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Interview with Zombie panic source creators

Zombie Panic Source is a free mod built using the Source engine, which offers players the chance to try and either survive a zombie outbreak or to prevent others from doing so. The game has recently been released using Steam's new mod support system which makes it even easier to download and update.

The game's premise is easy to understand, and the game is very pick up and play orientated. Taking place in the aftermath of a zombie attack, you play as either a survivor or a zombie. As a survivor, you must work together to stay alive and get to safety. Objectives change from map to map, but expect to be activating power supplies or disabling security doors, all the while being stalked by the undead.

As a survivor you can gather weapons and ammunition to fight off the zombies, however carrying too much will only slow you down making you an easy target. Hording ammunition and weaponry will do the same, which makes resource management an important tactical element.

Playing as a zombie you (mostly) start out alone, and have to kill or infect humans in order for them to join your side upon death or transformation. In most levels zombies have a limited number of respawns, though these can be increased by killing survivors. Zombies also have regenerating health and the ability to see in the dark helping to make them serious threats.

The games vary significantly, usually starting off slowly as the survivors are harassed and slowly picked off one by one. However as time goes on, they usually end up as fast paced chases as the survivors desperately try to complete their objectives whilst the zombies swarm after them.

The game is very well designed and is great fun to play, being tense and scary whilst still retaining a good sense of humour which makes it great to play with groups of friends. Now available for free to anyone with a Source game, it is really worth checking out, especially with Halloween approaching...

With 2 new patches due for release before the end of the year and a thriving community, Zombie Panic Source looks set to go from strength to strength. The mod-cofounder, Tatsur0, kindly took a break from battling the undead to give us this interview.

1) How does it feel seeing your game being downloaded and played?

When we first started all I wanted was a group of friends who I could join up with for a game of ZPS. I am happy to say that we've achieved that and more. I love seeing so many people enjoying the mod we worked years on.

2) How has the recent support from Valve over Steam helped you?

It's given us a chance to attract a broader audience while providing both new and old users quick and easy updates. Releasing on Steam has been an incredible rush for us and we're grateful for Valves support for the modding community.

3) What would you say is the most difficult part of the game making process?

I personally believe trying to please both yourself (quality of content) and your fans (more! now!) is the hardest part. Things aren't always going according to plan which delays a feature or release and either you run PR, apologize, and get it done like you planned or you cut things out and release to appease the public. I like to think we balance it out pretty well.

4) What features do you feel are important for games to have?

The ability to rebind keys is by far the most important feature! Oh and those unexpected bugs you leave in as features.

5) How important are players in your development of the game, is their feedback important?

I think it's incredibly important. We designed the game the way we wanted it and we as a team debated, argued, agreed, and cried deciding what would fit and what wouldn't. For things we decided on or just weren't sure about we looked to the public and they usually helped improve on these. We often browse our Ideas & Suggestions thread on the forums.

6) Where was your main inspiration from the game drawn from?

Our main inspiration comes from film which isn't surprising considering our theme. I could quote names (George A. Romero) hehe but I won't...again.

7) The overwhelming odds against the survivors help to make Zombie Panic a unique experience, how did this aspect develop?

Well... an evenly balanced zombie game just sounds boring. We started off with the idea that we wanted survivors to really enjoy their wins and decided that they should only on average win 5-15% of the time. We achieved this by tweaking player speeds, weapon & ammo weights, and overall damage. That and you win most of the time either way! If 90% of games end with zombies winning... you're likely to be part of that win :D

8) Do you prefer to play as a survivor or a zombie?

I like to win a game first as survivor, and then play 5-6 rounds as zombie. Hard to say one or the other as they are both satisfying but only in that order as I'm very stubborn and want my wins.

9) What are your future plans for the game?

We are working on new player models, maps, weapons, sounds, and other custom content as well as plans for another game mode that is still in the early stages of testing.

10) What would you do in a zombie outbreak? Do you have a plan?

Honestly, with a wife and 3 children (third due Nov 23rd) while living in Kyoto, Japan. I find it difficult to plan for a Zombie Outbreak. I figure I'd follow a couple of simple steps.

1. Get lucky and catch the outbreak early
2. Get a boat and get away (Hard to find a decent weapon and we've got plenty of Ocean)
3. Move to a more secure location whether it be Okinawa, another Country, or build my own personal Water World! I'm not sure.

evilgiraffeman | 1st November, 2008

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