Case #

10.2.14

Researcher

TWO. Million. Sold.

About this time last year, we had a million reasons to smile.

Now, we have two million reasons. That is, two million copies of the original State of Decay have been sold, between Steam and XBLA. We’re not even talking about DLC, here.

There just aren’t the right words to tell you how much this means to us. No marketing, no advertising, just you playing and streaming and spreading the word. You made this happen, and if we could individually thank each person who hit that download button, we would. Your enthusiasm and support have been everything. Thank you.

When we hit five hundred thousand copies sold (which was pretty remarkable for a zombie apocalypse simulator with a persistent world and permadeath), we celebrated by starting work on Breakdown. When we hit a million, we gave away some freebies.

Two million calls for a hell of a celebration. We’ve already announced everything we can when it comes to the future of State of Decay — and then some — so we’re going to kick off a month long celebration. Keep your eyes here, and on our social channels (@undeadlabs on Twitter, http://facebook.com/undeadlabs on Facebook – accept no substitutes!), for details. If you make videos or stream, be sure to come back later today!

You’re…you’re just the best. Thanks again.

Case #

09.19.14

Researcher

Memories of PAX Prime 2014

Has it really been three weeks since PAX ended? It seems like just yesterday Drew Hobson (the voice of Marcus) was cheerfully saying “niiiiiiiice” on request, and revealing his other role on State of Decay. J.L. Bourne was only a few hours ago signing autographs in our booth and telling stories during the Superfan prize dinner. I feel like we were just standing in a crowded room, telling people that as a matter of fact you’ll be able to play as Sasquatch in the Year One edition of State of Decay. And it sure feels like I was very recently sitting on a convention center floor scribbling notes, while over my head Jeff and Foge were designing a PVP tournament for Moonrise.

SuperfanDinner

Brant isn’t in the picture because he’s taking the picture, but what you’re seeing is the Superfan celebration. We are the luckiest game company on earth, I have to tell you. Our Superfans were supposed to be treated like royalty in return for all they’ve done…and instead they did more. They met us at the crack of dawn at the company HQ to load boxes. They helped set up the booth. And even though they had four day badges to see the show, every time I turned around one of them was doing a demo of the game for new players. (Our Negnar did step away from the Undead Labs area long enough to try out the new game, and he wrote up his experiences here.) I hope they had as much fun as we did. I mean, we are grateful to all of you for being part of the community, and meeting some of you in person is SUCH a thrill.

Niiiice

Speaking of meeting in person, here’s Drew! He signed shirts and hats and recited any line you wanted. “Niiiiiiiice” was a popular request. As befits a guy who is a professional DJ as well as a voice actor, Drew was the life of the party. It was great watching people come up to talk about the game, and then realize that “Marcus” was standing right there. What they didn’t know, and Drew was able to reveal, is that he’s also the voice of Sasquatch. Sasquatch, who will be a playable character sometime early next spring. We’ll be working with Drew until Hollywood comes calling for this guy.

JL signs for a player

Fans of J.L. Bourne (he whose novels were such an inspiration to us during the development of State of Decay), you will be glad to hear that he is EXACTLY the guy you want beside you if the apocalypse happens. He doesn’t just spin a pretty story. He thinks tactically at all times. It was an education watching him make plans and contingency plans, and more than once I got a little shiver and thought, boy, glad we’re on the same side. He’s also a hard worker, thoughtful, honest, and damned funny. We are so lucky to have him working on the future of the game. Wish I could talk about that future…

IMG_1761

In the immediate future of State of Decay, and what we can talk about, is the Year One Survival Edition, which I would really like everyone to abbreviate on Twitter as “YOSE” instead of the cringeworthy “YO.” Seriously, if you could please hook me up, I will pay you back at the first State of Decay live event. Drinks, swag, something. Okay, moving on. Although we weren’t ready to show it at PAX, we did talk about it at our press event the night before the show. Major Nelson made a horror movie about it. Gamespot saw it in person. So did Ten Ton Hammer. Some big sites wrote about it. And it wouldn’t have been a media event without some of the writers who’ve been there since the beginning.

