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Moonrise, News, Press, Studio


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 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?

First, our commitment to State of Decay is stronger than ever. Survival fantasy is in our DNA, and always will be. While I can’t talk specifics yet (and believe me when I tell you how hard that is), the long-term partnership with State of Decay publisher Microsoft we announced in January, and collaboration with author J.L. Bourne we announced last week, are all in service to something. Or perhaps I should say some things. And I think it’s safe to say those things will be exciting to State of Decay fans.

But those things — particularly when they’re big things — require time; for planning and design, for R&D and new technologies, for business and contract discussions, for new platforms to mature, and for a whole host of things that need to get done before you can unleash a full, chomping-at-the-bit game development team. So while the core State of Decay team continued to work on those things after the release of the game last summer, we built another team to take on a new project we’d been thinking about, which became Moonrise.

I’ve used the phrase ‘gaming omnivores’ to describe our personal gaming tastes at the Lab. You’ll find fans of every genre and platform here, and most of us love it all, provided it’s made with passion and respect for us as gamers. As game developers, we’re the same — omnivores. But just as we wanted to create a fresh take on the zombie genre with State of Decay, we wanted to create a fresh take on the creature RPG with Moonrise. As we’ll discuss in the coming weeks and months, Moonrise builds on the core foundation of collecting creature companions, with deeper team mechanics, real-time combat, a strong multiplayer core, and console-quality art and animation. And, of course, it’s playable on a device that most of us already have in our pockets or backpacks.

Moonrise is of course very different from State of Decay in many ways. It’s bright and colorful, it’s fantastical, and it’s on mobile. But despite those notable differences, you’ll also find that it’s very much an Undead Labs game, with a focus on systems-driven content, sophisticated progression mechanics, and a few bold design choices — such as strategic real-time combat — we think will result in a fresh gameplay experience. And, like every game we will ever make, Moonrise is a gamer-focused game, meaning it’s developed for people like us — passionate gamers who expect our time and money to be treated with respect. It’s also fully an Undead Labs game in terms of our complete commitment to the player community and long term support for the game. Moonrise is as much our baby as State of Decay, and babies needs lots of love and attention…

In my State of Decay: Year One anniversary post, I said:

The success of State of Decay, and the opportunity we have to take it even further, is 100% because of you. Not just because you’re customers, but because you’re gamers. Real gamers. Not just casual fans of the latest big-budget shooter or pre-scripted action adventure (although those can be awfully fun too), but gamers who are passionate enough to try something new. You met the unexpected with a smile rather than a frown.

As we prepare to release Moonrise and continue development on the future of State of Decay, this is more true than ever. It’s been a pleasure building games for you so far, and I can’t wait to show you what we have in store for the future. On behalf of all of us at Undead Labs, thank you.


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Lifeline is LIVE

We are now live on both the Xbox 360 and Steam, and so far, it looks like everyone who knows about it is enjoying it. Thank you so much for your good wishes and good cheer all over the internet. It means everything to us.

Some of us are trying to be all chill about your reviews and tweets and posts. Some of us don’t have a cool bone in our bodies and we’re running around the internet like methed up ferrets, reading every word and watching every video.

Er… was that TMI?

But seriously, keeping cool when you’ve been waiting for this day for months is hard, and the best feeling in the world is when real people actually play it and LIKE it. These were the first four reviews to come in. Not cherry picked. Just the first four in my spreadsheet:

Lifeline feels like a natural high level expansion to an RPG, and it’s an interesting design philosophy when applied to an open-world action game. Exploring a whole new location within the still incredibly fun State of Decay engine is a blast.”

Rather than adding a few hours onto the existing State of Decay narrative, the Lifeline expansion offers an entirely new campaign; one which is likely to take you more than one attempt (and quite a few hours) to complete successfully…I’m not sure there’s a zombie-survival game on the market (single or multiplayer) that currently holds a candle to the State of Decay franchise, and the Lifeline expansion only extends Undead Labs’ lead over its competitors.”

What you can get in this DLC exceeds the price tag as it is intense, replayable, and overall a blast to play. If you were expecting just another version of Breakdown, you were wrong. What Lifeline feels like to me is the opposite of Breakdown and that isn’t even close to a flaw.”

The new DLC seems more like a sequel built upon the same engine instead of just an add-on for State of Decay. Lifeline is a must for fans of Undead Lab’s zombie survival entry. Gamers who enjoy the genre and haven’t tried the game yet should really give it a shot as it remains one of last-gen’s best examples of zombie gaming.”

As with the original launch and Breakdown, the only advertising we have consists of these reviews, and more importantly, you telling your friends that the game was worth your time. If you like what you’ve seen so far, please spread the word that the game is out!

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Lifeline Release Time

We are ON for tomorrow, everybody! The cost is $6.99, or whatever the rough equivalent is in your local currency (the Xbox/Steam does the math, not me). Who will be joining us?!?

What time?

Very early in the morning, Pacific time.

But what EXACT time?

Okay, for Xbox players, it doesn’t work exactly like that. The process will begin at 2 AM PDT/5 AM EDT/10 AM GMT (and for my Australians, 5 PM WST and 7 PM EST). However, the exact time it hits your local marketplace will vary, because the files have to move from server to server all around the world. So it may not hit precisely on the hour. Try to be patient.

For Steam players, Microsoft is going to push the button at 10 AM PDT/1 PM EDT/6 PM GMT (Australians, that’ll be 1 AM Saturday WST and 3 AM Saturday EST). Again, it may take a bit for your personal computer to see it.

In the meantime, reviewers have been putting up streams and posts. Keep an eye on our Twitter feed. I’m sharing links as they come in: @undeadlabs is where the party is all day tomorrow!

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Meanwhile, Behind the Scenes

Yesterday, a few…hundred…of you noticed a news article about something called Microsoft Originals. Or maybe you didn’t. Maybe what you saw were quotes from some of your favorite news sources talking about a proposal to make State of Decay into a TV show, or some other live-action entertainment.

We didn’t anticipate the way this early pitch would get so many people excited, if you want to know the truth. State of Decay was included in a list of IPs presented for consideration, worlds that would make great entertainment. It’s not like that’s the only thing we have under discussion, either. We keep saying there’s all kinds of stuff behind the scenes, and this is just one of many, many ideas. When we say there’s a lot going on…we mean it.

We haven’t gone Hollywood, though. We’re focused on making games. Xbox Chief Phil Spencer said on Twitter just the other day, when someone asked him about State of Decay, that “SoD is important to [Microsoft]. @undeadlabs has a good plan for the franchise and it’s bigger than a DLC expansion.”

Right this minute, we have that expansion to get out the door. (Join us for the Lifeline live stream today at 11 AM PDT / 2 PM EDT / 6 PM GMT!) If anything does come of this live action thing, you know we’ll tell you when we know something for sure. Meanwhile, join us in the forum for an imaginary casting call. Dibs on Nathan Fillion! Or Chiwetel Ejiofor, Walton Goggins, Kerry Washington, Sarah Shahi…

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All the News From PAX

We had an amazing time with Lifeline at PAX East two weeks ago. Everyone had a blast running around the new map, checking out the new characters and the new facilities, and getting the crap scared out of them while venturing into the underground street tunnels of Danforth.

The live game we played was hilarious. (If you missed me blathering about it before the show: All the jobs and hobbies in the game went into a hat. Each person waiting to do the demo picked one – doctor, sniper, TV watcher, cop, dentist, teacher, high school jock, etc. In order to enter a drawing to win a copy of Lifeline, you had to try and form a survivor enclave with your fellow demo survivors. In order to get a guaranteed win, your group needed at least one medically trained person, a weapons trained person, a construction trained person, and three to seven other people of any ability.) Total strangers were forming groups on the spot. People were camping the booth looking for the rare specialties.

My absolute favorite moment was when a big group of people had everyone except their medic. A nice couple came up behind them, and drew jobs. He got “paramedic.” She got “fisherman.” I couldn’t help it; I had to stir the pot. So I said to the man, “That group only needs a medic. So what are you going to do? If you go with them alone, you automatically survive the apocalypse. But you could tell them that the condition of taking you means making room for her.”

You could see him thinking. You could see HER thinking, “WHY DO YOU EVEN HAVE TO THINK ABOUT THIS!?”

But the existing group heard me. Remember, they weren’t friends. They’d just been thrown together by circumstance, people that happened to have a good spread of skills and talents. And you could see THEM thinking… “of course he’s going to want to bring his wife. Who are we going to kick out of the group so we can have the medic?”

It was completely awesome. It was like watching State of Decay coming to life.

(Then one of the original group members actually read the rules card, and shouted, “Wait, we only have eight people and we’re allowed to have up to ten! We have room for both of you!” and the moment passed with hilarity all around.)

But that was just what we did to kill time in line. Watching people play Lifeline was a huge moment for us. It was the first time players had their hands on it, and until you all have tried it out, we don’t really know how it’s going to go. If the PAX crowd was any indication, this is going great.

All we know for sure about launch right now is “early June” and “probably close to what Breakdown cost.” As for more game details, Geoffrey is in the middle of writing his next design article this one a good look at the new facilities and outposts. But if you can’t wait, what I have here is the most complete round up of PAX coverage that I could put together.

Game Informer: The 20 Best Things We Saw At PAX
Game Informer: Hands-On Preview
“A new map, new weapons, and new challenges await in the second State of Decay expansion.”

Hypefestation: Video

IGN: Why State of Decay Lifeline is Awesome
IGN: (Gameplay video)

Leviathyn: Video

Massively/Joystiq: SoD Eyes Multiplayer; Stays Offline
“While it’s broadly accurate to say that State of Decay is a template for an eventual MMO, the game has stood on its own and served as a very successful title.”

OmNomPixels: Video

Polygon:  Preview and Interview
Polygon: (All the screenshots in the press kit)

Ten Ton Hammer: Top Picks From Pax
“What it is: A very worthy expansion to one of the best zombie apocalypse simulators on the planet
“What we saw at PAX: A complete rundown of what makes Lifeline tick, and why it isn’t just more landmass tacked onto the original game”

Xbox Gamer: Lifeline Preview
“I had a smile on my face the whole time, as did Chris as he explained the game to me and watched me die a couple of times by hordes of zombies.”

If you’re still working on your post, podcast, or video, send me the link for inclusion here as soon as you’re done!

Did I miss any? What do you think about what you’ve read so far? Tell us in the forum by clicking the green tape.

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2013 Was a Damned Good Year

I can’t talk about the future, but I can talk about the past. We’d like to shout out all the sites and writers who honored us with an inclusion in a 2013 summary/writeup/roundup/nomination/thing. Thank you for your time and talents, y’all.

In alphabetical order:

Cracked, Robert Brockway’s Year of the Crapocalypse: “Good God, they’ve done it. They made the zombie game we’ve all been demanding for the last 10 years (and by we, I mean me), and they actually did it right.”

Dialog Wheel, Ten “Best” Games of the Year: “Emergent storytelling is at its best here, allowing players to discuss the game like a personal memory. You actually grow attached to the characters you grow with and yell as they scream for their life when you make a single mistake.”

Game Developer’s Choice Award nominee, Best Debut.

Gamespot Editor’s Top Ten:

Justin Calvert: “State of Decay, which dominated 100 percent of my gaming time from the moment I downloaded it on Xbox Live Arcade until I’d finished it with every achievement, is sure to get another play now that its Breakdown downloadable content has been released. Piledriving zombies has never been so much fun.”

Eddie Makuch: “And my faith in zombie games was restored after playing State of Decay, which emphasizes intelligent decision making through its permadeath feature.”

Aaron Sampson: “Hard feels like it has been missing from some of my favorite genres for a while. State of Decay gave you enough rope to hang yourself with…”

Gaming Precision, Bunneh’s Top Five: “State of Decay is without a doubt probably the best zombie game I’ve ever played.”

IGN‘s Games We Played The Most: “State of Decay is easily my biggest off-duty time sink.”

IGN‘s Xbox 360 GOTY Nominees: (At 2:22) “WHAT? Holy… you haven’t played State of Decay? One of my favorite games of the year, ladies and gentlemen!”

Leviathyn, #1 PC Game of the Year: “State of Decay presented the open world apocalyptic adventure I didn’t even know I was searching for.”

Virtual Inn (Italian site), Best Downloadable Game: “With a unique mix of sandbox, survival horror and [a] sprinkling of RPG, [State of Decay] has brought to the world of video games a unique title that will surely be remembered (and most likely copied) for a very long time.”

XBLAFans Game Of The Year: “For me, State of Decay is probably the purest representation of what XBLA has always strived for: risk, experimentation, creativity and the establishment of a platform where smaller development studios could achieve greatness.”

I’m just one person and may have missed a few. If you know of an article or video featuring State of Decay that belongs here, post a link in the comment thread. And thanks again, everybody, for all of your own commentary. Being your personal game of the year was the highest honor we could get, and we sure do appreciate each one of you.

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Breakdown Reviews!

Thanks to everyone who slaved over a hot keyboard to get these reviews, previews, and playthroughs out today!

We are launching Breakdown (and the free TU4) on Friday, November 29th, all over the world. We’ll be on both Steam and XBLA. The price is $6.99, and that should convert automatically into your own local currency. For those of you making up your mind on what you’re doing on Friday, and don’t mind potential spoilers, I hope this information is helpful. There won’t be any ads to entice you, no hype campaign to get you riled up. This DLC is going to stand or fall entirely on how interested you are (and whether you think it’s good enough to tell your friends about it).

Keep an eye on the forums and our social media channels for fun contests and general shenanigans to celebrate the launch of Breakdown.

See you Friday, I hope :)

In no particular order, and many more to come:



Game Over Man:

The Sparrow’s Journey:



Jump To Gamer:

Review Mango:



Front Toward Gamer:


Rize Up Gaming:

Chaotic Good:

Subspace Reviews:

Quarter To Three:


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Yes. Big News Day.

If you didn’t already see the news out of Microsoft headquarters, we’re having an exciting day. (The banner might have given it away.) You can follow the link there for the official version, or you can hit the highlights right here:

- Yes, you guys took us over the half million mark. Actually, that milestone is SO last Friday, Jeff says. Now we’re over the 550,000 mark. We still don’t know what to say besides thank you for your encouragement and support. We didn’t know what to expect, so your continuing enthusiasm is humbling.

- Yes, it’s your feedback that helps us to determine the priorities in the Title Updates, and #2 is in the early phase of certification.

- Yes, when we release on PC, it will be via Steam. Date still TBD.

- And yes, Jeff DID just drop the sandbox mode bomb. We’re working on a pure sandbox mode for State of Decay, in large part because you asked for it. Again, the date is TBD, but we wanted you all to know it was coming.

Can’t stop us now! Thanks again for riding along with us.


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Previews To Pique Your Interest

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):

4playerState of Decay is a magnificent take on the zombie apocalypse theme, bringing something to the genre it’s been sorely missing. Depth. For those into complex simulations, resource management, and the smell of decaying flesh, it looks like this is one you’re not going to want to miss.

4Player Network

4playerIt’s important for people to realize that State of Decay is not really a zombie apocalypse game, it’s an apocalypse management game that happens to take place during a zombie apocalypse…The management systems are so great and so deep. They go a lot deeper than even I thought they would.

4Player Cocktail Time Podcast (State of Decay coverage begins at 40:15)

gamecriticsMy initial impression after the first fifteen or twenty minutes was that State of Decay is huge. Bigger than huge, really… It seemed absolutely massive. It’s been stated that this game is the largest ever released on XBLA, and the developers confirmed this. As a quick example of how big and open it is, the reviewer sitting next to me completed the church mission within five or ten minutes, whereas I discovered an abandoned campsite and started scavenging for usable goods. From there, I started checking out other interesting locations, and before I knew it, at least half an hour had passed before I had accomplished my actual goal.

