A player’s perspective

What was Zedtown: State of Emergency like? Tony Martin explains…

Photograph credit: NAT Photography

01.

Zedtown: State of Emergency player perspective
Above: My squad, at Sydney Showground, pre-game. Fresh faced and optimistic. (I’m second from the left, in the beige-colored trousers). I made the Nerf Gun holsters out of cardboard and duct tape, following a YouTube video.

We have joined Red Team.

02.

Zedtown: State of Emergency player perspective
Above: Part of the crowd. We all face towards the stage, where “The Mayor” is explaining the rules. As the Mayor is talking, zombies emerge from backstage and attack the Mayor. Someone screams. All hell breaks loose. Take a look again at that crowd photo again. Now imagine nearly 1000 people trying to escape that pavilion in a panic with zombies on our heels. It was a mad stampede.

03.

Zedtown: State of Emergency player perspective
Above: Just outside the pavilion a few moments later.

04.

Zedtown: State of Emergency player perspective
Above: Despite my best efforts, I have already become separated from my entire squad.

05.

Zedtown: State of Emergency player perspective
Above: After the chaos, I manage to link up with a couple of guys from my squad. We try to locate the Red Base.

06.

Zedtown: State of Emergency player perspective
Above: Red Base. This open-air amphitheater makes a fine, defensible base. Lookouts on the top tier have a good view of any approaching zombies or enemy soldiers. We have just captured one of the Yellow Teams leaders.

07.

Zedtown: State of Emergency player perspective
Above: Blue Team and Yellow Team leaders. Each leadership team has a table-map of the “city”. From here they deploy squads out on missions: Capture a point, scavenge fuel for the power plant, retrieve experimental anti-Z-serum, take prisoners or steal from enemy bases, reprisal attacks on enemy bases.

Some players become specialists. If you’re on a mission that requires an engineer, then you need to protect your engineer or the mission is a failure.

08.

Zedtown: State of Emergency player perspective
When Human Survivors fight each other, it’s a Nerf Gun battle. If you are hit, you are injured and out-of-combat, you must return to your Team Base to heal.

09.

Zedtown: State of Emergency player perspective
Zombies who are hit by Nerf Darts must also return to their Zombie Base to regenerate. Survivors who are touched by zombies are turned into zombies for the rest of the game.

10.

Zedtown: State of Emergency player perspective
Patient Zero is taken to the Yellow (Scientists) Team base for study. That ended just the way you assume it would end. Patient Zero is a Boss-Zombie who cannot be killed. When you see her, you run.

We first hear about Patient Zero on Zedtown Radio, which is broadcasting rumours live throughout the entire game. You listen-in on the Zedtown App on your phone. The app also allows you to receive orders from base, communicate with your squad, keep track of how many players are infected etc.

11.

Zedtown: State of Emergency player perspective
My favourite part of the game is the social dynamics that emerge among survivors. These weren’t formal “rules”, they just evolved naturally based on our situation. The “safer” half of the city (far from the Zombie Base) saw a lot of inter-faction fighting over precious resources. But as you got closer to the zombie infested part of the city, survivors from different factions stopped fighting each other and teamed up. You could feel the atmosphere change as you moved across the city.

12.

Zedtown: State of Emergency player perspective
Not Pictured: Even a visit to the bathroom is tense and cinematic. I try to avoid blind corners, and I am worried that a zombie might lurk in the bathroom as an ambush spot. I do that Hollywood thing, kicking the door open with my foot, gun ready. Then I tactically “clear” the bathroom stalls while my squad-mate stands watch outside. Halfway through my pee, I hear my squad-mate shout “Hurry Up Tony! We need to get out of here! Now, Now!”.

13.

Zedtown: State of Emergency player perspective
Above: No story here. I just loved the costume 🙂

14.

Zedtown: State of Emergency player perspective
Above: We drop by the Black Market. Coins are given out in-game by leaders and NPCs as a reward for completing missions. We can’t afford anything right now, but we’re hoping they might have some clues as to the location of Agent Fairchild. Red Leader has sent us looking for him (her?), but Fairchild remains elusive.

15.

Zedtown: State of Emergency player perspective
We survivors have guns, but the zombies must touch a human to infect them. So as long as the survivors stay disciplined and hold-the-line, they are (comparatively) safe. But when part of our group panics and runs, its every man for himself. This feels terrifically cinematic. As the horde approaches, you can feel the panic start to creep in. People are shouting, “Hold-The-Line! Hold-The-Line!”. It feels like a war movie.

At first, we maintain discipline. It looks like we are going to hold. But too many survivors on the left flank need to reload. The zombies smell weakness and surge. A small handful of people break and run. Like a herd of deer, animal instinct takes over, everyone panics and runs. Then the zombies feast.

Before the game, I imagined that the best part of the game would be the fiction of pretending to be a disciplined, professional soldier. Ruthless and steady under fire. But in those moments, no matter how cinematic and fun, I can’t forget that I am “playing soldier”.

Instead, it’s this moment when I am flanked, when blind animal panic sets in, that the game “feels real”.

