Brain Waves
Brain Waves
Zombie Pandemic: Death By Rubber Chicken

surfzombie I don't play that many MMORPGs because I know myself: if I find one I like, I can kiss my free time goodbye until I've gotten my fill or the real world finds some other way to intrude again. I may have made a new mistake. I tried out Zombie Pandemic this past weekend with thoughts of doing an article or interview (or both), and wanted to get a feel for the game first. I got more than a feel; I got sucked in, so now I'll have to practice strict self-discipline so that my productivity doesn't vanish down a black hole.

A good MMORPG needs two things: a good game setup and a rich world to put it in, and Zombie Pandemic satisfies on both counts. Players travel over a large city overrun with zombies, meeting up with other players and non-player characters and going on missions to build experience and get better at defending themselves. What makes it rich is the detailed graphics of the places, humans, and zombies encountered, as well as the sheer variety of things you can run into. Almost everything you find can be used as a weapon (although some, like the rubber chicken, are admittedly not that effective).

The game is still in beta, so at this point players are restricted to being human, but don't worry, being killed doesn't put you out of the game. And for players just starting out, there are weaker enemies you can fight, like the zombie baby or the crippled male zombie. If you meet something harder to kill, the game gives you a decent chance to be able to run and fight another day.

I sent one of the creators, Thomas Bjørn Krogh-Jacobsen, several questions to find out more about the game, and below is what he came back with:

It looks like there's been a lot of thought put into the NPCs. How many different NPCs are there, including the enemies?
We currently have 220 unique NPCs ranging from zombies in suits to a few escaped animals and vicious raiders. However, by far most of them are zombies.

Are there any real life people that are the inspiration for any of the NPCs? Or named after any of the people involved in creating the game?
Yes, but we have a policy of not giving away the easter eggs :-) We do have several streets and places in the game world named after beta testers to credit their effort to the game.

Once the players can become zombies, is there going to be a similar number of human enemy NPCs for them to fight? Will players be able to fight each other?
The player vs. player game mechanics are still being discussed in the development team. We definitely want to facilitate a more hardcore gameplay, but enhancing the mechanics of the co-op against an AI controlled enemy is by far the top priority right now. That will include zombies being attracted to noise, spawning of certain zombies at certain places, and hordes roaming around the map.

Will the zombie players have similar game rules and options, or will they be different?
The basics will be the same, but beyond that they'll be limited and different from the human players. More info will be released once we are done with the avatar sy.

Is there any geographical location that the city is modeled after?
Yes...its loosely inspired by lower Manhattan, New York City, but in the end it's supposed to be a generic big city which could just as easily be any other major western city.

One of the initial missions I did hinted at a story arc, with the church of disgruntled people. Are there developing storylines for the players as they advance through the game?
There are several small storylines hidden away in the game which will add up to a major plot. However, only half of all mission locations and missions have been made available so far. The second half will make a big impact on the overall storyline.

What fraction of players are in a clan? Is there rivalry between clans? I've played games where a societal structure springs up organically within groups of players. Is that the case with the clans in this game, with dues, clan rules, etc?
The clan feature is a fairly new feature, so we don't have that much data on it yet, but going forward we will have several gameplay features which will make rivalry a bigger part of the game. We are starting to see a lot of different playing styles and strategies in the clans.

Obviously some weapons are thrown into the game just for fun, like the rubber chicken. Has anyone ever actually killed anything with a rubber chicken?
Yes, well, we have taken the liberty of creating a few items out of the total of 650 which are just for fun. The rubber chicken actually used to have awesome stats before we nerfed it to the current level, as I personally used it as a testing melee weapon during the closed beta. It wasn't supposed to be part of the public open beta, but then we kept it.

How long do you think the beta version is going to last? Will you implement all the new features in the next version, or will there still be some left to develop?
We hope to be finished with the planned major game features by the 1st of July, releasing the new features on a biweekly status, but as this is a browser game we hope we will be able to afford to keep developing new features as we go along.

Are you continually adding items and characters to the game, or is that static for now?
We are continuously adding new zombies, items, and characters to the game. Just a few weeks ago we released 10 new shopkeepers and several new zombies, including a heavy rocker and roller girl zombie. We are also continuously adding new location artwork and improving the map contents in general.

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