Frequently Asked Questions

From PZwiki
Frequently Asked Questions
PlushSpiffo.pngThis article is about a general frequently asked questions. For frequently asked question about multiplayer, see multiplayer FAQ.
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This article may be in need of improvement.
Mac paths needs to be added and technical FAQ needs taking a look whether all questions are still relevant. Minor cleanups could still be welcome as well.
Editors are encouraged to add any missing information to the article, while verifying that the article's current content is correct.

Last updated 14 January 2024

Welcome to the ultimate FAQ for Project Zomboid.

On this page we have compiled as many FAQs as we could on every variety of topic for Project Zomboid. Hopefully your questions will get answered. If not, head over to the forums and see if they can give you a hand.

General Project Zomboid FAQ

What is Project Zomboid?

Project Zomboid is an open world zombie survival RPG set in a post-apocalyptic, obviously zombie-infested world where you are challenged to survive as long as you can until you inevitably die.

This is the story of your death, not how you overcame the apocalypse against all odds.

Who are The Indie Stone?

We are people. We also have faces and you can see them here.

Which platforms will be supported?

Project Zomboid will be available for Windows, Linux and Mac.

There are no plans for other platforms at this point in time, including mobile, although the game can be streamed to any device.

You've been in development and Early Access for a while. When will you release the game or consider it 1.0?

Some major features are yet to be implemented into the game, which are currently in full-time development each with dedicated full-time developer support. These are:

  • NPCs - A far reaching and in-depth NPC system with character relationships, personalities, and an emergent story engine that allows for diverse and emergent character based zombie survival story unique to every playthrough. This also includes the tutorial, a return of Kate and Bob "Baldspot" Smith who starred in the early alphas of the game.
  • Map completion - We still have an army base, more wilderness, and several small towns to implement to the game map.
  • UI rewrite - The UI isn't perfect by any stretch. We would like to get a more intuitive and ergonomic UI system implemented.
  • Stealth / Combat - New animations to allow for stealth mechanics (looking round corners, crouching behind walls, cover etc.) as well as a rewrite of the combat system to leverage new animations to make combat more involved, intuitive and fluid.

We tend to avoid ETAs generally because Early Access development in particular is often filled with unknowns and we want to ensure we get these highly anticipated features right.

In the meantime however we will continue to update the game and provide new features for our community to play with. One of our developers full time responsibility is providing frequent and new items, crafting recipes, skills and survival gameplay elements to fill out any holes in gameplay, and provide frequent feature rich game updates in line with community feedback, while the other developers focus on finishing these specific remaining major features.

What about after 1.0?

At this point, once we feel we have fulfilled every promise we gave when the Project Zomboid site first launched (except the last one, ahem, ignore that. Absolutely no one wanted that, it turned out), as well as the extra things detailed above, and the game is sufficiently polished and bug free, we will launch the game as 1.0 and leave Early Access.

What happens at this point depends entirely on whether the game is making money or not, but given the past solid performance of the game we see no reason why it shouldn't be. Several developers within the team will likely start exploring our second project at this point, however we have dedicated and passionate developers who were brought into the company via the Project Zomboid modding community, emotionally invested in the game, who are already a big part of the development and communicating with the community. As long as Project Zomboid is making enough to support their continued development of the game, and they are happy to continue working on it (which seems likely), we will continue making Project Zomboid indefinitely as long as there is interest.

That all said, we can't make any solid promises beyond the 1.0 mark, however there are countless things we would love to do that go way beyond 1.0 and sales make us confident that we'll get the opportunity to explore them. Truth be told, given that it was Zomboid that put the money in the bank in the first place, as long as our company is secure and we can fund any other project's development comfortably, it's very probable we'd be willing to put some money back into the game beyond the point it's sustaining itself if there are any features in particular we can't bear to leave out of the game.

Words are wind though, and all we can do is guess where we'll all be by then. We really want to keep this train going as long as we can though, as long as it continues to the benefit of the game. At which point the modders will hopefully take the mantle with almost unlimited access to the game's core.”

Do you guys need any help with music, artwork, translation or some other creative endeavour?

We're fine right now; we've got a full complement of developers and helpers, but feel free to send over whatever you'd like. The current job offers are listed on the Jobs page on the official website. If you'd like to help out then the best way would be through our modding community. The translations are hosted on GitHub, and there's also Discord channel to talk about the translations or modding. You can always help editing the official wiki, too!

How much does/will it cost?

The game is currently available for on Steam, GOG.com and Humble Store. Currently the non-discounted price on Steam is 16.75 GBP / 19.50 EUR / 19.99 USD and a bit lower on sales.

