New Zombie MMOZ (And How I Predicted The Future)

A few months ago I wrote about how I’d love to see a Zombie MMORPG and what I’d like to see in it. Today, my fantasy has been birthed as I just discovered that Jeff Strain, veteran Blizzard programmer and Guild Wars founder, has started a game development studio called Undead Labs in order to “create the definitive massively multiplayer zombie game”. I think I just pee’d my pants a little.

Information about the game is pretty patchy because, by all accounts, it’s just kicked off so there’s nothing to really know at this stage. Suffice to say, after checking Jeff’s resume, I feel comfortable in his hands. He worked on Diablo, Starcraft, Warcraft 3 and was the original lead programmer on World of Warcraft before creating Guild Wars. Of course this is no guarentee that he will create a great Zombie MMO but it certainly stacks the deck in it’s favour.

However, no cloud is without it’s grey lining, and apparently this MMOZ will be for…um… “console gamers”. Confused much? Well, after reading his interview on Eurogamer it sounds like Jeff’s on a mission to reinvent the MMO console game, just like Bungie did with Halo on the Xbox. This won’t be your normal MMORPG then.

I still think my idea of an EVE like sandbox, tough-as-nails, zombie survival horror MMORPG would be awesome. But then I would say that, wouldn’t I? Perhaps it’s still not to late to influence ol’ Jeff. Anyone got his email address?

P.S. If you’re wondering how I “predicted the future” on this it was, um, because I had an idea for a zombie MMO a few months before this was announced. Hence why I believe I had a premonition.

P.P.S. Big thanks to Andrew over at Of Teeth and Claws (a mighty fine blog indeed) for letting me know about this news!

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  1. You missed the boat, Gordon! See? You could’ve made a million dollars.

    Seriously, though, I think this is fantastic. I’ll certainly be giving it a shot when and if it ever sees the light of day.

  2. Tesh says:


    I saw that and thought you might like it. :)

    Of course, the likelihood of using the sub model means I’ll be sitting out… again. Here’s hoping he makes a good game.

  3. Longasc says:

    Undead Labs is also in Seattle? I wonder if he still has dinner with his former ArenaNet co-workers there.

    I am sure he is a creative guy, but it was not too long ago when he was talking stuff like “there can be only one major MMO” and basically telling everyone they have to beat WoW to succeed. This was on the Games Convention when it was still in Leipzig. Many people, according to journalists, just left the room after he started out like this.

    Now he is creating a “niche MMO”. Seems he has found a new ecological niche for a new MMO that is not affected by his former “players can only play one MMO” mentality. :)

    Still, long live Jeff Strain. He is a walking overdose of innovation in an industry where even space combat (read: STO!) borrows heavily from the stone-old and quite tired unholy trinity principle…!

    • Gordon says:

      I didn’t know much about him before I heard about Undead Labs but he has a sound track record so I guess that’s important. And I agree about the overdose of innovation. Dunno if it will work but I’m glad someone is trying something other than a fantasy MMORPG.

  4. Scott says:

    I for one welcome his idea. I’m quite unsure of the longevity or viability of a zombie MMOG but I’ve been saying for some time that studios cannot simply port a PC MMORPG over to a console. It simply won’t work. And as he notices, we expect different things from games on our consoles, and somehow I doubt typical Diku unresponsive combat would cut it. The subscription model concerns me, however. Assuming we’re talking console-only players, you already have the 360 owners paying monthly or annually for Xbox LIVE’s matchmaking, etc. features. Realistically, XBL and a MMOG are two separate services, but good luck convincing them of that. On the other hand, we are more accepting of premium DLC (what an MMOG would call an “expansion” or “content update”) than the PC-only crowd currently is. Also note that he never says his game will be an RPG either, we just tend to assume the “RPG” is silently attached to the “MMO” when we read it, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case anymore.

    I’m rapidly becoming a console-only gamer, however. I’ve been on MMOG break for over 6 months (and MMOG’s is pretty much the only gaming I still do on PC’s) and the past few days tried to make a brief appearance in LOTRO and Battlefield 2142 and the RSI in my right wrist (my mouse-controlling hand) is already starting to flare up again. If someone can pull off a quality MMOG on the 360 with fun and compelling gameplay that ditches the tedium and… Diku-ness of what people keep buying into on the PC platform, I’m all for it.

    • Gordon says:

      I’ve got no problems with a MMO on a console and I agree that you just can’t port MMORPGs over to them and expect them to work. I think the idea of developing a MMO directly for a console is an interesting one because obviously it will be tailored to it and the useability will be far greater. But yeah… I don’t think the sub model will go down well with console gamers.

  5. “…I just pee’d my pants little!” lmao!!

    Seriously: Great info! cheers for sharing!! Looking forward to hear more about that project!!

    PS: Shame you wont get any share of the loot after all toothy for having the idea!! ;)

  6. Duane says:

    When will we get a shot at a good, FREE MMO?

    I mean, they’re getting 60 bucks per copy sold, unless it’s an arcade game. But even then, the sales revenue alone will be phenomenal. I just don’t get the ‘You’re paying subscription fees.’ part. D:

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