7 Days to Die - The Interview

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Welcome back undead fans. Today is a massive day for The Dead Times - most definitely the most ridiculously groovy day since the site's conception way back when. Today I can bring you something I've always wanted to get onto The Dead Times - truly exclusive, "can't see it anywhere else" content. That's right, read on for a written interview with The Fun Pimps, passionate indie developers behind the kickstarted Zombie survival adventure 7 Days to Die.

I've written about the game before in the kickstarter & the kickstarted category (available here) but, to sum it up in as few words as possible, 7 Days to Die is a survival game set in a Zombie apocalypse with Minecraft level construction and destruction, item durability and a bit of crafting thrown in for good measure. If that sounds like your thing, head over to the Steam store page and grab yourself a copy of the game - it's definitely worth it in my opinion.

This interview has been in the works for a long time, something you'll know if you have been active on the 7 Days to Die forum. The biggest stumbling block was just getting the devs to stop working on the game for even a few hours. I'm serious, The Fun Pimps are really going all out to make the Zombie game that the community deserves after raising a whopping half a million dollars in kickstarter and having already sold over one million copies of the game in early access - a superb achievement for such a small team.

Enough blurb, onto the questions...

© They are coming to get you | Infected PVP - 7 Days to Die

ZombieTom: Let's get the important question out the way first. You're in the office working on the game - it's a normal day. You look out the window and there are Zombies - actual walking dead - stumbling down the street, moving randomly without intelligence. The horrors could find you at any minute. What do you do - hunker down and wait for help or head out, ready for combat?

The Fun Pimps: Lock the doors, close the blinds, grab the shotgun and go raid the neighbors houses for supplies.

ZT: All right now that's done, cast your mind back, if you can, to when the Kickstarter ended. How did you feel when the project soared past the funding goal and, within an impossibly short time, smashed through every stretch goal?

TFP: It was awesome! It felt very surreal that night, watching the numbers climb like a Jerry Lewis telethon. We were chatting back and forth constantly as various milestones were smashed. It was like wow the world really loves this idea!

ZT: Zombie games, particularly open-world ones, present a awkward trade-off between realism and gameplay. How are the team attacking this - do you want 7 Days to Die to be a very real, hardcore survival simulator set in an undead world such as DayZ or a slightly faster, gameplay focused game like Dying Light?

TFP: I tried DayZ for less than half an hour and rage quit, and I haven't tried Dying Light yet. That said our main inspiration is the television series The Walking Dead and we love Bethesda's Fallout and Elder Scrolls series. Our elevator pitch was always "Imagine The Walking Dead meets Minecraft and Fallout 3". We want the game to be as realistic as possible, but not at the expense of being so real that it feels tedious to do things. The zombies are always coming to get you in 7 Days to Die, so there is a constant urgency to do things, and those things need to be easy to do. We redesigned the gui and all the stations to make survival more intuitive to new users, but it's still very advanced the deeper you get into it.

ZT: Adding to that last question, the Zombies in 7 Days to Die are clearly more dangerous at night. Is their going to be any advantage to going out at night versus going out during the day? Dying Light, as an example, boosts experience point gain for night survival. Do you want the same kind of thing in 7 Days to Die? Or is the concept of building up a fortress capable of housing the player through an incredibly dangerous night the primary focus?

TFP: I would say the latter, but we aim to provide enough character growth so you can go out at night once you are advanced enough.

ZT: Zombies are - and I'm really, really excited by this - becoming more and more common in games. We've got Dying Light, DayZ, H1Z1 and the Resident Evil HD remakes forming big-budget triple A titles and countless indie games as well. How do you think 7 Days to Die stands in the horde - what makes it unique, what would make players play your game over all others?

TFP: I would say the depth of our game, and the real zombie threat will attract players. Not to mention it's a true sandbox zombie survival game with a destroyable world where you can mine, craft, build, upgrade. Our game has quality ranges on items, the amount of detail and depth we are adding is unmatched.

© Build amazing forts to keep the dead at bay | GameReplays - 7 Days to Die Screenshot Competition

ZT: I'm really into single-player games with deep stories and, judging from the 7 Days to Die forums, I am not alone. Most of 7 Days we have seen so far is very multiplayer oriented, minimal story with basically sandbox survivalism in a world overrun by flesh-eating Zombies. The Kickstarter did mention a Duke of Navezgane and NPCs (in a stretch goal) but it was not really clear (or I cannot remember) what role they would play in the released game. Could you expand on this?

