The next game from State of Decay developer Undead Labs is Moonrise, a multiplayer monster collecting role-playing game for mobile devices being developed in collaboration with Kabam, the companies announced today.
This marks the second publishing collaboration for Undead Labs, the first being a multi-year, multi-title agreement with Microsoft Studios made shortly after State of Decay became the fastest selling Xbox Live Arcade title in history.
In a post on the Undead Labs blog, studio founder Jeff Strain — a veteran programmer who worked on StarCraft and Diablo and co-founded Guild Wars studio ArenaNet — detailed the new game's features. Moonrise will feature 3D visuals and be multiplayer-focused, with real-time online play available between friends. Players will collect magical creatures they can use in real-time strategic combat scenarios, as well as customize these creatures and their own created character.
"Moonrise is of course very different from State of Decay in many ways," Strain wrote. "It's bright and colorful, it's fantastical, and it's on mobile. But despite those notable differences, you'll also find that it's very much an Undead Labs game, with a focus on systems-driven content, sophisticated progression mechanics, and a few bold design choices — such as strategic real-time combat — we think will result in a fresh gameplay experience."
Speaking with Polygon, strain said Moonrise's online connectivity can be compared to that of a fully-hosted massively multiplayer online role-playing game, but the team doesn't "call it an MMO because it really isn't an MMO in the traditional design sense."
But the core of Moonrise — like the future of State of Decay — is "most definitively multiplayer." He explained that Undead Labs is "in the business" of building online games that can be picked up and played anytime, anywhere, and wanted to create a new game that wasn't cross-platform but "omni-platform." Undead Labs wanted something players could take with them, eventually settling Moonrise on the one device people always have with them — their phones.
"Survival fantasy is in our blood (so to speak)."
"Like every game we will ever make, Moonrise is a gamer-focused game, meaning it's developed for people like us —passionate gamers who expect our time and money to be treated with respect," Strain added in his post. "It's also fully an Undead Labs game in terms our complete commitment to the player community and long term support for the game. Moonrise is as much our baby as State of Decay, and babies needs lots of love and attention."
Strain said that development on Moonrise began in 2013 shortly after State of Decay was delivered to certification. During this year's Game Developers Conference, Kabam approached Undead Labs about publishing.
"We wanted to make a console-quality mobile game, and Kabam was interested in working with an experienced console developer to make a game for core gamers," Strain explained. "It was a good fit, so we decided to work together on an ambitious new mobile RPG after we released State of Decay."
Moonrise is not about zombies and more of a love letter to the other genres the developers adore. Strain cited Monster Hunter, Pokémon, Magic: The Gathering and Hearthstone as influences in putting together Moonrise.
"We think of State of Decay as defining the survival-fantasy genre," he said. "It's not about completing scripted missions or clearing waves — it's about living your survival fantasy. State of Decay was a solid first step, but we can take it so much farther. And we will. Survival fantasy is in our blood (so to speak), and I can tell you definitively that State of Decay has a very bright future."
Strain also reiterated in his post that development on State of Decay will continue. The studio recently brought on J.L. Bourne, author of the Day by Day Armageddon novels, to work on "things that will be exciting to State of Decay fans." This could possibly mean Class4, the codename of the studio's next in-development zombie-themed project.
Moonrise will debut at PAX Prime in Seattle later this month, where Undead Labs will be showcasing the title's beta build.