When we launch Season 3 you’ll notice that your Zombies, Run! app has been given a seriously streamlined new look. We’ve shown glimpses of this in screenshots before, but the gifs below will give you a better idea of how the new interface looks and feels.
(We had to compromise slightly on image quality when it comes to these gifs, but we felt it was important to give you a good feel for the new look. The app itself will be sharp and clear, as you’ve seen in the screenshots we’ve released so far.)
Here’s how the new missions lists look on Android:
And here they are on iOS:
The statistics screen will allow you to see graphs of your many different running and game stats. Here’s the iOS version:
And here it is on Android:
We’ll have more sneak peeks at other areas of the new Zombies, Run! app between now and the launch of Season 3. Don’t worry, you won’t have long to wait.
Zombies, Run! lead writer, Naomi Alderman, pops into the blog with the first in a series of posts about the writing and development of the story in Season 3. First up, an introduction to the writing team.
With only a few days to go until Zombies, Run Season 3 is available, I thought it was a good moment to say a bit about the core team who’ve been working on the story with me.
There comes a time in everyone’s life when they realise that they might need a bit of help in coming up with more ideas for why an unnamed genderless protagonist is running away from zombies – and start to think that a more American ‘writer’s room’ model might work better. So, this season I’ve been privileged to work with a fabulous team of writers.
Rebecca Levene – author, editor, TV writer and general ‘person who puts up with my terrible zombie-related moodswings’ has been my right-hand woman on Season 3. We’ve spent days walking up and down hills shouting at each other about plot. She raises the awkward questions (“but *why* would he have done that, since there’s another much simpler way to do it like this?” “shut up” “I’m right though” “shut up”) which means that the thing actually makes sense and we’ve worked out the major plot arc together. Bex has also written a bunch of hilarious, creepy, exciting, scary episodes!
I’m thrilled that our “up from the ranks” fan writer Andrea Klassen is back. Andrea’s writing is always so incredibly characterful and rich. She comes up with ideas for character backstory that are just *perfect*, and makes me wonder why I didn’t think of it myself.
This season I’ve also brought on a couple of new-to-Zombies, Run! writers: Gavin Inglis and David Bryher. David’s an accomplished writer of games and audio drama. He worked with me on some storylining for The Walk – the creepiest missions in The Walk came from his ideas so I knew he could do a fab job on giving all our Runners Five a good scare. Gavin’s a writer and performer with a brilliantly distinctive voice and style. Check out his Cthulhu-esque Choice of Games ‘Eerie Estate Agent’, with the combination of comedy and terror that makes him a perfect choice for ZR.
There are some fantastic guest-writers to announce for this season too… but I might just save that for another post!
It’s recording season at Six to Start once again! We aim to record each mission in around an hour, which can mean that Matt and the actors spend prolonged periods of time in our office soundbooth, deprived of natural light (and occasionally oxygen).
For actors with a lot of lines, such as series regular Phil Nightingale (Sam Yao), this can sometimes lead to a little bit of confusion when we start a new mission, as you’ll hear in this outtake…
Estee Chan, the lead artist here at Six to Start, has been pretty busy recently. We grabbed her for a quick chat to discuss her work on Zombies, Run! and what else she’s been working on.
There are a lot of zombies games and TV shows out there – how do you tackle the challenge of making Zombies, Run! look different?
Good question. At the start when we were designing the first Zombies, Run!, we didn’t initially have the intention to draw in zombies for the app, since the story and audio did very well in conveying the feel of the zombies’ presence and atmosphere. The majority of the art in the ZR series is focused on the buildings in the base and environments which play an important role in the story.
The art reflecting the urgency of the situation via the damage states in the Base structure and deteriorating landscape seemed more powerful and ‘realistic’ than putting in loads of zombies. I guess that’s one visual difference of ZR compared to other zombie games – the lack of zombies in it.
We did, however, later on decide to draw in zombies for illustrative purposes e.g. in the tutorial screens, promotional poster and some of the T-shirts. However, the look of the zombies differ from the norm seen in films and other games (bloody, fleshy and gory aesthetic) while still recognisable as zombies, perhaps in a more conceptual form.
