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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.


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 #



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:


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.!





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

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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.


Case #




News, Studio, Team Zed

Anything That Needs Doing

I’ve always loved games.  I got my start playing Crystal Quest and Dark Castle on a Mac SE and never looked back.

I’d love to say that when I was 10, I wrote my first game in some ancient language that no one uses anymore, but the truth is that it didn’t even occur to me that I could make games until I was in high school.  Some other students and I had to petition the school to have a programming course. When the petition succeeded, we started learning “Turbo Pascal,” with which I made my first game.

Lewis It was a Bomberman clone, but since I was new at this, I didn’t have any idea how to process input.  My solution was simple: wait for someone to press a key, then perform that action and advance time by one frame.  This resulted in some interesting strategies; one player would place a bomb, and the other player would mash the keyboard as fast as they could, trying to advance time enough for the bomb to explode before the first player could move away.  In other words, I had created one of the most frantic turn-based games ever.  The game spread like wildfire. At one point the entire computer lab was filled with people playing this game.  The librarians in charge of the computer lab were less than impressed, and I was instructed to never distribute any of my programs ever again.

A short time later, I discovered a new local school that specialized in video game programming, or, as they called it at the time, “Real-Time Interactive Simulation”.  I applied and was accepted into the DigiPen Institute of Technology.  Diablo 2 came out about this time, and would vie with my classes for my attention over the next four years, but I managed to graduate.

I first met Jeff about 10 years ago, when he hired me for a programming position at ArenaNet.  At the time, I was fresh out of college and was willing to work on anything, so I started out sitting next to John Zipperer, fixing bugs in the sound code.  In the following years, I worked on everything from installers to CD-Keys to billing infrastructure to server administration.  At times, working on all of this critical-path code was terrifying, because no matter how much you test your code, you can never really be sure that there won’t be a bug that will break everything for everyone forever.  Luckily, that never happened to me, but it was an amazing learning experience.

When Jeff asked me if I wanted to work at Undead Labs, it was a no-brainer (did I mention I love puns?).  I was ready to work on something new and fresh, so I started a few weeks later, sitting next to John Zipperer, fixing bugs in the sound code.  Wait, what?  I thought this was supposed to be new!  Well, one of the neat things about a small studio is that you get to work on a wide variety of tasks.  Since then, I’ve worked on outposts, music, the world map, user interface, localization; pretty much anything that needed doing, and that’s what I love to do.  So whatever we are working on next, I’ll be there, getting my grubby programmer fingers into everything.


Check out Jeff’s introduction of Lewis, and then tell a Lewis joke on our forum by clicking the comment tape!

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News, Studio, Team Zed

Lewis Fixed It

One day, everything blew up.

This was back in 2007 or so. I was at ArenaNet at the time, and we had just published an live update for our big MMO Guild Wars. Something had gone wrong, and nobody could login to the game. Our community forums were exploding with angry players, our customer service team was calling us frantically wanting to know what they should tell people, the server programmers were snapping at anyone who even walked into their field of view (“If I knew what the frakking problem was don’t you think I would have told you by now?!”), and everyone was tense and worried.

Well, except for this one guy. We’d hired this kid out of DigiPen about a few years earlier, and he’d turned out to be a damn fine programmer. So much so that we now had him working on core server code, which is basically the lifeblood of any MMO. The Big Scary Stuff. Lewis was kind of quiet, had a terrible sense of humor (in the sense that he had a strong sense of humor, but loved bad puns and daily joke calendar kinds of things), was super smart, and completely unflappable. While everyone else was batting away the swarming management types, Lewis was quietly coding amidst the chaos.

I remember thinking, “Damn, doesn’t he realize what’s going on here? We have several hundred thousand players who can’t login right now, and he’s just sitting there coding without a care in the world.”

And then, without turning around, he simply says, “Fixed it.”

It took a few minutes for it to sink in, but yeah, he’d found the issue, fixed it, and published a build. Everyone was logging in and happily playing.

So this is the kind of guy you want on your side, whether you’re programming the zombie apocalypse, or actually trying to survive the zombie apocalypse. Calm, cool, competent, and, when called upon, a real ass kicker. Of course, the bad jokes would get him killed on the second day, but my god, how awesome would he be on the first day?

Lewis is a great addition to Team Zed, and he’ll be helping drive a lot of the awesomeness to come. Welcome aboard, Lewis!


