12.24.13
Fans, News, Wallpapers

A Gift That Won’t Die. Or Stay Dead.

What a year. I mean…well, what I’m trying to say is…it’s just that…what a year. Thank you all for your support, your suggestions, your bug reports, and your enthusiasm for what the future might bring. In that spirit, we have some wallpaper!

holiday2013_wallpaper800x600

 

6.5.13

Yep, it’s official.

Fullscreen: 800×600 | 1024×768 | 1280×960 | 1280×1024 | 1600×1200
Widescreen: 1280×720 | 1280×800 | 1440×900 | 1600×900 | 1680×1050 | 1920×1080 | 1920×1200

Walking In a Winter Wonderland

Ready to kick the year off? Here’s that second wallpaper we promised you, with a bit of wintry weather to it. It may be cold here in the northern hemisphere, but it would be a lot colder without electricity, so we’re counting our blessings. Just remember, after the outbreak, you can’t run a noisy-ass generator without attracting every zed in the area, so establish those defensible perimeters. And no matter how cold you get, huddling in your shelters, look on the bright side. At least you can still feel the cold, unlike this guy:

 

Hang onto your cold weather hats, everyone…because 2013 is going to be awesome.

12.24.12
Fans, News, Wallpapers

Ho, Ho, Hoaaauuuurgh!

I don’t know, what noise DOES a zombie Santa make? This guy knows when you’ve been sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows that people who barricade their doors and windows never remember to block off the chimney. From the mind of Art Director Doug and the hearts of all of us here at Undead Labs, here is a little gift of wallpaper for you.

 

 

Oh, and that’s not all. Check back with us on New Year’s Day for the second wallpaper.

Quick and Dirty Q&A

I wasn’t sure if we’d be able to turn around a Q&A with less than a day’s notice. My newly-acquired expertise in pit traps paid off, though, and I caught a dev. I gathered up a few of your questions and threw them down. He answered what he could, and he gets the ladder if you’re satisfied.

As I warned you, I ducked the release date questions like boneless cat doing the limbo. If I commit a date to print this early, I’Il jinx it. I won’t have that blood on my hands.

Speaking of blood, read on to see if I should fetch Producer Jess’s ladder, and let Jeff out of the pit.


How many zombies can the game engine produce without crashing?

The question is not how many zombies the game can produce without crashing; it’s how many zombies can the game produce without becoming an interactive slideshow. This is especially challenging in an open-world game, where you have a huge map (~8 km2 playable) with zeds everywhere.

We’ve had to write a substantial amount of technology to maintain a decent frame rate while still making you feel like the world is full of your undead fellow citizens. Some of it is simple tricks, and some if it is quite sophisticated engineering. For example, we spawn zombies as you get close, but we choose spawn locations carefully, e.g. behind buildings, fences, and trees. You never even see them spawning, and the illusion is that they were there the entire time.

…which allows them to chase you, fight you, bite you, pull you into little pieces and eat you, jump out a house window at you, rip off the door and pull you out of your truck…Moving up the complexity scale, we have several tiers of AI, since running AI is expensive. It takes surprisingly smart AI to make zombie behaviors that are believably dumb. Zombies you see in the distance are running a very simple, dumbed-down AI that allows them to path around and investigate sounds, and not much else. As they get closer their AI is replaced with more sophisticated AI that lets them investigate sounds or lights, or interact with the world markup such as climbing fences. Finally, as you get very close to them, we give them the most sophisticated AI, which allows them to chase you, fight you, bite you, pull you into little pieces and eat you, jump out a house window at you, rip off the door and pull you out of your truck… You get the idea. The code manages the transition between these AI states so you don’t perceive the difference.

So the answer to the question is that the world has literally thousands of zombies. That’s not to say you can be surrounded by a thousand zombies at a time, but if you do stupid things, like starting a car close to a horde, or breaking into a house by shattering the window, you can expect to have a few football teams worth of visitors heading your way.


When will there be more gameplay footage/spycam video?

We’re working on it. Now that we are heading into the final stages of production it’s a bit harder to get away with the spycam footage. That said, we’d love to share some official footage, so that’s the plan from here. Stay tuned.


How much progress (and in what areas) has happened since we last heard from you?