Highlights include, but are not limited to: Remastered in 1080p. New mission type (“Cleo Drops” – military looking crates that contain rare and powerful goodies…but they seem to attract a hell of a lot of zombies). New playable Heroes from Lifeline — Hawkes, Kilo, Vance, and Sasquatch. New SUV, new weapons, new music. The facility goodies (snacks, ammo) from Lifeline will be retrofitted into the whole game. And to be honest, we’re not done.

YOSE will bundle all of the DLC into this package, to make THE definitive version of State of Decay. This generation of it, anyway. We’re still talking about ways to thank those of you who bought the original game but might want to upgrade, so, stay tuned.

Moonrise02

And of course, there was Moonrise. PAX was our first chance to see real players interacting with our alpha build. As you regulars know, our PAX booths are never staffed with temps or marketing people. Every demo is given by someone who is actively working on the game, and really, REALLY cares if you’re having a good time. So, this show was big for us.

IMG_1785

With fourteen demo stations, we figured the line would move so fast that there wouldn’t be a chance for much of a line to form. We were…pleasantly surprised. We were freaking delighted when one of the PAX people came over with a roll of tape to mark out where the overflow could go — around two sides of our booth! — without pissing off the fire marshal.

And then there was the line on the OTHER side of the booth for the tournament. After the show started, Jeff and Foge (the Design Director, BTW, you’ll be hearing more from him soon) looked at each other. They had a gleam in their respective eyes that I have learned means nothing but trouble. “Man, people don’t get to the PVP during the demo. That’s the best part,” one of them said. One thing led to another, until I was sitting on the floor of the booth taking notes while they worked out the rules. At the end I held out my notebook. Jeff took a picture of the page and disappeared. He came back a few hours later with two posters, four iPad Airs for prizes, and a few thousand postcards with the rules.

The tournament was EPIC. Nothing is more fun than PVP. Check out the pictures on the Moonrise Facebook page. And if you don’t believe it happened just the way I’ve described:

photo(12)

As usual with our games, Moonrise is damned hard to boil down to a simple slogan. Early next month we’ll start a series of design articles that will show you what all went into crafting this beauty, and I’ll post a more complete press roundup next week. This post is already crazy long, so in addition to Negnar’s post, for now you can start with MMORPG: “[C]heck out Moonrise, a real-time combat RPG that really made the obsessive compulsive gamer collector in me get excited.” And hey, why not GamersInBeta: “Besides the intuitive game play, what was most impressive about the title was how quickly you forgot about the medium you were playing on as you were so immersed in the story and action.”

If you want the news as it happens, be sure to follow us on our various social media things. We’re @undeadlabs on Twitter. We’re cleverly disguised over at Facebook. Although we don’t have the State of Decay tags on either Facebook or Twitter, we share the Moonrise tags with the people at Kabam: @moonrisemobile and http://facebook.com/moonrisemobile.

Please do keep track of us. We have something really neat to celebrate with you in the near future, and I don’t want you miss any of the fun.

Case #

08.29.14

Researcher

Subject

News, State of Decay

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.

First, we’re remastering the game in glorious 1080p, with sharper textures, a refined user interface, and more environment detail. We’re also taking advantage of the more powerful hardware by remastering and adding new environment effects, and increasing the fidelity and smoothness of character and zombie animations throughout the game. And along with these visual enhancements, we’ll ensure the game runs at a rock-solid frame rate and polish out a few glitches along the way.

Next, we’re creating some new content — not an entire DLC’s worth, but a few cool new mission types, new weapons, vehicles, and perhaps a hero or two. We’ll also be making some of your favorite characters from Lifeline (yes, Sasquatch) available as playable characters in Breakdown, and taking some of the new base options from Lifeline and making them available in Breakdown and the core State of Decay game. And then we’ll throw in half an hour of new music from State of Decay composer Jesper Kyd.

