No World Order

The setting is our world. The time is now, except everything’s completely gone to shit and it’s happened fast. You don’t know why or how any of this happened. The only thing you know is that dead people are up and walking and that, if you’re not careful, they will kill you too. Is the crisis worldwide or isolated? It’s hard to say. You’re cut off from the outside world and everything around you is in total chaos.

This is the starting point for our open world zombie survival game, code named ‘Class3’. If you’re a zombie fan, you’ve thought about this scenario before. There are three big elements. The first is the zombies themselves. You have to figure out how you’ll kill them, how to escape them, and how to avoid them in the future. The second is other people. They may want to help you. They may want to harm you. That’s where things start to get really interesting.

And then there’s that third element: the world around you. Maybe you’ve never thought of it in those terms before, but odds are the environment plays a key role every time you picture the zombie apocalypse. It’s not just a backdrop. It’s a place full of buildings to explore and loot, abandoned cars for making a quick escape, firearms to collect and use, food stockpiles to raid, hiding places to duck into, and propane tanks to turn into the world’s brightest and most short-lived zombie welcome signs. It’s a world of endless possibilities.

Today, I want to share our vision for the world of Class3.

As always, our starting point is thinking about the essence of zombie survival. At its core, what does survival actually mean? Well, it’s not getting your guts ripped out by zombies, for sure, but there’s a lot more to it. In those first desperate moments, survival is a matter of action and stealth. Grabbing a chair or a crowbar or an axe and busting some zombie skulls or, if you happen to find one, breaking out a 9 mm and trying to headshot the zeds. But once you’ve escaped that immediate danger, you’ll have a whole new set of challenges. You’re going to need somewhere safe to sleep, and you’ll need to figure out how to get everything you need to survive: food, water, medicine, weapons, tools, and ammunition.

Deciding where, when and how to collect and protect these things is up to you. You’ll choose where to set up camp. Will you hide out in an abandoned house, seek shelter in a cabin in the woods, turn the county fairgrounds into a fortress, try to run a farm, set up in your favorite pub, or look for something else?

You’ll also need to decide whether to go it alone or team up with others. People complicate things, bringing in issues of morale and trust and teamwork. Still, as I’ve discussed before, there are a lot of advantages to having friends. Surviving as a lone wolf is hard and few will be up to the task.

There’s also how you approach day-to-day survival: Walking or driving, sneaking around or shootin’ up the joint. You’ll want to consider your actions carefully, though. Fuel and ammo are scarce resources, and nothing draws a crowd of zombies faster than making a lot of noise. If you’re going to battle a massive horde head on, you’d better have an escape route planned and either a well-disguised hideout for laying low or a fortified stronghold to make your stand.

So how do we ensure something so free-form makes sense to everyone? We think the key is having a world that is as intuitive, logical and consistent as possible. So, of course, we’re going to put things where you’d expect them. If I asked you to list the best places to acquire medicine, you’d probably say a hospital or a pharmacy. You’d probably guess that you can find food in a supermarket or guns and ammo in a police station. A lot of buildings are iconic, letting you know what’s inside as soon as you see one. (Okay, you may not know how many zombies or scavengers or shotgun-wielding maniacs are inside, but you’ll know the firehouse has some axes.)

At the same time, a sense of exploration and discovery is very important, so we’re putting a lot of work into letting you explore. We want to give you access to every single building that could have something you want. For a polished game with the kind of visual quality we want, this is a bold goal. It’s difficult from a technical and production standpoint, but it’s a challenge we’ve enjoyed taking on. So far, so good.

The aim of being intuitive doesn’t just apply to places where you find resources, but also to the sites you may claim and call home. Once you’ve chosen a location for your base, you’ll have choices to make about fortifications, facilities, and population. Want to build a guard tower in the northeast corner to have a better sniping spot when a zombie horde comes shambling down Main Street? You can do that. Would you rather focus on gardening and growing food, or do you think it’s more valuable to improve your medical facilities? It’s up to you.

