During E3 back in 2011 Ubisoft revealed a trailer for a Wii U exclusive game known as Killer Freaks from Outer Space. The game looked to be a light-hearted survival horror game that featured strange intergalactic creatures that were hell bent on consuming every living being in their path.
Killer Freaks has moved on quite a bit since then; it still has the survival horror element but the enemies aren’t from space at all - in fact, they’re zombies. For those who are unaware, Killer Freaks is now known as ZombiU and it certainly has come a long way since 2011.
In the latest Iwata Asks, President of Nintendo Satoru Iwata sat down with the team who made ZombiU and asked them about how Killer Freaks evolved into ZombiU in such a relatively short space of time.
Xavier Poix, managing director at Ubisoft Paris, Annecy and Montpellier, explained that they had many early prototypes for the game, each one trying to get the most out of the GamePad’s extra screen, speakers and gyroscope. The team found that the more they experimented with the two screens, the more they wanted to move away from a fast paced gaming experience found in many other first person shooters.
The alien monsters found in Killer Freaks were just too fast so the team set about making a game that would “create an experience that’s just as thrilling, despite not placing an emphasis on speed”.
We understood early in development that the player couldn’t look at both screens at the same time and so we needed to give them time to enjoy the two screens. Early on, we thought that maybe we could have players use the Wii U GamePad in a more strategic way. Basically, that meant the player would create a strategy on the Wii U GamePad and when they carry it out the action will happen on the TV screen. This was our basic concept.
We tried it out with Killer Freaks, but the enemies moved too quickly and it wasn't really possible to go back and forth between the two screens. You were only able to use the Wii U GamePad when you were safe and hidden from the action.
So Ubisoft Montpellier set about looking for an enemy that was still terrifying but moved slowly. It didn't take them long to decide on zombies.
The new undead enemies made perfect sense as the team started to develop a new kind of slow-paced first person shooter that took full advantage of the GamePad - as Guillaume Brunier, the game’s producer, explained:
What we did was make it so that when you are looking through your backpack on the Wii U GamePad, the perspective on the TV screen changes from first-person to showing your character on the screen. This meant that you had some time to do whatever you needed to do on the Wii U GamePad while still paying attention to what was happening around you.
As we already knew the bizarre little creatures in Killer Freaks were in fact warped versions of Rabbids. Brunier says the idea was “to give players the opportunity to really trash and destroy the Rabbids”. Maybe that wasn't such a bad idea, actually.
ZombiU is available right now in North America and will be this coming Friday in Europe. Check out what we thought of the game in our ZombiU review.
Do you think the slow paced Zombies were a better option than those hyperactive alien Rabbids? Have your say in the comments section below.