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Thread: FAQ: How does zombie spawning work?

  1. #1
    Community Moderator Crater Creator's Avatar
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    FAQ: How does zombie spawning work?

    How does zombie spawning work? I think this is 7 Days to Die's most frequent gameplay question. Unfortunately, it's also the subject of the most misinformation. Many falsehoods, stemming from misunderstood mechanics, memories of old versions of the game, and confusion with how other games work, have been repeated so often that they're regarded as truth, even among veteran players.

    So I made this chart to summarize the findings of some like-minded users who seek definitive answers. Our original discussions are below. I think it's worth moving here as a permanent sticky. This endeavors to be the most complete and correct detailing of zombie spawning there is.

    If you think we got something wrong, please speak up! And likewise, if you think something's missing - if you've heard of other conditions that do or don't prevent spawning - please share them, and we can (hopefully objectively) determine if they're correct.

    Can zombies spawn there?
    Spawn location \ Spawn Type Biome Sleepers Screamer Dynamic (e.g. horde night)
    Close to any old bedroll Yes Yes Yes Yes
    In areas lit by torches or other lights Yes Yes Yes Yes
    Close to a land claim block Yes Yes Yes Yes
    On top of player-placed blocks Yes Yes Yes Yes
    Inside a Point of Interest Probably Yes, exclusively! Yes Yes
    Where the player's been recently Probably Yes Yes Yes
    Where a player-placed block used to be Yes No, until game restarts Yes Yes
    Where all zombies were cleared out recently Unknown No Yes Yes
    Close to the last placed bedroll (per person, while logged in) No No Unknown Yes
    Close to the player No, barring bugs Yes No No
    Underground, outside a POI Not in practice No Not in practice Not in practice
    Inside of a player-placed block No No No No
    On tilled/fertilized/radiated land* No No No No

    *Source: As of Alpha 16.4, these blocks have "CanMobsSpawnOn" set to false.
    Last edited by Crater Creator; 08-29-2018 at 11:24 AM. Reason: clarifying bedrolls work only while logged in

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    Refugee Ghost314's Avatar
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    Question What are the full zombie spawn mechanics?

    I'm playing a single player game with default settings on the pre-built map. After getting myself killed a few times I moved to the farming area for free food and easy access to water. I secured a large house and double-secured the attic I like to hide in at night, and have had no issues with zombies spawning in my house. I am now wondering if I should even try to secure the farming area that I plan to re-purpose for growing my own crops.

    TLDR: If I wall off a large outdoor area for growing crops, how can I ensure zombies will not spawn within the secured perimeter?

    Most of the info I've read on zombie spawn mechanics was written in 2014/2015 and I wouldn't be surprised if it's changed. I've also read some conflicting information:

    • Some say zombies can't spawn on player-placed blocks
    • Some say it's the type of block that matters, not whether or not the player placed it (ex: they can't spawn on roof tiles)
    • Some say you can place sleeping bags everywhere to block out an area
    • Some say only the last placed sleeping bag will block zombie spawns
    • Some say the zombies can't spawn in areas with artificial lighting (like minecraft)

    Does anyone know which of the above are actually true, or what the current rules are? I'm also curious if the land claim block prevents zombies from spawning in the protected area (it seems to me like it probably should). I also checked the spawning.xml file in the game's config directory and noticed a rather interestingly named property on all of the <entityspawner> entries:
    Code:
    <property name="DaysToRespawnIfPlayerLeft" value="5" /> <!-- in game days -->
    Does this mean that zombies will not spawn in a chunk, unless I leave it completely unattended for 5 in-game days in a row?

  3. #3
    Tracker random person's Avatar
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    Zombies can't spawn on player placed blocks or on range of the last placed bedroll

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    Refugee Ghost314's Avatar
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    I now know enough to expand a little on the previous answer. I relocated my bedroll and all my storage and crafting stations from the attic to an underground hideout deep beneath the basement of the house I occupied, for fear the zombies might destroy enough walls to bring down the attic. Ever since I made that migration, I've been getting occasional zombie spawns inside the house.

    I have seen them in areas that were completely closed off from the outside world (all walls/floor/ceiling and doors were intact), so the only way they could have been there is if they spawned there to begin with. I placed torches around the house to light everything up, but it doesn't seem to have any effect.

    I also caught one in the main room of the house that I pass through at least twice daily (once in the morning as I leave, and again at night when I come back in to take shelter). So it looks like the frequency with which you pass through an area also has no impact (the xml property I found is probably more along the lines of "if it's been X days since player killed sleepers, and they aren't nearby, respawn).

