Industry veteran Jeff Strain formed Undead Labs in November 2009 to develop a zombie MMO for consoles. After a little over a year, the studio has announced that its inaugural open world title will be a zombie-survival game published by Microsoft Game Studios for Xbox LIVE Arcade. This two-player game, which is codenamed "Class3," will actually kick off a zombie-filled franchise and pave the way for the future MMO.
Confused yet? Undead Labs describes their plans in more detail in a Q&A that was published to coincide with the announcement:
" ‘Class3′ is the codename for the ambitious zombie-survival open world game currently under development at Undead Labs for release as an Xbox LIVE Arcade title. ‘Class4′ is the codename for the subsequent zombie-survival online world game that we will develop by building on the Class3 platform. In other words, Class3 runs on your Xbox 360 and supports 1-2 players via Xbox LIVE or on the same screen, while Class4 will provide a much larger server-hosted world for thousands of simultaneous players."
Keep reading after the jump for more details.
Still here? Good. So Class3 is a two-player third-person action game "packed with sweet guns, fast cars, hand-to-hand combat, and copious amounts of zombie gore." Undead Labs is developing it before the Class4 online world game so they can focus on the franchise's core gameplay and world interaction mechanics. Also, just to be clear, Undead Lab prefers the term "online world" over "MMO" to avoid comparisons to fantasy RPGs full of elves and dragons.
UPDATE: Creative Director James Phinney just posted a lengthy blog entry explaining why Undead Labs decided to develop Class3 before Class4. As he puts it, this move will let the them "get real-world feedback about our game. ... The more feedback we get about Class3, the better Class4 will be. And not just the game. The team."
Undead Labs remains and independent studio, but having Microsoft as their publisher means that their games will be made exclusively for the Xbox 360. The developers feel this will actually help them focus on gameplay and polish instead of cross-platform technical and business challenges. Also, don't expect to see their games on PC because, simply put, they "just love console games."