Destructoid Interview: Ben ‘Zombie Massacre FTW’ Krotin

Since it was revealed, the crazy new Wii concept of Zombie Massacre has continued to draw bemused glances from gamers. At first, we were floored by the insanely ridiculous idea concerning nuclear warheads being driven into a zombie-infested city. Next came news that, prior to even a publisher being signed on, Uwe Boll had snapped up the movie license rights. Yes, Zombie Massacre is a weird one, but we like weird here at Destructoid. 

The game’s developer, 1988 Games, also seems to like us, and when producer Benjamin ‘Cowboy’ Krotin contacted us to explain exactly what on Earth possessed him to throw in his lot with The Raging Boll, we decided to wrestle him into a chair, shine a light in his eyes and make him tell us so much more.

Hit the jump for our very entertaining interview with the man behind what could be one of the most ludicrously brilliant Wii titles of all time.

Destructoid: Can you tell us a bit more about Zombie Massacre? We know it’s a hybrid of Crazy Taxi-style timed driving and House of the Dead style shooting, which sounds magnificent. What else should we know to re-affirm that this is idea is as awesome as it is ridiculous?

Krotin: Well, to use a simple-but-effective mathematical formula, one could state that: Nukes + Punk Rockers + Police Weapons Arsenal + Zombies + Cars + Wiimote = Zombie Massacre! This formula is still considered unproven by some of those in the mathematics community, but we are confident that it will hold up through further scrutiny.

Although the game is a hybrid between the above-mentioned titles, what we would truly like to accomplish is to deliver a game that could stand alone on either one of those elements by itself. We would like to create an intricate and original lightgun-style shooting game, and marry it to a completely exciting and visceral driving game. By choosing these two elements and bringing them together, we get to combine two proven gameplay styles into one, and that is something that excites us as developers and as players. That, and the fact that we let players whop zombies over their damn heads with things like lawnmowers kitchen sinks!
 
Destructoid:
How far along is development? When I last wrote about Zombie Massacre, there were still no screenshots available. Will it be long before we can see some of this concept in action?
 
Krotin:
The game is progressing quite well through our current business model. Without getting into details, I’ll just say that the design (both technically and conceptually) is completed. Additionally, we have concept art that we are slowly releasing to the Internet. We do this not because we’d like to keep fans waiting, but because much of it is currently in circulation at publishers, and at some point we have to keep some of our IP confidential. However… because the fans at Destructoid are so darn cool (as is the site’s mascot), we are prepared to reveal a new piece of concept art just for you guys!

[Editor’s note — Check out a larger version of our exclusive header image below. It’s stupidly awesome.

Destructoid: Has a publisher picked the game up yet? How confident are you that you’ll find someone to distribute and are there any front runners?
 
Krotin:
Unfortunately, we cannot reveal too much about who we’re talking to, but I can say that there are some obvious candidates in there along with some publishers that people might not think of at first. We are confident that the game will get picked up and rushed into development very soon, and we are talking to several parties as we speak. However, if the readers of Destructoid wish to help us in our quest to rule the world one controller at a time, they should feel free to send any publisher that they see fit a polite request for our game. If you guys would like to see companies such as EA, Capcom, Sega or THQ (for example) bring this game to your Wiis, let them know it!! No death threats though…
 
Destructoid: Zombie Massacre is the exact kind of concept I’d envisioned for the Wii since the console’s inception — it’s original, it’s out-there and it sounds like it could be a ridiculous amount of fun at parties. However, many are of the opinion that these kinds of games are few and far between, that the Wii isn’t living up to its potential. Do you think this is a fair judgment, and we need more games like yours before the Wii can be considered achieving its conceptual goals, despite it more than proving its commercial worth?
 
Krotin: I completely and entirely agree with this assessment! What frustrates us as developers is that for the most part, all we see are mini-game collections and gimmicky titles being released for the Wii. With the exception of Nintendo (and really not by that much, to be honest) there aren’t too many companies that are trying something new and original that fully brings out the potential of the Wii. Part of the problem is that too many publishers neglected to see the Wii’s potential, and now you see them scrambling to catch up by releasing simpler games while they work on their bigger titles in the background. However, the bigger issue though is that most companies don’t really know what to do with the Wii because they just can’t come to terms with actually having to be imaginative with gameplay for once.

Before the Wii, there was a real malaise of stagnant gameplay on every console, and with the exception of a few solid titles, most companies became accustomed to just pumping out boring games and hiding their bad gameplay with fancy graphics. On the Wii, your gameplay has to be as much the star as your graphics (because of the obvious limitations), so it’s going to take a while for companies to really get into the groove again. However, I do think that with time and with innovations being brought forth by various companies (including 1988 Games), the Wii’s roster of quality third-party software will increase significantly.

