Dead State - All News
Tuesday - March 11, 2014
Dead State - Early Access Preview @ IncGamers
IncGamers takes a look at the Early Access version of Dead State in a new preview.
There’s enough in Dead State’s Early Access demo build to give you a strong sense of the title DoubleBear is trying to create. Tactical, turn-based combat, party management and shelter organisation are all present (to an extent) to play around with. If you do plan to pick it up, be aware that you’ll have to deal with a fair few crashes, bugs and user interface quirks at the moment. It may take several months and a whole lot more updates before Dead State is fully re-animated, but the signs of a absorbing, traditional RPG are already there.
Friday - March 07, 2014
Dead State - Early Access Report @ PC Gamer
PC Gamer has posted a new article called the Early Access Report. In the report they talk about Dead State. Here is their opinion on the current state of the game.
You can see the bones poking through Dead State's flesh: escaping to the menu leaves you vulnerable to attack, there are buttons that don't work, it crashes, and turns can take a long time for the game to calculate even with relatively few people on screen. There are some UI elements that go without being explained, so it took me 30 minutes to figure out how to leave the school and go on a raid (there is a map button on the UI that only works if you're standing in the exit zone). But the biggest problem is brevity: this is an open-ended game and the demo has an end-point. I'm already convinced it'll be a good game when it's all completed, it needs more for me to recommend it to you if you want something to play now.
Wednesday - February 26, 2014
Dead State - Beta Preview @ PC Gamer
PC Gamer played the Beta of Dead State and shared their opinion in a new preview.
As it stands now, the $25 buy-in for the First Seven Days isn’t enough of a price cut (a $5 discount off of the final release) for a build of the game with a lot of problems left to fix. As much as I enjoyed the story Dead State starts to tell, the work-in-progress combat and game-ending bugs don’t deserve your money right now.
Tuesday - February 25, 2014
Dead State - Upcoming Beta Updates
DoubleBear Productions has a new update on Steam about the upcoming Beta Updates for for Dead State. Here are the details, and read the link for more of the list.
We at DoubleBear want to thank all who bought the Early Access version of Dead State for your support. It’s been a crazy week for us. While we haven’t been able to respond to everyone’s feedback, we want to let you know that we have been reading it and collecting info on issues you’ve been having. We’re working on fixes for some of the biggest technical issues and crash bugs and we hope to have a patch for those up soon.
We hope to expand the demo features over time, and we’re working on a few key additions to help flesh out the Early Access build.
Due to circumstances beyond our control, some of these updates may be slightly delayed. Three members of our team are in the Ukraine – if you’re not familiar with what’s happening there, please read up on the latest news. In the short-term, their schedules have been impacted by the events unfolding there right now, so please be patient with us. They are still working on the game, but sometimes they have bigger concerns to attend to. We have a pretty small team for an RPG (about 12 people!) so we definitely feel it any time a team member has to take time off for personal reasons.
If you have feedback or need help with the game, please feel free to stop by our forums and ask us there. We appreciate your thoughts and participation and we look forward to bringing you more updates and news about the final release in the future.
Sunday - February 16, 2014
Dead State - Kickstarter Updates# 39 & 40
DoubleBear Productions has two new updates about the Early Access of Dead State.
Update #39 - Codes Going Out - Check Spam Folders
Codes are on their way out starting right now. Please check your spam folder if the email doesn't appear in the next few hours.
If you have any problems after a day or so, please let us know - we'll get you a code. Sorry for the delay and remember to check the forum if you have questions or issues with the build. Remember it is Early Access, it helps us a lot to fix problems if you report bugs or other issues you are having.
Update #40 - Update on Commonly Asked Questions
As you can imagine, we've been a bit overwhelmed with messages here, email, on social media, and a post-it on my car. We're working as quickly as we can to resolve issues. Instead of emailing everyone individually, here's some common answers:
I did not receive a key
I know it's been said, but the majority of users had these go to spam folders. If you a spam/junk/trash folder, please check and re-check it. A large percentage of people didn't look there and found it when they did. Additionally - make sure the email account attached to KS is correct or that you're checking the right account.
It's not in my spam folder
Check every folder. If it's still not there, and you are a KS backer, message us here. If you're a pre-order backer, read on.
I backed at a level with multiple keys
We're taking care of these as quickly as we can too. We had to request additional keys.
I pre-ordered the game and have no key
Read carefully - I found out that I need to send these out manually, so please go to our forums and read the thread about BMT pre-orders and how to activate them. If you want a Steam key and pre-ordered, I can resend that info, but I need some info from you on the forum.
I have game feedback or technical issues.
Please don't leave it in the comments - we have a sub-forum devoted to the First Seven Days and many of the bugs, issues, or questions have received developer replies there. There is also a Known Issues thread with info on features that will be added during the Beta process.
We're incredibly in debt to all of you for getting this far, although there's only so many people we can get to at once given the size of our team. Hopefully, we'll have all these issues sorted out for you by the end of today, although it may take a few more days. Hang in there - we will sort this out!
Friday - February 14, 2014
Dead State - Post-Funding Update #38
DoubleBear Productions has finally released the Early Access demo of Dead State. They have information for bakers in a new update.
Dead State on Steam Today, Info About Codes
Dead State is going on Steam in a matter of minutes. We're going to be sending out the codes for KS backers and Pre-Orders as fast as we can. Email server limits and issues may prevent us from sending them all out at once, but we will process them until we're done. If you don't get a code right away, don't worry, it's coming. If a day or two passes and you still don't have a code, message us and we'll see what we can do. At this point, the team is pretty wrecked, very little sleep, two leads down from fevers, etc. We're hoping to make this as smooth as possible, so please be patient.
Thursday - February 13, 2014
Dead State - Early Access Update
DoubleBear Productions has a new update on Steam about the Early Access demo.
Many of you have astutely noticed that Dead State: The First Seven Days, our Early Access demo of Dead State, is slated to be released tomorrow. Right now, this is still our plan, although we may be forced to delay a day or two if any unforeseen obstacles arise. Either way, we want to clarify how we anticipate the launch process will work in advance of the demo release.
We have a large backlog of backers and pre-purchasers who are our first priority for generating and sending keys. We're going to do this as fast as we can, but we cannot guarantee everyone will get their copy right away tomorrow (especially since it can take up to a day to receive approval for a new batch of keys to be generated through Steamworks). Since this is our studio's first time ever releasing a game on Steam and generating/distributing keys, the process could be a little rocky. We really appreciate you all bearing with us while we get everything sorted out, and you give us through Friday to get keys out to everyone. If by Friday you still don't have a key and you haven't heard an update from us about our progress, then feel free to reach out to us here on the Steam group discussion board here or our own forums.
They also posted another update about the demo being delayed.
After another round of testing the Early Access build, we ran into one new crash that affected a frequent weapon effect in combat, and another that affected the attack menu GUI at a common resolution. We needed to fix these and re-test the build – that was done, and now the build needs to be packed up and uploaded to Steam. Then we need to test the Steam build from a fresh install and make sure there are no new issues from a clean install.
Unfortunately, this build probably won’t get up in time to be put up tonight.
But here’s the thing – we could have put the build up last week or even today. The reason we held off was to polish our work as much as possible and make the EA build feel like a complete game. Yes, it’s still an Early Access game, but we didn’t think crashes or other major progression issues would make for a good experience for our backers and everyone else who bought the game early.
Tomorrow, the game will be released. In the meantime, stop by our forums if you’re new to the game and need answers or check out the manual we posted here: http://www.deadstate.doublebearproductions.com/demo/manual.pdf
Sunday - February 09, 2014
Dead State - Post-Funding Update #37
DoubleBear Productions has posted a new post-funding update for Dead State about DRM-Free versions, and Steam.
DRM-Free and Steam Copies
This is important, so please read this if you do not want your copy of Dead State activated on Steam. The Early Access demo will activate on Steam and eventually become the full game, which for many backers, will be how the full game is delivered. Read carefully – everyone will get a Steam copy UNLESS you specify you don’t want a Steam copy.
The Early Access demo will ONLY be available through Steam. I’ll explain why at the end of this.
However, if you want a non-Steam version of the game, you will need to contact us here on Kickstarter. There are no current plans for the First Seven Days demo to be released separately from the Steam copy. If you backed us at the USB or box levels, you’re already getting a physical copy of the game without DRM and the Steam digital copy, so you’re covered either way.
I know there are many arguments about DRM and Steam, but here’s why we are distributing the Early Access demo through Steam.
Saturday - February 01, 2014
Dead State - Post-Funding Update #36
DoubleBear Productions has posted a new post-funding update for Dead State with more information about Early Access.
Early Access Demo News
A quick update – I know everyone wants this update to say “we’re launching today” but we had to put that off for another round of testing. We’re merging in our save/load system into the build to make it easier for players to get through the many hours of the demo, which will have the side benefit of making it easier to test for the team and some of our volunteers. We’re also adding in a few other items we’ve been working on, such as time of day lighting and turn order elements to the new combat GUI. If there are no issues with save/load, we’ll do one more round of progression testing to make sure there are no other showstoppers or outstanding issues, then we’ll package the Early Access build for release and work on getting it up to Steam.It won’t be too much longer of a wait (as I said last time, we were already saying early February was a possibility), and as always, we will let you know the minute we start sending codes to backers. Thanks for your continued patience.
Tuesday - January 28, 2014
Dead State - Early Access FAQ
DoubleBear Productions has an FAQ for the Early Access version of Dead State.
Dead State: The First Seven Days - Early Access Demo Coming Soon!
Dead State: The First Seven Days is an early preview of the first week of Dead State's gameplay - an opportunity to prepare your strategy for the full game. You'll meet some of your initial allies, explore a dozen or so locations, and settle into your base of operations, the Shelter. There are several solid hours of gameplay in the Early Access alone, and it barely scratches the surface of what the full game will provide.
1. Why is our game in Early Access?
We are releasing on early access to show our progress to Kickstarter backers/pre-order customers, as well as to bring the pre-release game to potential customers who supported us on Greenlight and have been asking us to bring a version of the game out on Steam. We would also like to get feedback on this earlier revision of the game so that we can improve the game for release.
2. How long do we plan to be in Early Access?
Our current goal is no more than 3-5 months, though we would like to release the final game as perfect and bug-free as possible.
3. What is the current state of the game?
The game is about to enter Beta internally, though we may decide to take extra time and revamp some of the current systems and assets.
4. What features are we planning to add to the game?
Right now, we're working on getting additional content/areas/art into the game, revamping some of the GUIs, and working on improving AI. The biggest missing features right now are Save/Load, final intros/endings, our final XP system, some skill/perk functionality, and animal NPCs, but these features along with many others are planned for future updates.
5. What is our pricing strategy during and after Early Access?
Early Access will be discounted to $24.99 until release, at which point the price will be $30.
6. How can the Steam Community help us during our development process?
We will be monitoring gameplay feedback from the Community, tracking technical issues, helping players with bugs/issues, and making sure players are kept informed about changes and release info.
Tuesday - January 21, 2014
Dead State - Post-Funding Update #35
DoubleBear Productions has posted a new post-funding update for Dead State with more information on the Early Access Demo.
Early Access Demo Progress Update
The demo will be going up on Steam Early Access – we’re shooting for the end of this month, though it may be delayed for any major bugs we find late in the process (so please don’t freak out if it doesn’t show up by Jan. 31st!) When the demo goes live, we will be sending access codes to our backers - we’ve got quite a few to process, so they may not all go out at the same time. The game will also be up for pre-order on Steam, which will also allow people who missed the Kickstarter to gain access to the demo as well. We will still be offering the DRM-free final release to backers, however the demo will only be on Steam for now.
We were shooting for mid-January for the demo, but due to some personal complications and the holidays, the demo was pushed back slightly – we apologize for the inconvenience and we want to make sure that everyone understands that we are doing our best to get the demo out as soon as we can. That said, here’s a summary of what you can expect in the First Seven Days demo:
- -6-10 hours of gameplay (especially long if you go everywhere/loot everything/talk to everyone)
- -Over a dozen locations, including areas never shown before, such as Downtown Splendid
- -One “hidden area” and two “conditional” allies
- -First looks at multiple weapons and armor
- -First look at the new and improved combat GUI
If you’re at all interested in game development, this is a chance to see the early stages of a final release and have a voice in the final product. We appreciate everyone’s continued patience and we will post on Kickstarter the minute the codes start going out. We’ll handle minor updates on the forums and look forward to seeing your feedback there. It’s already been a big year for Kickstarter-funded game releases, and we are extremely excited to be bringing you the full version of Dead State later this year.
Wednesday - December 04, 2013
Dead State - Post-Funding Update #34
Double Bear Productions has posted the next post-funding update for Dead State with a new video, and announces the game will be available on Steam Early Access.
Demo Video Update
A look at works in progress and some more information on the demo.
If you have any questions, let us know on the forums. We will have at least one more update before the demo is released, letting everyone know how to get access to it and about when it will be live. Thanks for your patience - it will be worth the wait!
Wednesday - October 30, 2013
Dead State - Post-Funding Update #33
Dead State has a new post-funding update available with info about a new enhanced demo for backers, and gives a progress report on the game.
As we end October, we close out on one of our most productive months yet.Most of our work this month moved us closer to both getting our game to Beta complete and polishing many of the game’s designs for the enhanced Demo that will be available to backers and pre-order customers in the near future (for the record, the demo will be an extended and more advanced version of the PAX demo). But before we can meet either milestone, levels need to be created, more dialogues need to be scripted/polished, and several GUIs and additional combat features need to be hooked up.
The next step for us is hammering on the content that will be featured in the demo and improving anything that won’t reflect the final quality of the game. Much of the work we’re doing now also folds into the Beta version, and indeed some of the work for November will be getting certain elements of the game up to Beta standards (like dialogue scripting and the Area Map Survival/random event functionality). To wrap up, I’d say we’re making good progress and even in a pre-Beta stage the game feels pretty good and very on target for what we promised for the Kickstarter. We can’t wait to get the demo out there for you. In the meantime, you can always reach us on the message boards. Also look for more frequent Radio posts (a new one went up this week). It's getting to be a very exciting time of development, so expect lots of new info in the next two months.
Sunday - September 15, 2013
Dead State - Post-Funding Update #32
Dead State has a new post-funding update wiith informaton from the Pax Prime game demo. They also announced that the game has been pushed back to 2014.
Since PAX was the first time many of us have ever been in the same room at the same time, we took the time to study playthroughs and take notes as a group. While most of us had already made a lot of notes on our demo build, having the chance to watch people play through the demo gave us a lot of insight into first-time player issues. We came away with about several emails worth of improvements for our interface, combat, and presentation, which will all be applied in the near future or during beta-testing. In all, the demo prepared us all for the work that needs to be done on the path to the Beta version of the game and will help us polish the gameplay in ways that should be immediate the next time we show off the build extensively.
If you missed out on coverage of Dead State on the showfloor, here’s a link to our segment on Twitch TV:
(Note: if the link doesn't bring you to our segment, cut and paste the link into your browser directly. We're at the 3h44m mark.)
