The Walking Dead comic series is no stranger to adaptation. The franchise has successfully made the jump to TV shows, plenty of solid console, PC, and VR video games, and probably even a cereal. Walking Dead has already had a handful of mobile game adaptations, as well, but All-Stars is the zombie franchise’s first step into the popular mobile genre of character collecting, and focuses on the larger legacy of the comic book.
We spoke with developer Funflow’s CEO, KyungHyun Son, over e-mail about The Walking Dead: All-Stars, how it looks to the original comic book for inspiration, and how exactly it fits into the larger Walking Dead mythos.
What genre of mobile game is The Walking Dead: All-Stars?
The Walking Dead: All-Stars is a collection RPG. We decided to go with this genre because we wanted to try taking on a new type of challenge. When you think of games based on the zombie apocalypse, you typically picture gameplay that’s defense, hack and slash, or village-building in nature. However, the problem is that too many of those types of games already exist in the market.
Even among zombie-based IPs, The Walking Dead is a franchise that excels in portraying “person versus person” instead of “person versus zombie.” I believe it’s not simply trying to convey that people are scarier than zombies, but that people and communities need to cooperate to survive. That’s why we chose to create a collection RPG, to drive the point home of survivors working together.
Is the larger story canon to the comics?
Since we managed to secure the license for the original comics, the story uses it as a foundation. Many fans recognize The Walking Dead from the TV series, but the realism in it is so well done that it was difficult for us to turn it into a game. On the other hand, we thought the comic series would give us a lot of freedom to incorporate new ideas, which is why we ultimately decided to base our development on the comics.
The website showcases seven familiar characters. Will there be more at launch? How often will new characters be added? If these are the seven launch characters, how did you decide who to include?
There will be about 60 characters on release, including 30 from the original series. The rest are unique to The Walking Dead: All-Stars. We plan to consistently add more characters over time. Characters already in the game can appear as new versions of themselves from different time periods with updated appearances. We aim to satisfy fans of the original series with an even richer story.
Do characters have any special skins or alt versions that make nods to the series, like Carl with one eye or Rick missing a hand?
Although they’re technically the same character, there are cases where two characters could exhibit different tendencies based on how much time has passed for them or their present situation, so we did our best to bring those elements out. In All-Stars, there are two versions of Rick, “Rick Grimes” and “Leader Rick,” who are different alignments. This is representative of Rick and his three-dimensional qualities from the original series. If a character showed various personas in the comics, then there’s a chance they’ll show up in the game with different alignments.
Each of the seven shown off seems to highlight a unique class. Will there be more classes over time? Can you talk about some of their differences?
Many different people and communities exist in the world of The Walking Dead. Based on how the character views the post-apocalyptic world, they are assigned an alignment of Ally, Predator, Neutral, Overseer, Warlord, or Bystander. Not only do alignments play a role in type matchups, but they also naturally blend in with the characters’ stories and increase the game’s overall sense of immersion. The alignment of survivors within a party determines bonuses during a battle. The survivors are also divided into a total of five different classes: Tank, Support, Technician, Warrior, and Ranger. Every class has its own distinctive traits and areas of expertise. Although we have plans to add many characters in the future, we do not have any solid plan to add alignments or classes yet.
Will we ever see characters such as Clementine from Telltale’s Walking Dead game who exist in that universe, but only recently came to the comics via a spinoff?
All-Stars follows the world of the comics, and thanks to Skybound Entertainment’s detailed feedback, we’re confident we’ve created a high-quality product with no factual errors. Therefore, the game only has the characters from the Comics and the original characters. But since it is common in the game industry to see characters from a similar third-party company appear in the form of “collaboration,” we are considering some potential collaboration characters.
Is there a period in the story’s canon where All-Stars fits, or is there more of a reimagining perhaps?
There’s a hint in the game’s title, “The Walking Dead: All-Stars,” regarding the time period. This game allows characters of the original series to join up and work together, regardless of the original timeline. The main character of The Walking Dead, Rick Grimes, is a three-dimensional figure whose personality and characteristics change as the game progresses. In our game, both the younger version of Rick and the older version known as Leader Rick can be part of the same team during battle. This sort of interaction makes the game feel like an “all-star battle” of sorts, which is why we added “All-Stars” to the title.
However, to establish a sense of common ground in the game, we used Volume 20: All Out War as a reference point. The story of All-Stars takes place in Buffalo, New York, around the same time as when Volume 20 begins. The story of Buffalo wasn’t in the original comics, so we wrote everything from scratch, receiving guidance and feedback from Skybound Entertainment every step of the way. I think players will be able to appreciate a fresh take on the story while still enjoying the familiarity of the original series.
It sounds like the game mainly takes place in Buffalo, New York, but will players explore familiar environments? Does time pass in the game, changing the world around you like in the series?
Players will come across familiar environments while playing chapter stages in the world map, which is the game’s core content. They’ll explore the areas surrounding their town settlement around Buffalo, New York and continue to unravel more of the story. They’ll come across new areas on the map, battle various enemies, and obtain items needed for survival. This portion of the game was designed so players can enjoy exploring the world of The Walking Dead. We also paid particular attention to how we illustrate the environments so players can really experience the changing regions each time they move on to a new chapter.
Can survivors get infected? What happens if they do?
Of course, infection can occur in the All-Star’s worldview setting and infection can also appear as a fatal issue in the storytelling elements. However, infection does not act as a fatal losing factor within the combat rules.
How is the game monetized?
The Walking Dead: All-Stars is designed so that all players can clear content naturally as long as they invest enough time in the game. As such, the game’s business model focuses on growth efficiency, or, in other words, “buying time.”
Resources needed to advance characters are automatically accumulated over time. If players are satisfied with the resources they’re getting, they’ll be able to play the game consistently without making any purchases. However, if they’d like to progress faster than their peers, they’ll have the option of spending money to acquire additional resources.
One aspect of the game that can’t be solved with time alone is “recruiting” characters. Players can earn the resources they need to recruit characters in-game, but those who’d like to get their hands on their favorite characters quickly can opt to purchase resources using cash instead.
Will there be multiplayer?
The answer is no if you are only referring to “real-time” content, but there are various ways for players to play together, either by competing with each other or cooperating with each other.
Some of the game seems grid-based and others aren’t. Can you tell me what’s going on there?
The characteristic of grid-based (hexagonal floor tile-based) content is that players have more choices than non-grid-based content. Currently, grid-based content includes ‘Supply Run’ and ‘Survivor’s Record’. The ‘Supply Run’ is an in-game content where players are given two to three options as they advance to the next tile and their choice accumulates to affect the result. ‘Survivor’s Record’ is a story-based content where players clear each phase as they explore a tile map much larger than the ‘Supply Run.’
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