Details on Dead Zone
As some of you may have read on my Facebook or Twitter, I am working with Ethan Underhill on a new spin-off in the ZE Universe, called Zombie Exodus: Dead Zone.
Here is a summary:
Set five years after the apocalypse, Zombie Exodus: Dead Zone sees your character surviving the harsh wilderness of Oregon as you search for a new place to call home. Discover the shattered world that remains, crawling with infected zombies, bandits, disease, all-new challenges that will push survivors to their limits, and the mysterious dead zones: large swathes of land devoid of zombies but teeming with new infected life. Craft, scavenge, and fight your way to a rumored society springing from the ashes of civilization, where you can make new allies, deal with new foes, discover the secrets of the apocalypse, become a scavenger, rise to leadership, start a rebellion, defect to new groups, and most importantly…survive.
Ethan will be the primary writer while I do the coding and editing. I asked Ethan to answer 5 questions on the new game.
Why are you jumping ahead 5 years into the zombie apocalypse for Dead Zone?
I decided to set Dead Zone further into the apocalypse for a number of reasons. The first reason being that both Zombie Exodus and Zombie Exodus: Safe Haven start at the onset of the apocalypse, and I wanted to change up the formula a bit for this one so we could see some other aspects of the incredible universe that Jim has set up. The second reason is that there aren't a whole lot of games or stories out there in the zombie genre that explore what happens far into the apocalypse. There are plenty of examples to be sure, but there are even more examples of stories starting at the onset. Setting the game five years in allows for a number of new challenges, as well. You'll find that Dead Zone is very much focused around how life has changed since the outbreak.
Are there any changes to the virus or zombies in DZ?
The virus is the same Zeta we know and love, but at the same time, even viruses need to... adapt. Zeta has a few tricks up its sleeve that we've seen once or twice before but that haven't really gotten the spotlight until Dead Zone. As for the zombies, there's definitely some starvation, weather wear, and decay going on, but you're not going to see anything out of left field such as winged zombies or massive four-armed brutes. Zombie Exodus: Dead Zone is building off of the lore of the previous installments and highlighting certain parts of it. In fact, if you'd like to know what to look for, you can find everything you need to know peppered throughout Zombie Exodus and Zombie Exodus: Safe Haven. Maybe we'll finally get an answer to the question: "What happened to the squirrel?"
Will Skills and Challenges be the same?
For the most part, skills and challenges will remain the same, but a few skills are being swapped out for new ones or combined. The driving skill is being rotated out since driving is basically a non-factor once the most common fuel sources have wasted away. Search and scavenging will most likely be combined, and the way that certain skills operate may see some tweaking as well. At least two new skills are in the works, but one might spoil too much and the other may or may not be disregarded depending on how early writing goes. As for challenges, we're going to be seeing a couple of the same challenges, but many of those are being swapped out as well. For example, apocalyptic PTSD will be an option. Starvation is also going to be a larger threat in Dead Zone, so the new "high metabolism" challenge will compound that. "Short fuse" is going to be rotated out, since it can be pretty easily replicated by the player's own decision making. Since cigarettes and alcohol are pretty much all gone by this point in the apocalypse, those respective addictions are also gone, since the player would have long since been forced to kick those habits. One of the most popular of challenges is going to more or less be incorporated into the main story. We'll also be seeing a new "challenge" that's less of a "challenge" and more of an alternative game mode, called "wacky". The wacky challenge basically turns the game into an absurdist comedy by adding numerous references, gags, Easter eggs, and other jokes to the game. While wacky is definitely not recommended for your first serious play through, it will be a fun addition to the game for repeat plays and for players looking for a less bleak look at the apocalypse.
Will there be romance in Dead Zone?
There are currently plans for romance, though to what extent is not yet decided upon. Ideally, I'd like to make all but the underage characters romance-able, but this likely won't be possible given the time that would take. I currently plan to include at least 8 romance options, though, and all of-age NPCS are being designed with having them be romance-able in mind so that even if they aren't romance options at first, that can be added in later. Player feedback on Safe Haven is playing a huge role in how we're planning romance in Dead Zone, specifically in regards to who is romance-able.
Will any characters from other parts of the ZE Universe make cameos in Dead Zone or even be part of the story?
One hundred percent, yes. Each of the games in the series is connected to one another, and Dead Zone is no exception.
I am constantly asked about developing a game with graphics, and of course, such a project interested me. I was recently approached by a fairly new app company that asked to work with me on a game that runs much like an interactive graphic novel. I pitched an idea and was greenlit today!
The company has asked me to hold back details on their app name (and even their identity), but we signed a contract. I just finished a 15-episode outline (an episode is like a chapter), and the company is setting me up with an art directory to get started.
Here is the game’s pitch:
As a newly created vampire, you are born into a life of mystery. Just after rising for the first time, your Sire dies. How will you learn to survive? What are these dark powers you now possess? The city is yours to explore and when you discover others of your kind, will you embrace them as siblings or challenge their way of afterlife?
New Discord Server
I have decided to start a Discord server as a place to discuss my games and to hang out with my followers. It is new, so I am still working out the bugs, but feel free to join me there. https://invite.gg/gamesbyjimd
I plan to be on there as often as possible to interact with everyone. I may also be doing some live Q&A voice chat sessions In the future as long as you all can stand my voice.
So far, I have memes, fan art, and suggestions channels. My plan is to add channels for game development questions and roleplay, in which you can act out your character in a chat-based version of ZE.
If you have any suggestions for the GamesByJimD server, leave it in the specific channel, and I will respond.
For Safe Haven Part 3, will we be able to join the Silverthornes and destroy them from within?
I can’t spoil the plot of Part 3, but there will be a path where you work with the Silverthornes and can decide to manipulate or betray them once you have built up their confidence.
Any news in the erotic project that you are working on? You are making one right?
Yes, I am coding chapter 9 of 10 of All World Pro Wrestling, written by David Monster. I hope to be finished in July! Lots of romance, so the code is complex.
Will there be cliffhangers in Safe Haven?
I generally don’t like cliffhangers. Of course, it is a great way to motivate people to buy future parts, but it may also leave people with a bitter taste. In my opinion, if you write good content and keep in touch with your readers, they will continue to read your stories and support you going forward.
Will we be able have Woody or Gina craft items for us, even it just one per occasion?
I had not considered this but will add it to the wish list.
Will we find out what exactly happened to our sister for our nephew?
I have long had a story in my head of the main character’s sister death or survival. The nephew has an upcoming arc in Part 3, and his mother’s story will definitely be a part of it.
How many episodes are there going to be in Safe Haven and does your work on Dead Zone mean Safe Haven is going to take a backseat for a while?
Ethan is the primary writer of Dead Zone, and I will be coding and editing. The division of labor allows me to focus on ZESH and my new vampire story.