We were also mentioned in PC Gamer’s post-PAX podcast (thanks to Evan and TJ for playing through the demo):
We had two other announcements at the show. First, Dead State will unfortunately slip into early 2014 so that we can take the time to polish up the experience as much as possible. As much as we would like to ship this year, delays sometimes happen with software development and we would rather launch as polished and bug free as is possible. We definitely want to deliver the game we promised, so we would rather take the extra time than cut content or features. You only launch once, so it’s best to get it right the first time.
However, for those that backed us and for those that pre-order, we will make an extended version of our PAX demo available to you later this year, which should give those of you itching to play the game a small bit of Dead State until the full game hits. We’ll have more on this later this year.
Friday - September 06, 2013
Dead State - Pax Demo YouTube Version
I have a Youtube version of the Pax Prime demo from twitch.tv. I know some of you had trouble with the last version. Thanks go to GhanBuriGhan for bringing it to my attention
For the full video please visit TwitchTV and hear about all the other great projects that were at PAX.
This video here was unceremoniously ripped out of a larger lifestream that you can find here:http://www.twitch.tv/twitch/b/455418215
Wednesday - September 04, 2013
Dead State - PAX Gameplay
Dead State was at the Indie Megabooth at Pax Prime, and you can watch them in this live demo on twitch.tv. You have to skip to 03:45:00 of the live presentaion.
Sunday - August 25, 2013
Dead State - New Screens and Info on Pax Demo
DoubleBear Productions has a new post-funding update showing new screenshots, and giving out more information about the Pax Demo.
With PAX only a week away (we will actually be on the show floor showing the game at this time next week, whoa!), we thought we should show you a few more screens from the demo.
Here’s what we’re showing off in the demo:
-The first 2 days of the game (with an abbreviated intro to get into the action faster)
-First look at the starter allies
-Dialogue reactivity to decisions, ally deaths, and ally requests
-The shelter and the shelter’s job board for assigning ally tasks
-Group combat, several weapons and armor types, statuses, and healing
-Zombies grapple, bite, and can takedown humans
-Allies/enemies killed by zombies will come back as a zombie
-A more dangerous group of human enemies
-Daily Results screen
-The Area Map
-Several combat areas
-New music tracks and sounds
Played through completely, it takes roughly thirty minutes to finish the demo, with several factors that can change the experience for each player. We’ll be there to give a brief tutorial and answer questions along the way. The demo is based on our Alpha build, and as a work in progress, you can expect some changes from now until release.
We’ve got DoubleBear pins to trade for evacuation notices (look for our personnel handing them out on the show floor), shirts for sale (including Friggin’ Chikin shirts), and for the first 100 or so people that play the demo per day, a special piece of swag.
Friday - August 16, 2013
Dead State - Post-Funding Update #30
If you remember DoubleBear Productions promised a special announcement and here it is. The new post-funding update talks about the game finally being shown to the public.
We can finally share a big announcement with everyone – we will be showing Dead State in the Indie Megabooth at PAX Prime this year! If you’re going to be at PAX on any of the four days this year, swing by the Indie Megabooth and come play a demo of Dead State.
We’ve been working hard all summer to add functionality to Dead State’s build and to get our demo ready for PAX. You’ll be able to see both the progress we’ve made and get a look at the WIP demo which showcases the first two days of Dead State. We can’t wait to show you what we’ve been up to. Swing by the booth and meet Annie, Christina, Oscar, or me, and we’ll give you a guided tour of the demo. Being a part of the Indie Megabooth has been a huge goal for us and we’re in good company – there are dozens of indie developers to come see in the booth this year (we will be just as excited to see their work as some of you will be to see Dead State.)
For those who can’t make it to PAX, fear not, as we will make sure that between press and our YouTube channel that you get a good look at the state of Dead State. Indie Megabooth and PAX coverage should start appearing around the end of August. Expect a lot more information about Dead State from now on. We’re really excited to be able to finally show off our progress on Dead State to the gaming community, so please look for us at PAX and keep watching our forums and Kickstarter for the latest info on Dead State!
Friday - July 05, 2013
Dead State - Post-Funding Update #29
Dead State has a new post-funding update available on Kickstarter. The topics cover the development of the zombie turn-based RPG, and tease a "big announcement incoming".
Apologies for the lack of a June update. Actually, if we seem to go dark for a while, it’s probably because we’ve got our heads down and noses precariously close to the grindstone. And that will be the case for most of the next month as well. Here’s an idea of some of the work being done in the game right now:
-Items and item functionality are being added all the time. Right now, our main focus for most of the art staff is adding armor models to the build, though there are now over 200+ items in the game including food, luxury items, weapons, accessories (legs and arms), helmets, armor, and medical items. 2D icons and models for all the items are nearing completion.
-Along with items, we now have attack animations for every class of weapons and their corresponding sound effects.
-Every ally and game faction NPC dialogue is at least at first pass. All “lore” entries (found on USB drives, cellphones, and hard drives) for the game are finished.
-The shelter is at alpha completion – that is, you can upgrade the rooms, heal characters, assign jobs, and manage resources. Groundwork for our daily summary screen, manufacturing, and event progression is being worked on at the moment.
-We’ve got multiple commercial and residential areas hooked up in game and many of our prop sets complete.
-As mentioned before, group combat is in and new attacks and status effects are being tested at the moment. Pathfinding and grappling are also being fine-tuned.
-Loot, containers, and loot distribution were given a first pass as they relate to general distribution in the game. We polished some of our shelter supply management mechanics and the way fresh food is stored and expires at the shelter.
Big announcement incoming – probably a very exciting one for a large number of you. Expect to see a whole lot of new game shots and footage in the near future. Thanks for your patience and keep watching the forum and the Kickstarter page for new announcements.
Friday - May 17, 2013
Dead State - Development Team Q&A Video
DoubleBear released a nine minute Q&A video for Dead State. Topics talk about zombies, drinking, parental concerns, and a whole lot more
Friday - April 19, 2013
Dead State - Update #27, Greenlight Success and Other News
Dead State has a new update on their kickstarter page.
Our video update is still coming at the end of the month, but I just wanted to announce that we have been Greenlit on Steam and can confirm our availability on the platform. We will still be offering DRM-free versions, but for those who want to activate on Steam, that option will now be available. Thanks again to everyone who voted for us!
Most of you have probably seen our combat video by now. This was an early build of our combat which has taught us a lot about what is working and what isn’t in the design. The biggest change that we have recently made is the following – you can now control your whole party in combat.
We did this for a few reasons, namely to eliminate the wait for the player’s turn and to cut down on the frustration the player might feel from an ally AI’s tactical decision. With party control, you can also switch to characters that have the skills you might immediately need, which comes in handy when you want your mechanically-inclined ally to lockpick a door or your medic to prioritize a certain character’s health.We’ve got a very early build that we’re fine-tuning, but expect to see more of full-party control in the future. We think it’s very much an improvement, and for fans of Jagged Alliance or X-Com, it’s going to offer a lot of the tactical options of those games. Our build is getting new features all the time, so we will demonstrate some of the new material when we have a more polished version of the new combat features.
Also, for anyone following us that did not get a chance to back us on Kickstarter, we now have a pre-order site up for the regular version of the game and the digital deluxe version with the digital soundtrack and digital version of “The Making of Dead State”.
Saturday - March 23, 2013
Dead State - Update #26, Greenlight
DB have Deadstate available for voting on Steam Greenlight, and pre-order digital copies of the game are available from their web-site.
Dead State is now on Steam Greenlight, which means that you can vote to see Dead State added to Steam when it is released. If you have a Steam account, all you need to do is go to the Community tab and enter the Greenlight section. The more people that vote for Dead State, the higher chance we have of getting approval to release on Steam, so don’t forget to tell your friends too.
Why would we like to be on Steam?
1. We will launch on Steam.
2. We will be able to provide Steam keys to activate Dead State on Steam to all backers who want them.
3. It's one of the largest distribution platforms and it would really help our game a lot.
Of course, we are still providing DRM-free copies for those who backed us, so don’t worry – we’re not going to force anyone to use a service exclusively.
For those who missed out on the Kickstarter but have still been following the progress of Dead State, we now have pre-orders available for our digital copies and digital deluxe copy (which is the game plus MP3s and digital “Making of Dead State” book). For more information, go to our Dead State website or click on this link for more details:
Friday - March 15, 2013
Dead State - Combat Video
Update 25 sees a WIP combat video for Dead State.
What you’re about to see is our work-in-progress combat demo. It shouldn’t be seen as a preview of a final game, but as a milestone that shows a lot of our basic systems coming online as a playable whole. There’s still a lot to create and balance, but the basics of the game that you helped fund is taking shape. Let’s take a first look:
Monday - January 14, 2013
Dead State - Update # 24 - January 2013 Update
DoubleBear Productions has written a 24th update for this game at its Kickstarter page.
They show some screenshots for this game as well as promise some new footage in the weeks to come. A quote about this:
In the next few weeks, we're going to try to show you all the first post-KS footage of the game so you can take a look at our combat, AI, and one of the near-final areas in the game. Keep watching our Facebook and Twitter for info on the video release, as well as for new developments here on Kickstarter. We're grateful to all of you for your continued support and enthusiasm for Dead State and we look forward to bringing you closer to the zombie apocalypse in 2013.
Wednesday - November 21, 2012
Dead State - November Update
November's Dead State update describes their current programming tasks, offers a new screen and tells of a new hire:
This month’s progress has mostly involved our programming, design, and art staff plugging away at a few ongoing large-scale tasks. Dialogues for most of the allies have been finished up to first draft standards, which is a lot of writing! We’ve also been finishing up system revisions and GUIs, with most of the GUIs for the game existing in their final form now. Our programmers have continued to add more and more functionality to our combat, loot, and equipment systems and revised numerous tools to help us more quickly construct and implement items. As we get more attack and death animations in place (we just upgraded our model rigs to allow them more range of movement), combat will start looking a lot more like it will in the final game. All the Kickstarter items have been fully designed and balanced against our other weapons.
Saturday - October 06, 2012
Dead State - October Update
DoubleBear has kicked up an October update for Dead State, including a new image. A snip:
It’s October, which marks the beginning of our third month since Dead State’s Kickstarter was successfully funded. Our team continues to turn out new content, GUIs, animations, and gameplay code. We’ve made significant improvements to the Shelter, including finishing all the upgrades, giving the constructed areas a “scavenged materials look”, and finishing off the basement and second level. [...]
Design continues to work primarily on dialogue. As stated before, there is not only a lot of dialogue, but complex dialogue that spans great lengths of time and decisions rather than the length of completing a quest. I thought it might be interesting to shed some light on our ally creation and dialogue writing process. It starts with Annie and I discussing concepts for characters in the shelter. Usually, everyone we add needs to create a potential conflict or interaction with one or more other characters in the shelter, plus bring a set of skills and personality traits that are not duplicated by another member of the group. We usually try to figure out if the character is going to be more useful in combat or out of combat, or if they unlock some other potential aspect of the shelter, like a new type of job or a prized skill (like a doctor). We also try to figure out if the character is traveling alone or with others – if they’re traveling with someone, it instantly creates an interesting narrative point, but that bond needs to be reinforced throughout the dialogue and even in the gameplay.
Wednesday - September 05, 2012
Dead State - Update #21
DoubleBear has kicked up a new Kickstarter update for Dead State. It's intended for backers only but here's a small-ish quote on the current status:
Work progresses on the game steadily. When I’m not wearing the production or business hats (or customer service hats), I’ve been writing dialogue for the game. I just finished another one of the sub-leader characters, and it was a hefty chunk of writing. Reacitivity and random events can really jack up the dialogue count easily. While it would be easier to scale back the number of interactions, I want to make sure the player has plenty of face time with each of the characters and some special situations that only show up under the right conditions. Most of these dialogues will be revised once we get them tested in the game, so the writing is never “done done” until the game’s out, and even then, it would be easy for us to send out an update to add some new events or even replies to provide some unanticipated options on replays. Being indie and funded by Kickstarter allows us to control our product after it goes out for as long as we want to keep on providing new content for it – thanks again for that opportunity!
We may keep our heads down for the next month, but don’t panic if you don’t hear anything from us for a while – it means we’re hard at work on Dead State. We’re still in the early post-funding stages, and we want to quickly get to the “showing off” stage of development. Until the next update, we’ll be here and on the message boards if you need to get a hold of us. Thanks for your continued support and enthusiasm.
Wednesday - August 15, 2012
Dead State - Interview @ The Critical Bit
Brian Mitsoda has been interviewed at The Critical Bit, discussing Dead State and previous projects:
Your own estimations have put a playthrough of Dead state at “50+ hours.” There must be a lot of dialogue and written descriptions. Tell me about the process of writing Dead State. What were you going for with this games story, and how hard has it been to achieve it? How does the writing in Dead State compare to the writing you’ve done for other games?
The process started with Annie and I figuring out the location, what would be possible mechanically, and the scope. With the limits defined, we started thinking inside that box and coming up with characters that would provide interesting reasons to keep them around and story hooks that would work alone or on top of other possible characters. Most of the writing was laid out before we started with the expectation that when you’re writing you’re going to improve, expand, or get rid of some of the pre-production outlines or come up with new and interesting story ideas for the characters. While we have a few similar scenarios for each character – like a random event where allies get sick – many of the situations for the allies are planned out depending on when they become available, who they know at the shelter, who they like/hate, and how much they respect the player. It’s some of the most complex dialogue I’ve ever written for a game, on par with the largest characters I’ve written in other games, but when the game is mostly about the characters, it’s necessary. I think we provide a lot of the story and emotional investment hooks, but it’s the player that will ultimately connect them and write their own story in the game.
Tuesday - August 14, 2012
Dead State - Update #20
Dead State has kicked up a new backers-only update, informing on the work they've done since their successful Kickstarter campaign. Aside from getting Kickstarter prizes under control, here's some of the work on the game itself:
Most of the work the team is doing right now is a continuation of tasks that we have been working on for the Kickstarter presentation. Design is continuing to work with art on new GUIs, writing continues to be a big part of the design schedule, programming is working on fully-implementing combat rules, and art continues to work on new props and level assets to allow us construct the many types of locations in the game. We’ll have a lot more to show off soon. We hope to start releasing video updates in the future to show off the game’s progress. We’re also going to be adding new team members as development continues, especially to help us with the additional content from the stretch goals. We’ve already brought on an additional programmer to help out with the workload. We’ve also looked into some interesting programs that will help speed up some our processes, especially on the animation side.
Wednesday - August 01, 2012
Dead State - Dev Answer Compilation
This isn't new as such but Dead State fan DrunkZombie has collected all the responses given by Brian Mitsoda on the forums over the years, which is an excellent resource if you want an answer to a question. Some of the answers go back a few years, so things may have changed.
Tuesday - July 10, 2012
Dead State - Update #18, What Comes Next?
A Dead State update has been released, offering a little post-funding house-keeping. A lengthy snip:
So, here we are, a few days later and the team has started to accept that we weren’t hallucinating – we actually made over $330k and we are now ramping up production. So, here’s the first of many post-fundraising updates.
First order of business – for the few of you who have pledges that have failed to process with Amazon, you only have about two days left to straighten these out. Failure to do so will result in your pledge being cancelled by Kickstarter, so if you want to make sure your pledge is received, you are urged to straighten this out as soon as possible. Only a few of you still aren't processed and Amazon should have contacted you, but double-check your payment status just in case.
