The Good, the Bad, and the Bloody

Even though progress on RIZN has been a bit slow as of late, I do have some updates and new features ready to share. Work has been incredibly busy (more on that later) but I put time into this project when I can, being careful to take breaks when needed to avoid burnout. 

The Good

First up is an update to the zombie spawning system that uses Perlin noise generated at runtime to group zombies together. The screenshots below show the results of this new addition, which steps away from the previous setup that just laid a blanket of zombies throughout the quarantine zone, providing the player with a bit of breathing room between groups of undead.

This is done by generating a texture using Perlin noise at runtime then clamping the values of this texture based on a float variable. The generated noise is easily scaled up or down, and the value used for clamping can be changed as well, which means this system can be leveraged to increase difficulty as the player progresses. Paired with increasing the total zombies in the quarantine zone that are spawned, I should have quite a bit of control over just how much of a challenge it is for the player to progress through to the next one.

The Bad

I've come to accept that releasing the Alpha version of RIZN this fall is no longer going to happen. Freelance work has kept me extremely busy the last few months, to the point that I'd worked every single day for the first 21 days of November. Until taking a vacation that started this past Monday, I'd had a total of 5 days off since the 1st of October. As a result, I've had very little time to sit and really focus on my own project; client work always takes priority and I have been freelancing long enough to know that you make hay when the sun is shining because the next extended lull in work could show up at any time. To be clear: I am by no means complaining; I love my day job and am grateful for every gig that comes my way, but I was definitely overdue for some days off and spending time with loved ones.

So, given that the holiday season is just around the corner and to avoid having to delay the release a second time between now and the end of winter, I've opted to move the Alpha to spring of next year and am planning on a final release for next Halloween. Anyone who knows me is well aware that I turn into a big kid when the holidays arrive and the last thing I want is to muddy the season with the stress of releasing my first game. I've been working on this project for nearly 3 years now, pushing things back 3-6 months is hardly a big deal, and I feel confident that things will go much smoother if I simply accept the fact that the original planned release date was a miscalculation.

Granted, it took working 55 out of 60 days prior to my vacation to pull it off, but my clients are incredibly happy with the work I've delivered and I've been able to save up some runway funds for when work inevitably slows down. All in all, things are going great with my day job; inversely, they are going slow as molasses on a cold day when it comes to RIZN. 

The Bloody

I've saved the best for last, so here it is. The video below shows a few new additions, the first and main one being the slide ability that's been added. This was a lot of fun to put into place and is a blast to use during gameplay, especially when you pair it with the Happy Pills item that slows time down to a crawl.

I've also added the first few one-handed melee weapons, the machete being depicted in this video. Unlike two-handed weapons, these can be stored in your backpack same as a secondary firearm can, which will prove to be very helpful in those moments you've run out of ammo and need to hack your way through hordes of undead. Last but not least, I've added two new two-handed weapons which the player will find strewn about the quarantine zones and can be picked up in an emergency situation: a rusty axel and a section of pipe.

I was back-and-forth for quite a while on whether I should put in the time to include melee weapons, and even after getting the first one in place I hemmed and hawed at the idea of allowing the player to keep one-handed weapons as they progress. Even though it has certainly delayed things a bit, I'm glad I put in the effort. It's a fun break from aiming and shooting, and being front-and-center in all the gore makes for a fairly cartoonishly grotesque experience, especially once the screen becomes covered in red splatter. 

So, the Alpha release has been delayed, but you can see that I am (and will be) using any of that time to continue making improvements and implementing new features. I am confident that once spring arrives next year, I will have a fairly polished build ready to deploy so that players can get a feel for the game via Survival Mode, which will give me the time I need to flesh out the story in preparation for the Halloween release.


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