Zombies, Run! – a fitness app, perfect for horror & paranormal fans. (Overview, tips and trouble-shooting.)

I have found a fitness app that makes me WANT to walk … and inspires me to actually run some of the time. As I type this, I’m considering having a second zombie walk/run today. I hope you realize what a miraculous statement that is, coming from me.

That’s the good news.

“You are Runner 5. Hundreds of lives are counting on you. You’ve got to help your base rebuild from the ruins of civilization by collecting critical supplies while avoiding roving zombie hordes. Can you save them and learn the truth about the zombie apocalypse?” – From the website.

The bad news is that I don’t think the game is as user-friendly as it should be. Like most apps these days, there is a lack of any kind of manual or documentation … it’s supposed to be intuitive.

I hate that.

To be fair, I suspect some of my frustration is due to the fact that I paid for, and downloaded, the first version of the game. (Which I was able to update for free when I resumed playing.) Back then, it was more expensive and some of the mechanics were different than they are now. I’ve been tempted to uninstall and re-buy now, but that would be silly, because it does work, I just needed to fight my way through the changes.

ZombiesRun2Logo

AN OVERVIEW OF THE GAME ITSELF:

The app wraps an engaging story around a playlist of your favorite music (which you create.)

During your workout, you alternate between listening to:

  1. segments of the story (as relayed, via “radio communication,” by various post-zombie-apocalypse survivors.)
  2. and songs from you playlist.

During the narrated story-line, you just walk/jog, listen and learn. The active game-play (aka zombie attacks) happens while you are listening to your songs.

While your music is playing, you may be informed of  one of two different events, via a quick announcement-style voice-over.

  1. Most commonly, you will be told that you’ve found an item of value. (This item is automatically added to your inventory; you don’t have to stop, press anything, or mime picking up something.)
  2. Sometimes, the voice-over will tell you that you are too close to one or more zombies. Eventually this proximity may lead to you being chased by the undead.

You will either survive the zombie attack unscathed, or you will drop an item (or items) to distract the horde. You will not die, and the game will continue either way.

See below for more details on how zombie chases work.

After your mission is completed,  the second game-like aspect of play is available. In the post-walk/run phase, you can use the supplies and materials you collected to expand and improve your home-base settlement, Able.

THE COMPLICATIONS OF SET UP:

Note: Zombies, Run! only works on Android devices running 4.0+.

Because you need to work with at least 3 different interfaces for this game to function well, it’s easy to get confused. You’ll go back and forth between your PC and your phone during this set up process. Here’s a simple step-by-step to get you up and running.

1) download Zombies, Run 2 ($3.99) to your phone.

You may be prompted to update your operating system and / or download another free app that will improve the sound quality of the recorded story. (It may be something like: HD UK English.) Go ahead and do what it asks. Don’t yet get into the game itself.

2) Also – if you don’t already have it – download WinAmp, (a free music player and manager) to your phone AND to your PC.

On Android phones, Zombies, Run! ONLY likes WinAmp. (I think iOS is friendlier, but you’re on your own for that.)

Before I started playing Zombies, Run!, I didn’t have any music on my phone. I had to start from scratch. I believe one can use the WinAmp app to manage music, but I found it easier to learn WinAmp on the PC, where my music was stored anyway. I was able to puzzle out how to move music from our hard drive collection to WinAmp. (I did learn that certain types of music files (ITunes) don’t transfer well. Experiment. MP3s work best.) If I can do it, so can you.

3) In WinAmp, on your PC, create at least one playlist of your favorite walking/running music.

It should be either approximately 30 or 60 minutes in length, depending on how long you plan to work out in each session. This is not critical, just make sure it’s not too short. Name the playlist in a memorable way. Read: How To Create a Playlist Using Winamp, if necessary.

4)  Once you have a workable playlist in your PC version of WinAmp, sync it with the WinAmp app on your phone.

Read: WinAmp for Android, if necessary.

5) On your PC, Register at ZombieLink. You have the option to register with your Facebook or Twitter ID. I opted for the more straightforward username and email option. Bookmark your ZombieLink profile.

You’ll need this AFTER you have a workout, to better see your settlement and review your run logs. You will also want access to the SUPPORT section available here.

Now that everything has been downloaded and organized, you’re ready to run (walk / jog.)

