Exclusive: The Brains Behind Plants vs. Zombies

Susan Arendt | 15 Apr 2009 15:00
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Unfortunately, not all of the changes made to the game were by choice. Though it began life as Weedlings, one of Fan's friends suggested the incredibly brilliant rename of Lawn of the Dead."I got really attached to it, but for legal reasons we couldn't use it," he says. Fan reluctantly changed the name to Bloom and Doom, "But we couldn't use that either, I think because of the name Doom. So we ended up with Plants vs. Zombies." Although he wasn't a fan of the new title at first, he's grown to be very fond of it. It does sum the game up awfully well, after all.

Fan and his small team worked for years to make Plants vs. Zombies a fun and lasting experience, but one of the game's most memorable features - that super-catchy song that plays during the closing credits - was practically an afterthought. "It was nearing the end of the project," says Fan. "All of the game modes had gotten in and at that time the end credits were just this text message thing, 'You win.' So I wanted to give the player something rewarding at the end of the game, but I didn't know what." He mentioned that he wanted to do something for the credits to his girlfriend Laura Shigihara, who did the music for the game. She decided to help him out by writing "this awesome song with brilliant lyrics and super catchy melody," as Fan puts it. But a song wasn't enough - the credits for a game as truly epic as Plants vs. Zombies needs a full-blown music video for its closing credits, and the team drew inspiration from a very bizarre place.

"I was working with [game artist Rich Werner] on the zombie dance moves, and I found this crazy video called Finnish Disco, and I thought we had to have the zombies do these moves. So he animated the zombies to dance like the guy in the video. It was so funny, like, I'd be tweaking things about the video, and I'd just laugh out loud watching it over and over again," says Fan. PopCap had much the same reaction, and released the video as a teaser for the game.

Plants vs. Zombies will be available for PC and Mac on May 5. Having played it at length, I can promise you that it's worth waiting for. Also, plant at least two rows of Sunflowers until you can afford the upgrade. Trust me.

Susan Arendt thinks the Snorkel Zombie is hilarious, but feels kind of bad for the Newspaper Zombie.

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