Building a Narrative

Calla Murphy spotted a long stick lying on the forest floor. It would’ve been perfect for playing Hogwarts with her brother as a child. She twirled it, mimicking the movements she’d picked up from the movies. Her hand spasmed involuntarily, throwing the makeshift wand into the darkness of the forest.

She reassured herself that her squad would be fine in the end. They had the training and the tools to survive. They were smart, resourceful and they knew how to make the hard decisions.

Their trek from Philadelphia to the abandoned farm house was pure pain. Friends were lost in the city, and now they had lost another. Roy Walsh had gotten sick from a bite he sustained trying to save a child in the city. They stopped at the farmhouse with the sole intention of letting Roy rest and heal until they received further orders. Then Roy had turned. And the orders never came.

Calla sighed, taking one final look at the bright hunter’s moon illuminating her in the clearing in she had chosen. She peeled back the bandage on her wrist. What was once a mere scratch had degenerated into an oozing black wound with venial electricity crawling up her arm and spreading throughout her body. The veins infected her thoughts, making her itchy… scratchy. She knew she didn’t have much time before she ended up like Roy.

She placed the barrel of her M4 into her mouth, her good arm finger her thumb into the trigger piece.

She reassured herself that her squad would be fine in the end.


Hey everyone! My name’s Jeremy Ferretti (codename infr4mer), and this is the beginning of my dev blog. I am the lead writer/narrative guy for No More Room in Hell 2. This blog post will be an introduction to me, how I came to join the NMRiH2 dev team, and what we hope to accomplish with the story of NMRiH2.

I’ve been a part of the NMRiH community since 2004 when Half-Life 2 was first released. I still remember that cold December when I first discovered HL2. I remember being blown away by all the games that were being developed as a part of the HL2 mod community. Personally I was most excited for the mod D.E.A.D. (which has long been dead), but next on my favorites was the mod No More Room in Hell. Due to their team’s outstanding community outreach I quickly became friends with everyone through mIRC and Ventrillo. Most importantly, I became friends with a guy named Maxx. We instantly clicked, bonding over our love for plants, selling drugs in Garry’s Mod roleplaying servers, creating fake videogame companies, and making concepts for games that will never (and should never) see the light of day.

As life went on, Maxx worked tirelessly on NMRiH1 while I worked on developing my storytelling career, going on to write a few screenplays, a few novels, and a few totally awesome short comics.

After NMRiH1 was released and NMRiH2 began development, Maxx decided they needed a narrative guy, someone to help develop the world of NMRiH2, to create a coherent timeline where a zombie apocalypse could take place in, to create a backstory for each of the maps so they could logically fit in this timeline.

I believe it was David ‘Dman’ Meade who suggested me for the job, having known I could produce workable writing on a tight schedule (at my best I could write 2,000 fiction words an hour). I instantly agreed to help.

Sadly the world has become over saturated with zombie stories, but being able to tell one in a unique, dynamic way on my own terms seemed like a good challenge. I knew this game would give me the opportunity to tell the typical zombie story in a way I had never seen before. NMRiH2 wouldn’t rely on intrusive cutscenes or heavy ham-fisted dialogue from mouthy protagonists as so many video games do nowadays.

Another (unrelated) draw I had to NMRiH2 was the knowledge that a great realistic zombie survival hasn’t been created yet. There have been plenty of stellar zombie games, but most of them end up turning into arcade style shoot-em-ups. But that’s a whole different story for another time.

My favorite video games are those where the story isn’t the main draw. Video game storytelling is still in its infancy. It’s still a developing field with tons of indie devs breaking grounds on how stories can be told in games. When it comes to modern shooters, there seems to a pretty popular formula: you shoot bad guys, then comes a cutscene, shoot bad guys, another cutscene. That’s not what we’re going for for NMRiH2.

Half-Life 1 did storytelling quite well in my opinion. The story is all there if you pay attention, but it doesn’t really get in the way of the game. That’s what I would like to emulate in this game. A game where the story is there if you want to follow it, but we’re not gonna shove it down your throat.

So that’s where we’re at. Out of all the dev posts, you’re probably going to hear the most from me, considering writing is something I just do. Commentary on what I’m working on also helps me work better and more efficiently.