    While all of the above was going on, I had a land claim block placed near the center of the house, and can confirm that it's influence covered the entire building, and a short distance outside the building as well (I can see the green border when I place stuff). So the land claim block also does not prevent zombie spawns (this seems like an oversight, the entire purpose of that block is to flag an area as my 'base').

    In summary:

    • Artificial lighting does not stop zombie spawns
    • Frequently passing through an area does not stop zombie spawns
    • The land claim block does not stop zombie spawns

    My tree farm has been providing me loads of wood for a while now, so I'll probably try testing the player-placed block idea, as it should be fairly simple for me to throw wood down everywhere.

  5. #5
    Colony Founder StompyNZ's Avatar
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    the block type and the property<property name="CanMobsSpawnOn" value="true"/> is the only check that matters

    it being player placed or not has zero relevance

    There are 4 types of spawn

    Sleepers - only found in PoI's and hard coded spawn points (sleeper blocks in the prefab). You can remove those spawn points by placing any block other than air in that spot. They are triggered when you enter the sleeper volume they are assigned to. Active sleeping bag will suppress these
    Biome - These are spawned over a 5x5 chunk area (80x80 blocks). The chunkareamaster (i.e. 0,0 of thed 5x5 grid) determines what the biome is for those spawns, the quantity/days etc are set in the spawning.xml. Active sleeping bag will suppress these
    Screamer - aka Heat spawns - these are summoned from the scout group at sent to a location
    Dynamic Horde - screamer summons, 7day hordes, wandering hordes - these ignore such things as sleeping bags.

  6. #6
    Refugee Ghost314's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StompyNZ View Post
    the block type and the property<property name="CanMobsSpawnOn" value="true"/> is the only check that matters

    it being player placed or not has zero relevance

    There are 4 types of spawn

    Sleepers - only found in PoI's and hard coded spawn points (sleeper blocks in the prefab). You can remove those spawn points by placing any block other than air in that spot. They are triggered when you enter the sleeper volume they are assigned to. Active sleeping bag will suppress these
    Biome - These are spawned over a 5x5 chunk area (80x80 blocks). The chunkareamaster (i.e. 0,0 of thed 5x5 grid) determines what the biome is for those spawns, the quantity/days etc are set in the spawning.xml. Active sleeping bag will suppress these
    Screamer - aka Heat spawns - these are summoned from the scout group at sent to a location
    Dynamic Horde - screamer summons, 7day hordes, wandering hordes - these ignore such things as sleeping bags.
    Interesting, it would have taken a while to replace every block in the prefab I'm in, so as a simple test, I placed 1/2 height wooden frames over every floor, and have yet to see any sleepers spawn (though I was planning to give it a few more days just to be sure).

    If I understand what you're saying correctly, then the reason placing those blocks stops sleepers from spawning is not because they were player placed, but because they obstruct the coordinates where the sleepers are supposed to be, and they can't spawn in the middle of a wood frame?

    I did some research on prefabs, and found prefabs.xml that seems to list every prefab in navezgane, along with the coordinates where they spawn, so by looking at my position on the map, I can find the name of the prefab, and open a corresponding xml file to gain a bunch of info on the prefab. I am not sure however, if it's possible to figure out the sleeper spawn information from the prefab xml file.

    After taking a look at blocks.xml I can see a bunch of defined blocks that look like they are dedicated to spawning sleepers. So to figure out what the problem areas are that I need to cover, I probably need to parse the binary prefab tts file, and see what blocks are referencing the sleeper blocks in blocks.xml, which is a little more work than I'm willing to put in.

    At this point I'm thinking of either building a new base from scratch in a totally empty area, or shifting every floor in the house up by 1 block, which should block all the sleeper spawn tiles.

    As for the outdoor spawns, I noticed a lot of blocks in blocks.xml that do not define the "CanMobsSpawnOn" property at all, is the default value in that case true or false?

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    Community Moderator SylenThunder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ghost314 View Post
    ...
    As for the outdoor spawns, I noticed a lot of blocks in blocks.xml that do not define the "CanMobsSpawnOn" property at all, is the default value in that case true or false?
    Default value is "true".

    With the way the POI spawn work now, even moving each floor up a block or two isn't likely to prevent them from appearing. If you want to prevent them from spawning in your base, keep it small and don't build on a POI.


    @Stompy, I thought they got rid of the "sleeper block" when they switched to the new spawn system.


    Also, the whole player placed block preventing spawns idea is false. In testing this I started a huge castle build. The walls were on octagon. Each wall was 33.5 blocks long. That's a pretty huge area right? Entire bottom layer was flagstone. Player-placed. Was not in a POI location, and was literally in the middle of nowhere. I found a large enough desert island in a large lake at the edge of a huge desert biome.