Silhouettes of dark figures seemed to work well with the clean and crisp look of the app design and even in the logo (it still feels kind of surreal to see my hand silhouettes everytime I look at it!). I remember in our early discussions one of the rules was to have NO BLOOD in the art, and so I guess we already wanted something clean and different in mind very early on.
What are you able to do in Zombies, Run! Season 3 that is different or better than in previous seasons?
We introduce artefacts in Zombies, Run! 3 and graphics are created for these to give visual detail to their text descriptions instead of just showing icons like in the previous seasons. Artefacts were used in our other app successfully – The Walk, and they help give the game richer content and add more impact and texture to the story.
In terms of the overall visual design, perhaps it’s not as big a leap as from ZR1 to ZR2, since many of the assets from ZR2 still fit very well and in-line with the design of ZR3, as it is meant to be a continuation. So we felt that it was not necessary to make a major change in the art direction as we still want the users to feel familiar and ‘at home’ with the base they know. Much of the focus was put in polishing-up the artwork and adding new content (artefacts, new buildings, add-ons and amenities) to make it richer and more relevant.
Looking at the art style, if you compare the art in the first game to the new ones you may notice that the graphics have become a lot cleaner with flat-shaded colours and outlines around buildings, as well as being less gritty. I am still surprised to hear that some people thought it was ‘pixel-art’. Perhaps the clean straight shapes and isometric perspective eluded to that. But basically it was all simply painted with various brushes in Photoshop. This proved quite tough at first especially drawing in isometric perspective for everything, keeping things properly aligned to each other and maintaining the correct scaling of buildings consistently throughout the Base, etc.
Tell us about your personal creative process.
I guess that differs between projects. Since I began work at Six to Start in 2010, every project had been fun and challenging. For example, early client work such as The Code for the BBC involved a lot of planning for the exact art assets needed to complement the design. It was mainly working very closely with the game designers and developers and producing batches of graphics to set schedules, and the tasks were managed one after another until completion.
Only later with Six to Start’s own projects was there more creative freedom and input in the artwork and style of graphics. For the Zombies, Run! series and its C25K app there was flexibility in how they could look, and the artwork was iterated and revised throughout many discussions until a final preferred style was adopted.
Often while working on the main projects I will be working on other projects in the same time. During the client work period I was working on The Code plus art for several smaller projects for other clients; and during the Zombies, Run! series I was also working on the art for The Walk whilst brainstorming and mocking-up designs for a few other new games (more on those later).
Being the only artist in the team, it was very important and my responsibility to manage and balance the amount of time spent between projects and allocate tasks accordingly to meet various soft and hard deadlines. At times when it was tough it was necessary to hire other artists to help out, in particular for some of the Base art in ZR2 and the maps art in The Walk.
In terms of how I go about with developing the work creatively, after getting the brief or concept of the design, I usually start by sketching out ideas and then mockup some designs in Photoshop. I use a lot of reference and inspiration from things I see, images online, books, etc. in order to make the designs I create look more convincing. Mockup art is shown to the team throughout early development to allow feedback and comments which helps further the design and art direction.
Often ideas will be bounced around for a period between the designers, writers, developers, etc. until more solid concepts can be realised, and I find that the various input from everyone helps inform the art I create in the end. In the latter half of development, I usually work more closely with the developers to complete the assets needed for the code and resolve any problems that may sometimes arise in the process.
Other than artwork for Zombies, Run!, what other projects are you working on?
We recently finished The Walk which is a very beautiful app thanks to the amazing map artists Kasha and Dakota. We’re currently putting the final few touches on ZR3 before release and I’m working on two new games – one is very different to other games I’ve worked on in terms of tone, style and content; as well as being more ‘action-based’ I guess and probably Six to Start’s first game with 3D content and animations!
So I’m really excited about that. The other game is smaller in scale (however would probably end up being quite addictive) and the idea is a lot simpler with probably cuter-looking art – which is something we haven’t really done before – think cute, colourful, brighter, happier game perhaps?