Sometimes you have to kill something to bring it back to life
As you may have read in our newsletter, forum posts and in-game messages, World of the Living Dead will soon be shutting down, as we prepare to reboot the game as World of the Living Dead: Resurrection.
Obviously this is big news, and we wanted to let you, our players, know the reasoning behind why we made this important decision, and to kick off a series of blog posts that will go into quite a lot of detail about the fundamental changes we’ve made to the game.
So why did we take this drastic decision? Well, sometimes you have to kill something to bring it back to life.
It’s been a few years since WotLD was first released. We’ve learned a lot since then. We learned that it’s really difficult for a team of two people to develop a game and get it noticed, but we also learned that it’s even more difficult to deal with attention once you get it. WotLD was very successful in grabbing attention from the beginning. Ironically, this was the very thing that almost led to an early grave for the game.
Both of us had worked for Jolt Online for some time before we decided to branch out on our own and make our own game. I (Dave) had worked extensively on game design and UI for NationStates 2, as well as being Lead Designer for Legends of Zork, while Kulpreet had been Chief Technical Officer for the company, prior to it’s acquisition by GameStop (which subsequently shut the company down).
We believed that we had what it took to make something different, something focused on a fulfilling player experience rather than based on a quick profit or simplistic addiction mechanisms. Ballardia Ltd. was born out of the idea that players would have to work hard and play well to succeed in our games. World of the Living Dead was to be our first foray into the world of independent game development. Although there were already dozens of zombie games out there, we felt that we could bring some gritty realism to the genre – and have some fun doing it as well.
Long-time fans of the ideas put forth by teams such as 37 Signals, we took a “Getting Real” approach to the development of the game, diving straight in and building it organically, using the initial idea of a realistic zombie strategy game built upon Google Maps. We rapidly brought WotLD into alpha and then beta testing, refining and improving it as we went. After several iterations and extensive testing, we finally felt ready to open the doors and allow more than a few hundred players to engage with our universe.
So the doors opened and a horde of players streamed in. With positive coverage from press heavyweights such as Rock, Paper, Shotgun, we were dismayed to see the game pretty much collapse whenever there was a wave of signups, leading to player dissatisfaction and developer panic. We could see what was wrong but we quickly realized that the only thing we could do was to re-engineer the game practically from scratch.
It was a tough decision – and we were close to getting out the shovel and burying WotLD several times over the last year – but we went back to basics, took the game apart and put it back together again. We’ve been very quiet for the past year but now we’re about to unleash WotLD: Resurrection.
Stay tuned to the blog over the coming weeks as we announce details on the migration from Google Maps to Open Street Maps, our new grid-based movement system and big changes to z-density movement. We’ll also be looking in detail at topics such as Scavenging, Survivors, Hunger and Thirst, Safehouses, Repairs and Modifications, and Research.
We want your questions for our Community Q&A!
We appreciate the fans who have played WotLD to the bitter end, and we will be preparing a separate Community Q&A to answer a lot of your questions. If you would like to have your question to the developers considered, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, you can keep up to date by following us on http://twitter.com/wotld, becoming a fan at http://facebook.com/wotld, reading the blog at http://blog.worldofthelivingdead.com and joining the forum at http://forum.worldofthelivingdead.com