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Ubisoft on ZombiU's game Metroid/Dark Souls inspiration, Killer Freaks element that lived on and more

The following comments come from ZombiU’s Associate Producer Nicolas Robin and Lead Content Designer Mounir Radi...

On elements of Killer Freaks that lived on...

Yes, there were some holes in the design experience. There were repetitions. So basically it was more difficult to keep the player engaged and make him surprised every time. But from Killer Freaks we kept one thing – the multiplayer experience. Killer Freaks was an asymmetry game where you spawn. There was something called King of the Creatures. You spawned creepy creatures from a top view. The one was playing it as a FPS – a fast, action pace and killing these creatures, and they have a match between each other offline in the living room and rematching by switching the controls. We kept exactly that thing for ZombiU. Actually it’s because of Ubisoft that ZombiU was made a very big part of development. We just made the backbone, the core mechanics and they didn’t sit very well. So in ZombiU you have the solo experience which is very large - like 15-20 hours - and at the end of it you have the survival mode where you finish the game with just one life. At the same time you also have the multiplayer experience – three game modes – and you have one player playing King of Zombies – tactical, top view, spawning zombies, levelling his skills up. Being able to spawn more zombies and at a faster pace, and the other one is playing with the Wii U Pro Controller – the fast-paced FPS part. He is also able to play with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk.

On inspiration from other games...

Dark Souls, Demon’s Souls inspired our online features and yes, it inspired us more in terms of making the challenge demanding – difficult but fair. And at the end when you achieve the thing you say, “Whew!” This feeling in videogames that we used to have when we were young. In modern videogames we have cool emotions also but we kind of miss sometimes the emotion of, “Okay, I tried many times, it was difficult, but I have a really good memory of that moment that I will tell to the other ones and share with the other ones”, and that’s really what we wanted to communicate with the game. We had this type of conversation around Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls with Mounir. And yes, basically that’s more where Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls inspired us is to make a fair challenge but a difficult one at the end of which the player will say, “Okay, you see the gas station, I shot the flare…” We had a lot of conversations with the playtesters and lots of very memorable moments.

And regarding the structure of the world we were really inspired by Metroid. So basically you will gain some abilities or new tools that you will discover in the game. There are very open areas that we show but you are not able to go there. Most of the interaction that the player does with the environments is done with the Wii U GamePad. As we said, to balance the immersion in the game we didn’t want the guy to lockpick the door by pressing a button twenty times. We didn’t want to have just a button or Quick Time Event stuff. We had this huge technology of a touchpad in the middle of the two sticks so we really wanted to use that. So when you want to lockpick a door you really lockpick the door with the Wii U GamePad. When you want to enter a code you really put the code in and if you miss then you put it in a few times. When you want to manage your inventory and backpack you manage it on this side. When you want to loot a box you will loot with your Wii U GamePad and when you want to scan you use it this way.


On CCTV cameras being a part of gameplay...

There are a lot of cameras in London so you can hide the cameras and check them into your safehouse to check on your resources because when you die and you lose your stuff - if you die another time you lose all your stuff. Your previous backpack is erased. And you have to check the CCTV cameras in London to get new stuff. “Oh, okay, I have to go to Buckingham Palace because there’s a sniper rifle. I have to go this way because there’s a lot of food…”, but because the respawn is random when you come another time you will encounter new threats in different ways so it’s always a new context.

When you access the CCTV stuff on your safehouse you’ll also notice the threats - notes on the ranking of the threat of this special area of London or that special area of London. So basically if you see that there is a huge machinegun in this map but there are many, many zombies and you just have six handgun bullets. “Okay, so maybe I will just take the small shotgun on this part – not a very big threat.” You don’t know where the zombies are but you know the ranking of the situation. And yes, as Mounir said we wanted the game to be realistic so we said when we tested the maps, “Okay, well the zombies are nearly exactly at the same place or maybe just the same number of zombies each time for the same map, so we said okay if you would have been in London during the zombie outbreak you would not have faced exactly the same zombie at the same place – the zombie would have roamed. So basically we made the world system so that you will never have the same number of zombies in the map. You will never have the same placement of zombies in the map. One time you will go in the map and you will see all the zombies in the open for example, and the other time they will all be hidden. You will just hear them from various places. Actually every experience in the ZombiU’s maps is different.

Full interview here
Categories: Interviews, Consoles
Tags: wii-u, ubisoft

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