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xii game Pitches: Dwight of the Living Dead

January 19th, 2012 @ 11:10 pm
by Vince Twelve

Zombies have taken over the Zombie Games International Headquarters and Dwight is the only one left who isn’t craving brains! Build your battle deck and fight your way through the building’s ten floors including the Jiggle Physics Department, the Lens Flare Department, the Smaller Company Acquisition Department, and more as you seek to rid the company of the corruption that has brought this plague upon it’s employees!

Dwight of the Living Dead is a long-dead game project of mine that I started and abandoned before making Linus Bruckman. Here’s some info and the summary, all of which was also written ages ago, but I thought I should share it! Enjoy!


I came up for the idea for Dwight of the Living Dead ages ago. We’re talking 2005. Right after finishing Anna. I was going through a zombie phase at that point. I don’t exactly know why, but I knew that I had to make a game with zombies! I suspect it had something to do with Shaun of the Dead, which has an obvious influence on the title of this game! Gameplay-wise, I was really impressed by the game Baten Kaitos and the way that it worked card collection into combat. It fit really naturally into an RPG setting. So, my initial concept was a card-based RPG with zombies. I was also, at the time, feeling nostalgic for my childhood playing Hero Quest with my father, and wanted to add in a touch of board game with randomized levels.

I was feeling very disillusioned at the time towards the game industry, and the idea of making a send-up of the industry in game form seemed perfect to me. And the zombies? Fit right in.

I decided that it would be my next game. After figuring out the game mechanics, I started coding the game using really crappy programmer art as placeholders. My intention was to get the game to such a state that it you could play through a little bit of it and get an idea of how the game would work, and then approach some artists to see if anyone was interested in working on the game with me (for free, obviously, as this would have been a freeware game).

I had gotten pretty far, implementing the decks, movement, random levels, bad guys, and some different AIs, and was just starting on the main combat. But then, in December of 2005, my daughter was born. Six months later, I still hadn’t touched the game. Lack of sleep has a definite impact on your ability and motivation for coding.

Also, during that time, Linus was growing in my head as a much more interesting, and far more doable game idea and I soon after would start work on that game, never to look back.

I’ve lost the code for Dwight a while back in a hard drive apocalypse (which is just as well, the script was messy and if I ever pick it up again, I would definitely start over) but I still have this playable alpha which you can play around with, if you’d like.

Screenshot from the early Alpha
The early alpha

I’ll let you figure it out as you go. It’s mostly just demonstrating navigating the rooms and the limited in-room fighting system. The idea was that coming into contact with a zombie would bring up the one-on-one battle screen, but unfortunately, I never finished that. So touching a zombie just kills him!

Mess around if you’d like, and read on for the description of how the game was intended to be!

Download the playable alpha!


Meet Dwight. Ten years ago, Dwight founded a game company with his brother Jay. Zombie Games was Dwight’s dream come true. Dwight handled the design, programming, and graphics, while Jay handled the business side of things. Everything was going great until the money started flowing in.

Jay, consumed with greed, continued expanding the company, focused on maximizing profit. Jay didn’t care about gameplay. Graphics sold games! Violence sold games! Sex sold games! Innovation? The word meant nothing to Jay! After buying out all the competition or suing them into oblivion, Zombie Games became the largest game developer on the planet, pumping out game after game of the same mindless gameplay hidden behind the latest shiny graphics.

During his brother’s ruthless company expansion, Dwight was relegated to the game design department. Well, “department” isn’t exactly the right word. More like “broom closet.” Dwight comes to work every day, takes the elevator to the fifth floor of the Zombie Games corporate headquarters (just below the sixth floor blood-spatter department and above the fourth floor lens-flare department) and walks past the huge cubicle farm of the jiggle-physics department to his closet next to the bathroom. Every day, he faxes a new game pitch to his brother in the penthouse office. And every day, that pitch comes back denied.

Since the players had stopped noticing or caring (or both) that they were just getting the same game over and over again, the life of an employee at Zombie Games was becoming more mindless and repetitive every day. They continued toiling away at their increasingly zombie-like lives until one day they simply became zombies.

Dwight will now have to fight his way out of the zombie-infested Zombie Games headquarters. Zombie programmers, zombie marketers, and zombie lawyers stand between him and freedom. As they stumble around the building’s ten floors, they may be moaning for “Synerrrrgyyyyy” and “Crosss plaaaatforrrm commmpatabiiiiiillllityyyyy” but it seems that what they really hunger for is brains!


DotLD was intended to be a card-based RPG/Adventure board game. (More commonly reffered to as a CBRPGABG) The player would use his deck of cards for everything including moving, fighting, and solving puzzles. Solving puzzles and winning battles would yield additional cards and keeping strong cards in your deck would be important for completing the game.

Each card would have a rank and a purpose. The rank would be a number from one to ten and the purpose would range from general cards, like punch, shoot, and block, to more specialized items or attacks like med-kit, or bullet-barrage. Some cards would also be used for puzzles, for example, you might pick up a bucket-of-water card and have to figure out to play it on an electric wire to electrocute the enemy standing next to it.
For battle in the room screen, you could play cards such as a punch card to attack any enemy within your physical attack radius, or a shoot card to fire your weapon at any enemy within your weapon’s range. The damage from the attack would be based on the rank of the card played and the equipped weapon’s attack strength. Ranged weapons would also have a chance of missing based on Dwight’s accuracy stat and the distance of the target while physical attacks would never miss but would be affected by Dwight’s physical strength stat.

Once you’ve come into contact with a zombie either by landing on the same square as one or having one land on a square with you, the battle screen would come up and you’d engage in one on one combat.

