Recon Report: What’s Happening Next with ZR

Now that we’ve launched v1.2 of Zombies, Run! and will be releasing the Android version in the next couple of months, we want to share a bit more information about what we have planned beyond that.

But first, it’s useful to explain why we’re often a bit cagey about providing exact release dates and plans:

  1. Every update we make to the game needs to go through Apple’s review process, which usually takes around a week, but has been known to be much slower or quicker – and on occasion, we even get rejected. This is the biggest reason why we can’t provide firm dates for updates; we could make an estimate, but we don’t want to blame Apple for delays because it’s not very helpful.

  2. We’re still figuring out how fast we can develop features and fix bugs. We’ve learned a lot about iOS and now Android in the last few months, but we’ve got a lot more to learn.

With that said, I can talk a little about what we have coming up. In no particular order:

  • We still need to release the final story mission of Season 1. This will be a free update. It’s almost entirely recorded and edited, but there is one last bit we need to do before it can go live.

  • We’re deep into development on Android, which is scheduled to launch in late May/June. We currently have two devs working full time on it and while the Android 1.0 release will not have everything that iOS 1.2 release has, it’ll have more than the iOS 1.0 release did. This is necessarily slowing down development of the iOS version but we expect this to be temporary.

  • We’re currently recording the audio for two paid add-on packs: Beginner 5k and Interval Training. These will be big updates with a ton of new story and really useful new features, and we’re aiming to release these in the coming few months.

  • We’re also working on the online syncing service, ZombieLink. It won’t come as a surprise that like other running apps, we want to let you see your run logs online. But just as ZR is much cooler than other running apps, ZombieLink will accordingly be much cooler as well 😉

  • Once we’ve done the Beginner 5k and Interval Training packs, we still have a third paid add-on that we need to write and record, which will have yet more story. And we also want to release extra free missions as well.

  • Looking further ahead, there’s Season 2. We have a feature request list as big as Runner 5’s backpack, so we shall see what makes it in!

  • Finally, there is at least one super-awesome thing that is happening that I haven’t mentioned and will not mention until much closer to the time.

In practice, a lot of this stuff is happening in parallel; the solid sales of the app mean that we’ve been able to staff up pretty quickly.

So there you go – that’s what’s happening next with Zombies, Run! I can say for certain that the next 2-3 months holds a lot of awesome stuff to come – but then, ZR has only been out for 2 months as it is!

Photo courtesy Fran Pike

It’s Update Time: So many new features and missions in v1.2!

Note: Looks like there’s a bug that lets you collect free first aid kits (along with other less-useful things) – we’ll fix it in the next update, but until then, enjoy the free supplies! At least they’re not sports bras…

In the next few hours, you should be able to download our latest free v1.2 update to Zombies, Run! What delightful surprises does it contain? Why, let’s find out!

Zombie Chases in accelerometer mode

You read that right – if you have an iPod Touch or you run on treadmills, you can now get zombie chases. We’ve wanted to add this feature for a long time because we know so many of you have been waiting for it.

To activate zombie chases, you’ll need to go to a mission, tap on Tracking, switch Accelerometer to On and then tell us where you keep your device – in a pocket, in your hand, or in an armband. There’s no ‘best’ way to hold your device but you may find some positions work better for you than others.

It’s still an experimental feature because it’s not easy for us to reliably detect how fast you’re moving just from the accelerometer, but we’re pretty sure this should get you working up a sweat!

7 New Supply Missions

It’s a big update when ‘new missions’ doesn’t make it to the top of the list! These aren’t normal missions though – they’re designed to help you collect more supplies to build up your base, and as so they’re highly repeatable and they never end!

The supply missions are unlocked depending on your position in the story, so don’t worry if some are locked for the moment!

Long play mode

When we were first designing Zombies, Run! we wanted it to be accessible to every kind of runner, which is why we made missions last around 30-40 minutes long. But we know that a lot of our players go on runs that are over an hour long, so we’ve introduced ‘long play mode’ to extend missions to around one hour long.

It works in a really simple way – instead of playing just one song in between story and radio clips, we’ll play you two. When we’ve tested this, we find it works really well on 10k and 20k runs and it’s a great way of experiencing a story over a longer distance. You can enable it by going to the app Settings.

