So now that we’re all starting to surface from our post-Thanksgiving food comas, I wanted to take a moment to talk a bit about the next big buffet on everyone’s mind: brains. No, I’m not talking about the chilled monkey brains from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. I’m talking about zombies, and all things undead. Yeah, yeah, we’re all keen on Left 4 Dead 2, but the next big thing in zombie-land? A zombie MMO, of course. Oh, and better yet: a zombie MMO for the PS3 and Xbox 360.
A Seattle company named Undead Labs is currently working on the first massively multiplayer online zombie game (MMOZ?) for the consoles. Undead Labs was founded by Jeff Strain, who left NCsoft last summer to build a studio with a sole focus on console-based MMOs. The logical first choice was, apparently, zombies.
“Every time I see a good zombie movie with friends, we spend days debating our strategies for surviving the zombie apocalypse,” says Strain. “The police station, or the supermarket? Garden rake, or staple gun? Bach, or the White Stripes? I’m a game developer, so I’d probably be useless for anything other than ghoul bait, but I’m excited to have the opportunity to build an MMOZ that lets us put those strategies to the test and find out for sure.”
In some respects the as-yet-unnamed game sounds like a Dead Rising type of title, with players wading into a group of rotting zombies with a lawn chair or a box of pencils. But where Undead Labs’ new game stands out is in its ability to let players tackle the horde with thousands of their closest friends.
Skeptical of the game’s chances? You shouldn’t be. Check out Strain’s biography: In the mid-90s while he was at Blizzard, he was a programmer for StarCraft and Diablo and created the StarCraft campaign editor. In 1999, he formed the initial team and kicked off development on an MMO you might just have heard about: World of Warcraft (he was team lead and lead programmer). Then he moved on to Guild Wars.
So sure, a zombie-based MMO sounds a bit niche. So did slaying dragons in tabletop games a few decades ago, and look at those guys’ bank accounts. I haven’t personally seen Undead Labs’ forthcoming zombie MMO, but just the thought of a zombie-bashing experience this grand in scale has me chomping at the bit to chomp on some brains. Put it on a console, which I’m much more inclined to play anyway, and I’m darn near undead myself.
— Jonas Allen