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 #

08.22.14

Researcher

Subject

Events, Fans, News, Studio

Will We See You At PAX Prime?

PAX Prime is a special show for us. It’s the show where we first revealed State of Decay, AND it’s our “home” convention. You can in fact walk from the convention center where PAX is happening to our office, even if you should probably change out of formal shoes and into sneakers before you try it. Oh, well, live and learn. The point is, we love PAX Prime, and our absolute favorite part of it is meeting as many of you as possible.

And we have some one day passes to give away to make that happen, if you can get yourself to Seattle, courtesy of the gang at  Microsoft. Here are our plans for next week:

Thursday, August 28: Media event at the Lab. We’re going to be unveiling the next thing for State of Decay (but the news is embargoed until Friday morning), and doing a hands-on with our new game, Moonrise. We still have seats available for this event, but because we’re doing dinner and drinks for the attendees, there’s a limit. If you are a reporter and in town for PAX in time for this party, drop me a line! sanya at undeadlabs dot com

Friday, August 29: PAX opens! Come find us in TWO places:

State of Decay Fan Booth: N5. We’re behind the escalator in one of the fourth floor lobbies. We were there accidentally last year and loved being able to talk to you without screaming. We loved it so much we requested the spot for this year! Come and play State of Decay, meet the developers and the designers, get swag, buy Undead Labs or State of Decay gear if you’re so inclined, and participate in some fun contests (the hashtag is going to be #snacksofdecay). Look for the green and brown balloons.

Moonrise Booth: 6103. Walk into the sixth floor expo hall and look for the tower with the moon on it. What can I tell you, we try to make it easy. Ten minute time limit while there’s a line waiting, but if you make us your first stop, you’ll get plenty of time to be the first to play our lovely new RPG.

Saturday, August 30: J.L. Bourne, author of the Day By Day Armageddon series that so inspired us during the development of State of Decay, is now part of our team…and will be in the Undead Labs booth signing autographs and talking survival between 1 and 3 PM. That’s between 1300 and 1400 hours to some of you. Please come by and give JL a big Decayed welcome to the community.

Sunday, August 31: Our own Drew Hobson will be hanging out in the booth, telling stories and making us laugh, from 1 to 3 PM. For those of you new to the community, Drew was the voice of Marcus… and he also played a big role in one of our expansions. Come by and ask him which one it was.

Monday, September 1: Last day. We’re always a little bit burnt and a little bit punchy by the fourth day. This is the perfect time to ask us questions.

The only question now is… will you win one of these passes I have burning a hole in my pocket? I’ll do more contests on Monday (one on Facebook and one on our forum), but here’s the first one:

Share this post on Twitter, with the hashtag #UndeadLabsPaxPrime — and let me know what day you want to attend. I’ll pick one sharing and caring person at random on Sunday, 11 AM EDT/2 PM PDT. Annnnnnd…go.

 

 

Case #

08.7.14

Researcher

Subject

Events, Moonrise, News

Pinny Arcade, Now Featuring Moonrise Pin

If you’re into pin trading, you’re in good company…if you think of the Lab as good company. We were lucky to be included in Pinny Arcade for PAX Prime 2014 at the end of this month. Each player who does the Moonrise demo at our booth in the 6th floor hall (#6103, can’t miss us, you’ll see the giant tower labeled MOONRISE from the entrance), will get one of these nifty keen collectible pins:

I need a home.

I need a home.

I’ll have more information about the Undead Labs booth (#N5, fourth floor, behind the escalator) coming soon.

Case #

08.6.14

Researcher

Subject

Events, Fans, News, Studio

Are You a Superfan?

If you are Undead for life, we’d like to meet you. Without what we call our Superfans, we wouldn’t be where we are today. You don’t just like our links — you share them. You don’t just play our games — you tell people about them. You don’t just consume our games — you make them better with feedback and saves and constructive criticism. You don’t just hang out in our community — you’re the soul of it.

So, yeah. We want to shake your hand and thank you in person. Tragically, not everyone can get out to PAX Prime at the end of August, but we’re going to do what we can for two of you. How does plane fare, a hotel room, a PAX badge, and an invitation to our Thursday night media event (where we’ll unveil the latest news for State of Decay and go hands on with Moonrise) sound?

We’ll choose one Superfan based on their total participation and contribution to the community over a long period of time. (Being a Superfan is a whole lot more than your post count.) We’re going to ask you to choose one of your own in the Second State of Decay Superfan Contest.

