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PAX AUS 2014 – Cannibal Fever Interview
When zombies began to invade the world of gaming five or so years ago, who would have expected these shambling and partially decomposed adversaries to still be a popular choice for developers in 2014? We’ve seen zombie role playing games, zombie shooters and even zombie dating sims. One thing that’s been relatively unseen, however, is zombie real time strategy games. That’s where Cannibal Fever comes in. The game just launched its Kickstarter campaign over the weekend and I caught up with Michael of Forbidden Film Studios during PAX AUS to learn more about the game.
Can you introduce us to Cannibal Fever?
Michael: Certainly. So my name is Michael Carroll and I work for Forbidden Film Studios, a local company in Melbourne, Australia. We’re here today at PAX AUS 2014 to announce the launch of the Kickstarter for our zombie RTS game Cannibal Fever which basically has a whole bunch of elements to it which I hope will make it really successful. We’re using live action, motion capture animation and we have great American voice talents such as John DiMaggio, Jim Cummings and Richard Doyle which I hope will make this game really cool sounding ans really immersive.
Do you plan to approach the RTS genre with a more Warcraft/Starcraft style or should we be thinking more along the lines of Command & Conquer or Age of Empires?
M: I think we’re doing some slightly different things with our RTS. Obviously you get to play as the zombies and the issue with that is that zombies don’t really collect resources or build structures so we had to come up with a number of ways to make that work.
M: The world is preexisting and you will move your units around the map to capture key buildings. Those key buildings will then build more units or research new upgrades on a time basis – the bigger the unit or upgrade, the longer it takes. I was worried about this not working but then I remembered a game I played as a kid called Z by the Bitmap Brothers which basically had the same thing where you’ve got territories and it was really fast paced. You had to think about your strategy and be on top of all these different things and it made it really fast and I think that’s what we’re looking for in this game. Fast action that makes you feel immersed and slightly distressed – either you’re trying to kill hordes and hordes of zombies or you’re using your horde of zombies to kill them.
Tell us a bit about where you’re going with your approach to the visual design for the game? Is there any particular version of the zombie apocalypse that’s guiding your vision?
M: For Cannibal Fever we have our unique version of the zombie apocalypse. What’s happened is an American department called the Department for Advanced Medical Research and Progress created a drug-addict reviving solution – so basically they could wipe off that lower rung of society so they could stop having issues with taxpayers paying for treatments and stuff like that. So they were doing this, created this drug and shipped it for mass distribution not realizing that it had the side effect of cannibal fever. Not long after this came the release of the largest zombie film to ever exist, a film called ‘Biohazard’. This movie was huge with billboards all across America and what happened is that when the cannibal fever set in, everyone thought it was an elaborate viral marketing stunt. It was only after people had been infected and bitten that they realized it wasn’t a hoax.
This means we have a whole bunch of cool elements to the game to make it different. We have the fake brands as the game is set in our own vision of America. The other thing we have is different types of zombies: we have the slow moving normal infected and things like Conduits and Patients – the ones who took the drugs – are our runners instead of shufflers.
So what kind of content will the full game have? Can we expect a single player campaign as well as multiplayer?
M: For the base game we have a campaign with a tutorial in it – we’ll be hiding a lot of Easter eggs and trophies in that. We also then have Predators Versus Prey mode which will be online as well as single player. What that means it that one team is the zombies and evil people while the other is the good people.
M: With online you can have multiple players on each side in different numbers – as long as there’s at least one player on each. We then have Quarantine Mode which is basically at the end of the time allocated a nuke will level the entire map so you have until then to wipe the other player off the map. We also have on top of that another mode called Outlast. Outlast puts you in the center of a very large map and it’s a wave survival mode. The issue is that because you have to capture buildings to build units you have to be careful how far you stretch your forces out over the map. But basically, a wave survival mode.
With the campaign will there be any sort of co-op?
M: The campaign is just single player. Obviously with it being a Kickstarter this is something were looking into. We’d love to get co-op but with the RTS systems it’ll be a little harder to do.
Also, are there any plans for LAN play?
M: Yeah. There will be LAN play for all of the modes except Outlast.
Can you talk a little bit about the voice talent you’ve got lined up for the game, how did that come about?
M: So obviously, I’ve been running Forbidden Film Studios for the last four and a half years and worked in film and television for the last six. So we’re very good at making sure to find the resources we need for the project. Knowing that, we wanted to create this immersive game world we sought some of the best talent we could get. So we’ve got John DiMaggio, Jim Cummings, Jamison Pryce, Bob Burkin, Mark Growl and Richard Doyle. We’re excited to have them on board and the great thing is they’re excited to be on board. We sent them a one page brief and they came back and were ecstatic.
The other day I saw Jim Cummings posting on Twitter about us telling his followers to ‘please back this I want to do some scary voices’. Obviously he’s known for his Disney stuff so he’s so keen to be doing some scary voices and we’re happy to have him on board.
I know it’s early but do you have any long term plans for the game?
M: Currently on our Kickstarter we’ve got a number of stretch goals to be added which could possibly end up being DLC for the game. We’re also working very hard to set up the story of Cannibal Fever because we have other stories and other types of games we’d like to explore in the same universe. We’re looking at things like social games that could launch at the same time as the Cannibal Fever RTS.
A lot of these things have yet to come to fruition – obviously were focusing on the Kickstarter itself at the moment – but we’ve also got the Factions game mode which basically adds a whole bunch of different factions and units which will be playable on other game modes. We’ve even got an idea for a game mode called Biohazard 1994 – which is a mode which will be a fake game from our Biohazard film. Basically, we’ve got a whole bunch of things we’d like to add if we get the funding.