Interview: The War Z And Surviving A Zombie Apocalypse MMO

Hammerpoint Interactive's upcoming third-person shooter MMO, The War Z, has received quite a bit of press as of late. The game has received most of its comparisons to the alpha mod for Arma II, DayZ. Well, we had a chance to talk with Alex Josef the marketing frontman for Hammerpoint about the upcoming open-world, zombie-survival shooter and ask about some of the common things that the community has been wondering about since its announcement.

Gaming Blend: First up, I gotta apologize about the things I said about Sergey in the original article about The War Z regarding the noob antics. I had no idea he was using the video as a testbed for showcasing certain features of the game. Could you explain a little bit of how this video came about and what exactly he was trying to show?

Alex Josef: After posted the PAX alpha gameplay video, we got bunch of questions on the forums with regards to some technical stuff. A lot of people complained that terrain textures looked pretty blurry and that there weren't any gun reload animations or third-person view. So we just made a small video that addressed those three issues. It wasn't meant to show any actual action or gameplay elements. In hindsight, I realized that if someone was viewing the video out of context (I.e. Outside of the forum thread it was posted to) it looks pretty ridiculous and noobish.

Gaming Blend: Despite the comments about Sergey, the feedback for the video and the content was actually quite positive from readers, with a lot of gamers showing a lot of interest in the game on our Facebook page. Moving forward with promoting the game, would you consider using a more community-based promotional effort similar to Dean Hall and the guys who worked on DayZ, where word of mouth, YouTube videos and “Let's Play” sessions did most of the promotional work, or will The War Z use more tried-and-true methods of pre-selected media assets and promoting the game through the traditional gaming media circles?

Alex: We rely more on providing information to players through media outlets, social media and community outreach. Once we begin the closed-beta test and more people have access to playing the game, we’ll encourage players to make their own videos, stories, screenshots and share them. We're even building a type of community portal that allows users to post links to their youtube videos or images and then other players can vote on which ones they like the best. We will be rewarding players whose videos get the most votes with prizes.

We really feel that launching the game will just be the beginning of a long trip together with our players. We want to be sure that the game is living up to the expectations of the community – so reaching out to players, getting their feedback and improving the game experience as we go is a huge chunk of our strategy.

Gaming Blend: Regarding the game's tech...I know in the latest video that Sergey made it was more about the technical aspects of the game's performance, but what about engine many players and zombies can be in the world or on the screen at once?

Alex: We’re able to display around a couple hundred zombies on screen without significant slowdown, but, to be honest I don’t think that you’ll ever encounter a situation like this. Usually depending on the size of the town you can expect to encounter between 10 to 100 zombies per settlement, which still can be a pretty significant number.

Mostly we’ll be limited by design and balancing needs, not technology.

Gaming Blend: I'm curious about the "safe settlements." are players completely unable to fight in them, or are there A.I. guards that keep the peace?

Alex: Safe settlements are just places that people who survived the infestation built to keep zombies out, and kind of maintain civilization. They have distinctive visual design, so you can’t mistake them for other towns and settlements. So technically nothing prevents group of bandits from attacking a safe settlement - It’ll be kind of the same as trying to start shooting people in a shooting range J - so most likely you’ll get killed right away, but we do not prevent you from trying to do that.

Gaming Blend: I assume it's like DayZ and you drop all your gear wherever you die. Curious if war z will be the same, considering players could conceivably spend real-world money on consumables at the shops because in that case, it's like you're losing actual money by dying.

Alex: Yes, you’ll lose what you have in your backpack when you die – both in Normal and Hardcore modes. And yes, if you bought something using real money, you’ll lose that item as well. This is a price you’ll have to pay. We’ve discussed that a lot and at the end decided that this will provide a pretty good incentive for players to either be extra cautious while playing, or just not spend too much money in the game and, instead, try to procure all items by finding them in the game world.

Gaming Blend: There are no static "teams" in Dayz (like clans or guilds or whatever) so I'm curious whether players will be able to group up in any concrete fashion in War Z.

Alex: We provide several mechanics to players – first of all “Friends list” – you’ll be able to befriend other players, track their progress, and join servers together to play as a team. In the game world you’ll see distinctive markers on top of your friend’s heads – so you’ll be able to instantly tell if a person is on your friend list or not.

We also provide a formal Clan system to players – they’ll be able to form a clan, track their clan’s activities, fight other clans, create a sort of clan “stronghold” using instanced worlds, etc.

Official The War Z Website