OverviewZombie Studios Inc. (formerly known as Zombie Inc. since circa 1999 and before that Zombie LLC) is a game development studio based in Seattle, United States. It was founded in 1994 by Mark Long and Joanna Alexander. They both came from the Sarnoff Research Center where they made a virtual reality game for Hasbro in 1993. The company used its experience with virtual reality products in different areas. It designed and developed a motion-based, real-time, 3D ride for the new DisneyQuest center in Orlando, Florida, and produced a music video.
In 2008, Zombie branched out into comics with Shrapnel, an epic solar war trilogy published by Radical Publishing and in 2009 announced its first feature film Blacklight, produced by Fox Atomic. Both will be adapted to games as well. The company also focuses on military simulators for the American army, including Virtual Army Experience, AH-64D Apache Simulator, Future Soldier Trainer, Convoy Trainer, Future Force Company Commander and more. In its line of games entertainment, a focus on military themes is also persistent. The company also created a series of Internet portals, called "The CentralHQ Network," designed to serve the specific needs of members of the U.S. military and their families. The network's properties included all branches of the military, combining free email/fax/voice messaging; online banking and bill paying services; and customizable and military-tailored content. It was designed to serve as the home page for the approximately 2.8 million military households that are online. The studio also contributed to the US military-sponsored title America's Army 3 (2009).
On 7th February 2000 AIS (Advanced Interactive Systems), a company that creates high-tech, interactive computer simulation training and entertainment systems acquired the company along with The CentralHQ Network. Long and Alexander remained in charge of the subsidiary and also became Vice Presidents of AIS. The current status of the company is not clear, as the website once again lists Zombie Studios as an independent company.
The studio has a long history in game development spanning many platforms. In 1995 Zombie LLC was involved with three titles. It produced the spaceship simulator Ice & Fire developed by AnimaTek. In the same year Zombie developed the racing game Locus and ported Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure to the SEGA 32X together with Big Bang Software.
In 1996, Zombie released Zork Nemesis: The Forbidden Lands, an instalment in the long-running Zork series, but the involvement is likely to have been small, as the credits exclusively list developers from Activision. The company was much more involved with its own first-person shooter ZPC, released in the same year.
In 1998 Zombie released games in two new franchises. The first was the tank simulation combat title Spearhead and the second was the launch of the first-person shooter Spec Op series, with the base game Spec Ops: Rangers Lead the Way and the expansion Spec Ops: Ranger Team Bravo both released in the same year. It was continued with a sequel in 1999: Spec Ops II: Green Berets, the first game after the incorporation of the company. After that, many more games in the series were released, but no longer developed by Zombie itself except for the Dreamcast game Spec Ops II: Omega Squad in 2000 (together with Runecraft). The follow-up titles include Spec Ops: Stealth Patrol (2000), Spec Ops: Ranger Elite (2000) and Spec Ops: Covert Assault (2001). All three were created by Runecraft, a company the studio would cooperate with often. The Zombie team assisted during the development. The final game in the series was Spec Ops: Airborne Commando, developed by Big Grub and released in 2002.
In 1999, the studio also released the spear fishing simulator Body Glove's Bluewater Hunter and in 2000 the team provided art to the Cover Ops encyclopaedia Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Covert Ops Essentials, working together with Magic Lantern and the main series' development studio Red Storm Entertainment.
In 2001, following the acquisition of the company by AIS, Zombie focused on entirely new themes, with the first-person prison escape game Alcatraz: Prison Escape and two titles based on Disney's animated movie Atlantis: Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire - Search for the Journal and Disneys' Atlantis: The Lost Empire - Trial by Fire. The studio continued with movie licensees, working on adaptation of the action movie Ecks vs. Sever for the PlayStation 2, but it was eventually cancelled. Instead, it returned to the military genre, assisting NovaLogic with development on Delta Force: Task Force Dagger (2002), the standalone mission pack to Delta Force: Land Warrior.
Mark Long spearheaded the deal to create the game Super Bubble Pop (2002) based on the Super Bubble Pop sweet styling gum line of Vain International. Development was eventually handled by its trusty partner Runecraft. The company returned to full development on familiar terrain with the release of the military shooter Shadow Ops: Red Mercury in 2004. It was the studio's first Xbox title (next to a Windows version) and the first time Zombie worked with the UnrealEngine 3D game engine.
After that, game releases became less frequent. The studio created Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Way of the Warrior for the Plug and Play CMOS Camera Video Game, but another major title took until October 2009 when Saw was released, based on the popular horror movie series. Part of the delay is likely to have been caused by the closing of Brash Entertainment, the original publisher, and by the involvement of the new publisher Konami to introduce slights changes to the game. The seemingly long lull in releases was also caused by a deal with Bethesda Softworks that fell through.
In the Fall of 2006, Rogue Warrior: Black Razor was announced, a tactical first-person shooter set in modern day Korea to be released in 2007. After a long silence, the game resurfaced in 2009 as Rogue Warrior with Rebellion as the development team. Bethesda stated publicly that it was not satisfied by the way Zombie originally took the game. A third reason was the establishment of Direct Action Games, a value label to design and produce titles for both PC and consoles. Between 2005 and 2006, four military-themed games were released by the Zombie team operating under a different name: Combat: Task Force 121, World War II Combat: Road to Berlin, World War II Combat: Iwo Jima and Close Quarters Conflict.
Currently Zombie Studios develops games for the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 powered by the UnrealEngine3 game engine. In July 2010 Blacklight: Tango Down was released for XBLA and Windows, about a covert ops team in a dystopian future battle for peace and security. Zombie is currently working on Shrapnel, an adaptation of the company's own comic book series.
Contributed by Trixter (9130) on May 25, 2000. [revised by : Sciere (485009)].