The Survivor System Revealed: Q&A with Lead Designer Michael Leoncavallo

Welcome Walking Dead fans!

We are excited to reveal the first major feature from our upcoming game, THE WALKING DEAD: MARCH TO WAR --  the Survivor System!

We talked to the Senior Game Designer of THE WALKING DEAD: MARCH TO WAR, Michael Leoncavallo, for all the latest details.

Then check out an exciting announcement at the end of this post...

DB: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

ML: I’m Michael, aka Lionhorse, Senior Game Designer working on THE WALKING DEAD: MARCH TO WAR. I’ve been working for Disruptor Beam for over 3 years now, brought on to take the helm for design of GAME OF THRONES ASCENT (GoTA) back in 2013. The first feature I worked on for GoTA was Adventure Parties, but I think the thing I’m most proud of from that project is the Tales System, a feature that allows players to take part in short story-based quests to compete with other players and earn rewards.

I've held previous game design and technical roles at other companies, but none have compared to the personal growth and opportunities I've gained from working with such an amazing team here at Disruptor Beam. I was one of the first people assigned to TWD:MTW, so it has been amazing to see it grow from the prototyping phase to what it is today.

DB: What are Survivors? What role do they play in THE WALKING DEAD: MARCH TO WAR?

ML: In TWD:MTW, Survivors are essentially your troops. They are fellow people, non-player characters, who are struggling to survive in a desolate Washington D.C. They are your primary means of interacting with other players in the game and the Map. [Ed: We’ll have more info on the Map in a future post!] From scavenging resources and completing missions, to attacking other players, Survivors are the core of your power and will be key in helping you advance.

DB: How do you get Survivors and what sort of benefits do they provide?

ML: One does not simply “get” Survivors. We’ve created an advanced recruitment system, that allows you to find and take in wanderers who cross your path in the D.C. area. This system is inspired by Aaron’s recruitment techniques for Alexandria, shown in The Walking Dead graphic novels. As we get closer to launch, we’ll be able to talk even more about how this works. But, I’ll say that the benefits are huge. Survivors will be customizable via Talents, allowing players to specialize them to specific tasks within the game. The more time you spend customizing Survivors, the stronger and more helpful they’ll become. Though, if you aren’t careful, even your strongest Survivor may die.

DB: What is different about the Survivors system in THE WALKING DEAD: MARCH TO WAR compared to other similar mobile games?

ML: The traditional mobile strategy war game uses mass numbers of generic troops to field your armies. In TWD:MTW we want to really highlight and surface the best part of The Walking Dead -- the people. Instead of generic troops your army will consist of individual people, fellow survivors, that you’ll grow to care about. This will introduce a whole different dynamic to the typical strategy war game -- you’ll think twice about sending off a member of your team on a mission or into battle. You don’t want to lose them because, exactly like the graphic novels, if they die they’re gone forever. It is also worth pointing out to those familiar with GAME OF THRONES ASCENT and STAR TREK TIMELINES, we’ve drawn from our experience with Sworn Swords in GoTA and Crew in STT. Characters are one of the most compelling aspects of our other games so we wanted to bring this to TWD:MTW, providing a much more RPG feel than the typical war game.

DB: What's your favorite thing about the Survivors system?

ML: I’d have to say that currently Talents are my favorite thing about Survivors. I like how my Survivors gain additional Talents as I level them up, allowing me to give them a role and specialization. Right now I have a Sniper that is specialized in Missions, so it’s a lot of fun using her to help me complete Missions that are normally beyond the capability of a player at my level.

The other thing I really like about the Survivor system is our class setup. All survivors are members of one of four classes - each with their own unique talent pool, strengths and weaknesses. When you prepare to send out a party of Survivors you'll need to carefully weigh the balance of classes in your party to be effective. Different classes are strong or weak against one another in combat as well, turning PvP into a game of "Rock, Paper, Knives, Bats.”

Rock Paper Knives Bat

DB: How do you feel Survivors reinforce the theme and feel of The Walking Dead?

ML: The Walking Dead is about people; the living ones, not the dead ones. The Walkers themselves are really just a force of nature in this world. Everything is about the people and how they interact with each other and survive, or don’t, in the unforgiving ruins of Washington D.C. The essence of that is what we are trying to capture with Survivors in TWD:MTW. We want it to be about the people, your people. These are Survivors the player has recruited, upgraded, and customized to fit their needs. And when the inevitable happens and you lose one of your best, it’s going to hurt and you’re going to want revenge!

DB: What's something else that's going to be in the game that people should be excited about?

ML: Landmarks! The graphic novels and the D.C. area both have some pretty cool iconic locations. We want to give players the opportunity to take over and control areas like Alexandria, the Sanctuary, the Hilltop, and the Kingdom as well as some of the real world Landmarks in the D.C. area. More details to come on Landmarks soon!



“How Will You Survive?”   

Now that you know more about Survivors; how about becoming one? Enter the “Survive The Walking Dead” contest. Two winners (and their two friends) will be selected to have their likeness used as Survivor portraits in THE WALKING DEAD: MARCH TO WAR! To enter, visit the March to War Facebook page and submit your list of three items you would bring along to help you survive the world of The Walking Dead via comment on the official contest post. Don’t wait - the contest ends March 13th! Full rules and guidelines can be found here

Are you a member of the Survivors? If not, join us. Sign up to get updates on THE WALKING DEAD: MARCH TO WAR and to obtain a free captive walker in-game at launch: