Universal Exclusive: New Zombie Cow Game Details

By John Walker on August 18th, 2009 at 10:30 am.

Party time! Improvise balloons!

Anyone who has played Ben There, Dan That! and Time Gentlemen, Please! will know why to be excited to hear there’s to be more from the mad-walking heroes of time travelling point and click adventures. From an outside glance they’re 2D scratchy indie games made in the AGS engine, but then you need to sit up and take notice when you realise the second game, TGP, has a Metascore of 89 (five reviews listed, but many other 9/10s should be added). We officially liked it a lot. Why this very day Zombie Cow got in touch with us to let us know that after meetings and alcohol, they’ve decided to continue the series, this time episodically.

We took the opportunity to find out the hows and whys from ZC’s Dan Marshall.

RPS: We’ve heard (well, read on Twitter) that you and Ben have been conducting pub-based meetings to discuss the future of Dan and Ben.

Dan Marshall: Ben and I have spent a couple of nights quaffing back some Lion’s Roar Real Ale, talking through the future of the Dan and Ben games, and scrawling ideas on beer mats. Time Gentlemen, Please! is selling nicely, but not really enough to justify working for another 9 months or so on a sequel, which is a shame, because the D&B games are generally a complete joy to work on.

RPS: But we want more. Give us more!

Dan: So the plan is: instead of writing a whole new adventure, I’m currently hard at work making a ‘Dan and Ben Episodes Engine’, which is being custom-built from the ground up (whatever that means, it sounds right) to make writing new adventures much much easier. We’re looking at doing shorter, cheaper, standalone jabs of entertainment – possibly just an hour or so’s gameplay to slot into that gap you’ve got on a weekday evening, the same sort of length as an episode of something on TV.

I have cleverly taken this line of dialogue out of context to confuse unplayers.

RPS: Hooray! Can we expect to see changes other than shortness?

Dan: I’ve paid attention to the VERY FEW criticisms of TGP, and there’ll be changes where appropriate. I’ve been re-jigging the user interface for example, and there are already some nice new twists in mechanics we can play with, already built into the engine using clever technology.

RPS: Episodic is always a bit of a worrying word. It tends to mean “one”.

Dan: At the moment, we’re going to do one, and see how it goes. If people like it, hopefully we’ll be able to do an entire season. We’ve finally come up with an amazing opener – something that’s a bit of a refreshing departure from the other games, but still slots in nicely with the idea of Dan and Ben being old-school adventurers, always getting themselves into scrapes. The really exciting thing for me about doing shorter games is that we can do much more interesting things in terms of puzzles, settings, complexity and mechanics.

Ten Twenty.

RPS: What’s the chronology? Will it directly follow on from TGP’s ending?

Dan: The episodes will take place after TGP, but won’t be a direct sequel and won’t reference the other games, so newcomers can jump straight in with these ones – each episode should be Dan and Ben getting themselves into a bit of a pickle, and the player’s in charge of sorting everything out. For those who have played TGP, imagine the whole alien planet section was standalone – that’s the sort of thing we’re looking at. That level of quality and complexity to the puzzles (that’s by far my favourite bit in the game), that sort of length of gameplay.

RPS: Say more words.

Obviously, everything’s still subject to change. It might all cave in on itself and not work at all and we’ll scrap it. But for now, there’s more Dan and Ben coming, probably, which I know is very different to what I said in all those interviews about the future of the franchise. I didn’t really expect the game to wind up with such an improbably high Metacritic score.

RPS: Do you think anyone can tell that I added these questions in throughout the email you sent me to make it look like I asked all the right things?

RPS: Hello?

RPS: Oh.

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36 Comments »

  1. vasagi says:

    HuZZaH!

  2. ad_hominem says:

    Brilliant news.

  3. Ross says:

    That’s the best news I’ve heard in ages, these guys deserve all the praise they’ve been getting.

  4. Centy says:

    Oh yeah this is some truly excellent news. I really hope they get much more cash from this to help them keep making more. Maybe an appearance on steam would be the order of the day I mean the lower cash income after steams cut may be worth it for the huge install base exposed to it.

  5. Thants says:

    Very good news. And “Say more words” should be a standard interview question from now on.

  6. sfury says:

    I love you people.

  7. Markoff Chaney says:

    Phenomenal interview (lawl) and fantastic news, indeed. I Love You Zombie Cow! I Love You RPS! I also second the thought of a second revenue stream distribution methodology, if it helps Zombie Cow continue doing what they, and we in our playing, love doing.

  8. Igor Hardy says:

    Excellent news.

