By Kieron Gillen on August 7th, 2009 at 7:03 pm.
When chatting to lord of the vampires Brian Mitsoda and valkyrie warrior Annie Carlson during arranging their Gaming Made Me their post-Obsidian plans, they mentioned they were doing an indie-game. Which I decided to post another time, when there was more info. This week, they announced they were called DoubleBear and would be making an Indie RPG using the Age of Decadence engine. Which I decided to post about another time, when there was more info. And then they started talking about what their game was on the forum, being a freeform RPG with a zombie theme. And I decided to post about another time – another time called RIGHT NOW. All the currently available details beneath the cut…
If you don’t know them as a lord of vampires or a valkyrie warrior, you’ll probably know Brian as a designer/writer for Vampire: Bloodlines (which we interviewed about here). Annie worked on NWN2 at Obsidian writing on Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir. They were clearly planning on working quietly for a bit, but ended up breaking cover yesterday…
Was hoping to save this for a rainy day, but it is cloudy here in Seattle today, so here we go. As the speculators have correctly guessed, yes, DoubleBear’s first game is indeed a Zombie RPG, which we have fondly referred to as a ZRPG internally. Before people start running in all kinds of directions with that, here’s what I will confirm:
-Set during the breakdown of society as emergence of zombies causes widespread panic and disorder.
-Slow, shambling zombies. Spreads like a virus/bite transmission. No, you are not a zombie, that would be stupid.
-Serious examination of a national crisis or natural disaster. Humans and a lack of order are a bigger threat than the undead. Think Hurricane Katrina, Children of Men, Dawn of the Dead NOT Resident Evil, Return of the Living Dead, zombie shooter-type games.
-Game is about survival. Scavenging resources, exploring the area, dealing with other survivors, and managing a “shelter” of sorts are the main focus of the game. More on this later.
-Game is open-ended. There are characters and events that could happen, but the story depends on where you go, what you do, and who you meet. Of course, there’s a lot more to this and we’ll go into more details as time goes on.
In other words, sounds a lot like Fallout with zombies. Or rather, more zombies.
As noted by the forum’s bhlaab , before the game was actually confirmed as a zombie RPG, Mitsoda did talk about some hypothetical ways a zombie RPG would be interesting…
A zombie RPG could definitely hold a lot of potential. I think the best time frame to set it in is the period shortly after society starts to break down from the zombie outbreak. You’re not stuck in the “what’s going on?” phase of Night of the Living Dead, and you’re not so far out that most of the survivors have succumbed and the only people left are in isolated bunkers like Day of the Dead. Dawn of the Dead, I think, is a good place to start – there’s still quite a few people left, some pockets of law and organization, and people still have hope that someone will roll in and save them.
Some zombie discussions involve people discussing their “zombie plan”, which is their plan of attack should a zombie outbreak occur. Some people take these very seriously – way too seriously. I’ve seen a lot of them that involve “getting my family and friends in cars, hitting the Costco, and holding up in there until it blows over.” Well, that sounds ideal, but what about the fifty other people that thought of that? Seems like now you have other people AND zombies to contend with. Say you all come to an agreement about sharing the space – what about that one person that looks bit? They’re traveling with someone else – do you tell them, “sorry, you’ll have to leave your mom outside?” I think the thing that is interesting about the concept is the human factor. Zombies are slow and somewhat easy to dispatch, but humans might shoot at you. Zombies are predictable, humans aren’t.
I’m wondering what kinds of places seem like a safer bet than heading for the Costco or the mall or the military base. What are the “hidden” places that no one would think about looting, but hold enormous amounts of resources to help weather a zombie apocalypse. Some thoughts are:
Shipping containers/warehouses – Pro: There could be anything in there. Con: See Pro.
Farms – Pro: Most of them are set up to be self-sufficient, full of food. Con: And someone might still be living there.
Private Airfields – Pro: Most people don’t even know where they are and they have gas tanks. Con: There’s not much there outside of gas.
The Zoo – Pro: Some of the food is quite edible by humans, even if it’s gross. Con: Some of the animals may have gotten out.
I’m excited by this. I’ve been wanting a single-player zombie-themed survivalist RPG since the time I played Urban Dead. It’s a big job for a small indie team, but there’s all the potential in the world here. We’ll be watching it closely.
We also like the name “Doublebear”.