Finally, we’re bundling both Breakdown and Lifeline DLC releases into the game to create the ultimate State of Decay experience.

As of today we have the game up and running on Xbox One (and you may see some video of that coming out of our media announcement at the Lab last night, including this bit from Major Nelson), and it already looks fantastic, but we still have a long way to go to make the visual improvements worthy of Xbox One hardware. We’ll crank on that through the fall, and plan to release State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition, both digitally on Xbox One and PC/Steam, and at retail, in spring 2015.

For those of you who’ve played State of Decay, I know you’ll have lots of questions. Will my characters transfer over? What is the upgrade path for current players? Have the system specs for the PC changed? How much will it cost? I don’t have answers to these questions today, but rest assured we’re working on them, and I’ll let you know as soon as I can. What I can tell you is that we’re always aware the reason we have the opportunity to continue making State of Decay games is because of your support, and that will guide every decision we make.

This is the first of many planned next-gen steps for the State of Decay franchise. We’re working hard on Year One, but rest assured there are other, perhaps bigger, irons in the fire as well. I’ll let you know about those the moment I can say, “Hell yes!”

Jeff

Case #

07.29.14

Researcher

Indeed

Ten years ago, before zombies were legend, I sat down and began a journey that would eventually bring some of you with me down the long, post-apocalyptic road of armageddon.  Day by Day Armageddon, for some, was a brief escapist reprieve from a cubicle or other such devilry.  For others, it was the heart and soul of a lone survivor poured onto the pages of a ten dollar paperback.  For me, it was a humble contribution to a zeitgeist defining genre.

Fast forward to now, and we’ve seen the zombie genre explode into every medium you’ll pay money for.  As an ardent gamer since the days you needed a flathead screwdriver to connect your console to your TV, I’ve played my share of zombie games.  In all my years of blistered thumbs, I hadn’t run across a title that I thought did the genre justice—until a year ago.  I had recently transferred from an arduous tour of duty and had a little free time on my hands.  I decided to boot up my Xbox 360 to see what I’d been missing.  After an eon of system updates, I scanned the Xbox Marketplace and noticed a game titled State of Decay.

In the hours of gameplay that followed, I got that familiar feeling again.  The same feeling I’d felt ten years prior when beginning to construct the Day by Day Armageddon universe.  The game I had discovered a year ago was built from the same DNA that made Day by Day Armageddon possible.  You can’t fake heart, and that’s exactly what went into the making of State of Decay.  Hands down, it was the most addictive and fun zombie survival simulator I’d played.

A year went by before I stumbled across an Xbox Wire interview with Undead Labs Founder, Jeff Strain.  When I saw that Jeff mentioned my work as a small inspiration for State of Decay, I had to reach out.  After all, I love playing quality video games as much as I love writing about surviving a zombie apocalypse (hmmm?).

Three words started it all.

JLfromJeff

The next thing I knew I was in Seattle talking with a group of professionals that shared my love for cool stuff; it didn’t take long to feel right at home at Undead Labs.  I can’t go into specifics as to what I’m doing, but I can say that I’m excited to be a part of the future of State of Decay.  Check those rifles and food stores, but first…

Lock your doors,

J.L. Bourne

 

[For more background, check out Jeff's post about how we met J.L. located here.]

Please give J.L. a warm welcome over on our forum by clicking the green tape down and to the right.

Case #

07.29.14

Researcher

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.

And then it was time to build a studio that could make the ultimate zombie survival-fantasy game.

A few months later, Undead Labs was formed, and I found myself joyfully working with some of the most talented and passionate developers in the industry. As we started laying down the design for what would become State of Decay, numerous copies of Day by Day Armageddon (DbDA) were purchased and passed around. In those early days every developer on the game read the books. Of all the movies, books, comics, epic poems in iambic pentameter, and folk songs about zombies, DbDA stands apart in its contribution to our design and development culture.

