Mapping the zombocalypse: from Google to Open Street Maps

As we mentioned in our previous blog posts, World of the Living Dead is being shut down in favour of a brand new reboot in the form of World of the Living Dead: Resurrection. This post will give you some information on our shift from Google Maps to Open Street Maps.

Open Street Maps

We could have stuck with Google Maps and simply overlaid the grid-based movement system on top, but we felt that we weren’t going to get much benefit from sticking with Google at that point (as we were ditching Google Directions), so we started exploring Open Street Maps. There was a slight learning curve involved in getting the maps set up and styled, but we were happy with the amount of freedom OSM gave us to display exactly what we wanted. We wanted to strip down the SCUGS map to the bare essentials, displaying only useful information. Players don’t need to see reviews of stores or find phone numbers – it’s the zombopocalypse! Changing to grids also meant that we weren’t stuck with marker-based scavenge locations, so it made more sense to switch to scavenging by grids.

We spent a lot of time trying to track down a perfect representation of exactly what was on the ground in the real world, trying the Foursquare API and several other databases, or a combination of different systems. In the end, we stuck with the OSM data, because it allowed us to assign scavenging probabilities based on what an area was used for and how many structures were there, rather than depending on specific locations (such as restaurants, shops and so on), which are always partial and incomplete, or even unreliable.

Taking the OSM data, we mapped everything in the universe to a system which models simplified versions of the locations. OSM uses keys such as “shop:convenience” or “highway:residential”. The former is an actual location, which we can represent as meaning that the grid square has an increased amount of food or liquids and an increased likelihood of certain items (e.g. two-liter bottles of soda), while the latter means that we can, even though no actual locations are listed, tell that there could be several apartments or houses on any road that goes through the grid square, leading to an increased amount of food and liquids, but also the chance for a few low-level handgun and ammo.

So we have much more control over the look and feel of the game universe – both in LA County and beyond.

Stay tuned to the blog - our next post will deal with changes to zombie density movement and how the horde reacts to squad movement within the game. 

In the meantime, you can keep up to date by following us on http://twitter.com/wotld, becoming a fan at http://facebook.com/wotld, reading the blog at http://blog.worldofthelivingdead.com and joining the forum at http://forum.worldofthelivingdead.com 

You can also sign up to our newsletter over at http://worldofthelivingdead.com if you would like us to let you know when WotLD: Resurrection launches.

posted 9 months ago