PLAYING THE GAME:

KNOW THIS: If you don’t understand the mechanics of the game, you’re likely to over-exert yourself on your first walk / run, especially if you aren’t already a runner. The most important thing is to “ignore” being told to run UNLESS the actual cue to do so is given! (See below.) The game’s characters frequently exhort you to run,  but you need to translate that to mean, “Walk / jog at a good, steady clip, at a rate you can sustain for the length of the workout.”

1) Go to a safe place to run around, or to a treadmill. Connect your headphones to the phone and open your Zombies, Run! app. You’ll probably see this:

???????????????

Go ahead and download the season one radio mission. This is something you do before entering the game proper. These radio shows will play if you want to keep working out after the official mission of the day is finished. These shows do not really advance the plot, but they do world-build, and they are very entertaining in spots. Take advantage. (See TIPS, below.)

After downloading the radio missions, you may be prompted to start right away. You can listen for a bit, to get a feel, but this is not the game. If you started it, “stop mission” (don’t worry about the warning screen that pops up) and touch “done.”

2) To begin the game, touch the three bars up near the word “News.” That will take you to the menu.

You’ll use this screen again when it’s time to manage your settlement. For now, just choose the missions option.

zombies season one start

From here, you select the next mission by touching it. You will then see this:

zombies download mission

Download. Next you’ll have to select your preferred options:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

  • When you touch Music, the app will pop open a window where you can select which playlist you want it to play. (If you shuffle, it will shuffle ALL the music in WinAmp, not just the playlist.)
  • When you touch Tracking, the app will offer you “GPS” (for walks that cover measurable distance) “Accelerometer” (for treadmill walking) and “None.” (I don’t know what happens if you choose None.)
  • When you touch Zombie Chases you can toggle the option on or off.  (See below.)

3) Once your choices are made, touch start. Turn off your screen display, pocket your phone, start walking / jogging, and listen. (In order for a zombie chase to be triggered, you must be moving at 3.5 kilometers per hour / 2.17 miles per hour.) Remember real zombie chases only happen when your music is playing. Don’t panic.

You will now walk/jog — while alternating between listening to story line advancement and your music playlist (during which you’ll collect valuable items) — until you hear the warning “zombies detected.” At first the undead may be rather far away; there may be a distance countdown as they get closer. You may be able to hear groans. Once the voice is telling you the zombies are a certain number of meters away, they are dangerous. This is when you pick up your pace.

Here’s how chases work, from the support pages:

1) When a Zombie Chase is triggered, the app calculates your average pace over the previous 30 seconds
2) You must increase your pace by 20% from this average
3) You must maintain that increased pace for 1 minute in order to escape the zombies. The voice will usually say, “zombies evaded.”

You can see how speeding up early will make the required pace for a successful escape skyrocket. Hold out until you have to speed up. Remember, if they catch you, you simply automatically drop some of the supplies you have collected.

4) The game will proceed until the mission (the story segment) has been completed. You will hear “mission complete,” but there’s no immediate shut-down. The game simply switches you over to the radio broadcast.

Only once has a zombie chase happened to me during the radio broadcast phase; my understanding is that it’s not supposed to happen. The item collection, however, does continue when your playlist is playing, between the DJ banter segments.

[EDIT 2014.02.02] I got another zombie chase (the only one of the whole workout) in the radio segment. I was TICKED. I was already pushing myself to the limit, knowing that I only had a couple of minutes left before I was going to quit, when I got the announcement. At first the zoms were 100 yards out, so I slowed way down to catch my breath, thinking I’d have a few seconds before they got close. It didn’t work. They got me right after I started running, and I dropped 3 items. Lesson learned: pick up the pace as soon as a distance is announced. And don’t believe it when the support guide says there will be no chases in radio mode.

By the way, you can’t just quit when the announcement is made. Once the chase is triggered you must either escape or drop items.

When you’ve finished with you workout, you will have to quit out of the radio broadcast. You do this by touching “stop mission.” You will receive a warning. (See photo middle photo, below.) That’s ok. You won’t lose anything you picked up while you were in that mode.

You must quit all the way out of the game, by pressing DONE (see last photo, above) before the run record will be available to sync to you PC-based page, at ZombiesLink.

If you were working out with the accelerometer on a treadmill,  note and remember the distance you covered by looking at the treadmill display.