Secondly, we are currently working on surveys to get out to you so that we can collect information for fulfilling rewards. We’ll send out an update when we send them out to remind you. Be sure to read and answer them thoroughly. For some info like mailing address (where applicable), be sure to keep us up to date on any changes. If you have questions about fulfillment or backer surveys, check out the Kickstarter FAQ. We should have the surveys sent out by the end of the week.
Some of you have asked if animals were unlocked for the project. Good news – they were! The reason the goal doesn’t say “reached” is because the $330k mark was reached so close to the end that the Kickstarter closed before we could alter the page and project creators can’t adjust text after the Kickstarter ends. So, every stretch goal EXCEPT the expansion was unlocked. Good job with that! And thanks again to everyone who made it happen right in the nick of time.
Thursday - July 05, 2012
Dead State - Update # 15, Update # 16, 300K Goal Reached
We've missed the last updates for Dead State, so they are here. Update # 15 covers this:
Link to the update: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/70755535/dead-state-the-zombie-survival-rpg/posts/260381
With 24 hours left, there’s a few things we can do to help reach $300k and beyond. A lot of that is going to depend on reaching new backers and reminding people that this is their last chance to pledge or upgrade their pledge.
As you can from their pledged data, they are a bit above the 300K mark now.
Probably because of update # 16 - link:
In fact, we're so close to both the City and animal stretch goals that if 2000 backers at the $15 level upgraded to the $30 tier (which includes the Radio content) then we would nearly have enough for animals, which would most likely still make it from new backers. The game, the Radio content, a soundtrack (or ally pack) AND expanded content for $30? If you're thinking about upgrading, time is running out!
Wednesday - July 04, 2012
Dead State - Update #14, New Tier
DoubleBear has added a new $21 Kickstarter reward tier for Dead State as the campaign passes another stretch goal level (now at $250k, only 47 hours to go):
We’re announcing a new tier – for $21 (a $6 upgrade from the basic tier) – we will give you access to developer updates and videos. Everyone above $21 already – don’t worry, you’re covered. What might you find in the developer updates?
- Exclusive first looks at game content
- Pieces of fiction from the game before release.
- Videos updates from the devs.
Monday - July 02, 2012
Dead State - Kickstarter Update
Brian and Annie Mitsoda have tossed up two Kickstarter updates to push the final outcome for their Dead State campaign. With only three days to go, they are currently sitting at $228k - well over the reserve but hoping for $360k to achieve all the stretch goals. If you've been thinking about contributing to this one, head over before time runs out.
Friday - June 29, 2012
Dead State - Ask Me Anything @ Reddit
Brian Mitsoda and Oscar Velzi have participated in a Reddit Ask Me Anything about Dead State. It's a hard format to quote but here we go:
-For the shelter, your upgrades make your life a bit easier. The fence needs to be maintained - humans and zombies will occasionally do damage to it. You can upgrade your fence and/or build a watchtower (and assign allies to it)to keep the damage to a minimum.
-Never played Fort Zombie.
-The map is kind of like Fallout. You go where you want or go out for supplies or for something an ally might need. For example, an ally might suggest they would feel safer if the fence was upgraded, so you have to find the supplies to do that OR you can just tell them it's not a priority and deal with any disappointment later. We really want it to be a combination of ally suggestion and player-driven objectives.
-Central Texas is laid out like Central Texas, not random. We have some random encounters and random events that will populate the map, but as in any real-world location, it's based on actual towns and areas. You do have to find these locations, so when you start the game, you've got an empty map except for Splendid (the fictional town where you start the game.)
Thursday - June 28, 2012
Dead State - Update #9, On Writing
One of the biggest components of Dead State is the writing. With dozens of characters, item descriptions, and loads of game text, there’s a lot to experience. We’ve got over 10,000 lines of branching dialogue – to give you some perspective, the average screenplay contains about 1000 lines of linear story. For our dialogue, we need to create reactivity for relationships with other allies, the character’s respect for the player, character mood, concerns for events happening in and out of the shelter, and personal requests. As you can imagine, this takes a bit of scripting and time to write, rewrite, and implement – and every ally in the shelter has dozens of nodes of reactivity, including some random events.
Another (optional) component of our game involves collecting data. Out in the world you’ll find phones, USBs, hard drives, and other devices that contain information on them. These will unlock blogs, emails, news reports, and even confidential information that will shed some light on what happened to the rest of the world before the game started. Some of this data is unlocked bit by bit, each segment revealing more of a person or group’s complete story. All told, there is almost an entire novel’s worth of stories and fiction in the game.
While we're talking about Kickstarter in some fashion or another, Indie Games Reviews sent in 10 Commandments For Indie Developers on Kickstarter:
“THOU SHALT HAVE ACTUAL GAME FOOTAGE”
How many Kickstarter projects have 2 unshaven guys talking about how cool their game idea is? Way too many. Unfortunately it’s a lot harder to executive a concept than it is to chat about it. Images and stills are just as bad. The hundreds of hours that go into modeling and engine creation show us, the consumer, that you have the knowledge and expertise to put your vision into action. DeviantArt is cool and all. but cool images and cheesy videos do not turn into games overnight.
Tuesday - June 26, 2012
Dead State - Update # 8, Interview @ Rampant Coyote
Another update for this game has hit the Kickstarter Page - the link:
The developers of Dead State will be doing a Q&A 'ask us anything' on Reddit on the 28th of June, this Thursday. Another update will be done tomorrow:
Also, DoubleBear will be doing a Reddit AMA this Thursday from 5-8 PDT. Come ask Project Lead Brian Mitsoda and Art Lead Oscar Velzi questions about Dead State, RPGs, indie development, Kickstarter, or whatever. We’ll be back with another update tomorrow and through the rest of the project. As always, feel free to send us questions here or on our forums. We've got a lot of stretch goals left, so any help you can provide to get extra eyes on the project is much appreciated. Some of you have gone above and beyond to spread the word and it shows in this week's numbers - thank you! Let’s make this the best week of funding yet!
Jay Barnson has interviewed Brian Mitsoda, the boss of DoubleBear Productions, the indie developer behind this game. The link: http://rampantgames.com/blog/?p=4534
A quote on how it is to be an indie gamedeveloper today:
Jay: How’s it like being an indie now? Care to contrast some of the major differences between some of your previous career efforts and your indie experiences with DoubleBear?
Brian: It’s liberating for sure, but it’s a lot of work and responsibility too. There’s no shortage of stuff to do and when no one else can take it on, it falls to me. I’m the business guy and producer, which is somewhat new, although I’ve done my fair share of scheduling and estimates at bigger companies. I’m the project lead, which is always a ton of work as most everything has to pass through my hands for stamp of approval. I’m the primary designer, although a lot of the basic design is done at this point. I’m the lead writer, and writing always takes time. And PR takes up a bunch of time. My lead programmer (Nick) and lead artist (Oscar)do help with most decisions and managing their departments, so that’s a huge help – there are some indies that do it all, and a couple of my hats off to those guys and girls.
Monday - June 25, 2012
Dead State - Update #7, Video Interview
There's a new Dead State update on Kickstarter ($177k / $150k) with artist Oscar Velzi fronting the camera to offer a message. From the accompanying text:
Over the weekend, you’ve really exploded support on Dead State, and we’re nearly at our first stretch goal – thank you! As you may know, stretch goals not only allow us to expand our team and add additional team members, but they are important to us in other ways, such as allowing a buffer for Kickstarter costs (5% to KS, 3-5% to Amazon), offsetting reward costs, and increasing padding in case backers’ payment info can’t be processed (happens more often than you think). We’ve made rapid progress in the last three days – let’s make the last ten days the best on the project!
Today, we’ve got a video message from our Lead Artist Oscar Velzi. Oscar has been on the project since the early stages of the game. He got his start in the modding scene, and has since worked on The Age of Decadence, another indie RPG. As often is the case on indie projects, Oscar works on multiple aspects of the game besides art and is a core member of the team. Here’s Oscar with a message for you and a first look at our work-in-progress hospital level.
Saturday - June 23, 2012
Dead State - Funding Successful, Stretch Goals Announced
I've been away on business for a week and have ton of emails and links to catch up on, so I'll stagger them over a few updates. As you probably noticed, we struggled a little with updates but a huge thanks to Gorath and Myrthos for their posts.
Dead State has passed their Kickstarter reserve, currently sitting on $152 of $150k. Now that thefunding is guaranteed, Brian Mitsoda has released further stretch goals. Here's a partial snip:
YOU DID IT! We have met our goal, and thus, Dead State will be a reality! From myself and the whole team – thank you!
However, it’s not over - we’ve still got almost two weeks left! That’s plenty of time to keep making Dead State even better. And here’s some additional content to shoot for – our stretch goals:
$180k – Weapon Pack
-10 Weapons + the top 3 most popular weapons picked in our forum poll.
This pack helps us bring on another one of our model artists full-time.
$210k – New areas (including the following)
This goal allows us to hire on a level artist full-time, which means more variety in areas, more props, additional map types, and more unique places to loot.
$240k – More varied attack animations, including more variety in specific weapon set special attacks and kills.
- Two New Allies! Two more warm bodies for your shelter.
- Two new upgrades for the shelter – the shooting range (makes allies better shots) and the gym (makes allies better at melee).
$260k - More cosmetic options for character creation.
-More zombie appearance variety (including an MMM, Bison! mascot)
– Post-release modifiers for fan requests like amount of food needed, effect of antibiotics, and ability to control allies.
This goal allows us to hire a character artist on full-time.
We also missed an update on the music - samples are included, so head over if you haven't already.
Hello present/future kickstarters! My name’s Leif Chappelle, and I have the pleasure of working with Brian and his talented team on Dead State. Specifically, on its music. I run a small (extremely small) studio (apartment) here in Seattle called Woodland Alien Music.
I’ve decided to take some time and answer a few questions about the music of Dead State, some of the initial thought processes that have gone into it so far, and where we’re planning on taking it in the future.
Thursday - June 21, 2012
Dead State - Interview @ PC Gamer
PC Gamer interviewed Brian Mitsoda on Dead State, talking about several aspects of the game, including their kickstarter adventure.
PC Gamer: Your Kickstarter campaign has been very successful. How does the reality compare to what you expected at the start?
Brian Mitsoda: We’re kind of following the normal Kickstarter trend right now. We started really big and that was really very exciting. It’s been kind of dropping off in the middle, which it generally does. The expectations are that we’re pretty sure we’re going to get funded. Our biggest goal right now is to hit the 150 mark which, if you’ve watched any of the other Kickstarters, a lot of times that’s when a bunch of other people will be like, “Oh, it’s funded. Let’s go fund that now.” And then, of course, you’ve got a huge push at the end generally.
Really, the hardest part for us has been that there’s been a bit of Kickstarter fatigue in the press lately. For a lot of press, they’re like, “Oh, yeah, Kickstarter. That was really big… back in April.”
The other thing that’s kind of worked against us is that we have zombies in our game. And I don’t know if you’re aware, but there are a lot of games that use zombies. And so we’ve kind of tried to deal with this problem of, “Oh, look, another zombie game!” And one of the things we’ve tried to get across to people and the press is that the zombies really are not the major focus of the game. It’s really just an excuse to have an interesting combat mechanic and explain why the whole world has fallen apart: “Well, the zombies have kind of pushed it in that direction, but let’s focus on the humans.”
Tuesday - June 19, 2012
Dead State - Interview @ IndieRPGs.com
Craig Stern from Sinister Design and IndieRPGs.com caught up with Brian Mitsoda to discuss Dead State:
You’ve spoken in interviews about some of the mechanics that will feature in combat: among them, the need to keep quiet to avoid attracting zombies, the need to stay out of zombies’ line of sight if they do show up, the need to deal with infections, and the fact that allies sometimes ignore your orders. On a more nuts-and-bolts level, however, how would you describe the combat system? Does it use action points? Initiative-based turn order? Are there targeted shots or manual weapon reloading?
Action points are for taking actions (weapons, thrown items, medical items, reload) and movement. Initiative is derived from the perception and then agility, with the player always having the advantage in a tie. There aren’t specific targeted shots, but there are special attacks and weapon modes that can be used to gain tactical advantage. Overall, we want to emphasize functionality over raw power/level advantage in combat. You can have a lot of points in a skill, but if you’re using a weapon purely to spam the basic attack, you’re probably not going to gain the upper hand. It takes delicate balance of squad weapons and armor to come out ahead.
Sunday - June 17, 2012
Dead State - Interview @ RPG Codex
RPG Codex caught up with Brian and Annie Mitsoda and also Oscar Velzi to talk about Dead State. Here's a snip:
You're using the same engine as Age of Decadence - does that make Dead State's combat very similar to AoD's? Are there any special actions you can take in combat? Or will we merely switch between two options, such as fast and aimed shots? Will there be different hit locations that you can aim for, possibly with local damage?
Oscar: The things they share are the grid system with the instructions for movement and the interaction with objects at a very basic programming level. The combat system itself is completely different, and built from the ground up for this game.
Brian: As Oscar said, aside from some skeletal turn-based mechanics we’re a completely different system. For one, we have noise as a big factor. Our combat is probably a bit quicker and maybe a bit forgiving in that we’re likely to give the player more of an advantage in large fights. We have allies and group orders, that’s a bit different too. All of our weapons have a different feel, so that each has their own drawbacks and strengths - a handgun might be weaker than a rifle, but its ammo is more plentiful, it’s not as loud, and it can easily be switched out to another 1-handed weapon. Melee weapons have much different collections of special attacks, giving them unique tactics in combat. Field medics can heal, and allies can be revived before they die if a medic can get to them in time. We’re also aiming to be a bit more frightening, as brought out in that moment when you enter a room to loot it and suddenly combat starts because you forgot to check the back room and now there’s a zombie chewing on your shoulder.
Wednesday - June 13, 2012
Dead State - Update #3: Physical Rewards and Additions
DoubleBear's Kickstarter for Dead State (currently $104k, 22 days to go) has a new update with two new physical reward tiers and other additions. A snip:
The “Save One for Yourself” Tier
A magnum bullet USB keychain that comes pre-loaded with the entire game.
(Note: The final appearance of this item may vary slightly from the example above.)
Includes a digital copy of the game (while you wait for delivery), a digital soundtrack, the digital book, special thanks in the credits, and a silver-level patron badge.
(Please add $10 for shipping to territories outside the US and Canada)
Saturday - June 09, 2012
Dead State - Kickstarter Passes 50%, First Stretch Goal
DoubleBear's Kickstarter for Dead State currently sits at $77k, a little over the halfway mark in a few days. A new update has been posted discussing the demand for some improved mid-level tiers and a physical box version, as well as the first stretch goal:
I should probably explain about weapons in our game. While we have quite a few weapons in the game, we believe in functionality over brute strength. There will be some upgrades to basic weapon types, but our weapons are designed with pros and cons that factor in their weight, damage, reload time and ammo scarcity, special abilities, and type of damage. Adding more weapons offers up a lot more strategic options for you and your party and even gives you some new special weapons to play with. Here’s a breakdown of our first stretch goal, the Weapon Pack:
-Tiller – A 2-handed spiky melee polearm that can cause bleeding.
-Kukri - A 1-handed melee knife that is great at causing limb damage.
-Crossbow - A 2-handed ranged weapon that is much quieter than guns.