Destructoid: I’ve personally said the future looks bleak for any original IPs on the Wii with the deaths of Project H.A.M.M.E.R and Pollen Sonata, not to mention the disappearance of Sadness: The Vaporware Shenanigans. How do you feel, in the position your company is in, about your future on Nintendo’s console and indeed the future of original property on the Wii?
 
Krotin: Overall, I think that the situation on the Wii will continue to improve. As I stated above, I do have high expectations for the future of original IP on the Wii, it’s just that it will take another year or so before you see a bumper crop appear on the console. Also, I think that more companies like 1988 Games should stand up and start kicking the doors in at publishers. If enough of us get in there and say, “look, stop making branded crap, and let’s do something kick-ass,” the publishers are bound to begin listening. At the end of the day, publishers need to make money, and with the Wii they now see a leading next-gen console with a huge global install-base. Now they just need to capitalize on new content, and I think they will become more open to original games once they see one or two of them really strike it big. The games are cheaper and easier to make for the Wii, and they’re just as profitable… So to reiterate my previous point, the developers really need to step up and start kicking these doors in!
 
As for the cancelled projects, each one has its own little story that I could spend hours dissecting, so for your sake I won’t. What I will say is that Sadness made no sense to me from a business or gameplay perspective, so I’m not surprised that it became vaporware. In general though, if you look at the actual back-stories of each of these cancelled (or evaporated) titles, you will see that in each case there was some critical business situation that lead to the title’s demise. In our case, we have full control over our IP, we have motion picture deal, and we have great working relationships with some of the best names in the business.
 
Bottom line: If Zombie Massacre doesn’t make it, I have no clue what will! ;^)

Destructoid: Onto the rather … grim business then. I reported earlier that 1988 Games have signed a deal, are conspiring if you will, to have a Zombie Massacre movie made at the hands of Uwe Boll himself. You’ve already done so for me, but for my readers — can you explain yourself!?
 
Krotin: Yes, it is true, we are indeed working with Uwe!
 
Now now, before all of the f-bombs, racial tirades and accusations of Satanism begin, I just want to say that we are not insane. Look, Uwe’s a great guy if you actually come up and talk to him… He’s very funny, he’s knows what he wants to accomplish, he’s a talented director, and he’s extremely business savvy. I cannot think of anyone in the world with more experience than him at making games into movies, and I’ll tell you from personal experience that he knows his stuff! He actually does play the games, and he makes it a point to pay tribute to them as much as possible in all of his films. That alone more than qualifies him for the job, and we personally consider it an honor that he has chosen to work with us on bringing our big-screen ambitions to life. Whether or not you actually like any his movies is not so much a commentary on his skill, as it is really on the games on which these movies are based. Didn’t like House of the Dead? Guess what, it’s an arcade game!! It has no story… It’s Virtua Cop with zombies. What was that, didn’t like BloodRayne?? Maybe because she’s a rip-off vampire Lara Croft! The games themselves were all terrific, but I think people need to realize that not all of them make good movies. So why did anyone make them into movies in the first place?? The same reason why we have more Medal of Honor games than most of us have fingers and toes; money.
 
So, for those that haven’t passed out from the sheer amount of anger and delirium caused by this announcement, we just wish to say that we’re looking forward to bringing out an exciting game in addition to an exciting movie!
 
Destructoid: Has work started on a script yet? Will there be a script? Sometimes it’s hard to tell with Uwe.
 
Krotin: I think that we’re just going to ad-lib the whole thing. I figure that if we just add enough explosions, buildings falling down, shameless product placements, cars transforming into bipedal mechs, and Shia LaBeouf, we can make a hell of a movie. It worked for Michael Bay…
 
I mean honestly, who the hell needs a script these days??
 
Destructoid: Zombie elephant versus zombie rhinoceros. Which one is winning?
 
Krotin: Now this is clearly the most pertinent question of all! Instinctively, I would have to say that the Zombie Elephant would have the advantage due to his size, but then again we must also consider that the Zombie Rhino has a sturdy vertical tusk and better armoring on his skin. Of course, there is also the Zombie factor, and it dictates that both animals will be bloodthirsty savages hell-bent on eating brains. So this also plays into the equation…
 
If we assume an encounter on an open plain between a Zombie Elephant and a Zombie Rhinoceros, both with running starts, then the winner clearly has to be Zombie Hulk Hogan. Although he was not mentioned in the initial versus match-up, it is my belief that his raging, Zombie-infested Hulk-a-mania would force him to be involved in such a battle of galactic proportions.
 
Zombie Hogan, by a resurgence of power culminating in a leg drop after nearly being put out by a sleeper hold applied by the Zombie Elephant using its trunk!

James Stephanie Sterling