The battle system was never fully ironed out, and would definitely need some play testing before using it in a real game, but what I had originally intended was for Dwight and the zombie to take turns on the offensive or defensive, with the battle instigator getting the first offensive. The offensive player would play three cards face down, one for a head attack, one for a body attack, and one for a leg attack. The defensive player would simultaneously play three cards face down to intercept these attacks.

Early battle screen mock up

Once all six cards are played, they are turned up to calculate the results. If the offensive player plays a shoot or punch card, the resulting attack strength would be calculated by combining the rank of the card with the attack strength of the equipped weapon (ranged weapon or physical weapon). Physical attacks would also be affected by the offensive player’s physical stat. Ranged attacks would have a chance of missing based on the offensive player’s accuracy stat. The damage done from all attacks would finally be modified by the defensive player’s defense stat.

The defensive player has to try to predict the offensive player’s cards and lay down appropriate cards to defend. Playing a block card in any of the three slots would decrease the damage done from the corresponding attack card by an amount depending on the rank of the block card and the defensive player’s defense stat. Playing a punch or shoot card defensively is a risk, but could pay off greatly. If you play a punch card defensively opposite an offensive punch card and your defensive card’s rank is lower, you will take the damage normally from the offensive punch, but will also counter with your own punch. If your defensive punch card is a higher rank than the offensive punch, then you preempt the offensive punch all together and get a punch of your own, taking no damage! Playing a shoot card opposite a shoot card works in the same way. Playing a punch card opposite a shoot card, however results in the offensive player getting an unblocked attack in and your defensive card being voided.

The final twist to battle is the additional effects of attacking the head, body, or legs. A head attack or counter attack decrease the attack’s accuracy, making the attack more likely to miss altogether; however, there will be a chance of causing a “critical hit,” which will double the damage done. A leg attack will also decrease the accuracy of the hit, but will have a chance at causing a “low-blow” causing the recipient to miss his next offensive turn.

There will also be other cards beyond shoot, punch, and block that will have more specialized roles in battle. Their actions will be described on the cards.

After the head, body, and leg attacks are all calculated, the opponent who was previously on the defense, will now be on the offense, and both sides will continue switching back and forth on offense and defense until one opponent falls. If Dwight wins, he gets some EXP and continues. If the zombie wins, Dwight’s dead and has to reload.

Since all the cards are played face down and all six must be played before any are turned face up, there is some guess work regarding where the attacker is going to attack and where the defensive person will defend, though with experience, the player can find certain attack and defense patterns for different types of enemies or bosses which will make it more strategy than guessing.

Leveling up

Battles will net the player some EXP which can be spent by the player to level up Dwight’s stats. The player can choose to spend points on leveling up any stat.

  • Deck-size: The number of cards you can have in your deck. Important because if you run out of cards, reshuffling wastes a turn.
  • Hand-size: The player will start with a max of three cards in his hand. This severely limits your options in battle. Increasing your hand-size will be really useful.
  • Deck-rank: The maximum rank of the cards in your deck. If this is one, you can only have rank one cards. If you level this up to five, you can have cards of rank one through five.
  • Physical strength: This affects the attack strength of your physical attacks. Some weapons may also require a minimum strength level for equipping.
  • Accuracy: Affects the chance that your attacks have of connecting.
  • Defense: The character’s natural defensive strength.
  • Max HP: Dwight’s starting hit point amount.


In order to keep that adventurey feel that I love, the game would contain a number of puzzles that would be mostly optional. The idea would be to allow the player to choose whether to battle through the hordes of zombies, which would help you level up and become stronger for the later levels, or solve puzzles, which would net you the most powerful pieces of equipment and would sometimes allow you to clear enemies or bosses out of the way.

Some of these puzzles would be of the logic or find/use password variety, but most would involve collecting special cards and using them at the right time. Perhaps in one area of the game, you get a remote control card. Using that card in a room with a TV would turn the TV on which would distract all the zombies in the room and allow you to pass. Using a wrench card on a wall panel could allow you access to some wires which you could then play a shoot card on to break the wires, thereby unlocking a nearby door and allow you to bypass a section of the level. Puzzles could also help you open safes containing equippable items, unlock secret passageways, and unlock desks containing powerful cards.

Puzzles could also be used to help you with boss fights. Reading computer terminals might reveal hints about weaknesses of the boss. Maybe the head of the Lens Flare department is afraid of the dark. Using a bucket of water card on each of the spot lights in his room before attacking him would greatly decrease his stats for the battle. Perhaps the head of the Legal department will charge you as soon as he sees you. But if you play cards of a high-enough rank, you can stay ahead of him and lure him into a pit, allowing you to bypass the battle all together.

In this way, the game can use lots of wacky cards for fun effects that would give the player a choice of how to approach the game — smart, aggressive, or both!


To go along with the silly send-up of the games industry, the game would be presented in a cartoon style.

Music would be completely unnecessarily over-done John Williams style affair, making even simple things like picking up a mop to use as a melee weapon a dramatic affair.

In Conclusion

This was a fun idea that has stuck with me for a while. I think such a mixture of genres could turn out to be very fun, and the game industry parodies would make it incredibly enjoyable for hard-core and casual gamers alike. If I ever get really ambitious (highly unlikely after Resonance!), I might give this one a go again!

One Response to “xii game Pitches: Dwight of the Living Dead”

  1. gnome Says:

    Well, thanks for letting us know about this pretty unique game idea. The prototype seems very promising and I’m pretty sure that would work brilliantly on smart-phones. Anyway. Back to Resonance!