Zedtown: Development Diary #1

Saturdays are developer diary day! It’s a time for us to give you some thoughts about what we are up to, how we got here and what to expect from ZEDTOWN: State of Emergency. For the first entry, Creative Lead David Harmon takes us through just some of the ways this Zedtown is going to unlike anything we’ve ever done before.

It’s been a while between games, huh? 2016 for us was all about racing around Sydney and Melbourne putting on games in new venues, trying little tweaks on the formula. Our last game was in September, and though we haven’t been posting much, a lot’s been happening.

In 2017 a few things have changed for us, and they make a big difference in how we design and produce games. Firstly, we’ve partnered with Lifelike Company – a touring and production company who take shows and events throughout the Australia Pacific region on a scale which, frankly, we weren’t able to. They’re helping us produce our new ‘spawner’ props (we call them pylons, now – and more on them later), adding their muscle to our production design, scale and game schedule – which means bigger games, more often in more cities.

We asked for critical feedback from players constantly through the process, and people gave us a LOT of it. Most of it we agreed with! Some was really useful and instantly actionable. Some of it was sometimes a little hard to hear – things we had already thought of and really wanted to do but just couldn’t work out how to achieve on the budget and time that we have.

There’s an App For That

One of the most common pieces of feedback we heard again and again was “fix the app!”. Old time Zedtown veterans will know our digital web app is a fairly new invention – only about a year and a half old. It’s aged pretty badly in that time however as we’ve pushed it and pushed it far beyond what it was originally meant to do. As our games get bigger, our game tools need to and so State of Emergency will be our first game to feature the new Zedtown app – a fully native iOS/android application you’ll be able to install to your phone to interact with the game around you.

Going native has a ton of benefits for us. It’s much more forgiving on battery life and things like the radio station, QR scanning and push notification alerts can be delivered seamlessly into how you use your phone. That makes it easier to use, and a ton more reliable. The app is just one of the ways we’re changing how interactive the game and mission play is, and hopefully for the better.

Additional pylons required

New apps in your pocket are great, but new technology needs to be on the ground too. We’re also unveiling a new generation of Zedtown pylons – countdown timer terminals that can do a lot more than our current ones can.

Our Generation 2 pylons can do a lot more than just tell zombies when to run back out into the field. They each have a custom electronic brain, can be reset & controlled remotely and include much bigger displays and a few inputs. They can recognise things like the presence of certain game props (capture the flag, anyone?), control PA speakers and lighting and they can also identify the presence of what we’re calling Specialist power cards’ – until we think of a better name.

Specialist what now?

We’ve played a lot of class-based shooters over the break and we’re keen to see how we can incorporate a bit of that into Zedtown.

Players will now have the opportunity to earn ‘Specialist cards’ in a variety of different specialisations. Some will be given out via a lottery at registration, some to VIP and group ticket holders, more still will be available as mission rewards.

Specialists won’t be super-powered players per se, but they’ll be a useful resource for the Survivor factions at large. Bring one of them with you on a base raid or mission and you might shave some precious seconds off a countdown timer, or gain access to a slightly enhanced feature. We’ll be doing full rundown of specialist classes later, but they’re something I’m very excited about.

-D

We’re out of space but there will be more to come in the coming weeks. We’ve got new rules to roll out, new venue maps, more information on the app, the pylons, the story and missions. Check back weekly for more!