Zombie Cow Studios is the company behind Privates, a game that definitely caught my attention. I reviewed it last week, and I’m pleased to have had the opportunity to ask one of its founders, Dan, some questions. So, check out our conversation …
First off, I would like to say how much I enjoyed Privates and thank you for the opportunity to allow me to interview you!
Ooh, I’m pleased you enjoyed it.
Let’s start out pretty simple. Tell us a little bit about Zombie Cow Studios.
It’s a tiny little indie studio run out of my flat. We made a couple of little adventure games that did really well – Ben There, Dan That! and Time Gentlemen, Please!, and have recently released Privates, a sexy infection-fighting platform shooter. Everyone seems to call it THE VAGINA GAME, charmingly.
How did the idea of Privates come to you?
No idea, I’m afraid. Channel 4 said they wanted something about Sex Ed, and I guess I’d been playing a lot of gruff marine third-person shooters at the time, because it suddenly hit me to combine the two…
Privates has, to date, been a PC-only launch, recently being denied publication on the Xbox Live Marketplace due to its “inherently sexual nature”. How do you feel about Privates remaining a PC-only game?
Privates was always really a PC-only game, that’s what we were making. However, because we were making it in XNA, it means it’d be really easy to port it to Xbox 360 as well. Unfortunately, you can’t make a sex-ed game without mentioning sex, so the game’s turned out just a bit too raunchy for the Xbox Indie Games guidelines.
In my review of the game, I suggested the game should be used as a sexual education tool in high schools. Reading some of the comments on the game’s download page, I can see others feel the same way. Have you ever considered marketing Privates to schools to promote sexual health?
I suspect the content’s just on the slightly-too-naughty side for teachers to be able to justify it.
Besides which, I get a lot of emails at the moment praising Privates for being approachable and intriguing enough that people actively seek it out. I’d be slightly worried that as soon as schools actively trying to encourage kids to play it, it’ll lose any sense of credibility in their eyes. Maybe that’s not giving people enough credit, but when I was at school that’s how it was… I think Privates works really well as an addendum to Sex Ed, something to be independently sought out and enjoyed.
Privates is your first 3D game. What inspired you to venture into the 3D world?
Thee guys who did all the hard work with the code and art convinced me it’d be easier in the long run. It looks stunning, they worked wonders.
I noticed some comments from Foxtrot Squad in the game. Being a gamer, the ones that caught my attention were “I think I hear a witch. Turn off your flashlights!” and “How do I throw grenades?” The first, clearly being a referral to Left 4 Dead. Are you a big gamer as well? (and if so: which do you prefer more, console or PC games and what are some of your favorite games?)
I’m a big gamer, of course! Where I play games depends entirely on the type of game; I’ve always been a PC gamer, so I’m not really au-fait with controllers yet. Which means FPSs I still buy and play exclusively on PC because otherwise my aim’s all messed up and I wind up shooting the walls. But you can’t beat games from a sofa, so quite a lot of the games I play these days are on console.
It’s weird being an indie, when you’re playing games there’s this nagging tug that you want to be making something instead of playing, so I haven’t played much lately. I was really into little games like PixelJunk Shooter and Limbo, which I thought it was beautiful and clever. Besides that, anything action-oriented keeps me entertained.
There are a few digs at shooters and a few Left 4 Dead references in Privates, actually. When HIV is chasing after you, one of the Privates shouts “TAAAAAAAAAANK!”, I love it.
I’ve spent a lot of time on your website, checking out various games, and I know which is my favorite. But, let’s learn a little about you: of the games Zombie Cow Studios has created, which is your favorite and why?
I think Time Gentlemen, Please! is the game I’m most proud of, because it did so well. But actually my favourite game is Gibbage; it’s a bit old now and doesn’t really work properly on modern computers, but the core gameplay is brilliant. I’d love to make a proper console version one day, I think it’d do really well…
Are there any games you are working on right now that you can tell us about?
Nope, it’s all secret, I’m afraid! I don’t like spoilers and I do like making a splash when games are announced, so I’m going to keep tight-lipped unless we’re in a pub at which point I’ll tell anyone pretty much anything…
One last question before we go: Is there anything that you’d like to say to our readers or to fans of your games?
Thanks hugely for your support, fans. It means more than I can say.
Again, thank you so much Dan for the opportunity to ask you a few questions!