Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Happy New Year!

Survivalist has made a couple of people's year-end best-of lists:
  •'s Top 10 Best Indie Games of 2014 - Survivalist is at Number 7.
  •'s "TheXBLIG of 2014" poll - Survivalist is at Number 1!  Thanks if you voted! :)

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Survivalist has been Greenlit on Steam! + XBox 360 Christmas Sale!

Yes, as of yesterday evening anyone who logs onto the Steam Greenlight page has been greeted by this glorious sight:

Many, many thanks to all the people that voted.  Special shout-out to people who'd played the game on XBLIG, Desura or IndieGameStand and came to write positive comments about it on the Steam page.

So what's next?  I'm hoping I'll be able to get it out out Steam pretty quickly - within the next month would be my goal.  I'll need to integrate Steam Achievements with the Awardments system I just added, and I guess there might be a few other Steamworks features worth taking advantage of.

I also still have my to-do list of bugs and suggested improvements to work on - although I'm hoping to come to the end of it soon, or at least draw a line under it.  One thing I may add is an alternate set of default controls based around the WASD keys instead of the arrows - and a screen the first time you play it asking you which scheme you'd prefer - as it seemed that hard-to-reach keys was a fairly common criticism of the PC version.  If you have a preferred key layout, please post it in this thread by the way.  My guess is that most hardcore PC gamers probably prefer WASD, but I'm reluctant to just make it the default outright because, well, the arrow keys have arrows on them...

Meanwhile, on the XBox 360 the latest patch has passed peer review!  This means the changes from v23, v24 and v25 are now on XBLIG: that includes the Pause/Fast-Forward modes, the ability to craft Bandages from Cheap Vodka and Rags, Concrete Watchtowers, Awardments and the Cheat Menu being unlocked if you complete the game.  Plus there's this:

Yep, I'm doing a sale on the XBox 360!  Over the Christmas period Survivalist for XBLIG will be sold at the lowest price point - that's $1.00 in the US, or 69p in the UK.  The idea behind this was supposed to be to promote the Steam Greenlight, but now I don't need to - woohoo!  However I figure since the PC people have had their various bundles it's time the XBox 360 folks had a turn.  The plan is to return to the $2.99 XBLIG price point sometime in January - so get it cheap while you can!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

I've added "Awardments" and Cheats - and there's a Pay What You Want Deal for the next 4 days!

Survivalist will soon be available as a Pay What You Want deal on, with 10% of proceeds going to Scope, the disability charity. This only lasts from the 27th to the 30th of November, so don't miss it!

IndieGameStand have a feature on these deals called Beat The Average. You can choose what price you pay for the game, but if you pick a higher price than the average so far you get a bonus item. For Survivalist, I decided to add a Cheat Mode to the game. This Cheat Mode is available to anyone who completes the game, but you can unlock it early if you Beat the Average on the PWYW deal. The idea behind it is to enable players to have some silly fun with the game's engine. For example you can:
  • Customize the appearance (clothing, skin tone, face shape, gender, etc) of any character in the game
  • Spawn weapons, buildings and enemies
  • Max out your skills and go on a rampage!
  • View the entire map without the fog of war

Having added a cheat mode, I wanted to give people a reason not to cheat so I've introduced Awardments - aka the non-copyright infringing version of Achievements. If you use cheats, the game will remember it (and will mark your savegame accordingly) and prevent you from unlocking Awardments in that game. So you could give yourself an RPG and blast through everything to complete the game - but you won't get any Awardments from that playthrough.

(However, you can change your appearance without disabling awardments, as that has no effect on gameplay - except for your gender, which does affect a few things).

And of course, if the game gets on Steam the Awardments will be implemented as Steam Achievements.

Here's the Awardments screen in the menus:

I'm also trying out a new price point on PC of $4.99 US, as I often get comments saying it's worth more than $2.99, or that it's such a good deal at that price. And I think some people might assume there's less to the game than there really is, with the price being so low compared to other PC indie games. But if you don't want to pay so much, check out that Pay What You Want deal!

I'll aim to bring this patch (but not the price change) to the XBox 360 version in the next few weeks.

