I'm willing to bet a few of you out there were quite worried when Dead Rising swapped development studios for its sequel.
It's pretty much common knowledge that franchises rarely end up as successful if they get passed round development studios like the resident crack whore doing tricks for a packet of Haribo at a party does. We were apprehensive, that's for sure. With Blue Castle Games at the helm though, who are a fairly unknown entity, Capcom have found an equally as wacky developer for their equally as wacky zombiethon sequel. Executive Producer, Rob Barrett, was on hand at this year's X10 to answer a few of our burning questions.
Was it difficult to change characters from the popular icon that is Frank West, to the relatively unknown, Chuck Greene?
It was, but at the same time we wanted to introduce new mechanisms into the game and you know, Frank had photography, and that supported him as a journalist. By changing characters, we were able to introduce a new character who has different skills which allowed us to expand that into this weapon combo system because Chuck is a handyman. He gets his own mechanic in the game as well.
The weapon creation system is a new thing obviously. What sort of wacky contraptions can we expect to be assembling?
There’s a lot. There are hundreds of base weapons in the game; obviously you can’t combine them all otherwise you guys would be searching forever for the needle in the haystack. We’re not confirming how many combos, but it is a significant core to the game. It’s what drives the maximum PP earning to level your character up and just has crazy combinations. I mean we sit around with a twisted sense of humour and try to put these things together. Some of the results you’re seeing, you know, the portable lawnmower is something that’s huge with people at the show – grinding a zombie down into a stump... the paddle-chainsaw, the tesla-ball; we went crazy with the combo weapons.
What would you say in your opinion was the wackiest combination?
Most people like the portable lawnmower... I’ve been playing it so long; I always come back to something else that’s my new favourite because I find a new way to use it. I think that’s part of Dead Rising.
How often can we expect to bump into workbenches (the places to assemble the weapons)?
We tried to make them dense enough... we don’t want to frustrate the player. If we let the player combine any weapon with any weapon, we could really end up with 40,000 plus weapons, so we’ve come up with quite a deep hint system. So you can look at movie posters in the world and that would give you an idea, and suddenly you’d earn a combo card. The combo cards are like the recipe cards on how to build these things. So you can get them from levelling, you can find them in the world – you can look at those movie posters – you can get them at the pawn shop and buy prefabricated combo weapons and just by buying it, you get a recipe card with it. So there will be lots of systems that help the players to find the recipes.
It’s also open to exploration. Anyone can take two weapons to the combo room and put it on the workbench and see if they can come up with something. If they can match our twisted sense of humour, they might find plenty of weapons before we give them the card.
Can we expect to see more base weapons then?
We definitely have more than the first game. We have hundreds of base weapons and then the combo weapons on top of that.
Changed the weapon degradation system at all?
No, that’s in there too. You still get that holy crap moment when the best weapon breaks suddenly and you’re in the midst of thousands of zombies. We still want to capture that moment.
What sort of story structure can we expect to see in the sequel? Will it be similar to the first or are you shooting for something totally different?
The same. I think that’s part of the charm of Dead Rising. You can pursue the story if you wanted to; if you lost the story you could grind and level your guy up. It was unique that if you died or if you lost the story entirely, you had options, it wasn’t the end. It was more like just a turning point. You had to decide, am I going to start over again but keep my level? Or do I want to go back to a load and keep pushing hard on the original goals that I had. We’re definitely staying true to that.
What about the save system? That was one of the sticking points of the original for a lot of people?
Was it? *laughs* I think it was polarizing to the fans, you know? Obviously there were problems. There were things I think that worked in the save system as well... it always left you with a sense of dread. You know, that you couldn’t just hit a pause menu and save anytime you thought, “oh I’m about to get into a real tough situation.” We’re not revealing exactly how we’re solving it, but we’re going to try to appeal to both camps... keep that sense of dread, but try to help people out with a little bit more of a deeper system.
In the demo we saw the peep shows – a way to earn PP off the beaten path. Is that a one-time only thing or have you incorporated a few mechanics like that into the game?
The peep show is an example of an environmental way to earn PP and that’s something that we want to expand upon. There will be other areas that you can do that with, so as soon as the game opens up and you can see those, I think people will be happy. So with this one, you can go to all three different peep shows; you get points for each one and you get additional bonus points if you go into all of them. There will be lots though.
So it’s based on Vegas obviously, have you tried to recreate a similar, familiar environment or have you taken plenty of artistic license?
Oh yeah, the entire world is our own construct. Obviously we have to draw our inspirations from existing gambling towns, but it’s really this desert mecca of gambling that is just made up on casinos and hotels.
How big is the new environment?
It’s bigger than the first game certainly. We’re not revealing exactly how big, but it is bigger. You know the important thing for us in having a bigger game is keeping the density. We can’t just grow the game out and suddenly everything is sparse. Part of Dead Rising is that you’re never more than 20 foot away from a new clothing item... or a fantastic new back massager.
*laughs* Back massager? Is that what you call it?
*laughs* Yeah, sure... that’s what it is.
So the multiplayer is obviously new. Is it now just as important as the single player? Or is it more of a distraction?
It’s a supporting element. At TGS last year we showed off the Terror is Reality game show... What we’ve done is; the game show is part of the single player world. It’s part of the backdrop of the story and that is that in a post Willamette world, there’s a game show all about killing zombies. People tune into watch that, so we gave players the opportunity to play inside the game show as a standalone little feature.
So is it separate then or integrated into the single player?How do the weapons work across single and multiplayer? Can we expect the same in both?
We’re not really revealing any connections, but it is a separate feature.
No... The multiplayer Terror is Reality game show is really set game show games that you go into and there’s a series of challenges. Their weapons are defined by what game you play, and single player is the explorative, make your own weapons system.
We see you’ve added the chainsaw to the motorbikes in certain areas. Is that a one-off vehicle-weapon combo or are there a ton more?
I think you’ll have to wait for the main game to see that, but you’ve certainly seen the “slicical” that you can drive around.
From an engine perspective, what sort of on-screen numbers are you looking at for the zombies?
It’s a balance. Right now, there’s about 1,200 on the strip [in the X10 demo] that you can render at any one time. You can look around and see them, but by no means is that our limit. We can certainly jack that up.
And there is procedural slicing, right?
Yeah, it’s a procedural system, so things like the chainsaw and the broadsword – anything that slices. If you look, we’re slicing right where you intersect with the zombies.
Can we expect to see any new types and variations of zombies? If not, were you tempted to include any?
I think the game is based on the 70’s cliché, cheesy zombies. The slow moving zombies. Zombie variety though is important. It’s something we try... to capture the right kind of crowd that you’d see in a venue like this. You can certainly pick out your stereotypes within that crowd.
There seems to be more blood as well this time around. Was that a conscious decision?
Have we got carried away? *laughs* I don’t think so. I think we’re good. The blood is important to the genre.
Is it even possible to get carried away with blood?
The original was “blessed” with the dreaded 7 day survivor achievement? Is there any chance you’re going to put us through that ordeal again?
We’re going to max out our achievements... as many as we can have. We’ll see about that though. I think we’ve seen with the last game that people will get them all... they’ll get all the achievements. We want to make sure we offer a big challenge.