Welcome To The Modern Zombie Taxi Co.

“The immediate result was hilarious. Everyone in the office took turns experiencing what it was like to have a passenger fall into your lap, block your view, and be a general nuisance while you were trying to drive around a course. The experience was so much fun! You didn’t want to necessarily race, you just wanted to play.”

BITSUMMIT

As Peter remarks, “It’s not every day you stumble across a game idea that is just a simple joy from the start.” With the early workings of what would eventually become Modern Zombie coming into place, the team targeted Kyoto’s BitSummit 2014 as the place to have the game publicly playable and to collect feedback. The combination of a local event (Vitei is based in Kyoto) and a manageable timeframe to further iterate on the game made BitSummit an ideal objective.

An early, pre-zombie development shot.
An early, pre-zombie development shot.
Another early look at in-game hilarity.
Another early look at in-game hilarity.

The demo they created for Modern Zombiewas well received, much to the team’s delight. “The immediate response was amazing! Chris and I barely had any time to rest, as we were constantly administering demos to a long line of people,” says Peter. In fact, the amount of popularity they received brought up some last-second priorities: “We had no poster and no website; we were totally unprepared for any PR! Our studio graphic designer even pulled an all-nighter and got us a website on the second day of event.”

The biggest surprise out of the experience, according to the team, happened when the game received the Vermillion Gate Award, BitSummit’s grand prize. As Peter recalls, “We were completely honored and equally surprised that people had enjoyed our game as much as they did. Our silly little experience really seemed to click with people.”

The immediate result was hilarious. Everyone in the office took turns experiencing what it was like to have a passenger fall into your lap, block your view, and be a general nuisance while you were trying to drive around a course. The experience was so much fun! You didn’t want to necessarily race, you just wanted to play.

MEETING AND WORKING WITH SMS

On the heels of their BitSummit experience, Chris and Peter made the trip to GDC in San Francisco. Coincidentally, this was also where Project Morpheus was announced at a reveal event, which the team attended. In another stroke of coincidental luck, Peter remarks, “Turns out that (Santa Monica Studio External’s very own) Deborah Mars was sitting directly in front of us! After the event, a mutual friend introduced us and we were offered the chance to give the Santa Monica folks a demo. “

Our External Development group liked what they saw and offered our production support in order to bring Modern Zombie to Project Morpheus, now known as PlayStation VR. For the Vitei Backroom, it’s a journey into new gaming depths: “As for (Modern Zombie) being one of the first titles on PlayStation VR, there is a lot of new ground we are covering here! We are a tiny team of 6 people, and it’s certainly been a challenge learning about this new medium and how it affects game design and development. It’s been great fun though, and working in this new genre has taught us so much about game design in general.”

The Vitei Backroom team.

As for (Modern Zombie) being one of the first titles on PlayStation VR, there is a lot of new ground we are covering here... It’s been great fun though, and working in this new genre has taught us so much about game design in general.”

THE FUTURE OF VR

Vitei Backroom will be one of the first developer teams to put a title out for PlayStation VR, and we couldn’t be happier to partner with them on The Modern Zombie Taxi Co. The VR experience has plenty of potential, in gaming and in other forms as well. “When we started working on Modern Zombie, we were still thinking of the VR experience as a camera in a fixed point in space. Since then, so many new and amazing technologies have come out, such as the ability to track the player’s head and hands,” says Peter.

It’s that potential of incorporating free range movement that also intrigues the Vitei Backroom, according to Peter: “Using your hands to interact with that space in a meaningful way is going to be a major component in future VR experiences. And even greater than that, being able to share that space with someone else, connected remotely, and interact with that person as if they are also sharing the same physical space, I imagine that will be simply amazing!”

We can’t wait to share more about The Modern Zombie Taxi Co. and we’ll have news and updates in the coming months. For now, Vitei provided us with some additional insight into Modern Zombie.


 

What can players expect while traversing the world of Modern Zombie?

It’s been a long time since the zombie apocalypse. The humans have long been extinct. In the intervening years, the zombies developed a basic intelligence and re-discovered aspects of human society. What players will see are the zombies’ recreation of what human lives used to be, as they attempt to somehow civilize themselves. The players will find themselves in a whimsical, colourful world, full of fun things to see and do … and smash. Zombies have a couple passions in life, tea and destruction. Perhaps it’s the nostalgia from the good old days, but all zombies get a good thrill from a bit of both. The cities have all sorts of fun objects to smash into, and the zombies will give you a larger tip if you satisfy their latent desire for ruination!

Will players be able to take on a variety of taxi tasks?

There is a large variety of silly activities that the zombies are up to! From racing to sandwich delivery, these undead have a very busy schedule. There are parties to attend, stores to open, tea to drink. The player is going to get the chance to help out with a wide range of amusing tasks!

The ragdoll physics are hilarious – are you hoping for players to get a kick out of the unpredictability of zombie physics, and perhaps lead to GIF-worthy moments?

Absolutely! It’s the experience of sharing the same physical space with some goofy zombies that we think is so much fun!

We’ve had moments where one of the team members will always crack up laughing at some funny situation one of the taxi passengers has managed to get themselves into, such as getting their head wedged in a window, or somehow rolling right onto the player’s steering wheel. There are situations where the zombie might tumble into the player’s field of view. We’ve also armed the player with tools to knock the zombie out of the way, such as a boxing glove that fires out of the controller.

Any surprises or zombie Easter Eggs to expect?

We have included a lot of surprises for those players who want to dig a little deeper, from collectables to decorative power ups. If players keep an eye out, there are some special zombie clients who need a little more help than just getting from A to B. If you can help them accomplish their task before the end of the day, the player will be rewarded with a special collectable!

Additionally, over the course of the player’s career, they will continue to add more money to their savings. As that number goes up, the player is rewarded with special items they can decorate their taxi with. The later items have some really amusing functions to make the player’s job of a taxi driver even more fun!

Finally – the zombie transportation business has to be pretty lucrative, right? They’re not known for being quick on their feet…

Zombies have big ambitions and imaginations, but they are limited by their slow shamble. Truth be told, they are pretty bad drivers as well. If you can get them to their destination in a timely manner (and destroy some stuff along the way) they will certainly be sure to tip you very well! Zombies are also remarkably vocal, and they will let you know exactly what you are doing wrong. Some might even have special requests for the trip! Keeping your undead customers satisfied will ensure that you the maximum amount of tips and hopefully keep the highest score of all your friends!

The Modern Zombie Taxi Co. will be coming to PlayStation VR in 2016. For more info from The Vitei Backroom, follow them on Twitter and visit their website.

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