ROAM Interview – Exclusive
Here at WORLDS FACTORY, we constantly strive to bring you interesting and unique content. Today it’s time for another interview with an indie developer who enjoyed great success in their Kickstarter campaign for ROAM, an interesting top-down zombie co-op shooter with building and survival elements. We’ve checked with Ryan Sharr to learn more about the game itself.
First of all, welcome to our network. Please introduce yourself and your game to our readers.
Hey! My name is Ryan Sharr and I’m the artist on ROAM. My partner is Zach Barson and he does the programming. Roam is a top down action shooter with elements of survival, base building, and character development. You play a lone survivor or play as a group of survivors with your friends in an up to 4 player co-op world. The goal of the game? Don’t die!
You’re definitely right when you say that until now, zombie games have focused mainly on the slaughter of zombies without worrying too much about the survival/build&defend aspects, which are core to zombie fiction in books & movies/tv series. That said, there are multiple games looking to fill that spot soon: Dead State, Fortnite and even State of Decay. How are you looking to set yourself apart in this lot?
When we were writing the design documents for ROAM we never intended it to be a zombie themed game. The genre found us! That being said- when the game shifted over from the original idea to zombies, one of the things we felt that could separate us from all the other zombie games in the world was the speed of the game mixed with a camera angle most zombie survival games haven’t seen. The camera allows for RTS base building style gameplay while still allowing the top down arcade shooter control scheme to work. We aren’t trying to create the most “sim” realistic zombie survival game ever. Our goal started with us trying to create a game we wanted to play. After sharing it with everyone it seems like many people have been craving something similar.
In your Kickstarter’s campaign, you explicitly say “You need food. You need water.” Does that mean that player characters will need to eat/drink and if so, what will happen to them if they don’t do that for a long period of time? I’m thinking maybe some kind of debuff/stat penalty.
The world of ROAM is harsh. The game really wants you to die and that’s where the fun comes in! Yes you will need food and water, but this will not be some mundane task. You won’t have to micromanage your inventory just to find and get a drink. Not drinking and not eating will have negative effects on your character that will eventually lead to death!
Obviously the game still revolves around smashing zombies from time to time, and you’ve pointed out that “alerting one can turn into a horde as it grabs the attention of the surrounding zombies”. Can you expand on how advanced senses like sight, hearing and smell will be for zombies in comparison to human AI?
The main difference between the zombies and the human AI is mutations. The senses of a human AI character will never really change. The zombie senses can be enhanced through mutations that may occur. An example could be how a certain mutation strain will give the zombies a bonus to hearing while reducing their vision. Players will be able to recognize each specific mutation by looking for clues on the zombies themselves. Maybe the zombie no longer has glowing eyes if it is afflicted with the previous mentioned mutation.
Also, it is generally accepted in zombie fiction that firearms may not always be the best idea as a weapon, since they are both noisy and also hard to find, so often the characters use other types of weapons in melee combat. Will ROAM respect these “rules” or can player expect lots of firearms in the game?
Due to the small timeframe of development that we have actually had in ROAM we never got to show some things we really wanted to on the Kickstarter. The number one thing is melee. Zach and I both understand how big of a role melee weapons are in a zombie game play, especially with the enhancements to the stealth system via stretch goal. Melee will be in the game. Players can expect firearms in the game but shouldn’t expect to stand in one spot and shoot every zombie coming at them like a turret. Every weapon in the game will have its advantages and disadvantages.
You’ve described the NPC system in the third video update. However, I still have some questions: for example, you mention the possibility of sending NPCs onto any kind of missions, and I wonder if there’s a chance that they would die or be badly injured in one of those. Also, can the NPCs at the player base, and the player base as a whole, be attacked in his/her absence?
Yes and yes. NPCs have a chance to die or get injured if you send them out on missions. Certain NPCs will be better at scavenging for supplies and would be better suited to be sent out on missions. Player base’s can be attacked in their absence and, again, NPCs can die in those attacks. It would be wise for players in a scenario where they have to leave their base to put a capable NPC on “watch.”
In the FAQ you’ve stated that “sewers/basements/caves are all things we are planning to put in as well”. Will they make for the first release in January 2014? Also, is it possible to dig your underground base everywhere or will there be limited spots for this?
The January 2014 release date is just a release of many we plan to have. Players will continue to get updates after that date. We will work to get as much content into the game as possible but at the moment its hard to say what will make that release and what won’t. We have no plans on allowing players to modify the terrain in a Minecraft fashion. The mention of sewers/basements/caves are just a few examples of what could be expected in underground environments.
Clearly the draw here is the replayability promised by the “randomization engine”, but is there a story as well in ROAM and if so, can you tell us a bit about it? Will it be possible to ultimately defeat the infection once and for all?
With the “Meta game” stretch goal reached, there will be scenarios and events that players can participate in as an end goal rather than just seeing how long they can survive. These events are still being worked out but an example would be repairing and refueling a semi truck that has been found in the woods and driving it to the next city. Once the city is reached another set of events may occur.
As for the story behind ROAM- you’re a normal person with a normal pre-apocalypse background and something terrible has happened! Our approach towards the story is to allow players to create their own story. Usually games have a path that players follow and they play out the story that is given to them. We want to drop players into our world, give them some tools, and let them begin. The main goal for the story element in ROAM is player created and unique every play through. Imagine playing through the game and you do a ton of different things, shoot up a bandit camp, almost die in the city, rescue a survivor, and then eventually you die somehow. If you were to recall your journey in ROAM and write it down, we want that experience to make a really interesting read.
I understand that the procedural generation will keep things relatively fresh throughout different games. But in each game, how big will the world be? The addition of vehicles hints that it could be quite the size.
The map size isn’t set in stone currently. In a decision between bigger or smaller, we want bigger. We are going to make the map sizes feel “right.” We also have some interesting ideas and ways so that players will never feel boxed in with the meta game system in combination with the map system. Players can expect large worlds.
Ultimately, the Kickstarter campaign is already a huge success. Let’s assume this success extends to the game itself at launch: what kind of features do you foresee adding to the game to keep it interesting?
We already have an extremely feature packed game and thinking of adding something else at the moment would probably make my brain explode! That being said- we hope to bring ROAM to its full potential. After we’ve implemented the currently planned features and improvements or features arrive that make ROAM an even better game, we will introduce them!
Thank you for your time.