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 Zombies- Specifics, Likelihood, and Do We Even Want 'Em?

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PostSubject: Zombies- Specifics, Likelihood, and Do We Even Want 'Em?   Sat Nov 13, 2010 7:40 pm

Allow me to kick off the topic by saying, "Yeah, I went there."

Now, we've talked about zombies before and agreed that they are plausible (I think) but we never went into specifics.

Now, the dead returning to eat you is madness. Insanity. The dead are dead, and there's no changing that. The living, however, could possibly become infected by a sort of virus.

It would have to have these properties:

  • Completely and totally shut down the nervous system.
  • An unquenchable hunger for meat- be it living or dead.
  • Total loss of (if you've got it) the infected individual's conscience.
  • (Optional) Give the infected indivisual the ability to smell meat from long distances.
  • It would likely be a sort of rabies- spread by bite.


Now, that's what you'd need for a zombie. Now let's talk the odds.

The odds of a virus of this sort ever popping up is so stupidly slim that it would almost never occur for anyone.

You may be wondering at this point just what the hell the point of this thread is if it's that uncommon. The answer: to determine and verify if it could happen.

Okay, now for your input and oppinions.
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PostSubject: Re: Zombies- Specifics, Likelihood, and Do We Even Want 'Em?   Sat Nov 13, 2010 11:10 pm

How about a virus/diseasse editor for disease to evolve in, seein as there is nothing to actually design visually? Advanced research in biochemistry and nano-engineering would give the player access to this in game.
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PostSubject: Re: Zombies- Specifics, Likelihood, and Do We Even Want 'Em?   Sat Nov 13, 2010 11:52 pm

Poisson wrote:
How about a virus/diseasse editor for disease to evolve in, seein as there is nothing to actually design visually? Advanced research in biochemistry and nano-engineering would give the player access to this in game.
Neeeauogh! No more editors.
Zombies for patch. Not important.

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PostSubject: Re: Zombies- Specifics, Likelihood, and Do We Even Want 'Em?   Sun Nov 14, 2010 1:04 am

~sciocont wrote:
Poisson wrote:
How about a virus/diseasse editor for disease to evolve in, seein as there is nothing to actually design visually? Advanced research in biochemistry and nano-engineering would give the player access to this in game.
Neeeauogh! No more editors.
Zombies for patch. Not important.
Then how are we going to impliment disease?
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PostSubject: Re: Zombies- Specifics, Likelihood, and Do We Even Want 'Em?   Sun Nov 14, 2010 1:05 am

I think something like rabies is as close as we could get.

Smelling meat from a long distance is probably a no... perhaps an enhancement of a particular sense but that specialized isn't really necessary...

But as for biting, rabidness, loss of rational thought, I think its good.

IE the disease that causes the host to bite others will be better at spreading thus it is more successful and more likely to survive/exist.

It would be a cool kicker if randomly you have to overcome a Zombie Apocalypse that happens to your species.

In a patch if this may be the case..
A pandemic patch...
Full of disease and virus add ons, enhanced biowarfare, and the like.

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PostSubject: Re: Zombies- Specifics, Likelihood, and Do We Even Want 'Em?   Sun Nov 14, 2010 3:20 am

Diseases can easily be handled by a simple mechanic that i have suggested somewhere before...

Basically, there would be viral/bacterial/etc infections that are Arbitrary Mechanics (more arbitrary mechanics, you say?). They'd get a name, a transmission form, all the things that a disease has. Actually, i think that now seems like as good a time as ever to make a list of what properties make up a disease.

So, um, i have these suggestions:
Transmission: Airborne, Waterborne, Body Fluids, Direct Contact
Effects: Death, Slow Death, Gastric, Cardio, Neurological, Hunger, Tiring, Paralysis, Insanity

What else?
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PostSubject: Re: Zombies- Specifics, Likelihood, and Do We Even Want 'Em?   Sun Nov 14, 2010 3:44 am

Won't they go around saying brraaaiiiinnnssss?
And thrust their arms out in front of them... And turn greenish, with a dying sort of quality.