Fast forward to January 2014. State of Decay is a huge success — thanks everyone! —  and we’re announcing a multi-year, multi-title relationship with Microsoft to build on State of Decay and take it to greater heights. (Yeah I know that’s vague… damn gag…) I did an interview for Xbox Wire, and while I couldn’t give them any details, we did talk about influences, and I mentioned DbDA and the strong impact it had on State of Decay.

I didn’t think much about it afterward, until a few weeks later when my phone chirped with a Twitter notification:

JLtoJeff

After I privately worked through my fanboy freakout, I contacted J.L., and we started talking. About zombies. About Day by Day Armageddon. About survival fantasy. About the future of State of Decay.

We flew him out to visit the studio, meet the team (including Brant, who is still working through his fanboy freakout, although not quite as privately), and talk some more. He liked what we had to say, and we liked what he had to say. There was a real meeting of the minds going on, and everyone could feel it.

So, we decided to work together.

I’m very excited to announce that J.L. Bourne will be collaborating with Undead Labs on the future of State of Decay. I can’t talk about any potential future titles right now (mmph mmmmmmph mmmph), but on the road we’re now traveling, we have the benefit of J.L.’s powerful narrative voice and intimate knowledge of the skills, tactics, weapons, and daily realities of the zombie apocalypse.

When we said the future of State of Decay is bright back in January, we meant it.

Welcome to State of Decay, J.L.!

Jeff

(OMG JL BOURNE!!!)

(sorry…)

 

[Read J.L.’s welcome to the State of Decay community here, and please welcome J.L. yourself by clicking on the comment tape.]

Case #

07.21.14

Researcher

Belated Title Update #6 Celebration on Twitch

What with one thing and another, we did not properly celebrate TU6, even though it was filled with great fixes that we knocked out thanks to lots of help from you. So, let’s rectify that, shall we? Join us tomorrow, Tuesday (July 22) at 2 PM EDT / 11 AM PDT / 6 PM GMT for the Twitch with the usual suspects for an hour of merriment and shenanigans. We’ll show off the changes, answer questions, and probably embarrass ourselves more than once. Our host will be our friend Alex at Xbox: http://www.twitch.tv/xbox

Tell your friends. We might throw down some prize codes, so if you haven’t been able to get your hands on Lifeline…be there!

Case #

06.18.14

Researcher

Subject

News, State of Decay

State of Decay Skin Pack For Minecraft

If your guess last week, in response to my teasing on Twitter and Facebook, was “totally a skin pack,” pat yourself on the back. State of Decay is featured in Skin Pack 6, coming “soon” (don’t worry, it really is soon, not gaming-industry soon) to Minecraft for Xbox. I don’t know the cost, myself. But I want it just because they went with SHARK HOODIE GUY as one of the five characters! Check out the screenshot after the jump.

MC_SkinPack6_Render_StateOfDecay

I’ll update this post as soon as the release date for this little treat is announced. If any of you get it and use it, be sure to tweet a picture to me :P

Case #

06.5.14

Researcher

State of Decay: Year One

Exactly one year ago today, one year ago from this very moment as I write this, I was in bed. Not sleeping — oh no, that wasn’t going to happen for at least a few more days — but finally, actually, truly in bed. After a final, all-in push to get things wrapped up, the hours were ticking down to the worldwide release of State of Decay, a game we’d been working on for two-and-a-half years; a game we’d poured our hearts and souls into, bled over, fought for, and pulled kicking and screaming into existence despite its design breaking almost every game design rule in the book.

On that Tuesday night, June 4, 2013, I was in bed waiting for Judgement Day. The game would start rolling out on the Xbox Life network at 2:00 AM local time. Scarier still, the review embargo lifted at midnight, so reviews could start hitting within the hour.