TFP: The Duke is a Casino owner who had enough firepower, food and security to withstand the outbreak. He quickly took control of most the wasteland and secured several outposts. Basically he's the godfather of the apocalypse. His casino tokens are the new currency and the law is whatever he says it is.

ZT: On the subject of, not really just single-player, but more of NPC interaction and the "game-world" in general, are The Fun Pimps planning a STALKER-style environment where everything exists at once and everything has needs to fulfil? For example, will the Duke of Navezgane have a persistent presence in the world as the head of an enemy base? If so, will these enemies go out in the game-world, being attacked by Zombies, hunting animals for food and so on? Will weather affect the behaviour of such NPCs at all, both friendly and hostile?

TFP: Yes there will be patrols from various factions and their behavior towards the player will be determined by the players own relationships with these factions.

ZT: What, in your opinion and just in general terms (regardless of whether it will be in the game), is a Zombie? What does it need to be and do?

TFP: A zombie is infected with a virus nobody really knows anything about other than it may have been a biological attack. They have lost any reasoning abilities and simply want to eat living flesh. We will expand on that later, with lore as to how the feral zombies have come into existence.

ZT: Obviously being a small development team, I imagine finance and planning are quite a major concern. Do you have a fixed "road map" of features that need to be developed before the game is officially "complete" or does the community have some say in the product? For example, if some avid player has a really awesome feature concept and, after discussing it on the forums, many similar players share their enthusiasm, will you fold this into the game's design? Conversely, and I'm referring to the controversy surrounding the mutated Hornet enemies here, if something The Fun Pimps implements which is not well liked, do you remove or redesign that feature?

TFP: We've shown adaptability to player concerns on many occasions, tweaking things and removing them entirely. But it needs to hit home with us too, we're not changing anything we feel is an improvement to the game over some knee jerking about unfinished features. That is one of the drawbacks to alpha, you put in one feature that might not play correctly until a couple of other features are fully implemented, yet players expect each version to play like a finished game.

© Beware the undead beard! | [ALPHA] 7 Days to Die

ZT: Coming off the back of that question, from watching the preview videos of Alpha 13, I noticed that the harvesting system has changed quite substantially from the very basic "hit something, a resource falls on the ground and you pick it up" mechanic. Why was this change made? Was it part of a planned progression, a decision made in response to player feedback or just something the creative talent at The Fun Pimps thought would work better?

TFP: It had been planned since the beginning. We started this game with a Minecraft type engine so we inherited that mining system. It was never ideal. I played the game with some new players and I was trying to tell them how to get started and I found myself feeling like a professor lecturing on the basics of survival in a boring and convoluted speech. I'm supposed to be an awesome game designer, how did our game end up so klunky? How you did things was different in each system and we took a long hard look at things and bit the bullet on a new gui and a unification of all systems so there are familiar mechanics to everything, that are easy to learn and intuitive.

It all started with the first thing you do, which is almost always "craft a stone axe". You had to punch a small tree and there was no indication that you were doing any damage to get any wood. Then the stick fell on the ground and half the time it was lost in the world. It also caused more network traffic and overhead to drop an item on the ground. So we decided a health bar was needed and to just put the resource in the player's inventory was cleaner, and we put a pop up of the item's icon and a quantity to indicate you were gathering a resource. Finally we went more granular with the item counts so you could see on the first hit usually, that you were gathering a resource. This plays so much smoother than the old way and I don't miss picking up resources off the ground at all. I can focus on gathering and building now, not looking for lost resources. I can tell new players just punch stuff and get resources.

ZT: What element of the game are particular favourites of The Fun Pimps team and why, be it art, design, efficient coding or otherwise?

TFP: We really like the new gui and all the stations. The game just flows great now. An interface should allow you to do things, not get in your way. The new zombie knockdown, crippling and limb removal system is a huge new favorite thing to do as well.

ZT: I don't know if you read about the grilling Peter Molyneux got about him saying he was not going to be able to fulfil all the promises he made for his Kickstarter project, Godus. Are you worried that you may not be able to get everything done you promised you would get done over a year ago or perhaps nervous that you may not deliver the game experience that people thought they would be getting when they backed the project?

