The attraction of the zombie apocalypse is the breakdown of society, and getting yourself in a situation where you’re entirely self sufficient. Where it’s just you, your wits and the slowly decomposing remnants of your last meal between you and shambling death. You've got your contingency in place, kept underneath your pillow at night, and in your jacket pocket during the day. Grab the supplies and get out of dodge. Survive.
Grow your own food, hunt for it, turn yourself into a grizzled McGuyver figure who can turn nothing but a few nails and a bit of wood into the Zombie Slayer 5000. You know the type. Luckily, Project Zomboid’s community is one step ahead of you. Several steps, actually. They’re pace setters. Here are a trio of mods that are going to turn you from weeping baldy into the tanned survivor, eating the earth’s bounty and making everything into a weapon just by a bit of hard grit and an inventive mind.
RobertJohnson’s Farming Mod is getting very close to completion now, in its fourth iteration. It allows you to plow, seed and then harvest from the land, creating vegetables that are as succulent as they are healthy, so long as you pick them at the right time.
Download the mod from here, and copy both the Media and Mod files over into your Zomboid folder. It should work with both 0.5.0b and 0.2.0q, and then once you start a new game there should be a trowel and a few hundred seeds in your pockets. Click the trowel on your health icon and it will turn whichever land tile you’re standing on into tilled earth, ripe for seeding. To do that you just need to open them up like they’re a container, pop in a few seeds (twelve is recommended) and wait. Although preferably not right there, because, y’know, zombies.
At the moment the mod is still considered in ‘demo’, so it will only take around five in-game hours before the plants start to bloom, moving through a few phases before it’s ready to be plucked and consumed. This fourth version of the mod includes watering, too, which is going to mean you’re going to have to head out into town to pick up as many water bottles as you can get. And while you’re there, you might want to be on the lookout for bits of wood, cloth, nails, anything that could conceivably be used as a component in Xe[N]o’s Project Survival, a mod that aims to broaden the possibilities of the crafting within the game. Download the mod from the forum page, and then place RepairIcons.png, RepairIcons.tvt, Repair Sprites.png and Repairsprites.txt in media\texturepacks, RepairMod.txt in mods\scripts and Items.txt in media\scripts.
Once all that’s done, start up your game, grab a saw get crafting. You can shape some wood planks into bars, which can then be further refined with a screwdriver and hammer into a baseball bat. Throw in some nails and a strip of cloth and you’ve got a spiked baseball bat with a proper grip. Or saw the head off a fireaxe, chop a baseball bat in half, then reattach the axe head onto your chunk of wood and you’ve got a Tomahawk. The mod also requires you to have shotgun ammo in your hand while firing the shotgun, presumably so you can speed load into the chamber like you’re Max Payne. The mod itself is on hiatus until the new sprite system comes into force, but what’s there right now is more than enough to be getting on with.
The only problem with all this is that you can’t really farm all that well in the default map. There’s a park, but it’s overrun by zombies and has no cover anywhere near it. Besides, they’ll stomp all your vegetables. So instead why not take the bus over to Hastings, a map made by Triptych that models the rural American town with vast expanses of greenery, parking lots and half built developments. Very Romero.
To install, just copy both media and mods files out of the zipped file, merging them with your existing folders. Then copy the TMX file into your media directory and you’ll be all set.
Once in the game, why don’t you head on over and find yourself a little four bedroom with a large back garden. Then you can hopefully cultivate in peace without too many zombies bothering you. And even if they do, you’ve got a Tomahawk, so what’s the worry?
[Modding of the Damned is a new mod column written by Phill Cameron, a freelance journalist who has written for the likes of Eurogamer, Edge, Rock Paper Shotgun and PCGamesN, and who once thought he met a zombie, but then he realised he was just in Newcastle high street at 3am in the morning. You can find him on twitter here.]