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Blizzard, NCSoft Vet Developing Zombie MMO

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 17 comments
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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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  • 0 Hide
    cashews , November 23, 2009 11:42 PM
    I think it will be interesting to see how they make a game like this with enough variety to keep people interested for long amounts of gameplay.
  • 0 Hide
    Onyx2291 , November 24, 2009 12:14 AM
    Just what I've been waiting for all my life.
  • 1 Hide
    nukemaster , November 24, 2009 12:27 AM
    Killing floor :p 

    Undead labs(this)? Paragon Studio(COH/COV)? Its time to make better games(and fix what they have), not companies based on there games.
  • 1 Hide
    fogartini , November 24, 2009 1:49 AM
    Should be available sometime around Holiday season 2023 if Blizzards working on it
  • 0 Hide
    ColMirage , November 24, 2009 3:51 AM
    Yay, more Zombie games!

    ... sigh.
  • 0 Hide
    cryogenic , November 24, 2009 7:06 AM
    Beeing "ex Blizzard" does not guarantee success, see "Hellgate London", while actually being Blizzard does xD. (I wonder when Blizzard's winning streak will end, seems it wont for the foreseeable future)
  • 0 Hide
    hannibal , November 24, 2009 9:22 AM
    I really hope that it will be complete PvsP. I would really much like to play a brainless zombie and eat some playr controlled chicks :-)
    In reality this would be avesome consept, but it would have to be at least +18 restricted, if everything would be as it should. Core violence, horror and sex... I think that some of these core parts of every good b-class exploit zombie movies are going to be left out, from this game...
  • 1 Hide
    eccentric909 , November 24, 2009 12:38 PM
    fogartiniShould be available sometime around Holiday season 2023 if Blizzards working on it


    Blizzard isn't working on it.... did you actually read the story? He worked for Blizzard at one point in his career.
  • 0 Hide
    Kelavarus , November 24, 2009 1:45 PM
    ... Guilt free meat puppets? Crysis has those. Modern Warfare 2 has those (airport, anyone?). Wolfenstein has those. I don't get what he's trying to say, his game isn't different... :/ 
  • 0 Hide
    bildo123 , November 24, 2009 1:58 PM
    ColMirageYay, more Zombie games!... sigh.


    Good thing you just read "Blizzard" and "MMO" and missed the fact that it's an ex-employee of NCsoft and Blizzard using his own studio called Undead Labs, not Blizzard. But either way your probably right.
  • 0 Hide
    tb123 , November 24, 2009 2:00 PM
    the way blizzard keeps their winning steak is by killing any product that wont be great. poor poor SC Ghost, how i looked forward to you.
  • 0 Hide
    ssalim , November 24, 2009 3:11 PM
    Alright! Everybody loves zombie games unless a terrible one (fort zombie cough cough).

    I love it. Left 4 Dead online. LoL!
  • 1 Hide
    ssalim , November 24, 2009 3:12 PM
    tb123the way blizzard keeps their winning steak is by killing any product that wont be great. poor poor SC Ghost, how i looked forward to you.


    Um, read carefully. It's not blizzard. It's nc soft. Ex blizzard.
    NC Soft made Guild Wars. Amazing game. No subscription fee too.
  • 0 Hide
    ssalim , November 24, 2009 3:14 PM
    I also misread. It's not ncsoft. It's just one guy who was ncsoft.
  • 0 Hide
    Honis , November 24, 2009 4:06 PM
    They need to approach it like Square (Enix) approached FFXI. Say what you will about gameplay, gfx, mind bogglingly CPU usage, but they have one of the most robust control systems in the MMO market. Being able to use a controller (PS and 360 style), a keyboard, a laptop keyboard, or mouse all interchangeably, on the fly, and fluidly is amazing. I personally hate using a mouse for any MMO thanks to FFXI.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , November 25, 2009 1:40 AM
    "Obviously, Strain has chosen not to go down that road, sticking with an exclusive console MMOG."

    I completely lost interest after reading that.
  • 0 Hide
    mtyermom , November 29, 2009 12:14 AM
    needzmoarpc"Obviously, Strain has chosen not to go down that road, sticking with an exclusive console MMOG."I completely lost interest after reading that.


    Same here... I've been wanting to play a zombie apocalypse MMO forever! (Think 'Urban Dead' with a graphics engine) Now, somebody finally announces that they're creating one, and it's console only. Fail.