-Flare Gun – A unique 1-handed ranged weapon that is guaranteed to set targets on fire.
-Bola – A special thrown weapon that stops targets in their tracks.
-Bottle of Acid – A special thrown weapon that burns and can cause panic - also it’s acid!
-Bowie Knife – A 1-handed melee knife capable of inflicting a lot of damage.
-Repeating Lever-Action Rifle – A 2-handed ranged weapon that’s all-around reliable.
-Antique Revolver – A 1-handed pistol that makes you feel like a cowboy.
-MSG-10 SMG – A 2-handed ranged weapon – unload responsibly.
But wait – there’s more! That’s right, we’re also posting a poll at our forums to vote on the last three weapons for the pack. That’s thirteen total weapons in the weapon pack! If that sounds like something you’d appreciate playing with in Dead State, consider throwing in a few extra bucks or even bump up you pledge to a higher tier. The money helps us bring another artist on full-time.
And how about this – if we make our stretch goal within five days, we’ll add the FOUR top weapons on our poll as a bonus. For our first stretch goal, let’s try to reach $180,000.
We appreciate your support and we hope that everyone can pitch in a little more to make the weapon selection in Dead State give you and your allies an even better chance. Thanks for your continued support!
Wednesday - June 06, 2012
Dead State - Interview @ Rock, Paper, Shotgun
Brian and Annie Mitsoda chat with Rock, Paper, Shotgun about Dead State and their Kickstarter:
RPS: You’ve talked about ‘crisis events’, such as running out of antibiotics. Are these things that emerge out of the simulation or do they occur randomly?
Brian: They occur when certain criteria are met, so in a sense, yes, they are something that is going to happen through gameplay choices. Running low on antibiotics or food will trigger that particular crisis event, which will give you the chance to make a decision that people will buy you some time or a heap of scorn, depending on how you sell it or how much political clout you have with your sub-leads. There are quite a few crisis event triggers and most of them mean making a major decision that will affect the shelter for a time or particular allies at the shelter. They are one of my favorite parts of the game and I think they’re one of the systems that makes Dead State unique. You can see a bit of one in our Kickstarter video for a basic idea of how they work.
RPS: Roughly, how much time is spent exploring compared to dealing with issues back at the shelter? Or will that vary depending on play style?
Brian: It depends on how many allies you have. I think the more you find, the harder the game gets and the more time you have to dedicate to breaking them in and satisfying them. You will probably have to go out and scavenge most days. And, naturally, we’ll make sure some trouble finds you if things are getting routine. We always, always want to make sure that you’re juggling a few problems all at once.
Dead State - Kickstarter Launched!
DoubleBear has launched the Kickstarter for Dead State - I know a lot of you have been waiting for this, so head over to pledge. They are looking for $150k over the next 29 days and hopefully some more exposure will get this this cooking (Brian, if you're reading this - make more noise).
The video shows quite a bit of gameplay and here is a core feature list:
-A PC RPG with stats, skills, and perks that make a huge difference on your character’s abilities.
-Dozens of characters with branching, reactive dialogue, and randomized events that unfold over months of in-game time – player decisions and the death of loved ones can change relationships drastically.
-Turn-based combat where line-of-sight and noise affect whether you are spotted or not, making for extremely tense encounters.
-Base-building mechanics featuring multiple upgrades, NPC jobs, and item manufacturing.
-Scavenging mechanics that require players to find supplies, weapons, armor, and other items to keep their allies fed and alive.
-A morale system that factors in player success/failure, allies’ faith in the player, and the overall strength of the shelter.
-Crisis Event dialogues that factor in political maneuvering and making difficult choices that affect your whole shelter.
-Reactive AI that responds realistically to combat situations, player commands, and the state of panic from the presence of zombies.
Wednesday - May 30, 2012
Dead State - Kickstarter Soon, Interview
The latest Dead State Design Update implies the Kickstarter is just days away:
We're gearing up to launch our Kickstarter very soon - I'll post a message on the board when we go live.
You can expect:
-An incredible trailer
-A Kickstarter video with new footage of the game (and me on camera, which is always terrifying)
-A look at our rewards that you helped shape
-Lots of updates and new press
Just a few more days without sleep and we'll be ready to go.
...and also points out a very short interview at PC Powerplay:
With Dead State at its current state in the development cycle, what would be most beneficial for you as developers from a successful Kickstarter campaign?
For us, it allows a lot of the team to quit their day jobs and dedicate all of their time to Dead State, which as you might imagine, gets the game done a lot faster. It also allows us to expand the team and bring on either long-time contributors or staff positions that are difficult to fill without full-time funding. And as I said, it rallies a lot of old and new fans around the project and channels that energy and enthusiasm into the momentum of the project.
Monday - May 21, 2012
Dead State - Official Teaser Trailer
Doublebear has released a teaser trailer for Dead State. Don't expect too much - but it feels like we're getting closer to that Kickstarter.
Tuesday - May 15, 2012
Dead State - Inventory GUI
Today's Dead State update offers a blurb and nice screen of the looting/inventory interface:
We’ve got a pretty simple layout for our inventory. The player’s inventory is on the left side, where the container or body is on the right side. The tabs at the top are toggles to quickly find items by category. You can sort through your entire inventory by advancing each page. Most supply items, thrown items, and ammo will stack. Selecting an item will show a description of the item in the 3x5 at the bottom of the screen.
Your carry weight is determined by your strength. On the whole, when you factor in the weight of your armor and weapons, your own inventory space may not be many pages long, especially if your character isn’t strong and likes to wear heavy armor and carry shields. Allies can hold excess inventory, which can be done in a trade interface outside of combat.
Additionally, we would like to tweak this inventory screen to be used for a barter interface, when we have the time. Essentially, NPCs that want a certain item will weigh that class of items higher than of an item they do not want or have too much of. Bartering isn’t common in Dead State, though you may find a few folks who will trade surplus supplies.
Tuesday - May 01, 2012
Dead State - Progress / Team Report
This week's Dead State Design Update introduces the team working on the game (beyond Brian and Annie) and offers a single new screen:
Just a quick update this week. We’re hard at work locking down and polishing what we want to show for the Kickstarter. We want to make sure we show as much of the Dead State experience that we can before we ask fans and gamers to pledge money to our game. To that end, we’ve actually been expanding our team. The GUIs you saw last week were done by Mazin, who also did the GUIs for Age of Decadence. We’ve also added a composer to the team whose work you will be hearing soon.
That brings our team size up to about ten people working on weekly tasks for the game – and that’s not counting semi-regular contributors on the art side. I see my name or Annie’s thrown around as the “people who are working on the game” so I think this week I’ll do a refresher on who else has been working on this game.
Oscar – Oscar is our Lead Artist. Oscar supervises all of the other art tasks, and is responsible for much of the art and level work in the game. He is pretty much the jack-of-all-trades on the project and assists in design and scripting tasks in addition to his art lead responsibilities. Oscar is also responsible for the art direction on Age of Decadence.
Nick – Nick is our Lead Programmer. Nick is responsible for engine modification, content tools and systems implementation, and pretty much anything that has to do with the code. Nick is building upon code he worked on for Age of Decadence, though Dead State has plenty of new features that have kept him busy.
Ivan – Ivan is our animator on Dead State. You’ll be seeing a lot more of his work when we show off footage of the game. Ivan also worked on the animations for Age of Decadence.
Kim – Kim is our portrait and 2D artist. She has done all of the portraits for Dead State and is working on multiple other 2D art tasks such as inventory icons.
Brandon – Brandon is another 2D artist specializing in logos. Any time you see a store logo (of which there are many in a modern day game), mascot, product billboard, or poster in the game, it was probably drawn by him.
Joao – Joao is a 3D artist who did all of the weapon models in the game and is currently working on level objects and level art.
Jason – Jason is another 3D artist and longtime contributor helping out with objects in the game.
Joey – Joey did the 3D models that you’ll see in the trailer and our screenshots.
Mazin – Mazin is our new GUI artist. He also worked on the Age of Decadence GUI.
Leif – Leif is our composer. You will hear his work in the trailer and some of our other promo material.
And that’s who is working on Dead State. Obviously, one reason we’re doing the Kickstarter is to compensate our team and allow them to devote all or most of their time to the project, which will allow us to plan around more rigid milestones. Many of our team members have been working on or contributing to the game for a while now. You’ll find most of them stopping by here on the boards, so feel free to give them a virtual thumbs up.
Head over to check out the new screen.
Wednesday - April 25, 2012
Dead State - Design Update: GUI Design
The latest Dead State Design Update gives us the first look at the interface and some insight into the design:
This week, it’s time to show off a little more of what’s going on in our game these days. Let’s take a look at the GUI… FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER!
But first, let’s examine the process of how we got there. Our GUI starts with design. Design outlines all the key features of the GUI, what’s going in which GUI, how important each feature is, what our art theme is going to be, and the layout. We then take all of that and we mockup a concept of the GUI, which is a very rough idea of what design needs before art makes its final suggestions.
The layout of your main GUI is of critical importance. A good GUI isn’t going to save a bad game, but a bad GUI can cripple a good game. The GUI needs to do the following:
-Draw attention to important information.
-Be laid out in a sensible way to allow players to jump in (*it helps if it borrows from other games in the genre for familiarity).
-Allow access to important actions and sub-menus without relying exclusively on hotkeys.
-Not be too noisy or take up too much screen real estate.
-Relay tactically sensitive information in an immediate and logical way.
-Have a consistent theme. [...]
Monday - April 23, 2012
Dead State - Q&A Thread
We posted last week about the Dead State Ask the Developers thread on the Iron Tower forums - of course, now there are a bunch of answers from Brian Mitsoda so head over and take a look. Here's a sample about their Kickstarter status:
Two Kickstarter-related questions:
Have you decided on your funding target for Kickstarter?
Yes, we have. It's reasonable without leaving us too little breathing room. We've also planned out budgets/teams for if we make 200% or 300% of our goal.QuoteWhat are your plans if the Kickstarter drive is a massive success, or conversely, if it is a massive failure?
If it's a massive success, we'll hire on more people to full-time contracts and expand the team. If it's a failure, it's likely we'll have to move to a different funding structure and the game will take longer.Also: have you decided upon a rough date to start the kickstarter?
Yup. We've got a schedule we're working on. We've done the budget, 99% certain on the tiers, and we know what we want to show off. We're finishing up a few tasks so we can cut the trailer and do other promotional material. When the whole team signs off on the trailer, we'll start doing a press push and launch the trailer and Kickstarter.And: if you get a higher amount of money from the kickstarter, will you reconsider adding cover mechanics?
I don't know if we can promise to add new systems at this point - it really does add more than you think. Maps, combat systems, animations all need to be tweaked to address one new system. If we get additional personnel because of better than expected funding, they're going to be working on polishing the game and finishing implementing the content faster.
Tuesday - April 17, 2012
Dead State - Ask the Developers
DoubleBear has kicked off an Ask the Developers thread on the Dead State forums, also telling us about the current rapid progress:
So, two things:
1. Sorry about the lack of an update last week. I was taken down by a nasty flu, so Annie was going to post for me, was taken down by the same nasty flu, and therefore I spent Monday trying to make up about three days of work.
2. We’re making great progress on our latest build and adding new art, dialogues, GUIs, music, and code practically daily. Our internal weekly team updates have been massive lately. We can’t wait to show you the progress when we finally debut our trailer.
Now, this week, I thought we’d open up the forum to questions for the developers. Since we have some new members to the forums and quite a few people are still wondering about our Kickstarter plans, we’re dedicating the update to answering your questions. Ask us about Dead State, Kickstarter, RPGs, making indie games – whatever you’ve been itching to ask the devs, we’re here to take your questions.
We have just a few simple rules:
1. It should be a question. I know that seems obvious, but it has to be said.
2. If you think it’s a suggestion, snarky comment, irrelevant to this thread, please don’t post it.
3. Please read the FAQ if you haven’t before – we answer a lot of basic questions in there.
4. If we don’t answer something, it was probably because of rule 2 or 3.
We’ll answer your questions up until next Monday, so if you don’t have one right now, you’ve got a whole week to come up with a good one.
So… who’s first?
Tuesday - April 03, 2012
Dead State - Shelter Upgrades First Look
As Dead State gears up for their Kickstarter effort, Brian Mitsoda has released screens and some details of the shelter upgrade system:
You’ll notice a few changes between the two sets of pics. In the first one, you’ll notice that the only protection the school has is a flimsy chain-link fence. This is going to prove to become a liability as zombies or other humans start showing up and trying to take it down to get inside (which is game over), so it would be in your best interest to upgrade it to the reinforced fence, which is shown in the bottom pic. The reinforced fence ups the amount of damage the fence can take before it needs to be repaired, which makes it less of a daily concern.
Tuesday - March 27, 2012
Dead State - Kickstarter Discussion Update
Annie Mitsoda has posted on the Dead State forums about the results from their call for Kickstarter feedback. Seems like the fan ideas generally made sense, so hopefully we're one step closer, though it looks like boxed copies are out, unfortunately. An excerpt:
Hey guys! Welcome to another exciting forum update, this time by Annie, the other designer on Dead State (SEE, I'M NOT DEAD). We wanted to let you know how much we appreciated your feedback and suggestions about Dead State's future Kickstarter, and wanted to update you on what ideas we'd collected from your input.
FIRST: what you want to see. We got basically:
- "Show us videos of the main systems of the game, with basic voiceover explaining what they are, what they do, and what role they play in the overall scheme of Dead State." WE CAN TOTALLY DO THIS AND IT IS A SOLID CALL. We're thinking a little chatter about the dialogue system, combat, the Shelter and its upgrades, and an example Crisis Event. Sound pretty solid?
- "Say a little more about yourselves as devs." This we'll do our best to put together. We'll try rustling up one of those video-camera things and making a short video about who we are, what Dead State is, and why we could use your help. We can't guarantee you the highest production values (thanks a lot for setting the bar so high, Double Fine! /shakesfist) (just kidding, I love those guys), or that it'll be hilarious, but it'll be honest and direct and will hopefully get across why we love Dead State, and why you should too.
Monday - March 19, 2012
Dead State - Considering Kickstarter
Brian Mitsoda has finally posted a new Dead State update, admitting they lost momentum for a while and asking for feedback as they consider a Kickstarter campaign:
Let’s backup to an internal conversation from a few months ago. Some of us were keeping an eye on this newfangled Kickstarter service that was featuring more and more interesting projects all the time. While there were a few games on there, nothing was really pulling in the money needed for an RPG with a 10+ person team. We were pretty sold on the possibilities, but ultimately it came down to whether or not we thought we had the game in a state where we’d be comfortable asking people to fund our continued development. The reality of the situation was that it was not quite where it needed to be yet, so we put those plans on hold.
Unfortunately, this kind of led to a period where everyone had to take on second jobs/contract work, which naturally resulted in less time being put into Dead State. And one of the worst things that can happen in a creative project is losing momentum, which is what we’ve spent the last few weeks gaining back. And in that time, there’s been kind of an explosion in the realm of crowdsourcing. There is now both an awareness and excitement over the possibilities, and some pretty big projects (way higher than our budget) getting funded through Kickstarter. I’m not so sure it’s “the future” yet and I expect Kickstarter fatigue to set in as every short-on-cash dev tries their luck at the crowdsourcing game. The last thing we want to do is look like a “me too” project trying to ride the gamer goldrush (dolla dolla bill, y’all!) – but I expect that there are going to be quite a few projects that have no such hang-ups.
