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Project Zomboid devs on The Incident: the theft and loss of two months of work

"The community was damaged by wounds we'd self-inflicted. It was really dark."

At a packed first session at this year's Rezzed event in Brighton, developer The Indie Stone discussed last year's burglary that resulted in the loss of two months of development progress on zombie apocalypse title Project Zomboid.

"We refer to it as The Incident," explained writer Will Porter. "It led to a lot of depression for the team.

"It's something that we can beg sympathy for if not forgiveness. The team returned late one night after getting a bit drunk and moving to a new flat in the middle of Newcastle. Someone, another tenant in the building, had seen the guys moving in and kicked through the fire door to steal credit cards and laptops."

As the game had only been backed up locally during that period of development, the theft of the hardware meant that development progress on the alpha-funded title was irretrievably lost.

"On Reddit, we were fraudsters and criminals. Then we bit back, but the internet can bite back harder," he concluded.

In a series of tweets made immediately after the theft was discovered, Chris "Lemmy" Simpson - one quarter of the development team - suggested The Indie Stone was finished. The tweets, which contained angry responses from fans, were then removed.

In hindsight, Simpson tried to consider the positives that might come out of the experience.

"The silver lining is we might have stopped this happening to other people in the future," he said.

"It was such a public downfall. There were a few high-profile indie developers tweeting, 'I think we're going to make an off-site back-up.'"

The session was closed with a new trailer for the upcoming .2.0 release of Project Zomboid, which will introduce new combat and weapons, a greater area of Knox Country to explore, new lighting systems and sprites, new skills, recipes and fort constructions, expanded mod support, and a fully persistent world where zombies swarm and NPC survive. A 'save on quit' feature will also be introduced.

As well as thanking those who who couldn't attend but do contribute to ongoing development of the title, the developers also promised that a much-requested multiplayer component has been moved up the priority list, although it won't be released until the feature feels solid and complete.

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John Bedford


John is a freelance writer based in West Sussex.