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Arcade Highlight: Night of the Dead

Arcade Highlight: Night of the Dead

Unlike some games we’ve featured in our weekly spotlights, Night of the Dead has a long history in the StarCraft II Arcade as well as a strong following. It’s a team-based survival game where up to eight players unravel the story behind the Apollo mining colony base and the horrific events that caused it to turn into a zombie-infested nightmare.

Initially, players choose from three classes, but you can unlock nine others as you spend more time with the game.

Each class has two skill trees that you can focus on as you level up in the game. For instance, the Medic class can focus on improving his healing abilities or learn new offensive abilities, while the Assault class can bolster hard-hitting abilities or become more durable to tank damage for his team.

You’ll find a variety of weapons and items that will augment your ability to deal with the droves of different enemies in this game.

Game designer Daren “Ability” Yoong talked us through the development of his team’s game. Give it a read and jump into the dark world of Night of the Dead, now featured in the StarCraft II Arcade.

You can also check out ChanmanV's recent coverage of the game here:

Traysent: How did you get started in game design?

Ability:  I was a player of ‘Night of the Dead II’ in Warcraft III and decided to tinker around the editor to make my own parody survival map. People started playing and giving feedback. One thing led to another and it eventually became a more serious effort and spawned Night of the Dead: Aftermath. We were just having fun and I suddenly found myself in game design. 

T: What made you want to make games with the StarCraft II editor?

A: StarCraft II was the next big thing from Blizzard and after my experience using Warcraft III’s editor I knew there was so much more we could do here. When I saw the demo maps that Blizzard made using the editor—it sealed the deal.  

T: What was the inspiration for Night of the Dead?

A: There’s a good background about the whole NOTD series in this thread. I wanted to create something that would make an impact in StarCraft II. It's still a work-in-progress.

T: How many people worked on this game and what roles did they have?

A: When we started in August 2010, we had a team of three based in Malaysia and Singapore. I was the Designer, Earendil was the Programmer and we had XaVi as our Story and Balance guy. Earendil and XaVi stepped down from active development in early 2012 and I’m now supported by an international team of four spread across USA, London, and Thailand. It’s been a pretty international collaboration. 

T: How does the game work? What is in store for a first time player?

A: NOTD is a cooperative survival game. You play in teams of eight to complete missions and stay alive. As a first time player, you’ll immediately notice the three storylines and vast amount of content we have. It signals to players that this is a game they would be playing continuously to be able to explore and unlock most of the content. 

T: What do players who want to conquer the game and be great do to reach that goal?

A: Like Blizzard’s mantra, we do our best to design NOTD as ‘easy to learn, hard to master.’ For someone who wants to conquer the game, they would need to play with veteran community members and exchange and absorb information from our forum and NOTD Wiki. They would need to build bonds with other community members to learn the game together and earn medals together.  

T: What do you feel makes your game compelling?

We’ve invested more than 3000 hours of effort into building content and polishing what we have, and we’re still not done.

A: In the words of our community members, we have one of the richest and deepest content available in any StarCraft II mod. We’ve invested more than 3000 hours of effort into building content and polishing what we have, and we’re still not done. We regularly refine our game with frequent community input and that helps people get involved. Because of the cooperative nature of NOTD, we have a community that plays together in clans, on Ventrilo and participate on our forums. With our Rating and difficulty system, it also keeps players at all skill levels challenged. All this adds to the replayability of the game.

T: Are there any tweaks coming to Night of the Dead that the community can look forward to?

A: The bulk of NOTD’s content is complete and we’re at a stage of development where we want to polish everything to a shine. What this means in practical terms is fixing bugs, improving visuals, adding more depth to in-game characters, fleshing out and making boss fights more fun, improving balance, refining our UI and optimizing our game code. 

T: What advice would you give to someone who was interested in using the SC2 Editor to make their own game? Where is a good place for them to start the learning process?

A: Start small and have fun experimenting. Make a mini game or play with concepts. Another good idea is to open up your favorite Blizzard custom maps to learn how they are made. That’s how I started my own journey into game design. SC2Mapster is also a great resource to learn.

T: Do you have any plans for other games or future goals as a game designer?

A: We may be developing a sequel—Night of the Dead II—in the future for StarCraft II if we manage to get the right team and have a solid design plan ironed out. We’re working on this in the background now. NOTD II would be set in Mars an undisclosed time after the events of NOTD. 

T: What’s the best way people can follow you and your work (Twitter, Facebook, Website, etc.)?

A: We have an active community forum at Our community has made an exhaustive NOTD Wiki at Lastly, we put up regular updates on Facebook at

I also encourage people who want to learn what NOTD is about to watch these two videos:

"Don't be greedy. Share loot with your teammates"  Aldrexus

"Having a diverse array of weapons in your team guarantees you have the right tool for every situation."  Cloaken

"This game helped me understand that sometimes, the best thing I can do for my team is to die and become a big pile of loot."  Kaivax

"It’s a game that gets better as you go from 4 to 6 to 8 players, but just keeping everyone together is a serious challenge."  Spyrian

"Why is it so hard for people to shoot something in the butt?"  Traysent

Tags: arcade

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