“Horror is most striking when the alien, terrible, and profane collide with the familiar…”A zombie survival plan isn’t just about the big choices, though — it’s also about the moment-to-moment decisions. We believe the environment should be a playground, full of fun opportunities for movement and interaction.

Maybe you ring a church bell or scatter a group of birds to make a diversion for a raid. You swim across the river to get to your destination, creeping along a low garden wall and hiding yourself in the bushes on the outskirts. You reach a fence, lean back against it, and shimmy to the edge, where you peek out to check for zeds. All clear — now for the house. Are you going to go in through the front door or climb up to that second story balcony? Things get ugly after you’re inside, and you go sliding over a table, guns blazing before ducking behind the couch for cover. When you realize you can’t hold the position, you shoot out a window and dive through the shattering glass to make your escape.

We’ve been implementing a lot of those behaviors just recently, but we knew early on they would be a part of the game. That’s when we started thinking seriously about the specifics of the Class3 setting.

Immediately we had to tackle the question of diversity. In a survival situation, terrain types matter a lot. Rural areas have fewer people, which probably means fewer zombies (except when that occasional super-horde comes rolling through). They also have more space for growing and hunting for food. On the other hand, urban areas offer a lot more convenience. Especially in the beginning, there’d be a lot of resources and gear to loot to give yourself a head start. The really dense areas offer something else as well — lots of places to hide. But just talking about those two extremes is an oversimplification. There’s a whole range. A small town isn’t rural, but it isn’t remotely the same as a big city. There’s a lot of variety out there and different places are a better fit for different survival plans, so we talked about all the possibilities and knew we shouldn’t pick just one.

If you’ve been looking at the concept art we’ve posted, you already know a lot about the environment we’re building. Doug’s inspiration came not far from home, in the diverse climes of Eastern Washington: mountains, rivers, cities, one-stoplight towns, and farmland far as the eye can see. This region had all the variety we were seeking.

It also happens to be an area a lot of us know pretty well (here’s a picture of Shaun’s hometown), but there’s another reason we chose it — the essence of horror is familiarity. Horror is most striking when the alien, terrible, and profane collide with the familiar and the personal. That’s a big part of what makes a present day zombie story so compelling in the first place, and it’s why McMillanville looks the way it does. Maybe it was a little tattered and worn, even before the big outbreak, but it was still a place that evoked a core, idealized picture of human society…right up until all hell broke loose.

These last few months, we’ve been running around in the 16 square kilometers of varied terrain and architecture that form the Class3 world. It has forests, windy mountain roads, highways, rivers, farmland, fairgrounds, train tracks and tunnels, mid-sized McMillanville, the eastern edge of Dunniway City, and other little townships and clusters of civilization scattered around the area. The whole shebang. Of course, things will change here and there as we polish and tune the experience. Things will get moved, cut, remade, and replaced. That’s the reality of game development.

I will say this, though: So far, we love it. The world that Dave and James are building has been a fantastic playground for fighting zombies, climbing onto and over things, ducking into police stations in search of guns and ammo, driving around like a madman, plowing through zombie hordes, and leading scavengers on raids for supplies.

It’s our world. It’s now. It’s the perfect setting for the zombie apocalypse.

Phinney

  1. Researcher: Joe2894
    Date Recorded: June 3, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    This game will be the best game ever

  2. Researcher: Brian
    Date Recorded: June 3, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    My friend and I have been watching and reading the posts you guys make with such anticipation! We have sat and speculated about tons of the goals you have for this game, and how eager we are to see it in action! We talk about zombie “what if’s” all the time, so reading your posts about that very subject about how you are going to present this vast approach to surviving in an ever changing environment with other players is just epic to picture. We support your good work all the way and are always eager to hear what you are up!

