Considering that zombies have invaded nearly every kind of game, save for racing games, it’s shouldn’t surprise anyone that they’re now chewing their way through an MMO called World Zombination Though what might surprise you is that World Zombination could actually be called a MMMO: Massively Multiplayer & Mobile Online game. With the game coming to Android after already being available on iOS, I spoke to Seth Sivak, the CEO of Proletariat — “though my actual role on the game is more like Executive Producer or Creative Director,” he says — about how there’s more to World Zombination than just eating other people online.
For those who haven’t played the iOS version, what kind of game is World Zombination, how do you play it?
World Zombination is a tower defense MMO game. Players start by choosing a side between the Survivors and Infected. The Survivor gameplay is reminiscent of traditional tower defense, and the Infected gameplay puts a twist on reverse tower defense. Over time, players collect and level up units that are used to create their teams. The game takes place on a shared world map where players can work together in guild raids, fight in PvP, or compete in massive faction wars.
What other games do you think it’s similar to, and what sets it apart from them?
We were influenced by such great tower defense games as Kingdom Rush, but wanted to add real MMO mechanics. It is a very multiplayer experience, and we see most of our players interacting often to complete guild raids or compete in PvP.
As you said, World Zombination lets you play as both survivors and zombies. Why did you decide to let people play both sides?
Making a faction-based game allowed us to create more interesting multiplayer opportunities. Each faction has its own style of gameplay, and when players asked us for the ability to try the other side in an easy way, we listened and added that feature during the beta.
So in the game, what can the zombies do that the survivors can’t, and vice versa?
The units for both sides are quite unique. Survivors get healer units and long-range snipers, which the Infected do not have. However, the Infected get a horde of drone zombies and plenty of units with unique abilities. The skills for both sides also have some differences, with the Survivors getting a Molotov cocktail and the Infected getting the Drone Geyser.
Zombies have been depicted in many different ways over the years. In deciding how the zombies would look and act in your game, did you consult at any particular movies, comics, TV shows, or other games?
We did a lot of research while developing World Zombination. We went to see the movie World War Z because we liked the way the zombies moved and stacked up in the trailer, though the art style is more a combination of ’80s cartoons and the modern look of digital characters from Pixar and Team Fortress 2.
Speaking of the game’s cartoony visuals, when you started developing the game, did you ever consider making some grittier or more realistic?
There are a lot of zombie games that do the more gritty and realistic feel. We wanted to stick out and do something different. Our art director coined the term “Funpocalypse” relating to the style, and we like that it feels very different from Left 4 Dead or The Last Of Us.
So does your game feature fast zombies, slow zombies, or a mix?
We have a mix. Players can play as the zombies, so they needed to be more than just slow mindless monsters but we do still have the basic zombie drone. We went beyond zombie lore by inventing types of zombies with their own personalities and stories.
Did you ever try it with just one kind or the other?
During development, we did a variety of testing for the gameplay, and tried a lot of different things. That is just part of process and we are very happy with the style of zombies we ended up with.
So what is the pay type for World Zombination?
It is free-to-play. We chose that model because it made the most sense for running a modern MMO.
And what kinds of things can people buy?
Players mostly buy new packs of units. There is the option to pay to accelerate progress or for currency, but that is a much smaller percentage of our revenue.
A number of games that are free-to-play with microtransactions have been criticized for being money hungry. What did you do to make sure World Zombination wouldn’t piss people off?
We focused on providing new content and value for the money. This means that players actually get new stuff rather than the feeling of sticking another quarter in the game to keep going.
World Zombination was already available out for iOS, and has just now come to Android. Are there any differences between these versions?
Nope, they are identical.
Are there plans to bring it any other kinds of mobile devices? Or maybe computers and consoles?
We are considering bringing the game to the PC but don’t yet have a time frame for when we would do that.
Finally, in the time that World Zombination has been on iOS, have you noticed one side being picked more than another?
Survivors are picked slightly more than Infected. It is about 55% Survivor, which is even enough for us.