It will likely be £5, $8 more expensive once we hit 1.0. Due to our commitment to making sure early adopters get the cheapest price in appreciation of their early support PZ will never appear in sales that take it below the original but never lower than the original alpha price of £5/$8 until we are a long time post 1.0. This commitment also means that, until 1.0 and the price increase, we will never be willing to go beyond a 40% sale.

It can also be bought in a 4-pack on Steam.

What age rating is Project Zomboid?

We currently have no fixed age rating, but would underline that this is a mature game dealing with adult subjects. Parental discretion is certainly advised.

When I buy Project Zomboid, what benefits do I get?

Project Zomboid is a game that's still in development. When you purchase a license you gain access to every build we release, up to and including its completion.

Will there be a demo?

No. The demo has been removed permanently as it was from a time before Steam had the refund policy in place. The best option is to buy the game through Steam, try it for 2 hours or less, and refund if you wish.

How can I follow the game's progress?

You can follow us on X @theindiestone and check-in on our forums.

We also blog about our progress monthly, until the release of build 42.

I found a bug! Where can I report it?

The best place with the highest probability of it being noticed is our bug reports forums

So where can I download the current build?

The latest stable builds will auto-update on Steam and GOG.com (if you have that option selected).

If you'd like to test the buggier, but sometimes more current, beta-builds read how to access them here.

There are sometimes community tests other than IWBUMS, but these are announced separately when needed.

Please keep in mind, we're always looking for feedback about our "IWBUMS" beta branch.

Help! I'm having some sort of trouble with my PZ access!

First of all check out our Support section on the forum, if your answer doesn't lurk there then fire off a mail to accounts@projectzomboid.com, but be sure to include your receipt of purchase.

Help! I'm having some sort of trouble getting PZ working!

In 99% of cases our Support pages will be able to help you, but if the issue persists then post up in the Support section of the forum or Discord.

Is there multiplayer?

Yes! You can host, join, or set up a dedicated server, see the multiplayer page and multiplayer FAQ for more info!

Where are the achievements

We'll most likely add those down the line. Expect them at some point in the future.

I have a suggestion for a really cool feature that could go in PZ! Who should I contact?

Go to the Suggestions part of our forum, search to find out whether anyone else has ever dreamt it up – and, if not, then dazzle us with a post about your zombie survival know-how.

Can I monetize YouTube videos, "Let's Play" commentaries etc?

Yes! YouTube is the lifeblood of our game. Go crazy!

Post this up in the video description to be on the safe side.

Can I modify the game? Are there terms and conditions?

You're very welcome to modify PZ! We got terms and conditions covered here.

Can I install mods?

Yes! Please check the installing mods and mods pages for further information.

Is Project Zomboid on Steam?

Yes! We officially launched on Steam Early Access on the 8th of November 2013! If you bought the game on Desura or Google Checkout/Paypal, see this page.

The game has since been available on GOG.

Will you add Steam Workshop support?

Steam workshop has already been implemented with a thriving community!

Will you support Steam Big Picture mode?

We plan to do so! Controller support is currently in and we'll work on the UI to fit Big Picture mode. The game is also Verified for Steam Deck.

Will NPCs be friendly or hostile?

Neither and both. We don't want to make it that simple. NPCs may gain your trust and then back-stab you horribly. We're trying to make this as dynamic and most importantly non-predictable as possible. Crusader Kings 2 is a pretty inspiring game ;)

What is this “metagame”?

It's essentially what keeps the world around you on being interesting by “living”.

Think of it as an abstract level of simulation for NPCs and zombie population, from where they're plucked and made concrete when you enter the area. This abstracted simulation accesses various metadata about the world (rooms, building definitions and their locations) and is the underlying system coordinating the actions and events in the world that happen without you being in the immediate area.

You might want to think of it as a complex puppet theater where the puppets are playing behind the curtain. When you open it, the game looks at the state of the actors and spawns them into the world as concrete characters in their corresponding states.

They will still be driven by the puppet master (the metagame) so their (inter)actions and interests play out in the same way, but now with the curtains wide open for you to see them playing out.

Can I build my own fort? Can I also grow my own food?

Yes and yes! We also have plans for other methods of obtaining food, like hunting or improved farming in build 42.

I'm not sure what I'm doing in Project Zomboid. Is there a manual?

First off make sure you play our tutorial, which covers the basics. We also have a Survival Guide on this wiki.

Check out this wiki and our forums which will definitely help. You can also communicate on the official Project Zomboid discord.

What is Sandbox mode?

Sandbox mode lets you customize the lore to your fitting. You love the “28 Days Later”-kind of sprinting zombies or just want a harder challenge? There are too many/too few zombies and you want less/more? You want to set the speed of the ingame-time to real-time?

