Zombies, Run! and Fanworks

By Zalia

It might sound odd to say that it was fanworks that got me into using a fitness app. Fan fiction and fan art are not the first thing that spring to mind when you think about fitness, even if plenty of fitness apps have dedicated communities. But fanworks are what got me into Zombies, Run!, and what kept me engaged during the long dark waits for the next season.

Zombies, Run! stands out because of its ability to serve both the fitness and fandom communities, allowing a level of crossover that is hard to find elsewhere. A thrilling narrative combined with a solid running app means it’s easy to find stories of people who were drawn in by the story finding themselves signing up for marathons, or hardcore runners suddenly feeling the need to share artwork of their own Runner 5.

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You see this crossover in the Unoffical Zombies, Run! Facebook group. This fan-run community skews towards the fitness side of things; runners will find plenty of posts containing advice, people’s personal bests, and information about upcoming races. But it’s impossible to scroll through more than a few posts without stumbling across another side of fandom. Rubbing shoulders with a post about a runner’s first 5K will be someone asking whether a character from Zombies, Run! would approve of their running route. Underneath a happy photo of new running shoes, you’ll find someone’s post of ‘Notes Found on Abel Township’s Corkboard’. Artwork of characters, custom Zombies, Run! Playlists, themed medal holders – there’s a strong streak of creativity and engagement on display.

The fanworks-to-fitness ratio skews the other way when it comes to the other bastion of Zombies, Run! fandom: Tumblr. It’s hard to say exactly how much fanwork there is on Tumblr. The Unofficial Fanwork Archive which recorded everything from 2012 to 2016 has over 2500 links, so there could easily be over 4000 individual fanworks by now.

While most fanwork posts on the Facebook group tend to focus on a personal experience of being Runner 5, the Tumblr fandom delves into the world of Zombies, Run! in a different way. Runner 5 is still the most featured character in fanworks (inevitable with their status as the main ‘character’) but there is far more content starring the rest of the cast. For example, the characters who host Radio Abel – Jack and Eugene – each have nearly as many appearances in fanwork as Runner 5. There are plenty of fanworks which don’t include Runner 5 at all!

The fanworks cover a huge range of topics. You can see art that illustrates a scene from the app, or read about a world where Maxine and Sam are college students… or jaeger pilots in Pacific Rim. And far from being a solitary undertaking, the fandom has organised special events that have built a strong community and enduring friendships. For example, the Iron Zombies challenge, hosted on chat rooms, gave participants 90 minutes to create something based on a series of prompts, or to sit back and cheer on other people as they raced against the timer. Exchanges, such as the Secret Santa, are meticulously organised, with hours of work going into making sure participants are matched up.

Fandom’s creativity has not gone unnoticed! In the past, Six to Start have drawn from this talented pool – artist Kascha Sweeney drew fan art before becoming the company’s official artist, and a writer on Seasons 2-4, Andrea Klassen, wrote some exceptional Zombies, Run! Fan fiction.

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And it isn’t restricted to fiction and art. The fantastic fan podcast, ‘Podcast Detected’, which I was involved with early on, has been running since 2014. It’s an eclectic mix of in-depth discussions, mission reviews, and the app’s place in a wider fandom community. Some episodes include interviews with fans, and with the cast and crew of the app itself. They’ve even recorded at a few special live events.

The NineWorlds Geekfest convention played host to Zombies, Run! panels for several years and featured writers, actors, and production staff. I have a special fondness for these since I was involved in organising them, just from love of the app. Attendees had the chance to hear stories from the soundbooth, the writers’ thoughts about what they’d like to do in future, and ask questions about the creation of the app. These and other meetups, such as the Zombies, Run! Live event in 2015, have provided a great opportunity for fans and creators to come together to celebrate the app and the fandom that they’ve created.

With so much on offer in the Zombies, Run! fan community, it’s easy to see why people keep coming back season after season. The winter blues can make it hard to even consider running at times, but the strong and creative community built up around Zombies, Run! is what keeps me waiting for the next time the gates of Abel Township are raised.

Here’s a list of places you can check out Zombies, Run! Fanworks: 

What are your favourite fanworks? Let us know on Twitter @zombiesrungame, or in the comments below!

State of the Township: Winter 2018

Hello Runners 5! It’s almost the end of the year, which makes it the perfect time to look at what we’ve done with Zombies, Run! since our last update in Spring, and what we’re planning for the first half of 2019.

I’m really happy with the improvements we’ve made to ZR recently. We added some big new features like Statistics & Personal Bests and support for Siri Shortcuts. We also spent time improving accessibility on both Android and iPhone, including much better support for VoiceOver assistance for the visually-impaired. We care a lot about making ZR accessible for as many people as possible, so we’re really glad to be bringing you all such big improvements in these areas.

