ArenaNet co-founder Jeff Strain left the company to create a new development studio named Undead Labs. His plans included the development of a zombie-survival console MMO, an idea that has had fans of zombie apocalypse games excited ever since. In August 2010, Undead Labs graced the news once again when four more of ArenaNet's developers left to join the new studio and work on the upcoming zombie MMO. It wasn't long until we began to see the first details released of the impending zombie apocalypse, with a huge section in EGM Magazine. Most notable was the revelation that the game would be a console-only open-world sandbox.
Undead Labs unveiled its first officially planned release title today, and fans of the upcoming zombie MMO won't be disappointed. While the company's first release won't be the zombie MMO we all want so badly, the studio plans to first release a smaller-scale online zombie survival game on XBox Live Arcade. This game, code-named "Class 3" for now, will showcase the gameplay, setting and technology that will be used to develop the as-yet untitled zombie MMO. The team at Undead Labs plans to then use the game as a kind of training ground to help develop better gameplay experiences for the MMO that will follow. Although that means we'll have to wait a while to get our hands on that zombie-survival sandbox world we've all been dreaming of, the result should be a game that appeals more to players.
Jeff Strain, founder of Undead Labs, released the following statement: "Our mission is to create original online games that truly feel at home on the console platform, and Xbox 360 is a fantastic platform for online console gaming. We plan to create an ambitious open world XBLA game and use its gameplay, setting, and technology as the foundation for a full online world game."
[Update: Jeff Strain's also released a tongue-in-cheek "Rude Q&A" on Undead Labs' blog. It discusses the team's plans and goals for the new game as well as aims to stave off any misconceptions about both upcoming titles.]