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Zombie Swipeout: Providing more than one way to skin a zombie

by on May 17, 2012

Logo-1It’s fair to say my brother and I haven’t followed a normal path to making games (if there is any). I have a PhD in Bioinformatics and have spent most of my academic career studying molecular biology and computer science. As of about four years ago, I was probably the furthest you could be from making a game. I was studying single-celled organisms called Archaea, which are mostly known for their ability to thrive in extreme environments like acidic lakes or hyperthermal vents on the bottom of the ocean. My younger brother Thomas was still working on his PhD in the same field. We tend to like the same stuff, and the same went for video games when we were kids. At an early age, this passion for games quickly turned into making our own little video games after some self-education of programming languages.

Making and playing games for us was always a fun hobby, not a career. Then, something crazy happened: the iPhone came out.

Having adopted handhelds early on with devices like the Palm Pilot, we instantly knew that something was going on when we got the iPhone in our hands. Just like when we were kids, Thomas began work on a prototype for a castle defense game.

It was Thomas who programmed a mini-game in his spare time and sent me a demo shot of it. It turned out, this was the earliest prototype of ZombieSmash!. Fueled by early success stories in mobile, we decided to quit our safe jobs and make video games for real. Gamedoctors was founded and ZombieSmash! was born.

ZombieSmash! is a “survival comedy”, castle-defense game where you flick, drag, scrape and, of course, smash zombies to protect Joey, the lone human barricaded in his farmhouse. When we were working on the game, we knew there were a lot of castle defense games out there. We also knew there were a lot of zombie games out there (actually a lot less when we started on the game).

So, we made it our mission to create something that moved the category forward on mobile by creating a game unlike anything out there at that time. ZombieSmash! turned out to be a break-out hit. It became the top-rated game on the App Store, and today still has millions of loyal players. By the time we started working on a sequel to ZombieSmash!, we began talking with Zynga and realized that we had quite a lot in common. We both shared a vision for creating high-quality games that were social and accessible.  We joined the company in October 2011 and realized the best part was that we could maintain our indie spirit and create the games we wanted to make.

So, we continued down the path to make a successor to ZombieSmash!. With ZombieSmash!, there were so many different ways to kill zombies, but one thing didn’t make it into the game — and that was slicing zombies. We toyed with the technique in ZombieSmash!, but it was one of those things left on the cutting room floor. When we sat down to come up with our next game, we decided we could make an entirely new game out of this mechanic alone. Our goal, once again, was to take the core mechanic of swiping on a phone, and move the category of slash games forward.

Enter Zombie Swipeout, the spiritual successor to ZombieSmash! Zombie Swipeout follows the same core design philosophy in ZombieSmash!: a game that’s simple on the surface, but  includes layers of complexity only realized after you continue to play. With Zombie Swipeout, we’ve taken a slash game and stripped it down to one, drop-dead, simple rule: don’t kill the good guy. The object of the game is to slash, slice, bludgeon, explode, and freeze as many zombies as possible without harming Joey, the lone human survivor from ZombieSmash! We’ve centered the game on one, massively social way to play: a weekly tournament where players compete against friends for the highest score. You can connect with friends through Facebook or through a dedicated Swipeout username.  

Zombie Social

The game includes an advanced leveling system where players unlock power-ups like grenades, slow mo, and liquid nitrogen and a full armory of sharp and blunt weapons from machetes and knight swords to baseball bats — all with different perks. The scoring system is deeply woven into gameplay with slashable coins serving as the primary way to advance. We’ve also reimagined the way energy is used in a social game, and for the first time have tied in-game performance to the energy system, creating strategic layers of gameplay.

Underneath Zombie Swipeout exists technology that adds the same rag doll physics from ZombieSmash. In fact, the engine that powers the game is a souped-up version of what we lovingly call the SplatterEngine, the finest in gore-generating technology. Call it Splatter Engine 2.0.


All of this adds up to what we hope new players, and loyal fans of ZombieSmash!, will love. We also hope our story of doctors turned game developers is one that inspires others to pursue the career they want.

Make sure to check out the trailer below for a sneak peek of Zombie Swipeout. Better get those baseball bats ready, because Zombie Swipeout is coming soon globally on iOS. If you want to have a slashing good time, make sure to check it out. Trust us. It’s just what the doctors ordered.   


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