TFP: No not at all. We've already done all the hard stuff. That will be evident in A13. The game is more polished and better than ever, and what I would say, the first true glimpse at what this game will be like when it's finished. Not to mention we've sold over a million copies, so we have plenty of capital and are fully confident we will complete all the kickstarter goals.

ZT: Finally, and I think readers would crucify me if I did not ask this, is there any expected release date for the finished game?

TFP: We're hoping by Christmas 2016.

ZT: Ok, that's all from me, thank you again for taking the time to answer these questions. Have you got anything you want to add in closing?

TFP: Thanks for the interview, and oh, the spider zombie we modeled after your own likeness is no longer "the scout zombie", he's back where he belongs, with the general masses climbing up your walls every night and included in hordes, causing problems for players with insecure forts.

ZT: That sounds super-awesome guys. I can't say how much I love there being a Zombie of me in this ground-breaking game!


Steelwind wrote:

Nice !
Get on with the good work !

One Eye Meine wrote:

Amazing game! Thank for all the work you guys have put into it.
I have over 100 hours on the game and still want to play more.

G wrote:

IMO adding smart NPC AI is hard to do, good to hear they have most of the other hard stuff out of the way. The game is amazing and I have high hopes, would love to see if they intend to release some Unity plugin's for the hobbyists that show off all the amazing voxel world logic they have created.

Gammon wrote:

Seriously, an interview with TFP and these are the questions you've chosen to ask? Absolutely flabbergasted. Most of the information here can be either gathered from the forum or is nonsense. What a waste.

Alu Nox wrote:

The game I always wanted

general656 wrote:

Great Interview ZombieTom ! And I like the confidence Pimps have. I hope they'll make us happy in the end of this project and I hope THEY will be happy with the whole thing !

OniMike wrote:

Great interview, just made me so much more excited to play A13. The Pimps are really making a one of a kind game here and I for one am greatful thanks again for all your hard work team.

LHammonds wrote:

7DTD is a fun game. I run a Linux version of the server and of all the dedicated game servers I have, it is one of the most stable (doesn't crash). Being an alpha, that says a LOT. Thanks for working on this game and making our Zombie nightmares come true.

razor1612 wrote:

Nice article! :D

hero wrote:

I miss when zombies were reanimated dead people. Not infected living people. I even like possed ones like in REC better then virus zombies. It's just so much scarey to fight the undead not the hungry living guys.

Zombie Feedbag wrote:

I think all zombies are reanimated dead bodies. In most zombie lore viruses, radiation, and voodoo curses are just the catalysts for bringing them back from the dead.

Ozzysfang wrote:

Great interview! Very excited about the new release. Good to hear some intention behind some parts of the game that I never thought 1 sec. about.

Novacula wrote:

Really looking forward to the new dismemberment feature. Can't wait to get an insight into the zombie lore as well.

ZombieTom wrote:

I'm excited to hear about the lore and backstory too. I am really intrigued the direction The Fun Pimps are going to go with the story seeing as how there are air drops in the game (as far as I recall). Setting up regular air supply runs requires at least some level of civilisation - somewhere must have escaped the Zombie onslaught.

CC wrote:

Yea 7D2D is a really really perfect game!
DX-12 and a Splitscreen (couch-coop) would set this game on a new Level
But now -> Its Great! I Love Alpha 12 and every Alpha level improves the game impossible much!

Jasper Johnson wrote:

Fantastic! I'm happy the pimps are happy and still plan on keeping the kickstarter goals in the final product

Emmanouil Tsikniadopoulos wrote:

Excellent guys! You are the best developers! Although, we need a backpack system with backpack variations

astralmench wrote:

Just give us Alpha 13 already!! until then I'll be playing fallout 4

Forcemaster2000 wrote:

Great interview, you hit just about every base!

Spoutie wrote:

Great read! Excited about the upcoming patch!

Keep up the good work!

Jay pawuette wrote:

Cheers Tom. I remember when made that monster backer pledge. Glad to see you are still keeping up with it.
Games looking even better.

Zug Zug wrote:

Well, despite every interview in the world seeming like its completely played out like a white house press conference, I would still say I believe in this team and I think they have chosen a good path on how they look at a project from their point of a view and from the perspective of a random player in the community.

