Zombie Hunter inc - a seven minutes-long game that hooks for months!

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Zombie Hunter is a top-down shooter with unique mechanics. You play as a zombie hunter for hire and your main goal is to protect your client. Your boss will pay you for each walker you shoot and sell you powerful guns once you get the money. Choose you guns wisely as they, alongside your ability to use them, will play a crucial role in whether you and your client can survive.

The main strength of Zombie Hunter inc is in its unique mechanics. Take a classic space side-scroller and cross it with Left4Dead and you get the game. It is the closest you can get to FPS while staying 2d side-scroller, because in Zombie Hunter in you can aim zombies in the head.

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Lit volumetric fog Campaign mode early shots Campaign mode early shots
Blog RSS Feed Report abuse Latest News: Zombie Hunter inc: How we made an HQ bloom system like in Battlefield 3

0 comments by cubr on Apr 10th, 2014

Hi guys!I am glad to let you know that Zombie Hunter inc Alpha has now been released on Desura. Moreover, we have recently uploaded a patch that fixes the issue when blood was not rendered in game at all. Now you can finally play the game the way it meant to be. Try it out:

Desura Digital Distribution
Zombie Hunter in Alpha hotfix.

Our next milestone is the campaign mode, which we are now working on and our first campaign level is scheduled for this summer so you will soon be able to have a first look at it. Stay tuned!In this article I will tell you how we solved a mystery of the badass bloom from Battlefield 3 and implemented a similar system in Zombie Hunter inc.There are plenty of resources out there that tell you how to add bloom to your game, but there are almost none telling how to make it right. The standard explanation you will find on the net will be something like this:- downscale your screen to 1/4 of it’s size (width and height) and perform two separable gaussian blur passes;- upscale the result and add it to the main picture.The problem is, if you do it this way, you get a pretty crappy bloom :). It’s quite small (that is it will not reach out too far from the source), and quite often it flickers and has a squarish shape. That was the kind of bloom Zombie Hunter inc used to have. It was pretty decent and I was more or less content with it. Untill I saw this:

Battlefield 3 features one of the most badass bloom systems up to date

That is just another screenshot from Battlefield 3 showcasing one of the most awesome bloom system you will ever see in a video game. No wonders that the game with one of the best graphics in history can do it.For a very long time after seeing this picture I thought that such system can only be implemented by an AAA company. I simply could not think of a way to achieve such a smooth and round fullscreen bloom without performing very large Gaussian blur over the final image (that would make any game VERY slow). But then one day I found a way to look under the game’s hood.With modern tools like Intel GPA or NVidia NSight you can actually decompose a frame from any videogame and look how it was drawn. That is, you can see what 3d models were used there with what textures and in what order they were drawn on the screen. You cannot see the shader code though :) but… you can guess it if u’r guud :).

Intel GPA allows you to see how videogames draw their pretty pictures

Armed to the teeth and ready to conquer I started digging. I quickly made a good frame where my screen was completely covered with juicy bloom as a result of firing from and RPG launcher. Here it is:

Frostbite 2 engine can make a mere spark bloom like a sun over the entire screen

As I looked into the steps they made to achieve this bloom I was surprised: their technique was not complex at all! There were two main differences between their approach and mine. Firstly, they downscaled their scene down to a 1/64 size instead of just 1/4. That allowed them to actually make the bloom fullscreen. But, to make it smooth, they did another thing: as they upscaled their blurred texture, they were adding the intermediate downscale result into it AND performed the two blur passes after each addition. To make it clear, this is how they did it step-by-step:
1. Downscale your scene picture step-by-step to 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32 and 1/64 of it’s original size (that is down to originalWidth/64, originaHeight/64).2. Blur the 1/64 image.3. Add the result into the 1/32 image.4. Blur the resulting 1/32 image.5. Continue the steps 3 and 4 until you reach 1/2 image, the latter should also be blurred.6. Copy the results into the final image.7. Profit :).