Drinking Coffee Cola/Game Critics

ignBelow the surface, so many systems are working in concert that it managed keep me – someone who is bored to death with the undead – completely enthralled for the entire four hours I spent playing it. If my four hours are any indication, State of Decay is amazingly deep, especially for an Xbox Live Arcade game.


mtvUndead Labs is billing their upcoming XBLA release “State of Decay” as a simulation, a perilous trek through the ever-familiar zombie apocalypse with multiple interconnected systems requiring the player to do more than just shoot their way to safety. Survivors will have to gather supplies, form alliances, manage their stamina and health, make sure disease doesn’t wipe out their camp, and take on side missions to level up multiple playable characters. Even after five hours with “State of Decay,” I’m not sure I fully scratched the simulation’s surface.


raidwarningIt was apparent from the start that this team has obsessed over every detail for the past two and a half years. Guns and melee weapons have true-to-life weights, cars show body damage, melee weapons break, guns jam, food spoils, while every piece of environment art tells a story. It’s a world lived in and fleshed out tirelessly by 23 devoted developers.

Raid Warning

vgrThe depth of State of Decay is much more than you would find almost anywhere else in the XBLA, and until you can get your hands on it personally, I don’t think you will truly understand.

Welcome to the real world. Nothing is guaranteed and some mismanagement can be very costly…State of Decay is completely open world and you will survive, explore, and manage inside of it.


We had one other guest whose coverage will be in Official Xbox Magazine when it goes to print. We’ll be sure to shout it out when it’s available.

Enjoy! If you’d like to discuss what you read, join the forum discussion already in progress by clicking the green “Comment” tape down there to your right.

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PAX East 2013 Roundup

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.

Microsoft’s booth was our home away from home for three days.

As far as we could tell, this was all there was to PAX.

As far as we could tell, this was all there was to PAX.

We had a good neighbor – a team from a studio in Copenhagen, Denmark. They’re making a nifty platformer called Max: Curse of the Brotherhood. After three days of seeing the other team’s demo, we became mutual admirers.


State of Decay gear makes everyone happy.

The line to try out State of Decay was never less than an hour long, and all of our players were incredibly understanding and enthusiastic. Your passion for what we’re trying to do has always been the thing that kept us going, but during the PAX marathon, the energy of our players was the ONLY thing keeping us going.

We had to remember that we were representing the whole Undead Labs family back at the office. Fortunately, there was a reminder of the office in the game:

Hey, what's this?

Hey, what’s this?

Mostly we came back to the hotel and collapsed, but one night, we were fortunate enough to meet some future players in the hotel bar. A bar, mind you, that was a mile from the show and not near any public transportation. At 8:30 on a Friday. The attendees were hardcore! Sadly, I didn’t think to take the pic until the very end of the evening after some people had left. I won’t identify the people in the picture (they can out themselves if they want), but I will say it was a real joy to meet some of the people behind very recognizable names.

That is a fun group. I would expect no less.

That is a fun group. I would expect no less.

Overall, it was a fantastic show. When you’re working on a game, you get so you only see the flaws – and you get really nervous wondering if the ideas that seemed so great are going to turn out to be fun. Watching person after person get excited and walk away pumped about State of Decay, well, all I can say is that we are psyched. We can’t wait until all of you can play, give feedback, and post your own images.

Thank you for sticking with us this long. Not much longer, now!

At the end of the show, we were still standing. Barely.

At the end of the show, we were still standing. Barely.

Want to read the coverage that’s come out of the show so far? Here you go, in somewhat random order:
IGN: First impression
IGN: “The Most Awesome Games From PAX”
RelyOnHorror (interview and video)
Front Towards Gamer
Den Of Geek
Post It Gamer
Game Informer
Blast Magazine

If I missed any (and I know of a half dozen more still in progress!) please drop me a line at sanya at undeadlabs dot com.

Thanks again, and keep your eyes on the FAQ!