Tactical Chat: Zombie Outbreak Simulator

By Owen Faraday 10 Apr 2012 0

It's been a long, bumpy road to the zombie holocaust - but for Binary Space games, it finally starts tonight. Years after the original Zombie Outbreak Simulator and it's spin-off title Class 3 Outbreak were launched on the web, and after a kerfuffle with Apple over the app's icon, Zombie Outbreak Simulator is coming to iOS tonight at midnight.

ZOS is a zombie movie laboratory, placing the user into a bird's eye view of a real-world location (via streamed Google Maps satellite images) and then putting an array of scenario variables at your disposable. You can set your experiment up with fast 28 Days Later-style running zombies in Reykjavik or slow Romero-style zombies in concealed-weapons-friendly Arizona - then watch as nature (or unnature) does its thing.

With its modest level of interaction, Zombie Outbreak Simulator is as much a toy as it is a game, but given the phenomenal success of titles like Pandemic 2 and Doodle God, there's every reason that Zombie Outbreak Simulator could be a hit - it's two web-based predecessors were played over 3 million times.

After the jump, my chat with Binary Space's Creative Director, Jay Weston: zombie movies that inspired ZOS, the tale of how they fell afoul of the App Store approval process, and more.

Owen Faraday: Does it take moxie to release a zombie-themed title in 2012? Are zombies starting to get a little stale as a theme for games?

Jay Weston: Well, do you think war games are getting stale as a theme? There are so many things you can do within a theme as broad as zombies - arcade shooters, FPS, strategy, MMO/RPG, tower defence. Zombies are a great backdrop for drama, action and strategy.

OF: There's a lot of source material to draw inspiration from. The end of a ZOS sim calls to mind some of the wide shots of empty London at the beginning of 28 Days Later.

JW: I personally am quite into Zombie films and games. 28 Days Later is one of my favorite films. Also Dawn of the Dead, and more recently Zombieland was great fun. Zombie games I love are Left 4 Dead and Last Stand.

Zombies and end of the world themes really challenge our current lifestyle which is quite safe and easy when compared to most of human history. Suddenly ordinary people are thrown into life or death situations, and have to deal with the fact that nothing will ever be the same again!

OF: Where did the idea to do ZOS come from?

JW: The idea to do a zombie game on Google Maps came somewhat accidentally, when I was describing the concept to Saxon [that is, Saxon Druce, Binary Games' other half -ed.] I used a screengrab of Google Maps to describe the sort of scale I was after for the game, then we thought, can we actually run the game on Google Maps? Thanks to Saxon, we could!

OF: You had some trouble getting ZOS through the App Store approval process, didn't you? Tell me about that.

JW: We submitted the game with a bloody red hand print on the app icon, and Apple said this was no good for a 4+ audience, since anyone can see app icons, including 4 year olds. We were really confused at this, enraged even.

The strange thing is, if you do a search for zombie games or horror games on the App Store, you'll see at least a dozen games far worse than ours, featuring all kinds of blood splats and mutilated corpses. We just wanted a red hand print. Unfortunately the word back from Apple was essentially "just because we've let other people release inappropriate app icons, doesn't mean we will let you". So, we changed to a green hand print.

OF: What's different about the iOS version of ZOS for the people who played it online?

JW: The iOS version allows players to view the action from various zoom levels. You can now see the action from much higher up, see where the outbreak is progressing, then zoom into any areas of interest.

OF: Given that Google Maps is right at the heart of the experience, are you going to need to be online to play?

JW: You need a live web connection to play. In the future we may do an update that caches or downloads maps in some way.

OF: Any plans to support Android in the future?

JW: We get asked this a lot, so if Zombie Outbreak Simulator goes well on iOS, this is something we will look into for sure.



iOS: Zombie Outbreak Simulator, $1.99/£1.49. Universal.
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