AUSTIN, Texas — The fifth season of “The Walking Dead” is entering its home stretch, and franchise creator Robert Kirkman came to the South by Southwest games festival as the series is about to undergo a major expansion.
A spin-off show is in the works, one set in Los Angeles, and more games from Telltale are being planned. What’s more, a first-person “Walking Dead” shooter is in development from Starbreeze Studios, creators of the “Payday” franchise.
Speaking to Polygon news editor Brian Crecente at a Saturday morning panel, the moderator asked Kirkman to talk more about the upcoming game from Starbreeze, saying that, thus far, it sounds like a traditional shooter.
“I can say it will be ‘Payday’-esque, but I’m told it will be a bigger world than ‘Payday’ currently encompasses,” Kirkman said. “They’re going to be learning a lot of stuff from ‘Payday’ that they’re going to be incorporating into ‘The Walking Dead’ game. I’ve probably already said too much.”
While Kirkman declined to go into details, the Starbreeze “Walking Dead” game is not the only upcoming game Kirkman’s Skybound Entertainment will have a hand in. The company is also working on a game inspired by its upcoming sci-fi film “Air.”
Kirkman said Skybound has had success in the game arena because it allows its partners to deviate from the source material.
“We’re telling our own stories and doing our own things almost as if they’re original games,” Kirkman said.
Kirkman said Skybound is already thinking beyond comics and future concepts may be a standalone film or game.
“We’re working on things behind the scenes that are games-first and TV shows-first,” Kirkman said. “As much as I love comics there are certain limitations to that medium. Comics don’t move and there’s no sound. I’m never going to do a musical comic. I might do a musical video game.”
While that’s likely a stretch, in the near term Kirkman is working on his L.A.-set “Walking Dead,” which he joked would be called “The Walking Dead: CSI: Miami.” The show will toy with the series’ timeline. When it begins, it will be set before the current events of the long-running core AMC show.
“I wouldn’t call it a prequel because the entirety of the show is not going to take place before our show. It will eventually get to a point where they’re running concurrently,” Kirkman said.
He intends for the shows to be able to be watched independently of one another, although there will be rewards for those who watch both.
“There may be some things that are discovered in the companion show that haven’t been discovered in the show yet, so there could be a thing where they encounter a zombie that did [something] in Season 4 of ‘The Walking Dead,’ and now we know why that was, but for the most part they should be able to stand alone,” Kirkman said.
On the subject of games, Kirkman said he’s an avid player of sci-fi shooter“Destiny,” in part because his young son was a “Halo” player. He said he gets about 90 minutes of play time per week.
“Building the characters and doing all that stuff is a lot of fun … It gets a little frustrating when you get to the higher levels because it’s like, ‘Oh God, I just need a new pair of boots. I’m just going to play this game for an hour to get a new pair of boots.’ Then an hour later you’re like, ‘I’m really playing this game to get boots? Is that normal?'”
We’re at South by Southwest until March 22. Join us at latimes.com/sxsw for ongoing coverage of the festival.
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