Co-Optimus: Thanks for taking the time to chat Ilari. What was the major influence in making the decision to add online co-op play for launch?
Ilari: Right from the beginning, we knew that co-op was going to be an essential and extremely fun feature and extending this to include an online option would be awesome. It was simply down to the fact that we had more time to make it work. We got time to figure out if it would be possible to implement co-op gameplay over PlayStation Network when we have dozens of zombies on-screen with all the atmospheric lighting and explosions on the top of it.
Co-Optimus: You said in the blog post that developers had to work an extra four hours a day plus weekends. I'm sure you did this because it's a feature you really wanted to have, but it was a business decision as well - right?
Ilari: It's hard to judge the decision business-wise since it's difficult to know how many more people are going to buy the game based on the online co-op functionality. Dead Nation is a great experience on its own as a single player game, one that many are waiting. For some, online co-op might be an essential feature that justifies the whole experience, for others it might be a nice bonus feature they might try out sometimes. That said, it mostly came down to the fact that our team loves to play the online co-op ourselves, and we think people who buy this game will feel the same way.
Adding this feature wasn't exactly easy, contrary to what gamers may think. Due to the camera angle and the amount of stuff we wanted to have on screen, we had to figure out a way to make sure that everything would work over the PSN. Therefore it did require more work/time from the team. But, we really don't believe in extensive overtime. We believe in "controlled crunching" work from time to time as it helps the team sharpen their focus and accomplish a lot in a short period of time. And we certainly believe that it's important to take extra time-off after any such period of overtime.
Co-Optimus: What co-op games have influenced Dead Nation?
Ilari: The core experience is really influenced by the arcade games of the 80's, games like Contra and Gauntlet, which were among the first experiences that gave players a great feeling of working together and a sense of shared accomplished. I think that we've added a lot of new features to the gameplay experience that combine action and tactical thinking, while challenging players to figure out how to handle different situations and plan your weapon upgrades accordingly.
Co-Optimus: What has been some of your favorite co-op moments in Dead Nation so far?
Ilari: Replaying a part of one of the levels that was extremely difficult the first few times around and then figuring out the right co-operative tactics and use of weapons to overcome the seemingly overwhelming opposition.
Thanks Ilari! We're looking forward to trying Dead Nation when it launches exclusively on the PlayStation Network "soon."