Sorry if I'm being stereotypical of zombies, I know zombies are sensitive about these things...


Zombiing aside, are we just going to program in a list of symptoms, or is it going to be done in a way that would make possible symptoms different for different species, through a procedural thing depending on the organism?
So some could turn to zombies but others turn to... Goblins?

Oh, and we need to implement immune systems, too. Can't go without them. They force bacteria to adapt. Hmm... Zombie vaccination.
"You may get a slight lust for brains and flesh and other things you shouldn't eat raw while being vaccinated, so please refrain from chewing the doctor's arm, thank you."
For the thoughtful, can certain immunities get incorporated into a species DNA and get passed over generations?

Zombies thoughts (I used my brrraaaiinnss!!): Wouldn't they get ill (again) if they eat raw flesh? It isn't very good for you. That and brains are quite rich in cholesterol.
Could you get strange zombies that go around eating... Sheep?
What if a herbivore becomes a zombie??
What if a plant becomes a zombie??
What if a plankton becomes a zombie??
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PostSubject: Re: Zombies- Specifics, Likelihood, and Do We Even Want 'Em?   Sun Nov 14, 2010 4:28 am

For diseases, look at this: http://www.moddb.com/games/myworld/downloads/disease-generator. It has everything we would need I think. Sometimes it gives funny results such as "Fatal itching", but generally it would be good base to start on.
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PostSubject: Re: Zombies- Specifics, Likelihood, and Do We Even Want 'Em?   Sun Nov 14, 2010 2:31 pm

The Uteen wrote:
Won't they go around saying brraaaiiiinnnssss?
And thrust their arms out in front of them... And turn greenish, with a dying sort of quality.

Sorry if I'm being stereotypical of zombies, I know zombies are sensitive about these things...


Zombiing aside, are we just going to program in a list of symptoms, or is it going to be done in a way that would make possible symptoms different for different species, through a procedural thing depending on the organism? Makes sense. The virus would affect one species differently from another.
So some could turn to zombies but others turn to... Goblins?

Oh, and we need to implement immune systems, too. Can't go without them. They force bacteria to adapt. Hmm... Zombie vaccination.
"You may get a slight lust for brains and flesh and other things you shouldn't eat raw while being vaccinated, so please refrain from chewing the doctor's arm, thank you."
For the thoughtful, can certain immunities get incorporated into a species DNA and get passed over generations? Only makes sense- a genetically-savvy species splices in the immunity to the virus into everyone they can find's DNA.

Zombies thoughts (I used my brrraaaiinnss!!): Wouldn't they get ill (again) if they eat raw flesh? It isn't very good for you. Well, in my description they would become totally numb, so they wouldn't really feel it. Some would die because of it, though. That and brains are quite rich in cholesterol.
Could you get strange zombies that go around eating... Sheep?
What if a herbivore becomes a zombie?? Well, I guess it would stumble around, doing nothing.
What if a plant becomes a zombie?? Can they? Well, I don't think plants have any way of showing the symptoms of a "zombie", but perhaps they could carry the virus, so whatever eats it becomes infected.
What if a plankton becomes a zombie?? Then it would spread the virus to whales!
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PostSubject: Re: Zombies- Specifics, Likelihood, and Do We Even Want 'Em?   Tue Nov 16, 2010 12:42 am

US_of_Alaska wrote:
Diseases can easily be handled by a simple mechanic that i have suggested somewhere before...

Basically, there would be viral/bacterial/etc infections that are Arbitrary Mechanics (more arbitrary mechanics, you say?). They'd get a name, a transmission form, all the things that a disease has. Actually, i think that now seems like as good a time as ever to make a list of what properties make up a disease.

So, um, i have these suggestions:
Transmission: Airborne, Waterborne, Body Fluids, Direct Contact
Effects: Death, Slow Death, Gastric, Cardio, Neurological, Hunger, Tiring, Paralysis, Insanity

What else?
This ball deserves to get tossed around a bit. Forgive me if I refer to notions that are wildly out-of-date - I'm doing my best to get current, but the wiki is spotty in places and overall pretty thin on specifics like these.

