From Humans vs. Zombies Wiki
Main page: Choosing Moderators
The people in charge of organizing and executing Humans vs. Zombies are called moderators, or "mods." The moderators are the backbone of HvZ. They plan every moment of gameplay, protect their players, and set the tone for the game. There is an enormous amount of work that the moderators will collaborate on, including settling any disputes once the game has begun.
One of the most important decisions you will make is who to choose as your moderating team. Running a game of Humans vs. Zombies is an enormous amount of work, and it's not advisable to try to do it alone. You'll want to assemble a team to work with. This way you can divide the work and responsibility between several people and can also assign tasks to people whose strengths correspond to them. The goal is to not overload anyone while allowing everybody to do as much work as they are willing to do. By spreading the work around, you can both avoid burnout and have more non-player characters to draw from.
When choosing a team of moderators to work with, look for people with a variety of skills who are willing to work together to cover each other's weaknesses and improve on each other's ideas. Ideal candidates are responsible, trustworthy, dedicated, team workers, and committed to making the game fun. The number of mods you need may vary from school to school, but be sure you have enough to cover the wide range of responsibilities moderators have before and during the game. These responsibilities include keeping the school administration informed about the game, working with HvZ software, advertising the game, planning missions, developing and learning the ruleset, settling disputes, and planning missions.
Getting Permission to Play
Main page: Getting Permission
Before you play Humans vs. Zombies, it's important that your local authorities know you're playing. Moderators are strongly advised to get permission from local officials or school administrators to play. This is a critically important step that sometimes gets skipped with disastrous results. Unauthorized games of Humans vs. Zombies have led to bomb scares, lockdowns, and players being arrested for carrying around a foam dart blaster.
"HvZ never took place, as campus security turned around and told us we hadn't given them enough notice for the event." - Daniel Dean of Reading University in Berkshire, England
All of these situations could have been prevented if the moderators took the time to notify their local authorities. This is especially important for games that take place at colleges, universities, high schools, or middle schools. At a school, your first step should be to meet with your Dean of Students (or someone similar) and tell them that you're planning on starting a game. They will help you sort things out with campus security, and give you cover if anything goes wrong.
The people you meet with will probably have questions and concerns about the game. Be prepared to make your case professionally and present the game in a positive light. Be cognizant of special problems posed by the area or community where you'll be playing and propose adjustments to the rules to help prevent those problems. Having players sign safety waivers and other paperwork is another good concession to make to concerned authorities, especially since it's something you'll probably want to do anyway to protect yourselves.
Some mods have had success becoming an official HvZ club. This gives them access to funding from their school, and the advertising resources of their student government. We generally recommend opting out of any official school organization unless it's absolutely necessary. In some cases, it winds up being a big waste of your time, or even costs you money that you might otherwise spend on the game. In other cases, becoming "official" simply gives more people the ability to mess with (or shut down) your game.
Your school may have a dart blaster ban. You can challenge this ban, although that may take a lot of time and energy. Many schools simply play their first game with socks, and fight to play with dart blasters once HvZ is more established. In some unfortunate cases, the game itself is challenged or banned. Go here for information about dealing with a game challenge or ban.
Scheduling Your Game
Before your game, you and your fellow moderators should have a detailed calendar that charts your game from beginning to end. Decide when you will start your game and how long you want it to last. Make sure to leave enough time for advertising and mod meetings to allow you to get your game planned and organized. Then, starting a few days before your game begins, decide when you want to open and close registration for the game, and plan time to gather all your players in a meeting (or series of meetings) to explain the game and go over the rules. Since this is your first game, these meetings are especially important. Then, look at the span of the game and decide which days you will have major events, such as missions and plot events. Many games plan missions that increase in difficulty and intensity for three or four days, and then allow the things resolve. This lets the game simmer down and keeps your players from getting burned out. Remember to always leave them wanting more, not feeling like they had too much.
We suggest starting your game on a Wednesday and planning for five to seven days of game play. The first two days are often the most quiet, and the suspense will build until Friday night and the weekend, which is usually when the game explodes and gets very intense for both sides. By the time Monday rolls around, you want your game to be winding down, and your missions to be ending. This will give your players the most game time and create the fewest disruptions for your school or host location.
At a school, missions work best after classes and on weekends when everyone can participate. Remember that the overall goal of missions is to get the humans out of hiding so the zombies can eat them. Anticipate quiet times when the humans will try to hide and make a mission to keep the game exciting. We suggest having no planned missions for the first two days. This will give the Original Zombie (O.Z.) plenty of time to play mind games with the humans and strike quietly. It will also create an atmosphere of unbelievable tension - nothing is more terrifying to the humans than waiting for something to happen. As the game goes on, the easy targets will get tagged and only the most hardcore humans will survive. This will make things harder and harder for the zombies. Create increasingly intense missions for the humans to even the playing field for the zombies.
