A few words from co-creator and lead writer Naomi Alderman:
So we’ve hinted at it and mentioned it, but now it’s time to make it official: yes, Runner Five Will Return for Zombies, Run! Season 4.
We’re just starting to plot out what exciting adventures Runner 5 will have in the next season, so there are really no spoilers to give. But you know, there’ll be terrifying enemies, horrifying scenarios, and of course heartbreaking moments to continue our tradition of Crying While Running. And there’ll be zombies. You may think you’ve beaten them down, you might believe that you’ve laid them to rest, but remember: you can’t kill something that’s already dead.
I’m thrilled that despite the wonderful success of her novel Smiler’s Fair, I’ve managed to twist Rebecca Levene’s arm*, and she’ll continue to be my right-hand woman for Season 4. And many of the writers from Season 3 stay onboard. I’m very sad that Matt Wieteska’s retired from writing radio mode, but I’ve got a few surprises coming up on that front, and we’ll have plenty of announcements of exciting guest writers to come over the next months.
We’re all so looking forward to getting stuck into Season 4, and I think it’s fair to say that Runner Five’s journey has only just started. There will be the walking dead, their flesh falling from their bones as they come for you with outstretched arms. There will be Sam being concerned and Janine being badass and Doctor Girlfriends… well, you’ll see. Above all, there’ll be mission upon mission when the only appropriate thing to do, the only possible thing to do, is: run.
*basically blackmail, OK. I know what she did for the CIA in Cuba back in 1965.
Warning: This post contains spoilers for the entirety of Season 3 Radio Mode!
Procrastinating from writing this blogpost, I decided to do a bit of digging through old files to try to find the very first bit of Radio Abel I wrote (scroll to the end of this post). It’s dated to exactly three years ago (coincidentally, to my 26th birthday), and contains this apology in the margin: “a first stab, a bit too sentimental maybe, but you get a bit of a sense of the banter / tension between them”. I guess that just about sums up this post as well: “a bit too sentimental, maybe, but you get a sense of the banter: The Story of Radio Abel”.
If you’re reading this, you’ve heard the final parts of this season’s radio mode, and you’ll know that this is goodbye. After three years, I’ve decided to give Jack and Eugene the happy ending I’ve been longing to since their first transmission and let someone else take over the airwaves around Abel Township. I’m a fanboy at heart, and I could no longer resist the temptation to send them into the West. The boys and I are off the air for good.
It has been a real privilege to write these characters for the past three seasons, and to work with such an incredibly talented group of actors in bringing them to life. Amy, Felix, Nathan and Rhys are the reason that radio mode ever made you laugh, if it did, cry, god forbid, or feel anything else at all under the sun. Working with them has been a joy since the beginning and I can’t ever thank them enough for everything.
Whatever else I thought when we started working on the radio stuff, I’d never imagined how warmly it would be received, and whatever else has happened in the past three years, the community’s reaction has been a constant source of light in my life. Thanks to everyone who’s listened to our dumb radio show, whether you liked it or not, and whether you’ve told us about it or not. Without an audience, we’d be nothing other than five people in a soundproof booth talking to ourselves.
Alright, enough with the soppy stuff. As this is the last you’ll see of them, here is a list of things you probably don’t know about Jack and Eugene:
Eugene came first, and was originally on his own. This was short-lived as writing nothing but monologue was driving me crazy.
His name, embarrassingly, comes from my favourite episode of “Band of Brothers”: “Bastogne” – the main character in that episode being Eugene Roe, and the whole thing taking place in the Woods.
Once it became clear that having a solo radio host wouldn’t work, I did the laziest thing possible to make the earliest scenes into dialogue: I took all of ‘Gene’s self-corrections and interruptions and put them under a new voice: Jack Holden. Eugene’s habit for self-correction is, unfortunately, something we share in buckets.
Jack got his first name because it played nicely with “Gene”, and the “Holden” came from the only British player at that year’s World Series of Poker Main Event Final Table.
Jack’s location on day zero is just a big love-in for this song.