I still don’t think we’re quite ready for a Kickstarter launch, but we’re starting to head in that direction. I think putting a bit of distance between any possible launch and the massive projects being funded right now is probably a smart move, though I’m not a bizdev guy, so who knows. While we toil away on the latest Dead State builds and features, I would like to open up the discussion to you, the potential supporter - let’s kickstart a Kickstarter discussion.
Tuesday - November 15, 2011
Dead State - Design Update: Brush Hook
About time we had a new weapons update for Dead State: welcome to the Brush Hook.
Tuesday - October 25, 2011
Dead State - Original Vision Fiction
This week's Dead State Design Update is a sample of the original background fiction for the game:
Woke up. Good, so far. Had that same hope for a few minutes, the one where I walk outside and hear the sounds of traffic and sprinklers and anything but that persistent wail. I remember breakfast at Pam’s for an instant, and then I realize that, even less than a week later, I’m beginning to forget the smaller details of her face.
Ever since Mr. Phillips died in his sleep, I lock my door at night. Can’t even walk in the hallway without carrying a tire iron – I like to call it my bathroom pass. When the toilets stop working, I think then, that’s when we’ll all really start to panic. Until then, the flush is like a hug from Mom. I’m so thankful that she died several years ago.
Friday - October 21, 2011
Dead State - Brian Mitsoda Interview @ grupo97
The Iron Tower forums are pointing out an interview with Brian Mitsoda at a site called grupo97. I've filed it under Dead State but the author is obviously a Vampire: Bloodlines fan because the questions keep coming back to it:
Your work in Vampire Bloodlines is, in my opinion, brilliant. Can we expect to see something similar to the Malkavian dialogues in Dead State?
Not really. Malkavian insanity was part of the game world – there’s not really an equivalent in Dead State. We’ll probably use extra lines to expand dialogue choices and reaction.
Isometric perspective, turn combats, morals, complex IA... We should be thankful that someone dares to engage in such a project. It seems that today only the first person is admitted, while the turn-based role games have almost disappeared, even though that system provided masterpieces like Fallout or Arcanum. Are we doomed to see how turn-based combats become a relic of the past?.
I don’t know if that’s the case. There are so many platforms out there and so many people making games. Isometric turn-based on PC has been lacking as of late, but I’ve played a few on consoles, like the Disgaea series. We went with isometric turn-based because we wanted to build a lot of different environments and maps (which takes much longer in third/first person) and we wanted the combat to be ruled by tactics rather than reflexes. I’ve said it before, but I think the tension in X-Com was a big influence on our game.
Tuesday - September 27, 2011
Dead State - Needs Help
Dead State wants you to join their team. Brian Mitosoda knows that there are a lot of people chomping at the bit to get their hands on this game (myself included) and so to accommodate those who can't wait he's asking for help. They're pretty much just asking for programmers. Here's the link to the thread and a snippet of what they need:
We’re not expecting full-time hours – attitude, efficiency, and reliability are key. We’re looking for team members that can complete tasks they’ve agreed to take on within a reasonable amount of time and communicate their progress to the leads. Professional discretion about your work is expected. Working well with the team is a must.
We are primarily looking for someone with game programming/scripting background. Knowledge of Torque 3D and TorqueScript is highly preferable. You will be working with the Lead Programmer and Project Lead on most of your tasks.
Tools Programmer - Developing tools to make implementation of content easier. GUI work a big plus.
Examples of tool duties:
-Loot Container tool
-Art implementation and lighting tools
Scripting Programmer - The scripting programmer uses the engine's scripting language to create scripts for dialogue (a lot of these), for events/event triggers, time passage, tracking stats, and bark text.
Examples of Scripting:
-Global dialogue flags
-Quest update triggers
If you’re interested in working with us or contributing, please send your qualifications, links to your work, an introduction, and any questions you may have to:
Thanks, Lemonhead for posting this in the forums.
Wednesday - September 21, 2011
Dead State - Interview @ Nightmare Mode
We missed this interview a couple of weeks ago and, I'm guessing, most of you did too. Brian Mitsoda chats about DoubleBear's zombie CRPG, Dead State, with Nightmare Mode:
Will the game feature a mission/quest system that the players can undertake or are the players completely on their own in that matter? Will there be major fixed story events that the player must respond to?
There are multiple ways of finding objectives – finding and exploring a building, dealing with threats to the shelter, scavenging large quantities of supplies, meeting new allies, etc. Allies are helpful for guiding players to new places, but they aren’t necessarily like traditional quest givers. You may want to help them out in a reasonable amount of time to keep their morale from dropping, but you won’t get skill points from merely doing a quest, as any ally can die at any time. Story events aren’t necessarily going to happen at the same time or at all for every player, as they are based on personal conflicts, ally death, shortages of supplies, and interactions with other groups. There’s a lot of ways each player’s story can branch, even right from the beginning.
During combat, the players will only be able to issue commands to the NPCs, not take direct control. But how much control can the players assert on the survivors in the Shelter?
In the shelter, the player can assign their allies to jobs, such as crafting new items or guard duty or even just cleaning up the place. Each job has different results – construction of new rooms for the shelter, morale boosts, food production, etc. The player can also assign wounded allies to the infirmary (if the shelter has one) to heal up faster. In addition, the player can strike up conversations with allies while walking around the shelter. Almost every day the player might have requests from allies, or be pulled into an argument, or may just have to deal with someone who is sick or depressed. Micro-managing your personnel and assets is a big deal in the game.
Wednesday - August 03, 2011
Dead State - The Release Date Question
Brian Mitsoda posts about the release date question for Dead State - no actual answers are supplied but Brian essentially explains game development is long and hard. A snip:
We’ve been getting the “when is the game being released?” question a lot on the forums, email, and Facebook. We’ve answered this multiple times in the forum, it’s in the FAQ, and we’ve declared it in interviews, but we’re still getting this question a lot. And in many ways, that’s great, people are enthusiastic – we’re glad there’s a lot of interest. But let me explain the realities and responsibility of independent development a little bit better so that everyone understands why we don’t have a release date. (Note: this is going to be redundant for a lot of forum regulars.)
1. Games (especially with a small team and limited funding) take a long time to make. Especially RPGs.
2. Not everything that goes into a game can be shown off in pictures and video. Posting Nick's code or my design mockups or a door Oscar just modeled isn't going to really excite you much. You want to see what looks like a game, and not everything we're working on is exciting. Believe it or not, many studios spend godawful amounts of time on work that will be mostly thrown out so that they have a facade that looks good for demos but isn't really a real game.
Wednesday - July 13, 2011
Dead State - Designing for the Modern World
In the latest Dead State update, Brian Mitsoda writes about creating all the visual pollution you find in the modern world:
Dead State is set in the present, which is somewhat unusual for most RPGs. One of the challenges of making the world feel authentic is in recreating the environments around us, which forces us to realize just how loaded the modern world is with advertising. It’s on our roads, it’s on our buses and bus stops, it’s on the logos on stores, it’s on t-shirts and the sides of buildings and trash – everything is covered with ads. If we build a restaurant, we have to have a store logo designed, soda brands for the fountain, possibly a mascot for the wall, and food products with their own names and logos for the inventory. A lot of work goes into capturing the garish, blatant marketing that plasters our reference images.
Tuesday - June 21, 2011
Dead State - Death in Dead State
Brian Mitsoda latest design update talks about his view on death scenes in general and how they will be done in Dead State. Here is a snip:
Movies and TV have frequently relied on death for cheap drama or resolution. While there has been a lot of maturity in the storytelling (especially in cable television dramas) there will always be the good guy lives/bad guy dies, famous last words, and morality plays. But there have been plenty of deaths in movies and TV that have come out of nowhere or that were painful to watch (emotionally) in a very real way. Death of a main or a popular character before half the movie or TV series was over, characters in an unwinnable scenario, and quick and senseless deaths have all been used to elicit a feeling from the viewer that the story is not playing by the rules. At this point, subverting a trope or expectations is enough to shock an audience and make them start worrying about the characters’ fates.
Dead State is open-ended – any NPC can die at any time. Some of the death in the game relies on personal player attachment and game mechanics to punctuate the event - for example, having a favorite character get killed while out scavenging. Here one minute, gone the next. Characters react to death of loved ones, but life goes on. However, some deaths are the slow, lingering type – the death of infected, specifically. These are the deaths I’ve been writing at the moment. It’s one thing to have someone get shot by another scavenger senselessly, but watching them die in front of you and having to execute them before they turn (for the good of the shelter) is a more gut-wrenching experience. What’s worse – losing someone unexpectedly or watching them die slowly in front of you without being able to do anything?
Tuesday - May 10, 2011
Dead State - Design Update: Lore
Here's a partial snip from the latest Dead State design update, which discusses lore:
Since our last post, some have you been demanding more writing about the game world. This seemed like a good time to explain the mechanics behind our “lore” system in the game. What I mean by “lore” is the data you can find in the game that reveals fragments of the zombie outbreak pulled from emails, message boards, browser caches, and text that can be found on phones, hard drives, and other pieces of scavenged technology. These are news transcripts, personal stories, leaked memos, and scraps of info that gradually reveal the bigger picture of how the zombie problem spread and what was done to combat it. These range from self-contained data fragments to 10-part sets. Each perspective gives a better understanding of how the world fell apart, as it would have been recorded by individuals or organizations. It’s a collection of observations and interpretations - if you’re looking for some grand conspiracy to be revealed, you’re going to be disappointed.
Every time you find a new data object and bring it back, it will be uploaded to a working computer in the shelter. From the computer, you’ll have a chance to select fragments and decrypt them to make them readable. Currently, the data decryption process involves receiving a partially recovered password and using the leftover letters to guess the password. Here’s an example of an easy one:
GR_ _ T (A,E)
Wednesday - May 04, 2011
Dead State - Preview @ PC Gamer
As I recall, this is the second time PC Gamer has looked at DoubleBear's Dead State:
As project lead at DoubleBear Productions, that’s precisely the experience Mitsoda wants you to have in Dead State: a zombie game with isometric, turn-based RPG combat similar to Fallout and Fallout 2 paired with X-COM’s base management. You’re the leader of a group of survivors that’ve holed up in Splendid Elementary School in Texas. Upgrading the school is essential to survival—like your base in X-COM, it’s the source for facilities and production. “If you want to start building thrown weapons, you’re going to need a lab. A garden will increase food supply by a minor amount per week. An infirmary will make wounded allies heal faster,” says Mitsoda.
To do all that, you’ll need to bring back survivors from surrounding towns. You can choose to recruit them, trade with them, exploit them or remove them from your party if they outlive their usefulness. “A lot of allies are not good at combat. But they will all have some value—some having unique perks that give bonuses to things like speed of production of certain kinds of items. The more people in the shelter, the more people you have to work on upgrades and projects. Of course, this means having more food for them, which in turn leads to more exploration for resources.”
Tuesday - May 03, 2011
Dead State - Design Update: The Reality
The latest Dead State update talks about changes in the zombie genre over time vs "the reality":
With all the debate about gun stats and what kills zombies the best lately, I thought it was time to bring the discussion back to why we’re making this game. In the last decade, the zombie genre has morphed from a horror genre into a gunchuks and teenage revenge fantasy fulfillment vehicle. The zombies are no longer scary, but moving targets for whatever badass weaponry people hope to get some use out of after gun show buyer’s remorse. There’s this pervasive personal delusion that a crisis situation is going to unleash someone’s inner hero and they’re going to run around the ruins of modern civilization dual-wielding shotguns and yelling “come get some” like it’s an endless game of drunken paintball. The everybody’s stupid/unprepared/panicked/sheeple but me mentality is in full-effect in the modern zombie fan scenario.
Here’s what it would actually be like (and what we’re aiming for in our presentation). Imagine yourself outside your usual supermarket. It’s the middle of a sunny day. There are only a few cars in the parking lot. You hear a lot of birds, but no automobiles, no people talking, no music – none of the white noise that makes up the average human soundscape. It’s quiet in a way that modern man cannot fathom, stripped completely of the drone of civilization.
Tuesday - April 26, 2011
Dead State - Design Update: 9mm Pistol
Tuesday - April 19, 2011
Dead State - Design Update: Hunting Shotgun
Time for the Hunting Shotgun to take the stage in the latest Dead State Design Update.
Wednesday - April 06, 2011
Dead State - Design Update: Portraits
The latest Dead State Design Update talks about Portraits, offering one example but also saying "If you look hard enough, you may be able to find a few more “photos” of some of the other survivors lying around somewhere":
Most characters and every ally in the game has a portrait. Last week we showed off the model changes to one of our characters. This week, I’ve included the in-game portrait for that character. All our portraits are done by Kim, our 2D artist. The 2D portraits and our character model sheets are used as a basis for the models that Joey makes.
One of the goals of the portraits is to capture the spirit of the NPC’s personality and give each survivor a unique face. The designers (Annie and me) come up with a general look and feel for the characters, then give a bio and reference material to Kim, who then drafts an initial concept. After a few notes from Annie, Oscar, and I, Kim tweaks the portrait and gives it the full color and shadowing treatment. Sometimes dialogue or character arcs are used by Kim to give the characters an expression that suits their personality without going in too extreme a direction – they’re kept near to neutral to suit the content of most conversations. All ally portraits, info, and status are recorded in the player’s journal.
Tuesday - March 29, 2011
Dead State - Design Update: Character Models
Another design update over at the Dead State forums. They've gone from having 16 pieces for each character to just two for companions: a head and body. While having three for generic people: head, hair and body. There is a before and after shot over at the forum.
Here are the reasons for this change:
A couple of reasons why we made this decision:
- It runs faster. Less objects is easier for the computer.
- Less seams. You can see a bit of a lighting issue on old R____'s right arm, near the shoulder. That's the point where the arm would be taken off if it were cut off.
- Less wasteful textures. Before, we had to load the texture information for the entire naked body, even if you only saw the head and arms. Now, there isn't any!
- Unique textures. Every pixel of the texture can now be unique to that companion, which, for example, allowed us the tattoos, and the personalized face. That means every companion gets his/her own face, and other NPCs will get a few options as well, whereas this was just one male and one female before.
- Unique models. As long as we keep to the standard skeleton, we can vary the proportions. R____ here is a bit chubbier than other women might be, and we can make others thicker still. Nothing too radical, but but a bit of character nonetheless.
The textures are a bit bigger, but that it won't hurt performance; they're still very small compared to modern games, and don't use normal and specular maps. Again, a comparison between the old and the new, where the red lines indicate the edges of the separate textures (that is, 6 for the old one, 2 for the new).
In all, this ought to make Dead State's characters less of a drain on your computer and less of a sore for your eyes.
Tuesday - March 08, 2011
Dead State - Design Update: Pitchfork
Gotta have a pitchfork when you have zombies on your tail - so naturally, Brian Mitsoda has kicked up weapon update for said implement.
Tuesday - March 01, 2011
Dead State - Questions For TheTeam
Rather than a new Dead State design update, Brian Mitsoda has cleaned up their forums a little and created a new Questions for the Dead State Team thread, which is probably worth keeping an eye on going forward.