Post to Facebook

Not everyone is on Twitter! With this new feature, you can post a report of your run to friends on Facebook. The first time you do this, you’ll need to authorise us to post on your behalf, which for most people will mean that the Facebook app will open and make you tap a button. If you don’t have the Facebook app installed, you’ll have to log in on the web. Simple!

Audio bug fixes (‘stucking’)

Isn’t it annoying when your music goes quiet when you’re out running but the game audio is still loud? Yeah, we thought so too, so (fingers crossed) we fixed it in this update!

ANDROID ANDROID ANDROID
(aka “It’s Spring now, where’s my app already?!”)

We know it’s annoying to have to read about updates to the iOS app when the Android version isn’t out yet. All we can say is that we now have two developers flat-out on Android and we still intend to hit our target release date of late May/June. If that changes, we’ll let you know loud and clear!

Anything else?

With this 1.2 update, we’ve been able to add almost all the features we’d hoped to get into the core version of Zombies, Run! – which means we’re done!

Nah, just kidding. We have plenty more to come – not just the final 30th story mission (and perhaps more!) but lots of new features that we haven’t even talked about here. Thanks to your support, we’ve been able to increase the Zombies, Run! team and plan some genuinely awesome stuff that should be rolling out in the next few months… so get ready to run!

More Radio Abel call-in tips

Dear Radio Abel Listeners,

As you may be aware, we’ve recently started accepting listener submissions for the show. So far, we’ve had an absolutely fantastic response, with listeners calling in to talk about everything from zombie-sensing cats, through government conspiracies, to pet zombie hands. We love the great work you guys are doing, and we want more!

We’ll be accepting submissions for Radio Abel on a rolling basis, but if you want to get your call in to the next set of recordings, you’ll need to get in touch before the 30th of April.

If getting your voice on Radio Abel wasn’t enough, the creators of our favourite submissions could receive a signed copy of the script they’ll appear in, plus a selection of exclusive, not-yet-available-for-purchase Zombies, Run! badges.

If you’re looking for inspiration, here are some questions we’re looking for you to answer:

  • What’s your top post-civilisation survival tip?

  • What’s the weirdest or most surprising thing that’s happened to you since the Gray Plague?

  • What do you miss most about life pre-Zombie?

  • What person or thing has become indispensible to you since the apocalypse?

We’ll also choose our favourite “miscellaneous” call that doesn’t fit into any of these questions. And if you’ve already submitted a call, don’t worry – we’ll be considering you for a prize just like everyone else!

See how to submit your calls, along with other general tips

Matt

Calling all Radio Abel Listeners!

Dear Radio Abel Listeners,

Thanks for listening to Jack and Eugene on Radio Abel and for all your kind feedback on their show. It means a lot to everyone here at Zombies, Run! HQ that you’re enjoying the game and the stories we’re telling. It means so much to us, in fact, that we want you to get involved.

Beginning today, we’ll be accepting your calls and recordings for Jack and Eugene to use on Radio Abel. With the improvements the guys have been making to the comms shack (all thanks to the supplies all you Runner 5s are bringing in!), they’re now able to record and playback stories, questions and opinions from survivors outside Abel, and we’d love you to be those survivors!

So follow the instructions below to call in or submit a recording of yourself and get your voice on Radio Abel. We won’t be able to use every recording we receive, but we’ll do our best to make sure the guys feature as many people as we can. To increase your chances of being featured:

  • Make sure your recording is as high-quality as possible. Try to call from a reliable phone line, or to record your voice using a decent microphone in a fairly echo-less room. For best results, record in a place with as many soft furnishings as possible, or even under your duvet!

  • Try to tell an interesting or personal story, but remember: Radio Abel has to cover things that are related to the Gray Plague and the downfall of civilisation in general. If you’re struggling to come up with something, try answering one (or more!) of these questions:

    • Where were you at the time of the outbreak?
    • How did you survive?
    • Did you lose anyone important in the outbreak?
    • What survival tips do you have for Radio Abel listeners?
    • Do you have any funny stories from the road?
  • Do not say where you are calling from – we obviously need your recordings to fit within the fiction of the game, and you won’t know what we have planned…

  • Don’t comment on what’s happened in the story or with the characters, but feel free to comment on topics that Jack and Eugene have covered in their show!

