What setting for a SHTF game?


July 22, 2005, 04:43 PM
Hi everyone! Long time no post. Anyhoo...

I'm considering making a SHTF computer game in which you have to help organize the survivors into a functioning community (briefly put). I'm not sure where the setting should be. I'm thinking somewhere in the Midwest, but that's as far as I've got.

Any suggestions?

Here are the prerequisites:

1. The area should be something on the order of a 500-mile square.
2. There should be several navigable rivers, railroads, and paved roads or dirt trails.
3. Terrain should include mountains and forests with abundant game, as well as significant farmland.
4. People living there now should be relatively diverse (this requirement is squishy, as I decide who lives and dies anyway, percentages notwithstanding).
5. There should be lots of people with guns, naturally; but ideally there should be relatively few military bases, I want millitary hardware to be rare commodities.
6. There should be a number of really small towns. (All the big cities are basically toast... if you have some ideas of where you want to see nuked, that works too!)

If the area has some strategic chokeholds that can dominate the mountain passes or railroad lines or rivers, that would be perfect :evil:

Thanks all!

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July 22, 2005, 04:50 PM
Could do the rocky mountains.

Lots of small towns, like Nederland (all that comes to mind at the moment), but a couple of medium sized one. Lots of variety in people- rich, hippy, poor, middle class. Also lots of rivers, and unpredictable weather. Yet if one wants you can take a long drive to get to denver etc.

As far as stragetic- there are RR lines that bring coal in over the mountains for the power plants. There are only a few major highways.

And since its colorado its not major-anti-gun. There would be plenty of gun shops etc.

July 22, 2005, 06:00 PM
Watch "Red Dawn" and model it a bit to give your setting some subconscious familiarity for the player(s). I think that was set in Colorado.

It's often easier to visualize games using points of reference from other media, i.e. Tolkein / D&D.

July 22, 2005, 06:09 PM
One thing you shouldn't do is make bandits be seperate from the survivors. It's always really annoying when computer games have literally limitless supplies of bandits, guards, monsters, etc., spawning on demand.

July 22, 2005, 06:11 PM
I know exactly the place, I live there: Casper, Wyoming. Its a city of about 80,000 people at the base of a mountain. Nearly everyone in town is a gun owner, with a suprisingly high consentration of class 3 weapons floating around here. The North Platte River runs directly through town and there are lakes and pods all over the bloody place.

Seems like the perfect place. Near as I can tell about every tenth person is a hard core survivalist anyway.

July 22, 2005, 06:33 PM
seems kinda like the game "Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel". one of the best games of all time in my opinion.

July 22, 2005, 07:56 PM
Need a city around fo rmore action. I would suggest Portland, OR. We have a fully developed urban area with mountains, rivers, small towns, and other such rural things close by. Check it out using www.earth.google.com

July 22, 2005, 08:01 PM
Go play Fallout, Fallout 2, and memorize the good parts. Go from there. :D

I'd say Northern California would be a good setting, honestly.

July 22, 2005, 08:32 PM
you just described arizona. large areas of any type of terrain and climate that you could want except tundra. unlikely to be the target of a nuclear strike, so survival is believable.

July 22, 2005, 08:32 PM
Santa Fe seems like it meets most of those criteria.

July 22, 2005, 10:46 PM
Sounds like you've got some good answers, maybe some more to come as well. I think it's a fantastic idea, what kind of experience do you have? I always thought it would be great to be able to write programs and such, but always to lazy and impatient to actually learn. So kudos to you, and I'm glad we have gun owners and people who take situations like this seriously enough to do things like this. You've got my support.

July 22, 2005, 10:54 PM
Check out "Freedom Fighters" it was a good SHTF game with a good storyline and interesting team play

July 22, 2005, 11:11 PM
Go back to the original for referance.......Wasteland.