    • Researcher: Emily
      Date Recorded: June 6, 2011 at 2:17 pm

      Thanks, Brian! We all talk about the “what if” situations, too. It’s cool to work on a game that’s going to let everyone play them out :)

    • Researcher: Brian
      Date Recorded: June 8, 2011 at 11:34 pm

      :)
      I was talking to my friend the other day about Undead Labs (and how awesome they are), but more to the point: we were talking about features about the game.
      We discussed the possibility of radio communications of any sort, and what they could tell us about the conditions of other zones we could see in the game. One idea that came from that was something of “*crackle* .. there is a horde outbreak in (such and such named) area, heavy infected activity sighted with signs of more to come.”
      That would give survivors the option to:
      A) Close up shop and relocate to somewhere quieter
      B) Fortify, bucker down, and see how long you can survive hell
      C) go crazy

      But really though, I thought a horde infestation to areas would offer alot of challenges for us to respond to in ways we think of, and allow us to try different approaches to surviving them or avoiding them, or pushing our skills in defeating them.

      I really just wanted to share this idea with you guys because my friend and I both thought it was a potentially awesome idea to experience in a game, so I offer it to you to see how you felt about it. :)
      Love you Undead Labs! All this zombie survival talk sparks so much creativity in everyone that considers it seriously, and your game will give so much opportunity for us to try out some ideas! I can’t wait for the game, but at the same time I know taking time to perfect every part of it is essential, so I will wait as patiently as I can with MUCH anticipation. :)

    • Researcher: Mee-T
      Date Recorded: June 17, 2011 at 12:40 am

      I would really love to see the idea of transportation and building things really take off with this game. Maybe scavenging parts for cars, or specializing in different skills to be able to either put a car together or engineer a motor from parts. Being able to make your own power sources, machine parts and put together life saving and scavenging machines or trinkets. Actually watching your world and character grow.
      Anyway, i’m so excited about this game…I’ve thought about Zombies taking over and survival techniques since the first black and white “Night of the Living Dead”. The best games I’ve found that I love are really gritty, puzzeling and bloody thrillers that make you NOT want to put down the controller or blink your eyes for fright that you’ll miss something.

    • Researcher: Texasben
      Date Recorded: July 1, 2011 at 7:12 pm

      yea but how would you learn to do those skills. i think that either you should meet someone to learn from, or find a book to read on the skill. like if you find an engineer he can teach you to make a motor, or if you find a cook book you can make new foods or the best way to make a meal without creating a plume of smoke that would atract unwanted attention.

  3. Researcher: FreakyBowMan
    Date Recorded: June 3, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    You guys should make it so when you first play class 3..you start off with a few basic things to help you survive..i.e .. a weapon(maybe pistol or rifle..) , a vehicle..(pickup truck would be nice..but any would do)…food and water(maybe enough rations to last you a week or so, then scavange yourself).. these are just some thoughts i had , thanks. ^.^

    • Researcher: Jack
      Date Recorded: June 9, 2011 at 5:58 pm

      Screw that, at the begining of the game the player should be naked in the middle of the forest during the coldest time of winter just as the sun is going down. HARDCORE SURVIVAL MODE!!!!

    • Researcher: Brandon
      Date Recorded: June 10, 2011 at 8:37 pm

      YEAAHH!! + fighting zombie bears with teddy roosevelt using a hunk of wood, then after you kill it (assuming you know how to suplex a bear) you run into a town and make an Ironman suit out of tin cans. (totally should be able to do something similar to that though)

  4. Researcher: Matthew
    Date Recorded: June 3, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    I have been following all of the progress that the team at Undead Labs has been making since January this year. I can say that I am truly glad to see and read progression of this as it moves to becoming something I’ve honestly always dreamed. Ever since playing the Fallout series I’ve thought an open world zombie MMO would be absolutely amazing. All my guy friends at college that I introduced to this site and game are excited. Fighting zeds, building a fortress, and playing with you friends by you side…. Epic! That is the best word to describe what you all are doing.

    I have a few comments and questions I would like to through out their, which may or may not have mentioned. Of course there should be a limit to what can be carried, but what about a truck or SUV? Is there the possibility of using a vehicle to go into town, scavenge, then return to a rural bunker of superness? In this article there was mentioning of being able to add on to the fortress of ones choice, like a guard tower. Could you ball park range the amount of resources that would take? I’m just saying for a decent tower, see over the trees, maybe about 15-30 feet. Which is understandable with access to a Home Depot or Lowes. Scavenging, of course there is no way to tell who might be waiting for you behind the next door, be it a zed or redneck. Will zombies be the only non-playable characters to worry about or will disgruntle locals hold up in the police station be shooting if I go visit? One quick thing about crossbows and such, will arrows be retrievable?