Monday, 10 November 2014

New patch released on PC with Pause/Fast Forward

There's a new patch (v23) out on Desura and IndieGameStand, which introduces the Pause and Fast Forward modes and Concrete Watchtowers which I mentioned in my last post, and some other nice things I'll describe below.  I had to release this a bit earlier than I was expecting as few new bugs were discovered that I wanted to squish.

One of the bits of feedback I've gotten is people often find they don't have enough bandages, whereas something I've found personally is I always end up with more molotov cocktails than I know what to do with.  So in this patch I've done two things:
  • Made it possible to use cloths by themselves as low quality bandages
  • Made it possible to craft "proper" bandages from a cloth and a bottle of cheap vodka as an alternative to molotov cocktails:

 Okay so it's not the most in-depth crafting system in the world, and it's not exactly original *cough* *cough* but it helps balance the game.

Another thing I've done is tried to improve Follow commands a bit.  There was often a situation where you'd want some community members to help you fight off an attack or something, but they were in a building and there was no easy way to get them to follow you - you can now do that with the Alternate Action button.


And when you had a large group it was sometimes quite hard to tell who was following you and who wasn't, so I've made it so that small arrows appear over your followers heads, and you see grey circles showing their health, for a short time after you switch characters or tell someone to follow you.

Here's the full list of changes:
    • Concrete Watchtowers for builders with Construction Skill level 5
    • Pause/Fast Forward feature (activated with -/+ on the keyboard or Down/Up on the d-pad - becomes available once the initial tutorial bit is completed)
    • a warning message if you transfer items to a zombie corpse that could get despawned
    • ability to tell community members in buildings to follow you with Alternate Action button
    • ability to use cloths as low-quality bandages, and to craft bandages from cloth+vodka
    • some hud elements to try and make it easier to tell who is following you
    • AI to make characters on supply runs restock with water etc at the base instead of just anywhere
    • bug where characters got teleported if you placed a building on top of their own location
    • bug where guards would not try to find more ammo if they ran out, and would instead try to melee-attack enemies
    • bug where, if you enclose an area with a fence, zombies could still appear inside it
    • exploit where characters could drink from wells that were under construction
    • exploit where you could get more construction materials by demolishing unbuilt buildings
These changes will of course make their way to the XBox 360 version but it might take a while.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Survivalist is now available on IndieGameStand

Yep, Survivalist can now be bought via IndieGameStand as well as Desura.  There's no real reason to favour one over the other (although Desura does have a demo) but hopefully this will help it reach a wider audience.

I made some new promotional screenshots as I realised the ones I was using were from the XBox 360 and were only 720p, so here they are:

I thought I'd give a brief update on what I'm currently working on.  I've said a few times that I'm not going to make any major changes, but I will fix bugs and address usability issues, and add some minor features that have been requested.  The bug reports seem to have died down recently, which gives me the chance to focus on some of the other stuff.

One thing that was quite often requested was the ability to pause and fast-forward the game.  Pausing is useful in combat if you need to manage several different characters or groups of characters, whereas fast-forwarding is useful if you find yourself without anyone to fight and just want some people to get to their destinations quicker.  With a gamepad, I'm making it so you press the d-pad down to pause, and up to fast-forward.


Secondly, I'm adding a new building - the Concrete WatchTower!  Basically it's the same as the watchtower, but stronger and immune to molotov cocktails.  This is available for characters with level 5 in the Construction skill.  Basically, I've always felt that I never really gave the player anything exciting at level 5 Construction, and that always bugged me, so I figured this would do the job as it's always annoying when looters burn down your wooden watchtowers.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Patch & Interview

I got interviewed at the Wonderland Games Blog, which belongs to a guy who used to write for the now defunct review site (and who also makes zombie games!).

And patch v21 has finally made it through the XBLIG review process, so that's now live on the XBox 360.  This patch was released on Desura a couple of weeks ago and, besides fixing some glitches, contains the much-needed, often-requested ability to sort your inventory:

On a gamepad you use the d-pad left and right to choose what to sort by, and up and down to choose the order.  You can sort by: Time Added (the default), Individual Weight, Total Weight, Individual Price (depicted above), Total Price, and Type.

