Survivors are the few remnants of the living, whose lives are constantly faced with the hardships and perils associated with a zombie apocalypse.
In State of Decay, the player starts off with a handful of survivors and can gradually increase the size of their community if they wish to do so.
Interacting with survivors
Many of the survivors are fixed and associated with storyline missions, while others are randomly selected and put in small communities (Enclaves with generic names like "Friendly Survivors"). All randomly generated Enclaves can be recruited, while the members of uniquely named Enclaves ("The Grange", "The Wilkersons") are usually not recruitable. None of the survivors in State of Decay are openly hostile towards the player's community; however, some may express dislike or disdain towards them.
Trust is the measurement of the Enclaves' attitude towards the player's community. The higher the Trust level, the lower the Influence cost for taking items from their Supply Locker. Trust can be earned by assisting them in certain missions such as Trading, Supply Runs or Besieged. When sufficient level of trust is earned (the Enclave are listed as "Friendly Survivors"), the player can choose to recruit all their members and bring them back home.
At some point in the storyline, no new random Enclaves are spawned, the existing ones stop interacting with the player (no new missions is given) and it becomes impossible to recruit Enclaves no matter what the player does. At this point it is only possible to recruit random survivors by using the Radio to offer shelter for wandering survivors (which has a chance of spawning 2 survivors at the cost of 100 Influence).
After a survivor has been recruited, the player has to fill a different Trust meter (by doing various missions such as gathering resources, which usually affect trust of the whole community). After this Trust meter is filled, the new survivor is listed as "Friend" and becomes playable. Only player-controlled characters can improve skills. It is vital to spend time improving a variety of survivors to have a handful of combat-effective backups once the community's most useful members are tired, injured, busy, missing or dead.
Each recruited survivor has their own combination of traits, backstory and Skills. As long as the character's trust level remains at "Friend", the player can switch between characters in order to take advantage of that character's skill set. Some characters are better suited to combat and exploring, while others are best at providing bonuses to the home site's Facilities.
Due to the survivors' different traits and the game's random events, sometimes conflicts will occur at home that affect community Morale. For example, a Sad character can bring down Morale; even worse, if an Angry character is not kept in check, he/she may lash out and injure another character. Thus, it is important to closely monitor each survivor's attitude and keep an eye out for notifications on Morale changes. A character's negative attitude can be improved by doing a Morale side mission if one is available, or switching to said character and finish a few missions or supply runs to change the attitude to "Determined" or another positive one.
It is not possible to directly harm a survivor; however, the player might indirectly do so through the use of explosives or by choosing not to save them from zombies. The player is also given the choice to drive a survivor out of the community when that survivor initiates a Morale or Mercy Shot mission. Another way of getting rid of an unwanted survivor is to switch to that survivor (once he/she has become a Friend, ironically) and commit suicide (by jumping off a high survey point or getting killed by zombies). A dead character reduces community Morale by 25 and negatively affects the attitude of all surviving characters.
Asking for backup
When the PC greets another character, the player is given the option to take this character as backup for 100 influence, provided that character is not tired, injured or sick. This companion character can be switched to or sent home as the player wishes; however, they will not carry a resource rucksack, and will not aid players on storyline/enclave missions (they automatically head home once such missions are started).
Characters are generated using the characters.win.bmd file (converted from characters.xml file). Definition for each character is contained in one <Character> tag and its children nodes, which specify:
- Appearance: hair color, hair type, head type, body, skin color, voice pitch, portrait hair color, portrait hair type, portrait head type, portrait skin color. Many characters share the same portraits and head type, but body type seems to be unique for each character.
- Character description/biography.
- Character "official name"
- Names: a list of first names and a list of last names. When the character is created, a name is randomly chosen from this list. For characters with fixed names, the lists only contain one first name and one last name.
- Skills and/or specializations (in Breakdown only)
- Default attitude
In general, most characters have the same attributes through out multiple playthroughs, only some minor backstory traits are randomly added through in-game dialogues.