“Did you hear about the kidnapping at school?”
“No! What happened?”
“He woke up.”

(Actual joke Lewis told me yesterday.)

Check out Lewis’s own article here:

Case #




News, Studio, Team Zed

Something Like That

If you’re reading this article, odds are you’re a State of Decay fan looking for news about your favorite new game.

You’d like to hear all about what’s coming in the months ahead — the sequels, the movies, the Rotting Meat™ Christmas toys (“Biologically Degradable! Easy to Wash Out! Not Safe for Eating!”), and the studio’s contract with the CDC (Center for Disease Control) to “flesh out” their guidelines for surviving a full-scale zombie apocalypse. All that stuff.

Yeah, this article isn’t going to be that much fun, sorry. The studio is contractually obligated not to talk about … anything interesting right now. So you’ll just have to read between the lines instead.

(cue blurry “back in time” effect with sound effects)

This simple game also had a profound impact on my life, though I was not to know it for a number of years.In 1972 a heretofore unknown company named Atari released Pong, the world’s first massively successful videogame. The launch of this digital tennis simulator spawned a multi-billion dollar industry and fundamentally changed the way people play games, incidentally helping to kick off the Silicon Valley technological revolution that has altered our lives so dramatically with the introduction of … smart phones and social networking. This simple game also had a profound impact on my life, though I was not to know it for a number of years.

In 1972 I was seven years old. Unfortunately, I lived in a small town so benighted that Pong didn’t land there until a couple of years later. Prior to that my friends and I used to bang rocks together, or something … it’s hard to remember back that far. Ahem. Anyway, when when Pong did arrive I distinctly remember playing it for the first time with my younger brother, Alex, in the Walgreens drugstore arcade.

I discovered that the Pong machine would reset when zapped with static electricity.Quite by chance, my brother and I discovered that the Pong machine would reset when zapped with static electricity, conveniently starting a new game without requiring a quarter. By scraping our feet on the carpet we could build up an electric charge, then tap the metal plate fronting the coin slot to “discharge” a free play. Since I was a wee pup at the time and had no ready (that is, legal) source of income this newfound knowledge was a boon. And as you might imagine, my brother and I played the game … a lot. In due course we both became obsessed with arcade games in general.

At age 10 I was (finally) able to my land my first job as a paperboy. Not everyone knows, but residential newspaper delivery is a contract position, and so not subject to minimum wage laws. You can bet that any contract between a multinational media corporation and a 10-year old kid is probably pretty likely to favor the one whose shareholders get to stay up past 9 o’clock at night, so it’s no surprise that I averaged only 82 cents an hour. But while that doesn’t seem so much, those were the halcyon days of the nineteen-seventies when the dollar was worth more than a gallon of gas, arcade games cost a quarter (I know, can you believe it?!?), and evil quarter-sucking videogames had not yet been invented (Dragon’s Lair didn’t hit until ’83), so with practice I could play for hours on a single quarter. Almost nightly I played in the arcades with my friends until there were just a few minutes left to race home on our bicycles and avoid curfew.

I eventually began a career developing multiplayer games. And more to the point, I will be exercising those skills again at Undead Labs.By this point you’re probably wondering what the point of this personal story might be. And as an aside, why is it posted here instead of on my infrequently updated personal blog? Well, unbeknownst to me at the time, my career track was set by my formative experiences with Pong and those many arcade games, as I eventually began a career developing multiplayer games. And more to the point, I will be exercising those skills again at Undead Labs.

My self-aggrandizing personal blog notwithstanding, I’ve always been uncomfortable in the spotlight of publicity — I just like making games. But Sanya said I have to talk about my professional background too. *sigh*

PatpicI’ve spent my career making multiplayer games. I did a nine-year stint at Blizzard as a lead programmer, game designer, producer and vice president, and was one of the leads on Warcraft I & II, Diablo I & II and StarCraft. I co-founded ArenaNet with a couple of buddies (Jeff Strain was one of ’em) and co-lead the development of Guild Wars, where I wrote most of the server backend. ArenaNet was acquired by NCsoft, so I ended up adding an additional year there at CTO of NCsoft West, where I helped publish (but not develop) Aion as well as relocate the headquarters to Seattle. And following that, I helped co-found En Masse Entertainment, a Seattle-based game publisher, to launch TERA; my contribution there was to oversee the design and development of the game publishing platform.

