Exclusive Interview: Must Deliver Game Director Michael Sroczynski

When the zombie apocalypse comes — and yes, it is a matter of “when” not “if” — it will not just be the strong who survive, or the smart, but the swift. Don’t believe me? Then maybe you should play Must Deliver, a zombie-themed endless runner game for iOS, Android, and Amazon tablets. Though in talking to Cherrypick Games’ Michael Sroczynski, the game director on Must Deliver, he revealed that there’s another “S” that will help you survive as well: Super Moves.

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Let’s start with the basics: What kind of game is Must Deliver, how do you play it?

Must Deliver is a top-down view endless runner with a twist. The goal is to avoid attacking zombies, collect Super Move chargers, using your Super Moves to break through zombie hordes, and deliver the zombie cure to as many survivor shelters as possible.

What exactly are those Super Moves?

When the heroes of Must Deliver are on the run, they can pick up Chargers. When the Super Moves meter is fully charged — depending if the character is upgraded, it takes two or three Chargers to fill that meter — the player can perform an attack and annihilate the zombies around him. Super Moves are triggered by releasing the finger from the touchscreen, and some of them can be controlled during their duration.

For example, once the character Moshi-Moshi triggers his dash attack, players can control his movement to takeout more zombies along the way.

It’s important to point out that each hero has a unique Super Move: Hook Swings, Blade Slashes, Firearm Shots, Spins, Dashes, Stomps, and Punches just to name a few.

What other games do you think it’s similar to, and what makes Must Deliver different?

To be honest, Must Deliver is unique in its genre; we haven’t came across anything very similar. The obvious comparison could be made to Touchdown Hero (iOS, Amazon), our earlier game, as we used the player-acclaimed second-to-second gameplay mechanics and added tons of features, options and twists to it based on fan-feedback.

Where did the original idea for Must Deliver come from?

All of us at Cherrypick Games are big zombie fans, and it was only natural that we would end making a zombie game at some point. The breakthrough moment for our zombie game was when we all agreed that it work well if we added Super Moves, powerful attacks that killed a lot of zombies in really fun ways.

Now, are the zombies in Must Deliver the fast kind, the slow kind, or a mix?

We went for a mix. The reason being to add as much variety to the gameplay as possible and for the different zombie characteristics to make players adjust their moves accordingly. We believe it works well in-game and adds another layer of challenge.

Did you ever experiment with just having one kind?

We did not. The mix was something we were confident about right from start of per-production. Variety is the spice of life.

In figuring this all out, what zombie movies, TV shows, books, comics, and other games did you look at for reference?

We’re all fans of the many different iterations of zombie fiction, from movies, books, and television. It is very interesting exploring the unique vision of what zombies would be like from different authors and artists.

When it comes to movies and television, we’re big fans of The Walking Dead, the Living Dead series, numerous indie zombie movies, and Shawn Of The Dead. As for books and comics, a select few would be World War Z, Zombie Tales, and again The Walking Dead. There are of course zombie games we love too, such as the Resident Evil series, Dead Island, and all of the really cool zombie modes appearing in shooter games. We love it all.

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Do you think Must Deliver could’ve worked with some other kind of monsters? Because I’m thinking Must Deliver II: Electric Eel Boogaloo could be fun.

Different types of monsters and creatures are something that could work as well, though the instinctual aggressiveness of zombies fits perfectly with the pressure we wanted to put onto the players while they run to make their next delivery.

In many zombie movies, comics, and so on, being bitten by a zombie turns you into a zombie, but not right away. Is this the same for Must Deliver; if you get bit, do you keep playing but now with a clock counting down until you start developing a hankering for human flesh?

No, but that is a cool idea.

In Must Deliver, once you get bitten it’s over…but we allow you to continue to play. During the game, you earn in-game coins. You can exchange the coins for extra retries, new characters, and upgrading your Super Moves. In a way, it’s another nod to the retro arcade days, where you would advance and if you inserted a quarter fast enough, you could resume gameplay where you last failed.

As you mentioned earlier, prior to making Must Deliver you made a similar game called Touchdown Hero. When you started to work on Must Deliver, did you ever consider making the hero a football hero? Or at least someone who could wear a football helmet? Cuz football helmets seem like they’d be helpful in a zombie apocalypse, even if they do limit your peripheral vision.

Yep, wearing a helmet when dashing through hundreds of the undead sounds reasonable. in fact, one of the characters in Must Deliver is a footballer called Touchdown Hero.

Must Deliver has a decidedly old school look about it. Why did you decide to go this route?

We’re all fans of games from the ’80s and ’90s, so we wanted to adapt that classic, retro style to a game that includes current zombie styles.

Did you ever try it with a different look?

The plan was to go this route from the start. The style we use complimented the cartoonish feel we were after perfectly. The game is over-the-top and silly, and our visuals reflect that. When we start talking about ideas for a new game, the art direction is one of the major factors for us. Prior to gameplay details, we already know the art style we will work with.

Though I think the game could work with a more modern graphical style, too. At the end of the day, it is all about the fun gameplay. One of our upcoming games, My Hospital, was designed with a very different, modern art style, and we love it just as much.

Must Deliver is available for iOS devices, Android, and Amazon. First, does the latter include Amazon’s FireTV console, or it just their Fire tablet?

Not at launch, but we are looking into it and are in close contact with the Amazon team. We surely will follow up when there is something to share.

Are there any plans to bring it to other consoles or computers?

We plan to launch Must Deliver on Mac very soon. We believe the trackpad works very well for this kind of game. In fact, when we were developing the game on stationary machines, we often tested it by controlling on a mobile device and reviewing the gameplay on a monitor. We think it’s just as fun and are very excited to get feedback from players.

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Finally, Must Deliver is not the first game you guys at Cherry Pick Games have made. If someone really liked Must Deliver, which of your other games would you suggest they play next, and why that one?

There are two titles that we would suggest to players at the moment, but with all of the positive energy in the studio right now, we hope to build up our portfolio quickly. Rollimals was the first title we published as Cherrypick Games, but it wasn’t entirely developed in-house. Our first in-house production was Touchdown Hero. We launched the game several days before the 2015 Super Bowl. The entire team is proud of the fan reception it received and the numerous promotions from Apple, Google Play, and Amazon.

 

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