Zpocalypse: Mixing combat, gathering, advancement and team strategy in a roguelite, RTS survival game set in a randomized post-apocalyptic world.
The original Zpocalypse board game was borne of a frustration by Jeff Garcia at the lack of zombie board games that were, to him, interesting and engrossing. After building a team and launching a successful Kickstarter for the board game and all of its assets last year, planning for the Zpocalypse video game began. It has already been Greenlit by the Steam community, and just needs financial help to push it into a final product. With a goal of $35,000, Greenbrier is offering tier rewards from the game itself (either DRM-free or a Steam key), to being able to design multiple survivor characters. At the $30 tier, you not only get a copy of the game and other digital rewards, you also get a copy of Indie Game Magazine. At $150, you get a customized character (shoulders-up) as well as a subscription to IGM. Of course, there are many tiers in-between.
We were lucky enough to get hold of Shawn Hayden, digital team lead for Greenbrier Games, who was kind enough to shed some light on their game (NOTE: The viewpoints in this interview are those of Mr. Hayden, and not necessarily the complete team of Zpocalype Survival).
XP4T: How has the Kickstarter experience influenced the direction of the game so far?
We have been lucky to find a really strong community through our time on Kickstarter, and they have provided some invaluable feedback that we have taken to heart, not only for the game but also for the Kickstarter itself. It has really helped us see which areas of the game resonate with the community, and that’s allowed us to focus some efforts on ensuring those are the pieces that will have a really solid impact down the road.
XP4T: Will Zpocalypse be solely single player? Or do you hope for multiplayer gameplay as well?
Initially we are focusing on the single player aspect. However, it is definitely our hope that we can move into the multiplayer sphere in the near future. Being a small indie team we felt it was important to focus our resources and time on making a solid gameing experience overall, and then come back and revisit multiplayer once that base was finished.
XP4T: What games have influenced you as a developer, and why?
There have been so many that have been a major influencer overtime. Blizzard, with Starcraft back in 1998 is what really got me invested in gaming and swayed me to wanting to make my own games. However, specifically to this project some of the key influences include Neverwinter Nights (modding), Fallout 1 & 2 (look and feel), XCom (squad based and tactical combat), Endless Space (parameter-based world generation), FTL (roguelite), Rebuild (base building and survivor community focus).
XP4T: How many different NPCs can join your party? Is there a party max? Can you control the NPCs freely, or do they have ‘ticks’ of their own? (do they run away, or turn on you etc)
Currently you can have a max of 4 squad members in the party you take out while exploring. However, back at your base there is no upper limit currently set on the number of survivors you can recruit to help you survive. We will also be adding the mechanics for pets to allow you at least one additional pet survivor who can join your squad in addition to the 4 human members. As for control, it’s a tricky answer. You will be able to control their actions while you are making your way through the world. However, each of the survivors will have their own morale and humanity scores which heavily influence how they interact with the world. In certain circumstances you will run into cases where members of your group don’t feel up to going out to scavenge, or in extreme cases lose their cool in the midst of a bad situation, forcing you to make some hard decisions on the benefits of the one versus the many. We wanted to simulate some more of the feeling of uncertainty when dealing with other survivors in such a brutal world, by giving them a little bit of their own personalities and reactions to situations.
XP4T: Tell us more about the zombies. Do they shamble, or do they run?
Currently there are two variants of the undead. During the day the undead are slower and easier to avoid. At night, the zombies are move alive, moving quicker and actively seeking out the living. However, even in the case of the nighttime zombies your survivors are still faster than them. On the flip side, the undead don’t get tired, so running away will only get you so far.
That’s a tough one. I would have to say it is a close call between Dawn of the Dead and 28 Days Later. I think the key thing from both is the threat of a faster zombie.
XP4T: Is it an open-ended game, or is their an ultimate goal?
At the base of the game, it is open-ended. This is what we are building the game around, to create a sort of sandbox experience where you can go back time and again, to try out your survival skills in either the same world or a different world each time. The more you play, the more you will discover about the world of Zpocalypse, unlocking lore and future gameplay options. With that said though, we are looking at options for a more story-driven gameplay mode, and we expect that once we get to the parameter-based world generation we will provide options for players to set *win* conditions for their playthroughs.
XP4T: What game engine are you using, and why?
We are using Unity. The decision to use Unity came from the fact that a number of members of the team had previous experience with Unity. It also has a great asset library, so that prototyping the game back in April provided us with a much quicker turnaround time.
XP4T: Who came up with the concept of the game, or was it a collaborative effort?
Zpocalypse started out as a boardgame, and it was the brain child of Jeff Gracia in collaboration with Zach Parkes, Julie Ahern, Theresa Gracia and others. Essentially, at it’s core Zpocalypse was about making a game to meet some areas that Jeff felt current zombie boardgames weren’t addressing, such as base building and defense and managing a group of survivors rather than one individual. Zpocalypse: Survival came from this same base desire to make a game that would encompass more of the things we wanted to see in a zombie survival game. There are a LOT of zombies games out there and there are a good number of them that are really good. However, most of them focus on only one or two aspects. We want to bring as many of these various aspects together under one title and make a long lasting, enjoyable apocalyptic survival simulator.
Myself, I shift between a number of different games. I’m still showing my love for Blizzard while playing Hearthstone. I also play Dota 2 on occasion, some Pathfinder Online Alpha and recently some No More Room In Hell for a zombie fix.
Hurry up and check out their Kickstarter page, and if you like what you’re read and seen, support the dudes!