I, and my colleagues at Undead Labs, had no idea what was to happen over the next 24 hours. We knew we’d built something unique: a game that broke rules about permadeath, multiple avatars, and offline progression; a game that blended RPG, third-person action, and survival simulation in a manner that caused our publisher to scratch their head through most of its development (and kudos to them for standing by it). We were proud that we’d built something new, and grateful we’d had the opportunity to do so; but there’s a difference between being proud of what you make, and making something people actually want. We’d soon find out whether people wanted a zombie-survival simulation in which your starting character was very likely to die in the first hour of play. (Ah, Marcus, we loved you, man…)

I distracted myself for a few hours by watching Zombieland for the fifth or sixth time. Not really genre canon, but still a great movie. Zombieland came out in fall 2009, exactly 12 days before the foundation of Undead Labs. At that point the seeds of ‘Class3’, the codename for the game that became State of Decay, were well planted, but Zombieland focused on human relationships over a period of weeks and months, and really made me think about how survival is not just about food, water, and shelter (and bullets), but also about your emotional health. Having good friends may not be more important than avoiding being eaten, but it’s definitely up there somewhere around ‘sanitation’ and ‘tooth brushing’ on the long-term survival priority list.

Anyway, the movie ended, and midnight hit. Judgement Day was upon us. I waited. I felt like my whole life was on the line, and in some ways, it was. At about 12:15, Sanya sent an IM with a link, that simply read, “IGN review is in”. I stared at it for a long time. IGN is one of the big guns, and if their reviewer got his Marcus killed and rage quit an hour in, we’d be toast.

I finally mustered the courage to click the link, scroll to the bottom, and open my eyes.

8.9 — Great. “For many, State of the Decay is the zombie game they’ve always wanted.”

I couldn’t believe it. I read the entire article, and they loved what we loved. They understood how permadeath made your decisions meaningful, how playing multiple characters made your community your primary investment, and how other risky decisions were made in service to our goal of creating a true survival simulation. I was floating — although that was probably more from lack of sleep than anything, but the combination was awesome.

The next day was like a waking dream. The game rolled out across the world starting at 2:00 AM as planned, and by the time I went into the office at 6:00 AM, we’d surpassed 25,000 paid downloads. By noon we hit 50,000, by the start of our release party at 4:00 we’d passed 100,000, and by the end of the day we settled in at around 135,000. It was a record-breaking release (only Minecraft, a game with a huge existing fan base, had sold faster), and would set the pace for the 500K and 1M thresholds to come over the next few months. State of Decay went on to become the fastest selling original game in Xbox Live Arcade history, and is now among the top sellers of all time.

Over the next year we released numerous free updates and two DLC expansions to the game: State of Decay: Breakdown, which focuses on the simulation mechanics of the game to offer an ever increasing survival challenge, and the just-released State of Decay: Lifeline, which returns to the narrative focus of State of Decay and offers a new map, new mission types, and a whole new military-themed story to experience.

State of Decay continues to sell well a year after release, but we’re just getting started. In January we announced a multi-year, multi-title partnership with Microsoft Studios to continue development of the State of Decay franchise. State of Decay was a great first step, but our ambitions for where we take it from here are much higher, and Microsoft is ready to step up and work with us to make those ambitions a reality.

Those of you who have followed Undead Labs from our early days probably know where all this is going, and I won’t disappoint you. 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. Your Marcus died, but you didn’t rage quit (or if you did, you came back the next day after you cooled off), because you were willing to embrace a game with real consequences. You enabled us to take risks and push the boundaries of game design in the pursuit of new gameplay experiences.

More than merely being thankful to you for making State of Decay a success, I want you to know that it’s a genuine pleasure to make games for you guys. You’ve fueled us up over the past year, and now we’re off building the future of State of Decay…and we sure as hell don’t intend to let you down.

On behalf of the entire team at Undead Labs, thank you.

Jeff

Case #

06.2.14

Researcher

Photo Call – Will You Share Your Happy Milestones?

The one year anniversary of State of Decay is this Thursday. Can you believe it? All of us have come so far in the last year, one day and one step at a time. We would like to celebrate your milestones as well as our own. If you’d like to contribute something to a project I have in mind, please click the green tape and let me know!

Case #

05.30.14

Researcher

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!