Death, Inc. Interview: Spreading The Plague Is Fun
From the minds that brought us such wonderful games like Little Big Planet, Fable and Burnout, comes a brand new strategy game: Death, Inc. But don’t expect Death, Inc. to be like any other strategy game you’ve ever played. Oh no. That would be so blaise. In Death, Inc., you play the grim reaper and your goal is to spread the plague thoughout England in the 1660’s Monty-Python style.
That sounds awesome, right? The developer, Ambient Studios, behind the game seem to think so. In an interview with Jonny Hopper, game director and studio founder, I got to the bottom of the concept and details surrounding the game, which goes live as a Kickstarter project today.
The idea for using the plague in a game originally came from Ambient artist Jon Eckersley. The original concept involved zombies, but zombie games are everywhere and Ambient wanted to do something different. “So we started thinking about what exactly makes zombies cool,” Hopper said. “Why does this core concept make me smile? And from that we started playing around with different time periods and ideas – zombies, but not zombies – and our designer Mike Green hit upon the plague.”
Once the developers had decided upon working around the plague, the time period came naturally. Hopper said, “The 17th century has so much mystery and brutality. Artistically it’s incredibly satisfying. Additionally, it’s not been overdone in games so it’s going to be a really fresh experience.”
These concepts led to figuring that the most likely candidate to benefit from the plague would be the grim reapers. And that gave the creative team a lot of wiggle room. “The nature of reapers also means we can take some creative license with history, too – it’s ok for us to be ever so slightly anachronistic,” Hopper stated.
It seems that more and more big-name game developers are turning to Kickstarter to fund newer projects. Why is this a trend? The answer is almost always the same – developers get to do something that publishers may be a little afraid of. According to Hopper, “Publishers can get scared of quirky games, and strategy games too: so, a quirky strategy game? Tough sell.”
Publishers, of course, are completely out of touch because strategy games have and always will be popular. And this one is proving to be no different, “So far, the response has been really good,” Hopper said. “One of the lovely things about not having a publisher is that we’re able to not only able to talk to the community who are supporting us, but also listen to their valuable input. Publishers can be scared of that kind of thing, too.”