Winston Churchill said “Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.” I think I know what he means. There is so much adrenalin triggered by this make-believe brush with death. I can see how people could get hooked on real danger, no matter how perverse that seems.

16.

Zedtown: State of Emergency player perspective
Above: Moments before a Zombie gets me.

Red Base has been completely overrun by a Zombie Horde. We managed to evacuate with our Power Plant (that’s the big metal tank I’m pushing in this shot, I have my back to the camera). Our goal is to take the Power Plant and seek refuge in Blue Base. What I don’t know is that Blue Base has also been destroyed.

17.

Zedtown: State of Emergency player perspective
Above: That Roller Derby Zombie in the foreground is the one who tagged me. I never even saw her coming.

18.

Zedtown: State of Emergency player perspective
Above: Close-up of Roller Derby Zombie.

19.

Zedtown: State of Emergency player perspective
I am infected. I go to the Zombie Base. Here there is an army of makeup artists transforming survivors into zombies.

20.

Zedtown: State of Emergency player perspective
The original zombies received more elaborate stage makeup and prosthetics.

21.

Zedtown: State of Emergency player perspective
But they are doing a terrific job of mass producing zombies even by the time I arrive.

22.

Zedtown: State of Emergency player perspective
Above: Zombie Tony. The green headband marks me as a Zombie, the makeup is optional (but clearly, I’m not going to pass up this opportunity, its half the reason I’m here).

23.

Zedtown: State of Emergency player perspective
Above: Here I am with The Butcher (a Boss-Zombie). I don’t know what his official “in-fiction” name was, but we gave each of the Boss-Zombies a nickname. Example: “The Butcher is coming! Run!”

24.

Zedtown: State of Emergency player perspective
As a zombie, I must leave my guns and gear behind. Zombies can only infect survivors by touch. That means a lot of flanking, sneaking and running. Being a zombie turns out to be a lot more tactical than being a survivor. We are forced, by necessity, to co-ordinate our attacks. The Boss-Zombies are more organised than the survivor leaders.

It’s tough to tag survivors when they have guns and you don’t. There are a few go-to tactics. You can try hide-and-ambush. You can try overwhelming them in a big group (they need to reload eventually). Or you can lurk around one of the Boss-Zombies (who can’t be killed) and surprise the survivors while they are distracted.

The key is getting the survivors to panic. When even a small portion of the group panics and runs, the chaos creates lots of opportunities.

25.

Zedtown: State of Emergency player perspective

The game ends after 4 hours. 8 survivors manage to evacuate alive out of 800+

I am bone tired. 4 hours of adrenalin and running. I’m too old for this.

For news about the latest Zedtown games like us on Facebook.

Thanks for playing, Sydney!

State of EmergencyThe zombie horde at evac (photo by: NAT Photography)

A huge thank you to everyone who played Zedtown: State of Emergency in Sydney!

This was our biggest day yet with 2,050 players taking control of Sydney Showground in two massive games for Zedtown: State of Emergency. Over four hours the survivors battled with government agents, rogue revolutionaries and the living dead with just 5 survivors in the Day game and 8 survivors in the Night game making it out of the evac zone alive.

We saw lots of players with cameras and GoPros running around on the day – if you’ve taken any footage, we’d love to see it and put it here. Contact us (you can also share galleries to our Facebook page) and show us what you got!

We will be announcing more Zedtown games soon so keep an eye on our site and like us on Facebook to find out what other madness we have in store.

We’re always trying to make Zedtown bigger and better – you can help us by filling out the feedback form below. It’ll only take a couple of minutes and it helps us learn where to improve and gives us demographic information that makes it easier for us to find great venues and sponsors.

See you soon!

Zedtown

Photos

If you have any photos or videos you would like to share, let us know.

Sydney Final Briefing

Just a precious few sleeps until Zedtown: State of Emergency. Here’s everything you need to know and bring on Saturday – all the better to play your part as the world burns.

WHAT TO BRING

At the bare minimum, you’ll need to bring the following:

  • Some kind of foam dart blaster, or some rolled-up socks.
  • A good pair of running shoes.

We recommend you bring the following to fully enjoy Zedtown:

  • Water and snacks to help last out the day.
  • A smartphone to access our dedicated app. A battery extender is also a good idea.
  • Extra ammo for your blaster. We provide some ammo drops, and there’s often lots to scavenge but preparation aids survival!
  • Costumes are fun! Have a thought about how you’d like to dress for the quarantine zone. There are prizes for best costumes!
  • Anything else you think would be fun! We’ve had people bring extra zombie make-up, secondary zombie costumes, walkie talkies, automated turret blasters, banners for forts. Use your imagination!

GAME MAP

Please stay within the playable game zone at all times. Registration and induction will take place at Falkiner Pavilion.

(Please note, faction bases are not listed on the map. This is intentional. We’ll be pushing the location of individual bases to each faction member via our app when the game begins. It’s up to you to find the others!)

IF SOMEONE IS HURT

St Johns Ambulance is on site and will be set up next at the Zombie Hub at Falkiner Pavilion.

