Guest Post: How I created a zombie apocalypse with Corona

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Ed Anderson of Mongadillo Games is responsible for scaring the bejeezus out of us with ZDay Survival Simulator, our latest App of the Week.

Below, you can read about Ed’s process of creating the post-apocalyptic zombie game, and how he even collaborated with Corona developers just like you (assuming you’re a developer) whom he found in our forums! 🙂

Ed Anderson, Mongadillo Games

How often do you think about what you’d do in the event of a full-blown zombie apocalypse?

If you’re like me, you think about it at least once a day.  I’m not suggesting that I have stockpiles of ammo and weapons in my house, or three years worth of canned foods and bottled water.  Nor am I suggesting that I have over 125 cases containing things like emergency torches, hand-crank flashlights, radios, water purifiers, and medical supplies.  That’d just be crazy!

No, I’m not like that. I just think about it casually as I live my otherwise normal life, when I walk past a building or a house, I may have a passing thought as to its fortitude and defensibility in the event of a horde.  I may give casual attention to everyday objects that I see in terms of how they could be used to bash a zombie skull.  That’s not crazy, that’s prepared!

I created ZDay Zombie Survival Simulator because I wanted to imagine a scenario and try to transport the player into it so that they might be able to lose themselves in an experience and gain a little insight as to what good and bad decisions might look like in a zombie virus event.

The actual “aha!” moment to spur me to create ZDay Survival Simulator happened in the summer of 2010, when I completed a quiz titled something like “How long would you survive in a zombie apocalypse?”  I was intrigued by the title, and took the quiz.  The quiz was short and asked, in my opinion, all the wrong questions, and I am grateful for that in a lot of ways, because it made me think “I can do better!”

Right away, I set out to imagine a game that asked questions, and kept track of the answers that were given, items that were found, and offered new questions based on which choices the player made.  I didn’t want to create a straight-through linear multiple choice test, I wanted the player to be able to have some control over what decisions they had to make, and what choices they could avoid.  After a year of development of the concept, and since I am not a developer but an artist by trade, I went looking for a developer that could get it done.

I knew I wanted to use Corona because it seemed like a perfect fit for an app that was basically animated screen views with dynamic text, images, and buttons.  After looking around on the Corona message boards, I was lucky enough to find an excellent Corona developer in Australia named Jayant Varma of Oz Apps.  We started work in August 2011 and he worked closely with me for about four months developing the game, and we managed to get it uploaded just an hour before midnight on December 31.

To help with the artwork, I wanted someone with experience in comic book illustration to get that dark, Frank Miller sort of look. And I was (again) lucky to find someone who is absolutely top notch — Matt Haley, who lives here in Portland.  Matt has done a lot of work for DC Comics over the last 20 years, and he really did a great job for ZDay.

I wanted more than anything else for ZDay Survival Simulator to have an element of realism that would separate it from other games.  I wanted people to really understand that, despite what they might have seen in movies, fighting zombies is dangerous business. Engaging in a fight with the undead is a big risk that should be taken seriously, so ZDay tends to reward caution more than bravado.

ZDay Survival Simulator has been a real success so far, it was downloaded over 10,000 times in the first week, and the main complaint I hear back from players is that they want more!  I don’t have a problem with that, because it means they like it, and there are more challenges in the works that will be available soon via free update.   My plans include an Android version for Amazon’s Kindle Fire, as well as another “lite” version, which will not include the additional content that is soon coming out, but  will be compatible with older iOS devices.

I have plans for another app that is already in development, and is also horror-themed, but in my opinion, it’s going to blow the doors off this one, as it will be (hint) MASSIVE! 😉

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This entry has 3 replies

  1. J. A. Whye says:

    Nice story – might give other non-programmers ideas on how to create the game they want even if they don’t know how to code!


  2. dingo says:

    10’000 paied downloads in one week? awesome, congrats!

  3. Ken Ibrahim says:

    Great story! Just wondering how you budgeted the project. You mention that you found a coder and an artist (one who works for DC Comics no less). What type of contracts did you set up? I would imagine that you wouldn’t want to invest too much considering that this is presumably your first app and a testing ground for such endeavors. That said, I’m curious if you paid up front, gave advances + back end %’s or if everyone just agreed to receive royalties.

    I realize this seems a bit of a personal question so please feel free to answer as little or much as you feel appropriate. I will soon be this point and am wondering how others have negotiated.

    Cheers! Ken