And so it is that here at Undead Labs, I am happy to be working with a great team of people I admire and respect.Incidentally, one thing that always burns me about interviews and articles about game development is that their authors have a tendency to glorify one or another individual. Apart from a very few indie titles and brilliant solo efforts like Another World, games are developed by teams. So while I contributed enormously to all of those games and projects, you should know that they each required the dedicated efforts of a team of people, many of them essential to the development process.

And so it is that here at Undead Labs, I am happy to be working with a great team of people I admire and respect. As it happens, more than half of them are folks I have worked with for many years on Guild Wars, so I know them quite well!

I guess maybe I’ll be working on something like that.So as per my instructions to introduce myself and provide some background, what else can I say? I can’t talk anything about what I’m working on here at Undead Labs … yet. … But … I specialize in developing really big multiplayer games. So I guess maybe I’ll be working on something like that, at least as soon as I get one of the cool lab coats everyone around here has.


Want to learn more about Pat? Check out Jeff’s introduction post.

Welcome Pat to the team by clicking the comment button!

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News, Studio, Team Zed

‘Bout Damn Time

“Did you write the code that spits out an empty page at the end of every print job?”

It was June 1996, and I was on a pay phone in the cafeteria at Hewlett-Packard interviewing for a job at Blizzard Entertainment. The guy on the other end of the line was Patrick Wyatt, their VP of R&D.

It wasn’t going well.

“Uh, no, I don’t think so. It probably…”

“Well, I think you probably did it because it makes HP a ton of money on paper sales. What do you know about device independent bitmaps? Are you familiar with CreateDIBSection()? What is the make and model of the video card in your gaming PC? What are the pros and cons of object oriented programming?”

Object oriented programming was still a pretty new concept at the time, and I had just finished a few training courses in it at HP, so I talked about that and my sweet new video card (a Diamond Stealth3D 2000 OMG 3D!) to try to cover for the fact that I had absolutely no clue what a DIB section was, much less how to create one.

Somehow, I got the job; and while getting to work on some of the definitive online games of that era was great, working alongside Patrick Wyatt on them was even better.

Patrick was a programmer and designer on Blizzard’s early console titles such as Rock & Roll Racing and The Lost Vikings. Great games, but ultimately mere warmups for his next efforts: Warcraft, Warcraft II, and StarCraft, for which he was the principal programmer and producer. As VP of R&D for Blizzard, Pat also made major contributions to Diablo and Blizzard’s gaming network.

Patrick left Blizzard in 2000 to co-found ArenaNet, where, in addition to his business, design, and production roles, he developed the core server and network platform technology for the hit MMO Guild Wars.

So yeah, the guy has some serious game development chops.

Prior to starting Undead Labs, I worked alongside Pat for almost 14 years. He’s been a tremendous mentor, colleague, and friend during that time, and we’ve made some damn fine games together. It’s true that he once called me at 5:00 AM because he hit the wrong speed-dial button when he was trying to get the surf report, but I forgave him when he took me to Carl’s Junior for a Western Bacon Cheeseburger while my wife was in labor with our first child.

Jeff and Pat living the healthy California lifestyle.

Jeff and Pat living the healthy California lifestyle, circa 1996

Today, I’m very happy to announce that Patrick has joined Undead Labs, and will be working shoulder-to-shoulder with Team Zed as we dive into the development of… well, what’s next, and beyond.

Patrick has written some thoughts on joining the Lab, which you can read here.

Welcome to the Lab, amigo. ‘Bout damn time.


PS: Patrick still insists I’m responsible for the extra blank page at the end of every print job. Of course, he’s also always insisted that every person has an NSA agent assigned to spy on them from birth, and it turns out he was right about that, so…

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News, Studio, Team Zed

The Lab Is Hiring

Please read the entire Jobs page, and its links, before diving for your resumè and your email. I don’t want to get all mushy or anything, but joining the Lab means becoming part of something incredible, a real team in every sense of the word. We’re in this for the long haul, together, and when it comes to new colleagues, we’re looking for both talent and temperament.

You can get a great sense of us, our sense of humor, and how we roll by carefully reading the descriptions. None of these are entry level positions.

Here are the four openings:

Animator. There are ten things we’re looking for. How many of them describe you?

