Metal-Roos: So tell me a bit about the game?
It’s definitely a passion project. Robert Wriedt (artist/coder) and I have been friends since we were very young, and we both grew up on a steady diet of zombie movies, heavy metal, and point and click adventures. I know, they may be very different things, but we love all of them equally. When we decided to work on a game together it made perfect sense to combine them into what eventually became Metal Dead! We soon enlisted a friend (Josh Birch) to write the excellent, old school, metal-inspired midi soundtrack, and everything fell into place after that. The game is currently available on Steam.
Metal-Roos: How long did it take to make and how did you keep yourselves afloat to do this?
Both Robert and I were completing study at the time we were making Metal Dead. We’ve both done odd jobs here and there, along with some freelance work to keep the game development train running.
Metal-Roos: Are any of the characters from real life?
If they are, it was unintentional! Though some of the characters might look suspiciously like people we know, if there are any traces of real personalities in the game, they’re completely exaggerated to the point of ridiculousness. Metal Dead is a buddy story at its heart, and centers around best friends Malcolm and Ronnie. While Malcolm is the more cerebral one, Ronnie is the stereotypical heavy metal freak, and is a good counterbalance and comedic foil. As a bit of trivia, Ronnie was created the week Dio passed away, and we named the character in his honor.
Metal-Roos: What is Walk Thru Walls’ link to all this?
That’s just our company name. Honestly, there’s no cool or interesting story there; we just liked the sound of it! Since the release of the first game, we’ve brought some new people into the Walk Thru Walls team: Kai, our background artist; Josh, additional animator; and Alejandro, our Argentinian musical genius.
Metal-Roos: What was the metal connection? And whose idea was it to combine metal with the zombie apocalypse?
When we were first developing the idea, we knew we had to incorporate metal. We’re both huge metal heads, so that was a given. We were also working at a time when there hadn’t been a point and click adventure featuring zombies (yes, we pre-dated Telltale’s The Walking Dead). They’d been used in everything else at that point, so we thought it was time they shambled over to the classic LucasArts style. We wanted to use point and click’s strengths in comedy and storytelling to do something fresh and say something new. The zombie genre has always been rife with satire and commentary, so the mix was perfect. Taking the heavy metal angle rounded out the package!
Metal-Roos: There are some parts in the game where I actually laughed out loud, particularly the achievements. Where did you get the material/ideas from?
A lot of it was Robert and I bouncing ideas off each other. If it made us both laugh, we’d put it in. The rest of it was me sitting a computer screen late at night typing and trying to be funny.
Metal-Roos: What can we expect in the future? Can you tell me more about the sequel?
Metal Dead: Encore is due for release later this year. Malcolm and Ronnie make a return, and the story picks up directly after the events of the first game. This time around, the setting is a small town which plays host to an annual heavy metal festival. Obviously, all the attendees have been turned into zombies, and it’s up to you to stop the outbreak! The graphics and animation have received a huge overhaul, and so have the game mechanics and dialogue system. We also now have a full, blistering heavy metal soundtrack composed specifically for the game! It’s going to kick a lot of ass.
Metal-Roos: What games influenced you?
One look at the LucasArts back catalogue will reveal Metal Dead’s DNA. Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle, Sam and Max, and of course Full Throttle are some of the major influences. Sierra had some great adventures too, like Leisure Suit Larry, Gabriel Knight, etc. It’s great to see so many indies bringing the genre back.
Metal-Roos: What were the hardest parts of designing the game?
As I mentioned before, Metal Dead and its sequel are passion projects. We’ve never had great deal of resources, so we’ve had to find creative ways around roadblocks. We used an excellent free engine (Adventure Game Studio), and while it’s a bit creaky and stubborn, we’ve been able to tweak it to make it do what we want it to do.
Metal-Roos: What are the positives and negatives of being an independent developer?
Not many major publishers would be willing to take a chance on a heavy metal themed point and click adventure these days! Being indie means we get to do what we want to do. The only negative is the aforementioned lack of resources, though in today’s economic climate, a lot of game industry jobs – even with the biggest companies – are unstable. At least if we lost jobs, it’d be us firing ourselves. That won’t be happening anytime soon!
Metal-Roos: If you had a choice of any band to work with for the next game, who would you choose?
We already have my dream choice of musician working on Metal Dead: Encore! But if I had to choose someone else, I’d go with Devin Townsend. I think his over-the-top comedic style would fit perfectly with Metal Dead. Check out the Walk Thru Walls website and the games’ trailers:
Interview Date: 2015-04-03
Interviewer: Matt Brown