Q/A: Infected Feature - The Next Level

Q/A: Infected

We chat with Planet Moon Studios Lead Designer, Jeff Kung about their first PSP project.

Article by James Cunningham (Email)
November 24th 2005, 03:30AM

There's been quite a bit of buzz surrounding Planet Moon Studios first entry for the PSP. We've been intrigued about Infected ever since the first details were announced during the beginning of the year. Prior to the release of the game, we managed to briefly chat with Jeff Kung, Lead Designer of Infected, who offered us a few details about their unique title. Originally, we planned to run this story within the same week the game ship, but due to matters beyond our control -- our QA session wasn't able to go live until now. We'd like to thank ElectricArtists and Jeff for understanding -- hopefully we won't wake to find our emails are infected with something nasty!

Hi there, how's life on Planet Moon?

Jeff Kung: Awesome! It's nice to have a little breather after putting together the finest game out there... Infected.

Infected seems like a departure in tone and style for Planet Moon after Giants and Armed & Dangerous. How much humor is hiding underneath the ultra-violent surface of Infected?

Jeff Kung: Yes, the content of the game is well entrenched in the zombie genre. But if you watch the cutscenes and listen to the level loading chatter that goes on, you'll see that we're still Planet Moon under the zombie combo splats and guts! It's a really nice balance of Infected gore and mature comedy.

Infected looks very arcade-styled -- a pure adrenaline rush that's not as common as it used to be. Any reason for going this route versus the more common, adventurous style?

Jeff Kung: The arcade style gameplay lends itself extremely well to the PSP. Infected was built from the ground up for the PSP including the notion of portable gameplay. Instant action is what the PSP is all about and Infected IS instant action! Whether it's single player or Ad-Hoc/Infrastructure multiplayer, the action is non-stop!

From the bloody handprint of the logo, to the gore-caked E3 booth, to just about every screenshot released so far, this is an insanely violent game. (Woo-hoo!, by the way.) Any particular reason for going so over-the-top with the gore, and are you worried about negative feedback from the insane Florida lawyer crowd?

Jeff Kung: People are certainly entitled to their opinions. Our opinion is that zombie guts are fun! It's what makes all those zombie horror films so much fun to watch. We felt that if we were to do a zombie game, it shouldn't be done half-way... it's got to go all the way with what the genre was created for... meaty chunks!

What is it about the walking dead that makes them so damn fun to kill?

Jeff Kung: They're pure bad guys. People love to hate bad guys and what better place to really let 'em know how you feel about them than in video games like Infected!

From Interplay for Giants, to LucasArts for Armed & Dangerous, and now Majesco for Infected, Planet Moon has been all over the place. What's it like being an independent game design studio in the age of consolidation and buyouts?

Jeff Kung: It's afforded us an opportunity to build games where we can put a stamp on those genres with our distinct style. We've made a name for ourselves by creating totally original titles and this could only have come about by not being restricted by any particular IP. But that doesn't mean we won't be working on a franchise title in the future. Anything is possible.

All nine members of Slipknot are unlockable characters in the game. How did that come about, and did any of the other musical acts (or just people you know) manage to sneak in as well?

Jeff Kung: Our producer over at Majesco, Dean Martinetti, introduced Slipknot to Planet Moon and Infected. It was pretty clear from the get go that we wanted to have their music and distinctive look in our game and they wanted the same thing. It was pretty easy, really! It was the perfect match up... Slipknot tunes, gory zombie splats, Slipknot avatars, more zombie gore. There are other unlockables but you'll have to play Infected to find out who they are! *cough* Bloodrayne *cough*

How does developing for the PSP compare to working on high-end PC hardware? Were any major compromises needed in terms of visuals or controls, or was it smooth sailing?

Jeff Kung: Smooth sailing? Sure. It was easy! ;) Well, maybe not real easy, but a lot of the principles used in developing for a PC title are applied to the PSP but on a smaller scale. We have to look at the memory limits in terms of how many polys we can draw each frame, how many sounds can play at once, what the overall memory footprint is from launching the game to the end credit movie. It's all basically the same tech and art requirements for any other platform except scaled for the smaller screen of the PSP.

Planet Moon seems to concentrate exclusively on unique properties rather than trying to create franchises. Would you create tons of sequels or big movie-licensed games if given the chance, or do you prefer to work on something new each time?

Jeff Kung: Anything is possible! In this industry, you can never count anything out.

It looks like Infected is coming out mid-November. Have any spare hints on what Planet Moon will do next? The line from your press release- "The first in a series of original games exclusively for the PSP from Planet Moon Studios and Majesco..." is particularly tantalizing.

Jeff Kung: Well, you ain't seen noth'n yet! We will be revealing our next game with Majesco sometime next year. The PR people will kill me if I say more!

Stay tuned for our official hands-on review of Infected next week!

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