Producer. “Undead Labs is built around a culture of pragmatism and strong production values, which allows us to build a smaller, elite team of veteran developers and take advantage of the high-caliber art and technology resources available around the world. But operating that way requires skilled and knowledgeable producers, and that’s where you come in.”

Programmer. A lot of programmer job descriptions say the company is looking for the best. We’re looking for people who can be the best at things no one’s ever done before.

Designer. High confidence, low ego, positive attitude, proven design skills, and a hardcore State of Decay player? Call us.

All right. Ready? Here we go:

I wish all of you who apply the best of luck. Being here is a dream come true.


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Breaking Records

Wow. I mean, well… wow.

Many of you have been reading the great reviews. IGN, Polygon,, and more. Major Nelson did a podcast from the Lab (SoD stuff begins at 18:30). I’m seeing tons of YouTube stuff, like this one from TheRadBrad. Sites that were covering us when we were just an idea had nice things to say, such as Bloody Disgusting. I’ve got literally dozens more reviews and YouTubes to sort and post. But we wanted to pause this frantic activity for a moment to share with you this interesting fact:

We have sold more than a quarter million copies since we released the game two days ago. State of Decay has smashed all kinds of records. The only game that ever sold more on XBLA this fast was Minecraft…an already hugely popular game.

There just aren’t the words to describe the feeling.

This was you. We did not have an ad budget. We didn’t have a physical copy to load onto shelves, no worldwide multimedia push, no studio reputation with millions of followers. All we had was what we believed was a great game and a great community. And make no mistake, a solid game is not enough, not in 2013. Plenty of great games wither away in obscurity. This train got rolling because you got out and pushed.

We are not just riding on this train, however! We’re never going to stop pushing to make the best games we can. If you’re wondering what we’re working on to make this game even better, please check out Jeff’s Title Update post. We’re also not going to leave you behind, Germany. You’re joining the ride soon. (And we haven’t forgotten you, Australia/New Zealand. Cross your fingers.) We don’t know exactly what the future holds, but we hope you’ll be there with us.

I mean, the next record to break is the all time XBLA sales record. Six million, I think. Who’s with us?

Case #



Superfan Celebration Contest

Are you a fan of Undead Labs and State of Decay?

If you’re reading this within a few minutes of it being posted, you probably are. You’ve read our design articles, you’ve followed us on Twitter and Facebook, you’ve lurked in our forums. Your comments and enthusiasm have gotten us almost to release, and soon, the game will be in your hands. We couldn’t have made it this far without you.

Some of you are a little bit…more. Around the Lab, we call you “superfans.” You don’t just read the articles, you share them. You don’t just lurk in the forums, you welcome newcomers. You ask thoughtful questions, and you spread the answers far and wide. You’ve jumped into our contests, written posts, emailed reporters, made videos, and turned this into the best game community in the world. You’ve inspired us to do our best every single day. So we want to celebrate you, by inviting you to celebrate with us on State of Decay’s release day.

(EDIT: Congratulations to our winners!)

We can’t fly all of you out to Seattle in order to say thank you, but we’ve wrangled the budget to fly three of you out to the Lab on release day.

We’ll choose one superfan based on their total participation and contribution to the community over the course of development. (It’s more than just post count, you know?) And we’re going to ask you to choose two of your own in the State of Decay Superfan Contest.

Here’s how to enter:

Before 11:59 PM (23:59) PDT on Monday, May 27, 2013, you must make a post in the forum with two parts.

Part One: In one paragraph, tell us why you are a superfan.

Part Two: In one paragraph, nominate another member of the community, either by forum handle or Facebook name, and tell us why he or she is a superfan.

The contest winners will be the two people most nominated by the community.

Here are the prizes:

Grand Prize (3 total): One round-trip plane ticket to Seattle from the nearest major airport to your home, one night in a Seattle hotel room, and one admittance to our private launch celebration. The date is not yet determined. Winners will be contacted with the possible options.

Honorable Mentions (20): Preview codes.

This breaks our hearts, but for legal reasons, we cannot award a grand prize to anyone who doesn’t live in the USA. Believe me, we tried. Winners who cannot collect a grand prize will definitely get hooked up with a code.

The fine print is here, if you’re curious.

That’s it, you guys. The comment thread attached to this post is the official contest thread. Go to it!