Zombies are invading Burnaby.
Well, not quite. A popular video game development company, Techland, has set up a new studio in the city - Digital Scapes Studios - to develop components of its much anticipated new zombie apocalypse game, Dying Light. The company, based in Poland, is well known for its Call of Juarez and Dead Island games.
Dead Island is a first-person zombie survival game, as is Dying Light - though there are some significant differences, according to Marcin Chady, managing director of Digital Scapes.
"We no longer talk about it as a zombie game, it's more of an infection - but it essentially plays as a zombie game," he explained in a phone interview with the NOW. "So you find yourself in a quarantine zone, and as the game unfolds, as the story unfolds, you gradually learn the origins of the disease and try to find a cure for it."
The infection element is just one of the differences between Dying Light and Dead Island, Chady added.
"It's worth pointing out, despite what many of the critics will say - that it's going to be another iteration of the Dead Island game - it is very much a different experience," he said. "It's true the design of Dying Light was largely informed by all the lessons we learned from Dead Island, but that only makes it a better game. So you'll find some elements which are completely different, which make it a completely different game."
The game will also include a "Be the zombie" option, he said.
The option will be available in the player versus player mode, "an online multi-player mode in which players are pitched against one another by letting one player 'invade' another player's game," Chady stated in a followup email. "This makes it unique and challenging, both in terms of game design as well as technical implementation. The mode will be available as a preorder incentive at game launch and possibly by other means later on."
Techland set up the studio in Burnaby last November, primarily because Chady was located here - the company was also considering Quebec, he said.
"The development director of Techland knew me personally," said Chady, who has lived in Burnaby for nine years. "Given that I was here, they wanted to open it here to take advantage of my presence here."
While in Burnaby, Chady worked for Radical Entertainment, the developer of the popular game Prototype, until last year.
"So pretty much all my career in Burnaby is dominated by my experience at Radical and also dominates the makeup of this studio," he said. "I'm basically staffed largely with people from Radical, who I respect and trust."
Techland was also looking specifically for skilled game design programmers in Burnaby, he added.
"Basically they found that in Poland it's hard to come across trained professionals ... who are good at both programming and game design.
"Game design in particular is not something that's taught in Poland," he explained. "At least in the town they have the main studio in, in that town, it's hard to come by good programmers to begin with, because there's a lot of demand for programming professionals in Poland right now." Chady and his team visited Techland's offices in Poland last November, when Digital Scapes opened.
"We were quite impressed by the professionalism they've already developed," he said. "And given the success of Dead Island, and other games they have built, it already shows how professional they have become and they really build world class games. "Since opening, Digital Scapes has grown from a staff of three to a staff of seven and may grow a little more before Dying Light is finished, Chady said.
As for the future of the Burnaby studio, Chady is completely focused on finishing Dying Light.
"In the game development business, nobody's looking beyond the current game and neither are we," he said. "We know that Techland is really committed to having the studio open here because the benefits stand regardless of what kind of game you work on."
Dying Light launches in 2014.
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