Discover how developer Housemarque took PSN title Dead Nation on the Road of Devastation.
From the ashes of the zombie apocalypse that is Dead Nation on PlayStation 3, a new hope for humanity's survival has emerged - Road of Devastation. Following on from Dead Nation's climax, Road of Devastation is an action-packed journey which puts your skills to the ultimate test. Your mission? Survive any way you can against relentless waves of brain-hungry zombies in new, deadly environments.
"Experience Dead Nation in a brand new way"
For developer Housemarque, creating something to top the popular Dead Nation presented an irresistible challenge. "We wanted players to be able to experience Dead Nation in a brand new way," says the game's designer, Petsku. "We want them to not only have more of the same but also experience new gameplay elements, score mechanics, enemies, weapons and, most importantly, the significant tactical decisions they will make every time they choose their road."
Road of Devastation emerged from a combination of all these new ideas and fan requests, although it wasn't an easy decision to make for Housemarque. "We had a lot of cool concepts during Dead Nation's development that we simply didn't have the time and resources to implement," explains Petsku.
"There's the big question of whether the game would actually be better off without your awesome new idea. Even if an idea sounds great by itself, when you get around to introducing that element into the game, it might actually break it.
"Luckily with Dead Nation and Road of Devastation, we were actually able to pretty much combine all the cool stuff we had. During early 2011 we began toying around with ideas for a survival game mode. It didn't take long before we realised we could make something new and quite unique..."
Once the ideas were in place, Housemarque starting putting together conceptual art and early in-game level layouts. When the team were happy with what they had, they began the hard work of putting it all together.
The game designers had to manage the project, leading the staff, scripting and creating new enemies' behaviour. This included introducing new characteristics, such as cop zombies carrying ammo, doctor zombies dropping health and businessman zombies dropping money.
New game mechanics such as the different combo score bonuses were worked on by gameplay coders, while visual coders created the new graphical elements such as the water effects for the flooded streets, the new dynamic plant life and more. The graphic artists worked on all the new environments, objects and enemies, while animators started animating them and the level designers placed them in the game itself.
It was during this intense period of creation that the bulk of the game was made, although it came with its own sense of fun and satisfaction. "Being a huge sci-fi buff who has grown up watching tons of zombie movies and films like Aliens and The Terminator, as well as playing hundreds of games, I got a huge kick out of designing and creating some of the key moments and set pieces in Road of Devastation," smiles Petsku.
Testing the apocalypse
Before completing the game, it was subjected to a rigorous testing period to make sure Housemarque got an idea of what was working and what may have needed tweaking. As extensive as this can be, Petsku says it's still one of the most enjoyable parts of development. "We invited friends, colleagues, regular gamers and Dead Nation players to test out Road of Devastation, and those are the moments we get to experience the game almost as if it was us playing it for the first time."
Providing something fresh for fans was always the main goal for Housemarque and the testing period allowed the team to discover that all their hard work had been worth it.
"As we watched the testers discovering all the cool new stuff, all those big surprising moments and the constantly rising atmosphere during an intense battle for survival... it's like for a moment we step into their shoes and play the game as it was intended - a new, fun, scary and exciting way to experience Dead Nation."
On the road again
It's not an easy task creating downloadable content, yet Housemarque is very happy with how Road of Devastation has come together. The fast paced, survival based shooter combines all the best parts of Dead Nation with a fresh challenge that any action fans can enjoy.
"We wish to humbly thank everyone for the great reviews and fan feedback we have received," says Petsku. "If you've not given the downloadable content a try, be sure to download it from PlayStation Store and see if you've got what it takes to survive Road of Devastation!"
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