Year 2 Recollections

Hello fellow survivors,

On this very day two years ago, several hundred thousand of you took a chance and bought a little Xbox Live Arcade game named State of Decay. You had no idea who made it, or what it was all about, but you clearly loved survival-fantasy games and had a true gamer’s appetite for innovation and new gaming experiences. You may not have known that most of the development team behind the game — the artists, programmers, designers, musicians, animators, testers, and producers at Undead Labs — had been awake all night, waiting to see how you would react to a game that didn’t follow any established templates, and even broke fundamental design rules with mechanics like permadeath.

And, much to our joy (and, yeah, relief), the vast majority of you loved it. And told your friends. And streamed it on Twitch. And posted videos to YouTube. And tweeted about it. And over the next few months, State of Decay became the fastest-selling original* game of all time on Xbox Live Arcade, and went on to sell millions of copies on Xbox 360, Steam, and Xbox One.

And you know, two years later on, as we work on Big Things for the future of State of Decay, it’s a good time for all of us at Undead Labs and Microsoft to take a deep breath and reflect on exactly why we’re here, and why we have the opportunity to work on Big Things. I know it’s cliche to thank your customers, and sometimes it’s kind of like your mom saying “I love you” — she probably says it every day and you kind of start taking it for granted. But man, she means it from her heart. And so do we. Thank you for getting us here. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to keep working on Big Things. And thank you for being the kind of gamers who will take a chance on innovation.

Onward.

Jeff
June 5, 2015

* Curse you Minecraft! 😉

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State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition

Hell yes, we’re making State of Decay for Xbox One!

Man, it felt good to write that. There’s a huge difference between “We think it’s a good idea and we’re seriously considering it”, and “Hell yes, we’re working hard on it right now.” It’s generally a good idea to wait until you can say “hell yes”, because until then, Things Can Change, but we’ve crossed that threshold for State of Decay on Xbox One.

State of Decay is coming to Xbox One via the State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition. While we’re still very much in development, here’s what I can tell you today.

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Moonrise

Today it’s my great pleasure to announce our new game, Moonrise.

Moonrise is a multiplayer creature-collection RPG for mobile devices, conceived and developed here at the Lab and published by Kabam. It’s a fun romp through a gorgeous 3D world of ancient ruins and magical creatures, with deep, real-time strategic combat, full character and creature customization, and real-time online play with your friends.

You can read more about Moonrise and our partnership with Kabam in the Moonrise announcement press release, and at the game website at moonrise-game.com. We’ll also be showing the beta build of Moonrise off at PAX Prime in Seattle at the end of this month, so look for more information about the game and release details then.

Like everyone at the Lab, I’m intensely excited about Moonrise. It’s a game that embodies the same passion and spirit we poured into our first game, State of Decay. But alongside that excitement, I’m also very aware that this is a surprise to everyone who has been following the Lab for the last few years. What does it mean for us to be releasing a game that isn’t State of Decay?

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Let’s Chat

In the fall of 2009 I went on a zombie bender. Zombieland had just been released, and I saw it four times. It wasn’t the best zombie flick I’d ever seen, but I loved the road-trip aspect of it, and the focus on how each person needs to decide whether they’ll work together, or alone, in the apocalypse. Mostly, it just rekindled my love of the zombie-survival genre, so it was back to Day, Dawn (classic, and the 2004 remake, which was a damn fine movie), the 28s, a ton of obscure hipster zombie stuff, and a fantastic dive into the Walking Dead comics. And books, too. Brooks of course — more the Guide than WWZ.

Fun stuff for sure, but none of it was really scratching my survival-fantasy itch. The great thing about zombie books and movies is that they make you think about what you’d do if the apocalypse hit tomorrow. Hanging out with your friends and comparing survival plans is truly one of life’s great pleasures.

But then a friend (known around here as Brant) turned me on to the Day by Day Armageddon series by J.L. Bourne. The author was an active duty military officer, and it really showed in his work. The story was personal and gripping, but also logical and well structured. It was believable. It was impossible not to cast myself in the role of the narrator, relying on my wits and whatever equipment I could find to survive every day. I consumed it in a day, read it again, then read the sequel.

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Automation Programmer

Do you like to find ways to make the computer do the work of a 100 people? Do you get a big thrill from pushing a button and watching your code handle thousands of things perfectly that silly humans would constantly screw up, or find things humans have already screwed up? Do you get an even bigger thrill by then figuring out how to automate pushing the button?

We’re looking for someone who loves to write automated test harnesses, sophisticated build and patching systems, and simulation tools to drive games to their knees begging for mercy. That perfect someone would have good instincts for grey/black box testing, and be able work with game programmers, designers, and testers to instrument the game and our service platforms for automated testing.

Here’s what we’d like to see:

  • As with all our positions, a love of gaming is a must
  • Knowledge of C/C++, C# and higher-level languages such as Lua, Python, or Ruby
  • Excellent understanding of QA methodologies and experience writing Test Plans and Test Cases
  • A customer oriented mindset, with good communication skills
  • Experience in console, mobile, and/or PC development a plus (all three is awesome)
  • Self motivated with a focus on delivering results
  • A degree in Computer Science or equivalent is a plus, but not required

Here’s what we’d like you to do:

  • Own and deliver automated test strategies for our products, spanning multiple release cycles
  • Improve the efficiency and reliability of our games by working with team members to encourage a test-driven mentality in the development process
  • Own diagnostics and fault-tolerance aspects of various systems
  • Automate verification of end-to-end customer experiences, from client front end to server back end interactions
  • Own our automated build and patching infrastructure based on a blend of commercial and in-house tools
  • Participate in testing regularly scheduled releases

This position is for full-time employment at the Undead Labs studio in Seattle. For more information about what it’s like to work at the Lab, check out our jobs page.

It this all sounds awesome and you think you have what it takes, send your resume and any code samples you can share to jobs@undeadlabs.com.

We’re looking forward to hearing from you.