John Smedley has sent out a letter to give more insight into Sony Online Entertainment's newly-announced zombie MMO, H1Z1. Here it is in its entirety.
I wanted to tell you about an exciting new free-to-play game we’ve had under wraps here at SOE for some time. It’s called H1Z1. It’s a massively multiplayer game in which players fight for survival in a world where death is the only sure thing. The H1Z1 virus devastated mankind and left nothing but death and destruction in its wake and a world nearly empty of human life where the remnants of humanity are in a fight against extinction against those infected with the virus. It’s been 15 years since H1Z1 was first encountered and what’s left of the world before is overrun with the Infected. Humanity has been reduced to hiding in the shadows, searching desperately for food and water and anything that can help to survive even for another day. But the Infected aren’t the only dangers in the world. Everyday life in the Apocalypse means dealing with all kinds of wild animals and the brutality of other survivors, as well as finding your next meal and a safe place to sleep. It also means scavenging or crafting anything that can help you live just one more day. In H1Z1 every minute of every day is borrowed time and fearing for your life… unless you are the Danger (talking to you Walter), but life can and will go on… even in circumstances as dire as this. Humanity has not given in to the Infected. There are still pockets of humanity and the fight goes on!
Our vision for this game is very simple but ambitious. We are starting with what I would call “Middle America” – an “anywhere and everywhere” town. The world is massive as you’ve come to expect from our games. Over time we will grow the world until we have our own version of the U.S. after the death and destruction brought on during the H1Z1 epidemic. It will be our own version of America. We’ll have urban cities and desolate wide open places. All connected seamlessly. Our focus is building a sandbox style of gameplay where players can build shelters out of resources in the world. They can even work together to make amazing fortresses complete with weaponry to help defend against both the Infected and other players. Players also have access to a very deep crafting system that can let players make a huge variety of awesome stuff, including weapons (I made a 1911 the other day) and things like Molotov cocktails, explosives.. and other fun surprises.
I will also go right to the heart of the question alot of players will have – “There are a lot of survival / Zombie games… how is this one going to be any different?”. First off, it’s a persistent MMO that can hold thousands of players on servers we host (yes there will be multiple servers with very different rule sets). Why is that a good thing? It means a thriving economy (oh yes… there’s trading). It also means you have potential allies in the all-out war on the Infected... and many an enemy as well. It uses our proprietary next-gen Forgelight engine and that means we’ve had a lot of really cool technology to work with to make the game we wanted to make. It’s also designed from the ground up for our players to become part of the design process. The Roadmap system that we built for PlanetSide 2 will be used extensively to clearly communicate what features we’re working on and what you can expect and when.
You’re also going to be getting awesome access to our developers. We’ll be opening it up for Player Studio creations too so expect player-created itemsto make their way into the game. The main thing that differentiates H1Z1 from the other great gamesin the genre is the emphasis we are putting on player ownership and building. We want you to be able to form roving gangs that are headquartered out of an abandoned warehouse that you’ve taken over...or a house you’ve built from scratch after having cut trees down and secured the resources to make it. We are giving players the tools to make their own towns, camps and defenses, and they can decide how to set up their base (which is in the world btw... not instanced). We’re building in all the social features you’ve come to expect from an SOE game (grouping, proximity voice chat, voice chat for your gang, and many other cool social features).
To use a simple reference I’m sure everyone interested in this game will get... we want our players to ake Woodbury from The Walking Dead if they want to. Or take over a prison. Or fix an old car so you and your friends (yeah we have multiplayer vehicles) can run zombies and players over mercilessly, and level in the sheer delight of hearing a zombie scream as you light it on fire, or craft a gun to take down your friends and enemies alike. Our goal here is toprovide emergent gameplay that will allow our players to make the world their own the way they want to. One of the best things about H1Z1 being an MMO is the fact that with a lot of people playing, we’re able to see all different kinds of gameplay. If you prefer a quiet life as a farmer raising crops... we’re going to make sure your zombie apocalypse fantasy is complete. If you’re like me and you want nothingmore than to kill everything that moves, by all means see how that goes. It’s going to be a blast!
Check out H1Z1.com and the subreddit ( http://reddit.com/r/h1z1 ). We’ll be adding more information in the coming weeks to the website. We’ll also be very openly answering questions in the subreddit. Next week you can see us do a livestream of the game as we have a playtest. Stay tuned!