Monday, January 21, 2013

My First "Bad" Zombies, Run! Mission

This was my first run back to the regular missions in the first season of the “Zombies, Run!” smart phone game. I took a couple months off to ‘play’ the “Zombies, Run! 5k” game. I had come off a marathon season fraught with injuries. So while I was already a long distance runner, I thought it’d be a good idea to step back, start over, and re-build strength and speed by completing a 5k training cycle. Besides, I heard the 5k program was written to take place between Mission 1 and 2 of the regular mission game and had additional content to the regular story. Well I didn’t want to miss any content! :) 

So I took my time completing the 5k program and felt great! I definitely feel like I am stronger, faster and ready to resume the regular missions. And tonight was the first run. 

I choose mission 3 for my re-entry to the regular game as I wanted to run the earlier missions over as a reminder of all the details of the story. And the first thing that was a bummer, was that I confirmed that a ‘friend’ I made during the 5k training didn’t survive long after my last 5k run. I suspected that during my last run of the 5k program, and it was confirmed in mission 3. 

Shortly after that bit of bad news, I got chased by Zombs. During which, I had to stop and fix Kenai’s pack. We weren’t stopped for long, but I heard the zombies getting louder and louder as the started to overtake me during the game. 

I started running again as soon as I had Kenai’s pack situated and ran hard. I heard the narrator call “15 meters”, then “5 meters” as usual. Then the narrator said something I couldn’t quite hear because the sound of the Zombs were so loud! In fact, they were loud and sounded like they were in a feasting frenzy!

What was this? I know the app was updated a couple times while I was playing the 5k version. Was this new? Did I evade the Zombs? I didn’t hear the narrator say, “Zombies evaded.” as I was used to. 

Soon, we were in chase mode again. I had both dogs tethered to a belt at my waist. I noticed Heather was ahead of me but Kenai was dragging behind. Neither of my dogs drag. Ever. So I turned around to check on Kenai. She wasn’t limping or looked distressed. But she was running so slow she was actually a drag on me. 

Meanwhile, I hear the zombs getting louder and louder in my headphones. So I call to the dogs, “Come on!” and ran. Again I heard the narrator say something about zombies but I didn’t hear “Evaded”. 

I pulled off to the side to check on Kenai. She’s never drags behind like that and I wanted to check her feet and pack to make sure nothing was amiss. Everything was fine. I usually put two pounds of weight in her pack to even things out between her and Heather. Maybe she was just too tired tonight for the weight? 

Before I took the weights out, I looked at my phone. The app builds a run log during your run. So you can look back and see what was going on, (what songs have played and what bit of story was told.) Well, it also logs zombie chases. On both chases, it showed I had to dump supplies to distract the zombies. (If you don’t run fast enough you have to dump supplies to distract them so you can get away.) I had never had to dump supplies before. So that made me mad. But not only that, on my phone, was the notice “Zombies Caught You”. 

What? What!?

When I had played the regular mission games before that had NEVER happened and I felt like I was running better tonight than ever. I was NOT happy. I figured something must be wrong or they updated the app to be more challenging. 

At any rate, I still had to finish my run. So I took the weights out of Kenai’s pack and carried them for her. That meant I ran with a one pound weight in each hand. Yeah, that’ll make me slower for the next zombie chase. Great. 

There were two more chases. Both of which I was able to evade the zombies. It just didn’t make sense. 

When I got home, I checked the settings on both my phone and my profile on the Zombies, Run! website. I figured there must be a place where you can set your chase pace or something or find out that my GPS was intermittent and that’s why it thought I wasn’t faster than the zombs. 

But no. There was no place to adjust chase paces and according to the run map, my GPS had been working just fine the whole run. 

I turned my attention to the chase graphs on my zombies profile. For each zombie chase there is a graph that shows a flat red line representing the speed at which the zombies chase you and a blue line that shows Runner 5’s pace. That line is usually not flat. 

In the first chase, I saw my blue line was lower than the zombie’s red line for the first 20 seconds of the chase. That corresponds to when I was fixing Kenai’s pack. But I was well above the zombies’ pace for the rest of the chase. So it didn’t make sense they would ‘catch’ me. 

I checked the other three chase graphs and my blue line showed a faster pace than the zombs the whole time. So why did one of them show I was caught? I have no idea. Is there something wrong with the app? I don’t think they did this by design. And I couldn’t find any information on the site about what’s the criteria for evading zombies. 

So I trolled the internet for answers. I found a great post from Mur Lafferty of Escapist Magazine that indicated you must increase your speed by roughly 10% for about a minute to evade the zombs. This made sense. 

I don’t really have more than one speed I run at. Unless you count “Slow” and “Slightly less slow” as two different speeds. So while three of the four chases showed that I was above the zombies’ speed, I may not have sped up more than 10% and that’s why I was caught. 

Good thing the zombies don’t eat you when they catch you. Rather, they take all the supplies you gathered and you arrive back at base empty handed. Not good! 

Which is the other thing that surprised me this time out. When I got back, I visited my base online to allocate the supplies I gathered. But there were no supplies to allocate. I thought the site didn’t sync with my app like it does automatically when I end a mission. So I did a manual sync. Still no supplies showed. I figure the site was having issues. 

Nope, when the zombies get you, they take ALL your supplies. Even the ones you pick up AFTER you’re chased. Damn zombies!

So, there are a few changes in the regular game since I’ve been gone. Much more challenging. But I like a challenge. Now that I know the deal, those zombies had better watch out! I’ll be back, and I’m bringing my cricket bat with me!

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