The windows version, in the meantime, is now on v22.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Steam Greenlight

I'm submitting Survivalist to Steam Greenlight!  If you've played the game, and you liked it, please consider supporting it by going over there and upvoting it :)

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Post-Release Patch

I've released a minor patch for the PC version on Desura.  This was to fix a crash if Windows Media Player was not installed, and a few other bits and pieces.

I've also submitted this build to the XBLIG peer review process, so once it's passed that means owners of the XBox 360 version of the game will get the benefit of many of the small improvements and fixes I've made while developing the PC version:
  • Nicer UI sounds, plus new sounds for gate opening, equiping weapons and more
  • Independant volume control for music, UI and game sounds
  • Prettier menus:
  • Fix for accidentally triggering a war with looters during fisticuffs
  • Molotov cocktail creation amount dialog
  • Various other small fixes
In future, I hope to release patches for both XBox 360 and PC alongside each other.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Survivalist will be available on PC this weekend!

The PC version of Survivalist is going to be coming out on Desura this Saturday, the 6th of September - at 11.00 pm Pacific Time!

Saturday, 16 August 2014


I've finally made a trailer!  This is using the PC version of the game and is recorded at 1080p.  First time I've ever attempted any video editing.  Obviously there's no voice-over but when you watch it please try to imagine that the title captions are said in the standard "In a world..." trailer voice-over guy voice.

The PC version seems pretty close to being ready for release. The number, and seriousness, of bugs I find each time I play it has gone way down :)

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Interview & Progress Update

I recently did an interview with Indiestry Gaming, in which I talk about the inspiration for Survivalist, what it was like to develop it, and what kind of games I like.  You can read it here.

I also said in the interview that I'm working on a Windows port, so I thought I'd upload a screenshot of that.  It will support a gamepad but for people who don't have one I'm making it so the mouse rotates the camera and left and right clicking are the main interaction buttons.  At least that's the default - the plan is to have a key configuration menu so you set it up how you like.  There's also a screen resolution menu - this screenshot was taken at 1080p (EDIT - although Blogspot seems to scale it down to 900):

All of this doesn't mean I've stopped working on the XBox 360 version - I'll be adding minor new features for the Windows version which will make it back to the XBox.  Including 1080p if the XBox can handle it (haven't tried it yet!).  However it might be a while before the next patch as the code's in a bit of a state at the moment.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Review at The Indie Mine

Survivalist has been reviewed at The Indie Mine, giving it 5/5!  Woohoo!  Some quotes:

"I have to say I love this game. It’s a robust game filled with moral and physical obstacles while giving a grand look on the narrative of humanity and the choices we make."

" I will have to admit that this hit a lot closer to home than I was expecting from a game. I come from a high-risk group of people for diabetes and my family does have a history of the condition. The fact that I got a small glimpse of what I may have to resort to if the collapse of civilization actually occurred, left me in contemplative silence."

"I think that Survivalist is great beyond all expectations and it has become my favorite game among all the titles being offered on XBLIG. It is nearly perfect and it outshines any other title I have played with the survival-horror-sim aspect. If you want a great survival game for a low price, get Survivalist as soon as you can. I guarantee it will keep you busy for hours. While it may not be as eye-opening to others as it was to me, I assure it will give you much food for thought."

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Larger Fonts Patch Now Available

So I've released a patch that increases the font size.  This is an increase from 14 points to 18 points, although confusingly that isn't actually the number of pixels it takes up, it's just a setting when I import the font (the pixel height seems to have gone from about 26 to 33).

Anyway when I started this patch I thought it would just be a special mode for people with Standard Def TVs, but when I saw it in action I realised it looked better on HDTVs too.  So I made it the default.  You can change it back in the Settings menu if you prefer the old size though.
I'm interested to hear from you if:

- You are using a standard def TV.  Is it readable now?  I am starting to wonder if I increased it enough...  There are some things I'd struggle to fit in if it went up any further though.

- You prefer the old size.  The advantage of smaller fonts is you can see more stuff on screen.  However if no one prefers the smaller size I might just get rid of it altogether as it's one more thing to support.

Besides the fonts this patch should fix a few bugs that were mentioned in the forums, I won't list them here though as they are quite spoiler-y.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Review from TheKodu at Destructoid!