Sandbox mode lets you edit these settings and more to your liking. The zombie lore is completely customizable to the point, where you can edit the kind of transmission, the reanimation time after death as well as the infection mortality. You can also edit zombies' abilities to hear, see and smell as well as abilities such as memory and cognition.

How big is the map?

The game takes place in the partially fictional Knox Country KY, and includes recreations of Louisville, Muldraugh, March Ridge, and many more real and fictional locations. We're going for “huge” rather than big, so you'll have to actually prepare for longer trips. Also, our lovely modding community will be able to provide a lot of interesting (additional) maps!

A good overview of the map can be found on the official map project (thanks to the awesomemest blindcoder!)

Is the map procedurally generated?

No. We have a clear story in mind and have plans on where the story will take you. Random map generation does not work very well with generating cities or towns that are supposed to actually feel different. However, it does work well for creating natural terrain, so we might end up using random generation to provide an infinite map size beyond the borders of the hand-crafted map. This would require a fair amount of work, though, so it is fairly low on our priority list.

We're sure that some modders will take up the challenge at some point. :)

Can I play this with a controller?

Yes! You can play the game with any controller, including the Steam Deck.

Gameplay questions

Why do zombies notice and follow me wherever I am?

You are probably making too much noise while moving. If you're within close proximity to a zombie, crouch, or hold ctrl to go into sneak/combat mode which will result in the least amount of noise while moving. Once you're a safe distance away, you can probably safely walk as normal. You should never run unless you need to get out of a desperate situation quickly. Line of sight is also incredibly important. If you can see zombies through a window, then they can see you. This will most likely cause them to come a knockin' and won't stop until dealt with.

How do I break into houses without smashing windows?

Stand beside the window while facing it and press the e key. It may take some time, but the window often can be forced open. After the window is open, hold the e key to climb though. The window can be closed by facing it and pressing the e key again.

What is the loud alarm noise?

You have triggered a burglar alarm while entering a house or vehicle. It will attract zombies from far and wide. Run!

Are there other survivors in the game?

Not in single player, but NPCs will eventually be implemented.

What are the gunshot/helicopter sounds?

Until NPCs are implemented, these event sounds have been employed to facilitate the migration of zombie hordes, so beware.

Hey! That zombie was dead, but it got back up!

Just because a zombie is down on the ground doesn't mean it's dead. Technically it's already dead after all. Always make sure to approach a zombie and crush it's skull in, otherwise it's just going to get back up and come after you.

Is there a cure for zombification?

No, and there will never be a cure. Prevention is your only friend.

Development/future updates

What happened to NPCs?

These features were present in early demo versions of the game, but have been temporarily removed. We are aware that the delay has been huge but we're simply not implementing them until we are happy with them.

While frustrating, the delay is also a good thing for you. Every member of The Indie Stone is working on the game full time in order to provide you with content in the meantime.

We can't go 1.0 until NPCs are in. If that took a gazillion years that means a gazillion years of updates and support for PZ. If you think of all the many many great features that have been added into the game in the past couple of years since NPCs were removed. A lot of them would have made it in anyway, of course, but many of them may not have been.

Technical problems

Make sure that your OS is up to date. Some graphical glitches might be related to old or outdated video drivers. Make sure they are up to date, too.

Update your video drivers

Note: Some manufacturers (Alienware, Toshiba, Dell, HP etc.) release their own drivers. While convient, these are are not the same as implementations provided by AMD, Intel, and nVidia. Please grab your drivers directly from them
Note: Do not trust Windows or Steam with updating your drivers.

ATI/AMD

For downloading ATI/AMD drivers, head over to AMD Drivers and Support page.
Your Catalyst Control Center or AMD Software: Adrenalin Edition is also able to tell you if your driver is out of date and update it.

Nvidia

The drivers for your Nvidia GPU can be downloaded here: Official Drivers | NVIDIA.
Your Nvidia Control Panel should also able to tell you if your driver is out of date and update it.

Intel

To download the drivers for Intel graphics chipsets, head over to Download Intel Drivers and Software
You can also check the following link to let them look for updates automatically: Intel® Driver & Support Assistant

Note, some computers may require working around the manufacturer of that system or antiquated hardware to install a new, up-to-date driver. This is typically a generic driver if none of the above providers support your card. This is an advanced process and requires research on your part.

Disable the Steam overlay

Right click Project Zomboid in your game library and select "Properties..." On the first page (the "General" tab), unselect the option near the "Enable the Steam Overlay while in-game".

