Plants vs. Zombies turns 10, creator shows original designs

George Fan created Plants vs. Zombies 10 years ago. To celebrate that anniversary, he's been showing off his original design documents and sketches on Twitter. As you can see from his notes, originally the enemies were supposed to be aliens rather than zombies—specifically the aliens from his previous game, Insaniquarium, which he was planning to make a sequel to. Once he drew his first zombie he changed his mind, and that original sketch bears a strong resemblance to the undead who eventually made it into the game.

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Another element that wasn't in the original design were the sunflowers. Initially there were tubers who had to be watered and then uprooted to earn currency. The sunflowers, who produce energy on their own, seem like a definite improvement.

You can also see that at one point Plants vs. Zombies would have had six lanes rather than five, and before that there were no lanes at all with more traditional tower defense mazing instead. Somewhat ahead of its time given how common it is now, there was even a deckbuilding mechanic.

For more on the history of Plants vs. Zombies, here's our story on How PopCap conquered casual gaming.

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.