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.

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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:

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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:

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  • 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.


‘NetNet: circus freaks, beast of Boggy Creek, font-love, a zombie fix, 2013 movies, a scary diary, a gingerbread mansion, and Christmas murder.

BROWSE A COLLECTION OF CIRCUS FREAK VISITING CARDS

Scott Davis, over at DC Photo Artist, is a talented photographer who also collects CDV (carte de visite) photographs from the 19th century. His latest addition can be found at the recent post, Circus Freaks – Chinese(?) Pinheads in Williamsport, PA. Until he posted this one, I did not know he had such a collection but, because his blog is well designed, I was quickly able to access all the entries in the category, Circus Freaks. It’s a treasure trove.

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Two Asian Pinheads, by John Nice, Williamsport, PA, via dcphotoartist.

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READ AN INTERVIEW WITH LYLE BLACKBURN, AUTHOR OF THE BEAST OF BOGGY CREEK

John Mountain, of Written in Blood, scored a cool Q&A this week. Read: 10 Questions With Author Lyle Blackburn.

book cover beast of boggy creek

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ENJOY SOMETHING SPECIAL FOR WORD-NERDS & FONT-FREAKS

Mark Petruska, of Mark My Words, has a cool art project up. Read: It’s All Fonts & Games. (Check the comments for how-to.)

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Unrelated – but free – clipart from openclipart.org.

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SATISFY YOUR ZOMBIE NEEDS WHILE THE WALKING DEAD IS ON HIATUS

Jack Campisi, of Back in Jack, (and one of two magnificent Monster Men) comes to the rescue for those of us suffering from The Walking Dead withdrawal. Read: What to Do During “The Walking Dead” Mid-Season Hiatus.

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ADMIRE A NEAR-PERFECT BLOG POST

Jordan & Eddie (The Movie Guys) put together a great wrap-up of the best movies of 2013 which respects the horror genre. As I read this post, I was struck by the clean, effective structure. (And all those clever, clever internal links.)

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James Wan

Read: The Best and Worst of 2013: Jordan’s Take.

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DECIDE FOR YOURSELF IF THIS SCARY DIARY IS REAL

Mrs. Horror Boom has stumbled upon a creepy mystery:

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To learn more, read: The “Creepy Diary” – Have You Seen It Yet?

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BOW DOWN BEFORE THE CREATOR OF THIS GINGERBREAD MANSION

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English baking enthusiast, Tassy, keeps a blog called, Just Nice Stuff. Why not read her charming “About the Blog” section, as a cheery palate cleanser?

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READ A MURDER MYSTERY (WITH PARANORMAL ELEMENTS) FOR CHRISTMAS

Juli D Revezzo has a new paranormal romance out. It’s called Murder On A Midnight Clear, and you can get a Kindle copy at the link right now for only $.99.

book cover Murder on a midnight clear Revezzo

‘Tis the season … for death. 

Murder reminds Detective Helene Collias of Holly PD that crime doesn’t respect holidays. And the last victim she ever expected to find in her case files is the sister of her old flame, Sean Grant. Ordinarily, Helene’s psychic gifts give her an edge but this time, that gift has short-circuited. Could her lingering attraction to Sean be blurring her abilities, or is something more sinister at work?

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There is no way I’m going to capture every great thing that happens in my personal web, let alone on the wider internet. The posts I feature here just happened to catch my eye. They resonated with me and whatever is going on in my life right now. And they are worth sharing.

‘NetNet

#NetNet

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2nd Annual Anoka Walking Dead Pub Crawl

When I went to the zombie crawl on Saturday, I did more enjoying than documenting. There was a great deal of distracting fun to be had while wandering the streets with a bunch of good-natured zombies, and I didn’t take as many photographs of the event as I should have.

It was a cool night after a forbiddingly drizzly day, and I don’t think the turn-out was as big this year as last. There was no Thriller street dance, sadly.

As usual, the making up of  people, which happened earlier in the day,  was the best part for me … And that’s when most of my pictures were taken.

Scroll down to see the final versions, out and about in the night.

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Zombie #1 requested bloody and gross. We mixed up a bowl of corn flour and water – then daubed on some blood and fresh scab to simulate brain matter. Turned out pretty good I think. The best part of this makeup, for me, came after he complained about a piece of it falling into his shirt and getting caught in his chest hair.

ME: You have chest hair? Let me see.
ZOMBIE #1: (opens several buttons)
ME: (squeals) Oooh! Lots of chest hair! Can we smoosh brain matter on your chest? We’ll spray it in with hairspray.
ZOMBIE #1: Yeah! That’s a great idea!

He thought the repeated hairspray applications were really cold. Later, he may have regretted his consent, because he had to pull his shirt away from the sticky mess that coated his chest several times. I think he lost some chest hair. But it looked great.

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Zombie #2 said she’d be happy with a less disgusting look. Her road rash cheek, bleeding ear and broken nose turned out fine, but there was something missing. She decided to mess up her hair (a lot) which helped. When I suggested she gather a handful of leaves and dead grass and spray that into her rats-nested hair, the makeup really came together.

Zombies #3 & #4: (fewer photos were taken with these two makeups)

Zombie #3 wanted to be an Amish zombie with no blood. Had he been open to it, I would have done a simple throat slit, just to give a pop of color to the overall look.  Working with his bone structure was an absolute joy – he’s made to have shadows and hollows emphasized. I asked zombie #2 to do the right side of his face while I started on zombie #4.

Zombie #4 was open to anything. I did her up last year with lots of peeling face gashes.

Zombie #4, last year.

Zombie #4, last year.

I wanted to do something different this year. We gave her a simple bleeding head wound at the part of her hair, a bitten cheek, and tears of blood. You’ll notice all the blood on her is directional – no splattering, but rather dripping.

I sort of became fascinated with her eyes, as you’ll see in the following pictures. Hers was a subtle makeup, and I’m not sure that she wouldn’t have been happier with something more visceral. But I loved it.

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Out with the zombies:

Formal portraits:

Other zombies:

We didn’t see as many fantastic make-ups this year as we did last year. Of course, I was also more engaged in the party atmosphere this year too – I may have been too busy playing with my friends to notice. I did chase down a couple of great faces, though:  a guy with missing eyes who had done a nice job of blending the appliance, and a fabulous burn victim.

To see some more good costumes and makeups, check out last year’s post: Anoka MN’s 1st Annual Walking Dead Pub Crawl.

On Thursday, I’ll be sharing some links to good makeups I’ve seen around the web, and I plan to post a video of me doing a zombie makeup on myself, so check back if you’re looking for some tips and tricks.

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