Disease is a pretty deep concept. What game mode are we talking about modelling it in? How will it work in each different mode? I mean, in anything but Organism mode, individual symptoms are really not important, except in the ways where they'd interact with the speed of a disease's spreading.

For example: In Strategy Mode, a disease's base spreading speed (a creep function based on population density) could be augmented if any of its symptoms aid in its transmission. A "zombie virus" would look like a disease that spread through "Body Fluids", and caused "Neurological/insanity" effects. One or both of the effects could provide a multiplier to the spread speed of Transmission Type: "Bodily Fluids" (as insane individuals are more likely than average to bite others).

Also, the "Pathogen type" is relevant, I think. Bacteria might spread more readily, or by different methods, than viruses. The player might be able to "treat" them both by constructing certain buildings or spending resources on medical research, but bacteriology might need different research than virology.

The question is really "How deep does the game's knowledge of disease need to be?" I think a few parameters might be all that's needed to define a pathogen.

It seems like the most relevant factors for the game to know, then, are:
1: Pathogen Type (Virus/Bacterium/Fungus/Other stuff that can come up later) - determines spread and treatment
2: Transmission Method (such as USofA's ideas above) - determines base spread speed
3: Symptoms (as above) - determines gameplay effects.

These three fields give us a lot to play with. What if certain symptoms raised a creature's food/water requirements? What if some symptoms required the player to spend resources or risk public unrest? What other gameplay effects might exist?

(I'm back, Belgiums - hahaha!)
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PostSubject: Re: Zombies- Specifics, Likelihood, and Do We Even Want 'Em?   Tue Nov 16, 2010 2:21 am

I like Red's expansion on Alaska's idea. Seems in depth enough to offer good, realistic gameplay for the most part, and yet not too much of a programming burden (at least it doesn't sound like it would be).

Quote :
What other gameplay effects might exist?
Hm, it would likely have to be based on the symptoms, at least somewhat, though certain other factors would be able to be turned on and off by the game. No specific examples come to mind. Maybe ones that cause things like excessive perspiration/drooling/release of any othe bodily fluids/etc would benefit from being spread via bodily fluids.

So how will we allow diseases to evolve? Would each (I'm going to use a few words that may sound Spore-ish but that's only because a better word doesn't come to mind) disease have a level in each symptom, showing how severe the symptom is (Ex: a disease could cause minor sweating, or if extreme enough cause the body to outright reject fluid and remove it as quickly as possible) and this level is tweaked each generation slightly, not enough to suddenly go from benign to fatal in a week, but enough to add up over time. (Again, sorry if I used the wrong terminology.)
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PostSubject: Re: Zombies- Specifics, Likelihood, and Do We Even Want 'Em?   Tue Nov 16, 2010 10:12 am

I love all the suggestions above, including your symptom strength Possion.
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PostSubject: Re: Zombies- Specifics, Likelihood, and Do We Even Want 'Em?   Tue Nov 16, 2010 12:04 pm

Commander Keen wrote:
I love all the suggestions above, including your symptom strength Possion.

Agreed.

I really have nothing to contribute here, at least not for the moment, or anything that would actually have significant impact on the concept. This idea sounds about done to me, although it could be polished in ways I haven't quite gone over.

But right now I'm just going to toss around rough ideas for the sake of productivity. Symptoms might not show up immediately; they could show up hours, days, even weeks after contraction. It might be slow-spreading or fast-spreading. Parasites or insects might be infected with the disease, and they might be so small they'll go undetected, but spread the disease nonetheless.

And.. yeah, that's all I got right now.
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PostSubject: Re: Zombies- Specifics, Likelihood, and Do We Even Want 'Em?   Tue Nov 16, 2010 1:55 pm

I like this idea, it could be used as a method to soften up a planet before a invasion.

