former Blizzard and NCSoft veteran has launched a development studio to work on a zombie-themed MMOG.
Jeff Strain has been around the PC gaming scene for quite some time, with his last gig serving as one of the three founders of ArenaNet, the development studio behind Guild Wars. While serving as ArenaNet's Art and Production team leader, he also was President of Product Development for NCSoft. Before that, he was the lead programmer for Blizzard's World of Warcraft, created the StarCraft campaign editor, and worked on WarCraft III and Diablo.
Needless to say, Strain has been rather busy over the last decade. After leaving NCSoft last year, Strain has been working to create a new development studio out in Seattle, Washington. Called Undead Labs, the new studio takes a completely different route from Strain's prior experience, and will dedicate itself to developing a MMOG for the latest consoles.
So what will make this game stand out from other MMOGs he's worked on in the past? It will have zombies. "The reason that zombies are popular is because they fulfill a need in society," Strain told Develop in this interview. "I almost feel like, as a society and in particular as a game culture, we need that unapologetic meat-puppet. We need the guilt-free meat puppets. And I think that’s the role zombies are filling right now."
The interview goes into the internal conflicts of other studios, and how they struggle about developing MMOGs for both the PC and console gamers. Obviously, Strain has chosen not to go down that road, sticking with an exclusive console MMOG. And although Strain will no longer have the safety net of PC gamers, he plans to approach the MMOZG (massively multiplayer online zombie game) as Rare and Bungie approached the FPS genre for the consoles. With that in mind, maybe he'll succeed where others have stumbled over the years.
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