AFTER THE WORKOUT:

Run Logs & Maps:

1) Once you’ve recovered from your workout, open the app menu by touching the “News” bars. Select the “ZombieLink” option at the bottom of the list. The app will ask you to log into ZombieLink, using the same information you used to set up the account on your PC. (After this, it will stay logged in unless you tell it to log out.) You have some sharing options on this screen. If you choose to share, other Zombie Runners will be able to see the specified information about your workouts.

Touch “Synchronize now!” (Then close the app, but keep your phone handy for base management, later.)

2) Log into the ZombieLink you created on your PC. Your run should be available for you to review on your main profile page. To view the details of your workout — including duration, average speed & pace, calories burned and supplies collected — click on the gray > at the right edge of the page. There will be a timeline of the entire run/walk. If you used the GPS option, a map of your run/walk will have been generated. If you used the accelerometer option and want to add you distance, go back to the main profile page and click on the “EDIT” button, just above the top gray >, then edit the correct run.

Click around on the tabs and see what kinds of information it keep track of.

On the “Missions” tab, you can access the audio snippets of story line, (In case you missed some details.)

On the “Base” tab, you can see your starter base. In the original version of the game, you built up and fortified your base on the PC, but now all of that is done on the app. This image of your base on ZombieLink is just that, an image. You can click on a building to see what it is and what its current status is, but that’s all. (You can do all that and more in your phone, using the “Base” option on the menu.)

There are some icons on the base image, as follows:

Population and Population Cap: The numbers by the person icon represent population and maximum population, where the number on the left is population, and the number on the right is maximum population, or your population cap. You can increase the population of Abel by constructing buildings such as housing. You can’t add more people to Abel than your maximum population. Population cap can be increased with buildings like Hospitals and Farms, also by upgrading Janine’s Farmhouse.

Defence: This is the shield icon and represents how well the base is able to defend itself. Only the Defence Tower can be visibly damaged; the higher the defence, the less damage the tower sustains from a zombie attack. You can repair it at the cost of some supplies. The tower contributes half of the base’s defence rating; the remaining half can be accumulated by building other defensive structures.

Morale: The smiley face represents how happy Abel’s residents are. It is calculated by factors such as population, building modifiers and addons, the state of the defence tower and your progress through the main storyline.

(From the Support section – ZR: Base Builder.)

To get back to the main profile page from anywhere else, click on your user ID name at the upper right. 

Base Management:

On your phone, in the “Base” section, you can actually modify your settlement. All of the icons listed above are on the screen PLUS two more:

Supplies: These are indicated by the Satchel icon, sometimes also called the box icon. Supplies are collected in proportion to the amount of time that you spend running; you will collect about 30 supplies an hour.

Materials: Often called wrenches, spanners or tools, [these] are collected in proportion to the amount of progress you make through the story. Unlike regular supplies, there will be a set number to collect in each mission. For Season 2 Missions you will receive three materials when you first run a mission; this will decrease by one each time you replay the same mission. For Season 1 missions you will only receive one material the first time you run a mission and none when you replay. Again, these are used to build and upgrade buildings.

(From the Support section – ZR: Base Builder.)

The base building mechanic involves selecting a building or upgrade from a list, checking to see if you have enough supplies and materials to build it, and finding a place for it to fit onto your map. Most buildings and upgrades have prerequisites, which will become clear after you’ve selected / examined your options. Your job is to work out the best order for building and upgrading.

If you are doing season one, you will usually be able to make ONE change after each run. (Some changes require more than one “Materials / wrench.”)

Remember to “synchronize now” after making changes, so that your base at ZombieLink will reflect your upgrades.

TIPS & NOTES:

This is just a place for thoughts that didn’t fit neatly into any section above. I will add more of these as I continue to play, and I welcome information from other players. What have I missed? I’ll happily add your wisdom. 

Season one is stingy with zombie chases, supplies and (especially) materials. It’s worth it, to get the whole story, in my opinion.

In order for a zombie chase to be triggered, you must be moving at 3.5 kilometers per hour / 2.17 miles per hour.

If you want to do about an hour-long workout, DON’T choose the 60 min. option when it’s offered. (That just means TWO of your songs will play between each segment of story.) Instead, do half of your workout in mission mode and do the other half / return trip in radio mode (which happens automatically.) You’ll get more game play out of the app that way.

To keep things fresh, make more playlists to swap in. Pander to all the moods that can work for you. I even have one that is entirely composed of really uplifting songs for days when my mood is bad.