Tuesday - February 22, 2011
Dead State - Design Update: School in Session
Annie Mitsoda takes over the duties presenting the latest Design Update for Dead State. Titled School in Session, looking at "where you'll be spending the bulk of your time in the world of Dead State - the interior and grounds of Splendid Unified School":
Honestly speaking - I think the second Brian and I decided where we were going to set the game in the US, we settled on a school as the player's Shelter. It wasn't really something we hemmed and hawed about, because it seemed a natural choice to us: as we mentioned in our grand reveal article in Rock, Paper, Shotgun, modern American schools (such as the ones Brian and I went to in Florida and Arizona, respectively) look a lot more like fortresses or prisons than the traditional concept of a school. The esteemed Vince was even a little curious about our choice, but when we sent him pictures of schools we'd found while researching the area, and detailed the various features of our own alma maters, he was stunned at the high levels of security of modern schools, and agreed that a school did indeed seem like a pretty good choice.
Tuesday - February 08, 2011
Dead State - Design Update
Brian Mitsoda has penned a new Design Update for Dead State, discussing how humans are the "meat of the zombie story":
I’m writing a lot of dialogue lately. It quickly adds up when covering the player’s decisions, responses to people in the shelter, reactions to character deaths or fates worse than, etc. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that there are zombies in the game. It barely ever comes up in dialogue, except when the player specifically asks about them or when they directly become a threat to a certain plan of action. The zombies are simply there, like bad weather or a chance of the bends while diving. Everyone knows they’re a threat, but there’s no point in constantly bringing it up. It’s surprising how infrequently or casually the undead get mentioned in this zombie story.
Doing dialogue for a character is different from conceiving of a character or quests. You really don’t figure out a character fully until you have to get in their head. Important story points you had listed for the character suddenly become unworkable because the character just doesn’t seem like they would do that. Run with a throwaway conversation idea and suddenly you’ve got an excellent and defining situation set up for that ally. It seems like it should be painting by numbers once you’ve documented every single interaction, but it’s a lot more like experimenting with new recipes. The results can sometimes be surprising, in a good way.
Tuesday - January 25, 2011
Dead State - Design Update: You Could Do That?
Brian Mitsoda discusses branching dialogue choices and asks the fans their opinions on the matter in this week's design update.
I’m primarily writing dialogue for the game right now. One of the most exciting/frustrating aspects of game writing for me is figuring out which options the player would naturally want to take in certain conversations, and making sure that the choices in dialogue are going to lead to satisfying and meaningful branching in the narrative. The easiest way to do this is with a series of binary like/hate, good/bad, help/hurt kinds of choices, but in this game we have long-term consequences to multiple decisions made with characters and the alternate influence of your handling of their friends/loved ones. Some allies are major figures in the shelter and wield “power” due to their skill or authority, and many of these are the most complex and dynamic of the shelter’s inhabitants structurally. Some allies are not overly complex characters, which makes them the easiest characters to both manage in the game and finish dialogue for. It’s a priority for us to make these characters feel real and also that the shelter is an active society, with all the different types of personalities and motivations you would expect from a collection of people from different social backgrounds forced to exist together.
My question this week has to do with the “too many” brances in dialogue part. Maybe there’s a dialogue/relationship option for a character in an RPG that you would have liked to have experienced, but didn’t know about it until reading a FAQ or message board. Did you feel like the option was difficult to access because of the dialogue/quest structure? Did you feel that it was never a practical or logical choice to make with the character? Maybe you found out it was an odd combination of choices and/or skill to activate that section of dialogue. I would like to know which character’s dialogue or relationship branching made you react with “you could do that?” Is it something you’re pleased to find out about or unhappy about because it didn't feel accessible to you?
Tuesday - January 18, 2011
Dead State - Design Update: This Can Help
Brian Mitsoda's latest Dead State update is an unusual plea for accuracy in disseminating information. I'd say from my observations this is a hopeless cause but here's a snip:
Everyone working on Dead State is really happy to have you all visiting the forums, discussing the game, and motivating us to make it something really special. Most likely you read other game forums or sites, and sometimes you might see our game mentioned on other forums or sites. We can’t check all of them or comment on all of them, obviously. So, this week, if we can request one small favor from you all – if you see false or perplexing info about Dead State on another forum you contribute to, could you maybe post the correct info (directly quoted from a dev or FAQ quote) or just point them toward these forums?
This seems like a minor issue, but misinformation can sometimes hurt interest or expectations for the project from a whole group of gamers that read those posts. Sometimes we’re making the game people at that forum really want to play, but one erroneous post turns them all off the project. I’ll give you an example, paraphrased from another forum:
“Dead State? Who knows if that’s coming out. There’s only like one guy working on it part-time. There aren’t even any screenshots for it. Also, I don’t like multiplayer games, so I’m not interested in it.”
They also need help from artists, if you're in a position to make low-poly prop models.
Tuesday - January 11, 2011
Dead State - Design Update: Decisions of a Leader
This week, a poll related to the kind of choice you will have to make in Dead State and its consequences.
Several people in your shelter have the infection. The antibiotics are rarer all the time and it’s getting harder to supplement the supply with homemade versions. A doctor and scientist in your shelter think they have an idea on how to slow the rate of infection with a non-antibiotic approach. The only problem is that the medical equipment is very specific and can only be found in a hospital. Hospitals were ground zero for infection and are still crawling with the undead.
Only someone with advanced medical training can identify this equipment. If your character specialized in medicine, they could retrieve it themselves, but this is not the case for your current character setup. To fetch the medical equipment from the hospital for this experimental procedure, a doctor will have to go in with you. That leaves space for you and two other people – the doctor has no combat skills. It’s a big risk and not necessarily going to work. There’s a chance you could lose your only doctor, which would surely hurt morale, yet if the procedure works, it would boost morale in the shelter. The doctor knows the risks and wants to take them to help people.
Option 1 - Decide it is too risky and deny the operation. A few may die from the infection and the doctor and other leaders will lose some respect for you. Continue business as usual.
Option 2 - Risk it, knowing you could lose a doctor and others for the sake of helping your infected allies. Success is higher morale, more time for the infected, and respect of the doctor and other leaders.
Option 3 - Convince people to stick to antibiotics and step up the production to counter any shortages. This will slightly hurt respect with doctors, but leaders will support it. You will have to put most other projects on hold while all resources and ally hours are spent on increasing antibiotic stock.
Tuesday - January 04, 2011
Dead State - Design Update: Baseball Bat
Brian Mitsoda has kicked up another low-tech weapon update for Dead State - the baseball bat, this time. As before, there's a surprising amount of detail for such a simple otion.
Wednesday - December 15, 2010
Dead State - Design Update: Kitchen Knife
Brian Mitsoda has kicked up a new update for Dead State, the first in a series on the game's weapons. The first is the kitchen knife, which doesn't sound too exciting, but the detail is quite surprising. Head over to read the pros, cons, stats and other information.
Tuesday - December 07, 2010
Dead State - Design Update - December Shill
The only update from Dead State for a while is to flog you some merchandise, although they've also got some exclusive screens in the current PC Gamer, which I find rather annoying :
A couple of minor but rather important announcements this week for fans of DoubleBear and Dead State. Some of you have been asking for Dead State merchandise – well, now we’ve got it! Check out the following links for Dead State merchandise:
We’ve got Dead State logo merch and the ever popular MMM, Bison! fast food chain apparel to buy. All profits fund development of the game. For those who have been claiming they would buy something when they could buy Dead State stuff – you have no excuse now!
Next up, just wanted to mention that the current PC Gamer (US January 2011 issue, Diablo 3 on the cover) has some new info on Dead State and some exclusive screenshots we haven’t shown anywhere else. If you want to get a look at the dialogue system, some new areas, and our first NPC shots and portraits, pick up PC Gamer this month. We’re really excited about the coverage, and hope you guys check it out.
Anything you want to see in the store? Let us know. If you've seen the article, share your thoughts here. Next week we'll be back with a regular update showcasing a feature of the game.
Tuesday - November 23, 2010
Dead State - Design Update - Don't Play Dead
This design update for Dead State deals with helping you cope with zombies in combat. Here are a few ways to help you survive:
2. If you don’t want to confront them, your best bet is to run. The undead are extremely slow, and almost any human can easily outmaneuver them. They have been known to occasionally get “excited” and lunge at humans that are within a few feet of them, so try to keep your distance.
3. The greatest strength of the dead is numbers. They tend to group up when attracted to sound, as loud sounds will bring most zombies in the area to a single point. They will also make noise when they spot humans, drawing more to the area. Either kill individuals with melee weapons to keep the noise down or keep your distance. Be careful not to run straight into a waiting mob.
8. Keep an eye on wounded or downed allies. If a wounded ally has been knocked out, they will be a priority target for zombies. Allies that are KO’d cannot defend themselves. If a zombie attacks them in this state, they will almost certainly be killed or infected.
9. Zombie infection isn’t 100%, after one bite or scratch. Most of the time, their attacks do not get through armor, though the bite trauma is still painful enough to cause injury.
10. You can buy yourself some time by closing and locking doors. Zombies will attack doors, but will quickly lose interest if they lose audio and visual contact of a human for a short amount of time.
11. Be careful around bodies of fallen foes and allies. If they are infected, they will rise from the dead rather quickly. Destroy the head of a corpse before they get up. Zombies are attracted to “fresh meat” so you may also use this to your advantage when trying to delay them.
Tuesday - November 16, 2010
Dead State - Design Update - Shelter Upgrades: Garden
Brian posts another update about Dead State. This time he talks about upgrading your shelter with gardens to grow food for your people. Here are some details on what is involved with creating your garden:
Some people have been asking about growing food, so this week I thought we'd talk about upgrades to the shelter, specifically the garden. Upgrades cost time to build and materials (usually parts). You will most likely need someone in charge of building it - the project leader - to possess a certain level of skill to be able to start building the upgrade. You may also need to have scavenged special items that are required for the upgrade. Additional allies (of any skill) can be put on a project to speed up the job.
The Rooftop Garden upgrade turns a patch of the school's roof into a small vegetable garden. To start this project, the player or one of their allies has to meet a few conditions:
-A 5 or better in Survival
-Possess 15 or more parts
-Seed Packets (Special Item - look for it when scavenging)
-120 Man Hours (Time allies must spend on project - each ally works 12 hours a day)
-Another upgrade complete (more on this one another time)
Tuesday - November 09, 2010
Dead State - Design Update - No Cars Go
Brian Mitsoda explains how you will be able to use cars to travel around in and what it will take to get them going in the Dead State:
Getting a car is not as easy as you'd think. Sure, there are cars everywhere, but from a story standpoint, there's a good reason you can't jump in the first car you see. Many cars will have been involved in accidents while trying to escape the cities and are completely unusable. Other cars will have been abandoned with doors opened or headlights on, rendering the battery useless. Some cars will just be too small or fragile to be practical for scavenging purposes. In effect, this means there only a few cars that you're going to find in the game that will be suitable to drive back to the shelter.
Now, you might think that just finding a car is enough, but there's more to it. Before the car can be used on the area map, it's going to need to be transformed into a machine that can withstand the driving conditions of the zombie apocalypse. This is going to require a garage upgrade at your shelter and someone with the Mechanical skill to make these modifications. Once the car is ready for off-road action, the garage can be used to further modify the car (like better fuel efficiency), provided you have the parts and skill to make new additions. Sometimes the car may need routine maintenance to keep it functional, so having someone with the know-how is pretty important.
Cars are obviously much faster than traveling on foot, but at the expense of fuel. Fuel is also used to power the school's generator and in the construction of multiple items (like explosives). Without proper rationing, a fuel shortage could leave the shelter powerless, which could impact Morale. Fuel is also heavy and requires special canisters, so bringing back a lot at once is difficult. The shelter has fuel storage, so you can hold as much fuel in reserve as you can bring back.
Tuesday - October 12, 2010
Dead State - Design Update - Random Design
Brian Mitsoda explains randomisation for replayability in Dead State in this week's Design Update:
I don’t know how many people replay games – I often don’t – but I do know that I like knowing that a game isn’t always going to offer the same exact experience to everyone or that it won’t always offer the same experience to players who liked it enough to give it a second go. Player decisions and character builds are one way we can change the experience, but one thing that seems to be missing from a lot of games is randomization. Some games will do this with maps, but very few do this with events. Today I thought we would cover a few ways that Dead State changes things up so that even the best FAQ can’t always prepare you for what’s in store.
In Dead State, there are multiple ways we randomize the events of the game outside of just reacting to player choice or from resource shortfalls. On our area map, for instance, some locations for allies and resources are randomized at the start of the game. You may never even find some of these locations on your first playthrough or you may discover them much later than your first playthrough/friend’s playthrough. Everyone will have the chance to discover these locations – we always spawn them – but prior knowledge of these events won’t make finding them any easier. Some locations/allies will always be in the same place, so you’ll somewhat of an advantage when playing a second time, but not for everything.
Monday - September 27, 2010
Dead State - Dev Q&A Thread Update
After a week of posts it's worth catching up with Brian Mitsoda's Q&A thread on the Dead State forums. There's far too much to post here but here's a small sample of the responses:
I've been wondering how complex the combat system is. Will you be able to crouch, go prone and sidestep? Will the terrain provide various degrees of cover ala JA2, or will "cover" simply involve getting out of the enemy's line of sight?
Currently, you can't crouch, go prone, or sidestep and cover is mostly about staying out of the lines of sight. Most of these options would only benefit long-range weapon users, which would a small percentage of builds. We'd also have to spend time teaching friendly and enemy AI to deal with it, not to mention do additional into/out of animations for hits or grapples to prone/crouching enemies. It just wasn't worth the time, especially since we wanted to balance the game for melee/ranged rather than tailor the game to styles of ranged combat. The zombies tend to keep people moving, which is another reason we don't have a lot of options to dig in and fight. We'll evaluate defensive bonuses for firing from inside a building, probably, but we want to make sure guns aren't completely overpowered.
A lot of the strategy comes from the different weapon types, how you employ them, how you use thrown items (like noisemakers), where you choose to engage enemies, how much your allies compliment your style, and how you pick your battles.
Tuesday - September 21, 2010
Dead State - Dev Q&A Thread
This week's Dead State update is actually the start of a dev Q&A thread. Here's a partial snip from the first bunch of answers from Brian and head over to add your own:
How many NPC there will be? How many party memberes can go on mission with me? Do you plan party memberes that can´t be used in combat but have another use?
There will be a lot of NPCs and potential allies. You can take up to three out at a time for a total of 4 people in the party. You can take practically anyone out into combat, though you'll find that many aren't suited to it and that they are better suited to another role at the Shelter.How do you guys plan on scaling enemies? By level? By location? Over time? Will it be completely random? Or something else?
Enemies don't scale to your level. More dangerous enemies tend to be encountered over time as you spread out your scavenging range or they do. Sometimes encounters may just be difficult because of the amount of enemies or the layout of the level (area exposes you to attack or provides no easy route of escape if zombies mob you). Dangerous enemies have better stats, equipment, and AI (they won't panic).