Downscale first

Afterwards, blur the textures and then, consecutively add them up, upscale and blur again

However, when I actually started implementing this, the first results were aweful as the bloom formed huge ugly suqares :). I quickly realized that the problem was in the type of images I used to capture bloom. You simply cannot use ordinary 8-bit per channel textures here as their precision is not enough, because of the precision loss, some colors are lost and you get squares. Even 10 bits were not enough, only switching to 16-bit precision textures allowed me to solve the problem.Then there was another issue – the flickering. The bloom flickered as the camera moved. To solve this I started filtering the data at every downscaling and upscaling step. That means I started manually reading four values from the bigger texture before averaging them and writing into the smaller one. I am coding on XNA 4.0, which does not support 64-bit texture filtering and because of that I cannot use hardware texture filtering, so I had to write the code myself and suffer a slight performance loss. But as I did that final step, I was finally able to achieve the most awesome bloom in the universe:

HQ fullscreen bloom in Zombie Hunter inc

So right now Zombie Hunter inc enjoys superbadass bloom which our artists are happy to utilize with endless creativity!

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Post comment Comments  (0 - 10 of 16)
Snowcover Sep 21 2014, 6:29am says:

Okay. I didn't even try out the game yet.
But sir, you have a huge fan over here.
Anyone who uses Hourvari's music in his project is a dear friend of mine.
That was unexpected.

+1 vote     reply to comment
cubr Creator
cubr Oct 19 2014, 4:57am replied:

Well and we are all huge fans of Hourvari! Their music is amazing and it is a great honor to be able to use it in our game!

+1 vote   reply to comment
Cal_Shoot Apr 11 2014, 2:59am says:

Sorry if im annoying you guys but is there any way to get cheats? I'm always stuck on wave 3 with the stupid dogs running..

+1 vote     reply to comment
cubr Creator
cubr Apr 12 2014, 8:19am replied:

Feel free to annoy us anytime Cal_Shoot! We love to talk with our players!

We don't have cheats at the moment, sorry. We simply did not have the time to implement them :). You should try using C4 though. Just plant a bomb close to the left border, before the wave comes out and blow it up when they approach it. That should kill 80% of them and you will quickly dispatch of the rest.

You could also use grenades to achieve the similar effect, but you need to learn how to toss them accurately :). Machete is also a good solution as well, as it kills packs of dogs with one skystrike (I hope you know that you can use it in midair to perform the skystrike :)).

Finally the SPAS shotgun for $4000 is your ultimate solution, if you can gather $4000 before the dogs come out.

+1 vote   reply to comment
VokCell Apr 10 2014, 9:21pm says:

One concern I have with games like this is they tend to become quite monotonous after a while. They typically only consist of running, gunning, and unlocking better weapons. (Which only leads to more running and gunning.) I'm not saying this is going to be your game (because it's only in alpha and I haven't played it for that long), but I'm just trying to suggest adding some amount of depth.
Skills can go a long way. For example, leveling up a character with stats or choosing some kind of bonus at the start of the game can really change things up. Enemies could also be implemented in a special way. For instance, certain guns may be more powerful against certain enemies or enemies could behave in a way that forces the player to strategize.
Again, these are all just suggestions from a fellow game developer. I would just hate to see a game that looks so visually appealing turn into another shallow zombie killing clone.

+1 vote     reply to comment
cubr Creator
cubr Apr 12 2014, 8:11am replied:

Thanks for the complement! We are indeed working very hard to make the game look nice :).

I am afraid you might have missed a few things on your playthrough :). We indeed have weapons that are better against certain zombies and weak against others. Moreover, the main depth of the survival mode comes from planning your gun purchases and various tactics you will use to finish various waves and bosses.

But, as you rightly mentioned, this only alpha, and what you have in front of you right now, is a mere tech demo with a gameplay in it. We are now working on the campaign mode, which will have most of the features you suggested. Stay tuned, the next update comes this summer!

+1 vote   reply to comment
HackCHECKer Mar 6 2014, 2:14pm says:

More maps and content needed,but with friends this can be a reeeeally funny game!

+1 vote     reply to comment
cubr Creator
cubr Mar 6 2014, 4:37pm replied:

Be sure we are now on to doing just that, HackCHECKer :)

+1 vote   reply to comment
cubr Creator
cubr Jan 1 2014, 12:03pm says:

Thanks, Killer, we deliberately chose the orthogonal view as it was crucial to the game mechanics.

+1 vote   reply to comment
Killer12280 Jan 1 2014, 7:38am says:

This game looks very interesting but the one thing I like is that the game reminds me of some of the old 2D/3D games that have a similar sort of render to the players and zombies

+1 vote     reply to comment
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Zombie Hunter inc
Maya Gameworks
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Released Dec 14, 2014
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