Run the 32-bit version (Windows/Linux)

Go to the installation directory of the game, on Steam this can be done by right clicking on Project Zomboid and selecting "Properties..." in the Steam game library then pressing "Installed Files" tab and clicking on "Browse..." button.

Find the ProjectZomboid32.bat (Windows) or ProjectZomboid32 (Linux) file (typically blue gears for an icon, not a red and black egg) and double click it.

If you've tried everything above, but the game will still not load, go to %username%\Zomboid (Windows) or $HOME/Zomboid/ (Linux) and delete its contents. Be sure to backup these files, as they contain your saves.

Submitting a support request

To effectively assist you, the more data you can provide the better: operating system name and version, CPU name and code, graphics processing unit name, in particular.

To get any error codes generated by the game, go to the installation directory of the game. On Steam you can do that by right clicking on Project Zomboid in your Steam library and selecting "Properties..." in the Steam game library then pressing "Installed Files" tab and clicking on "Browse..." button.

Find the ProjectZomboid32.bat (Windows) or ProjectZomboid32 (Linux) file (typically blue gears for an icon, not a red and black egg) and double click it. If the game crashes, take a screenshot of the console and upload in on a site like imgur.com and post it either on the Steam Discussions Hub or the support forum or in the #pz_techsupport channel on Discord. You can also take a look at the log files generated by game and attach them.

My FPS seems low

First, verify that your FPS is low by using an external program, such as Fraps, Steam overlay, or by pressing the F key (note: the in-game frame counter is only an approximation of FPS, but shouldn't be too far off).

If your FPS is legitimately low, in options

  • Set your resolution to the minimum supported
  • Lock the game to 30 FPS
  • Lower lighting quality to low or very low (note: very low may result in some unpleasant looking visuals)

My PC specs are good enough to have a stable 30 or 60 FPS but I am getting really low FPS!

Enabling small mode on Steam.

We have plans to improve the framerate dramatically in build 42, so performance might indeed vary from what you would expect.

In the meantime, please consider lowering all in-game settings to low (texture compression, low lighting, low lighting updates), disabling blood decals, disabling the 3D models, using 1x textures and/or playing the game in a lower resolution (1280x720, lower if necessary) to increase the framerate. Please also try locking the game to 30 (or 45/60) FPS. See options for more details.

If you are using Game Booster or an equivalent application, please turn it off, as testing has shown that it drastically reduced performance in many cases.

For Steam, you can disable the overlay and enable the small mode, see How To Turn On And Enable Small Mode on Steam PC - YouTube.

Game doesn't run, error message starts with "org.lwjgl.LWJGLException: Pixel format not accelerated"

This message indicates outdated video driver, please see Update your video drivers section above.

I just downloaded the game on Steam and the game simply crashed on launch!

Please reinstall the game. On Steam, you can right click the game, choose "Properties...", select "Installed Files" and click "Verify integrity of game files" which will verify and download the files as needed, or you can do right-click the game in your Steam library and select "Manage"→"Uninstall" – once that's done, download the game again.

If you've installed a mod prior to update, it may be necessary to manually delete the local contents - on Steam you can do that by right clicking on Project Zomboid in your Steam library and selecting "Properties..." in the Steam game library then pressing "Installed Files" tab and clicking on "Browse..." button. Delete everything within the Project Zomboid folder. In newer versions of the game, some mods install to %username%\zomboid\mods (Windows) or $HOME/Zomboid/mods (Linux). Delete its contents, as well.

Finally, if you haven't disabled the Steam overlay, see Disable the Steam overlay above.

On Linux, character sprites are replaced by single-color blocks.

Support for S3 texture compression (also known as DXTn or DXTC) is missing or disabled on your system. You may have a package available for your distro to remedy this. Try searching for keywords such as dxtn, s2tc, s3tc, or texture compression in your package management system. For some versions of Debian and Ubuntu the package name is libtxc-dxtn-s2tc0.

I see a dark flash, maybe some text, and nothing happens!

Most of the time (on Linux), this is the “The system cannot find the path specified” means your Java installation cannot be located.

Otherwise, on Windows, this can happen when you run the ProjectZomboid file as an adminstirator. This forces it to start in System32 instead of the game's installation directory. Please don't run the game as an administrator.

The game does not start and I get the following error in the cmd window: “org.lwjgl.LWJGLException: Failed to set display mode (-2)”!

Resolve this by deleting the content of the following directory: %username%\Zomboid\Options.ini (Windows) or $HOME/Zomboid/ (Linux).

If this error persists, it is due to the inability of the game to create a rendering context for the resolution selected. Open options.ini file and set the resolution to something else. Forcing the game to run in windowed mode (with the same file) may also help.

