 zombies.

Look, I’m not a bad shot and I’ve wielded a chain saw before but by the time you’re talking about facing 500 or 1,000 zombies the question of your survival is really academic.  You ain’t gettin’ out unless you’ve got some major firepower (which you probably don’t have).

Your only choice, therefore, is to go for the 50% shot of only creating 100 zombies.  That’s much more manageable, particularly if they’re Romero zombies.  Those you can’t shoot in the head you can probably run away from (unless you trip over a tree branch and lie their screaming instead of getting up, you moron).

In other words, the only possible answer is ‘B’.

Revel in the zombie nerdgasmic experience!

I’m about a week late on this one but Scienceblogs had a zombie themed day back on the first.  Some of the links to zombies are a bit tenuous but the spirit is there and if your interested in a wide range of science issues there will be at least one or two things that’ll interest you.  Some worthwhile posts

And finally, a PSA.  This may be basic stuff but it never hurts to review.