The Dead Linger

Exclusive Interview With The Dead Linger Design Director Geoff Keene

The Dead Linger is a brand new zombie survival in-development at Sandswept Studios. The team is ambitious and has a pretty impressive laundry list of features that they're going to be adding into the game as it progresses. The Dead Linger is available now in early alpha testing, as Sandswept has opened the doors to the community much earlier than other studios.

So, what sets The Dead Linger apart? To answer that question, you have to first take a close look at the studio themselves and learn where they get inspiration. We're going to be running a series of interviews with various team members at Sandswept Studios, to learn more about the guys making the game and what makes them tick.

To start things off, we sat down with Geoff Keene to discuss The Dead Linger, the current state of zombie survival games and what inspired him to get started on his latest project.

Behind every great zombie game, there is a powerful example undead inspiration. Such is the case with Geoff Keene, who drew his first inspiration to build a zombie survival game from Max Brooks' classic Zombie Survival Guide.

"My original influence for The Dead Linger came from reading Max Brooks' The Zombie Survival Guide way back when I was 15 or so," says Keene. "Since I read that book, I'd been designing and writing down this massive, sprawling world of zombies for the player to survive within.He continues, saying, "I took a lot of influence after that from The Walking Dead graphic novel, long before the TV show. Dawn of the Dead (the 2002 version) is also one of my large influences on the wide range of stuff I'd like to see the player doing in The Dead Linger."

The team has also drawn a lot of influence from zombie films, as well, particularly the work of George Romero and Dawn of the Dead. Geoff Keene explains: "We are definitely taking a Romero approach to our zombies. We're all definitely big fans of The Walking Dead and some of the older Dawn of the Dead movies, but we're also creating our own canon when it comes to what a zombie is and what it isn't. I feel zombies in games have really lost the creepy, walking-corpse factor, and have become angry shooting-gallery targets for high-speed shooters.

"I feel zombies in games have really lost the creepy, walking-corpse factor."

"We're bringing back the pacing, the survival, and horror of classic zombie movies. That means barricading, scavenging, and escaping the teeming hordes.
As for what he's playing these days, in between late night dev sessions? "I've found myself playing League of Legends, ARMA (not DayZ, believe it or not), Natural Selection 2, and I just picked up Chivalry, because I like getting my arms chopped off a lot or something."

Keep reading for more on The Dead Linger from our chat with Geoff Keene, Creative Director at Sandswept Studios.

The zombie survival genre has really been picking up lately, with both The War Z and DayZ making inroads on taking the throne, but Keene is not too worried about the competition, who he says has actually given him inspiration on what not to do in developing The Dead Linger.

"I have been and remain sorely disappointed in the zombie genre since I first starting designing The Dead Linger many years ago," He says. "DayZ is closer [to a perfect zombie survival game], but it's still missing some of the crucial stuff that I feel makes for true zombie survival (though it's mostly focused on PvP, and the zombies appear to have little to no focus in gameplay.) The other games that call themselves 'zombie survival' are only survival games in the sense that the players loses if they die, but that holds true for just about any FPS out there."

"If you want to call Left 4 Dead (a fun game in its own right) a "Zombie Survival" then you have to also be allowed to call Halo or Black Ops 2 a 'Sci-fi Survival.' The Dead Linger is 100% about the survival from the zombies, in a massive, zombie-infested open world, with your friends, or solo."

"The Dead Linger is 100% about survival from
the zombies."

At the end of a day, it doesn't matter what the other guys are doing if your own product can't stand on its own legs. This isn't a concern we feel in The Dead Linger and it was obvious from our discussion with Keene that he is confident enough in his own game. The game is still very much in-development, but Sandswept is working hard and updating the game as often as possible.

"Some of the features we're working on right now are getting zombies to really react better to the player," Keene told us. "We have a game where you can scavenge and explore every single room, through every single door, in every single building, but the zombies are bit slow at figuring out how to get inside. The next update or two has some features planned that I'm very excited for, specifically; zombies bashing down your doors and climbing through your windows."

So, the game is out in alpha testing. How is the team dealing with feedback, where are their priorities set?

"Right now we're focusing on the hard hitting issues; The stuff that makes the game fun," he informed us. "The nasty bugs (welcome to Alpha!), the scavenging, the world generation system, the ammo systems, the hunger systems, and of course, the zombies.

We're focusing on what gets the most bang for your buck, and all the people who have pre-ordered are really starting to see it come together as they play our updates. The biggest focus right now is immersing the player in the world, ensuring the zombies are a threat and can punish you for making too much noise or other actions," he continued, adding that the team was working on, "keeping everything completely open for the player to explore, scavenge, and fight in whatever way they choose.

The world of The Dead Linger is limitless in possibilities, and we've just barely stepped through that opening."

We had a great conversation with Geoff Keene and we want to thank the guys at Sandswept Studios for taking the time to chat with us!

Check out The Dead Linger online at for information on how you can get involved in the early alpha testing.


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