Ubisoft on changing from Killer Freaks to ZombiU, inspiration, the zombie genre and more

The following comments come from Ubisoft's Jean-Karl Tupin-Bron...

On Killer Freaks being linked to the Rabbids...

"At the very beginning, it was linked to Raving Rabbids, but we moved it to the Killer Freaks game quickly. We thought about making them cousins of raving rabbids, but very quickly we decided to split [it off] — this is not what Raving Rabbids is all about. It's a new IP, so we decided to try to create Killer Freaks."

On moving away from Killer Freaks...

"It wasn't exactly what we wanted to do, because we wanted to develop a game that was only possible on the Wii U. You always had to aim down. I loved the creatures. It reminds me of movies from the 1980s, like Gremlins.

At one of the [publisher] meetings, the problems appeared; but we were already aware of them, so it was just a confirmation. We were already thinking that the creatures and the universe were fun, but it doesn't work so well. So when Ubisoft Paris told us that it had issues, we said, 'Yeah, you're right.'

The Wii U GamePad wasn't exactly what we wanted for this kind of gameplay. We wanted to develop something for the two screens, but we didn't have any very good ideas for a very speedy first-person shooter with two screens. So we twisted the concept and arrived at ZombiU. The idea of zombies was very cool, because it was a good opportunity to slow down the pace, and also to have creatures that were better known by the public. It was perfect for us.

We loved Killer Freaks, and the idea of changing subjects at the very beginning was a bit painful. But when ZombiU appeared, almost the entire team said, 'That is really, really cool and we want to do that.'"

On not being just another Zombie game...

"We don't want to make another zombie game. We want to make our game with original features and game mechanics, and that's why we decided to push the concept further. We wanted to make it a game, make it fun and make it really, really scary."

On the title itself...

"It started as a working title; a kind of joke, even, because we were reminiscing about Zombi, the first game from Ubisoft. We said, 'That's a codename, but it's absolutely perfect. I'm looking for a zombie game on Wii U: ZombiU. You can't miss it.'"

On similarities between ZombiU and Zombi...

"[Similarities appear] naturally, because the original Zombi from the 80s had the same vision. The idea was to make something very realistic — we had the same path and the same development process, and we arrive at some ideas that are very similar; but we never said that we should take an idea from Zombi because it was first.

Right now with the Walking Dead games, we know that we can make adventure games with zombies. But back in 1986, it was less obvious. There were a lot of good ideas in that game, and it's nice to have that kind of ... we can't say that it's a sequel, but it's nice to have that history at Ubisoft."

Hidden within ZombiU is a nod to Killer Freaks, which is shown in an "Attack of the Killer Freaks" movie poster.

On the Dark Souls comparisons...

"Of course, we played Dark Souls a lot. We played Super Meat Boy. We played all of these games. [ZombiU is] tough, but I think it's never unfair. Each time you lose, you have a way to come back quickly to get back your items. It's tough, and sometimes it's complicated, but it's not unfair.

We didn't want to have our own hero in ZombiU because it should be possible to lose him. That brought us to the point that we wanted a survival game; we wanted it difficult and tough, and we wanted to have a death system that is painful, but not so much. When you lose a character, it means that you lose a lot of things, and it means that you will do whatever you can to avoid death. For a zombie game, it was perfect."

On the creation of The Prepper...

"The idea was to create a non-playable character, who is going to be the link between all of the survivors. This guy is the most important character in the game."

On inspiration from other games...

"We have talked a lot about Condemned: Criminal Origins, which is an amazing survival horror game, and it's a first-person shooter. It works very well because using the first-person view is a perfect way to hide things. When you are developing survival horror games, the best way to find scary things is not to show them.

[The game says] 'Yeah, look at your Wii U controller; do not pay attention to your TV.' One of the biggest issues we had was telling the user, 'Stop watching this screen and start watching the other one,' and vice versa. It sounds quite stupid, but telling that to the user is seriously complicated.

I think users will learn very quickly that when you start switching from the first-person view to the third-person view it means that you have to look at your Wii U controller."

On the Red Steel negativity bleeding into ZombiU...

"It's surprising. It's not the same team at all; [Ubisoft] just developed the two games. Red Steel has a history and ZombiU has a history, but we are not the same game at all,. But to be fair, if Capcom or Sega is developing a game for day one for the Wii U, we are not talking about the day one game from Capcom or Sega for the first Wii as well. So it was surprising, but we didn't pay attention to that."

Categories: Interviews, Consoles
Tags: wii-u, ubisoft


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