Case #

07.25.14

Researcher

Subject

News, Studio

What Do You See?

You are indeed seeing things. What you’re specifically seeing at the top of the website is our new logo (and some cleaner new fonts and other assorted tweaks). Just because you’re Undead for life doesn’t mean you don’t want to grow and improve, and what you’re seeing on this page is our sleeker, leaner, new logo for the Lab. We’ll be changing over Twitter and Facebook and the forums as our web team* gets around to them.

All of you with shirts featuring the old logo? You now own a collector’s item ;)

*The web team is still just Jeff. (And me, if he’s willing to trust me again after the regrettable LinkedIn avatar incident of 2012.) There are some things about the Lab that will never change.

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!

Case #

05.29.14

Researcher

Lifeline Release Time

We are ON for tomorrow, everybody! The cost is $6.99, or whatever the rough equivalent is in your local currency (the Xbox/Steam does the math, not me). Who will be joining us?!?

What time?

Very early in the morning, Pacific time.

But what EXACT time?

Okay, for Xbox players, it doesn’t work exactly like that. The process will begin at 2 AM PDT/5 AM EDT/10 AM GMT (and for my Australians, 5 PM WST and 7 PM EST). However, the exact time it hits your local marketplace will vary, because the files have to move from server to server all around the world. So it may not hit precisely on the hour. Try to be patient.

For Steam players, Microsoft is going to push the button at 10 AM PDT/1 PM EDT/6 PM GMT (Australians, that’ll be 1 AM Saturday WST and 3 AM Saturday EST). Again, it may take a bit for your personal computer to see it.

In the meantime, reviewers have been putting up streams and posts. Keep an eye on our Twitter feed. I’m sharing links as they come in: @undeadlabs is where the party is all day tomorrow!

Case #

05.26.14

Researcher

One Step Closer: Lifeline Trailer, Date, Price

Thanks to IGN for hosting! Head over to http://www.ign.com/videos/2014/05/26/state-of-decay-lifeline-dlc-trailer for the world debut of the trailer for State of Decay: Lifeline.

That’s right. May 30. $6.99. If all goes well this week, you’ll be playing Lifeline (and the accompanying free Title Update, featuring Rucks in Trucks) by this weekend. If all goes well, this may be the first time in gaming history that a game was released BEFORE the official public target. It’s a long story, best told over copious quantities of frosty beverages, but the short version is that both the Undead Labs team and the crew at Microsoft has been burning the midnight oil to make this happen before State of Decay celebrates its first birthday.

We are now in final certification. (If you’re really into learning How Things Work, check out this link from a year ago where we explain what that means.) If you believe that good wishes and good thoughts count for anything, please send some our way to help ensure we hit our target release date. As always, your support is everything to us.

Keep an eye on our Twitter feed, our Facebook page, or our forum, as we celebrate the launch with contests and games. (And if you’ve got a thriving website or YouTube channel, and you know you can get at least a “first look” review posted before the weekend, email me*!

Last but not least – join us for a live Twitch with Geoffrey, Brant, and introducing QA’s own ChrisP on Tuesday, where they will play Lifeline, answer questions, give away codes, and as always, die horribly because they’re squinting at the chat window instead of paying attention to the zombies. Our hosts, as always, are the Xbox gang (http://www.twitch.tv/xbox) and the party starts at 11 AM PDT/2 PM EDT/7 PM GMT. Hope to see you there!

We hope you enjoy the Lifeline trailer as much as we enjoyed pulling the footage for it. If you haven’t already, be sure to watch all the way to the very end.

BOOM**. See you in the comments.

*sanya at undeadlabs dot com
*No, we didn’t actually do that on purpose. Pure coincidence. Sometimes everything just…fires… on all cylinders, timing-wise, and we have to share the results with you. We’ve been dying to share that clip for WEEKS, seriously.

Case #

05.13.14

Researcher

Subject

Events, Fans, News

8-Bit Salute For Those Who Serve

This weekend, there’s going to be an event called “8-Bit Salute,” and we at the Lab are the proud sponsor of a team. (If you watched our live Twitch a couple weeks ago, you may have noticed the logo for this event as an easter egg in Lifeline.) The purpose of the Salute is to raise funds for Operation Supply Drop, a charity that gets games into the hands of those serving in the armed forces, either deployed or recovering from injuries in military hospitals. If you’re so inclined, I would be grateful if you joined our team.

Here is the link to the Undead team page: http://www.operationsupplydrop.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.team&teamID=5106

There are two ways to participate. One is to simply join our team and make a donation of any size. (If fifty players each donated two dollars, it would be 20% of our goal. It really is the thought that counts. Together, we can move mountains.)

The other is to join the team, and livestream State of Decay during the gameathon from your own Twitch channel. Send me the channel link ASAP, and I’ll promote your channels on our 8-Bit team page, as well as on Twitter and our forum. You ask your viewers to donate directly to you – your total contribution will count towards our total as long as you yourself are part of the Undead Labs team. (Edit to add: You can also join our team, and ask your friends and family to sponsor you during the gameathon – no livestream needed!)

Anyone contributing a hundred dollars or more to the team total will automatically get a Lifeline morale patch and two Lifeline codes (Steam or Xbox 360, your choice) on the day we launch. Yes, we’re still on track for early June, which is right around the corner! Either of those two codes could be given away during your live stream, as long as you warned your viewers that the prize would only happen if you hit the hundred dollar mark….

The person who contributes the most will get a special prize: A press copy of Lifeline. This Steam code will work before the game goes on sale, and you’ll get it the same day as our media friends get theirs. We’ll also throw in a State of Decay hat and that snazzy morale patch that was such a hit at PAX East.

Every single person who joins our team will be entered into a drawing to win a copy of Lifeline.

All the winners will be notified next week, but of course, the real winners are the men and women who will get cool games in their care packages thanks to this event!

Our friends on the official forum (and a few people who saw us at PAX) have already gotten us 31% of the way to our modest goal. I secretly hope we’re going to blow that goal away. Thanks for reading this post, and if you are able to participate, thank you for supporting our gamers in uniform.

Click the comment tape to go to the forum conversation already in progress!

 

 

Case #

05.7.14

Researcher

Subject

News, Q&A, State of Decay

Another Lifeline Q&A

After the fun-filled Twitch and the last design article, a few questions came up multiple times. We (me, Geoffrey, and Foge) knocked them out for you all, and the result is posted on the forum. Click the green comment tape to head over and take a look.

But before you go, you might enjoy seeing what the gun workshop looks like:

Here is where the magic happens.

Here is where the magic happens.

There will be another Twitch before the end of the month. And then it’s June! Time sure flies while you’re fixing bugs…