Jeff Strain and Undead Labs are CLEARLY up to something fun with their new MMOZ for XBLA, code named Class3 (and apparently another code named Class4) so we had to get to the bottom of things and find out wtf was going on.
So I pumped Undead Labs producer Emily Diehl for details and was STOKED to find out that she’s a hardcore horror gal!
You got your zombie stomping weapon ready? Let’s do this!
Crix Lee: What will make this MMOZ different from games like Left 4 Dead, Dead Rising, etc.?
Emily Diehl: The big thing that’s going to make us different from these other games is our focus on survival. When you play Class3 and Class4, you’ll be able to live out every zombie lover’s biggest question — if you woke up tomorrow to a world overrun with the undead, what would you do? In our world you’ll start by finding a base and fortifying it against zombie attacks. Then you’ll do things like head out into infested areas to scavenge for useful goods, rescuing other survivors along the way. We’re planning on having plenty of zombie-killing goodness, but the game is about more than just running around and taking out as many of them as you can. We’re also taking a more serious approach to how we build our world. There are a lot of opportunities for humor when it comes to zombies (for example, you may see some of them still shambling around on their cell phones or may be able to use a grenade to bowl through a horde), but our focus is much more on horror and survival than on slapstick comedy.
CL: Why XBLA?
ED: We chose the Xbox platform primarily for Xbox LIVE, the largest online player community of all consoles. Since we’ll be releasing Class3 first, it’s really important for us to have a large base of players to get feedback from. Their opinions, likes, and dislikes will help guide our efforts as we move forward into building the full online world experience of Class4.
Microsoft is also really excited about our vision for bringing online worlds to consoles so they’re ready to support us fully and help us make our goal a reality. Having that relationship with your publisher is always a good thing!
CL: What’s the hardest part about creating a game from the ground up?
ED: From my perspective as a producer, the hardest part of creating a game is taking an initial design plan, figuring out a road map of everything that needs to be done to make that vision come to life, and then working with the team to get all of those pieces to fall into place in the right order. Depending on scope, building a game can take years; and that makes for a lot of pieces.
Maintaining communication during development is key. While building a game, you’re working on a team made up of highly skilled (and often highly specialized) individuals that need to come together to create a singular vision. While everyone has their primary areas of focus, no one can be off doing his or her own thing for extended periods of time, or the team and the project suffer. Making sure that everyone knows what’s going on and what needs to be done now, a month from now, or even six months from now is critically important.
You can start with an awesome idea, but figuring out exactly how you’re going to bring that concept to life can be a huge challenge, even for a veteran team. Creating a game requires a lot of dedication, devotion, and attention to detail and a strong production team to make sure everything comes together in the end.
CL: Who are your horror influences (in both gaming AND film)?
ED: Oh boy. This is a tough question for me to keep short — I’ve been watching horror movies since I was a toddler and have been completely obsessed with the genre my entire life. I could go on for hours about this stuff!
If I had to limit myself to a few examples, I’d say that George Romero is one of my biggest influences. Night of the Living Dead was the movie that kicked it all off for me (at the age of four) so his films have been directly responsible for where I am today. I’m also heavily influenced by over-the-top, gory Italian horror — Lucio Fulci (Zombi 2, The Beyond) is another one of my favorite directors. In addition to movies I’m a huge horror gamer so things like Left 4 Dead, Dead Space, Silent Hill, and (of course) Resident Evil really resonate with me. My personal taste is the more extreme, the better so I’m constantly in search of things that push boundaries.
I’m probably the most fanatical of our crew, but the rest of the team has a hearty appreciation for horror, too. Like me, I’d say that most people cut their teeth on Romero’s classic trilogy so Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead are heavy influences. We’re also all huge fans of modern movies like Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead, and Zach Snyder’s remake of Dawn of the Dead. When “The Walking Dead” was playing, a bunch of us would go to our favorite local pub to catch the episodes every week (and then we’d sit and debate the differences between the show and the graphic novels).
It’s also worth mentioning that while we love video games, many of us are also big board game geeks. Things like Last Night on Earth, Pandemic (which is extra awesome if you pretend that it’s a zombie pandemic while playing), and even Zombie Fluxx are influences for us.
If there’s something out there that’s zombie related, one of us probably knows about it, owns it, has talked about it, or would be interested in it. This goes for any medium, too. Movies, TV series, books, comics, games, art, shirts…they’re all awesome!
CL: Will the game have an official title, or will you stick with Class3?
ED: Class3 is definitely just a code name. We’ll announce the official names for both games at a later time.
CL: Do you have a tentative release date/MS price point for the game yet?
ED: It’s still too early for us to commit to any release dates right now. With that being said, we’re just as excited to play the game as you are so we’re developing on a really ambitious schedule to get it into your hands as soon as possible.
As far as pricing goes, that’s something we’ll have to work out with our publisher. There are many options we need to consider and discuss so we’re in the process of figuring that stuff out. When we have more information, we’ll be sure to let you know!
Look for more on Class3 soon! CAN’T WAIT!!! Braaaaaaaaaaains.
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