    Keep you the good work! You all are doing humanity a great justice! When the apocalypse arrives I’ll be waiting!

    • Researcher: Ryan
      Date Recorded: June 4, 2011 at 5:55 pm

      You should be limited to what you can carry as a person and how much you can store in a vehicle. For example you can carry say 50 lbs of supplies as a person and X amount of lbs of supplies based on the vehicle you have, for example you can store more in a Suv than a pick up truck as well as you can store more in a pick up truck than a car and you can store more in a car than you can a motorcycle or bike

    • Researcher: Emily
      Date Recorded: June 6, 2011 at 2:26 pm

      Great questions, Matthew! I’ll see if we can fit some of the stuff into our upcoming Q&A.

    • Researcher: adam bukhari
      Date Recorded: June 8, 2011 at 4:21 am

      don’t forget backpacks and trolleys (that’s what we call shopping karts in england)!

    • Researcher: Seth
      Date Recorded: June 23, 2011 at 2:25 pm

      Awsome!!!!! i have been waiting for a game like this for years searching the internet and everything! 1 quick question if you can build a base does that include fences barbed wire and all that cool stuff? plz message me back at my email.

  5. Researcher: Jordan Cain
    Date Recorded: June 3, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    I’ve been here since september 09 and I’ve read every article ;p
    I get more and more excited as you feed our zombie addicted brains ;D

    • Researcher: Josh_Rhombusbox
      Date Recorded: June 4, 2011 at 12:38 am

      I agree, i’ve been here since the website first came up.. and early early news stories were coming out. This is the best article so far. It gives us the most information about the world that we all can’t wait to explore.

      With every article, comes more confidence that you guys are the real deal. I say this because, you keep emphasizing stealth and survival.. true survival with a need for food and water and where to setup a base or fort. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted.. All my early years, from opening my NES on christmas, to my love for sports games, to my learned love of RPG’s, to my fondness for the mmorpg genre, and my long relationship with console gaming. It has all led me down to this point in time, your company is the company I’ve been dreaming about all these years. My passion for 80′s and 90′s zombie movies.. even earlier has all been for this game.

      Honestly, I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but as far as video games go in the universe, I feel this game is my destiny, and I don’t care how geeky that sounds. Its true. Good work guys.. can’t wait!

    • Researcher: Emily
      Date Recorded: June 6, 2011 at 2:29 pm

      Glad to hear it, guys! And no, you don’t sound (too) geeky, Josh. Definitely not in a bad way, at least :D

  6. Researcher: Barra
    Date Recorded: June 4, 2011 at 12:41 am

    Guys yet again a fantastic article! It gave me goose bumps in a really awesome way. If you are running round in the game world it must mean there is mostly editing/polishing left to do so will we be expecting it beginning of 2012? Look forward to hearing more. Thanks again for giving me something awesome to look forward to.

    • Researcher: Emily
      Date Recorded: June 6, 2011 at 2:33 pm

      Well, there are a lot of steps to development that aren’t immediately noticeable, but we are making great progress. We’re still not ready to talk release dates yet, though :)

    • Researcher: Barra
      Date Recorded: June 9, 2011 at 5:40 pm

      Aww too bad. Really love the fact you talk to us like this it’s awesome. Cheers again Emily

    • Researcher: Emily
      Date Recorded: June 9, 2011 at 5:48 pm

      Of course! It’s my pleasure :)

    • Researcher: Barra
      Date Recorded: June 12, 2011 at 11:46 am

      Have you guys thought about children in the game cause that is the only thing that scares the beejezus out of me on account of my very young daughter. Cheers again!

  7. Researcher: CaptElmo2165
    Date Recorded: June 4, 2011 at 12:53 am

    Hey Guys!

