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Undead Labs' Class3 to serve as precursor for MMO-focused 'Class4'

While going down the fact sheet for Undead Labs' Microsoft-published XBLA title (codenamed) Class3, a certain something seems to be missing: Any mention of the "MMO" classification. Considering the gaming lineage of studio founder Jeff Strain, ArenaNet co-founder and former World of Warcraft lead programmer -- not to mention Undead Labs' late 2009 mission statement to create an "MMOZ" -- an absence of the genre's mention seems a bit odd. Strain recently explained to us the avoidance of the subject: Class3 will not play host to the "online world" features envisioned by the developer -- but Class4 will.

"What we've decided to do is take that first step," Strain explained. "We're going place a marker along the path, and release this game we're calling Class3, that has all of the fundamental points in terms of the way you interact with the world, the way your character progresses, the way you establish outposts, the way define your goals in the game, the way you fight zombies and the way they fight you -- the minute by minute core of the game will all be there in Class3. The only thing it won't have is the massive player participation the sequel will have."

Strain said both his studio and Microsoft Game Studios, are excited to bring an online game to the typically MMO-averse console. He explained, "right now, the plan is certainly that we'll continue working with them moving from the open world Class3 game to the online world Class4 game." He added that the former of the two titles is necessary, saying Undead Labs "wants to get something in the hands of gamers early," to develop both interest and feedback for how the "full scale online world" would shape up.

"Really what it comes down to is we just don't think saying a game is an MMO or an online world is enough," Strain added. "To make it fun, you have to make sure you have a fun game first. We're really focused on getting that core experience in place first."

Strain also mentioned that online game subscription fees on the already subscription fee'd Xbox Live Gold platform are "not possible," and that the studio's still deciding on a way to monetize Class4. As far as a release timeline, Strain said the launch of Class3 should make development much easier, explaining, "our expectation is that will allow us to develop Class4 in about half the time it would normally take us to develop a full online world game."

For more information on Undead Labs' first step towards achieving its MMOZ dream, check out our full interview with Strain later today.

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