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State of Decay: Undead Labs talks DLC, update bugs, sequels and Microsoft's indie strategy

Jeff Strain and Sanya Weathers on the past and future of XBLA's fastest-selling new IP

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State of Decay makes good use of FateEngine to tell the story of the game and model impact to you and your fellow survivors for the choices you make as you play, but we can (and will) do much more with the technology. Expect to see some additional strategy elements in the forthcoming sandbox mode, and potentially more additions with future updates.

How about formal, paid expansions? Could you add new areas and storylines to the mix?

Anything's possible. But we just launched, and our focus right now is getting the Steam version out the door, and as for a formal expansion, the thing we've announced is the pure sandbox mode. No storyline but the one you tell yourself as you try to survive.

Have you considered allowing players to completely disable all the base management and social stuff, and letting them wander the world as a lone wolf?

Lone wolf play is fun, but that's just not what State of Decay is about. The entire game is designed and tuned around simulating a survivor community struggling with the very real ethical choices you must make in the zombie apocalypse. As we expand the simulation opportunities provided by the State of Decay engine in the future we will explore ways to directly support lone wolf play, but the game as it exists today is not designed around that experience.

How did title update 1 wind up being so buggy, and what actions are you taking to ensure this doesn't happen again?

Title Update 1 wasn't buggy - it just didn't work at all! The simple answer is this was our first title update, and we made a bad assumption about how the process worked and it wasn't caught during testing.

Every game is split into the executable file (similar to an application on your computer), and game data. We built FateEngine to be heavily data driven to give our designers tremendous flexibility to add, change, and balance content without needing to write code or change the game engine.

When you run the game, the first thing it does is load all these data files. Due to a difference in the way the Title Update process works in the live environment versus our internal testing environment, the game was not properly loading the updated data files after Title Update 1 was applied, and was instead still loading the original data files. Since most of the changes in TU1 were encoded in the data files, the net effect was a patch that did nothing.

We've identified and fixed the problem for TU2, and have adjusted our process with Microsoft to make sure something like this can't happen again.

Do you have to pay for every Xbox Live update beyond the first?

That's a contractual detail we can't discuss. Suffice it to say that there is nothing preventing us from releasing as many Title Updates as needed to ensure the game is stable and awesome.

You've discussed plans for a State of Decay MMO. How's that going?

At this time it's a concept, not a project. All of our energy is devoted to getting State of Decay in the best shape we can manage, and then following up with the PC version, sandbox mode, and perhaps other expansions.

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Is it possible you'll release another single-player State of Decay title, in light of the reception? What would you change or improve, if you had the opportunity?

We could happily add cool new stuff to State of Decay forever. We have concrete plans to release a pure sandbox mode that more heavily relies on the simulation than the story and introduces a few new play mechanics.

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