ZED is an upcoming narrative game by Eagre Games and Cyan Ventures. The narrative driven story, follows an elderly dying man with dementia, collecting his memories. He has one last goal, and that is to finish a children’s book for his granddaughter.
We were lucky enough to get an interview with both Seth Mantie and Chuck Carter from Eagre Games, the masterminds behind ZED. We asked them some thought-provoking questions, eager to learn more about this upcoming game.
What is this upcoming game ZED?
Courtney Gamache-Owen: “What is this upcoming game ZED?”
Chuck Carter: “ZED is a narrative adventure game… telling the story of a man who is dying and has dementia. Before he dies, when he remembers, he needs to finish one last thing for his infant granddaughter — a children’s book – but he doesn’t remember how.
As the player you go into his dreams and help him reconnect fragments of his memories so he can finish this last project.”
Seth Mantie: “ZED is a first person narrative adventure through the mind of a ailing dreamer. It’s a story of love, loss, regret and redemption throughout a man’s life as he tries to redeem himself with not only his family, but himself. It’s the brainchild of Chuck Carter, who did 1/2 the art and level design on the original Myst, then went on to work at Westwood Studios in the Command & Conquer franchise, as well as work on Babylon5, NASA, and probably twenty other games.
The story is brought to life by Stephen Russell, who you may know from many Bethesda games such as Skyrim and Fallout 4’s Nick Valentine, as well as the protagonist in the original Thief games.”
What do you hope people take away from ZED when playing it?
CO: “What do you hope people take away from ZED?”
Chuck: “It’s a story about redemption and the need to leave something important behind, no matter how trivial it might seem. I want people to look into the mind of a man, a flawed man, and yet deep down a good person.
Art wise I want you to lose yourself in his dreams and immerse yourself in hopefully a story with strong visuals and a great performance from our actor, Stephen Russell, who plays the dreamer.”
Where did your inspiration for ZED come from?
CO: “Where did your inspiration for ZED come from?”
Chuck: “An old artist friend, a sort of early mentor really, was dying and had dementia and the last time I saw him it was very sad – he was a vibrant person with a huge talent as an illustrator and to see him reduced in so many ways – was heart breaking. His story stuck with me and when ZED was in early development I wanted to use it to tell his story.”
How did color and level design help tell the narrative story?
CO: “How did color and level design help tell the story?”
Chuck: “Colors are indicative of different times in the dreamers life while in other places they show a very vivid dreamscape, there are all sorts of elements that tell small parts of the story.”
As a veteran developer and designer in the gaming industry, were there any struggles you faced when developing ZED?
CO: “As a veteran developer and designer in the gaming industry, were there any struggles you faced when developing ZED?”
Chuck: “Raising enough funds to not have to worry about getting it finished. It has been an enormous struggle – particularly here in Maine – it has been tight – to say the least. And we’ve help from Kickstarter, family and friends investors, the support of my girlfriend Kate and surrounding myself with really good and talented people – like Seth, Skymaps games – all of the people it takes to make a modern game.”
How has Cyan Ventures been involved with ZED? Any major changes or difficulties?
CO: “How has Cyan been involved with ZED? Any major changes or difficulties?”
Chuck: “Cyan has been great for us – from marketing and technical to testing and art help – it would have been hard to finish this without them.”
Seth: “Cyan has been a tremendous help in everything they’ve done. We’re the first game to ever be published externally by Cyan, so it’s been a great adventure. They came in and gave us a huge boost when we needed it and without them there’s a chance ZED would never see the light of day. We’re really grateful for them, and it’s been a fun learning experience.”
As with all games, funding and support is a major driver for creating a game. Luckily, ZED was fully funded on Kickstarter July 1st 2016, with the help of 1,826 backers; totaling $57,180. To help with additional funding, Cyan Ventures has provided marketing and technical support to create ZED.
Can we expect any Easter Eggs in ZED? Surprises, etc? We saw NASA sketches during the preview play with RobAndDan, and would love to know more!
CO: “Can we expect any Easter Eggs in ZED? Surprises, etc? We saw NASA sketches during the preview play with RobAndDan, and would love to know more!”
Chuck: “Some small MYST references, some of my NASA work, and personal stuff here and there. You’ll have to explore the game when it comes out.”
Seth: “Yes. Many. Play the game to find out! ZED relies a lot less on heavy puzzle and complications than the original Myst did, so instead we’ve rewarded players with a chance to find a million throwbacks, hidden details, Easter Eggs, and secrets that a lot less observant players will miss.
There’s an interesting story about this: Chuck actually brought something up to me the other month that he’d been doing in the game and I hadn’t noticed. I’d probably played through a hundred times and thought he was joking. I went into the project and sure enough, he’d been doing this for months and no one else had noticed! Little things like that can be really fun and rewarding, I think.”
*Russian Nesting Doll Interactable Object
We were thoroughly surprised to find NASA sketches in ZED, done by the infamous Chuck Carter!
In what ways can we play ZED?
CO: “In what ways can we play ZED?”
Chuck: “VR – Oculus and VIVE, PC – Mouse – MAC and LINUX – hopefully console – but of course that depends on how well we do.”
What are some of the best experiences you’ve had developing ZED? Were there any conventions or fans that made an impact?
CO: “What are some of the best experiences you’ve had developing ZED? Were there any conventions or fans that made an impact?”
Chuck: “PAX East was phenomenal. the people who stopped by were awesome – we learned a lot about the game watching people play the game – and so many nice and excited players all wanting to play both the PC version and VR. And honestly – our supporters on Kickstarter for their patience – and all of the people who made this possible.”
When can we expect to get our hands on ZED? Is there any potential for a console or Nintendo Switch version?
CO: “When can we expect to get our hands on ZED? Is there any potential for a console or Nintendo Switch version?”
Chuck: “ZED will be released in May 2019. And as I said – if we do well enough financially we’ll port to consoles.”
ZED is definitely one of the upcoming games that we’ll be anticipating until the May release! We’re so intrigued by the story that Eagre Games has created, and are so lucky to have interviewed both Seth and Chuck. Eagre Games has spent hours creating levels, puzzles, and narration to transport us to a new world, yet to be explored.
Get your hands on ZED through Steam, as early as this month!
Big thanks to both Chuck Carter and Seth Mantie for enlightening us on ZED. We are so excited for the game, and can’t wait to get our hands on it. *In-game images have been found on the exclusive RobAndDan Twitch preview.