July 23, 2005, 01:18 AM
The good thing about setting it around Portland Oregon is that if you need target practice for bgs you have a more than ample supply of liberals. Mike

Apple a Day
July 23, 2005, 10:07 AM
Read "Lights Out" by Halffast online at Frugal Squirrel dot com. It's a must read for what you are planning.
Western Virginia in/around the Roanoke Valley is perfect. It is close enough to D.C. for interesting story lines with all the major roads running there or all the military bases in the Chesapeake Bay area and enough back roads than when D.C., Norfolk, and Richmond get nuked there will still be plenty of avenues for refugees and such. There's even a major government fallout bunker at Green-somethingorother.
Lots of hunters and shooters in the area. Due to the ice storms people have lots of generators and camping equipment.
Plenty of interesting topographical features like streams, hills, the New River, Cascades, Dragon's Tooth...
There used to be a missle factory at Radford but I think it shut down years ago... interesting to add to the story line.

The Outer Banks would also be a good setting. You get to throw in all sorts of traffic on the Intercoastal Waterway, ships stranded out at sea after Norfolk gets pounded, etc... Lots of pirates used to ply their trade out there along the Carolinas. Lots of fishing, crabbing. Plenty of nasty bottomland terrain and blackwater creeks for setting.

I think it would be interesting to give the players a choice of difficulty level.
Easy: Wyoming with lots of guns and people with survival skills/equipment
Moderate: Western Virginia pro-gun state with plenty of hunters
Hard: South California or Maryland with severe gun restrictions and hordes of blissninnies (no offense to those poor pilgrims stranded there)
Insane: Inside Chicago, New York, or L.A. where only the gangstas have guns and the locals have seen "Cats" 20 times but have never seen the inside of a shooting range.

Greg L
July 23, 2005, 10:39 AM
SHTF how - nuke, natural disaster, The Stand level of bio war?

What is the (game) time frame - survival for a week, month, year, rebuilding civilization from Adam & Eve? If it is for a long time then planting crops is a good idea, however, if he is still alive the current farmer will be pissed if you are out messing around in his fields.

What percentage of the previous population is dead? Unless it is a HUGE amount (over the entire country/world) it is hard to imagine that the .gov wouldn't be there to "help" in some form or another. If most people are still alive but the infrastructure is gone (think Lights Out), why are you (the computer player) the one to lead them back to civilization (especially if you weren't already in some position of civil authority). If most people are dead then your natural leadership abilities will shine right through :D .

None of these problems are insurmountable if you have a decent back story to set up the game with. Without it though it isn't believable & you should just go play Civ III instead.

July 23, 2005, 10:41 AM
Go back to the original for referance.......Wasteland.

Hey Chris, hungry for a Hobo Dog? :evil:

Wasteland on my old Apple //e. Fun.

July 23, 2005, 10:45 AM
apple a day
you have a good idea but south carolina does not have severe gun restrictions
most southern states have pretty lax gun laws

July 23, 2005, 11:41 AM
Set the game up so you have several area of us to choose from at start,Mid West NE SW ect.

July 23, 2005, 11:47 AM
...and if your scenario includes nuking Portland and Salem, I'd buy it! :D

July 23, 2005, 10:39 PM
The multiple area idea was brilliant!

Adds replay value, which is really important in my book.

Apple a Day
July 24, 2005, 12:13 AM
It took me a second to figure out what you were talking about...
I wrote south California rather than South Carolina. I probably should have written southern California to be proper but I have a hard time describing anything in California as "Southern". ;)
My Virginia CCW is good in S. Carolina as well, God bless 'em.

July 24, 2005, 02:14 AM
Why limit the game to one area? Make several sets of levels each set in a different part of the world or the USA. Figure out a story line that allows/calls for the character to move around to the different areas.

Here are some of my favorite types of areas in such games:

Mountain area with snow in the higher altitude woods in the lower altitude

Big city area with a subway system, skyscrapers, subburbs

Smaller rural city with river/other body of water and mine complex

Military base/area 51 type level - big weapons, lab facilities, etc.