    I put the floor in before doing anything else, then started on the walls. Constantly during the build process, zeds would spawn within the area.

  8. #8
    Colony Founder StompyNZ's Avatar
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    yeah the sleeper blocks you saw in the blocks file are what we use when building prefabs to set the spawn points. (they are stored in the prefab.tts file)

    There are usually more spawn points than max sleepers that spawn when the volume is triggered.

    If you had the game as a private dedi you could make use of my api mod to see the details on sleeper volumes and the spawn points etc, and also nuke the sleeper volumes in each chunk.

  9. #9
    Refugee Ghost314's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SylenThunder View Post
    @Stompy, I thought they got rid of the "sleeper block" when they switched to the new spawn system.
    Where exactly did you find out about the 'new spawn system'? It sounds like the type of info I'm looking for.

    Quote Originally Posted by StompyNZ View Post
    yeah the sleeper blocks you saw in the blocks file are what we use when building prefabs to set the spawn points. (they are stored in the prefab.tts file)
    I had a feeling that was the case

    Quote Originally Posted by SylenThunder View Post
    If you want to prevent them from spawning in your base, keep it small...
    I can't picture myself taking that advice, I mean, what kind of a survival crafting game doesn't let you build a massive fortress? If nothing else works, I'll probably resort to multi-layered defenses and section off different parts of the base. Then throw in some random traps, on the assumption that zombies will either break through the outer walls at some point, or spawn on the inside. At the very least I won't have to worry about something sneaking up on me after I clear the room I'm in.

    One other thing I've heard about zombie spawns that I should probably verify. Is it true that they can't spawn underground, in player-dug tunnels? I've heard there are some prefab caves they can spawn in, but that's a prefab.

  10. #10
    Guppycurian Forum Whore Guppycur's Avatar
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    That was sleeper system 1.0, something they've repeatedly said they will revisit; so sylen's advice is current and accurate, but I doubt it'll be by beta.

  11. #11
    Community Moderator Crater Creator's Avatar
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    This is such a frequently asked question. Here's a chart based on our shared knowledge in this thread. If I can get people to verify the information is correct, and add any other myths they've heard about zombie spawning, I can make this a sticky either here or in general discussion.

    [see top post]
    Last edited by Crater Creator; 04-13-2018 at 08:58 AM. Reason: chart moved to top post for easy reference

  12. #12
    Refugee Ghost314's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crater Creator View Post
    This is such a frequently asked question. Here's a chart based on our shared knowledge in this thread. If I can get people to verify the information is correct, and add any other myths they've heard about zombie spawning, I can make this a sticky either here or in general discussion.
    When it's finished you should put something on the wiki as well, that was the very first place I looked for this info, but the wiki doesn't even have a page on spawning.

    It's been a pretty long time now since I tried putting wood blocks on top of all of the floors of the house, and I decided to go ahead and move everything up one block. At this point I feel pretty comfortable saying that this strategy currently works to block sleeper spawns. I can't say too much about the rest though.

  13. #13
    Zombie Hunter Kam R.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StompyNZ View Post
    (...)

    Sleepers - only found in PoI's and hard coded spawn points (sleeper blocks in the prefab). You can remove those spawn points by placing any block other than air in that spot. (...)
    That removal is permanent? As in, I'd put wood frames in every air block of the prefab and when picking them back up sleepers will never spawn there again?

  14. #14
    Refugee Ghost314's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kam R. View Post
    That removal is permanent? As in, I'd put wood frames in every air block of the prefab and when picking them back up sleepers will never spawn there again?
    I wanted to test some other stuff anyway, so I decided to start a testing game with debug tools and whatnot. I started by clearing out all the sleepers in a POI and closed off all entryways, using God mode to get in and out myself. I then moved to another chunk and moved time forwards by about 5 days. That caused all the sleepers in the POI to respawn, and I wiped them out again, and put wood frames everywhere.

    After moving to another chunk and moving time forward 5 days again, I verified no new sleepers were spawning in. I then picked up all wood frames and repeated the test. Once again no new sleepers were spawning in, so I moved forward a few more days just to be sure, with the same results.

    So it looks like you are right, and I didn't need to go as far as moving everything in the POI up by one block . I suppose it's good to know that I can remodel my base without worry though.

  15. #15
    Community Moderator Crater Creator's Avatar
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    That doesn't make a lot of sense, though. The reason you can cut off the sleeper spawn, one would assume, is because the game tries to spawn a zombie but it can only spawn zombies 'inside' an air block. There's no reason for the game to remember where blocks have been placed in the past - it'd be a waste of memory.

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