Survivalist has had it's fourth review, from TheKodu, a Destructoid community blogger.  This is a long, in-depth review which was done on a Standard Definition TV, hence his main complaint - the font size is too small!  So it's lucky I've been working on a patch to increase it, which is now in peer review (that's the approval process for XBox Live Indie Games, for those who don't know).

He also lists some other problems, some of which I can address.  For example I should probably add some tutorial hints explaining how to do leg-shots and head-shots.  On the other hand some things are just part of the game, for better or for worse, like the insulin mechanic - I think I've tweaked that enough now.  He gives it 4 out of 6 stars, saying that "the biggest score impact is the text being unreadable it's by no means perfect but it's still damn good".

Best quotes:

"Survivalist is a game that nails it’s goal almost perfectly. It’s a game about survival in a bleak apocalyptic world and it does make every small success seem like a big victory. This is a game that reflects a lot of zombie flick approaches in that it’s not the zombies that are the biggest threat, it’s the humans.  Don’t get me wrong the zombies can be a problem and survivalist is a game where just when you’re beginning to feel like a zombie hunting badass it will take great pleasure in proving how vulnerable you are."

"To add to the world building Skyrim was once described as an “an ocean with the depth of a puddle” due to the characters interactions not changing based on your actions. In Survivalist I’d say this is a lake with the depth of the Mariana trench."

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Third patch is out!

The third patch has been approved and is now out!  This patch was mostly bug-fixing and a few tweaks to try and make some things clearer.

Now that that's out the way I can hopefully focus on the future a bit more.  First thing I want to do is some kind of large font mode, to make it easier to play for people on standard def TVs, small screens and the like.

Although having said that I do know of a few more bugs I want to fix in the next patch, so the bug-fixing isn't totally finished yet.  Anyway here's the list of the main changes in this one:

- Made some looters bare-knuckle boxers
- Made it easier to get respect/approval from trading (again).
- The people in Santa Maddalena and Fort Kohai can be asked for hints about who in their community might be persuaded to join you.
- Prevent quitting the info screen while dialogs are up (fix for a crash).
- Fix for crash in late-game quest if you kill a certain person at a certain time.
- Fix for wrong amount being paid out sometimes from fisticuffs.
- Added red fadey thing and 'in days till death' on hunger/thirst/sleep bars.
- Day number display on loading screen and savegame info.
- Stop Dan Jackson the Los Ceros gate guard from following people all over the map.
- Indicate when certain speech options can't be used due to a character's personality.
- Hints to select different quests for Joe and Isham when they split up.          
 - Show more hints in the early tutorial quests that teach you to find and eat food.
- Fix for crazy flickering between run and jog animation when following someone.
- Show a sign-in screen if the user tries to play with a not signed-in profile.
- Fix for zombies occasionally disappearing immediately after you kill them.
- Massively toned down the effect where Alice gets hungrier and thirstier quicker when her blood sugar is higher.

Sunday, 13 April 2014


Some folks have started to build a Survivalist Wiki, which is a great idea as it's a big game with a lot of subtleties.  They say that any help would be appreciated, so feel free to add stuff!

Friday, 4 April 2014

Review at Indiestry Gaming

A third review for Survivalist, at a new-ish website called indiestrygaming.  No star ratings at this site, but it's a very positive review - here's a quote:

"Overall Survivalist is an excellent game which really shines among the others in the indie market. The game proudly shows off its well made gameplay and graphics which is a credit to the developers. It’s the game that people who love Fallout could sink many hours into or for the guy who just completed State of decay but still has his zombie shooting, tin counting, micromanagement itch!"

Friday, 28 March 2014

Review at Indie Game Reviewer

Survivalist has had its second review, at!  The review is entitled "Survivalist for XBLIG is a Stunner" and they rated it: ★★★★½ (4.5/5)!

To have one good review might be dismissed as luck, but to get two is pretty fricking sweet :)

Adding to that, Tim Hurley at has put Survivalist in his XBLIG all-time best leaderboard, at number 10.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

The Second Patch has now been released!

