A group of former Vancouver Film School students have come up with an original way to get rid of unwanted friends of Facebook. As part of their final project to complete the one-year Game Design program, Stuart Saunders, Clarence Chan, Stanislav Costuic and Nathan Nasseri built a game called Zombie-Kiri, which is available for free on Facebook and gives players the option of either rescuing characters that represent their Facebook friends or instead allow them to perish at the hands of zombie hordes.
It is the first game made at the school to be offered as an app on the social media giant as well as one of only a handful that was made by students.
“The four of us spent a combined 5,000 hours in three months making this game,” said Nasseri, a 23-year-old from Edmonton who hopes the game might help lead to a job at the new Microsoft game development studio in Victoria.
Unlike most Facebook games, Zombie-Kiri uses traditional gameplay mechanics and the target audience is hardcore gamers accustomed to keyboard controls. Players get a customized ninja who rides atop a razor-sharp hover-board to do battle with the undead while searching for friends in peril and miscellaneous loot.
“We just wanted to make something that isn't like most Facebook games,” said Nasseri. “It's hard to play and it a challenge for players, which is something that is really missing nowadays on Facebook.”
Due to the inherently gory nature of making a zombie game, Nasseri said they had to tread carefully so as not to break any of the networking site's stringent policies. The unusual name of the game was eventually settled on because of hari-kiri, the Japanese ritual suicide method that translates roughly as “stomach-cutting.”
“We did a lot of sneaky work to get around all these Facebook policies,” admitted Nasseri. “For instance, you're not allowed to 'kill' your Facebook friends because they consider that cyber-bullying. At the same time, you are actually allowed to kill your friends, we just don't call it killing, we call it kiri-ing. Or you can simply just leave your friend to die because you aren't actually killing your friends, the zombies are. Or you can kill your friend when they come back as a zombie. We didn't want to put all this work into it and then just get yanked off for something silly.”
Although the game had just over a hundred users this week, VFS program director Dave Warfield said that being featured on a social network with over 800 million active users is a pretty big deal.
“We've had a lot of our students have done games in the past that have gone out on various formats or on websites, but to actually have a completely playable game on the Facebook environment and have the students go through the process of what it takes to create a game and make it work with the Facebook friends element is very unique and a big accomplishment for them,” said Warfield. “I think with this being that first venture into the Facebook gaming world, it is going to be really exciting for us to see what comes next from the next group of students.”