Plans for my upcoming dev posts include the inspiration for NMRiH2, the life behind the Night of the Living Dead map, the timeline of our fictional universe, the characters we will populate the worlds with, and the ideas for the upcoming campaigns.

Until next time, infr4mer out.
Jeremy “infr4mer” Ferretti also publishes his web comic Exits – A Paranormal Comedy (among others) at his website aberrantink.com

                                             

Animation Insight

Hey everyone!

My name is Cole, or as the other nerds have posted with their cool nicknames, Vaarnex. I am the lead animator for NMRiH2. This is one of my first bigger projects, and it is definitely an ambitious one at that. Unfortunately I didn’t work on the first NMRiH, however I aim to add something great for the next installment.

As you may know, we didn’t have a character animator for the first game. So that’s where I come in to give the game, and the zombies, new life, which is what I will be talking about today. So let’s get started, shall we?

One of the most important parts of a zombie game is probably the zombies. Where would we be without them? Not in a zombie game, that’s where. So for NMRiH2 we’ve come up with some cool ideas for the different archetypes for those face-eating, lovable buggers.

The main three zombies are the Shambler, the Walker, and the Runner. Each zombie will have a distinct behavior, making them distinct from one another. This means that the player (you) will need to have different ways of combating these meatbags. It also means that you’ll need to be able to tell each zombie archetype apart from a distance so you can be sure to give them the walloping they deserve.

The first zombie I’ll be talking about is the Shambler.

These guys are the fodder of the game, lowest tier of hunter. The Shambler is what happens to a zombie when it can’t find any sustenance. It loses all of its muscle mass and starts to decay where it stands. The sight on Shamblers is minimal, very weak. Not enough human carrots to keep their eyes sharp, so they have to rely on other senses to seek out potential targets, not for them to catch, mind you. But to alert other to catch for them. The Shamblers are too weak to run, barely able to keep themselves upright where they stand.

The Walkers are where things get a bit tricky.

walker

The eyes tend to decay quickly for these poor infected fellows. So the Walkers rely on sound, their hearing is phenomenal. They sway their heads side-to-side, listening to anything and everything and being drawn towards the sound. Not as slow as the Shamblers, but not as quick as the Runners, which I will get to in just a moment. You can see the Walkers have more mass on their bodies, this is the second stage of the infection. When all the fat is burned off and food is becoming scarce. The Walkers are beginning to decay, which is better for you, right? More chance to survive!

And finally, we come to the Runner.

A pure predator. Alpha of the infected. These guys rely on all of their senses, but eyesight is keen with these ones. Constantly scanning the horizon for prey, anything that they can get their hands on to infect or eat. These guys are fast. Strong. Cunning. Able to sprint after the survivors, climb buildings to catch their prey.

climbing runner

There is nothing that will stop them. Maybe a bat to the brain… But that’s up to you, and if you can manage to hit it without being distracted by that bod. While infected, the body converts all energy from fat into muscle, anything that it can use to turn the body into a killing machine. And all the pent up energy makes these sexy motherfuckers twitchy, and deadly.

The silhouettes for each type is important. We want to make sure that each zombie behaves and carries themselves in a way that is immediately apparent to the player. Now that we have a character animator on the team, we’re hoping that the zombies and their personalities will be something that you really enjoy when the time comes.

Thanks for reading everyone, I hope you enjoyed this dev blog.

-Vaarnex

                                             

Square Zero

Hello everyone,

My name is ThoughT and I am the Lead Composer for No More Room in Hell 2, and was also the lead composer for the original NMRiH. You may remember my music from such exciting NMRiH events as, “Spawning with the hopes of not being eaten” as well as “being eaten shortly after spawning.” We had good times together.  

First off I must say, to my immense flattery and surprise, it’s been made clear to me that people see NMRiH’s soundtrack as a unique style of music, which has been shown through numerous submissions of “NMRiH inspired” fan music. I couldn’t be more thankful for the support that the community has shown for the soundtrack. Seriously, it’s beyond anything I could have imagined, thank you!

