Interviews// Dead Island: Deep Silver's Vincent Kummer

Posted 24 Mar 2011 10:01 by
By now the memories of that heart-wrenching Dead Island trailer have taken root, and we all have a pretty clear idea of where publisher Deep Silver is going with it.

The emotional CG teaser - and the explosive reaction that followed on the internet - seemed to suggest that we’d be seeing something of a more thought-provoking approach to the usual zombie-battering premise.

I was able to see the first gameplay footage of Dead Island yesterday, and I can say that any fears of this becoming too cerebral should be put to rest. This game features a hell of a lot of zombie-mashing activity. A first-person brawler that seems to play a bit like Left 4 Dead with the role-playing, open world elements of Borderlands, there seems to be little here to confirm the deep emotional side of the undead apocalypse.

After the presentation, I sat down with Deep Silver’s brand manager Vincent Kummer to talk about the reaction to that infamous trailer and the ideas behind Dead Island that the publisher hopes to make it stand out from the rest of the zombie-smashing pack.


SPOnG: Do you feel that the trailer was a good representation of the final product?

Vincent Kummer: It’s hard to say… Yes, I do think that. For a two minute trailer you've got to focus on one thing that you have in the game. We could have either presented the action, the open world or the emotion. We decided to go for the emotion.

We wanted to show that a zombie apocalypse is not going to hold up or slow down for a family in a hotel, or for one particular person. And that sort of realisation can touch everyone. But, although we chose to present that particular part of the game, the entirety of Dead Island is not just about emotions. It's not going to be a Heavy Rain with zombies.

There will be characters who lose their families when you meet them, and you’ll encounter NPCs walking around, completely lost in the zombie attack that you can help out. These are the people who somehow survived and they don’t know what to do. That family in the trailer - they are just a few of the unlucky ones.


SPOnG: So that family will appear in the game in some capacity?

Vincent Kummer: Yeah. I don’t want to say too much, but you’re going to see them again, yeah.


SPOnG: Were you surprised by the huge reaction to that CG trailer?

Vincent Kummer: Yeah, of course we were surprised. You generate a trailer like this and there’s a point where you know you have a good or a bad trailer. When we put it our trailer out there it just exploded, so we were shocked. We were really happy with the feedback, and I think 90% of the feedback was positive.

With a trailer like that, you’re always going to have some people say that it’s awful and they don’t like it. The response was really something that we were not expecting, but we’re really glad that it happened.


SPOnG: Does that response put more pressure on you to ensure Dead Island doesn’t fall short of expectations?

Vincent Kummer: Not really, because at the end of the day we’re all gamers working on a game that we want everyone can enjoy. From the very beginning we had that pressure there anyway. If people are going to spend money on our game, we want to make sure it’s a good and lasting experience.

The only thing that changes is that instead of a couple of eyes watching your work, we now have a couple of million eyes. We just don’t want to let them down now.


SPOnG: Like all zombie-related media, you must have had some pretty striking influences for Dead Island. What kind of things did you take ideas from?

Vincent Kummer: I can say when it comes to the emotional side, for example, that we’ve been checking out the Walking Dead comic books and TV series. We also have people in the studio who like all the 80s zombie flicks, some guys who like all the really, really old stuff, and then you have the guys influenced by John Romero. Personally, I love the 28 Days and 28 Weeks Later movies.

All of that influence is in the game, and we’ve been working on Dead Island since 2007. A lot of things has changed in the world of zombies since then, plenty of new material has come out. So of course new influences come on board all the time.
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