Our focus over the past few months has been to reach the alpha stage of production, which means the game is playable from beginning to end. It may not be bug free (well, it’s not even remotely bug free), and some parts of it are merely roughed in, but you can by-god sit down and play it all the way through. To be clear, there is still a ton of work to do: animation polish, combat polish, simulation system tuning and balancing, fleshing out the tech tree, performance improvements, UI refinement, voiceover (VO) production, story tweaks, and the massive, massive effort of bug fixing and balance tuning the whole parade. So, we still have a lot of work to do, but we might just see the finish line coming up over the horizon.


Will the game be available on the new Xbox 720?

The what? Anyway, nope. The Xbox 360 is the exclusive console platform for Class3.


What kind of weapons will we be able to make?

You can build items in your Workshop, and as you upgrade the Workshop to a Machine Shop or Munitions Shop you can build more sophisticated weapons, including firecrackers, grenades, firebombs (Molotov cocktails), and various types of land mines.


Will we be able to kludge together barricades/defenses out of found objects? How exactly do you barricade a building?

You can’t build from found objects. Certain structures are available to build when you’ve obtained the requisite materials and have enough labor supply (i.e. your fellow survivors) to build them.

You can barricade a building after establishing it as an outpost (meaning it is a regular source of supplies for your base), and then choosing which windows/doors you want to barricade. We’re nice, because we don’t make you find the wood. We’re mean, because hammering in those nails makes a lot of racket, and, as you can probably guess, zombies like a good racket.


Do loud noises attract zombies? Could you distract a zombie by throwing a rock near it and then killing it while its head was turned?

Zombies are attracted to all kinds of noises. You have to be careful when moving through the world, and constantly make the tradeoff between noise and efficiency. You can jump in that awesome muscle car to go investigate possible survivors at the Swine & Bovine restaurant, but be prepared to draw unwanted attention from the locals. You can speed up your search for medicine in that house across the street from your base, but if you go too fast you’re going to make noise and risk getting penned in. And yes, you can throw a string of firecrackers off the roof to draw every zed in town while you make your stealthy getaway down the ladder at the back of the building.

What’s the Swine & Bovine? You’ve never heard of it? Only the best family restaurant in Trumbull Valley, where both pig and cow are the specialty. For our fellow fans of never having to make the terrible choice between the two, here are some wallpapers from our art director Doug to celebrate your freedom.


Can you tell us about the different kinds of zombies?

Our goal is to create a believable zombie apocalypse, where the zombies are undead humans, rather than reskinned demons or horrific tentacle beasts. That’s not to say all zombies are the same, because the source of the zombie infection (which remains for you to discover) can have varying effects depending on the morphology of the victim. We do have both fast and slow zombies (we like our Dawn and our 28 too…), which makes for some interesting tactical situations. And yes, we do have those special zombies, the likely result of victims who had “special” characteristics in life, that will make your life even more of a living hell when you stumble across them. I’m not going to spoil the surprise with too many details, but I will tell you that the pretty guy to the right is one of them…


What do you think, will these tidbits tide you over the weekend? If not, I’m already collecting questions for next week, so feel free to leave yours in the comments. See you next week — it’s going to be a busy summer…

— Sanya

The Feasting

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving — the time when we look back at all the things that we’re grateful for in our lives and, of course, gorge ourselves on tasty, tasty brains turkey, stuffing, and all sorts of traditional holiday stuff (I want to eat ALL the sweet potatoes…). Since it’s also a time to be with friends and family, we’ll be closing down the Lab tomorrow and Friday, which means that we won’t be posting an article at the end of this week.

Don’t worry, though. Doug’s cooked up a new wallpaper to tide you over, and this one’s pretty freaking awesome. Read on to check it out.

 

Sweet! It’s about time turkeys got their revenge… ;)

Now, here’s a puzzler for you: If a turkey snacked on a zombie pilgrim, and you ate the turkey, would you become a zombie? Post a comment and let us know what you think!

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

Emily

PS: Don’t forget that it’s Black Friday this week, so keep an eye out for awesome game deals. If you’re going to be hibernating at home to avoid the crowds (and any potential zombies), I know that Amazon and Steam always have great discounts.

