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Dead Man's Trail Zombie Survival & Travel Game, Interview Included

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Dead Mans's Trail is a pretty fun looking zombie survival & travel game in the spirit of Organ Trail, with plenty of differences to keep you interested.

The first difference you will notice is that unlike Organ Trail it is not going for a retro look. That pleases me as Organ Trails aiming was incredibly frustrating when doing raids for supplies.

They are hoping to get $50,000 from Kickstarter with just under $1,000 pledged currently, so they have their work cut-out for them.

We should be getting a preview build to play with in the next week, so keep an out here on GamingOnLinux for a video!


It is the second decade of the 21st century. A deadly global pandemic threatens to destroy the human race entirely, replacing them with hordes of shambling undead. You and your team of travelers are the only survivors of your recently destroyed fortress. You must navigate your anti-zombie vehicle across what was once the American Midwest to find a safe haven.


  • Choose your vehicle: the nimble 4-Wheel Rocket, the balanced Grave Digger school bus, and the powerful Ark tractor-trailer.
  • Keep your team of travelers healthy and happy. Each has their own job that will help the party along their journey: firearm expert, melee expert, paramedic, and mechanic. Lose one and you'll be limping down the road!
  • Loot randomly generated 3D cities for supplies and weapons. Get in and out quickly or you will face the horde (and maybe join them.)
  • A vast arsenal of weapons including revolvers, tactical shotguns, field hockey sticks and katanas will enable your players to survive and thwack Zombies!
  • Artwork and easy-to-use interface designed by experienced game developers.
  • Keep your senses about you and your ear to the ground: Ambient sound changes when you're being hunted.

Q: Can you give us a short introduction of yourself, the studio and the game

QuoteMy name is Chris Totten. I am an Assistant Professor of Game Design at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA with a Masters Degree in Architecture. I've been an indie game developer, artist, and art director for the past several years and have worked on a number of games in the Washington, DC area. I've written a few books on game development including Game Character Creation with Blender and Unity ( and the upcoming An Architectural Approach to Level Design ( I'm a steering committee member of the Washington, DC International Game Developers Association (IGDA) chapter and have spoken at a number of conferences including the Game Developers Conference (GDC) China, East Coast Games Conference (ECGC), and the Digital Games Research Association conference (DiGRA.)

Pie For Breakfast Studios began informally several years ago when I got some students together to create a game as a summer project. Based on an idea I had with some family members, we decided to create an Oregon Trail game with zombies as a way to learn the Unity game engine. After having some early successful prototypes, I decided to continue working on it myself. I recruited some friends from the GDC Conference Associates program and we set about making a releasable version of the game.

After seeing The Men Who Wear Many Hats's zombie game Organ Trail and how it recreated the 1984 version of Oregon Trail, we decided that we would differentiate ourselves with a more modern approach that reflected what we loved about works like George Romero's Dead series and The Walking Dead - human survival stories set in an oppressive zombie-infested world.

Fast forward to today and we have Dead Man's Trail (DMT), a zombie travel game that combines the Oregon Trail's adventuring with 3D dungeon crawling. Players can choose from several vehicles and brave zombie-infested wilderness. A unique element is that in DMT, each member of the player's party has a useful job rather than just the player his or herself. This allows us to have the player make interesting choices of who to keep healthy, who to heal, and who to put down within their limited resources. Players can choose these party members to scavenge supplies from 3D towns. A player's choice of looting character affects their attack capabilities, their speed, and sometimes even the supplies that appear.

We are always finding new ways to make both the Oregon Trail-like travel mode and the looting mode meaningful to one another, including making supplies from travel mode usable in looting mode and vice versa, as well as maintaining character statuses. This allows us to add things like zombies that give you the flu to looting mode or making a character's poor health in travel mode reflected in their ability to carry items while scavenging. Beyond what we've revealed so far, there's definitely a lot more coming that gamers should keep an eye on.

Q: How have you found Unity's support of Linux to be? Have there been any Linux specific issue you have needed to work on?

QuoteSo far it's been wonderful. We've got a few games beyond DMT in the works for a number of platforms and Linux building is very similar to how one builds for PC or Mac. Supporting multiple platforms is always a bit of a challenge, but we're working with Maryland-based e4 Software ( who has a long history of deploying to a number of both mobile and personal computer platforms so we are ready for any challenges that arise.

Q: What platforms will the game been sold on? Will it be a Steam-only release?