I would have to say that they take the community more seriously than most companies do because the hard truth is... The consumer is normally right about the future of the project. Players who put their heart in the game will want to see love being put into the game from the Devs and this is what I have sense from this team.

I myself suggested Environmental survival along with many others and before you know it, the team was already working on it. Its as if the community and this team are on the same page.

Ariel wrote:

Outstanding interview, Tom! I've been wanting to contact you for a long time. At the beginning I didn't knew that the Spider zombie was designed like you: I noticed when I visited the Kickstarter page some months ago. That must feel amazing. I would like to be a zombie in the game too!
Thanks for bringing that post to us, it is very interesting, really! I'm even more excited than I was before because of all of that new data about the next features. Greetings from South America!

miah wrote:

i love 7 days... <3

Mark117h wrote:

7daystodie, what can i say,
ITS AWSOME, i really like the way they are now interacting with the world and the way you can gather the resources,
I'm especially exited about ZOMBIE DECAPITATION, i've been wanting this in this game for a long time.
The game has come on a long way and i wish the fun pimp's succes in this and whatever they do, either way if there is another game from them, i would more than likely 100% buy into it as i did with 7daystodie though i was a little late, i joined around alpha 7 when we still had the blocky and minimap in corner telling yoiuo which direction the zed was,
All in all though i do feel that the game has come on leaps and bounds and gone from strenthgth to strentgth

Henry wrote:

You Guys are Awesome the game looks great and is fun to play!
Canīt wait to see how the game is going to be when you finish it!
Thank you so much for the fun...........:)

RichieEB wrote:

Brilliant man just brilliant. Been supporting them since Alpha 1 and its an amazing progress for the developers.

Doc Hussey wrote:

"I'm supposed to be an awesome game designer"

At least you're self aware, finally.

Phineas wrote:

Me and my friend are definitely looking forward for the new updates, you guys are the best!

Hapa wrote:

Can't wait to play 7DTD again. But one thing bugs me, is that I don't see any movement from the devs to improve the dedicated server. I really want to run my own server but, right now, it is bit impracticable. I hope it get better performance on Alpha 13! Cheers :)

finebone wrote:

I'm looking forward to this next release! I'm so glad I purchased this game.

Tito9612 wrote:

Awesome! 7 Days to Die is certainly the best zombie game or survival game, if not the best game I've ever played. I'm greatly looking forward to A13.

Macaquinho. wrote:

Great interview!

Sharok Rillk wrote:

7DtD is a model of how a Steam Early Access game should be managed. I have played this game for just shy over a year now, and the progress made by The Fun Pimps has been unrelenting.
They qualify this game as an Alpha, but I'm sorry, compared to many, many other Early Access games this is at least a Beta, and could practically be considered a finished game - again, compared to failures like Godus and scores of others.
I don't know what the finished version will be like, but so far I must say I am on board with every one of their design decisions, and every new release has brought exciting new possibilities.
Keep it up, Fun Pimps !

ZombieTom wrote:

Wow! Thanks so much for the comments everyone, I certainly appreciate it and I'm sure The Fun Pimps do to. Sorry, it took a while to make them all visible on the page - really was not expecting this much (but I'm thrilled there has been).

Ariel wrote:

Good to hear that, Tom! What's your Steam profile link, by the way?

ZombieTom wrote:

You can find a link to my Steam profile on the Members page (see link in the footer of this page). Send me a message using the Contact form if you need anything else. :)

Arma3 Exile wrote:

Really, 7DTD is so outdated with everything, graphics, content, gameplay, bug "fixing".
Itīs progression is way too slow, content same as before A8, except the "wonderfull" minibike.
Do the TFP guys really think they could develope a game, if yes, when will this game be ready, in 2057?
And where is the "survival" feeling, stated in the title besides hordes and zombies?
It is a Survive the Monsters game, but not a survival game!
Itīs, if you make it to a base(because as boring as the game nowadays is...), nothing else than 3D tower defense game with spawning Zs around you, even in your base, before that it is a marathon simulator.
Would love to see less fanboyish articles when it comes to early access fails!
Steam needs to change itīs early access policy, hobby-devs must be forced to deliver what they promised and sold, their dreams of a game. Till now they even donīt have to deliver a finished game, they can just grab the money and let their dream dying, money is made.
As you can see at almost all of those so called "survival" early access games.
Maybe Empyrion is the last juwel under a bunch of rotten early access apples like 7DTD!

bidlittleallas wrote:

You are a day Z fan shut up and find a game you like. I don't get the hate people put out there. This game is the best thing out there to me and a lot of people who bought it. I bought it at 4.0 and everything is great. The fun pimps are doing what they said they would and more as far as I'm concerned I got my $200.00 worth out of the game already. If you don't like this game then find a new one like I did sorry Starforge. Witch is another game I spent $200.00 on and failed to give anything they promised. And day Z with I new was a fail before it started and chose not to buy so might be more for you. GO FUN PIMPS. GREAT GAME For you who take a fence to my name sorry its my name Dallas

NuxNux wrote:

Thanks for the interview, was great to read about the game's progress from someone interacting with the Fun Pimps rather than just them telling how it is. They do a splendid job at that but it's a refreshing change none the less :)

If the Pimps are reading this, I must say on the A13 videos I'm a bit worried about the screen starting to look too gamey and pop-up filled with all the new visual info related to gathering resources. It may feel very natural when I'm in the game but including an option to make the pop-ups invisible might be nice for the veteran players who already know how much stuff they're getting and approximately how many strikes it takes to fell a tree.

Needless to say, I'm very excited to try the new version when it's out!

Kiesel wrote:

Please don't stop developing the game. I and for sure most other players would easy pay more money to keep the development of this game going. The same as Minecraft is never truly finished.

Jason wrote:

I love seven days I am very much looking forward to the arrival of the A13 developers are the best. Greetings from China


I think the funpimps should work with the community when it comes to prefabs.I have been recently playing 7 days to die and if your walking through the forest biome you will see the same 3 or 4 houses which tends to get really boring so i went to the modding forums and got a mod that added over 200 new prefabs i saw china towns, mansions, fallout shelters, strip clubs i once even saw a corn field and when i looked at it on my map the words "save us" was written using blocks that that the corn was planted on. It added more replayability and i dont think i could ever go back to the default random gen. Maybe you could add some forum where people could submit thier creations and you guys could sift through the garbage and add high quality ones into the game.
the mod that i have been using is Compo-Pack for Random Gen

ZombieTom wrote:

Yeah - sounds awesome mate. The Fun Pimps should look at mods and if they are really good and fit with the overall game theme, include them into the full game. The modder gets recognition and the devs save implementation time by not having to do the work themselves.

I remember the Project Zomboid devs did the same thing with their game; Environmental Degradation (or whatever it was called) was a mod they thought improved the game so ended up bundling it into the main game.

Ninz wrote:

Yay! I'm in one of the pictures! I feel so special now :)

Robin wrote:

Nice work thanks again for all the hard work you guys put into this game im proud to say i got about 900 hours into this game and still playing !

Micky the Fish wrote:

Great to hear about a possible 'end game' in the form of storming the Duke's outposts. I agree with people who say it doesn't NEED one but it'd be a nice point for me on SP to call it a day with that life and begin a new challenge.

ZombiesGotTalent wrote:

This game just keeps getting better! Thank you for the hard work guys!

Janick wrote:

Did they or someone know when the Alpha 13 release date is ?

ZombieTom wrote:

I don't think there is a firm release date yet. I'm sure The Fun Pimps are working overtime to get it out the door.

Micky the Fish wrote:

"Alpha 13 is now feature complete and just needs bugs fixed and we’ll be ready to ship it" "We’ll be done in November for sure" said by Joel Huenink of the Pimps on his 7DTD blog a week ago. "It's gonna be a good'un!" Said by me.

krisz wrote:

Still can't drive car in the game =_=" Please add more weapons: glock 17, colt 1911, assault rifles.

Kamakamikaze wrote:

Just want to thank u too guys for all the work.
u did a really really really good job.
and thanks for not being a greedy asshole like david braben(horizon-dlc).

thank u very very much

Moby Dave wrote:

I just checked and I have 830 hours in the game. I can't wait for Alpha 13. When does it come out?

loke2300 wrote:

Hey thx for using our picture of the old castle. :)
Made me smile on a bad day.....
And yahh good work. :)

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