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Dead State Interview at RockPaperShotgun

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Dead State Interview at RockPaperShotgun

Interview - posted by Crooked Bee on Wed 6 June 2012, 13:19:11

Tags: Dead State; DoubleBear Productions

RockPaperShotgun has done a pretty lengthy interview with Brian and Annie about Dead State, which has just started a Kickstarter campaign. Have some bits:

RPS: Do you plan to offer beta access or any sort of early playable content for pledgers?

Brian: I know this is one of those features that everyone thinks they want, but take it from someone who started out doing QA for RPGs – they aren’t really fun to play at an early stage. Perks don’t do anything, dialogue isn’t finished, quests don’t work, combat is missing cool animations, and balance is a gleam in the project lead’s eye. And then people get upset that the “game” that they paid for isn’t fun and just what the hell have the developers done with their money and there is much running to the internet to complain about how awful the unfinished game is, which is then collectively read as “the game sucks” and at least that’s been my experience.

Annie: It’s fantastically difficult to judge how people will react to unfinished content (usually with white-hot rage), so it’s a scary proposition. On the plus side, if you do get an understanding audience of folks who really do want to make the game as best they can, you can get some amazingly helpful data and feedback from them, so that’s an enticing prospect as well.

Brian: We may reach out to interested backers on our forums to help test the beta if they know what they’re getting into, but I’ve found that general beta access is much better for open world, unscripted games where running around and making your own fun is the core of the game. For RPGs with a lot of story, character development, and intertwined systems, it really doesn’t work so much. I know people are going to write us and be upset about that and tell us we’re wrong, but it’s better now than fielding angry letters about how the game had no ending or a helicopter was just a big checker box or their male character was using female animations and it stirred up strange feelings in them.

RPS: The other human groups, such as a survivalist militia, presumably have their own shelters. Is it possible to drive them out and move into their home, abandoning the school?

Brian: It’s not possible to take over their places because you’re probably going to compromise the security of the place trying to take it over (to be quite honest, it would be a scripting nightmare to have to rig multiple areas with the complexity of the shelter). But, you can try taking them on in combat if you really want – there are other, better ways to deal with other groups. The risks are great for going in guns blazing, but the rewards are worth it. However, not risking multiple allies’ lives and playing it smarter could lead to less immediate loot but less of a morale H-bomb to have to clean up after. Keep in mind, most of the groups in the game are still around because they’re organized/tough enough to have made it this far. Going up against another scavenging party and going up against a survivor base is the difference between a fist fight and a gun battle.

Annie: Most of all, we’ve tried to make the school an attractive place to hold on to – it’s defensible, adaptable, and equipped with certain amenities that make it the most practical place to settle in. So in our mind it was less a question of “CAN you take an enemy’s base” and more “why bother with land? We just want their stuff!”

RPS: How does character creation work? Are the player’s strengths and weaknesses based on his life before zombies?

Brian: Character creation is completely up to the player. We’ll explain what each skill and stat is good for and give them their starting points and an idea of what kind of perks they might get in each skill path. We don’t have any backgrounds at the moment, and we may not. We look at the setting as a kind of “new life” for the allies and player character. Their old skills, for the most part, mean nothing in the new world. It’s adapt or die, and you’ll see a bit of that reflected in the narrative.

Annie: Also, where do you draw the line where real-world professions start to get tweaked into character classes? “Doctor” and “Police Officer” would be kind of the win, wouldn’t they? But what about Security Guards and Dentists, or the use of Microbiologists and Farmers? (Game Developer would probably be the worst class in that scenario. We’d be zombie food in minutes). That said, we’re looking for a kind of bare-bones motif in character creation – looks, stats, skills, etc. We’re using a “scavenged object” motif in the UI design of the whole game, how we first conceptualized character creation is that you’re filling out a driver’s license – a bare-bones, data-driven kind of character. We did this because we wanted the personality of the character to be something that the player discovered throughout the course of playing the game, especially when it came to elements of the player’s backstory.​

Be sure to have a look at the full interview here.

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