Today, we announced to our community that State of Decay has gone into the final certification process. That means that we’re…done. It’s out of our hands, and that much closer to being in yours. There are still things to do, of course, and if our publisher finds a problem we’ll fix it, but basically, this is the last big step between development and launch. Once we finish this, we’ll be ready to talk about release dates. We are proud. We are excited.
Well, we are, too. The day draws ever nearer when we can get our baby into your hands. (New here? Not sure what I’m on about? You can catch up to date with our handy FAQ – and if that only whets your appetite, you can always scroll to the bottom of this page and learn all about our design and systems. Welcome!)
Did I say something about whetting your appetite? That’s a good segue into our first contest celebrating pre-launch month: What’s Cooking?
No one is going to want to miss this. Brant and Gronk (the voices in nearly all of the player-made videos from PAX East this past March) will be hanging out at Microsoft HQ today playing State of Decay, live. Yeah. This is going to be a hoot. Here are the details:
Last Friday wasn’t just about release months and trailers. The real purpose of the media event was to give a few reporters four straight hours of hands-on gameplay, with plenty of developers ready to answer questions.
Here is what our guests have written so far (alphabetically by site):
While most of the team toiled away on the last details and bugs (and if you want to know how those efforts might be related to the release date process, the answer is in our regularly updated FAQ), the intrepid team of Brant, Gronk, and me went to Boston for PAX East. If you were following us on Twitter or Facebook, or hanging out on the forum analyzing every single blurry cell phone picture, then… thank you! If not, read on.
Do you think you’re a pretty fair hand when it comes to image editing? Do you know what looks good? Want to be celebrated throughout the entire State of Decay community…and be one of the first to see the game? Keep reading!
A good story isn’t about characters as unchanging archetypes. It does explore innate potential and expectations, but it’s also about choices and change (or refusal to change). A good survival story in particular puts its characters to the test, but not just as individuals. A crisis is both a test of the individuals and of the dynamics between them. In designing the character and skill systems for State of Decay, we’ve tried to capture all of these elements.
We’ve talked before about the fact that you don’t get to tailor-make your characters. Instead you encounter a wide variety of survivors with vastly different personalities and skill sets and then you decide who to bring into your group and who to leave out on their own.
So that’s the high level. If you’ve been following State of Decay closely, you’ve heard that before. Today we’re going to going into more depth about exactly how characters and skills work.
Let’s dive right in.
It has been a crazy, crazy month here at the Lab. We are very close to a major milestone: Delivering the first complete version of the game to Microsoft for evaluation. Please note that this means nothing in terms of a release date, though. (For a bit more information on that, check out this post on the forum.) Still, it means we’re making progress, and we are psyched!
As we get ever closer to release, we’re immensely enjoying the way the music and sound pulls everything together. Sound Guy Kevin, and Jesper Kyd, have been kicking a lot of ass. Today, we’d like to share three terrific tracks composed by Jesper. But why just share them? Let’s have a contest!
A new game starts with a lot of ideas and ambitions. Then, day by day, you work to make those ideas a reality, while being true to those ambitions. Along the way, you find that no matter how many times you’ve done it before, every project is a learning experience.
With State of Decay we started with several ambitious goals, but the central challenge was to create a dynamic world where there was no single right answer or right path, where all your actions had real and lasting consequences, and the choices were yours to make. We wanted to do this not just with a scripted, branching approach. Instead we intended to let you take on the zombie apocalypse in a much more freeform and real way.
As Jeff mentioned in an earlier article, we knew this meant managing the game world with an extensive simulation. We had to develop an ecosystem of resources, survivors, and zombies that evolved naturally over time. And then we had to give you a variety of tools for taking on the challenges you’d encounter. Everything would have costs and trade-offs and every problem would have more than one solution.