No More Room in Hell 2 stands as the first sequel that I have ever had the privilege of working on and as I have begun to work on the new soundtrack, I’ve found myself faced with interesting challenges that I’ve never had to deal with before.

In order to create to create music of this magnitude I need to get myself into a certain emotional headspace. One way I like to attempt this is through editing “mood videos” so I can visually see emotion and then attempt to translate that into music. I’ve featured two of them in this post for you to enjoy. The video for Moral Compass (above) as well as the background video (below) that plays when you go to www.nmrih2.com.

When looking at how to proceed with the soundtrack for NMRiH2, I’ve really had to sit and question if I should just continue in the now ‘traditional NMRiH style’ or try to venture forth to something new. It may seem like an easy choice to some, yet the more I think about it, the more I realize that something with my process would need to change. The first time around, I could play NMRiH and get ideas and inspiration. This time around, the soundtrack is starting at square one with the game itself and it’s an entirely new, blank slate that is certainly proving an intimidating trial. I want to pay homage to the original game’s soundtrack and make nods to the original songs where it feels right, as well as maybe a few well deserved remakes; yet at the same time, not overdoing it. Knowing where or when to do this has been one of my very real challenges because NMRIH is my comfort zone while NMRiH2 is it’s own game and deserves to be treated as such. Sometime’s I guess it’s just hard to let go and remember that NMRiH2 stands to introduce a slew of new classic tracks to the community like the original, if given the chance.

The new engine allows an additional level of visual, and auditory fidelity that we always wanted to do, but couldn’t achieve with the technical constraints of the first NMRIH. The gameplay and art will be emotional, intense, and stressful, and we want to complement each of those feelings and moments with our music and audio (We even have dynamic music system that can adapt to player situations, but more on that next time).

Earlier I mentioned that I was starting NMRIH2 with a blank slate, however, instead of starting at square one, I want to actually start at square ZERO. Zero, meaning before anything bad ever happened in the NMRiH universe. Zero is the world we live in and represents what will be lost.

The dichotomy of past and present is important to truly appreciate the horrors in NMRiH2. Without appreciating the backstory and the gravity of the situation, we could honestly just skin a zombie to look like any generic enemy and get the same return. I feel strongly that on top of storytelling and visuals, one of the best ways to convey the emotional tension of the situation is through music. What is coming after you isn’t just a monster, but was a person. That person had a family, aspirations, dreams and goals that were robbed from them. It may seem silly to be thinking of the zombies as people, but it helps inspire all of us on an emotional level. We can feel a world where millions of our countrymen, friends, and family have been robbed of their lives, and who they are. We are alone, forced to survive in a world no longer hospitable to human life. We are victims, but even more so the zombies themselves are the greatest victims of tragedy.

Please enjoy and check back for more updates and to watch this concept become a reality! Before we part I have one last work in progress track to share, enjoy!

                                             

Introducing the Zombies

Hello everyone!

My name is Cenelder, and I am the character artist for No More Room In Hell 2 (NMRIH2). I wanted to update everyone on our progress thus far, as well as outline some key features and additions to our player characters. But first, since this IS a zombie survival game, let’s kick this blog off with some information and screenshots on our undead friends!

For No More Room in Hell 2, we really wanted to think about the theoretical science behind our zombie disease, how that would manifest, and how we could translate our reasoning into fun and interesting enemy types. We decided to break down our zombie virus into 3 key stages of progression with very different archetypes.

The Runner

The first stage of the zombie virus is known as a Runner. When a fresh victim becomes a zombie, their body amplifies production of testosterone and adrenaline, and quickly burns away all of their body fat converting it to muscle mass. This increases not only their strength, speed, mobility and sight, but also their aggression. Their movements become twitchy and they appear anxious. They have increased visual acuity, and will chase down anything they see moving, and their increased mobility and speed will make sure that they get there quickly regardless of obstacles. Luckily, this stage doesn’t last long, as it requires constant feeding on human flesh, and they burn through their muscle mass within a few days time.