(Also, this is a good time to remember that part of the terms of our ticket sales is that we all play at our own risk, so try not to do something crazy that will get yourself hurt!)

RESPECT THE VENUE

Our players are generally so good at cleaning up after themselves, please keep it up. Trashing the Showgrounds is going to be one of the quickest ways we get kicked out of the venue and not be invited back.

NO MODDED BLASTERS

We’ve spoken about this at length on the blog, in the rules and on Facebook but as a final remember performance-enhancing modifications are not allowed at Zedtown. Only purely cosmetic non-mechanical/non-internal mods are allowed. If you’re concerned your blaster may not pass this ruleset talk to a mod and bring a stock out-of-box blaster as a backup. Click for more information.

Thanks for playing, Melbourne!

A huge thank you to everyone who played Zedtown: State of Emergency Melbourne!

This was our biggest Melbourne event yet with over 950 players across two games!

Survivors took control of the Showgrounds, set up forts, escorted VIPs, searched for clues and found new ways to beat the zombie horde and escape Zedtown.

Four survivors made it out of the Day Game but the Night Game saw only one lone survivor make it out alive. Huge congrats!

As always, we saw lots of players with cameras and GoPros running around on the day – if you’ve taken any footage, we’d love to see it and put it here. Contact us (you can also share galleries to our Facebook page) and show us what you got!

We’re always trying to make Zedtown bigger and better – you can help us by filling out the feedback form below. It’ll only take a couple of minutes and it helps us learn where to improve and gives us demographic information that makes it easier for us to find great venues and sponsors.

See you soon!

Zedtown

Melbourne Final Briefing

Just a precious few sleeps until Zedtown: State of Emergency. Here’s everything you need to know and bring on Saturday – all the better to play your part as the world burns.

WHAT TO BRING

At the bare minimum, you’ll need to bring the following:

  • Some kind of foam dart blaster, or some rolled-up socks.
  • A good pair of running shoes.

We recommend you bring the following to fully enjoy Zedtown:

  • Water and snacks to help last out the day.
  • A smartphone to access our dedicated app. A battery extender is also a good idea.
  • Extra ammo for your blaster. We provide some ammo drops, and there’s often lots to scavenge but preparation aids survival!
  • Costumes are fun! Have a thought about how you’d like to dress for the quarantine zone. There are prizes for best costumes!
  • Anything else you think would be fun! We’ve had people bring extra zombie make-up, secondary zombie costumes, walkie talkies, automated turret blasters, banners for forts. Use your imagination!

GAME MAP

Please stay within the playable game zone at all times. Registration and induction will take place at Town Square Pavilion.

(Please note, faction bases are not listed on the map. This is intentional. We’ll be pushing the location of individual bases to each faction member via our app when the game begins. It’s up to you to find the others!)

IF SOMEONE IS HURT

St Johns Ambulance is on site and will be set up next at the Zombie Hub at Town Square Pavilion.

(Also, this is a good time to remember that part of the terms of our ticket sales is that we all play at our own risk, so try not to do something crazy that will get yourself hurt!)

RESPECT THE VENUE

Our players are generally so good at cleaning up after themselves, please keep it up. Trashing the Showgrounds is going to be one of the quickest ways we get kicked out of the venue and not be invited back.

NO MODDED BLASTERS

We’ve spoken about this at length on the blog, in the rules and on Facebook but as a final remember performance-enhancing modifications are not allowed at Zedtown. Only purely cosmetic non-mechanical/non-internal mods are allowed. If you’re concerned your blaster may not pass this ruleset talk to a mod and bring a stock out-of-box blaster as a backup. Click for more information.

Dress for the Quarantine Zone

WELCOME TO STATE OF EMERGENCY

You’re making your way to the Quarantine Zone. With the country in disarray, it’s important you’re ready for whatever’s out there. Each faction has a separate set of skills that could help you outlast the virus. Remember: it’s up to you how much or how little you dress to the theme, though there are some great prizes available for best survivor and zombie outfits!

THEME

In present-day Australia, the ZTX virus is spreading and turning citizens into brain-craving zombies. You’ve joined a faction run by a Section Chief in charge of either security, medical or logistics. For ideas and inspiration in how to dress for your faction have a look at some of the following great series and franchises:

Red: Zone Security

Yellow: Zone Medical

Blue: Zone Logistics

>> Click for some added inspiration (with pictures!!)

FACTIONS & SIGILS

Every player in Zedtown: State of Emergency begins the game with membership to a specific faction. Each faction is a tribe, gang, community all rolled into one.

Faction sigil artwork by: Matt Roden

FABULOUS PRIZES

We have prizes for the best survivor and zombie costumes this year. We’ll be giving them away just before and right after the game respectively – so if cosplay’s your thing, make sure you show us what you’ve got!

IMPORTANT

As we share our space with lots of bystanders please don’t dress in a way that would intimidate passersby – no full tactical outfits, no paintball masks, no full-camo or all-in-black outfits.

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!