So what does that really mean? What kind of choices do you have in State of Decay? It might be best to get the answer from the survivors themselves…
Ready to kick the year off? Here’s that second wallpaper we promised you, with a bit of wintry weather to it. It may be cold here in the northern hemisphere, but it would be a lot colder without electricity, so we’re counting our blessings. Just remember, after the outbreak, you can’t run a noisy-ass generator without attracting every zed in the area, so establish those defensible perimeters. And no matter how cold you get, huddling in your shelters, look on the bright side. At least you can still feel the cold, unlike this guy:
|Fullscreen:||800×600 | 1024×768 | 1280×960 | 1280×1024 | 1600×1200|
|Widescreen:||1280×720 | 1280×800 | 1440×900 | 1600×900 | 1680×1050 | 1920×1080 | 1920×1200|
Hang onto your cold weather hats, everyone…because 2013 is going to be awesome.
I don’t know, what noise DOES a zombie Santa make? This guy knows when you’ve been sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows that people who barricade their doors and windows never remember to block off the chimney. From the mind of Art Director Doug and the hearts of all of us here at Undead Labs, here is a little gift of wallpaper for you.
|Fullscreen:||800×600 | 1024×768 | 1280×960 | 1280×1024 | 1600×1200|
|Widescreen:||1280×720 | 1280×800 | 1440×900 | 1600×900 | 1680×1050 | 1920×1080 | 1920×1200|
Oh, and that’s not all. Check back with us on New Year’s Day for the second wallpaper.
Many of you have asked what our influences have been. I usually flap my hands and say “everything!” Undead Labs has seen, read, and played everything we could find in the genre. This is not a team that does things halfway.
We’ve tried to tip our hats to our great loves whenever we could. One of our artists, James, wanted to share some of that with you. He sent me four screenshots that are packed with homages. Can you spot them all?
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…that time when we’re seeing the light at the end of the development tunnel. We’re polishing up communications, tactics, and all of the elements that make a game more than a simple “see zombie, shoot zombie” kind of thing. We talked about tactics, so it only seems fair to show you a little of what we meant. Here’s a holiday gift for you:
The response to Foge’s article was exactly what we’ve come to expect from our community: Passionate, and packed with followup questions. We gathered them up and did our best to hit them all. (This ain’t the royal “we” – the people behind this Q&A are your producer, your creative director, your weapons master, your president, your community person, and of course, Foge himself.) Check out the five sections of goodness here in our forum.
“Shit just got real.” – Marcus Burnett, Bad Boys II
Having a long-term strategy for surviving the zombie apocalypse is a great idea. A big-picture plan is necessary if you are going to survive past the initial outbreak. Where will you live? What will you eat? How will you defend yourself? What are you striving for beyond simply surviving another day? Accomplishing those big-picture goals are going to require you to be adaptive. Tactics are what you do with what you have in an effort to complete objectives that further your strategic goals.
In State of Decay we put a lot of effort into making sure that players can transition smoothly between different tactical approaches to gameplay so that they you can adapt quickly and make adjustments to your tactics as the combat situation evolves. We want you to easily flow from stealth to melee combat to ranged combat to using items. We know that everyone approaches these challenges differently, and it was important to make sure that as many approaches were accounted for as possible.
Even if wading into a horde armed only with a rickety table leg is likely to result in getting killed.
In keeping with December’s “Tactics” theme, this month’s challenge is all about sharing one small bit of your game plan. How will you defend your home/property/car/dorm room? If you show us, you’ll win a first look at a new gameplay video, and a chance to win gear for your group. Keep reading:
Those of you who hang out in the forum, or with us on Facebook, or even on Twitter have already seen four of these. But go ahead and click, complete the collection. Those of you who rely on this website, or more accurately your favorite gaming news outlet linking to this website, are about to see the latest and greatest screenshots. We’re teasing some new content with these images. Read on!
There are three types of screenshots. Click each one to see it full size!
Hey, those of you for whom this is not a holiday week/weekend? Those of you thinking “it’s just a Wednesday, why all this chatter about leaving work?” For you, we hereby present a mini Q&A.
