Microsoft a joy to work with for at least one indie team
State of Decay, which Jim praised in our review, is the fastest selling original game on XBLA. Speaking with Polygon, Undead Labs head Jeff Strain talked about his days working on Guild Wars at ArenaNet when, over lunch, some colleagues sold him on the idea of an MMO-styled zombie survival game. "...It wasn't something the company was able to take on at the time," Strain notes. Instead, the group formed their own, independent studio "around the idea of State of Decay."
Despite having to cut cooperative multiplayer -- a decision Strain and company are "still bleeding over," the team seems to have delivered on its intent in making a game focused on "how you survive, manage resources, interact with other survivors" and decision making, as opposed to an action zombie shooter.
Most surprising, perhaps, is Strain's espousal of a positive working relationship with Microsoft, which flies contrary to the numerous examples of independent developers' horror stories working with the company. Microsoft was allegedly totally receptive to the idea of releasing the game on Steam, and Strain was clear that "clearly if there's a full sequel [to State of Decay], it would be on Xbox One." For the time being, the team is focused on its "pure survival" sandbox mode, which will be released as DLC in the future. Whether it's free or not is Microsoft's decision.