A Day on the Couch: ZombiU and Hotlinking

Yesterday was all planned out.. I wanted to get on with some Minion Master, get slapped about some more in Dark Souls, and follow that up with these Blender tutorials.  However, my PC had other ideas: hanging on the GRUB loader, giving Error 22 and pretending to have a failed HDD.  I say pretending, because it turned out later that the drive was fine.. the PC was just trying to boot from the wrong drive.

So, off to the couch.. and another few hours of trying to survive in ZombiU!

I really like this game.  It’s brilliantly atmospheric, with decay everywhere.. it breeds paranoia so that I distrust every body I find, and take off the heads so they don’t jump up as I pass.. it’s scary!  Shadows and dark corners threaten zombies at any moment, and the lack of ammo and supplies forces me to be careful with them and scavenge as much as I can.  I only wish there was more free exploration to be had, and that there was a bit more to the cricket bat melee, rather than being restricted to either pushing zombies away or taking that slow overhead swing.. the undead seem to be able to step in underneath it all too easily.

Invading zombies, the ‘lost’ survivors from other players’ games, are a brilliant touch.. they appear at random, sometimes catching you unaware.. and they’re often a welcome source of supplies.  While running back into the Palace I met the perfectly-named “SavourySnax”; his bags were filled with health packs, food items and drinks! 🙂

ZombiU - Buckingham Palace

A few things have been grating on me though; one being the Prepper’s incessant yelling at the ‘new’ survivor when you’ve died.  It’s supposed to be a new survivor, not the one that just ran straight into danger.. and the phrases have become rather repetitive.  I’m usually annoyed enough by the fact I messed up, never mind having some angry voice directed at me!  Today he was yelling at me for going “there”, and in a rather snippy tone, telling me I’m on my own.  The location he’s objecting to isn’t some insane foray: it’s the target location for a mission.

The other frustrating aspect is the spawning of zombies in stupid places: one in the dark corner of a room directly behind me, with all the doors shut, and a small horde spawning in a room I’d literally just cleared.. trying a side door between it and the next room prompted them to come running.  I was surrounded in a few seconds; less time than it’d have taken me to get half way across that empty room!  I suppose it’s done this way to keep the pressure on, but I think it would have been better if the zombies had spawned outside the room, and then rushed in.

There’s only one thing I’d call a failure in ZombiU, and that is the messaging system.

You can leave messages for other survivors, like in Dark Souls, though with a range of symbols instead of words.  That’s interesting enough, and could work well but for the fact that after discovering a message with your scanner, you are prompted to interact with it via the GamePad in the same way as you scan or mark other items, and this interaction rates the message “Don’t Trust”.  You can only rate a message as untrustworthy; there’s no way of voting messages up.

I rated the first few messages I found as untrustworthy without meaning to, just because I touched the GamePad as prompted.. and though I removed those ratings immediately, I suspect others may not always realise or even care.   In effect, it’s made me distrust the “Don’t trust” rating.  I don’t know whether I can trust any of the messages I find, and so I simply take no notice of them: they may as well not be there at all.

My latest survivor died while scavenging around in the Brick Lane Flats area.. killed by a pair of helmet-wearing zombie police.

Aside from gaming, I took a look at some of the site stats, and noticed that there’s been a lot of hotlinking, with screenshots from the blog in particular being pinched for a variety of forum posts, signatures and so on.  I don’t really care if people download and use the images.. but I do mind when they’re hotlinking, as we’re paying for the bandwidth to serve all these images to people who never even come to the site!

I checked out some of the watermarking plugins for WordPress, but it seemed that many of them weren’t tested with the latest version of WordPress yet, or were for adding watermarks to all images, including those displayed on the site.  I only want to watermark the hotlinked images, so we’ll be editing the .htaccess file or making a small plugin of our own, soon.. and then all those images will be nicely labelled for all to see where they’re from.

I wonder if I’ll get any complaints from people who are hotlinking, and don’t like the sudden appearance of our watermark.  I already have a rather clear response for them though: if you want to use an image from this site, then by all means download it and host it yourself.

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