Talk of the Ninja: Morbus

I have a few friends that I’ve been playing Garry’s Mod with for awhile.

Garry’s Mod is an interesting beast — it’s a creativity tool used to create countless game modes that can be downloaded and played through the one program — but most game modes are either vapid or extremely confusing and unintuitive, and in both cases you can always feel the Garry’s Mod limitations straining them. There’s a survival horror mode, but it mostly relies on jump scares and you’re ultimately just running around in a custom Source map with “spooky” particle effects and models. There’s a parkour mode, but it feels like you’re exploiting a wall-jump glitch, rather than moving fluidly and naturally along obstacles like in Mirror’s Edge.

The types of modes we tended to latch onto most were the ones that followed the “Mafia” style of social play: you’re in a group, and one of you is the “bad guy,” and you have to figure out who it is. Unless you’re the bad guy, in which case you need to kill everyone else while maintaining your disguise as a not-bad guy.

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The two modes we switched between for the longest time were Trouble in Terrorist Town, and Murder. In Murder the killer has a knife and one of the innocents is randomly given a gun. This way it’s up to the gunner to track down the killer. In TTT everyone can pick up guns, making a tense sort of “I don’t know if I can trust this guy or if I should kill him” gameplay.

Both are decent, but the main problem with both is that if you’re not the killer, there’s no reason not to huddle up with others and just wait for the killer to run out of time. If the killer has to jump into the group of people to win, everyone else can jump away from and/or attack the killer and it’ll be fine.

But just recently we discovered a new mode called Morbus. And Morbus fixes almost every issue we’ve had up to now.

I interrupt this blog post to give breaking news: One of my gaming buddies runs a little Youtube gaming channel, and I’m on it now! Here’s a new episode that features us playing Morbus!

I’m actually in a few other episodes on that show too. Man, I’ve just been waiting for a chance to share it.

In Morbus everyone can pick up a gun like in TTT. The twist is that one of you is an alien. The alien has a human form that functions like other human players, but can also transform into an alien form, which deals more damage but cannot use guns. And when the alien kills someone, that person becomes an alien. And when you die from something other than being stabbed by an alien, well you don’t have to sit around for the rest of the round! Instead you become a different type of alien that functions more like a zombie in Left 4 Dead — you only have an alien form, and you’re pretty damn flimsy.

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And the other big twist is that Morbus involves Sims-esque “needs” — if you’re human you’ll occasionally need to sleep, or eat, or piss, or shower. A ping marker will appear on your map showing you where you need to go. This prevents people from turtling together or hiding in corners of the map. It forces groups to split up. And on top of all that, when you’re fulfilling a need you’re vulnerable for about 8 seconds, during which time an alien can tear you limb from limb.

This turns the TTT gameplay from a mild diversion into a very tense survival game, where often times the biggest threat is not even the alien itself, but the paranoia that comes from distrusting everyone around you.

The only major flaw, aside from a few technical issues (like the iron sights being completely broken and useless) is the fact that when you fulfill a need your character makes a noise. This means that if you hear someone make a shower noise, or a pants-unzipping noise or whatever, that person is definitely undoubtedly human. This removes a lot of the tension. And in theory you don’t want to prove to people you’re not an alien by doing those things because then if they’re an alien they can kill you, but in practice, you could easily stumble into someone fulfilling a need and know they’re safe, and then prove to them you’re fine by fulfilling your own need, and then you both can trust each other. That’s an issue. Those audio cues should not exist.

That’s not enough to ruin the game, though. The four of us are having fun with Morbus, and we think it would be much better with more people. That way these big maps would be less vacant, more tension and unrest can occur with more people, and we’d switch from a Teamspeak server where everyone can hear everyone to the in-game voice that that uses locational sound and only those near you can hear you scream. That’s why I’m going to be organizing a Ninja Blues Morbus session, next Tuesday (Sept. 9)! Here’s what you need:

I’m not sure on an exact time, but it’ll be happening Tuesday evening (like around 6PM-10PM Central time) and if I come up with more details I’ll post about it here beforehand. My buddies from the show will be there. It’d be cool if you could too.

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