Our boardgame has continued to reach new audiences this year, and we were thrilled to see glowing reviews from Rahdo Runs Through and Big Boss Battle. We’re preparing to release the next big update for the boardgame app, which includes not only a number of bug fixes but also a tonne of exciting new content from our amazing guest writers, including Chocolat author Joanne Harris!

I know it’s practically a joke to read “bug fixes and performance improvements” in app updates, but we really did fix a lot of bugs in recent months! ZR still isn’t entirely crash-free but we’re seeing a huge improvement in stability and we’re committed to continuing that work.

So what’s happening next?

Technology

In the first half of 2019, we’ll be doing a lot of work behind the scenes to improve the performance of Zombies, Run! When we first created ZR, we made some assumptions about how many missions we might have, and let’s just say we’ve blown well past those assumptions. So we’re going to make ZR faster, especially on older phones, and that will also improve the stability of the app – fewer crashes and hiccups during runs! We’re also hoping to roll out a feature that will save in-progress run logs in case of crashes, battery problems, or accidental app closure.

Not every change will be behind the scenes, though. We’ll be improving the design of the app to make it easier and faster to customise your runs, and to help new players discover the many, many, many features that Zombies, Run! already has. Part of that will include improving subscription management and the way we explain how to use Zombies, Run!

Finally, we’ll be spending a lot of our time on some secret developments that you’ll hear more about in due time. We’re really excited to tell you more!

Story

Season 8 will be coming this Spring from ZR co-creator and lead writer Naomi Alderman, and next month we’ll be revealing our Spring 2019 Virtual Race. If you like zombie movies and foreign films, you’re going to love this race!

That’s not all! We’ll be adding something entirely new to Zombies, Run! that everyone can enjoy – new runners and veterans…

Community

We’ve added some fantastic new merch to our official store this year, including new posters, mugs, T-shirts, and tote bags, and we’ll be keeping up the pace next year!

We’re also exploring the idea of holding official fan events in both the US and UK – potentially even a fan convention in London! We always love meeting fans and we’d like to reach out further, so watch this space for more details.

Later in 2019…

Our main source of income for Zombies, Run! is from subscriptions. We think this is a really healthy way of supporting development – as long as you continue to enjoy Zombies, Run!, we can continue to maintain and improve it with new stories and features for years to come. That’s why one of big goals this year is to give you more for your subscription, and you’ll start to see that pay off in the coming months.

Apple Music and Apple Watch are still on our to-do list, and we hope to use their new updates to improve our support for both of them in the future.

We’re all really grateful for your support throughout the years, and we can’t wait to see what you think of what’s coming next year!

– Adrian Hon, CEO and Lead Designer at Six to Start

Escape from Tomorrow Island: VR7 Roundup

The results are in! Our Halloween Virtual Race 2018 has been a resounding success, with over 2200 races run, thousands of kilometres’ distance covered, and PRISER devices saved in 1299 cities around the world! 

 

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As always, the best part of running this Virtual Race has been seeing all you Runners Five out there sharing your hard-won progress, getting involved in all the twists and turns of the story, and showing off those medals at the end! 

We also got the chance to meet up with a few Runners Five when we hosted our London meetup to run VR7 together! 

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Congratulations on your races, everyone! Abel Township is proud of everyone who escaped Tomorrow Island. Sign up now at www.zombiesvirtualrace.com to make sure you’re on board for our next adventure! 

Our Amazing New Statistics and Personal Bests

In the next few days, we’re rolling out our 7.2 update on iPhone and Android, and it comes with one big new feature: all-new Statistics including Personal Bests!

We’ve completely redesigned our Statistics feature, making it easier and faster to use than ever. You can view your distance, time, pace, calories, supplies, and zombie chases for every week, month and year that you’ve played Zombies, Run! 

And then there’s Personal Bests – the most requested feature from our fans! We’re calculating your best 1K, 1 mile, 5K, 10K, half-marathon and marathon distances, not only for your new runs but all your historical runs. Yes, that’s the sound of our servers number-crunching their way through millions of runs on ZombieLink!

That’s not all! We’ve added a new Progress section, so you can see your journey through all seven Seasons of Zombies, Run!, plus our Virtual Races:

Statistics are available for all Pro Members, and for the first time, we’re offering a preview of your current month’s stats to all users!

Our 7.2 update doesn’t stop there. On both iPhone and Android, we’ve included several important bug fixes and performance improvements, and on iPhone we’ve included:

  • Improved VoiceOver accessibility across the app
  • Improved Calorie calculation (it was way too low before)
  • Race mission list now shows progress indicators against each mission

We have plenty more we’re excited to show you in the coming months, so stay safe out there, Runner 5!

Run Log: London Virtual Race Meetup

This Saturday, Runners from around the UK gathered in London, coming together to run this year’s halloween Virtual Race as one big happy Abel family. Don’t they look grand in their matching Tomorrow Island race shirts? 