This is an extract from the characters.xml file in State of Decay, for Shaun Hammerstein (whose role in the story is SitesSickGuy, the one the player encounters at the Savini Residence home site during the mission Home Away From Home)
<Character HairColor="Light Brown" HairType="Male06" HeadType="Male03" Model="characters/male/human/body/campshirt_khaki/variant/v06.cdf" SkinColor="Base" VoicePitch="Low" VoiceRole="ED" PortraitHairColor="9" PortraitHairType="18" PortraitHeadType="35" PortraitSkinColor="1"> <DescriptionText Flags="" Notes="Character Bio" Text="Designed Marshall's most famous buildings." /> <NameText Flags="Do Not Localize" Notes="" Text="5 STORY Shaun Hammerstein" /> <Names> <FirstNames> <NameText Flags="" Notes="" Text="Adam" /> ... <NameText Flags="" Notes="" Text="Zion" /> <NameText Flags="" Notes="" Text="Shaun" /> </FirstNames> <LastNames> <NameText Flags="" Notes="" Text="Altman" /> ... <NameText Flags="" Notes="" Text="Zimmer" /> <NameText Flags="" Notes="" Text="Hammerstein" /> </LastNames> </Names> <Traits> <TraitBlock> <DefaultTrait Trait="<nowiki><nowiki>'''Trait.Story.SitesSickGuy'''</nowiki></nowiki>" /> <DefaultTrait Trait="Trait.Voice.ED" /> <DefaultTrait Trait="Trait.History.Local" /> <DefaultTrait Trait="Trait.Job.Architect" /> <DefaultTrait Trait="Trait.Hobby.CreativeWriting" /> <DefaultTrait Trait="Trait.Personality.Ward_Coward" /> <DefaultTrait Trait="Trait.Mood.Scared_Stressed" /> <DefaultTrait Trait="Trait.Talent.BadLungs" /> </TraitBlock> </Traits> <Inventory> <Backpack Name="BackpackSmall01_v06" /> <Gun Ammo="" Name="Pistol_XLock" /> <Weapon Name="Pipe" /> </Inventory> </Character>
List of survivors
Examining the characters.xml file reveals the total number of characters in State of Decay (including Soldiers, Swats, debug characters, etc) to be roughly 150. Among this number:
- About 40 characters are tied to storyline missions and not playable
- About 10 characters are tied to storyline missions and playable (Marcus, Maya, Ed, Sam, Jacob, etc)
- About 80 characters are recruitable
- About 10 characters are non-playable (used for debugging or other purposes)
- All characters have consistent appearance and most of their traits and skills. In most cases, characters' names are randomized, chosen from a pool of first and last names. Very few characters have fixed first and/or last names.
Ranger Station (NPC)
Church of the Ascension
Wilkerson Farm (NPC)
The Grange (NPC)
County Court House
Other survivors tied to storyline missions
- Marcus Campbell
- Ed Jones
- Maya Torres
- Doc Hanson (NPC)
- Anson Hearst
- Karen Tolbert
- Jess Cohen
- Jackson Hollis
State of Decay has a small number of unique survivors that players have attempted to recruit into their community. They include:
- A survivor with a shark hoodie - Shark Hoodie Guy. In the Breakdown DLC he becomes a hero character.
- Soldiers named "Debug 1" all the way to "Debug 6". This group will likely be eliminated with a later Title Update. Only Debug 3 has been recorded as playable.
The existence of these survivors in any one playthrough appears to be random, but some players have attempted to force their appearance by systematically killing off their communities until they appear.
- In the pages for randomly-named characters, the page name will be the one used in the game file, For example, "7 GENERIC Caroline Smythe" means that the character is a recruitable, has Caroline as a possible first name and Smythe as a possible last name.
- AI-controlled survivors, unlike player-controlled ones, do not gain skill experience and thus cannot level up skills. Also, they do not consume ammo or any consumables, neither do they wear out guns or melee weapons that they use. They are also unaffected by encumbrance and never run out of stamina.
- Weathers, Sanya (2 November 2012). Just some questions . Retrieved on 13 February 2013.
- Weathers, Sanya (20 August 2012). quick question . Retrieved on 13 February 2013.