Here’s how to enter:

Before 11:59 PM (23:59) PDT on Monday, August 11, 2014, you must make a post in the forum with two parts.

Part One: In one paragraph, tell us why you are a superfan. (For legal reasons, you must enter to be considered.)

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 fine print is all here.)

Prizes (2 total): One round-trip plane ticket to Seattle from the nearest major airport to your home, four nights in a Seattle hotel room, one badge admitting you to PAX, one admittance to our private media event on Thursday, August 28th, and dinner with Jeff Strain and J.L. Bourne on August 30th. (And whoever else can convince Jeff we should be included, COUGH COUGH AHEM.)

Yes. This is basically the coolest prize pack we could put together, and we only have two regrets. One, we could only two prize packs instead of fifty. And two… and this is the hardest one… for legal reasons, you must be a resident of the USA.

I know. It’s the worst. Someday we are going to have an Undead World Tour, and we’re going to do something to make it up to you guys who can’t enter this contest. This I swear.

But for all of you who ARE eligible, and are willing and able to hop a plane on the morning of Thursday, August 28? Get going! The comment thread IS the official contest thread, so just click the green tape.

Case #

08.4.14

Researcher

Subject

Moonrise, News, Press, Studio

Moonrise

Today it’s my great pleasure to announce our new game, Moonrise.

Moonrise is a multiplayer creature-collection RPG for mobile devices, conceived and developed here at the Lab and published by Kabam. It’s a fun romp through a gorgeous 3D world of ancient ruins and magical creatures, with deep, real-time strategic combat, full character and creature customization, and real-time online play with your friends.

You can read more about Moonrise and our partnership with Kabam in the Moonrise announcement press release, and at the game website at moonrise-game.com. We’ll also be showing the beta build of Moonrise off at PAX Prime in Seattle at the end of this month, so look for more information about the game and release details then.

Like everyone at the Lab, I’m intensely excited about Moonrise. It’s a game that embodies the same passion and spirit we poured into our first game, State of Decay. But alongside that excitement, I’m also very aware that this is a surprise to everyone who has been following the Lab for the last few years. What does it mean for us to be releasing a game that isn’t State of Decay?

First, our commitment to State of Decay is stronger than ever. Survival fantasy is in our DNA, and always will be. While I can’t talk specifics yet (and believe me when I tell you how hard that is), the long-term partnership with State of Decay publisher Microsoft we announced in January, and collaboration with author J.L. Bourne we announced last week, are all in service to something. Or perhaps I should say some things. And I think it’s safe to say those things will be exciting to State of Decay fans.

But those things — particularly when they’re big things — require time; for planning and design, for R&D and new technologies, for business and contract discussions, for new platforms to mature, and for a whole host of things that need to get done before you can unleash a full, chomping-at-the-bit game development team. So while the core State of Decay team continued to work on those things after the release of the game last summer, we built another team to take on a new project we’d been thinking about, which became Moonrise.

I’ve used the phrase ‘gaming omnivores’ to describe our personal gaming tastes at the Lab. You’ll find fans of every genre and platform here, and most of us love it all, provided it’s made with passion and respect for us as gamers. As game developers, we’re the same — omnivores. But just as we wanted to create a fresh take on the zombie genre with State of Decay, we wanted to create a fresh take on the creature RPG with Moonrise. As we’ll discuss in the coming weeks and months, Moonrise builds on the core foundation of collecting creature companions, with deeper team mechanics, real-time combat, a strong multiplayer core, and console-quality art and animation. And, of course, it’s playable on a device that most of us already have in our pockets or backpacks.

Moonrise is of course very different from State of Decay in many ways. It’s bright and colorful, it’s fantastical, and it’s on mobile. But despite those notable differences, you’ll also find that it’s very much an Undead Labs game, with a focus on systems-driven content, sophisticated progression mechanics, and a few bold design choices — such as strategic real-time combat — we think will result in a fresh gameplay experience. And, like every game we will ever make, Moonrise is a gamer-focused game, meaning it’s developed for people like us — passionate gamers who expect our time and money to be treated with respect. It’s also fully an Undead Labs game in terms of our complete commitment to the player community and long term support for the game. Moonrise is as much our baby as State of Decay, and babies needs lots of love and attention…

In my State of Decay: Year One anniversary post, I said:

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.

As we prepare to release Moonrise and continue development on the future of State of Decay, this is more true than ever. It’s been a pleasure building games for you so far, and I can’t wait to show you what we have in store for the future. On behalf of all of us at Undead Labs, thank you.

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 #

07.25.14

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!