Two notes before you click over to read it:
1. If you want to see the exclusive new screenshots before anyone else, don’t forget to participate in the latest Survivor Cell Challenge.
2. My gear apology/update is located here: Where’s the gear I ordered?
See you in the forums!
We started with a simple idea: simulate the zombie apocalypse. We sketched out our plan for State of Decay in big, bold strokes. We would focus on survival. We’d have meaningful choices. We’d have fast, sweet action. We’d provide the tools to develop unique survival strategies. Above all else, we would have the apocalypse simulator we all dreamed of every time the credits rolled on a great zombie flick.
This month, we have been driving furiously to our next goal (a content milestone, this time). We’re also starting to talk about the day when we finally get you all into our world. One of the things that has us fired up is that each small element was designed and polished and fitted into a big picture. Trust me, you can’t just shove a feature into a game like State of Decay in order to tick off a box. Everything works together. Everything clicks, everything builds on everything else, until the result is greater than the sum of its parts.
More on that later, though. Right now, I want to get you all rolling on this month’s Survivor Cell Challenge. You are all part of the big picture.
We’ve got no tricks, only a treat. As our most passionate fans already know, our Survivor Cell Challenge participants got a copy of our latest short gameplay video as a prize (and check out their costumes on Facebook). Now we’re sharing the video with the world. Check out “Distraction,” a snapshot of sneaky tactics—and a brief look at our progress since PAX.
Easy one… or is it? You COULD just shrug on a camo jacket and some boots, and call it a survivor costume. You could slap on some makeup and a shredded sweatshirt and tell me you’re a zombie. If you’re in a Cell that goes that far and send me a picture by 11:59 PM your time on Sunday, October 28th, you will be guaranteed to win this month’s prize: Another exclusive gameplay video. Heck, if you don’t participate at all, you’ll still win – participating cells are welcome to post the video themselves on October 30th, and we’ll add it to our official YouTube channel on Halloween.
But you can do more. So can those of you without a cell.
Once again, we’re doing a shirt/hoodie run for our awesome community. (Also, posters!) For the next two weeks and change (until 9:00 AM PDT/noon EDT/1800 CEST October 29, 2012), you can order an Undead Labs shirt or hoodie. The price to you is what it will cost us to print and ship these babies. After the 29th, we won’t we taking any more orders until…well, I don’t know when. I’m guessing not until after launch.
At PAX Prime, we revealed a nice little chunk of State of Decay game footage. We encouraged the players waiting in line to try it to take pictures and video. You saw elements of base building, of stealthy strategy, of incendiary device usage, and a whole lot of chopping, hacking, and splattering with dozens of edged weapons. There were also several extremely blurry screenshots of a supply locker filled with guns and other things that go boom.
I do not believe any of our alpha images were more analyzed, deconstructed, discussed, or reposted than those weapon shots.
The shots were followed by so many questions – did we have one of this model? One of that? We couldn’t possibly make a zombie game without one of these, right? I was helpless before the onslaught of extremely specific inquiries. Fortunately, Brant wanted to give you, his fellow gun…enthusiasts…a little of what you’re longing to see. I present to you “Show and Tell With Brant.”
The September challenge is only available to Cells that register by the end of today. (That’s 11:59 PM 9/20/2012, by your watch.) Check out the original Survivor Cell post for more information, newcomers, it’s a lot of fun!
This month’s challenge: The zombie apocalypse is kicking off TODAY! Right now. No time to go to the store, no time to buy anything online. Assemble a “go-bag” for each member of your cell. Take a picture of the items, along with all the members of your cell. Write up a list of what you’ve chosen to include, and send me an email with the photo and the list by 11:59 PM on Monday, September 24 (in your time zone). Pictures will be posted to our Facebook page unless you ask me not to do so.
This month’s prize is a State of Decay poster, autographed by our team. We’ll mail you Cell Leaders a poster for each member of your team that appears in the photo.
For more rules and guidelines, read on!
