Community Spotlight: Zombie Hearts Chicken

Autorunners have been a mainstay genre of iOS and Android, with very few offering different variations on the idea. A crowded marketplace won't keep a good developer down, though, and Mike Stanton (a.k.a. Chatty's theDrMikey) is ready to push forward with nothing more than a few zombies with a thirst for chicken.

"Zombie Hearts Chicken is just what the title says," Stanton said. "You're a zombie who prefers chicken over brains and will stop at nothing to eat as many chickens as possible. The original idea was actually for a similar, much larger game called Zombie Chicken Run. My ideas usually start off very artsy or experimental, but this time I wanted to do something that was just fun and approachable. Zombies, because, hey, zombies! And then I thought it would be fun to be a chicken with a bomb strapped to it running through fields of undead, collecting as many as possible and detonating them. It's got zombies, cartoony graphics and gratuitous graphic violence. I loved the idea. But it was a big idea that quickly grew. Zombie Hearts Chicken is an early trial for the engine and to get something out. I spent 4 months working on it, and it has laid the groundwork for lots of what Zombie Chicken Run will become."

Stanton already has a few completed games under his belt, including the puzzle-platformer LEVEL and the 2D flight-based deathmatch Vespidae. But for his entry into the mobile market, Stanton is going to an old standby: zombies.

"My stuff is usually much more complex, and this time I just wanted to try something that people were already familiar with and see what I could do with it," Stanton added. "An endless runner seemed to fit the kind of simplistic fun I wanted to create, so I ran with it. While endless runners are hard to differentiate too too much, I did try to approach it with my own idea of what would be fun. Distance is irrelevant, scoring is based solely on chicken count, and you don't collect chickens just by running over them. You have to explicitly eat them. This is a challenge because there are bomb chickens which you don't want to eat. I also tried to create a unique terrain system that gives you various different distinct terrain types in sections. I felt like most endless runners deal with one main type of terrain (flat, hills, etc) but I wanted to make things more interesting by breaking it up."

Zombie Hearts Chicken has been in Stanton's head in some form for the past two years, but spent four months in development before it was ready for release. The game's engine was built from the ground-up and is versatile enough that it can be used in future projects. It also represented a learning experience, as it taught Stanton a great deal about mobile game development. He also credits the Chatty community for helping the game reach this point.

"Chatty has been involved since very early on with my earliest engine prototypes," Stanton said. "From the beginning they provided feedback about the gameplay, and later about how to handle microtansactions and social media. In all my projects the chatty is an invaluable resource for feedback. And above all, motivation to keep working!"

An update is currently in the works for Zombie Hearts Chicken, which will fix a slew of bugs and also add some competitive elements to the game. He'll also look to add more about the game's Awesome Mode, which tosses in different ideas like skydiving sections and boss battles. Future updates will also include new features, such as powerups.

Zombie Hearts Chicken is available now on the App Store and Google Play store.