Josh Bridge gets to kill zombies for a living. Actually, he gets to help design the game that allows you to kill zombies. As the executive producer at Capcom Vancouver, he’s part of the development team that is putting together the sandbox world of undead destruction that is launching exclusively on the Xbox One. The game features tons of the new combo weapons, combo vehicles, an RTS mini-game where you direct fellow survivors, Kinect integration (where you can just use your finger!), Second Screen functionality where your cell phone or tablet will get calls throughout from a fellow survivor in the game, and much more.
We spoke with Josh at PAX about the upcoming launch title for the new console, and read on for all the details about one of the most compelling reasons to invest in the new system.
How long has “Dead Rising 3” been in development?
I’ve been working on it for a little over two years I’d say. We originally targeted high-end PC. and I wanted to do next-gen. We tore down the old engine, we rebuilt everything as we wanted, and then we went beyond that, which is a big, open, sandbox world, and no load screens. We also partnered with Microsoft, which means wstarted talking about the Xbox One, and what it had to offer, and then here we are now, launching exclusively with them.
Did you approach them or did they approach you?
We’ve always had a great relationship with Microsoft. Capcom worked very closely with them on the original “Dead Rising” on 360, so we’ve always been in communication with each other, and then the opportunity came up and we went for it.
The art style of the game seems to have changed a bit in “Dead Rising 3,” as it looks slightly more cartoonish. Why did you tweak it?
I think it’s partly due to being on next-gen, the artist can pile in a lot more detail and fidelity. And the other side is that the game has multiple faces. So depending on which area you are at in the world, some look much bleaker, and so are very low on color. Some look a lot more rosy and hopeful, so there’s some variety. And with all the customization, it ends up being this weird juxtaposition that I hope is compelling for you as a gamer. The game is trying to look serious. You can make it look goofy if you want, and try to give it its own personality or personality this time around.
What’s been one of the bigger challenges?
I would say the biggest challenge, from a technical point of view, absolutely has been streaming. Having to rebuild everything and trying to make this all come together in this big, open world. Of course, we’re our own worst enemy, so we want more zombies than ever before, and we want them to be smarter and deadlier. The other one was actually re-targeting what the goal was. Originally, time was the enemy. So we reinvested in the zombies this time to say, ‘Hey, this is a zombie game, it should be about zombies.’
So, creatively, that was the biggest challenge. Like, what does that mean, how does it actually start to end up feeling like it’s compelling, and an outbreak, a trend? You know, you want to be motivated and not just feel like it gets random. That’s where we went deeper into how you can level up, went deeper in the different types of zombies, and we went deeper with controls. It can actually make a gamer feel good to just punch and shoot, and actually having a light and heavy attack on the face buttons makes you feel like you are in a compelling action game in a sandbox world.
What does the vehicle mechanic bring to the game? Will they actually pull you out of the car?
So when they pile on the cars, they actually affect the ability to steer. They actually have weight, so if more and more stack on, it’s harder and harder to steer. Then just hitting a body, like hitting a standing zombie, actually causes deflection. There’s different types of vehicles that you have seen, you know there’s bulldozer, so that looks pretty heavy and reacts accordingly. But then there’s a small little sedan, and that one’s a bit faster, but with hardly any weight, and so it doesn’t get through as well. So there’s a lot more dynamic physics there for variety. The zombies will latch on, and they’ll actually attack, and they’ll get killed. Some vehicles are higher, like the cab on the bulldozer, so you’ll be less likely to get attacked, but are lower, and you’re more likely to get whaled on, like a motorcycle. And that’s where combo vehicles come in.
To really get the best ride you should try customizing your ride, right? You’re not really expecting a zombie outbreak, you know? Normally you’re just saying, “I’m going to make this car better.” And so we took that direction and went even further with “Dead Rising 3” by saying, ‘Okay, well, we can add stuff that totally makes sense,’ and then we’re going to start going into the realm of the absurd, too. Like the sound of the steamroller, or the roar of the motorbike, and then combining them.
Will we see any of the familiar characters from the previous games?
We built the story to try and appeal to two audiences here – Capcom fans and Dead Rising fans. We wanted to make sure we appease all the fans in both groups. We’re huge fans of the series, so the story will tie back all the way to the first “Dead Rising,” and it will connect threads that were just left undone, even from before “Dead Rising.” And then, if you’re new to the series, you’ll get it. You’re a dude, Nick Ramos, in a big city during a zombie outbreak. Your only concern is, ’How do I get out alive?’
There is a lot of customization in here, and some of it is just ridiculous. Did the developers have a lot of crazy fun doing stuff like that?
Oh yeah, totally. When we worked on “Dead Rising 2” we had all these ideas on the cutting room floor, we just couldn’t fit them in. We started “Dead Rising 3” and started sifting through those. The team works together and it doesn’t matter who it is, everyone just comes up with ideas, and that’s the best part. And it’s the creativity of what those results are that I hope are exciting. And that’s what I hope is part of the engagement of, like, oh, what happens when these two things get stuck together? What happens if I take this weapon and use it with this weapon in this circumstance?
And that’s where it’s really compelling, and you have this big open world, and it’s filled with enemies, all these zombies. So that makes it a constantly engaging sandbox of trying and experimenting. And that’s what I was talking about earlier, it’s like, ‘Oh, I’m going to do this mission.’ As you’re in there, like, ‘What’s that over there?’ There’s always something to pick up. So it’s really up to the player find their own path and I hope that it allows you to certainly play how you want.
The combo weapons are even more over-the-top this time. What was it like designing those and why did you eliminate workbenches?
Yeah, one of the things we said is, ’Playing your way is critical.’ And then we started looking back and said, ‘Okay, well, there were too many rules to make it really, truly that.’ So we said, ‘Well, let’s allow them to customize anywhere.’ And then we’re like, ‘Well, the other rule is where you have to use two specific ingredients.’ Like, let’s make that a leveling opportunity. You can increase your ability to craft. So if this recipe, if this blueprint says you need a flashlight and a handgun and if you unlock the electrical category, then you can use anything that’s electrical. A microwave and a handgun will do it. We start making it feel a lot more like you can get to that fun, and not feel like, ‘Oh, I don’t have that,’ or, ‘I don’t want to go all the way back there to pick up one of those.’
So that’s why we introduced a locker system where there are safe-houses all over the world. They all share the same inventory. Every item you pick up automatically gets stored in a locker. Whether it’s a clothing item, or a weapon, or a combo. So as long as you find one of those, and it’s, like, ‘Oh, I want that combo I made.’ Instead of trying to go out into the world and potentially dying, you can just pick up from the locker. Get your favorites, and go back out.
What about the fellow survivors in the game?
There’s something I really liked about “Dead Rising” in the past, and that is you go out and you never rescue a survivor. You just get them to follow you right? Then you can arm them up and then use them as your fighters. We embraced that as the design. So you’ll find that there are all these side missions outside of the main story missions. They have them to where you can or cannot help them. Sometimes it’s a choice. And then they’ll join you and fight to the death. And it turns into a sort of mini real-time strategy game, if you want. You have these combatants with you. You can tell them, ‘Okay, stand on the rooftop over there, and kill that.’ And then you tell them, ‘Pick up those things, come here.’
You can kind of play that game if you want. And then we integrated Kinect with that experience. You can use the D-pad to issue the commands, but it’s a bit deep on the D-pad pressing. With hardcore gamers we actually integrate this into Kinect in a way that convinces them to use it. So you can sit down, you don’t have to be standing up. Then you can just hold your finger up, a little cursor appears in the world, and you say, ‘Attack,’ and they go there. It’s really seamless to just do that. So it’s a lot easier to manage it.
How important does that feel to the dev team to be an Xbox One launch exclusive?
Oh my God. It’s a huge honor to Capcom Vancouver, having this opportunity to be in the same position that Capcom Japan was with on the Xbox 360. It’s scary, and exciting, and the whole team is incredibly motivated. It’s just great, and having opportunities like this, it is s just so awesome to be here in this generation.
Tell me what you were saying about the iOS and the Android innovation, like when you’re using a smart device.
So really early in the storyline Nick Ramos, the main character, he comes across this phone ringing. It’s a weird, sort of military looking phone. He picks it up, and he hears this disembodied voice, and this character is also stuck in Los Perdidos. He’s an everyday Joe as well, but he’s sitting in some military compound, and he doesn’t know what all this technology is for. So as long as you keep your cell phone or your tablet, whether its iOS, or Android or a Windows phone, you leave it on, you’re connected to the game. You get calls. It’ll ring, you have to answer it, and you’ll hear his voice, and you’ll get missions that are exclusive to that experience.
As you complete those missions, they actually integrate into the world, and they’ll appear in the world. You’ll start learning more about what’s happening outside Los Perdidos, and you start getting a different angle on this story as well. You can use things like these military codes, because it’s a military phone. And these codes, there are military lockboxes, and you can use the codes from your devices to unlock that box. And like, ‘Oh my God, it’s got all of these over-the-top weapons’ inside. Or you can use it to sort of get him to get the access code to divert some air strikes. Or we could shoot out a big flare of combinations of other apps, and it keeps evolving and leaving you wanting more. Obviously, it’s Dead Rising, so there’s customization too, right? You can change the wallpaper, change the ringtones. Why not? It’s kind of fun.
How big is the world?
The world is incredibly dense. You can go into the stores, go into those houses, and it just makes it feel like it’s your own toy box. And as you level up and learn the world, and get smarter, you can eventually hand the whole game’s ass to itself and be in control. Because when you level up, and get right to the top, you’re just, like, jumping off of rooftops and taking no damage, instant-killing zombies with a punch, and so on. We have two modes. There’s a normal story mode where time isn’t going to be the pressure, zombies are. For old fans, they have Nightmare mode. Same storyline, and you can hop between the modes, keeping your character level stage, but in this one time is back on. You’ve got to stand in washrooms to save and so on. You’ve got checkpoints, and all those things in the normal story. All those are gone in Nightmare.
Well, the game looks very exciting. Thank you for your time.
Thank you for the questions, I appreciate it!