    Again, amazing post. It’s very cool that you’re modelling on a real place (I assume the locals are ok with this ?? LOL!). Do you have any comment about starting the game? You’ve mentioned that there’s a focus on ‘wherever you are that’s where you are’ style thinking. With that in mind then, will the game perhaps just dump in one of a hundred different locations with a pretty standard loadout (whatever you’re likely to have in your pockets at the time) and expect you to survive. I might give us all the edge in learning to pick fight or flight if it ever really happens!!

    Either that or are we really talking post initial devastation. If so, how are you planning to excuse the time gap between the start of the meltdown and where our character begins. After all within a day or two true survivors would already be mid battle plan, having acquired weapons, food, water and a safe spot – that would place our character on the back foot a bit – ideas?

    Keep up the amazing work!

    • Researcher: Pieter Kuperus
      Date Recorded: June 4, 2011 at 4:40 am

      This will be a great game!

      Although I have 1 question.

      If you get bitten by a zombie can you then turn into 1 and attack the living ones?

      That would make this the best zombie survival horror game ever.

      Imagine you as a zombie teaming up with other zombie (players) and attack the living ones!

    • Researcher: FreakyBowMan
      Date Recorded: June 4, 2011 at 6:44 pm

      Theres already a game like that..its called Left4Dead…-.- also i think bieng able to play as a zombie would just ruin the game =P…jus sayin

    • Researcher: redkrossquad
      Date Recorded: June 5, 2011 at 11:49 pm

      L4D is not a true zombie survival horror game. Firstly it is not horrifying, nor is it making you need to try to survive for as long as possible as you will need here. There is no going around gunz blazing. No huge amount of ammo lying around everywhere before some sort of big attack.

      But has been lurking around here since just after they started this site. Good progress and some very nice artwork. :)

    • Researcher: Derek
      Date Recorded: June 6, 2011 at 12:38 am

      ^this^
      I really don’t want sentient zombies ruining my fun, that would just be frustrating.

  8. Researcher: DJ
    Date Recorded: June 4, 2011 at 5:00 am

    Are you guys gonna be previewing this game at E3 or is it way to early?

    • Researcher: Barra
      Date Recorded: June 4, 2011 at 10:23 am

      Emily has already said they won’t be at e3 this year as they will be busy making the game

    • Researcher: Darren
      Date Recorded: June 4, 2011 at 12:21 pm

      They told us they are hard at work and won’t be making it to E3 this year.

      Cross fingers that they can show it off for PAX East next spring.

    • Researcher: Emily
      Date Recorded: June 6, 2011 at 2:36 pm

      Yeah, it’s a little too early for that, DJ. We’re cranking away on the game, so we’re sitting E3 out this year.

  9. Researcher: Vampevil
    Date Recorded: June 4, 2011 at 5:21 am

    diving out of windows and sliding over tables and climbing to second story balcony is all parkour or part of it.. Its just wat i wanted ..

  10. Researcher: Pepe
    Date Recorded: June 4, 2011 at 5:39 am

    I agree with what people are saying.. This is going to be the BEST GAME EVER!!!!!!! Can’t wait to buy some Microsoft Points for this (for sure) best seller!!
    Oh, by the way, is there going to have customizable characters?? By the time the real zombie apocalypse doesn’t come, will be great to see some “virtual me” cracking some zed skulls up =P
    Cheers!

    • Researcher: Lucien
      Date Recorded: June 4, 2011 at 11:29 am

      haha yeah, kinda like in Brink? you can customize so much, it would be awesome! :D

    • Researcher: ChinoXL
      Date Recorded: June 4, 2011 at 11:46 am

      You know I was thinking urban areas may have a lot of places to hide but that also means you have more places to be trap with no escape. If I was in a situation like that I rather have an open landscape so I know the only way I’ll die is if I collapse from exhaustion.