For Fall semester games, October 25 is National Zombie Day, which is intended as a good day to start the game. A six-day game that starts on National Zombie Day will end on Halloween. You'll want to consider whether or not you want the game to run over a weekend. While the ability to schedule missions and stuff at any time or even all day on a weekend is tempting, the weekend days typically don't provide the same compulsion (work and class) for people to get out and about and into the open. If you choose to run a game over a weekend, keep this in mind and design your missions accordingly. (Ketrow)
Things to consider when scheduling your game:
- Outside events like holidays, exam times, school events and other sensitive dates
- Allowing enough time for the mods to get permission and meet to plan and prepare a game
- Time for advertising and registration
- Dates for safety meetings
- How long you want the game to run and when it will begin and end
- The difference between weekends and class days in terms of gameplay
Game Hosting Software
If you have a large game of Humans vs. Zombies with dozens or hundred of players, it becomes very difficult to organize without special software. HvZ game hosting software helps keep track of the players in the game, and leaves fewer parts of the game up to the honor system.
HvZ game hosting software should have the following features:
- Ability for players to register, and enter contact information like their e-mail address
- Ability for players to learn who else is playing, so humans know who to avoid and zombies know who to tag
- Ability for zombies to enter a tag into the website
- Ability for a tag to feed more than one zombie
- Starvation timer for each zombie, telling them how long they have to live before starving
- Ability to adjust player profiles and starvation timers to fit game events and plot
- Some schools have added advanced features like in-game messaging, maps of tags on campus, photos of players, and forums. These features all add to the player experience.
To help organize your game, we recommend HvZ SOURCE, the HvZ game hosting site created by Gnarwhal Studios (that's us!). This software took us years to design and build, and we're very proud of it. We believe it's the best possible solution for organizing Humans vs. Zombies, and it is used by hundreds of thousands of players all around the world. Best of all, it's completely free.
To learn more and sign up, visit HvZSOURCE.com.
There are also several free, open-source HvZ game engines available on our website.
Advertising and Publicity
Main Page: Advertising and Publicity
When it's time for advertising, you finally get to go public with your game! Be sure to leave enough time before the game to advertise and generate publicity for your game. Make sure people on your campus are aware that the game will be going on, understand what Humans vs. Zombies is and and know how to register if they want to play.
Materials like posters, t-shirts, viral videos, and Facebook pages can all get the word out about your game. Word of mouth is one of the best methods of publicity, so get your friends talking and make yourself available to answer questions about the game, either by tabling, wearing a special t-shirt or bandanna, or otherwise being visible as an organizer of the game.
The goal of advertising is to get people to sign up for the game, so make sure registration is open when you begin advertising, and include information about how to register in all your advertising materials. When you table, have an open laptop where people can sign up right at your table.
When advertising and talking about the game, be sure to stay on message. Represent Humans vs. Zombies as safe, fun, community building, and a good alternative to more destructive ways students might find to entertain themselves. Avoid negatively charged words like "gun," "shoot," and "kill," opting instead for "dart blaster," "stun," and "tag." Act as an ambassador for Humans vs. Zombies and be professional and positive whenever you're discussing the game.
It's really important that before your game, you assemble all of your players in a meeting (or series of meetings) and explain the rules slowly and clearly. Holding mandatory safety meetings a few days before the game begins allows you to gather your players together in one place so you can explain the rules, answer questions, and make sure everyone is on the same page. Players will have questions, and want to meet each other before the game. This is a great opportunity for people to get more info before registering, and could be part of your registration drive.
It is also the time to get paperwork like safety waivers and liability releases signed and to approve any dart blasters that have been modified or might violate your school's ruleset for any reason, so ask players to bring their dart blasters to the meeting. Clearly communicate to players that attending a safety meeting and signing the paperwork is a requirement for participation in the game, and let everyone know where and when the meetings will be held.
If you plan to hold the safety meetings in a public space on campus, be sure to reserve that room far enough in advance. If you are going to include videos, PowerPoint slides or other media in your safety presentation, keep that in mind when choosing a location.
"A good intro meeting is one of the most important parts of running a smooth HvZ. We usually do a couple, one is an extended presentation for first-time players, with a Q&A session at the end. The second is just a general rules overview for people who have played before, going in-depth for only new rules or game changes. Doing this allows us to have the newbies get all their newbie type questions out without holding up more experienced players. The overall meeting is also a great time to kick off your plot for the game using videos, pictures, maybe even a skit." - Athens moderator Ben Weibel
This meeting is also a good time to set the tone of the game, and tell players how they are expected to behave.
"I don't care who survives the game. Whoever is alive on the website at the end - I don't care. The real winners are the people who complete the missions." - Cody Sumter, Truman State
"The moderators should make the winners the people who have the most fun." - Chris Weed, inventor of HvZ