A few years ago, Naver Webtoon became quite active in wanting to gamify their webcomic IPs – we had previously maintained a good relationship with them developing other games for them — so they proposed to us three choices, and one of them was “All of Us Are Dead.”
For those unfamiliar, that particular webcomic was published online between 2009 to 2011. At the time, the Korean webcomic market was still exploding, and because zombie content was still somewhat unfamiliar in Korea, it gained a lot of enthusiastic fans. Fast-forward to 2021 and zombie-related content has poured out due to the spread of streaming and OTT. Against this backdrop is when we were able to make the bold decision to develop a non-mainstream genre game, a visual novel using the “All of Us Are Dead” IP.
When I was offered the IP, it was when the adventure team had just formed at IkinaGames. Thankfully, both the producer and director enjoyed reading the webcomic “All of Us Are Dead,” so that made the decision easier (to pitch). I just wanted to be careful because it was my first challenge in this genre, and I set the goal as small as possible without making any major changes to the original story and began development with a 10-month schedule.
Consulting with Joo Dong-geun, the author of “All of Us Are Dead,” the only request he had was he did not want the end-result to be somewhat subdued or too romantic. The webcomic itself utilized a mix of painting and realistic styles, and we agreed to put that atmosphere and the seriousness of the story into the game. That’s how the current graphics style was established after several iterations.
Later in development, Joo Dong-geun became much more open about our version of the scenarios in the game and the additional elements we added. He also played early builds and encouraged our team throughout development. As we neared the end of production, he said he wanted to be helpful, and helped promote our game through his social media network.
By early January 2022, we had gone through two prototypes, established the gameability with alpha builds, and by the time the scenario was written up to chapter 2. And then boom. The Netflix series “All of Us Are Dead” was released. We had no idea about the film until it was announced. However, after the release, the series became a global hit that far exceeded expectations — and I fell into a panic. We were suddenly under pressure to change the direction of the project, which was initially being developed as a small project, to now become a game that can withstand the weight of global IP.
The fundamentals of visual novel and story-oriented games could not be changed, so we focused on strengthening the backbone of the game by refreshing character profiles and reinforcing episodes more dramatically to organize the scenarios more closely. You may notice that when you start playing, if you look at the story until Chapter 2, it flows similarly to the original webtoon and then unfolds completely differently starting with Chapter 3.
I think, in some cases, this added pressure brought a positive effect to development. The number of scenarios increased and the graphics, number of characters, variations, effects, and even the illustrations started to exceeded our initial expectations. The art team became really motivated to create additional assets and they started to add new character expressions and variations. Thanks to this, there are now more than 10 differences for each character’s stance in the game. They even voluntarily went through the trouble of producing a scene like animation sprites in several frames, saying the scenes needed to be more dynamic.
Looking back, I’d say there were two main problems I encountered while creating a game from a webtoon. The first was changing the storytelling technique of a webcomic to game narrative techniques. The original comic, which was serialized weekly, composes a story with a very short breath but with impact, and does not put much weight on long-term narratives. Visual novels tend to take on a stronger sense of immersion, providing catharsis by gradually building narratives and then bursting through the clash of characters.
To change this type of scenario, the character’s past and profile were added with settings that were not in the original, and each story had to be produced with care to change the structure itself, such as meeting characters who were not in the original webcomic.
The second was to consider multiple scenarios by considering people who had already known the original webcomic and those who didn’t, who in our case, were people who watched only the Netflix series. That version only shared the names of the characters from the original comics and had completely different stories and characters. So, we aimed to create our own storyline while taking the basics of the original webtoon.
For example, while maintaining the original main event setting of the characters gathering on the rooftop of the school, the process of each character reaching the roof was a completely different. I wanted to make it possible for people who watched dramas to enjoy other points of view, and for people who don’t know IP to be immersed in the scene as well.
There is a lot of prejudice about the visual novel form, especially in Korea. It’s a market where the likes and dislikes of the genre are very clear. Creating a visual novel outside of what was expected (e.g. romance) was a challenge I set for myself. Besides, there’s a horde of zombies and yet it’s not an action game, but a visual novel. Now come to think of it… perhaps yes. Maybe the project itself was a challenge from the very beginning.
Many players who have experienced the game said that the story and graphics were of high quality. We hope that “All of Us Are Dead” will be open to the possibility of other visual novels. I want to show the global market that this game, this story, is possible with an IP like “All of Us Are Dead.”
You can play All of Us Are Dead on Xbox starting today.
All of Us Are Dead…
All of Us are Dead – The Visual Novel
An interactive, visual novel based on the hit webcomic series. ◆ Story Summer. July. Zombie virus breaks out in Hyosan High. Friends and teachers become infected, and many can’t bring themselves to take down the infected. They were friends and teachers, after all. Soon, the entire school is infested with zombies with no way of escape. Experience the struggles of ordinary students as they juggle extraordinary challenges. Join the jocks as they face overwhelming odds while fighting for their survival. Be wary of the terror that lies within the school for zombies were not the worst of their troubles. See how each and every one survives in their own, unique way. ◆ All of Us are Dead: The Visual Novel – Based on the hit webcomic of which the live-action drama series ‚All of Us are Dead‘ is based on. Discover wholly new content untold in other adaptations! – All new events, endings, and more! Watch where your decisions take you and see how they unfold. ◆ Artworks – All new character artworks are made to reflect every character’s individual personality. – Persistent artwork. Any encounters or events that affect the character persist in the artwork, even as the story progresses! ◆ High Quality Illustrated Events
– 100+ high-quality illustrations for maximum drama.
– Animated events! ◆ Fully voiced in Korean
– 12+ hours of fully voiced scenarios.
Lee Bohee, Park Seongyeong, Ryu Seung Gon, Lee Kyung Tae, Song Harim, Mun Yujeong, Kim Na Yul, Seo Da Hye, Kang Si Hyun, Ahn Hyomin, Kim Young Sun, Kim Hye Sung, Jang Mi, Choi Seunghun, Jang Ye Na, Shin Beomsik, Park MinGI, Bang SiU, Kim Jin Hong, Lee Eun Jo, Jung Eui Jin, Lee Myounghwa, Sung Ye Won, Jung Ui Taek