Eugene’s old career is pretty much just stolen right from Nathan’s life. If you haven’t seen any of his food and drink reviews, go now! Any time there’s a foodie reference in radio mode, I’ll write something as a placeholder and then wait for Nathan to give me something better during the recording.
The season two radio clip “Smiling Too” is an original song that Rhys brought in with him one day, having written it on the way to the studio and asking if he could include it in the game.
And finally, before I hand over to Naomi to explain a little bit about how season four radio’s going to work, here are some of my favourite moments from the last three years of recording. Let me know what yours are!
Amy barely being able to contain her laughter while recording “The Ablers”.
Felix dancing while he rapped during “MC Cheeseman”
Richard Bell’s amazing sound design on the first three clips of season two radio.
Rhys and Nathan doing impressions of each other in season one (this bit was entirely improvised between takes – just the boys messing around with each other).
Everyone singing “Running Down To Cuba”.
Nathan’s insanely heart-breaking delivery of the line “They never brought him home”.
Hearing all the community call-in clips and having loads of fun writing responses.
Felix’s face when I played him the clip of a fan proposing to Phil (he had no idea what was coming).
Rhys recording the “Eugene is sick” clips. We had to record this stuff at 5.30am as Rhys was heading off on a tour that day, so it was a very bleary-eyed session, which added to the atmosphere.
All the stupid sound effects in “Runner Zero”, as well as that theme tune! We spent quite a bit of time on these sections, but mostly because we couldn’t avoid corpsing. One of the best things about recording the radio content has been how consistently we struggle to get through takes without laughing.
So, that’s it from me. It’s been an absolute pleasure to bring you Radio Abel for three years. Stay safe out there — Matt Wieteska (@gamecat).
And a word from Naomi:
Well. I’ve teared up, and I’m sure you have too. When Matt first told me he wanted to stop writing Radio Abel of course I did what any good Lead Writer would do and imprisoned him in my basement, got out my lump hammer and mentioned that ‘the operation was called hobbling’. But even in the face of my uncannily accurate impression of Kathy Bates, he remained adamant. And, after some treatment in a state correctional facility, I’ve come to accept his choice.
Over the years I’ve seen enough writers try to take over other writers’ beloved characters to know that it just doesn’t work. The fans can tell. It always feels ‘off’. So Matt’s retirement means Jack and Eugene’s retirement too. The ending he’s given them is beautiful and right: it feels like where those characters were always heading, where they were always supposed to be.
It would be wrong, I think, to try to replace Jack and Eugene outright. So there will be radio mode in Season 4, but we’re going to be mixing things up, trying out some new ideas and new characters, keeping radio mode as a lighthearted counterpoint to the Oh God It’s So Dark And Why Am I Crying of our missions. I’ve got some fabulous writers lined up to write radio in Season 4, and those of you who know how much I love the salty tears of the players will be glad to know that I’m not planning to be one of them!
And a little sliver of comfort for you: though Matt created Jack and Eugene, Phil and Zoe were created by Rebecca Levene, so you might just hear a little something from them every now and then.
Jack and Eugene have been part of what’s made Zombies, Run! great, and I’m sad beyond words to see them go. But Matt Wieteska, with everything from his patient, thoughtful, clever and insightful direction to his skills at game design, to his letting us *use his bedroom* to record Season 1, has been a much bigger contributor to all the success we’ve had, and to the million+ players we’ve helped get fitter. So though I’m sad to see Jack and Eugene go, I’m so grateful that we still have Matt on our team. Thank you, Matt.
As soon the Apple Watch was revealed, we knew we’d be bringing Zombies, Run! to it. Zombies, Run! is about turning running into an exciting, epic adventure that motivates you to go further and faster than ever before. We think the Apple Watch can make Zombies, Run! more immersive and easier to play, and we’re keen to be there when it launches.
We’re still learning about what developers can do with the Apple Watch, but we’re sure we’ll be able to provide more information and abilities than ever before. And of course we’re also investigating how we can integrate with Android Wear smartwatches in future editions of Zombies, Run! We’re great supporters of the Android ecosystem as well, and we’re proud that Zombies, Run! is already on Google Glass.
Zombies, Run! plus wearable tech: it’s a no braaaainer. Watch this space for more information!