The second patch has made it through the XBox Live Indie Games approval process.  Here are the main changes:

- Fixes for the crashes that have been reported
- Fixes for "The Architect" quest being impossible to complete
- Added health bars to buildings
- Tried to make the early tutorial quest where you give Alice water a bit clearer
- Tried to make the early tutorial quest where you shoot the road sign a bit less wordy and more concise
- Alice warns you when her blood sugar is getting high
- Increased insulin per dose further, so she should need one shot per day now
- Made the skill levels of the "roaming gangs of raiders" lower in the beginning (it's linked to the number of towns you explore) and also tweaked their numbers so there can bea few more of them per gang later in the game, but less earlier.
- Doubled the amount of respect/approval you get for trading with people
- Fixed bug where if Isham picked up a second toolbox he couldn't drop it
- Made it so enemies always ragdoll if you explicitly target their legs
- Fixed bug where you couldn't buy a backpack to increase your inventory size if your inventory was full
- Fixed some late-game dialog

Roll on the third patch!  I already know of a few more things I'll need to fix.  Top of the list I'm going to get rid of the vicious cycle of hyperglycemia I mentioned the previous post.  Hopefully after the third patch it'll be the end of the panicky post-release patching phase and I can start thinking more long-term.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Important note about Alice and Insulin

Something just came to light that I put in the game a long time ago, and then completely forgot about. When Alice's Blood Glucose level gets above 1 notch on the bar (which you can see on her inventory screen underneath Hunger, Thirst and Sleep Deprivation) she starts suffering from hyperglycemia, which means she gets hungry and thirsty more quickly and starts eating more. This makes her blood sugar go up, which makes her want to eat more, in a vicious cycle. I think this might explain a lot of the trouble people have been having with her.

As luck would have it the second patch, which I've just submitted for approval, will make her warn you a bit more when her blood sugar is high, and will also increase the amount of insulin per dose. So that should help.

There will need to be a third patch in which I'll need to make it much clearer what's happening, or rethink the hyperglycemia concept (I can't believe I thought to simulate that!). In the meantime, try not to let her Blood Glucose level get above 1 notch on the bar. (The bar will start pulsing white when it does - I did at least put that in).

(The notches on these bars represent days.  A day in the game is 30 minutes in real life.  Don't let Alice's Blood Glucose Level get above 1 notch.)

Interview & Patch Progress

This week I did an interview with Michael Zack of Press Start to Begin, in which I talk about video games and zombies and try to explain why I made one about the other (short answer: there weren't so many good ones around when I started!).

In other news I've been working on the second patch and I've now submitted it to the XBox Live Indie Games peer review approval process.  That means it might still be a few days, or even a week or more, before it's out - assuming it passes first time.  This patch will fix a few crashes that people have reported (much less frequent than the ones fixed by the first patch, thankfully), it will also fix The Architect quest which couldn't be completed, add health bars to buildings, and increase the amount of insulin per dose a bit more.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Make sure you have the latest version

When you run the game you should see a Microsoft screen giving you the option to press X to download the latest version or A to continue without doing so.  Be sure to press X and wait for it to download.

(I have to say that when I tried this, it got to 80% and then gave an error message "could not download..."  I had to actually delete the game and go to the indie games section and re-download it.  Then it worked.  So their update process may be a bit flaky?  Let me know if you had this experience too, although I can't do anything about a problem on Microsoft's end.  Anyway if the update process fails, just delete the game and re-download it.)

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Patch is out!

The first Survivalist patch is now out!  Here's the list of major changes:
  • The out of memory crash that you got after playing for a long time should now be fixed
  • Insulin lasts 50% longer and is cheaper.   You can also ask Clay Parker and Sam Deetz (the doctors) to give you clues as to where more insulin might be found.  Hopefully this will stop it being so frustrating.  
  • The file size is smaller.  Don't be scared by this -  it turns out there was an option do some compression that forgot to tick the first time round.
  • Fixes for a couple of other occasional crashes people reported.
  • Fix for the game not progressing if you killed Alice's zombie sister in the water tower before talking to Alice.
  • Moved a late-game quest called Alliance to a bit earlier - this improved some things I vaguely disliked about the way things played out later on, plus it makes some insulin available a bit earlier.
Based on what people told me about their struggles with finding enough insulin since I submitted the patch I did start to wonder if I was still being too harsh, and maybe I should have made it last twice as long as before.  If you are new to the game I'd like to hear from you - how did you find the insulin situation.  Is it well balanced now, or is it still too hard?  (Of course, it's not supposed to be too easy...)