Big ship at sea

July 24, 2005, 10:28 AM
sorry bout that apple a day
i guess i saw south ca.......... and assumed it said south carolina.
so your idea was excellent

July 24, 2005, 09:54 PM
Thanks for all the replies, everyone. Lots of great ideas...

My big inspiration was Fallout, of course. I thought that setting it so many decades after the cataclysm was really cheating; the hard part is the first month!

So basically, someone manages to nuke basically all the major cities on the planet, and then blanket Earth with EMP pulses. So anything with circuit-boards doesn't work any more, and we gotta start over. (Let's just forget about rad-hardened chips, shall we?) Also, because of how dependent we are on central distribution, I see many of the survivors starving to death, or being shot by other people who don't want to starve themselves. I figure that maybe 5,000 people will be alive in the playing area after the first month. We might periodically have people wander in, but not too many.

I want the main game dynamic to be character-based. Basically, each NPC will have certain character traits that will influence his behavior, and within these influences he will act to his best advantage. Meaning, that a given bad person could just as easily turn to banditry as become a slightly dishonest trader, based on the resources available.

Most NPC's will be biased towards risk-aversion, so without your action few people will take the extreme risks that are necessary to build up functioning trade networks and self-defense groups. The rare few who have total freedom of action will tend towards evil, so if you are too slow you'll find yourself staring at a large neo-fascist state, or a society built on slavery, or a powerful bandit faction. And that's not even taking the central plot into account :evil:

The other thing is that combat will be very dangerous. No matter how good you get, you can get killed. So you will have every incentive to cheat, have backup, or find other ways to get what you want.

I like the idea of several areas, but it would be a heckuva lot of work. I'm considering between Oregon, Colorado, and the DC area, but I think I would prefer for there not to be a coast, as it makes movement too easy. Rivers are constricted enough for things to be interesting. I may go with Colorado.

If this thing gets anywhere beyond my fevered imaginings, I'll let you know. It is complicated because I can't write code to speak of, so I'll need to find some cheap code-monkeys :neener:

July 24, 2005, 10:01 PM
max payne would be a fair example of urban shtf, but i hate 3rd person, or at least i am annoyed by it

July 24, 2005, 11:32 PM
Could you throw in some Twilight 2000? I really loved that game.

Him: "Can a horse outrun an M-113?"

Me: "Not for long. <cha-chunk>"

July 24, 2005, 11:34 PM
Try looking into KY for your setting. Lots of roads, rivers, rails, mountains/hills, lots of small towns and big cities, and a very diverse population, with lots of weapon ownership. As far as diversity--hillbilly, redneck, backwater man, slack-jawed yokels, liberals/leftists, and then us normal people ;) . You'll find people doing everything you said about "differing personalities"--and the feces has not already hit the rotation air-moving device, it's just normal life. Though, half the stuff in the nether-regions of the state doesn't work already (ever seen the primary contents of a house scattered across the lawn or the front porch? :scrutiny: ), so it basically already is a template for study!!! Some people grow their own food whenever possible (my grandma does), have enough weapons/ammo to supply themselves and a few buddies (I do :D ), etc. Just an idea...who cares that it's tailored towards stereotypes :neener: .

July 25, 2005, 02:48 AM
I only request that Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio be nuked. Hmm, would I live if that happened? I'm 35 miles from both.

July 25, 2005, 03:10 AM
I'd agree with Santa Fe, Los Alamos, or some small city in that region of NM.

captain obvious
July 25, 2005, 11:27 AM

The state of West Virginia fits your requirements almost to a "T".

Guns? Of course.
Small towns? - Charleston - the biggest and the capitol, is small enough to go off roading ten miles from the capitol building.

Navigable rivers, roads, trails? Thanks to Senator Byrd, we have all of those.

Diversity? Throw in WVU and call it even.

Strategic chokeholds? Look at the friggin terrain!

July 25, 2005, 11:00 PM
Go with Oregon.

Lots of rivers, lakes, mountains, hills, gunowners, urban areas, suburban areas as well as lots of liberals sheep (they can act as Zombies) :D


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