top of page


Outbreak Season Five Finale
Play Video


Outbreak is DigiPen's bi-annual take on Humans versus Zombies, a 80+ player game where "humans" defend themselves from "zombies" with nerf guns and socks.  It's an exercise in meeting people, stressing out, having fun, and trying not to die - if you're human. If you're a zombie, it's a great opportunity to show off your stealth and running skills.


The game is active 24/7 throughout the week, with nightly missions run to bring players together and challenge them. On Friday, the match comes to a head with an especially challenging mission and a much more quickly growing zombie horde.


Outbreak's real-life restrictions, combined with the volatile exponential growth of the zombie horde, poses some interesting design problems. It's been a great way for me to learn how to handle anything and everything potentially failing, with our development team working last minute to rework missions to match the player numbers we saw the previous night. Additionally, it is an exercise in efficiency: players are often new to the game and drop in at any time, so missions must make the most of very few and very simple mechanics.

My largest contribution to Outbreak was a long push for a score system. In Outbreak, our survivor players were motivated primarily through punishments: playing badly either got you killed and turned into a zombie, or failed your team the mission. Instead, introducing a scoring system allowed players to get rewarded for taking the right actions, instead of just being punished for taking the wrong ones. While the points have no mechanical impact, we found that some players were heavily motivated to climb the scoreboard on our website as much as possible. Overall, while the score system is not used as extensively as it used to be, it was successful at driving player engagement.

bottom of page