InvaderZim wrote:

Completely and totally shut down the nervous system.
Wouldn't that kill them? After all, a zombie is still a living thing, and losing the nervous system can cause some pretty horrific events in the form of your organs going from on to off mode.
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PostSubject: Re: Zombies- Specifics, Likelihood, and Do We Even Want 'Em?   Tue Nov 16, 2010 2:51 pm

Is there any particular evolutionary advantage of zombification diseases over other types of pathogens? The main argument I can think of for it is that it doesn't kill the victim, giving them a chance to infect others, but that can be said of lots of disease types. A pathogen would have to be pretty specialized to target and control the nervous system of a host, and I don't see any reason for something like that to evolve without sapients' intervention.
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PostSubject: Re: Zombies- Specifics, Likelihood, and Do We Even Want 'Em?   Tue Nov 16, 2010 3:43 pm

Just adding a conceptual idea to more or less exactly what Poisson said...

We have a virus. It gives these symptoms to your race:
~Numbness 2
~Rabidness 2
~Fever 2
~Coughing 2
~Vomiting 1
~>5% Mortality rate
~10% Immunity rate

Lets say at week one, (t=1), in a population of 1 million, 1000 people are infected. I=1/1000=0.1%

If each virus has some kind of code, like Poisson said codes for the levels of symptoms and their severity etc

N=Numbness
R=Rabidness (Increased aggression leading to biting)
F=Fever
C=Coughing
V=Vomiting
M=Mortality Rate
I=Immunity rate
Transmission type: Bodily fluid (Bites, vomit, cough droplets etc)

For simplicity's sake, here is a watered down code...
N2-R2-F2-C2-V1-I0.1-M0.05

From this a spreadability factor could be drawn. (Based on population density, immunity, medical research level, transmission factors [coughing, rabidness] etc)


So what if this code can randomly 'mutate' after every few generations (Just as viruses do). The more it spreads, the more likely it is to mutate.
Some mutations can cause it to be more spreadable, more fatal, and thus more successful ala evolution.
Some variants of the virus may not be as successful as others, and will not spread as much.

Lets say in this sake, the spreadability factor of this virus is 3.

After one week (Or a predetermined set time), the infected people has tripled
So...
t=2
I=3000=3/1000=0.3%
And the population infected from the week before...
5% have died.
So Population deceased = 50
Population infected= 2950
Population not infected = 897,000
Population Immune= 100,000

Lets say now a mutation in the virus chnges the code by increasing the value of R (Rabidness) and M (Mortality rate)
R=4
M=10%
New spreadability= 4

So now you have more aggressive zombies/infected citizens, roaming the streets, towns, and suburbs.

t=3
I= 12/1000 = 12000 = 1.2%
Deceased =350
Infected= 11650
Immune= 100,000
Not infected= 888,000

Of course at this point, some would have had the disease and recovered. (About 10% from previous weeks) And eventually, the species will have a cure. But then the virus is ever mutating, and may soon begin attacking the immune or the recovered population if it is not controlled.

Eechk I tend to do this... create scenarios and stretch them out. So is the viral mechanic something like this? A system where a virus can evolve among your population, much like the flu and the super-bacteria resistant to antibiotics in our society.


Heres an interesting link, btw:
http://www.cracked.com/article_15643_5-scientific-reasons-zombie-apocalypse-could-actually-happen.html


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PostSubject: Re: Zombies- Specifics, Likelihood, and Do We Even Want 'Em?   Tue Nov 16, 2010 7:24 pm

You should add "Appetite" to your list of symptoms. Many illnesses cause a loss of apetite, and the zombies (the purpose of this thread!) would have a huge increase in appetite.
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PostSubject: Re: Zombies- Specifics, Likelihood, and Do We Even Want 'Em?   Tue Nov 16, 2010 9:22 pm

Also add perspiration, or maybe just loss of bodily fluids. Hm, other symptoms, other symptoms...sensitivity to light/sound/etc. (would be positive or negative), mental capabilities (would likely be decreased, more noticable in educated cultures), weakening/failure of specific organs (must be specified). Dang, this is getting to be unwealdly....
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PostSubject: Re: Zombies- Specifics, Likelihood, and Do We Even Want 'Em?   Tue Nov 16, 2010 10:38 pm

Poisson wrote:
Also add perspiration, or maybe just loss of bodily fluids. Hm, other symptoms, other symptoms...sensitivity to light/sound/etc. (would be positive or negative), mental capabilities (would likely be decreased, more noticable in educated cultures), weakening/failure of specific organs (must be specified). Dang, this is getting to be unwealdly....

