Undead Labs founder Jeff Strain is looking to bring a persistent online zombie world to players via the Xbox 360. Zombies are a favorite of survival horror fans, and Undead Labs aims to bring that terror to a persistent online world with Class4, embodying many mechanics employed by MMOGs, but at the same time avoiding the MMOG label.
Strain was in attendance at GDC and took some time to speak with Massively about the developer's upcoming two projects. Class3 will be a smaller and more constrained game, made for one to two players and set in a zombie apocalypse. Strain offers an explanation for the class names, explaining each is like a Richter scale, detailing the severity of a zombie outbreak, with Class 3 being major outbreak and Class 4 a total society breakdown. The classifications are a nod to the literary works of Max Brooks, who authored The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z.
Between the two games (Class3 and Class4), players will get to see the events of the zombie apocalypse as they unfold, leading from the Class3 setting of a major zombie outbreak to the full scale zombie apocalypse online persistent world of Class4, evolving from the two player setting to thousands of players at once.
When questioned about the developers business model, Strain declined to offer a solid answer but remains open to the possibility of utilizing either of the subscription-based or free-to-play/microtransaction models, while acknowledging that both have their benefits and drawbacks. For the time being, we'll have to wait and see what Undead Labs has planned for the future.
There are no answers as yet. Looking at all the potential models, there are a pile of things we like and a pile of things we don't like. More importantly, there is a set of existing challenges for our developers to work through. Microtransactions are great because they don't put anything in the way of people getting into the game and having fun. I love that. There are people out there who may not be able to afford a monthly fee, or more often than not, are philosophically opposed to it.
This eaves one other question - will distancing themselves from the MMOG label serve to endear the developer to players, or will it isolate them from an MMOG player base? Strain believes that there are a certain set of expectations for a game using the MMOG label, expectations that the team hopes to avoid. Let's just see if the team of veteran developers can pull off a fun and engaging persistent online world filled with zombies.
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