Thursday - September 16, 2010
Dead State - Interview @ GameBanshee
GameBanshee has a great interview with Brian Mitsoda on Dead State, covering their inspiration, the mechanics, combat and more. There are too many good potential quotes, so here's an early one:
GB: An atmosphere of stress and survival can be set up in many ways. How important is it to you to add actual gameplay mechanics to immerse the players rather than just writing and visuals?
Brian: The stress and survival aspects were what we designed the game around - if we couldn't get that right, we wouldn't have committed to the project. We started conceiving the game around the hunt for resources such as food, and then thought about the shelter management, then worked on morale and NPC moods and the different ways it could affect AI, such as panic. We looked at what games did wrong with their food systems and adjusted it so that the food, the morale, fuel, are all similar to a kind of currency - I don't think it will take players a long time to grasp how it works. Once we were sure the mechanics wouldn't be frustrating or potentially game-breaking 90% of the time, we began fleshing out the secondary systems and started thinking about characters and game events. The story only reinforces the situation, and provides some characters that react to the player's success at keeping them alive. If we're successful, the player's stress will come from their story and combat decisions - we need food, we need to go scavenging, but if someone dies on the run, morale will drop and it's already low, that kind of thing.
Tuesday - September 14, 2010
Dead State - Design Update - Visual Design
Brian Mitsoda discusses the visual design of Dead State (aka Zombie RPG) at the official forums:
This week I thought I’d talk a bit about the visual design of our game. If you’ve seen the website, you’re seeing a concept preview of the way some of our GUIs are going to look. The style we’re going for is a collage of scavenged items – scraps of paper, battered notebooks, post-it notes, cork boards, and assorted bits of office detritus. When you flip through your collection of survivors, you’ll see taped photos of them on the pages with typed up notes on index cards. Combat portraits look like photos taken before the survivors left that morning. Everything in the interface will look like some hurried attempt at cataloging the current events and resources of the survivors on whatever’s the player can scrounge up.
One of the challenges of GUI design is not to just make it functional and easy to comprehend, but to make it fit the setting. This is pretty easy when you’re doing high-tech, because it can look clean and glowing without anyone batting an eye. In fantasy, you get the scroll or woodcut theme – kind of a standard now. In modern day stuff, you’ll get a phone or blackberry interface and it works just fine. For our world, with phones and power being gone, we wanted the visuals to fit the theme of people living moment to moment without being able to rely on their technology. Everything has a hasty, worn look to it, as if it’s been shuffled about by clammy hands too many times to count. You’ll be seeing some more of this design reflected in future screenshots, so keep checking the boards for site updates.
Wednesday - August 25, 2010
Zombie RPG - Officially named "Dead State", Interview, Screens
So, Zombie RPG has graduated to an official reveal, with the final name of Dead State unveiled, a new official site and an interview with Brian Mitsoda at Rock, Paper, Shotgun that includes the first proper screens. There's a huge amount of information so this is a must-read but I can only quote so much, so here's a bit on the importance of sound, which I think is innovative for an indie game:
RPS: I suppose leads to another question – what sort of AI does the zombies have?
Brian Mitsoda: Well, we only have one type of zombie – three if you count crawling zombies and zombies that have been set on fire. Zombies are attracted to sound – in fact, you can even make noise to try and lure them out of a building, If you’re unsure how many there are. There’s a noise meter in the combat interface to let you know how much noise has been made. Make noise, local ones will come to investigate. Make a lot of noise and distant ones will start looking for you. Make enough noise and zombies will be lured to that map. It’s okay to be loud once in awhile, but if you sustain noise for too long, they’ll be coming from all over. Stay quiet for a few rounds and they will forget about you if you haven’t been spotted.
Zombies will attack the closest human target that they can see. It may look like they are intelligently mobbing someone, but it’s most likely that the NPC had the unfortunate luck of being the closest or loudest thing in the area. It’s hard to predict where or when they will show up, since they might just be randomly walking around the map. On their own they’re pretty weak and slow. They really gain the upper hand when people get isolated or occupied with another task.
Unfortunately, zombies that see humans will often start moaning, which increases the noise in the area. If a character gets surrounded, generally they won’t have enough action points to destroy all of the attackers in one round. Zombies will frequently lunge to try and knock down humans, to gain better access to the squishy parts. And if an NPC is already weak or wounded they are susceptible to being infected, which is a permanent status, assuming they survive. Infected NPCs will become zombies if they die in combat or stop receiving antibiotics, which is the primary way to control the infection in our game.
Monday - August 16, 2010
Zombie RPG - Design Update - PAX
Here's a snip from this week's Zombie RPG design update on Scavenging:
Last week I asked how long people could hold out and where would you go - here is the reason. As expected, most people answered that they would not be prepared for very long, and it's not surprising. I've lived in earthquake and hurricane zones and I don't think I've ever kept the recommended amount of emergency provisions. Most people said that they would have to go out and get supplies, and most people said they would hit a lot of common targets - grocery stores, gas stations, driving out of the city. If anyone has ever been in an emergency situation or even been in an area that has been warned they MIGHT have an emergency situation, they know that stores tend to be packed with people fighting over canned goods and water, gas stations can and do run out of gas, and in the event of an evacuation, highways become parking lots. This is without the threat or terror of the dead coming back to life.
Update: well, that was embarrassing. Iron Tower artist Oscar points out I linked to a thread from last year because the thread was necroed.
Thursday - August 12, 2010
Zombie RPG - Design Update - The Team
Catching up on the Zombie RPG forums, Brian Mitsoda introduces the team working on the game in the latest update. A sample:
Nick is our (and AoD’s) Lead Programmer. Most teams have a few programmers, but there’s really no reason to have a team of programmers if you have Nick. Nick’s become an expert in the Torque engine over the years and has been able to do some impressive things with it, namely bend it into a hardcore turn-based RPG. He’s been (quickly) rewriting AoD tools to suit the needs of ZRPG and will be working on pretty much all of the code aspects of the project.
Oscar’s our (and AoD’s) Lead Artist. Oscar weighs the needs of the art design with the technical specs of the engine to turn low-poly objects and the right lighting into fantastic looking areas. In addition to creating models, he manages all the other artists and gives them feedback on their work or technical tips to get the most out of our poly budget. Aside from myself and Annie, he is probably most familiar with all of the design, and frequently weighs in on design issues with his giant brain full of RPG knowledge. When you see our levels and wonder why they look so good, it’s because of this man.
Tuesday - August 03, 2010
Zombie RPG - To Here Knows When
In the latest Zombie RPG update, Brian Mitsoda expresses frustration that you can't discuss an indie project without someone calling it vapourware:
For example, it’s not uncommon for movie script writers to take six months to a year to finish a script (or longer if you’re Mitch Hurwitz working on the Arrested Development movie), which is on average about 120 pages of dialogue. I’m not going to say a movie script is EASY (they’re easier for me), but I will guarantee you that writing branching dialogue is not easy, and in many cases it can become quite frustrating to balance good dialogue (for every branch) with satisfying player choice and manageable scope. And unlike movies, RPGs have a far greater cast list – more akin to TV, which of course, usually has a staff of writers – and unless you’re shooting for genre stereotype #36, fleshing out these characters and working in decent quests/situations for them is a major task. Throw on minor reactivity to what the player’s choices or other NPCs, it’s a fair amount of work and words. Not to mention all the support systems that have to be there in the first place for implementation.
A lot of fans will start to panic when a game takes more than a year or two to come out (even factoring in that they may have announced it a year or two after development started). I think around two years is pretty quick for an indie RPG! There are plenty of larger games with nearly infinite resources that take 4-7 years to develop. But when you contrast it against some other creative industries, indie games are sprinting to the finish line. Consider the time it takes for your favorite band to get an album out. We’re talking 10-12 songs, about 30-60 minutes of music. Yes, they might spend a lot of time touring during that time and release a few singles, but still, thirty to sixty minutes of content for around three to six people in two years - wow. Autolux, a band whose debut album I quite liked, is releasing their second album this week – after starting work on it in 2005. If anything, recording technology has gotten better and less expensive for the music industry. They don't even have to do their own box covers!
Monday - August 02, 2010
Zombie RPG - Interview @ Trzynasty Schron
Polish site Trzynasty Schron has an interview with Brian Mitsoda on the features of Zombie RPG but here's a snip on the reality of an indie studio:
Jim Cojones: This is the first time You are working on a game You are self-publishing. How does it differ from the previous experience?
Brian Mitsoda: In previous projects, people would pay me money to work, and now I spend money to work. Sometimes I wake up with this feeling that I have maybe failed to grasp the basics of economics, but then I check my notes and remember that my company owns the rights to the game, controls the marketing and release, and owns the eventual profits. It's a different kind of gamble.
The game will get finished, but whether or not we make any money relies on us delivering a fun game, promoting it well, and hitting the magic sales number.
In a studio, you might work on something for years and have it cancelled or thrown out and while you got paid, you have absolutely nothing else to show for it - I was kind of tired of rolling that boulder up the hill. The tools, awareness, and framework for smaller productions are there, and I'm really excited by the possibilities now and in the long-term - also, a bunch of awesome people have worked out the kinks over the years, so by no means is the team flying blind.
Source: RPG Codex
Wednesday - July 28, 2010
Zombie RPG - Design Updates
Time to catch up on a couple of Zombie RPG Monday Design Updates. First, from a week or so back, Annie asks for debate on XP systems:
ONE - so what parts of experience systems do you feel are totally played out? Maybe getting xp for disarming mines (leading one into death-wish jaunts into minefields for a chance at powerleveling)? Possibly getting more xp for taking the "super good" or "dastardly evil" options instead of favoring a more middle-of-the-road approach? For a concrete example: Shining Force 2 is one of the old strategy RPGs that I love from back in the day, but the fact that you only really got xp per kill meant that your best characters speedily outpaced everyone else, and you basically had to trap and bleed out monsters so that your weaker units - healers and thieves - could get the killing blow and thus actually level up. That was some BS.
...then Brian talks about morality:
So, #1 on our list for dialogue presentation was making sure the dialogue was never completely clear cut good/bad moves, or at least that the decisions involved realistic consequences. Allies all have their own codes of what’s right and wrong and while some of them may agree with each other on one point, there will never be a decision where everybody is in 100% agreement. And the player isn’t expected to be able to please all of them all of the time – it is a constant balancing act for any player to not alienate any of their allies. A popular decision might be the most difficult to execute – like taking action against another group to boost food stocks and losing several allies in the process. The player may also use their dialogue skills to try and sell unpopular or difficult courses of action – for example, they might try to convince everybody that rationing would be a good way to extend the food, reducing (but not getting rid of) the Morale penalty of such an action. And decisions are less based on being a good guy or bad guy but on figuring out how much pull you might gain or lose with an ally if you don’t throw a decision their way – unlike a random NPC, your survivors are theoretically in it for the long haul, and they’ll remember what you did.
Wednesday - July 14, 2010
Zombie RPG - Annie Mitsoda Interview @ RPG Codex
There's an irreverant interview with Annie Mitsoda (née Carlson) at RPG Codex, covering her background and work history, working on an indie game and, of course, ZRPG:
14. What spawned the idea of a role-playing game involving the living dead? Where any other ideas on the cards for your first game? Why not make Barbie's RPG Adventures? What lead to you finally settling on the ZRPG? What inspired the game? What sort of themes are you exploring and why?
There were other ideas, and once Brian and I decided we were going to work with Vince and co, I looked at Brian and was like "well, what do you think would work best in the AoD engine?" and he said - with a great intense look in his eyes - "A zombie survival RPG." And I closed my Big Book O' RPG Ideas and went "OK. Convince me." And by God he did. (And by that I don't mean naughty things, I mean that he actually convinced me it was a good idea by using words.)
So these other ideas still exist - and we've got other ideas that have come up since - but we're holding onto them until ZRPG is in the can, as it were. We don't want to pull a Molyneux and get neck deep in one idea before we see something shiny and go galumphing after it elsewhere.
Brian has always loved the hell out of zombie movies, and while I was sort of like "meh" on them at first, this was admittedly because I had not seen the original Night of the Living Dead or Dawn of the Dead or Day of the Dead, although I'd loved Shawn of the Dead and read The Zombie Survival Guide until its accuracy started to wig me out a little (although its awesomeness was not to be denied, and I actually ended up giving a copy of it to my brother). And the concept of zombies as a force of nature as well as something individually terrifying is really compelling to me - as Max Brooks said in an interview once, "Zombies are also scary because they come to you. " There's something particularly creepy and invasive about zombies that touches on really deep fears of unbecoming ourselves, of being infected with something, of being helpless against a far greater power.
Brian's mentioned as well being inspired by living through Hurricane Andrew as a kid, and the stories he tells about it are the kind of vivid you get when you've really been shocked by something. I tease him about being super paranoid about always locking the door or closing the windows even though we live in a nice neighborhood, but I've lived the comfortable kind of life that involves never having my house broken into or living through a major natural disaster. There's documented evidence about how completely people fall apart during disasters - not in hysterics but more being totally frozen and stunned - and it's a terrifying thing to think about.
What would you do if your world was suddenly populated with monsters, and not only are they outside, but one of them is someone you love? Zombies and zombie fiction doesn't have the neat little trappings of most horror stories - where the world as a whole is still functioning and fine and dandy, and it's only your particular sphere of reality that is being immediately fucked - it's about the breakdown of society, and confronting a whole big basketload of fears all at once and over an extended period of time. You're not trying to survive until morning so that freaky vampire goes away - it's survival of the fittest from now on, because zombies don't give a shit what time it is.
Tuesday - May 04, 2010
Zombie RPG - Design Update - Shield and Bracers
Brian Mitsoda, Double Bear Productions, shares information about the shields and bracers we'll be equipping in this game.
Shields and bracers must be carried in the secondary weapon slot to be considered equipped, but they are never a primary weapon. Bracers can be worn without impacting operation of a two-handed weapon. Shields, due to their size and needing a free hand to hold them, cannot be used with two-handed weapons. This means that to get the benefit of a shield, the player has to have a one-handed weapon (either melee or ranged) in their primary slot.
Tuesday - April 27, 2010
Zombie RPG - Design Update - Accessories
Brian Mitsoda has kicked up a new Zombie RPG update at Iron Tower. It's short enough to re-print, so here it is in entirety:
This week continues the defense theme in the form of Accessories. Accessories can further tweak a character’s defense or resistances or provide one of several other benefits as long as they are worn. Each character has two accessory slots – one for the head and one for the body.
Head accessories include items like helmets or masks which are generally used in offering up further protection to the wearer’s head. A bike helmet, for example, offers a little extra defense, but it’s not going to deflect a bullet. The gas mask prevents chemical damage and blindness, but offers no additional protection from physical damage. We also have a few “weird” types of head accessories which sacrifice protection for more imaginative use of tactics – for example, camo paint which makes characters harder to hit when being shot at from a distance.
Since Armor covers the body, body accessories tend to be worn on the arms, legs, or feet. Gloves can either add to defensive/resistance ratings or allow for a better grip on a gun. Sneakers can boost a character’s dodge chance, while boots tend to give additional bonuses to defense. Arm/leg guards can protect characters against statuses that affect the limbs. There are also a few unusual body accessories, some of which could be of great use to characters that possess certain melee or ranged abilities.