Variables, my dear Wattson. Variables will dig us out of this hole.
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PostSubject: Re: Zombies- Specifics, Likelihood, and Do We Even Want 'Em?   Tue Nov 16, 2010 11:56 pm

Xenopologist wrote:
Is there any particular evolutionary advantage of zombification diseases over other types of pathogens? The main argument I can think of for it is that it doesn't kill the victim, giving them a chance to infect others, but that can be said of lots of disease types. A pathogen would have to be pretty specialized to target and control the nervous system of a host, and I don't see any reason for something like that to evolve without sapients' intervention.

The disease that would most likely appear would not control the host- only alter the way their minds work. The virus makes itself at home in the host's body while the rewired host spreads them around.
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PostSubject: Re: Zombies- Specifics, Likelihood, and Do We Even Want 'Em?   Fri Nov 19, 2010 2:57 pm

InvaderZim wrote:
The disease that would most likely appear would not control the host- only alter the way their minds work. The virus makes itself at home in the host's body while the rewired host spreads them around.

But why does the host need to be "rewired" rather than simply infected and given the opportunity to carry on with daily business? Altering the way a specific creature's mind works is a highly specialized function and the same issue still comes up.
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PostSubject: Re: Zombies- Specifics, Likelihood, and Do We Even Want 'Em?   Fri Nov 19, 2010 3:23 pm

If the creature continued normally with no difference whatsoever, then how would a virus spread by biting spread among your population? Viruses don't gve you a choice if you want to be infected. Plus, diseases such as rabies can change how you act.
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PostSubject: Re: Zombies- Specifics, Likelihood, and Do We Even Want 'Em?   Mon Nov 22, 2010 2:51 pm

fredpie wrote:
If the creature continued normally with no difference whatsoever, then how would a virus spread by biting spread among your population? Viruses don't gve you a choice if you want to be infected.

I'm not sure I understand what you're saying. If a creature with a virus continued to act normally, wouldn't the virus in that case have an advantage? An airborne virus that doesn't affect the host too strongly would be far more effective than a virus that drives creatures to biting one another in order to spread the disease. A zombification virus could work, but it's not evolutionarily plausible because there's not enough reward compared to airborne or touch-based pathogens.
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PostSubject: Re: Zombies- Specifics, Likelihood, and Do We Even Want 'Em?   Mon Nov 22, 2010 9:30 pm

Xenopologist wrote:
fredpie wrote:
If the creature continued normally with no difference whatsoever, then how would a virus spread by biting spread among your population? Viruses don't gve you a choice if you want to be infected.

I'm not sure I understand what you're saying. If a creature with a virus continued to act normally, wouldn't the virus in that case have an advantage? An airborne virus that doesn't affect the host too strongly would be far more effective than a virus that drives creatures to biting one another in order to spread the disease. A zombification virus could work, but it's not evolutionarily plausible because there's not enough reward compared to airborne or touch-based pathogens.
And yet rabies persists...
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PostSubject: Re: Zombies- Specifics, Likelihood, and Do We Even Want 'Em?   Mon Nov 22, 2010 10:43 pm

US_of_Alaska wrote:
Xenopologist wrote:
fredpie wrote:
If the creature continued normally with no difference whatsoever, then how would a virus spread by biting spread among your population? Viruses don't gve you a choice if you want to be infected.

I'm not sure I understand what you're saying. If a creature with a virus continued to act normally, wouldn't the virus in that case have an advantage? An airborne virus that doesn't affect the host too strongly would be far more effective than a virus that drives creatures to biting one another in order to spread the disease. A zombification virus could work, but it's not evolutionarily plausible because there's not enough reward compared to airborne or touch-based pathogens.
And yet rabies persists...

Exactly. Hell, we could all have a virus right now and not even know it! That doesn't mean that viruses that actually affect you don't exist.
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