I made my resolution too high and now I can't access the options to change it (because the menu button is off screen)?

Delete your options.ini file in %username%\Zomboid\ (Windows) or $HOME/Zomboid/ (Linux) folder, or manually edit it and change the resolution to smaller.

I can't seem to change any of the zombie options in sandbox!

Be sure to uncheck "Proper Zombies" to enable customized zombies.

Where are my save files located?

Save files are located in %username%\Zomboid\Saves (Windows) or $HOME/Zomboid/Saves (Linux)

I'm having a hard time to orientate. Sometimes I end up in a large empty area. Is there a map available?

User Blindcoder has created a fully zoomable and panable map, which you can find here.

You can also use the in-game Map by pressing M, or by reading Maps found in the world.

I am having X problem using a controller and/or splitscreen multiplayer!

Controller and splitscreen multiplayer support is currently just experimental and will be revamped in the future.

My save doesn't seem to load and nothing in this FAQ helped alleviate the problem

Please follow the instructions in this thread

How do I use a controller with the game?

Ensure the controller is hooked to the computer prior to starting Project Zomboid. Ignore any prompts by the game after starting it. Start a new game / character without using your controller. Once the world loads and you can see your character, press ESC then go into Options. Scroll down until you see the Controllers section. Select your controller form this list, then press save.

No buttons appear in the start menu

Delete the contents of your Steam\Common\ProjectZomboid directory and the contents of %username%\Zomboid (Windows) or $HOME/Zomboid (Linux). (Note: the Saves directory contain your saves. Back it up if you value them.)

If the above doesn't alleviate your problem, check the console for any errors and report them on the forum.

The only thing that happens when I try to launch Project Zomboid is the command prompt appears, or a blank window

Please see above about getting console output from the game.

"Error: Cold not create the Java Virtual Machine" and "Error: A fatal exception has occured. Program will exit"

Most likely the game is unable to get enough RAM from the operating system to run the game. This is most often caused by a Minecraft install, as Minecraft uses the same launcher as ProjectZomboid.

This can be caused by incorrect environment variables interfering with the game, on Windows:

  1. In the Start menu, type Edit the System Environment Variables.
  2. See if you have a _JAVA_OPTIONS, JAVA_OPTS, or JAVA_HOME variable.
  3. If you do, delete it (though you might want to keep a note of whatever it says).

Or by having less than 1 GB of RAM available when launching PZ. For all other instances, please create a post in Support with your specs and any messages received.

A balloon appears in the Notification area with "... Display driver stopped responding and has recovered" while playing Project Zomboid

This is most commonly caused by drivers sourced from Windows Update rather than directly through the manufacturer of the graphics card. Get the most recent driver from Intel, AMD .etc Note: If an automatic driver checking-thing on a website is telling you that you have the newest version of the driver, be sure to verify this yourself.

I get to the menu, but the game crashes shortly after

Distable the Steam overlay: Right click on Project Zomboid in the Steam Library and select Properties. On the first page, you'll see the options to "Enable Steam Community In-Game." Deselect it.

After 'This is how you died,' the screen remains black, without the HUD

Most likely there's a problem with your saved game. See My save doesn't seem to load and nothing in this FAQ helped alleviate the problem above.

If this is on multiplayer, check the console output as mentioned earlier in this FAQ. Most likely. you'll have to disable map_meta.bin (prior to build 28) to get the save to work.

This can also happen if you are playing with a large amount of mods active, waiting a few minutes before clicking to start can work.

After 'This is how you died,' the screen remains black - but the HUD (inventory, time, .etc) appear

Disable zoom in options.

How do I get an error log if I'm on a Mac?

Follow Rathlord's video here

The UI is out of alignment and overlaps - it makes it difficult or impossible to do anything

It's possible you've recently changed the resolution without restarting the game. Though, in most cases, the game with adjust the UI to the resolution, sometimes this doesn't work - restarting the game can force it's update.

If restarting the game doesn't work, go to %username%\Zomboid (Windows) or $HOME/Zomboid (Linux) and delete the options.ini and layout.ini files.

How do I backup my saves?

Go to %username%\Zomboid (Windows) or $HOME/Zomboid (Linux) and copy Saves directory.

This is the only sure-fire method of backing up saved games and should be done any time you reach a critical stage in your game to prevent losing the file due to corruption.

I'm getting the following error: "AL lib: alc_cleanup: 1 device not closed". What do?

This isn't an error, but something the game does normally. If you are having problems, post the full error.log file contents, not just the last line.

Nothing helped?

If you haven't found the answer to your technical issue, you can check in on the following links for additional help: