Catch a Lifeline at PAX East

On Friday, April 11, at the Boston Convention Center, we’d like to see as many State of Decay players as possible…because it’ll be the first time players besides us get their hands on an alpha build of Lifeline. We’ll also be announcing the release date.

Boom.

BOOM.

BOOM.

The team at the show (which runs from the 11th through the 13th) consists of me, Jeff, Geoffrey, Chris, Brant, and Cale. For those of you new to Undead Labs (which includes Cale, actually), that translates as a ridiculous amount of fun.

I’m really sorry we had to bail on the live stream we were hoping to do before the show (and by the way, we’ve already rescheduled it for the end of the month). We’re still in the throes of bug testing, and we just ran out of time. We had to choose between making a build streamable, and making a build playable. We went with playable, because we always go with playable.

It’s not just an alpha build/first look at Lifeline. It’s not just the live action game we’ll be playing where survivors (of the demo) try to form survivor enclaves in order to win a copy of Lifeline. It’s not just the spectacle of our fearless leader and the DLC’s lead designer trying to outdo each other with entertaining presentations. It’s not even the morale patches we’ll be handing out. It’s the whole package. Please come and be a part of it at Booth 1039. Come down the right escalator, turn right at Twitch, and look for the sandbags.

See? Sandbags!

See? Sandbags!

* Do you write for a website? Podcast? Stream? Make cool YouTube videos? Email me – sanya at undeadlabs dot com – ASAP to get on our media schedule.

Click the green comment tape to leave questions for those of you who can make it, or to let me know to expect you!

Mini Lifeline Q&A

Things are really hopping around here, behind the scenes. Not only are we cranking on Things That Cannot Be Named as well as Lifeline (the next DLC, in case you’ve forgotten or missed one or the other design articles to date), but we also packed up all our earthly peripherals and set ourselves up in our new office. Apparently, artists and programmers don’t do their best work when they’re sitting on the floor under the microwave, so we had to move to bigger digs with enough desk space for everyone.

We put together a quick and dirty Q&A to answer your questions while we count down to the first live stream (second week in April!) and PAX (first hands on with our players!). Join us in the forum for the Q&A and the cake and pie party that will follow.

Duty Roster

GREYHOUND ONE

One of the interesting things about the military is the way it brings people together from every part of life, and puts them in the same boat (or tank, or helo, or humvee).

Greyhound One, the unit you control in State of Decay: Lifeline, includes a wide range of different characters with their own personalities and attitudes. Which ones will you try the hardest to keep alive?

Major Alicia Hawkes
Hawkes is the Marcus of State of Decay: Lifeline — the leader whose confidence and strength sees everyone else through the crisis, as long as she keeps breathing.Hawkes

Hawkes grew up all over the world, following her military father from one assignment to the next. She grew up with a passion for military service, and is a true believer in the Army, and in the values of a soldier.

She served multiple tours throughout the war in Afghanistan, before returning stateside as the war drew down. Her unit looks up to her with the kind of real respect that can only be earned by a good leader in the field.

Sergeant Kilohana “Kilo” Young
Kilo’s father is Korean and his mother is Hawaiian, so he considers himself the ultimate expression of the American dream — people from different cultures coming together to make something new.

KiloAs a child, he was a little hellion, but his parents helped him channel his energy into meditation and introspection, focusing him into the serene, compassionate man that you see today.

Kilo places a huge amount of value on his family — his parents, his grandparents, his cousins, and especially his wife and three daughters. His bunk is covered with pictures and letters and drawings, and though he doesn’t talk all that much, when he does, his favorite subject is his kids.

Kilo has served with Hawkes since she was a new lieutenant in Afghanistan, and they have come to really trust and understand each other.

Private Royell “Vince” Vincent
Vince joined the Army for a second chance. He completely bombed his way through high school — not because he couldn’t do the work, but because he couldn’t keep his mouth shut. He has a deep-rooted disregard for authority, and does and says pretty much whatever he wants, without anything like a filter.

VinceAnd so he joined the Army? Yeah, he’s starting to wonder about that, too.

But despite all the discipline problems, Vince has become sort of the voice of the unit, saying the things that everybody’s thinking, but that nobody else wants to speak out loud.

Kilo and Hawkes give him a hard time for his attitude, but they’ve learned that the same devil-may-care attitude that makes him a discipline problem also makes him a fearless warrior. They wouldn’t trade him for anyone else.

Sergeant Kelly “Sasquatch” Eldridge
SasquatchEldridge grew up in backwoods Kentucky, where he got tired of being smarter than all of his brothers. He went to a top university, graduated with honors, and then went into the only line of work he ever had any interest in — special operations, deep behind enemy lines.

As a hardcore operator, he’s been down range so long, he no longer fits into civilian life, or even regular Army life. He’s a new kind of beast, and he knows it. He has a level of comfort with danger and death that would make even most veterans shudder.

And now he’s very quickly become one of the military’s foremost experts on killing zombies…which means he’s stuck in this unit of grunts who have no idea what he’s seen, or what he’s capable of.

OTHER CHARACTERS

Lost Soldiers
Major Hawkes’s squad isn’t the only unit in the field. It is, however, the only unit that has survived this long intact. Throughout the operation, Greyhound One receives distress calls from stranded soldiers, giving them an opportunity to bolster their ranks with interesting new characters with their own unique backgrounds and talents.

Colonel Peel
Using the call sign “Doghouse Actual”, Colonel Peel commands this operation from behind a desk at HQ. It’s no cushy assignment, however — Hawkes can hear it in his voice. He’s cracking under the pressure as the zombie horde destroys every unit he sends into the city. At this point, Greyhound One may be his only hope.

Vienna Cho
ViennaNot every character in Lifeline is a soldier. Calling herself the last voice of Danforth, radio host Vienna Cho has taken to the airwaves, standing up for the civilians who are still hiding out in the city — left behind by the Army during its tactical retreat.

Vienna is no fan of the military. The time Hawkes spent on deployment, Vienna spent at anti-war rallies. But as sarcastic as she gets, what Vienna really values is people who put other people first. If you want to make a difference to the people of Danforth, and save as many as you can, then Vienna will be on your side.

TRUE COLORS

Remember that in State of Decay, the characters are only a starting point. We had fun deciding who they were before the outbreak — but during it, all bets are off. It’s up to you to pick up their story from here, and decide who they really are.

Comments? Click the green tape to join the discussion in our forum.

Rucks In Trucks. And Cars.

The second most requested feature for State of Decay has just been roughed out, and is now in testing. That’s right. One of the features of the fifth free Title Update (TU5) will allow you to toss a bag full of stuff into the back of your vehicle and drive it away. I spoke to Programmer Chris to get the details. (Our Steam players might recognize the name as one of the two people who did the PC version, but Chris works on all things State of Decay.) Here is the plan:

Chris says: “We have added a trunk interaction to the back of all vehicles. This means you can take your favorite car with you on a supply run and load it up before the long trek home. You have to be careful, however, as vehicles are vulnerable; our plan right now is that a destroyed vehicle takes with it everything that it was carrying. You can still interact with the inventories on vehicles that have been flipped – allowing you to rescue your precious resources before they go kaput. Finally, in lieu of having to ‘unload the groceries’ by making individual trips back and forth between the vehicle and community storage when you reach a base, you can instead drive the vehicle into a parking spot (indicated when you’re driving up) to automatically turn in rucksacks. All other inventory remains in the vehicle.”

Wait. What? “Other inventory”?

Basically, each vehicle now has an inventory with a limited number of slots, same as any container. A rucksack is considered one item and takes up one slot, even if that rucksack is full. If you drive a vehicle up to a parking spot, the rucks will be automatically unloaded, but anything NOT a rucksack will stay in the vehicle until you move it.

My hoarders reading this should not get too excited. There are some game limitations we’re dealing with, here, so you won’t be able to fill up every trunk in every car on the entire map. Chris says “there are a limited number of vehicles that you can maintain inventory in at a time.” We don’t yet know exactly how many loaded vehicles we can get away with, but we’ll let you know when we know.

We are still determining how many slots there will be in a vehicle, so I can’t answer that yet, either.

This feature will be free, of course, and appear in the original game, Breakdown, and Lifeline.

So…what do you think? Let us know in the comments…

In the Army Now

One major goal of our DLC is to explore new perspectives — to find interesting people in the world of State of Decay whose lives we haven’t experienced yet, and see what it’s like to face the crisis from where they stand.

This is what led us to create State of Decay: Lifeline — an expansion that explores the military side of the zombie apocalypse.

Taking Command
Few people have a greater opportunity to make life-altering choices than soldiers.In zombie fiction, the military is often the go-to badguy. They’re the hammer to which every problem is a nail, blindly mowing everything down to serve some unknown goal.

But this view is fairly one-sided and naïve. On the State of Decay team, we have a different perspective (some of us firsthand) — the military is made up of many good men and women who stand on the line that divides safety and civilization from chaos and war.

Few people have a greater opportunity to make life-altering choices than soldiers. They’ve played that role as side characters in the original State of Decay...but now we are adding a new story, in which you take on that responsibility yourself.

Losing Ground
At the height of the initial crisis, you still have support, but things are rapidly breaking down.You control Greyhound One — a small surviving unit that has been sent to the fallen city of Danforth to rescue scientists whose research is critical to fighting the outbreak.

This is at the height of the initial crisis. You still have a chain of command and access to off-map support, but the voices over the radio are making it clear that things are rapidly breaking down.

So what you end up with is the inverse of the usual progression. Instead of starting with nothing, and slowly building yourself up into a post-apocalyptic powerhouse, you start the game as a well-equipped, well-supported military unit, and then must learn to improvise as one resource after another is depleted…and isn’t coming back.

Holding the Line
You have defenses, artillery to call in, well-trained soldiers, and military-grade weaponry. But in the end, it’s down to fighting tooth versus blade.One of your first imperatives is to secure the Landing Zone where you can receive supply drops and extract civilians. This location becomes your base, which you must defend at all costs against the zombie horde.

Since this is a military story, we have the perfect opportunity to expand on the concept of defending that base. The people you are here to rescue are extremely important — and extremely tasty. If you let zombies overrun your gates, these helpless civilians will be among the first to feed the horde. Lose too many, and your mission is over.

You have minefields and defenses to build and upgrade. Off-map artillery to call in. Well-trained soldiers who will guard weak points and respond to zombie threats. A stock of military-grade weaponry to use from several commanding positions. But in the end, when the zeds get into the heart of your base, it’s down to fighting tooth versus blade.

Distributing Intel
In the coming weeks, we’re going to expand on more of these topics. We’ll introduce our all-new cast of characters, investigate our new military facilities and defenses, explore the map of Danforth, break down the military hardware…and add a few more surprises.

Leave a comment by clicking the green tape down and to the right, and tell us what you’re most excited to hear about!

Пережить Апокалипсис …по-русски

This announcement is for our Russian-speaking players on Steam, in case “Survive the Apocalypse…in Russian” written in Russian wasn’t clear. We wanted to let you know that a translation is in progress right now for the Steam version of State of Decay, and that you should have it sometime in the spring.

Because of the memory limits we’ve already hit on the Xbox, we can’t squeeze in the Cyrillic font set over there, so this will only be for PC players. That different alphabet is also why it will be spring before you’ll have it – the process is more complex than it is for languages that use the Roman alphabet.

But together with Microsoft we looked at where our players lived, we saw a lot of game reviews and watched a lot of YouTube videos in Russian, we listened to feedback (especially from our Steam community), and we think our Russian community is big enough that we really should offer the game in that language. The plan is to launch the original game and Breakdown in Russian at the same time, and going forward, future expansions will be translated at the same time as our other languages.

We are really looking forward to seeing what our Russian community will do. So, tell your friends to watch out for a real aпокалипсис coming this spring!

Throw Me a Lifeline

We are super excited to unveil the name and logo of our second expansion pack. It’s called “State of Decay: Lifeline.” Judging from the chatter on Twitter and Facebook, this may be relevant to your interests, as the saying goes.

No, there is no final release date. We are just now digging into the internal playtest process (which is how our favorite stalkers players on Steam found out about the title a couple of days ago – with PC testing, we are playing using Steam, so we can experience it the way you do). We’re not yet ready to discuss features or make promises. All we can tell you is that it will offer you a new way to play your favorite survival game, that we intend to launch on PC and the Xbox 360 at the same time, and that yes, it will broaden your horizons by a few kilometers.

Fine, I’ll say it straight up: There’s a new map, okay? ;)

We’re hard at work, though, and we’re close to having everything nailed down. Look for Geoffrey’s design article before the end of the month. Meanwhile, check out Lifeline’s snazzy new logo:

lifelineLogoFinal_WhiteLettering

If you love the idea of a new map, be sure to let us know in the comment thread!

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 Is Launched!

We’re out on both Steam and XBLA all over the world. We hope you enjoy playing it as much as we enjoyed designing and building it. We kept your thoughts and feedback in mind at all times, as you’ll see in every detail from making Shark Hoodie Guy into a playable Hero, to the fact that some of you thought cars made the game too easy (there’s a level JUST FOR YOU). There are the usual community easter eggs (hint: Shark Hoodie Guy can appear with one of several randomized names, and we brought the actress who voiced Lily back to the studio for…a few new lines).

We’d like to thank everyone who took the time to write a review. (The still-being-updated list is here.) I’m not going to lie, this was a really challenging time to launch an expansion. All we have is the support of the community, and you know, that’s all we need! Thanks for your support and encouragement.

We’ve already started on DLC2, and I think you’re going to love it.

We Breakdown Tomorrow, and That’s Awesome

I’m seeing lots of questions, so this is just a quick post to let you know what I know about the schedule.

XBLA: So, 10 AM PST (1 PM EST/6 PM GMT), our TU4 will go live. (The notes are here, if you’d like to peruse them.) Because the TU is necessary in order to make Breakdown work, it will need to spread across the servers all over the world. This will take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. When it is done, the DLC will become available. I can’t control the time your particular town will get access, and if the launch in June is any indication, you will be the ones telling me that it’s live!

Steam: We first need to put a small patch live. We’ve been working on it all day today. Good times. At some point tomorrow morning, someone at Valve will flip the switch and Breakdown will be available. If I get a time estimate between now and tomorrow morning, I’ll update this post.

If you could tweet your location and platform to me @undeadlabs when you’re looking at Breakdown’s title screen, that would be awesome. Or in the Facebook thread I post on the topic – and just a reminder, the ONLY official page on Facebook is http://www.facebook.com/undeadlabs. If Breakdown has been successfully downloaded, the original title screen will change to have logos for both State of Decay, and State of Decay: Breakdown.

See you tomorrow :)