  • Try to keep your stories and tips short. Radio Abel’s segments are no longer than 2 minutes, so if we can’t fit your story and some reaction from the boys into a 2-minute-period, we won’t be able to feature you. And don’t feel the need to stretch it out to 2 minutes either – we’re very keen to feature stories as short as 15 or 30 seconds!

  • If you like, you can leave us multiple recordings for different stories, tips, or opinions.

All you need to do is call one of the numbers below and follow the instructions on the phone-line!

Call (315) 895-1949 from North America, or +44 (0)20 7183 8664 for the UK. Alternatively, you can send us an audio file to radioabel@sixtostart.com (10MB max).

We look forward to hearing your stories soon! There’s no deadline since we want this to be an ongoing feature, but if you want to be featured in our next set of material, you’ll need to submit by 30th April.

Stay safe out there!

Matt

Six to Start has moved office – which explains why we’ve been so quiet this week! For the past few months we’ve been working out of a spare bedroom (not the one on Channel 4 though) and with the arrival of George Thomas, our new web developer, we needed to find a bigger space.

Our new office definitely qualifies – it’s split over two levels, meaning that we’re able to set up a small recording studio on the ground floor with our main office upstairs. We’ve already made it into a home with everyone finding their favourite spots and Adrian repurposing an big, odd, immovable shelf into a standing desk. There’s still more space for extra people, which is great since we’re hoping to hire more mobile developers (get in touch if this is you!).

Having our own studio will make it a lot easier to record extra missions and radio episodes for Zombies, Run! We’ll be kicking this off later this month, starting off with missions for our upcoming Beginner 5k pack, so we’ll be sure to get some photos and videos of the magic in action, with Naomi here for the rehearsals as well!

Announcing The Runner’s Guide

Imagine that you’ve arrived in Abel Township, one of the last remnants of humanity in a zombie-infested world. You’ve journeyed for days and weeks to get there, constantly on guard, but now you’ve finally got a chance to rest and recuperate before you begin your duties as a Runner.

But how do the Abel Township Runners operate? Which supplies are you meant to collect? What tactics do the Runners use to evade zombies? And does anyone know how the apocalypse came about?

That’s a lot of questions – and now you have the answers, in The Runner’s Guide.

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What’s in it?

The Runner’s Guide is a 75-page book packed full of details, stories, newspaper clippings, and background about the world of Zombies, Run!

We’ve got newspaper articles from the beginning of the outbreak, a field guide for new runners, medical notes from Doctor Myers on ZN1, field signs used by runners:

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There’s also a list of all the Abel Township Runners, an introduction to Rofflenet (the post-apocalypse internet), A Spotter’s Guide to Zoms, and much more!

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Behind the Scenes

The Runner’s Guide also looks at the making of Zombies, Run! with exclusive development sketches, sound direction notes, and best of all, the full script of Mission 1 with commentary from writer Naomi Alderman and the developers at Six to Start.

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Multi-Touch iBook

Now, you might be thinking, “Those screenshots look awfully like they were taken on an iPad.” And you’d be right, because we’ve also made the book into a multi-touch iBook, with embedded presentations, slideshows, audio from Mission 1 to accompany the script, and even an interactive Runner’s Test!

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So, How Much is it?

We’re selling The Runner’s Guide for… absolutely nothing at all!

We’ve written this as a gift to the community that’s given us so much, first through our Kickstarter campaign, and then through fantastic reviews and support and word-of-mouth. You’re making it possible for us to do something we love, so we want to give something back to you.

View or download the PDF of The Runner’s Guide! That’s right: no mucking about, no DRM – you can print it out, copy and paste it, put it on your tablets, whatever you like.

What about the iBook, eh?

Of course, we spent extra time and effort making the multi-touch iBook look good, and so we feel it’s justified to charge… nah, only kidding, the iBook is also free!

Not only that, but it’s also optimised for the iPad 3’s Retina display with super-high resolution artwork and graphics.

