Ray's the Dead is more than an action zombie puzzler – it's a feat of electrical engineering. As a twice-removed successor to Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel without a Pulse, Ray's the Dead offers 1980s undead-centric gameplay inspired by Pikmin and, most adorably, a main character with a glowing lightbulb on top of his head. Yes, his name is Ray.
Ragtag Studio – composed of former Wideload, Disney and Ensemble Studios developers, including one who worked on Stubbs the Zombie – needs $75,000 from Kickstarter backers to add audio effects, music and quality writing to the game. They want to hire out these positions to Jake Kaufman (Double Dragon, Shovel Knight, DuckTales soundtracks), Ben Crossbones (Tony Hawk Pro Skater, Organ Trail sound design), Matt and Ed (Twisted Pixel writers) and a larger curated team.
Ragtag can finish the game without the Kickstarter funds, but that would result in a pared-down version of Ray's the Dead, Ragtag co-founder Chris Cobb tells Joystiq.
"With many Kickstarters, they promise additional features that can potentially lengthen the development cycle of the game," Cobb says. "With ours, we have specifically tailored the Kickstarter campaign to help us add features that do not affect the development cycle in a negative way, and in many ways will make it more likely that we can make our target release date. We planned out the scope of the game itself a while ago, and didn't feel it would be wise to add or remove gameplay features, levels, characters, etc., based on the failure or success of our campaign.
"We haven't had any funding, but we can continue working on the game for a good long while as we are all being supported by our wives right now. Without funding, anything we can do ourselves will be done, but things outside of our skill set will have to fall to the wayside. And none of us are musicians or writers."
Cobb is the Stubbs the Zombie man of Ragtag, and he says his background with that game resonates with existing fans – regardless of how few there may be.
"Stubbs was not a huge seller, but the people that did discover it back when it was released really seemed to like it a lot – to an usual degree," Cobb says. "The people that do know Stubbs and come across our game get very excited when they realize that there are similarities, and that someone that worked on Stubbs is involved."
Ray's the Dead isn't officially a sequel to Stubbs the Zombie, since Ragtag doesn't own the Stubbs license, and as a cartoonish action-stealth-puzzler about building a zombie army (and making friends), Ray's the Dead is a completely fresh take.
"What really makes me happy is the people that liked Stubbs don't seem to mind how totally different our game is than Stubbs, and in fact, many people really like all that makes it different," Cobb says.
Ray's the Dead is scheduled for a launch at the end of the year for PC, Mac and Linux, and it already has a page on Steam Greenlight. Check out its Kickstarter page here.