Sarah Northway's Rebuild: Gangs of Deadsville isn't just about survival, the developer recently told Polygon. It's a zombie game about growth, ideals and shaping a new civilization.
The game is the third in a series about forming a new civilization after a recent zombie apocalypse. According to Northway, Gangs of Deadsville is the most strategic and in-depth title in the series, which allows players to approach it as a pure strategy title, a kind of role-playing game or a bit of both.
Players begin the game in a part of town with only a few other characters. Every character has his or her personal traits, skills, likes and dislikes, and can be sent to scout for buildings, rebuild damaged sites, fight off zombies or scavenge for food and resources. As players venture out of their part of the town, they will encounter more characters to recruit, expand their influence and meet AI-controlled factions that can be friendly or hostile.
Northway told Polygon that the game originally drew inspiration from Sim City, but it quickly veered in a different direction. Instead of building a city, players are rebuilding and restoring it. And instead of focusing on an economy, the game is about surviving and expanding.
"I like the idea of survivalism," Northway said. "How are you going to make it through the night? Scraping together for food is a big part of this game, so you'll have to choose between whether you want to reinforce your walls and build farms and stay home, or if you want to send people out to scavenge for food in the city. The latter will give you great bonuses, it will get you more food faster, but it's dangerous, so there are lots of 'What would you do in this situation?' scenarios."
Players will be able to micro-manage their new civilization but sending individuals or squads on missions, and it is up to them to decide how they will manage relations within their civilization and with other factions. There will be times when the game asks players if they want to rule democratically, or if they'd prefer to have a dictatorship, and these decisions will shape the player's game.
"You take away civilization and then you put people under pressure and see what happens," Northway said. "It's interesting to take these weird groups of people, put them under pressure in strange situations and it reflects actual human society.You can choose to be friendly with the guys outside, you can choose to be selfish cannibals, you can hunt and kill other people.
"There's a whole range of societies, from completely chaotic, anarchistic societies to idealistic utopian dreams, there's a biker gang, there are drug dealers who are very anti-government, there are vegan hippies who hate technology, and a lot of players really like doing the ideological stuff."
Northway said many players will adopt and ideology and play the game to completion. Many players aren't content with just surviving — they want to thrive.
"I play the game as a strategy game," Northway said. "I'm really concerned with the fighting and where I put my defensive walls, and as soon as the tide is turned and I feel like my city has won, that I've got the better of the zombies and can defeat them faster than they're accumulating, then I'm like, 'Done!'
"But other people play on the easiest difficulty, ignore strategy, and they play past the point where they know they've won because they want to grow the civilization. They really care about the people, which is awesome."
Rebuild: Gangs of Deadsville is about to enter beta. The game is currently in development for Mac, Windows PC and movile devices.