We would like to thank all of the players who came out to PAX Prime last weekend (or to our meet and greet before PAX) to show their support and get their hands on the game. You all rock!
It was an incredible experience. We honestly didn’t know what to expect. We haven’t been hyping the game at all, and we didn’t bring a Potemkin-village-style demo to the show. We brought our alpha build. Specifically, we brought the build we’d been working on right up to Thursday afternoon. We disabled the story missions (they trigger irreversible world events that would have been confusing without hours of context), and we loaded up the base supply lockers with stuff that would ordinarily take time to acquire and stockpile. But other than that… we were showing the game in the exact condition we’d completed it on the day before the show. There we were, lab coats and all, just waiting.
You can imagine our excitement when people started playing it. And then they started telling their friends. And then the line formed. People were waiting for an hour just to get their hands on it. Once they did get their hands on it, they got it. People were cheering, laughing, blowing stuff up, tricking out bases, shredding zeds, and wincing when they got the “Ripped In Half” achievement.
If you didn’t get to go, and you haven’t been stalking our Facebook or Twitter feeds, what follows is all of the accumulated media goodness so far. Videos, interviews, and articles galore…and more are coming. This is just what we’ve seen to date, but we couldn’t wait to share.
Last Friday we dropped the loot for the first Survivor Cell Challenge. As Sanya explains in Friends Will Help You Survive the Wait, Survivor Cells are groups of friends and fellow State of Decay community members living in the same location.
The prize for the Survivor Cell Scavenger Hunt Challenge was exclusive early access to a video clip showing a never-before-seen aspect of State of Decay — in this case, building a garden in one of the game’s starting Home sites.
Now that our dedicated fellow survivors have dissected every second of the clip in brain-exploding detail (Nice work Capt.C.Baker!), it’s time to roll it out officially.
So, for those of you who have not seen it yet (what, you’re not lurking on our forums all weekend hitting “refresh” every minute?), here’s a brief ALPHA-build glimpse of one of the building mechanics in State of Decay.
On August 11, 2010, I wrote an article for our website titled, “And Now A Word From Our Team,” in which I said I’d be introducing the individual developers of Team Zed over the upcoming months. There were a small number of us who’d been working on some design and tech ideas up to that point, but that summer in 2010 is when we really started coming together as a team. It’s accurate to say that’s when work on the game we’d codenamed Class3 truly began.
Two years have passed. It sometimes feels like forever, but the truth is that’s not a large amount of time in game development years. What can you do in two years? What can a team of veteran developers and passionate gamers who are on a mission to chart a new course through the zombie apocalypse do in two years?
As it turns out, a metric shit ton.
For those of you who’ve stuck with us from the beginning — when those two years seemed like forever — today is for you. Today, Team Zed is proud to reveal the first look at State of Decay.
Thanks for hanging in there with us. It’s going to be a wild ride from here!
It strikes out of the blue.
You’re at home on the sofa. You promised you’d watch this one tonight, but you’re choosing the movie next time for sure. You grab another handful of popcorn and shake your head involuntarily. You’re at the store late at night, not entirely remembering what you came to buy. The day is a blur of exhaustion, but you still wonder where the hours all went. You’re headed down the highway, music cranked, singing along to a song you haven’t heard in years. Reminds you of a better time.
It catches you off guard.
You’re mowing the lawn. It’s way too damn hot, but when there’s shit to get done, you do it. You’re drinking some coffee and updating your status on Facebook. Was that a glance from two tables over? You hesitate before saying hello. You’re out for a little target practice. Just fired off the last round of .45 ACP. Needed to blow off some steam.
Ultimately, you don’t choose the moment. You don’t choose the situation. You don’t even choose yourself.
The apocalypse doesn’t wait for you grab your Go Bag, and the world doesn’t freeze while you reconsider your height or hair color. You don’t get to min-max your attributes to game the situation. When everything goes to hell, you are who you are; you have what you have. And once the crisis hits, it waits for no one.