Ready for another selection of Zombies, Run! fan creations? We’ve got another bumper collection of stuff made by members of the Zombies, Run! community.
If you’ve got anything to submit for the next Zombies, Run! community round-up be sure to let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. It can be anything from art to fanfiction to cosplay to… well, anything Zombies, Run! related! We can’t wait to see it.
Tumblr user VictorOlson has sent us a picture of their vision of Runner 5. Not only that, but Victor is logging her Zombies, Run! experience in character over at her blog. She’s pretty early into Season 2, so she’s got a lot of fun to experience yet! Fun and tears…
TheTalkingCrocus on Tumblr wrote an incredible open letter to us here at Six to Start, which you can find over on their blog. Her real-life tale of battling an anxiety disorder with the help of Zombies, Run! really struck a note with us. We’re so thrilled to hear of people using our app to better their lives, whether physically or mentally. Here’s a short excerpt:
I’m in a much better place mentally and physically now than I was when I started Zombies, Run!. Running has helped me to manage my anxiety disorder, has made me much more fit than I ever thought I could be, has turned me into an athlete who runs sometimes just because she’s bored.
Thank you so much for taking the time to write us that note, TheTalkingCrocus. We hope you’ll stick with us and continue to enjoy Zombies, Run! and our other apps in the future!
Zoe and Jack as you’ve never seen them before! TheWonderSmith’s latest painting depicts half of your favourite post-apocalyptic radio hosts. How do these fit with your headcanon?
Lizz from Podcast Detected was nominated for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. She accepted heroically and the video above shows her getting completely soaked in the name of charity. We’re happy to see fans doing such good work in our name!
Here’s another new artist joining the fold. Tumblr user Silym is getting back into the game after a prolonged absence, but she returns to us with some artwork depicting the events of Season One mission one. Thanks Silym! We’re looking forward to seeing more from you as you progress through the story.
Crownleys returns with a sketch of Zoe and Lou, as requested by TheWonderSmith. We’re not sure who’s who, so we’ll leave that up to you to decide. Arm your headcanons!
And here Tumblr user MouseCarter42 has produced a painterly sketch of Eugene. Looking pensive and deep, but probably just annoyed at having to listen to Jack’s music collection instead of his own.
Rob Wright sent us this great spooky image of a ghostly Runner 5 and we don’t want to worry anyone but we’ve been having strange nightmares about being lost in the woods ever since… Thanks Rob!
It’s September, which means Summer is on its way out. Back to school, nights drawing in and cooler temperatures – the perfect time to start running again!
We’ve slashed the price of all Zombies, Run! Season and Content Passes on both iPhone and Android by up to 50%!
All Access Pass (iOS): $9.99$17.99
All Access Pass (Android): $8.99$15.99
Season 2: $4.99$7.99
Season 3: $4.99$7.99
Interval Training: $1.99$2.99
Race Missions: $0.99$1.99
Our All Access Pass gives you all 120 missions in Season 2 and Season 3, plus access to Race Missions and Interval Training (iOS only). Not bad for less than $10, eh?
If you’re new to Zombies, Run!, you’ll want to pick up Season 2 for only $4.99, which gives you access to a full 60 missions. We highly recommend playing through this before you hit Season 3 (also now $4.99), as you’ll be much better prepared for the story.
For iOS users, Interval Training is great if you fancy a change of pace (har har). It allows you to create custom workouts by combining running, walking and jogging to best suit your level of ability. It’s now only $1.99! You can also get the Season 3 Pass Plus, which combines Season 3 with Interval Training, for 40% off ($5.99).
Meanwhile, the Race Missions are half price at $0.99! These require you to run set distances; they come in two sets of 5km, 10km and 20km missions and give you a first glimpse at life in New Canton. Race Missions are best played between the end of Season 1 and the beginning of Season 2.
Where can I buy them?!1!1
You can buy Season Passes by heading over to the bottom of the Missions tab — they’ll be on sale for just ONE WEEK, until Wednesday 10th September, so get them while they’re hot!
Note: If you already own some passes, like Season 2, we hide the All Access Pass in the app because it wouldn’t be a good value purchase for you.