Zenless Zone Zero producer reveals surprising inspirations (and it’s not Persona 5)


Genshin Impact and Honkai: Star Rail HoYoverse’s latest upcoming title, Zenless Zone Zero, combines what you’ve come to expect from HoYoverse games with completely recent ideas. The game studio’s development processes are largely a secret, but in an interview with Zenless Zone Zero producer Zhenyu Li during an IGN media event, he learned a little more about what’s involved in launching a brand recent game on HoYoverse, the future of Zenless Zone Zero, and at least the stance on it specific team on generative artificial intelligence.

Zenless Zone Zero (also known as ZZZ) is an action game with a sturdy emphasis on a striking urban landscape set in an apocalyptic world. Players take their party of three to monster-infested roguelike zones, then return to the cityscape to complete side quests, get to know the characters better, and maybe even grab a cup of coffee or a bowl of ramen.

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As with other HoYoverse games, perhaps the biggest focal point is the variety of stylish characters with combat specializations. As an entertainment landscape he became confused with the rush to develop generative artificial intelligenceWe couldn’t lend a hand but wonder: is the Zenless Zone Zero team using generative AI in their development efforts, or are they planning to do so?

“I think the human touch is more meaningful now and that’s what our team is striving for.

“Not today,” Li said. “For the artistic part, we didn’t try that, but we did try to partially touch on programming. In terms of the artistic aspect, I think the human touch is more meaningful now and that’s what our racing team is all about.”

This approach seems to be consistent with what Honkai: The Star Rail team has been exploring the possibilities of using artificial intelligence for programming purposes since last year.

Li also explained that when developing the ZZZ character, aesthetics were the most vital thing at first. However, this changed as development progressed. The character mechanics planning team and the art team work closely together to create recent characters.

Zenless Zone Zero will be released on July 4.

Zenless Zone Zero Team and Collaboration

The development team behind the massive HoYoverse games has remained largely a secret, although Li provided some context on the creation of the ZZZ team behind the handcrafted graphics. Li said that in 2020, only 12 people participated in the initial demonstration phase, and that number increased to about 60 people during the first closed beta. Currently, the team has over 400 members.

“The Zenless Zone Zero development team is very young and many of us come from different backgrounds,” Li said. “We have gaming industry veterans, but also young talents who share the same values ​​and all are passionately involved in creating an interesting product. Indeed, some team members, including myself, had previous experience working on other HoYoverse projects. Take me for example: I did CG, animation and video for Honkai Impact 3rd.

Li explained that the ZZZ team only works on its own project and does not switch between other HoYoverse properties, and collaboration between different gaming teams is “quite rare.”

Zenless Zone Zero inspirations

Li admitted that the ZZZ team had been compared many times to Persona 5 because the two games shared a stylish urban setting, although he added that they hoped to create something unique. And while there may be some visual and musical similarities, the heart of the game is not rooted in Persona.

Aside from the city setting, one element that reminds Persona players like me of the Atlus series is the ZZZ time system. Like Persona 5, ZZZ has four points throughout the day, and as time passes, various activities become available, along with mission completion and other triggers. Li explained that the inspiration for ZZZ’s time mechanics was actually a much older game that was important to his childhood: Digimon World. The 1999 game also has a clock with specific events that happen at specific times of the day.

Another major inspiration was, surprisingly, Street Fighter 6. While ZZZ is an action game more like DMC rather than a fighting game, inspiration can be seen in its fast-paced combat, emphasis on stunning enemies, and stringing together combos.

“The Zenless Zone Zero development team is very young and many of us come from different backgrounds.

Another important lesson Li learned from Street Fighter 6 was how to pace tutorials for action game novices. The pacing of all ZZZ mechanics changed significantly between each closed beta, and Li said the planning team tried to make sure all the important tutorials were more spread out so they weren’t overwhelming.

Zenless Zone Zero is the latest game from Genshin Impact and Honkai: Star Rail HoYoverse.
Zenless Zone Zero is the latest game from Genshin Impact and Honkai: Star Rail HoYoverse.

The potential future of a zero-zone zero zone

When ZZZ releases on July 4, it will be available on PlayStation 5, mobile devices and PC, but Li said they are not stopping development there. They are working on bringing ZZZ to Nintendo Switch and Xbox as well, though Li described ZZZ’s arrival on those platforms as a hope rather than something completely written in stone.

However, as a live service game, it is certain that ZZZ will receive content updates. Li confirmed that this will include things like city expansion with new districts, shops, and of course, characters.

“We have a basic framework for the story timeline, but we are also a very flexible team,” Li said when asked how far ahead they had planned ZZZ’s story. “We are constantly reviewing what we have created in the past to see if we can continue to use it or if we have better ideas and solutions.”

“When designing these characters, we always took into account what players hadn’t seen before.

One of the international requests from HoYoverse fans was for better character representation, especially in HoYoverse games, which contain real-world inspiration from different cultures but do not reflect the people who live there. Steps have been taken to reflect this international audience to varying degrees, and the city resulting from the ZZZ merger provides a new opportunity to do more.

“In Zenless Zone Zero we created a wide range of characters. When designing these characters, we always took into account what players haven’t seen before. We want to make sure we include characters of different types, so players can expect more imaginative designs that will surprise them in the future.”

“I think our team has added almost everything we wanted for launch and the game is ready for players,” Li said. “However, we obviously have plenty of interesting ideas and game plans for the future, which we will share more of in due course. One thing I particularly want to share is that a multiplayer battle mode is already in development. I hope players can look forward to this mode in future version updates.”

Miranda Sanchez is the executive editor of Guides at IGN. Her favorite characters from Genshin Impact are Shenhe, Yae Miko, Albedo and Kokomi. When he’s not playing Genshin, he’s probably writing about it in his journal. Catch her Twitter/X AND Cramp.

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