Interview with Oliver R. Shead

Oliver, creator of the Infected RPG, was personable, courteous, responsive, timely, and passionate in my brief correspondence with him.

Unfortunately, I wasn't a fan of its system, but I thought the setting and artwork were cool. Anyway, here's my review.

1. Why roleplaying games?

Because they're awesome. Really that's the best way to say it. I've been playing them for years, and find they are just way more immersive and fun than most other games! Plus, they are very creative.

2. Why zombies?

To be honest, it started off as a bit of fun and branched out into something much cooler. I felt it would make a great introduction to our system - it's also something that newer gamers can identify with more readily than most fantasy and sci fi settings.

3. Why Kickstarter?

I think Kickstarter is a revolution for RPG designers, because it's a highly visible platform that shows people who you are and what you're making, and helps to not only promote that, but also let people get involved, which is ridiculously cool. Up until our launch on Kickstarter, there were few that had heard of us, but now there are many, many more. Also, I think a successful Kickstarter gives you a real air of authenticity. Kind of weird I know, but if you've succeeded at it, then people can see that you've made it at least to some degree - and if your project made it big, then you're now someone of at least some standing. At least, that's how I've felt it to be!

4. What makes Infected different than other zombie and/or survival horror RPGs?

I think the major difference is in the details. It's set after it's all over. The Infected have been all-but wiped out, and now survive on the edge of society in packs, preying on society.

Society isn't the "ones-and-twos of desperate psychos" that is often depicted in such settings (though certainly such people do exist), but rather it is a working, functioning society, halfway between The Last of Us and Fallout (minus the crazy, cooky stuff).

Also, the Infected aren't dead, aren't numerous, aren't slow and aren't stupid! They have an animal cunning that is very, very deadly, which makes them the jack-in-the-box in the equation.

One final point is on the nature of the virus - it's airborne in its early stages, meaning that one person can infect dozens around them before they get quarantined.

Of those who contact the virus, most simply die. That's it. They're gone. A small percentage survive, and wake with their "human" part erased. They're now just the animal, still being consumed by the virus, and desperate to feed - on anything. In fact, one of the first indicators of nearby packs of Infected is the disappearance of crops, as they consume anything they can.

Then there's the fact that with the right medical attention you might just survive the do you really want to just cap yourself?
It makes for some horrendous situations and dilemmas, but on the whole it's a very dynamic, living society, filled with colour, cool places, intriguing scenarios and the like.

5. Did The Walking Dead give you an idea of the possible popularity of this new RPG?

Funny enough, no! I only recently watched it, after doing most of the writing for Infected. It's ironic that I had never thought of doing the undead in quite that fashion... which is, perhaps, why my version of the zombie apocalypse was quite a bit different.

6. What do you like best about Infected?

I think it's got to by the dynamic, multi-layered societies. The way that humanity isn't gone. It's just changed. There's so much still there, and yet so much gone, and there's this odd normalcy about so much of it - like washing lines hung out over cities filled with old rubble, or farms being grown on aircraft carriers. Mundane, on the top of what should be really extraordinary.

7. What's your favorite zombie movie?

That's a tough one, but I think I've got to go with 28 Day Later, just for its sheer originality at the time, and the freakishness of the infected... MAN they were scary!

8. If you could give one piece of advice to new indie game designers, what would it be?

I think that it would have to be "trust yourself and do your research" which is really two pieces of advice. Oh, and "work really, really hard!" If you keep on carrying on, you keep on doing thorough research and working your butt off, it will pay off in the end!

9. What were the early playtest sessions like? Specifically, how did your game evolve into what it is today?

Our early playtests were, funny enough, of a Steampunk game! the rules were in essence the same, but more complex, and there were plenty of places that we hadn't worked out a rules convention yet! Developing powers, magical abilities and the like was really tricky, and fluctuated wildly! But it was a huge blast. The first game was just incredible, and after that point we were all sold on the system - including my friends who were really dubious to start with!

From there we created Infected, and then went into Fantasy with the Myths of Khoralla setting - starting it off as a D&D style game, then stripping it back to almost no magic (and total, brutal grit), then gradually bringing the magic back until it was an epic fantasy that worked really well.

And it's been onwards and upwards from there! I still remember that very first game with great was SO much fun!

10. What's next?

"Infected!" is the first in a series of settings we're looking at producing in the very near future, all utilising the same Immersion RPG rules system. The next in the line is "Myths of Khoralla", an epic fantasy set in an ancient world of ancient races, fallen gods, ascendants and dark power struggles...all with the same gritty feel of the Immersion system.


Interview conducted by Venger Satanis


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