I'm already planning a second patch, to fix a couple of rarer crash bugs people reported after I submitted the first patch, and to fix a quest called "The Architect" which could not be completed.  I think I'm also going to give buildings some kind of healthbar, so you can more easily see how many molotov cocktails it takes to burn them down.  And I'm going to try and clear up some possible sources of confusion in the early missions.

I have to wait a week before I'm allowed to submit a new patch, and if it's anything like the first it'll take a week in review, so it'll be two weeks before it's out.  In the meantime if you find any more bugs please report them to me.

One last thing - I've lowered the price to $2.99 USD.  I haven't decided yet if this will be a temporary or permanent state of affairs, but it seems like every review or video of the game that I've seen has mentioned the price as being unusually high for an XBox Live Indie Game.  People who've played the game always say that it's worth it due to the large amount of content - it'll take you 15-20 hours to play through all the quests, plus the game took me a long time to develop, a lot of work went into it.  Even so, there's a feeling that the higher price might put people off, as it's an indie game by an unknown developer and you don't really get a sense of how much content there is in the 8 minutes that we're allowed for a trial mode.  Besides which, there are still those occasional bugs I mentioned.  So I'm going to keep the price at this lower level at least until I'm sure there's no more bugs in it.

So if you're on the fence - get it while it's cheap!

Sunday, 2 March 2014


I've added some forums to the game's page on indiedb, they're also linked on the sidebar of this website.  You can exchange tips, report bugs, etc.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Review & Patch

Survivalist has had it's first review, at!  Here are the quotes one would put on the back of the box, if it came in a box, which it doesn't:

"Survivalist is one of the most impressive XBLIGs ever produced."


"Survivalist is an intense experience, one of the most content-packed, feature-rich games on the indie channel. It is not to be missed."


Regarding the upcoming patch, I'm pretty confident now that I've tracked down and found a fix for the "out of memory" error people were getting after playing for a long time.  I was tearing my hair out at one point trying to figure out what it was.  It's been a busy week.  There are a few other fixes I'm getting in there as well.  It's pretty much done now, I'm aiming to submit it on Friday or Saturday, then it will probably take a few days to be approved.

If you do get this "out of memory" error in the meantime, just quit out to the Xbox dashboard, restart the game, load your last savegame and it should be fine.  Some people got worried that their saves might be broken because they tried to load them without quitting out first.  The reason that doesn't work is, it's a memory leak, something has used up all the spare memory and won't let go of it, and the only way to free it is to reboot the entire game, basically.  Once you've rebooted the game everything should be fine.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Memory & Insulin

Some people have reported that after playing the game for several hours they get a crash with an error message that starts with "System.OutOfMemoryException".  I'm currently looking into this.  It's a difficult bug to find the cause of because it takes so long for it to happen.  I have some theories (memory fragmentation?).

I'll be releasing a patch next week to (hopefully) address this, and also a few other issues.  The main one being that it's too hard to find insulin, and it doesn't last long enough when you do.  It's supposed to be quite hard, but I think I went a bit over the top.

Releasing a patch for XBox Live Indie Games takes a bit of time, as you have to wait 1 week between releases and also it has to go through the peer review process.  So it won't be out until I guess next weekend at the earliest.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

It's available for download right now...

...and the box art looks absolutely awful.  Somehow the JPG compression they used has hidden the character's eyes.  Here's what it should look like:

Survivalist is now Available! (or will be within 24 hours)

I just clicked Publish!

That means the game will soon be available to download on your XBox 360, once Microsoft's servers have processed it.

I really need to start updating this blog a bit more.

Thursday, 2 January 2014


I've added some screenshots!  These ones are a bit old and were not composed with any particular care, but at least they prove the game exists.

Behold my web designing skills.

I added a background image and tweaked the colour scheme - almost looks like a real website now.