The Walker

If a runner cannot consume a steady source of ill-equipped human survivors, eventually their muscles deteriorate and they transition into the Walker stage. These are a more traditional, Romero influenced slow moving zombie. They can summon short bursts of speed during attacks, but are generally limited in their movement capabilities. The clarity of the runner’s eyesight has somewhat receded, but their sense of hearing has vastly improved. They will be drawn from great distances toward gunfire and other noises. This can quickly overwhelm survivors with their sheer numbers.

The Shambler

The final stage of the zombie disease is the Shambler. Highly decrepit and decayed, zombies in this stage are highly contagious and emit a very distinct foul odor helping them to easily distinguish the scents of the living from the dead. Upon smelling living flesh, they emit a high pitch screeching noise that will attract Runners and Walkers to their location. Filter masks are suggested when engaging Shamblers to reduce chances of infection, although steering clear all together is preferred. Destroying a Shambler can create a biohazard in the immediate area.

The Children

And of course, we also have zombie Children. They tend to stay fast and limber for much much longer than adults due to lower calorie requirements, and a reduced effect on their undeveloped hormonal system. While the immature hormonal system prevents them from burning out quickly like their adult counterparts, they are not nearly as strong, fast, or agile.

So What About Character Customization?

A lot of people are asking about player customization.  YES!  We DO have player customization planned!  I don’t want to get too in depth with our player customization yet (we will be discussing customization in depth in an upcoming blog), but you will be able to customize the look and clothing of your characters.  We have some really cool reward structures that we are pretty excited about that will showcase your dedication to slaying zombies.  

Zombies will have have randomized clothing as well!  Not only will this affect the visual look of the zombies, but we can do things like add helmets that make them more resistant to melee head trauma, or body armor to increase their resilience.  All of this will be generated by a random number generator that we can customize per map, and yes, that means that fully armored Runners are a thing to be feared! (*And balanced pending play testing)

We’ll keep this blog active as a window into our progress and development in the coming days.

                                             

The First DevBlog

Hello and welcome to the first No More Room in Hell 2 development blog! We aim to be as open and honest with this blog to keep the community as informed as possible.  Hopefully the community will work with us to release a game that all of us love and enjoy!  Our duty to the audience will be to relay accurate information as it happens, and showcase our successes and how we overcame struggles.

Our team has grown in size over the last few months, and we are increasing our workloads to attempt an early access release in late 2017/early 2018.  We have a lot that we would love to share with you, however, before we talk about what we are currently working on as a team, lets have a quickly recap the last few months of development.

When did development start?

No More Room in Hell 2 has been an idea that’s been in the back of our heads for quite a while. Working on the Source engine for the mod we felt limited at times to what we could accomplish with an aging engine that we didn’t have full source code to. It wasn’t until we heard of the benefits that Unreal 4 had to offer that we truly thought to make a sequel a reality. Our first ever public mention of our intention for a sequel was back in December 2014.

That’s quite a while ago what’s taking so long?!

We didn’t start active development for No More Room in Hell 2 until 2016. So obviously there’s a gap from 2014 to 2016, We spent a lot of that time on design as well as learning Unreal Engine 4 before jumping into the development. We’re setting the bar for No More Room in Hell 2 pretty high, we truly want to make a game worthy of a price tag.

We made a thing!

It’s been a tradition of ours to announce big news on Halloween. So we decided to put a few of our assets together and October 2016 we released a teaser to officially announce the game to the world. The reason for the trailer is twofold, we wanted to show some of our progress and more importantly we wanted to have fun a collaborative internal project to motivate us.

We also launched a quick website with some FAQ nmrih2.com

That’s cool but what are you doing right now?

Our main goal this year is our vertical slice of our current design with the goal to release in early access later this year on steam. We’ve set our sights to recreate and improve the core gameplay starting with the old “Survival” game mode from the Mod. We’re currently recreating an old map from the mod, nms_noltd (night of the living dead) to be our test bed. In addition to that recreation we have something completely new and larger in scale than anything in the Mod, yet it’s a bit too early to talk about that in any detail.

Into the future we’ll keep this blog active as a window into our progress and development.

                                             

TL:DR Development started 2016, released a teaser on halloween, right now we’re working on a vertical slice with a goal to release near the end of 2017 or early 2018. FAQ: nmrih2.com