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Indie Developer September: Zone 416

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This month, n3rdbomber is focusing on the great world of indie games!  For those of you who don’t know, the term “indie game” refers to “independent games,” or games that are not backed by a large video game publisher.  Typically, an individual or a small team works endlessly to create a new and innovative game, often relying on digital distribution and the support/willingness of gamers to take a chance on them.

While indie games usually have budget and size limitations imposed on them, their developers have the creative freedom often not afforded to mainstream game studios.  This gives them the ability to experiment with new gameplay styles, features, and even graphics – giving way to some of the most innovative games you’ll ever play.  Of course, not all indie games are equal, and there are always exceptional diamonds in the rough.  Minecraft, for example, was initially considered an indie game.

That said, this month, we will feature four develops that WE think are produced some of the more top-notch up-and-coming indie games, spanning different genres and platforms.  Each Thursday in September, we’ll feature a different developing team and their game.

For this installment of Indie Developer September Spotlight, we had a chat with Ricky Hyde, one of the primary developers for the real-time strategy zombie game, Zone 416.

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NB: Tell us a little about your game/team and how you got started.

Zone 416 is a post-apocalyptic zombie real-time strategy game that places players in control of a small group of survivors. As players progress through the game, they will establish a camp, recruit survivors, hunt for resources, and trade and fight for turf alongside other AI faction leaders that they encounter.

Everyone on the team went to Humber College, a community college in Toronto, Canada. We have members from different fields of study including Writing, Programming and 3D/2D Art. We all met through multi-program projects, and have been working together ever since.

NB: Where did you draw inspiration for the game, both at the storyline and gameplay-style level?

A lot of inspiration, gameplay wise, came from my love for StarCraft, thus the RTS elements. However, after playing games like Banished, I felt that controlling your survivors demanded too much attention. This lead to changing the survivors to be more autonomous with strengths and weaknesses.

A little later on down the line, Andy (Designer) joined the project and we came up with a cool idea about having other leaders that players would have to be mindful of. We drew a lot of inspiration from Civilization and their leaders and diplomacy system.

As for storyline, I had always thought the rabies virus would make for good zombies, as it naturally just makes its victims aggressive. I passed this off to Jennifer (Writer) and she, and a couple others, came up with a great backstory explaining the events that led to the pandemic.

NB: What software do you use to develop zone 416?

We are using Unity 3D 4.X

NB: Gaming is a quickly-evolving industry. How long have you been working on Zone 416 and how do you stay ahead of new trends?

My opinion on trends in the gaming industry is that there shouldn’t be any. Following trends leads to lack of innovation, as you’re sticking with what has worked in the past or is working right now. I started working on Zone 416 not because zombies is and was the “in thing”, but simply because I wanted to make a game that combined some of the mechanics from my favorite games. Now I feel, due to innovation from me and my team, Zone 416 stands out in an over-crowed zombie horde. 🙂

NB: What video game that you played was your favorite/influenced you most to pursue developing?

I’ve loved video games, especially Mario and Pokemon, when I was younger. But the process behind the making of games was never clear to me – that is until I popped in the extra CD that came with my God of War 2. That CD contained a documentary of the making of the game. I fell in love, and here I am today making my own games.

NB: Any other advice you might have for aspiring developers?

I am still aspiring to be a full-time developer myself, thus the Kickstarter. However, for all those who are worrying that it’s too hard. I had never coded a day in my life before college, now I absolutely love it. The benefits of seeing your hard work pay off is amazing!

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I don’t know about you guys, but this game looks awesome to me.  This basically combines my love for zombies with the strategy of RTS gaming – and the graphics and gameplay footage so far look great!  We can’t wait to see how this game progresses and look forward to (hopefully) playing a demo sometime soon.

If you’d like to see more of Zone 416, the developers urge you to check out the following links:

Kickstarter: http://kck.st/1u6QA6x

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