On Writing Dead State
In case you’re still wondering about the tone of Dead State, here’s a piece of fiction we previously put up on our forums to give you an idea of what it would be like to find yourself in our game:
Imagine yourself outside your usual supermarket. It’s the middle of a sunny day. There are only a few cars in the parking lot. You hear a lot of birds, but no automobiles, no people talking, no music – none of the white noise that makes up the average human soundscape. It’s quiet in a way that modern man cannot fathom, stripped completely of the drone of civilization.
The doors to the supermarket are open, but it’s pitch black inside. You haven’t eaten in over a day and you’re pretty hungry, but there’s something about the store that makes your heart sink into your gurgling stomach. There are other buildings, apartments in the area, but nobody around. It’s been two weeks since you’ve seen a human being. You had a gun, but it’s locked in your gun safe over sixty miles away, because you had to abandon your car when the traffic never cleared. All you have on you is the shirt on your back, a backpack containing nothing but an empty water bottle, and a wooden pole that formerly had a rake attached.
All of the sudden you see a faint shape at the entrance of the supermarket, just hanging out there. You can’t tell if it’s an actual human. The last actual human you saw took a shot at you, so you don’t want to draw attention to yourself immediately. You’ve learned that it’s better in general to stay quiet as a rule. That last gunshot you heard from the last actual human you saw brought out dozens of the dead from within those darkened storefronts and apartment buildings. Just the sight of them, the way their sun-ripened heads turn at you on their flimsy necks like you’ve hooked them with a fishing line, makes you want to instinctively run until you reach safety. But there is no safety – no police stations, no military patrols, no house with loved ones to comfort you. You don’t even know if your loved ones are safe. Sometimes you pull out your cellphone like a rabbit’s foot, just to hold it and hope that someone calls you – anyone – just to hear a voice. But it doesn’t even have any juice left – it’s a fetish now, nothing else.
The figure is still standing there, just out of the light a few feet inside the supermarket. Human or not, your stomach rumbles, and you realize that you need to get in there and eat something or you won’t be able to keep moving. You start walking toward it, hand firmly grasping your stick, driven more by the instinctive need to feed than courage. As you close the distance, it hits you as a spring breeze wafts in your direction – the cloud of rot overtaking your nose and making you gag. The shape moves forward and you can see its feet – burs stuck to its pants and a nail sticking right up through the unlaced sneaker. It makes a loud, painful moan like someone choking on tacks and you freeze right in place. Then you hear more noise, behind the shape, weight being dragged on linoleum, metal being knocked onto the floor. Your eyes adjust as a cloud blocks out the sun for a second. There are a dozen bodies in there wobbling in the darkness - they are all moving toward you.
And that's kind of what Dead State's about.
One of the biggest components of Dead State is the writing. With dozens of characters, item descriptions, and loads of game text, there’s a lot to experience. We’ve got over 10,000 lines of branching dialogue – to give you some perspective, the average screenplay contains about 1000 lines of linear story. For our dialogue, we need to create reactivity for relationships with other allies, the character’s respect for the player, character mood, concerns for events happening in and out of the shelter, and personal requests. As you can imagine, this takes a bit of scripting and time to write, rewrite, and implement – and every ally in the shelter has dozens of nodes of reactivity, including some random events.
Another (optional) component of our game involves collecting data. Out in the world you’ll find phones, USBs, hard drives, and other devices that contain information on them. These will unlock blogs, emails, news reports, and even confidential information that will shed some light on what happened to the rest of the world before the game started. Some of this data is unlocked bit by bit, each segment revealing more of a person or group’s complete story. All told, there is almost an entire novel’s worth of stories and fiction in the game.
And speaking of books, if you haven’t upgraded to any of the tiers that included The Making of Dead State book, you’re missing out on development insights, concept art, interviews with the team, and a whole lot of fiction and game-related writing that didn’t make the cut for Dead State. It’s a professionally edited book with a lot of detail – no pamphlets here. So, if you want even more writing, character details, and developer notes, upgrade your tier to secure your copy of The Making of Dead State.
Also there are 7 days left! 7 days to let people know about Dead State, about our stretch goals, and about how getting the game now will get you a DRM-free copy for about half the cost of when it retails. This will also be your last chance to get the Splendid Box. Remember the Splendid Box is included in all the $350 and up tiers too. And don’t forget, we’re offering an Executive Producer credit on the $5000 tier. If you’re holding out until the last second, remember that you will not get charged until after the Kickstarter ends.
It would be really nice to get those extra areas unlocked by tomorrow. Thanks to all of you who have pledged so far. Let’s keep spreading the word about Dead State while there’s still time - we can do this!