This is how it would happen in the real world. This is how it will happen in Class3.
Do you have any friends in your town that might be interested in Class3? Recruit them to join your Survivor Cell.
That’s what we’re calling groups of friends in the physical world who are banding together to endure the wait until the outbreak begins. (Hat tip to TweakX on Twitter, who suggested the name.) Here’s how it works:
I don’t think we’ve adequately conveyed how awesome vehicular zombie slaughter is going to be in ‘Class3’. Today is the day we rectify that.
Here are the basics. There are ten base vehicle types, including but not limited to the muscle car, the wood-sided wagon, the workhorse pickup truck, the hatchback, the little sedan, etc. Each of those basic models has at least one major variant (the little sedan with the aftermarket graphics is also an ordinary little sedan). All of the vehicles come in multiple colors and conditions.
I’m not sure where this image came from, but some of the in-game cars just might look something like this:
If there is an actual zombie apocalypse, we’re screwed.
On Friday night, there was an epic storm in my area, sweeping from Indiana to Delaware. I do not use the word “epic” lightly. Five hours of unremitting, strobe-like lightning that never let up. Winds that hit 70 MPH (that’s roughly 113 KPH, for those of you in places that teach the metric system). Torrential rain.
Basically, it was like a hurricane with one important difference. With a hurricane, you get lots of warning.
Now that we’re ready to share more information, we know you’re ready to talk about it. Today we’re excited to announce the opening of our official Undead Labs Forums community! To make sure you know where it is, we’ve launched the community forum with today’s promised Community Q&A: The World.
We hope you’ll all register, and join us in chewing the fat. Or gristle…
Read on for more details!
I wasn’t sure if we’d be able to turn around a Q&A with less than a day’s notice. My newly-acquired expertise in pit traps paid off, though, and I caught a dev. I gathered up a few of your questions and threw them down. He answered what he could, and he gets the ladder if you’re satisfied.
As I warned you, I ducked the release date questions like boneless cat doing the limbo. If I commit a date to print this early, I’Il jinx it. I won’t have that blood on my hands.
Speaking of blood, read on to see if I should fetch Producer Jess’s ladder, and let Jeff out of the pit.
I’m pretty sure I’m dreaming. Or, given the ichor and rotting flesh everywhere, I’m probably having a nightmare, but either way I can’t possibly be awake.
How did I get here? How did I wind up with potentially the best community job ever?
Well, it started with a lot of swearing.
Film soundtracks are amazing things. One of the things I like to do when I’m thinking about the musical choices a film makes is to swap out a piece of music from a completely different movie — or even some of my own music — over a key scene, just to see how it changes the feel of the moment.
I love the idea that a piece of music can support, enhance, skew or even subvert the emotions on display.
Last month in our Q&A Ragdolls, Land Mines, and Tentacles, we promised to reveal the composer for Class3.
Today we’re excited to announce we’ve signed BAFTA award-winning composer Jesper Kyd to the project. Jesper is perhaps best known for scoring the Hitman and Assassin’s Creed series, both of which earned him numerous industry awards. Now Jesper’s capturing the Faded Americana style of Class3 in a dark cinematic score mixing live acoustic performances.
In January we posted a spy-cam video of the Lab that included some footage of the in-development version of Class3. You responded with a massive amount of comments and questions, so today we’re going to tackle some of them in a new Q&A.
Read on for fresh new details about Class3!
Happy 2012, fellow survivors!
After a well-earned break for the holidays, Team Zed is back in the Lab and pounding away at the code, art, sound, and design for ‘Class3′.
To celebrate the new year—and, okay, because we haven’t updated you in a few weeks—I took some “spy cam” footage in the Lab today with my trusty iPhone. We’re not quite ready to post official trailers at this point, but I snuck up on Foge as he was testing out some ambush functionality on the Lab TV, so you might catch a glimpse of some early-alpha Class3 gameplay goodness.
Or maybe more than a glimpse…