They were joined by the voice of Sam Yao himself – Philip Nightingale – who sent the Runners off with the traditional cry of “Raise the Gates!”, and bestowed them with their medals at the end. 

If you’re yet to join the race, you have just a few days left to secure your entry! Head over to the store now to make sure you don’t miss out on your exclusive race shirt, awesome finisher’s medal, and our most exciting race mission yet

Final Missions of Season 7 – M39 & M40 Released

No time to lose – grab a hold of this week’s missions, the last of the season, Come Together and The End.

You can download these right now from the ‘Missions’ tab. If you’re a Pro Member, you can download and play both missions immediately. Otherwise, you can use your free weekly unlock to play either one.

It’s been a terrifying season, full of twists, turns and thrills, and we hoped you’ve enjoyed it! As always, please let us know what you think of these missions, and Season 7 as a whole, here or on Twitter (@zombiesrungame).

Hey Siri, Raise the Gates!

That’s right – in our latest 7.1 iPhone update, you can now use Siri to start your next Zombies, Run! mission and specify just how long or far you’d like to run.

What’s cooler than that? Oh, how about creating a custom Siri Shortcut so you can say “Hey Siri, Raise the Gates!” to kick off your next adventure?

You can create Siri Shortcuts for lots of different mission types: just look for the Add to Siri button in the Run Complete screen, or go to your phone’s Settings > Siri & Search > All Shortcuts. This works on all phones running iOS 12+!

Using Siri isn’t just fun and fast, it’s really important for people who have difficulty using touchscreens. That’s why we’ve also improved VoiceOver and Screen Reader in 7.1, with descriptive labels for more elements and improved readout order.

Got a favourite moment of Jack and Eugene’s banter you want to revisit? Now you can, just by tapping the “Listen to XX Story Clips” in the mission details screen. We’ve expanded it from Story missions to include every Race, Radio, and Virtual Race mission, and it’s coming to iPhone and Android!

You want more? We got it!

New in 7.0.7 for Android

  • Redesigned Interval Training and Related Download screens
  • New offline license checking system
  • Louder zombie groans during chases
  • Clip playback and summaries for Race, Radio, and Virtual Races
  • Improved screen reader integration
  • Crash fixes, especially for Android 8+ 

New in 7.1 for iPhone

  • Redesigned Mission Category screen
  • Fixed the progress bar not updating on back-to-back missions
  • Improved handling of phone calls during missions
  • Clip playback and summaries for Race, Radio, and Virtual Races
  • Improved VoiceOver and Screen Reader integration
  • “Hey Siri, start a 7 kilometre mission in Zombies, Run!” now works
  • Siri Suggestions will help you start your next mission at the perfect time and place
  • Create Siri Shortcuts for your favourite run types

All these new features are free for everyone. Stay safe out there, Runner 5!

S7 M37 & M38 Released

There’s no escape from this week’s missions, Return to Sender and Only Have Eyes for You.

You can download these right now from the ‘Missions’ tab. If you’re a Pro Member, you can download and play both missions immediately. Otherwise, you can use your free weekly unlock to play either one.

As always, please let us know what you think!

S7 M35 & M36 Released

This is not a drill! This week’s new missions, What the World Needs Now and CONTROL, have docked.

You can download these right now from the ‘Missions’ tab. If you’re a Pro Member, you can download and play both missions immediately. Otherwise, you can use your free weekly unlock to play either one.

As always, please let us know what you think!

We’re Removing Some Non-Zombies, Run! Fitness Apps From Sale

In the six years since we first published Zombies, Run!, we at Six to Start have been at the cutting edge of fitness gaming. We’ve brought you zombie chases, EMP blasts, exosuit dogfights and many more memorable, motivating adventures.

Our pride in our work is at the heart of everything we do, and every app we’ve published represents thousands of hours of work from our talented team aimed at providing you with the best experiences we can imagine. But as your needs and our imaginations change, the time for some of these apps passes, which means we need to make difficult decisions about their future.  

With the ongoing changes to mobile devices, updates to their operating systems, and new trends in visual design, the work of maintaining our older apps demands more and more of our time. As many of these apps no longer match what people look for in a fitness game, their audiences have diminished, meaning it becomes more and more difficult for us to justify spending as much time as would be required to keep them up to date. 

We don’t believe it would be right to continue to make money on apps we are unable to keep up to date, and so we will be removing the following apps from sale on November 5th 2018:

  • 7 Minute Superhero Workout 
  • 7 Minute Motion Workout
  • Dungeon Runner
  • Step Buy Step

If you already own these apps, you will still be able to download them from your app store of choice after they have been removed from sale. Zombies, Run!, Zombies, Run! 5k Training, Racelink, The Walk and the Zombies, Run! Board Game app are all unaffected by these changes.

If you have any questions about these changes, please don’t hesitate to contact us: support at zombiesrungame.com