  9. Gap Gen says:

    Truly the Paxman of games journalism.

  10. Ben Abraham says:

    I had this weird feeling that the questions weren’t matching up to the answers all that precisely while reading. I just thought that Dan was a coquettish rogue who didn’t like giving a straight answer. Then I reached the end. Oh.

  11. Paul Moloney says:

    It’s funny how adventure “enthusiasts” over on certain forums rage against the mainstream gaming press for not giving their genre the attention it deserves. Then when a mind-boggling cheap old-skool adventure game comes out that gets rave reviews, they completely ignore it.

    P.

  12. vasagi says:

    @paul Maloney

    certain “enthusiasts” think that free and cheap = shit
    and require re-eductated.

    also it doesnt work in scumm-vm so it doesnt count!

  13. Flobulon says:

    Haha, what a unique interviewing style. Still, I am interested in how this develops.

    On a side note: I had a dream last night in which Jim and John (Jihn) had their own sketch show.
    Sadly I can’t remember if it was any good.

  14. Andy says:

    Fantastic – can’t wait to see what they’ve got in store for us!

  15. Paul Moloney says:

    “require re-eductated”

    There’ll always be a need for salt mines. John Walker should go over there and stir up trouble again.

    P.

  16. The Sombrero Kid says:

    omfg this is an excellen idea, i’ve not bought TGP i’m waiting till i finish Ben there Dan that, but it’s the best adventure game i’ve played since grim fandango.

  17. skizelo says:

    Yay! And I’m glad they paid attention to their reviews rather than their, um, sales figures. It would be a tragedy for them to turn away from adventures just because they now operate from inside a debtor’s prison (I”m assuming).

  18. Subject 706 says:

    Yay!

  19. Cooper says:

    “Say more words”
    I vote that it be made a requirement that RPS ask that at the end of every -actual- interview they do from now on.

    Also, in response to more from the TGP adventuring duo:
    \o/

  20. Rei Onryou says:

    I bought TGP, but yet to have played either. Based on other’s responses, I’ll let out a shriek of joy.

    EEEEEEEHHHH!!!!

  21. reaper47 says:

    Excellent!

  22. Rosti says:

    “We’re looking at doing … cheaper … jabs of entertainment.”
    I have literally no idea how this is even possible without some new form of mathematics.
    Having just toppled BTDT, colour me interested – season ticket please!

  23. El_MUERkO says:

    i endorse this product and/or service

  24. Ginger Yellow says:

    Yay. It’s better than an arm covered in Hitler’s shit and blood, anyway.

  25. Saul says:

    Played BTDT yesterday and moved straight on to TGP today. Am thoroughly enjoying it– everything from the first game has been buffed to a fine sheen.

  26. Bamft says:

    “Say More Words” voted for a standard interview question!

  27. Jazmeister says:

    This is exactly how interviews should happen.

  28. Jad says:

    Until I got to the end of that “interview” I was going to say how much I like this Imperious Interviewer style. Don’t ask nice, leading questions, but demand answers! Even if they are not questions that usually require anger, be angry! I even heard “Say more words” spoken in Morbo from Futurama’s voice.

  29. Wooly says:

    Did someone say… “REEDUCATION CAMPS?” :D

  30. Hypocee says:

    Right on, Rosti – ‘Cheaper’!? You’ll have to invent a frictionless world debit system first, mates. Possibly your own currency!

  31. Bioptic says:

    I just came across the following fantastic exchange in BTDT:

    USE CROWBAR ON SPACESHIP WINDOW

    “Ok, how’s this for a plan? I chuck the crowbar at the window, it smashes, and we get sucked off all the way to Earth.”
    “…Sorry? Did you miss out some steps or something?”
    “Eh? No, that’s the whole plan.”
    “Really? Where do all the girls come from?”
    “Eh? Well…from all their mummies’ tummies.”
    “What the hell are you talking about?”
    “What the hell are YOU talking about?”
    “I can’t even remember.”
    “Let’s carry on adventuring.”
    “Good call.”

  32. Sunjammer says:

    I demand that their new engine fully incorporates an updated racism slider that is more slidey and more racistey.

  33. mastrblastr says:

    I hate adventure games. I looooove everything Zombie Cow has done. Truly brilliant and good fun

  34. malkav11 says:

    I’d just like to remind them that an episodic time frame means a Telltale timeframe, not a Valve timeframe. Thanks.

  35. Alex says:

    Hahah, well done John Walker. I laughed out loud.

    Also, TGP and BTDT are both brilliant and I’m thrilled to hear that there will be more greatness.

  36. Lambchops says:

    Brillo