      I also hope there is animal life in this game for farmers to have such vast beautiful landscapes – things like deer or other animals would be nice to see also would be a nice warning system seeing a fresh rotting corpse of a deer laying around means zombies are near by

      forcing them to migrate to different areas – just like food and items i think creatures should also be depleted without the intervention of farmers to help sustain that life

      every type of profession can help the world survive greatly

    • Researcher: kyf
      Date Recorded: June 5, 2011 at 10:26 am

      Considering that sound is going to play such an important role in Class3, I was wondering something about Class4… Will there be voice chat between players? And wouldn’t speech attract zombies too? If we are in an open, persistent world, we are persistent too. If I yell something, does it carry a far distance? Will other players in the vicinity hear me, regardless of whether they are in a “party” with me? I have been following this game pretty much since the site went up. I am more than excited about it, to say the least. This is one thing I haven’t seen mentioned though and all I can think about is how cool it would be to have to whisper when sneaking around with other Player-Character survivors. Every group will have that guy that doesn’t think about it and starts yelling in the middle of a silent raid. This is a moment I wish desperately to find myself in while playing Class4.

    • Researcher: Mark
      Date Recorded: June 5, 2011 at 1:48 pm

      i would like to see that you can pick your background story like you job before the putbeake along with making a customized character

    • Researcher: Keith Tallon
      Date Recorded: June 5, 2011 at 3:31 pm

      kyf, that’s a fascinating question. I get the sense communication will be primarily if not exclusively through voice chat, but it seems like it could be tricky, especially in class4. You and a buddy would probably want to be able to communicate at range (walkie talkies or something), and having the zombies respond to the sound of your radio would add a level of realism and tension, for sure. XBL party chat would probably ruin the effect if what you’re talking about were implemented, though.

      Perhaps XBL party chat would be disabled in the game?

    • Researcher: LA-BATMAN
      Date Recorded: June 5, 2011 at 4:11 pm

      Wow, this game will be amazing, I hope they get alot of support for it, its about time some people get the idea that not everyone likes unrealistic action shoot-em-ups all the time.

    • Researcher: DAVEoftheDEAD
      Date Recorded: June 6, 2011 at 2:33 pm

      I’ve never took the time to find out who the team is that built the games I played. But reading all the articles here. I have a new found respect for everyone who does what ya’ll do! The caring and commitment to making this what sounds like the most epic zombie game ever! I think I will appreciate the game and where it came from a thousand times more. Knowing the game I bought gave a shit to those people and in some very small way by buying it saying “That’ll do pig” and thanks for giving a zombie nerd a place where he can belong. Now that I’m done brown nosing! Hurry up I wanna play already!!!

    • Researcher: Emily
      Date Recorded: June 6, 2011 at 2:45 pm

      Nice thoughts, everyone. We’ll be covering character details in a later article, so keep an eye out for that.

      As far as chat goes, we’re definitely putting a lot of thought into how communication will work. We’re not quite ready to share details, though. :)

    • Researcher: Sebastian, Denmark
      Date Recorded: June 11, 2011 at 10:15 pm

      Hey guys, sounds awesome. I’ll buy it!

    • Researcher: GhostMARINE
      Date Recorded: July 28, 2011 at 8:52 pm

      HAHAHAHA I can see it now…..in class4 you are with a noob and he starts to yell…..”LEEROY JENKINS!!!!!!!” and then gets swarmed by every zombie in earshot. :P

    • Researcher: Medic Mouse

      Not sure if it’s too late for this, just found out about this game’s development like 5 minutes ago. Two of my friends work at a military academy in north Georgia that provides on-campus apartments. Their ground floor apartment has what they call their “zombie shelter”. It’s just a storage place but could also quite effectively double as a bomb shelter or, in this case, a zombie shelter. One of them is currently in the Army reserve and he uses the space (about 7′x5′) as an armory. The entrance is just a small metal hatch that’s carpeted on top that you have to pry up with a crow bar like a manhole cover.

      I hope it’s not too late for input like this, but it just seemed like the perfect idea for maybe finding a hidden weapons or food/medical supplies cache or something. That and they would completely flip their lids if they knew their zombie shelter made it into a zombie survival game(they’re both huge zombie fanatics).