There’s just something extra special about Plants vs. Zombies. After six years, the game has grown into a full-on phenomenon.
Through new releases like Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare and Plants vs. Zombies 2, our legions of dedicated fans around the world have found new ways to love their Zombiez, and we’re no different here at EA.
We sat down with Senior Creative Director Jeremy Vanhoozer to learn more about the teams behind the games and to help celebrate Plants vs. Zombies 6th birthday.
What is your background and how did you get started working on Plants vs. Zombies?
I have always been a big fan of PopCap games, so when they reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in working on Plants vs. Zombies, I jumped at the chance. Before coming to PopCap, I worked at several big studios including Disney and Cartoon Network.
I started my career as an artist, working hard to learn things like character design and color theory. I have always loved games, but didn’t start working in games until many years into my career. Storytelling and characters are two of my favorite things, and I get to work on both every day with Plants vs. Zombies.
How did you come up with the Time Travel angel for PvZ2?
I believe that the idea of adding time travel to Plants vs. Zombies 2 was initially thought up by Mark Barrett, the Lead Artist on the game. We were looking for ways to make the story bigger, and take the player to exotic locations. You really can’t get much bigger than time travel! It also gave us the ability to add pirates to the game, and who doesn’t love pirates?
What has it been like to build a universe that has multiple components, like mobile and HD titles?
Building a universe that stretches across mobile, console, and many other areas is hard work but fun work. You try to start with a good story and strong characters, and then make sure that you tell that story the same way in each game. “Plants fighting zombies” is our basic set up, and that never changes. Another key element is character personalities. If a player’s favorite character is the Peashooter, then that player wants to see the Peashooter act the same in both PvZ2 and PvZGW.
Do you have a favorite character from the Plants. Vs. Zombies games?
I think my favorite plant is Bonk Choy. He just wants to punch the zombies in the face, although he is willing to punch them pretty much anywhere. No fear, no hesitation… just punching.
On the zombie side… whew that is tough. I would probably say the Engineer in Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare. He is always happy, ready to dance at a moment’s notice, and has the best mustaches.
Plants vs. Zombies is a game known for humor. What’s your favorite gag from the games?
My favorite funny moment in Plants vs. Zombies 2 is when a zombie eats the Chili Bean. He gets an “upset tummy” and then passes a terrible gas to really offend the zombies behind him. The visuals are great, but the sound effects are better. My favorite funny moment in Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare is when the Engineer does his “Slappy” taunt.
How often do you get a chance to play Plants vs. Zombies?
I play pretty much every day. Even if I don’t have a lot of time, I will still try to jump in and play the Piñata Party in Plants vs. Zombies 2, or a few quick matches in Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare.
How is the dev team celebrating the game’s birthday?
We plan on taking a moment to think back on all that we have done over the last six years, eat a brainz themed cupcake, (BRAINZ!…) and then get back to work on the future of Plants vs. Zombies! Stay tuned!
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