This Is Halloween

Halloween is finally here and, as you can probably guess, it’s our favorite holiday! People cruising around in sweet costumes, horror movie marathons on TV, carving pumpkins, stocking up on copious amounts of candy (mmm…peanut butter cups)…

Best time of year? Yeah, pretty much.

While we can’t be there to give you a hand with the zombie makeup you should be rocking this weekend, Doug did whip up a new wallpaper to help you get in the spirit. Check it out!



Enjoy, and have an awesome and safe Halloween weekend!

Emily

PS: If you end up dressing up like a zombie this weekend, we’d love to see your costume! Post a comment and show us what you came up with. :)

Wallpaper Extravaganza

We’ve been getting tons of requests for new wallpapers, so here’s a Friday present for you — four kick-ass concept papers from Doug! Today we’re offering a foreboding McMillanville sunset, the over-run city of Dunniway, a horde of moonlit zeds, and the trek of a lone survivor.

Read on to grab them and decorate your desktops, Labs style!

 

 

 

 

If you have a favorite concept that you’d like to see as a wallpaper, post a comment and let us know!

Enjoy, and have an awesome weekend! :)

Emily

PS: For those of you that ordered shirts, I’ve been told that our printer will be shipping them to us either today or Monday. As soon as they’re delivered, I’ll start packing them up and sending them out to you. Watch for my email — I’ll send one to each of you when your tee is in the mail.

From The Bottom Of Our Hearts

It’s Valentine’s Day! While we can’t send out wilted flowers to everyone or buy you all brain-shaped chocolates, we can give you some of Doug’s sweet art as a token of our infection.



<3
Team Zed

Of Ice And Snowmen

Happy holidays, everyone! It’s been an amazing year here at the Lab, and much of this stems from the love and support of our families, friends, and fans. To show our appreciation for the special folks that continue to cheer us on, we created a limited-edition set of 250 signed holiday cards.

Of course, Doug immediately jumped on creating some custom art for the cause. The rest of us expected a cool zombie Santa or something like that, but no…

He freaking nailed it in the most unexpectedly awesome way possible.

As a long time Calvin and Hobbes fan and childhood creator of multi-headed, partially dismembered, and otherwise monstrous snowmen, I especially loved where Doug went with the card. I talked to him about his inspiration, and it turns out that he was influenced by Calvin and Hobbes, too. With a huge grin, he admitted that he was practically Calvin growing up. His relatives would read the weekly strips and laugh about him pulling the same stunts. He also admitted to having a stuffed cougar named “Cougie”, who he carried around with him all the way from kindergarten to second grade.

For those of you who have already speculated about whether Calvin and Hobbes was an inspiration for Doug’s awesome holiday art, consider your suspicions confirmed.

While getting Doug’s cover art was a huge part of the process, there were a surprising number of other things that needed to be done before the cards were ready to mail off.

It was a team effort. Brant tackled the overall layout of the card, even taking the time to lovingly craft the blood splatters you see on the inside left panel. Our awesome office manager, Lisa, handled the logistics of printing and tracking addresses. All of us took about an hour to hand-sign all 250 cards. (I stole the red marker, mwahaha). Last but not least, each card was stuffed, stamped, and sealed by me, Jeff, and a special guest (hostage) who happened to be in the Lab that day — Mark Rahner, the creator and author of one of my favorite zombie comics, Rotten.

If you’re wondering about the sealing part, no, we didn’t lick them all. That would have been gross, and we couldn’t find any volunteers that wanted to get papercuts in their mouths.

Creating these cards was a lot of fun for us, and we’ve been really thrilled with how much you guys have enjoyed them.

While we would have loved to get physical cards out there for all of you, there was just no logistically sane way to do it. To show our sincere appreciation for everyone who follows us and continues to support our efforts, here’s a batch of wallpapers made from Doug’s kick ass snowmen. We hope that they’ll bring some cheer to your desktops over the holiday!



To give us a chance to spend time with our families, friends, critters, and the video games that love us, Jeff is closing the Lab until the new year. For those of you that camp the site, this means that it will be a little quiet around here until we get back.

On behalf of the entire team, I’d like to extend our wishes for a safe and secure holiday for you and yours.

Here’s to another amazing year, Zed Heads. We’ll see you in January!