The Runner’s Guide will be available from the iBooks Store for free soon, but if you have an iPad, you can download it directly to iBooks by just tapping this link (46MB).

Why We Made it

Remember those old games like Elite and Ultima where you’d get cloth maps and thick books and little gewgaws in the boxes – things that really added to the atmosphere of story and world? Whatever happened to them?

Two thing: the internet, and the cruel, cruel hand of games publishers. These days, it’s less obvious what you can give players when they’re just downloading a game instead of buying a box, and most publishers are only concerned about the bottom line, not making a novella about a certain Commander Jameson.

Call us old-fashioned, but there’s a lot to like from those days (not the loading times, though), so, because we’ve poured so much of ourselves into the story and characters and world, we wanted to extend that into a book. It just so happened that Apple’s iBooks Author software was announced around the time we were thinking of writing The Runner’s Guide, and so that’s why we also made a multi-touch book (plus Adrian wanted to play around with the software).

Please let us know what you think of the book, and whether it’s the sort of thing you’d like to see more of! And tell your friends about it!

Credits

The Runner’s Guide was written by Matt Wieteska, with additional writing by Adrian Hon, Alex Macmillan, Naomi Alderman, Estee Chan, and Richard Bell. Art and graphics are by Estee Chan, and layout and design by Adrian Hon.

Get The Runner’s Guide from Scribd or download it to your iPad!

Spring has sprung, and everyone (in the northern hemisphere) now has an extra hour of daylight to outrun zombies and collect ammo and sports bras!

To celebrate, we’re running a special half-price sale of Zombies, Run! for three days only, from Friday 6th to Sunday 8th. We aren’t going to repeat this any time soon, so if you’ve been waiting to buy or want to get it for a friend as a gift, then now’s the time!

We had our ‘launch’ party a couple of weeks ago, so we felt it’d be fun to show you some of the people and things that were shown there!

Clockwise from top left:

Limited edition badges made by Idil Sukan
Matt Wieteska, Sound Director
Adrian Hon, Co-Creator and Producer
Eleanor Rushton, the voice of Janine
A mystery slide… what could it be?!
Naomi Alderman, Co-Creator and Writer
Alex Macmillan, Lead Developer

Not in the photos – but no less important – are Estee Chan, Artist and Graphic Designer, and Richard Bell, Sound Engineer, and our other fantastic actors.

Photos © Idil Sukan.

All the News that’s Fit to Print

There’s been some fantastic press about Zombies, Run! in month since we launched – here are some highlights!

Channel 4 News in the UK interviewed our intrepid lead developer Alex Macmillan in his bedroom, playing some great audio from the game. The clip was also syndicated to various others networks like ABC and SBS in Australia, so you may have seen it there!

If you watch the end of the clip closely, you’ll notice something interesting in the background…

That’s right – Channel 4 had a zombie lurching around outside their studio, confirmed by presenter Cathy Newman:

Channel 4 – we salute you!

Other features were made by WSILTV, WSAV, NBC Chicago, and Fox News, plus others that I’m sure we’ve missed.

It’s not all about the video though – Zombies, Run! has been on a number of great podcasts like BoingBoing Gweek, where Michael Pusateri’s named us as his favourite app, with some nice chat with Matt Haughey (Metafilter founder and ZR Kickstarter backer), around 49:30 in.

This Week in Tech (TWiT) has also been very kind to us, with Zombies, Run! being Mac guru Leo Laporte’s Pick of the Week on the Macbreak podcast, and Tech News Today included a great video call-in from player Sean Palladino (around 32 min in).

Returning to the UK again, we’ve had a perfect storm of press in the broadsheets – not just reviewed but also featured on The Observer, plus recently stories in the Daily Telegraph, and the Independent.

Finally, we want to do a callout to the ever-awesome fuckyeahzombiesrun Tumblr and also the Reddit r/runner5 community – and everyone else who’s reviewed, tweeted, and spread the word about us!

Finally finally, we have a couple of hopefully pleasant surprises for you all this week, so stay tuned…

In other news, we went out to see The Hunger Games last Monday. Now, wouldn’t that be a great mission pack… (no, it’s not happening, but if you do know anyone there, well…)