QuoteThis is where using Unity works very well for us, as it allows us to be very agile in how we release. Originally we were approaching mobile-only, but we got so many requests from backers and other fans that we decided to go for PC, Mac, and Linux as well.

We are going to be submitting the game to a number of online markets including Steam Greenlight in the near future, but we're also looking into The Humble Store and TheGameStand as well. We'll keep gamers updated as those partnerships are established.

Q: Are you planning a same-day deal for Linux users? Other projects have promised Linux support and not delivered during development.

QuoteNot to sound like a broken record: this is again where our choice of engine is a major strength. Since we can deploy to a number of platforms, we can test without having to do major changes for a port. Two of our gameplay programmers are themselves Linux users and run the game on their home computers. Bug fixing aside (there are always some), we are confident that Linux users won't feel left behind with DMT.

Q: With you initially focusing on mobile and not desktop, how will you cater the games experience to desktop gamers?

QuoteThis is a fun question for me because as a teacher and game developer, I love to give gamers insight into the development process. The difference can actually be much less going from mobile to desktop than it is going from desktop to mobile. In many ways mobile development is shaped by the limitations of one platform or another, so we're already addressing efficiency. When you get a chance to go from a limited platform to a more powerful one, you can let suddenly loose with graphical enhancements such as advanced shaders and lighting that had you previously thinking "man I wish I could use those." Going in the opposite direction puts you in a situation where you have to start making major overhauls to assets such as greatly reducing their polygon count or packing all of your textures into what's called an "atlas", which is a number of texture files composited into one 2048 x 2048 image. This could result in a "stunted" version of the game and a longer time for players to wait for releases, which is no fun for anyone.

In terms of how the game will be played, we have mostly been concentrating on touch/tap mechanics for mobile, so that's easy to translate into mouse clicks. One of the things we are hoping to fund with our Kickstarter money is buying professional Unity licenses so we are better able to create Diablo-style touch/tap/click controls where the player character goes to a position that the player clicks on.

Overall, gamers can expect both experiences to play similarly, but desktop gamers can expect more from the atmosphere.

Q: What Linux distributions has it been tested on?

QuoteWe're currently concentrating on Ubuntu and Debian but we're glad to test with others should we get enough requests - our goal is to serve the community the best way we can. We're offering a few alpha and beta tester tiers on our Kickstarter page if readers want to sign up :-)

Q: Are there plans for a demo?

QuoteThat's still in consideration.

They have also publicly noted this on the differences between DMT and Organ Trail:

QuoteOne question we've gotten a lot, and I'm perfectly happy to address it, is that several years ago, a game called Organ Trail: Director's Cut came out on Facebook and for mobile devices. People often wonder if there is room for two games with the same core premise in a marketplace. Organ Trail came out when we were starting to plan DMT and we made sure we downloaded it to see if we should stop making our game. What we found was that we were great fans of the game, but also that we had some ideas for how to do things with the "zombies + Oregon Trail" premise that would differentiate ourselves, so we kept going.

We've made sure to take time making the game to further distance ourselves. We are hoping now during our Kickstarter and later this year when DMT comes out, that players will see it as a "next step" for this type of game. Where Organ Trail elicits its charm from using mechanics and presentation elements from the original, think of ours as an expanded follow up that wants to go beyond the original Oregon Trail to create a Walking Dead/World War Z atmosphere.

We've got a lot of things up our sleeves that we are not ready to show yet, but players should watch the Kickstarter for more :-) If anyone is undecided, we have a special reward for people that donate $1 to watch the project where they can submit a sentence to be included in an in-game document that will be findable by the player.

I love zombie games, it is one type of game I don't think we can ever get enough of and I wish them all the best, be sure to check out their Kickstarter here.

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I am the owner of GamingOnLinux. After discovering Linux back in the days of Mandrake in 2003, I constantly came back to check on the progress of Linux until Ubuntu appeared on the scene and it helped me to really love it. You can reach me easily by emailing GamingOnLinux directly.
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1 comment

hardpenguin 18 Mar, 2014
They are inspired by Organ Trail which is inspired by Oregon Trail... Hello to the creativity!

Actually I am a big fan of Organ Trail and I think that classy, simplistic pixel look is better than poor 3D look like in this game. Also, what kind of recreation is that? Is 'oregon-trail' a new genre of game?

I still wish them best luck...
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