Pandemic Express Early Access Interview
Pandemic Express Early Access Interview

Pandemic Express Early Access Interview

CRYENGINE-powered zombie shooter Pandemic Express is available on Steam Early Access today. We spoke to Dmitry Shevchenko from the game’s developer TALLBOYS to find out more.

Following a successful alpha program, indie developer TALLBOYS has launched Pandemic Express on Steam Early Access. Pandemic Express is a team-based FPS where players must escape from an infected zombie horde. The game takes place in a vast open world featuring multiple vehicles and weapons, and begins with 30 players trapped on the outskirts of a post-Soviet industrial ghost town. One player is randomly infected and must infect all the other players in the match, recruiting them to their side. The other players must escape from the zombies by finding a train. We spoke to Dmitry Shevchenko, Team Lead at developer TALLBOYS, to discover what players can expect now the game is available on Steam Early Access.

Hey Dmitry! Congratulations on launching on Steam Early Access. What was your inspiration for creating Pandemic Express?

We were mostly inspired by Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s zombie mod and Left 4 Dead for the gameplay. A Swedish artist called Simon Stålenhag inspired the art style and the atmosphere, and we were also heavily influenced by Andrei Tarkovsky’s films. That’s where we got the early morning atmosphere in the industrial outskirts of a town from. But the primary source for the atmosphere was our experiences from our own surroundings, which we tried to carry over into the game.

Why did you choose CRYENGINE to make Pandemic Express?

The choice was dictated by our experience. Many members of the team used to make mods for Crysis and Far Cry. Choosing CRYENGINE was a no-brainer for us as we were all familiar and comfortable with it.

How has CRYENGINE helped you during development?

CRYENGINE has made the difference for us, especially when it comes to creating environments. Crytek’s pipeline for creating nature assets still amazes us, and the water shader is the most beautiful and artistic we’ve seen. We literally flood some locations on the map just to have more water in the game.

How has the development process been so far?

Alpha testing started in September 2018; right after the reveal trailer was published. That’s when we got our community, our most valuable asset. Our players are great! They stuck with us through some horrible alpha builds, helped us see our mistakes, and enabled us to develop many great ideas which they came up with themselves.

As for the game itself, throughout the development, the pace of the game and the number of unique gameplay situations has increased tremendously. We were surprised by how fast-paced the matches have become due to the gradual introduction of parkour mechanics: rocket jumps with any weapon, double jumps, slides, and many other movement techniques.

What are your favorite aspects of the game?

The first few minutes of the game are very exciting. You get a real feeling of adventure as you’re running away from danger through the eerie landscape. But my other favorite part is the end of the match when one of the parties wins. To get there, you have to be playing hard, and the game shows its aggressive side.

What advice would you give to other indie developers?

First of all, you should concentrate on the central idea of the project. You should understand what feelings you want the gameplay and the environment to evoke in a player. Keep going back to that core idea throughout development and use it as a filter for any new features or changes you want to make. That’s a good way to keep your game cohesive.

Be sure to experiment with the gameplay and don’t be afraid to change it drastically. Once you get that sensation of fun, start iterating towards increasing its variation.

Another important point to consider as early as the alpha stages is the lighting. I seriously recommend that developers think about how the light will look in your game and what resources you’ll need to achieve it. Lighting makes 80% of the picture; it can hide the shortcomings of your assets and accentuate the strengths of your visual style. The right lighting can deliver the atmosphere you want to relay to a player from the first seconds of the game and tie the whole composition together.

Cheers Dmitry!

You can check out Pandemic Express on Steam right now. Are you making something cool with CRYENGINE? Let us know in the comments, on the forum, or via Facebook, and Twitter. Don’t forget to join the community and our CRYENGINE development team over on the official CRYENGINE Discord channel. Are you looking for your next career move? At Crytek, we value diversity and actively encourage people from all kinds of backgrounds and experience levels to apply to our open positions, so join us over at LinkedIn and check out our careers page.


May 15, 2019 16:58

Left 4 Dead clone on CryEngine.