Be aware of the security risk inherent in sharing your map routes, especially if you are a very habitual runner/walker. No point in advertising where and when you are out and about and distracted.

Once you are in radio mode, and no zombie chases should be triggered, you can easily interval train by picking up the pace for the length of each song. [EDIT] I’ve now triggered a second zombie chase in radio mode. See the edit section, above, in “Here’s how chases work, from the support pages.

This app is great at making you extend your walk/run just a little more. You want to hear the next radio broadcast, or you might as well run to the end of the song, or (if you’re keeping track of distance) until the next quarter-mile. Let it manipulate you.

There is also a 5K trainer, and there are expansions you can purchase, via something called a Season Pass. I’m not there yet, so I can’t say much about it.

If you need to free up space on your phone, use the “Download Manager” in the app menu to delete completed missions. Your run log will not lose the data from completed missions.

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17 Comments on “Zombies, Run! – a fitness app, perfect for horror & paranormal fans. (Overview, tips and trouble-shooting.)”

  1. Jenny says:

    Excellent guide, now I feel like I can play with the app properly I didn’t know you had to increase your pace twenty percent, and I haven’t been syncing anything. Thanks for posting this!

  2. Gotta admit, this sounds like a fun (and interesting) game! I’m intrigued.

    • Let me know if you try it, Mark. I’m curious what others think.

      Also, one of the game’s creators contacted me after this post went up. He’s looking for feedback and suggestions for the next version. If you try it, and have any problems or thoughts, I can pass them along.

  3. Hunter Shea says:

    Think how awesome this would be with Google Glasses where you can see hordes of zombies coming after you and hear them breathing down our neck through the device. Wow, finally found a value in Google Glasses!

    • This is the first time I’ve been even a little interested in Google Glasses, thanks to you.

      God, that would be fun.

      Have you ever caught an episode of Scare Tactics on SyFy? I watched it pretty regularly back when Shannen Doherty hosted it. I want, so badly, to have someone run that kind of intricate, scary prank on me. I want to know how I’d react to “the real thing.” ‘Not sure I’d want it filmed for America’s consumption though.

  4. Ray Yanek says:

    I am ALL over this app! Thanks for sharing!

    • Oh, excellent. I hope you love it. I can’t remember if you’re already an exerciser, but I know I wasn’t before I found Zombies, Run! Fourteen episodes in, I already feel better. Anyone who sits in a chair as much as a writer does NEEDS something like this to get them moving.

  5. Sounds like I’m gonna have to try the app. Thanks for the heads up!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Great Guide! Very comprehensive and informative. I’ll have to revisit my app on my iPhone. Seeing it in a new light… Thanks!

  7. […] Zombies, Run! – a fitness app, perfect for horror & paranormal fans. (Overview, tips and t… […]

  8. I am so glad I found this page! I bought ZR by accident a few months ago. Only had an ipod nano (4th gen) and couldn’t use the app so I treated myself to an itouch, 5th gen. I am on season 1, mission 8 and STILL have not had ANY zombie chases. I walk/run on a treadmill (lowest speed is 3.5mph, highest speed is 5.3mph), have chases enabled, have it set to accelerometer (no gps), have my stride length set to 2’0″ … but no chases have I gotten. 😦 I did NOT realize that the chases only happened in the music mode but even still … am I missing something? As far as I know I have the current version (version 2.5.3). Ack, how do I get chased? Thanks for any info you can provide.

    JM

    • I hope you found some useful information here. I wish I could tell you that your experience is unusual, but this seems to be a frequent problem with the game. Though I do occasionally get chases, I don’t get nearly enough of them. You’ve got all your setting correct, so this is clearly an issue with the design. I don’t know why they have a minimum speed for the chases in the first place. Sometimes I wonder if that’s really just a red herring that makes the user feel responsible for a game glitch.

      Most likely the support staff will tell you to uninstall, then re-install the program, which feels scary but it has worked for me … at least temporarily. I run on android, so I purchase apps through GooglePlay. (I’m not familiar with iPhone products.) GooglePlay remembers that I purchased the game, so there’s no fear that I’ll be re-charged for a re-install.

      I encourage you to report the problem through support at:
      https://sixtostart.zendesk.com/anonymous_requests/new

      The more people that complain, the more likely that the game designers will fix this problem.


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