When used in combination with armor, accessories can allow further customization of a character’s offense/defense. For example, when wearing the gas mask, a potential strategy for a player surrounded by human enemies would be to drop a gas canister at your feet and casually walk away from the now dizzy and blind enemies. With a little bit of ingenuity, accessories can open up strategies that standard arms and armor cannot.
Bonus: If anyone wants to mention accessories you liked or thought were cheap in other games, feel free to list them here. I'm interested in effects/strategic use of items we may have neglected in our design, not necessarily ideas for accessories that would be cool in our game.
Tuesday - April 20, 2010
Zombie RPG - Design Update: Armour
Brian Mitsoda has kicked up a new update for Double Bear's Zombie RPG, looking at armour:
It occurs to me that we have discussed the merits of Melee versus Ranged a bit, but we haven’t introduced the armor system, so that’s what I’m going to talk about today. Our armor, much like the weapons, is up to personal preference/need more than it is a linear boost to the defense rating. Armors have a basic defense rating which is subtracted directly from damage. Most sets also have a resistance to certain kinds of attack, which reduces the attack damage by a certain percentage. Resistance bonus is taken off first, and then reduced by the damage resistance of the armor.
Tuesday - April 13, 2010
Zombie RPG - Save, Load Us
The latest design update from Brian Mitsoda on the Zombie RPG kicks off a discussion on save game systems. Here's a partial snip:
This week I’m throwing out a design question for a system that hasn’t received much design or thought on our end, but it’s one that can alter the intent of a lot of our design decisions, and that system is the save/load system. I’d mostly like to solicit feedback from the group on this one, but here are my thoughts on save/load:
-I don’t want people to save before/reload after every single time combat doesn’t go their way, so I’ve considered no saving in combat. BUT… I understand that sometimes people need to take a call, go to sleep, or make time for loved ones or their bridge club, so I don’t want to punish those people that need to stop playing the game that moment.
-One possibility would be to allow saves during combat with a quit to menu, then erase those files when loaded, like a lot of console strategy games do. BUT I worry about people not liking the ability to save/reload when they want and if it’s worth implementing special save functionality just for combat.
-One problem we have in the game is that for the game’s narrative to really feel like a zombie movie, the player should expect to lose allies – that they shouldn’t expect to keep all their companions alive BUT there are few games I can think of where losing a genuine asset isn’t an upsetting situation to be in as a player and I can’t think of any incentive to not reload except that it’s one less mouth to feed.
Thursday - April 08, 2010
Zombie RPG - FAQ @ Iron Tower Studios
Brian Mitsoda has made a FAQ for his Zombie RPG over at the Iron Tower. Here's a quote dealing with good vs. evil in the game:
Is there a good and evil solution for everything?
There is no good/evil points, slider, whatever. If you piss off an enemy faction, most likely they are going to be hostile. Some people will agree with your methods and some won’t and some won’t care as long as the Shelter provides creature comforts. You have to weigh every decision like a political decision – you can’t please all the people all of the time, but you can please some of the people some of the time. Most of the decisions involve sacrifices (not literally) and it’s about what you’re comfortable sacrificing, though it’s not always as cut and dry as that. There is also the question of the needs of the group versus the needs of the individual to consider.
Source: RPG Codex
Tuesday - March 30, 2010
Zombie RPG - Influences
There's a new update at Iron Tower for Zombie RPG, with Brian Mitsoda discussing some of the influences behind the game:
X-Com combat made the end of a turn into as sweaty, heart-in-the-pit-of-the-stomach press of a button. You could have several good turns where aliens were spotted and put down before they could get a shot, and then one turn where the operation was completely FUBAR – a grenade thrown into the middle of a squad, a Chryssalid running into a room and killing your commander, or an unseen sniper getting several good shots in on your best guys – it was as much a game of suspense as it was of tactics. Enemies had to be spotted – not triggered, mind you – but actually seen by one of your party members in order to know its position, which meant that it was entirely possible for an enemy to sneak up on you if you weren’t carefully positioning guys to watch your back. Every time you were about to open a door, you didn’t know if the room was going to be empty or if six Snakemen were going to be standing there with rifles aimed at your chest. The game provided scares and tension that carefully-plotted designs just can’t reproduce.
Tuesday - March 23, 2010
Zombie RPG - Design Update - Who Would You Save?
Here's the premises:
I'll keep it simple and provocative - in the zombie apocalypse, who would you save?
Please - keep this to people you PERSONALLY KNOW ONLY, who are within 15 miles of you (I'd want to save my parents, for example, but I couldn't list them here because they live over a thousand miles away). Would you save your sibling, or go mercenary and protect your apartment's custodian because they know how to fix everything? Remember - you can't save everyone... for the sake of discussion, let's say 2 people max. Beyond that... and they have to fend for themselves...
Possible second question: if the person you wanted the most to save WAS actually very far away (see my parental example) would you risk trying to reach them if there was no other way to contact them, or stay put and hope for the best.
Source: RPG Codex
Tuesday - March 16, 2010
Zombie RPG - This is Not a Test
This week, I’m throwing out a question to the forums based on this premise: How long would it take you to take a major threat seriously, if you even did? While I was working on one of the outbreak stories found in the game, I started thinking about just how easy it is to tune out news or how stubborn people can be to accept news that challenges routine. For example, when hurricanes hit, in cases where there is a 100% chance of it hitting a certain area, there are always reporters out asking people when they plan to evacuate, and more than one will claim they are going to “ride out the storm.”
There are multiple ways for someone to be surrounded by information and never actually know what is going on in their immediate area right now. There is criticism of the media for being too sensationalist and media that tailors its “news” to fit the worldview of their viewers, and as a result people that have either tuned out or don’t believe a word of it. There are times when something as minor as not looking at a weather report can get you stranded in the middle of a blizzard. When a major disaster hits, how many people will know about it, and how many people will actually take it seriously?
Tuesday - March 09, 2010
Zombie RPG - Design Update - Characters and their Clothing
Since the team is rather small, we can't do a lot of characters. It's so small, in fact, that we're only going to do two, a male and a female version (personally, I like to call them Zombob and Zombette). That means, for example, that all male characters will share the same face [About the faces, we are going to have a couple of variations. Perhaps a scarred one, and definitely an old guy one, just like AoD - Oscar]. We're hoping that you won't notice with the camera zoomed out as much as it will be. Luckily, we can still make variations, through clothing, accessories and haircuts [Note: and facial hair and skin tones]. I'd have loved to be able to show you that, but we don't actually have any assets that can be swapped here yet. Expect an update specifically about all that when we've got a fancy and varied assortment of moustaches.
Source: RPG Codex
Tuesday - March 02, 2010
Zombie RPG - Design Update: Under the Hood
This week's Zombie RPG update is about the engine. Here's Brian Mitsoda:
Real brief update this week.
This week, I wanted to clear up some confusion about the engine for ZRPG. We’re reusing/modifying a lot of the code used to make AoD, although our actual engine is Torque 3D. Torque 3D gives a significant boost to graphical capability and effects. AoD uses an older version of Torque (TGE) and their code is currently being ported over to the new engine for our game. All our models, props, animations, and other bells and whistles are being created for the new engine. We released an in-engine screenshot in December to give people an idea of the visual quality of the game. Some of our artists will be dropping in to introduce themselves and show off some of their work in an upcoming update.
So, this week, if there are any other misconceptions or questions about systems we've already unveiled, leave a question and we'll try to clear things up.
Tuesday - February 23, 2010
Zombie RPG - Morale, Part 3
Brian Mitsoda on morale affecting combat in Doublebear's in development Zombie RPG.
This week I wanted to touch on one of the ways that Morale affects combat, and that is the concept of Panic. Panic determines when NPCs lose their will to fight or become frightened. Panicked allies or enemies will try to flee from attackers and cower or heal themselves, depending on the type of Panic. While in this state, they will have the Panicked status and will not respond to commands. When enemies panic, the battle tips in your favor, but when allies panic, the only thing that will keep them safe is figuring out the trigger and eliminating it. The player will NEVER panic no matter what – Panic is an NPC-only trait. Once again – Panic is an NPC trait and does NOT affect the player character ever.
Tuesday - February 16, 2010
Zombie RPG - Morale, Part 2
Brian Mitsoda has kicked up the second part of their Morale discussion:
Continuing with Morale this week, and if you haven’t read pt.1, you may want to read that first. Now, you may be wondering, what happens when the Shelter’s collective Morale is less than the Morale bonuses gained that day, and quite frankly, that’s a good question, because it will happen often. The answer to this is found in one of the major resources in the game – Luxury Items. Luxury items are scavenged from houses, buildings, stores, etc. and are stored at the Shelter as a way to offset Morale losses. They are creature comforts and distractions, items that make allies forget about the horrors of survival. All luxury items or Morale bonuses contribute to a “stockpile” of positive Morale that can offset losses. Days where Morale turns up negative can be offset by any “surplus” of good will from the player’s actions or collection of luxury items.
Wednesday - February 10, 2010
Zombie RPG - Design Update - Morale
I keep forgetting to post Brian Mitsoda's weekly updates for Zombie RPG - fortunately, Rampant Coyote's indie round-up yesterday reminded me to add it to my schedule. So, this week is the first part of a discussion on Morale:
Morale is one of the major systems in the game. True to the zombie genre, Morale plays a huge part in the will and behavior of the survivors. Since it affects a lot of systems in many ways, I’m going to be talking about aspects of it over the next few weeks.
Today I’m going to cover the very basic Morale system and what it means for your character as a leader and what it takes for the Shelter to not fall apart from within. Morale can be thought of as the sum total of good will generated by the player. Morale is what keeps people’s spirits up, keeps them going, and prevents the pocket society they have created from breaking down. As long as Morale is positive, the player doesn’t have to worry about people leaving, refusing to do tasks, or being difficult in the field. Certain story events, activities, and luxury items can build up Morale. Other actions such as starvation, killing an ally, or having an ally die in the field can reduce morale. Certain allies (especially those with negotiation skills) and upgrades (like the generator) will give the player daily morale bonuses. Like Food, good Morale can be stockpiled, meaning that as long as people have distractions and Food, generally they will forget about the harsher realities of life.
Source: Rampant Games
Monday - December 21, 2009
Zombie RPG - Design Update - First Art
Brian Mitsoda has posted a new Zombie RPG development update at the ITS forums - basically, a short letter of thanks for the past year.
As a gift to the fans, they've posted their first render - a library scene, which I must say looks promising.
Saturday - December 12, 2009
Zombie RPG - Interview @ Critical Gamer
Thanks to the ITS forums for spotting this interview with DoubleBear cofounder, Brian Mitsoda. The focus seems to be on the use of zombies rather than the gameplay itself but here's a nice snip:
CG: With Zombies being essentially mindless, you’ve mentioned that more focus will be placed on the humans and the psychological effects of a Zombie Apocalypse. What kinds of people can we expect to meet on our travels through ZRPG?
BM: There’s Mystika, the surly thief with a secret crush on the player, Xynax, the stuck-up wizard-in-training who thinks he’s better than us, and M. Byson, the psychic nazi running a secret organization that plans to take over the world by entering a secret fighting tournament. Oh, wait… no, they’re definitely not in the game.
You know your neighbour? The one that’s got the piece of shit car in their yard, keeps weird hours, buys industrial size cans of Beefaroni, and may or may not be dealing meth? Okay, so someone vaguely resembling that could be in the game, except that he’s got the upper hand in this scenario and all the other neighbours that have wanted him to move out for the longest time are already dead. That gives you an idea of the kind of people that populate the game, kind of. There’s quite a few humans in the game and nearly all of them could be allies or enemies depending on how you handle the situation.
I’m hesitant to say too much because I don’t want people to come into the game with preconceived notions about some of the characters, nor do I want to ruin some of the surprise. We’re guarding a lot of the story elements because we’re allowed a lot more control over the story and how much gets shown. It’s the difference between the teaser trailers of old and the tell-you-the-whole-movie-in-two-minutes trailers of modern times.
Tuesday - October 20, 2009
Zombie RPG - Design Update - Skill perks
There's an update on skill perks in the Zombie RPG being developed by Double Bear Productions over at the Iron Tower Studios site.
Skills in the ZRPG – unlike, say, Fallout - don’t work on a percentage system, but in a 10-point spread. Before you get all like NOOOOO about this, it was done so that upgrading skills was a more challenging thing, and that those upgrades felt more concrete and compelling of a difference then “Well, I was at 28%, but NOW I’m at 32%! …I guess that’s better. It’s a higher number, right?” You won’t be able to max out ALL your skills in the game, not by a long shot – where you put those points is a significant choice. (NOTE: think of the point buy system in Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines and you’re not terribly far off)
Source: RPG Codex
Thursday - September 03, 2009
Zombie RPG - Interview @ Gamasutra
Brian Mitsoda talks with Gamasutra about starting up an independant studio after working for larger outfits and, of course, their Zombie RPG. While they're still not revealing much about ZRPG, there are some interesting tidbits sprinkled throughout the conversation and it's well worth a read. On the Age of Decadence connection and graphics whores:
Your first announced game, a zombie RPG, is using the Age of Decadence engine made by Iron Tower Studio. While obviously this will allow you to spend more time on developing content for the game, do you think using someone else's engine will limit you?
Iron Tower’s tools let us build the game a lot quicker, but Iron Tower’s assistance in building the game speeds things up significantly. We had several discussions with ITS about their engine and their game and then designed our game to play to the strengths of what their tools do – of course, this doesn’t mean we’re making Age of Decadence with zombies, but that we are using bits like the character creation tool and dialogue editor to help generate assets quicker.
The Age of Decadence team has been transitioning onto our project as they finish their tasks on AoD. We’re partnering with them for our game, and so far, this has been working out great. We’ve also had no shortage of volunteers and contributors, and thanks to all those who offered to help or are assisting us.
To be precise, we’re actually not using the same exact engine as Age of Decadence. The graphics and lighting capabilities have been significantly bumped up for our game. I think as we release screenshots, people will immediately see the difference. We’re still a small team and we’re not going to compete with Unreal visuals or anything, but I think the quality will be “good enough” for most everybody but the filthiest of graphic whores.
Tuesday - August 11, 2009
Zombie RPG - Interview @ The Reticule
Brian Mitsoda has been interviewed at The Reticule about ZRPG but he isn't giving away much yet:
TR – Brian, you used to work with a slew of RPG developers and worked on Vampire the Masquerade, how has your experience working with those companies influenced DoubleBear?
Brian – Ten years of experience on what not to do, that helps a lot. I started DoubleBear because I wanted to design and write for projects that I wanted to do, and didn’t want to spend the rest of my career waiting for the design crapshoot to deliver a decent project and/or having control over a title so that I don’t have to worry about the publisher “Wheel of Fate” landing on “lemon” and getting several years work flushed down the toilet. Again.
Really, when you look at what’s being made in the indie game market right now, there’s not a lot of RPGs or indie RPG companies out there. I knew there was an audience for RPGs that were less ambitious then the bigger budget titles coming out, but after announcing DoubleBear, we found out that that number was much, much bigger than we estimated. We’re taking our knowledge of RPGs and turning that experience into a project that I think that will be able to compete with larger projects, as far as the mechanics and writing goes. We hope DoubleBear is able to turn out a game that is as satisfying as other well-known RPGs, even if we aren’t pushing the amount of polys that the multi-million dollar projects are.
Thanks Resch on the forums.