Dead State Interview

The recently greenlit Dead State has been a topic of conversation here at Greenlit Gaming for some time thanks to its interesting concept and strategic flair. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to speak with Brian Mitsoda of DoubleBear Productions about the game and their plans to make it the best survival experience possible.

Good day! Please tell us about yourself! 

Brian: My name is Brian Mitsoda and I’m the owner/project lead at DoubleBear Productions. Dead State is the first of hopefully thousands of games for the studio, and it was only through the support of the gaming community on Kickstarter that we are able to make an RPG of its scope. I’ve worked on quite a few RPGs in the last 10+ years and Dead State’s a true test of that experience. I will also be contributing writing to the new Torment.

What is Dead State?

Brian: Dead State is yet another lazy cash-in on the whole zombie fad! …That’s what we would say if we were most other games in the genre. Seriously though, Dead State is a thorough examination of modern day humans reacting to the stress and lack of resources brought about by a major crisis. It’s a blend of base-building, tactical combat, RPG skills, and branching open world story and exploration. Like most RPGs, we’ve got a lot of dialogue and tons of characters. Unlike most RPGs, we force the player to make some pretty difficult decisions based on resource scarcity and personalities. Oh, and every one of your ally characters can get bit and infected or die in combat. If you’re tired of fetching sparkleberries for elves or mowing down waves of running zombies with a flamezooka, this is the RPG or zombie game you’ve been waiting to play your entire gaming life.

Dead State - Car ambush
What a horrible way to start your workweek.

What do you feel makes Dead State stand out in the zombie-inspired genre of games?

Brian: We’re all about the humans, which most zombie games are not. In fact, we don’t say the word “zombie” in our game at all and outside of combat situations, they are not all that prevalent. They’re the cause of crisis, not the focus. They’re the tsunami, tornado, earthquake personified, a force of nature. We don’t know why it happened – we just care about the people stuck in this situation over weeks and months.  For us, the human element is the key focus of the writing and story development, kind of like that show on AMC, and by that I mean Mad Men.

What types of enemies can gamers expect to face?

Brian: As you may have seen in our combat video, zombies are always a persistent threat, but only if you’re unprepared or sloppy. The real threat in Dead State comes from other survivors – both in your shelter and in the areas you will explore. Human conflicts cause internal strife in the shelter, and other groups pose a major threat to players in combat and events. It’s one thing to face the undead, which are pretty stupid and easy to outrun, it’s another thing to run into a group of looters with guns that can make short work of your group. You’re leading a band of mostly normal people, so running into trained enemies is going to pose a major threat to you. The worst enemy in the game is hunger and morale – lose the hearts and stomachs of your people and it’s all over.

Dead State - Officers talking about a threat
The zombies aren’t the only threats around town.

Forging alliances and constructing shelter sounds interesting, but these are zombies damn it. How are players going to be able to keep the zombie hordes at bay when they are trying to take a nap?

Brian: The zombie hordes you speak of are spread out over a large section of land. The game is set in Central Texas, which is just a massive amount of open space with a lower population density. You will run into the dead, but not in the amounts that you would find in a major city. However, the dead and the living will occasionally gather at your fence based on your activity and noise, which will result in your shelter’s fence getting damage and requiring you to spend precious parts to restore it. Lose the fence and you will be overrun the next time one of those large groups of enemies shows up, ending the game. We have fence upgrades and jobs like “guard duty” that help offset some of that damage. As long as you keep protecting the crunchy outer shell, the gooey insides will be just fine – well, unless they run out of food.

How does character and story progression work within the game? I mean, its a survival game so if I’m not very good at staying alive, I won’t see much of the story… or will I? How have you made the story adaptable to various lengths of survival?

Brian: Unlike a lot of modern games, we fully intend to make Dead State a game you can actually lose if you make too many mistakes. Now, you don’t have to be friends with everybody and you can even toss allies out if they rub you the wrong way. All you have to worry about is making sure morale doesn’t plummet, which means pleasing some, using luxury items to distract others, and making sure there’s enough to eat. You will probably not meet everyone your first time through, and depending on how you play, you could have a much different experience with some of these characters and events.  We have multiple endings – the game doesn’t go on forever, but that’s not to say you can’t find a few ways to end it early. Most of your days in the game will be spent with a portion devoted to events or dialogues in the Shelter, exploring areas for food and engaging in/avoiding combat, and managing your resources or figuring out tomorrow’s strategy for keeping the Shelter’s head above water.

Dead State lab argument
With so many differing personalities, there’s bound to be a few disagreements.

How long has Dead State been in development? And how much longer until we can play it!

Brian: Dead State has been around as a project since mid-2009, but really didn’t have the budget needed for a game of its scope until we finished our Kickstarter last summer and brought on many of our contributors full-time. Keep in mind, many writing-heavy RPGs with bigger teams and bigger budgets can easily take 2-4 years, which is why many studios don’t attempt them. Our plan is to release the game “when we’re done” although we are shooting for as close to our promised date as possible. Nobody wants to get the game out more than us, trust me.

How can people support the game, its development, and your team?

Brian: There are a couple of ways people can support the team. We obviously appreciated your “yes” votes on Greenlight and if you want to tell your friends about us, that helps too (but please, say “survival RPG” not “zombie game” – that brand’s been tarnished.) If you missed the Kickstarter and still want to support the project, we have a pre-order site up now. Most of all, we love to see people on our forums – just like at a concert, when we hear you out there, it makes our performance that much better. I know it sounds like marketing speak, but we really couldn’t have gotten this far without the amazing support of fans and enthusiastic gamers all over the world and we really can’t wait to bring you Dead State.

  1. Hi,

    I was a backer for Dead State on the Kickstarter project. I’ve backed well over 60 projects over the last year and get a ridiculous number of updates via email every day. I’m also doped up with opiate meds due to a serious road traffic accident, so rarely actually read any of the updates (I sleep over 16 hours a day, so the time i’m awake is very cvaluable and i prefer playing the game sI al;ready have installed to reading updates. (I know this is stupid, but I find it hard to read anything these days).

    Can you tell me when I can expect a copy of Dead State, and will a Steam key be included? I prefer Steam keys to any other clent or DRM copies. Thank you in advance for answering my query.


    Stephen Brown aka Whiterabbit

    1. Hi Stephen!

      I wouldn’t know, but I will most certainly try and find out! I will get in touch with the developer and see if he is able to provide some information with regards to the release and whether or not they will be including Steam keys. As soon as I have any information for you, I will follow up with a response here.

      1. Okay so I heard back from Brian, and here’s what he said;

        “According to Valve, we should be able to get a key for anyone who pre-ordered or backed the game to activate it on Steam.”

        With regards to when you can expect a copy, he didn’t say, but the game is still currently in development.

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