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.

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:

Maka: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4Ny59dRBhg

Stedal1978: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Ijg3cbuDCo

Rebelgamer.de http://www.rebelgamer.de/2013/11/state-decay-breakdown-im-test-endlich-kommt-der-endlosmodus/25780

Game Over Man: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YgnaRNMpXHY&feature=youtu.be

The Sparrow’s Journey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2dWxeGRy6gc

Examiner: http://www.examiner.com/review/state-of-decay-breakdown-adds-a-sandbox-to-the-undead-playground

6aming: http://www.6aming.com/review/state-decay-breakdown-review/

Jump To Gamer: http://www.jumptogamer.com/reviews/state-decay-breakdown-review/

Review Mango: http://www.reviewmango.com/2013/11/27/state-of-decay-breakdown-dlc-review/

GamerPET: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=toRo6ai35CE

Tecnoslave: http://tecnoslave.com/analisis-state-of-decay-breakdown-dlc/

Front Toward Gamer: http://fronttowardsgamer.com/2013/11/27/state-of-decay-breakdown-dlc-review-pc/

IGR: http://www.igameresponsibly.com/2013/11/27/state-of-decay-breakdown-pc-video-review/

Rize Up Gaming: http://rizeupgaming.com/state-of-decay-breakdown-dlc/

Chaotic Good: http://chaoticgood.co.uk/post/2013/11/27/State-of-Decay-Breakdown.aspx

Subspace Reviews: http://www.subspacereviews.com/2013/11/state-of-decay-breakdown-review.html

Quarter To Three: http://www.quartertothree.com/fp/2013/11/23/breakdown-dlc-state-decay-unscripted-except/


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.


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.

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!

News, Press

The News From PAX

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.

Machinima: These guys brought a camera crew to our meet and greet, so you could get a real inside look. Check it out to see our studio (and the zombies that festoon our walls), and an interview with our fearless leader.

Jeff recording the Machinima interview.

GameCritics: Brad was also at our party, and partook of the zombie cake pops and the deer jerky. (C’mon, deer jerky is a brilliant survival food.) His article is a solid writeup of the little details that mean big things for the players. From the article:  “After having the chance to talk with several of the people responsible for creating the game, I got even more fired up.”

Official Xbox Magazine: Steve got an hour with the game at our meet and greet, and chatted with a large number of developers. I feel bad, though, because one of us confused him. He reports that getting bitten means you might turn into a zombie, but we’re actually still discussing what–if anything–will happen if you’re bitten. We’re incredibly proud that he thought enough of the game to say “If Undead Labs can fine-tune gameplay and nail the combat, State of Decay might be the most audacious zombie game to date.”

The media gets the lowdown from Phinney at our party.

IGN: Day One of PAX, and one of the first teams to come by were the people from IGN. They said our alpha looked a little rough around the edges (and we agreed – it WAS our alpha, after all), but “the ideas that it’s presenting are very exciting.” Take a look at this video to see some of the gameplay the people at the show were enjoying.

The Weekly Blend: The Weekly Blend team came to the booth, and said we “are really ambitious with what [we're] trying to do.” The Danish Assassin tells me there will be video and a writeup coming later, but for now, you can hear a brief discussion of what they saw on the podcast starting at -47:43:00 running through -42:46.

Play Unwired: Scott came by and had a good time driving. Not that I’m going to get into a car with him anytime soon. He said: “My favorite is using the e-brake to spin the car and use the G Force to send [the zombies] flying off your car.”

4Player: This team was a trip. First two of them came over. Then someone else. Then another. I ended up devoting a pocket just for 4Player business cards, and finally I asked what was up…and it turned out they were considering us for a Game of the Show award, so their whole team needed to get hands on. Since we were showing our alpha build, not even a proper demo, I guess you could say we were pretty excited. They brought us a little “Game of the Show Nominee” placard, and I leaned that sucker up against our raffle jar. (We didn’t want to stick it to the booth, because we wanted to take it back to the studio for our brag wall.) Anyway, check out the screenshots, and the interview with Jeff.

“It was an honor just to be nominated.”

Money quotes, for me: “It’s hard to demo a project as ambitious as this in a short amount of time on the floor of a convention,” and from the podcast, “If they live up to what they say, this is going to be one of the deepest XBLA games that I ever played.”

GhostRobo: This guy was super fun. It was probably the sideburns. At any rate, he knows what you want to see. He stuck his camera right behind the player seats, and gave you a solid five minutes of pure gameplay/walkthrough.

There was a lunchtime lull for about ten whole minutes. So we got to play our own game a little.

The Verge (soon to be Polygon): Mike wrote up a good piece that balanced the action-oriented fun he had (“I was ambushed. I sprinted to the nearest car that hadn’t been totalled in the zombie apocalypse, and went on a hit and run spree”) with the stuff that doesn’t really come across in ten minutes of alpha gameplay.

Destructoid: We almost missed out! Casey came by just before the show closed, when the line was finally shortish. He’d been meaning to give us a try, but with a line that was an hour long every time he walked past, he had to keep moving if he was going to cover the whole show.  Fortunately, we all caught a break. The headline says “not just another zombie game,” and in the article, he said, “the pure intent of the developers’ vision…shines through even after just a few minutes of gameplay.”

Not pictured: The line wrapping around the side of the booth and out.

Seriously, y’all, we are fired up. PAX was the first chance we’d had to see real players interacting with our concepts and ideas. As several of the sites above said, this game is really hard to boil down to a snappy one line pitch. No one has ever done anything like it before, which makes it twice as hard to explain in ten minutes or less. To see everyone dive right in and really get it from the beginning? That was huge for us.

But you all have been with us all along. Thanks again.

The Future Is Now

‘Class3’ has gone into production, and that means that we’re going to need a ton of art to fully flesh out the world. That’s why we’re excited to announce that we’ve partnered with the talented team at  FUTUREPOLY Studios for our art production needs.

Headed up by Jason Stokes and Levi Hopkins, two of our good friends and former colleagues, the FUTUREPOLY Studios crew will be working side-by-side with our artists to create all of the visual details that we’ll need to bring Class3 to life.

Read on for more details!

Veteran Game Industry Artists to Help Realize ‘Faded Americana’ Setting of Zombie-Survival Game

SEATTLE – 20 October 2011 – Undead Labs, developer of online world games for console gamers, announced today that it had selected FUTUREPOLY Studios to provide art production services for its original zombie-survival franchise codenamed ‘Class3‘. Located in Seattle, Washington, FUTUREPOLY Studios is the game-production division of FUTUREPOLY, a digital-art school focusing on advanced training for professional video-game artists.

“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to work with our friends and long-time colleagues at FUTUREPOLY on Class3,” said Jeff Strain, founder of Undead Labs. “Many of the Team Zed artists have worked with the founders and principal instructors at FUTUREPOLY for close to a decade, and these guys are among the most talented and experienced artists in the business. They’ll also be bringing their elite students onto the project, so we get a team of great artists, and they get the chance to work with a veteran development team on a kickass zombie-survival game.”

Led by well-known game industry artists Jason Stokes and Levi Hopkins, FUTUREPOLY Studios will be working closely with Undead Labs Art Director Doug Williams to realize the beautiful post-apocalyptic world of Class3. Defining an artistic style Doug describes as ‘Faded Americana,’ Class3 avoids traditional urban and exotic game settings, and instead returns players to the heart of the zombie-surivival genre: small-town America.

“FUTUREPOLY has enjoyed great success with its core mission of offering video-game-art development courses taught by experienced industry professionals,” said Jason Stokes, founder of FUTUREPOLY. “Our instructors are some of the best known and most highly regarded game artists in the industry, and our students are universally talented game artists looking for the edge they need to be even better. With the launch of FUTUREPOLY Studios, we’re bringing that talent and experience together to offer superior game-art production services, and we can’t think of a better inaugural project than the ambitious zombie-survival franchise under development at Undead Labs.”

About Undead Labs

Undead Labs is a game development studio dedicated to creating a new class of online world games for console gamers. Founded in 2009 by MMO industry veteran Jeff Strain, Undead Labs is a creative studio built around the most talented—and zombie loving—developers in the industry. Based in Seattle, Washington, the studio’s singular focus is creating the definitive zombie-survival franchise for console gamers. The company’s inaugural game, currently in development, is an open world zombie-survival game for Xbox LIVE Arcade, published by Microsoft Studios. For more information, visit undeadlabs.com.


FUTUREPOLY is a digital arts training studio specifically geared toward video game development. Sharing decades of professional experience, instructors offer a focused curriculum with an emphasis on real-world workflow solutions. FUTUREPOLY Studios is the game-production division of FUTUREPOLY, bringing together experienced industry game artists and selected students to provide game-art production services for top-tier video-games. For more information, visit futurepoly.com.

# # #


Jeff Strain (for Undead Labs)
Jason Stokes (for FUTUREPOLY)

Some information relates to pre-released product which may be substantially modified before it’s commercially released. Microsoft makes no warranties, express or implied, with respect to the information provided here.
Microsoft, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox LIVE, and the Xbox logos are trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies.
Undead Labs and the Undead Labs logo are trademarks of Undead Labs, LLC.
FUTUREPOLY, FUTUREPOLY Studios, and the FUTUREPOLY logo are trademarks of FUTUREPOLY, LLC.
All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.

News, Press, Studio Review 3

Jeff Chats With Gamasutra

Back in February, Jeff sat down with Mike Griffin from Gamasutra to discuss Class3. In this short interview, he fields questions about our technology, design choices, and more!

To read what he had to say, head over to the Gamasutra website!

PlanetXbox360 Interviews Emily

Last week, I sat down with Zach from PlanetXbox360.com to chat about Class3 and Class4. We covered topics like environments, how player choices will affect the world, the importance of player communities, and more. Head over to their website to check out the full interview!

News, Press, Studio Review 9

Ten Ton Hammer Chats With Jeff

Jeff recently sat down with Ten Ton Hammer to give some additional details on Class3 and Class4, explain what we mean when we say that we’re hoping to create a new genre of game, share his personal opinions on what excites him the most about our project, and more!

To read what he had to say, head over to the Ten Ton Hammer website!