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Human Element – “a zombie game that isn’t about zombies”

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Robert Bowling, AKA fourzerotwo took to Raptr today to answer some questions about Human Element and Robotoki, and we managed to grab a few new details about his upcoming game, Human Element. As we normally would cypher out the details and give you the juiciest bits, we are going to just post his answers here because they are already fleshed out in detail and are straight up and to the point. You may find Human Element to be a very interesting game once you finish reading through.

This is definitely all about Survival, not Horror. As I said, this is a zombie game that isn’t about zombies, so we’re not taking that typical horror approach. This is 35 years AFTER the event, so zombies are more of an annoyance than anything. They’re present, but not a threat to us, we know how to deal with them. However, there are still elements of suspense, rather than horror per say.

For example, that moment when you realize you have 1 bullet and a roaming gang of 4 survivors who desperately need what you have in your pack. Alerting them means confrontation, and firing one shot may take out one of them, but alerts everyone else to your presence. It’s about making smart choices with the sole goal of surviving. Some of the biggest inspirations from a atmosphere standpoint are Minecraft (an open world with infinite possibility and very little hand holding), as well as Red Dead Redemption (dynamic scenarios that occur throughout the world, unlinked from the story of plot), as well as the depth and experience of games like Fallout 3 (the feeling of coming out of that vault with nothing but a bb gun, a tattered jump suit, and absolutely no clue where to go next).

Our goal is to give the players a platform to define what is fun for them, rather than give them a dotted line to follow.

Another user asked about what game engine the game would be developed on, and Bowling stated that they are currently looking into using the Unreal Development platform. He didn’t say whether or not the game would be on Unreal Engine 3 or 4, but considering the game won’t be released until 2015, it’d be nice to assume it will be developed on 4. The game has only been in pre-production since April of this year, and once actual production begins the game will have a solo campaign mode, co-op and some sort of multiplayer model. Zombies, as stated in the quote above are NOT the focus of Human Element, as the cataclysmic events occur 35 years prior to the events in Human Element.

In the next quote, Bowling talks a bit about the design of the game and how it intertwines with the real word and the prequels coming to Ouya.

The episodic prequels on OUYA will be much more focused on showing a very specific story from a pinnacle moment in the fall of society, such as a day after the event occurs and a week after. This will be a solo experience.

Luckily, the design for Human Element is much different than that of Day Z or other zombie games, as we’re not a zombie game in the traditional sense, and simply use the zombie apocalypse (which happened 35 years PRIOR to the story of HE) as a catalyst to tell a story of survival and human behavior defined by moral choices and actions in addition to the cross platform play of how the prequels will lead to the main story and how you’ll have the option for mobile interaction such as looting real world locations via GPS data and feeding those supplies back to your character in-game.

I actually had a chance to ask Bowling a few questions of my own about the game, asking simply if it’s following the trends of more recent zombie/survival games such as DayZ, WarZ and Class3 etc, where you essentially create your own story. His answer seems to relish from the concept of DayZ, where survivors are constantly at each others necks fighting for the supplies scattered around the world, but the actions in Human Element will actually directly affect the story and how it plays out.

What sets Human Element apart from some of the zombie sandbox experiences that are coming out currently, is the fact that this takes place 35 years AFTER the zombie apocalypse, which is used as a story element as a catalyst to tell the story of human survival. It’s about defining who you are as a player, through your identity and style of survival.

For example, an action focused player may decide to roam, constantly on the move looking for their targets they can easily over power and take supplies from. However a more intelligent player may avoid confrontation, create alliances with other players, build fortifications and stockpile supplies, whiling using the help of their alliances with action focused players to protect those stock piles. Where on the other end, maybe you have no alliances, but aren’t strong enough to fight for what you want. You’re a more stealth player who wants to lone wolf it, sneak past defenses, take quests and jobs from people, and just live life day by day. No goal of rebuilding, no desire to fight for what you want.

What makes this different is we will be writing a series of scenarios that happen dynamically in the world of Human Element, that are triggered based on your identity (gender, class, survivors in group) and based on the choices you’ve made in previous scenarios. Allowing you to craft a story of survival based on your actions and decisions, each impacting the next.

Nick Calandra
OnlySP founder and former site owner.

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