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Alpha Release Survival Guide

With the pending release of The Dead Linger Alpha scheduled for October 31st, 2012, just a few short days away, we’ve compiled a neat little guide for you to prepare you for the release. In this guide, we’ll go over how you’ll download the game, what you’ll find when you run it, and how you can be better prepared to play and playtest to the best of your abilities. We’ll be including sections ranging from how to kill zombies, how to group up with friends, and how to submit bugs and feedback to us so we can make the game better and improve the experience.

As a game developer with something that resembles integrity but could be a pizza stain, we at Sandswept want to be completely honest with you about the current state of The Dead Linger Alpha.

Having played many games in your life (we assume!), you may be a bit surprised when you first load up and play The Dead Linger Alpha. The Dead Linger Alpha is just that – The Dead Linger in the true Alpha stage of development. The game is still early in development and definitely unfinished, it will be ugly, and there will be bugs. We want everyone to be aware of this going into the game, so that they understand a few (or many) loose ends, crashes, bugs, and lack of features does not mean we got drunk and released our game by accident – it simply means the game is in Alpha, and that’s exactly why we want you to help us playtest it.

We have grand plans for our game, and we will be updating routinely on a 2-week schedule (new patch every 2 weeks!) along with hotfixes for major game-breaking issues, which there are bound to be here and there. We ask that you have patience through the Alpha version of the game, and truly understand not only our grand vision of the project, but the direction it’s headed, and where it will be soon enough.

Alpha Release sounds a bit grim, doesn’t it? Aside from being a gritty zombie apocalypse simulator, it’s certainly not! There are indeed plenty of features and fun to be had within the world of The Dead Linger Alpha, and we’re going to go over all of that in the following segments of this guide.

Steel your nerves. The zombie apocalypse is nigh.

Pre-Orders
If you have backed us via Kickstarter (for $25 or more) or pre-ordered through PayPal, we will be emailing you codes in the coming days. Keep an eye on your inbox! You will receive an email from noreply@sandsweptstudios.com, so please ensure you have it added to your address book to avoid it being sent to your junk/spam folder. The email will contain your code which you will redeem following the instructions below, and it will be sent to the same email address you received your PayPal receipt on.

Pre-Order Offer Ending Soon!
Please keep in mind that if you do not pre-order before the 31st, you will not receive the exclusive DOVRAC Gas Mask item. The Dead Linger will remain $24.99 USD after Alpha release and until further notice.

Receiving Premium Bonus Items
As for all exclusive items (DOVRAC Gas Mask, Kickstarter Backpack), they will not be readily available right on Alpha Release. We will post a very detailed and awesome blog post about these items (and how to get them in game) once the feature is working in full. The current plan is that you will be able to retrieve them from a specific item (such as a mailbox) in game when you join a world. The items are NOT pay-to-win and do not offer any significant advantage over other players. The items have a unique look, but are not unique in a gameplay sense.

High-Tier Kickstarter Rewards
If you backed us on Kickstarter for $100 or more, you have earned yourself a special reward. We will be steadily implementing them into the game, and we will be contacting some backers who we have not received sufficient information from over the course of development. We can not confirm that we will be able to tell everyone when their content or name is found in the game, but we’re sure they’ll find it one way or another. We will announce on the blog when the first wave of Kickstarter backer name content is going into the game. The even higher tier backers will be contacted and consulted directly regarding their pledge.

Enough about rewards! Time for the instructions!

Downloading, Installing, and Running The Dead Linger Alpha
Here is a set of detailed instructions to download, install, and run The Dead Linger Alpha when it becomes available for download.

  1. Log in to your forum account or create one.
  2. Go to the code Redemption Page
  3. Click the link labeled Click here to redeem a coupon code for The Dead Linger Alpha. If you did not pre-order The Dead Linger you can click on the Buy Now button to buy it and be redirected to the download page.
  4. Copy and paste your coupon code into the Redeem Coupon Code field and click Submit.
  5. You will be redirected to a page with instructions on how to download The Dead Linger Alpha. Click the Download button to download the launcher, which will automatically download, patch, and install The Dead Linger Alpha.
  6. Run the TDL Setup installer. When it comes up click Install.
  7. When the installer has finished click Close.
  8. You can run The Dead Linger from your start menu. Start>All Programs>Sandswept Studios>The Dead Linger>The Dead Linger.

Prepare to be born again. When first running The Dead Linger Alpha, you will be prompted to create a profile. This profile will be the name of your character while playing the game, and it will help identify you to other players, as well as servers. Your character name can be 16 characters maximum, and can contain the characters A to Z. No names can contain 3 of the same character in a row. Numbers are also not allowed in character names.

Name example: “Sweetmeat” is acceptable. It contains only upper and lower case A-Z characters. “Sweeetmeeeat27″ is not, due to the fact that it uses numbers, and contains 3 of the same character in a row. We may support non-English alphabet characters as well, but we can’t yet confirm they will be available at the time of Alpha release.

Character Customization
We have massive amounts of character customization in the works, from gear (found in game) to the appearance of your character (when you create them), and it will be implemented after Alpha release.

Gender
For The Dead Linger Alpha, the female gender is not currently available, but it is nearly finished and will be available sometime after the initial release. There will be no substantial gameplay differences between male and female characters, but sounds emitted and clothing will change a bit between genders.

Difficulties
There will be various difficulties available in The Dead Linger Alpha later on, but as of right now, there is one general difficulty. See section “The Inevitable” for more information on the penalty for death.

Inventory
As for your inventory and gear, you will retain all of your inventory and items on a per-server basis. If the server changes the world, your character will still have all of its equipment from the previous world that server ran, assuming the server administrator does not delete any files. Please play on servers you trust! Bear in mind that items will not transfer across servers.

We are now moving on to the topic of multiplayer play…

You and your friends can group up and survive the harsh, unforgiving world, or go toe-to-toe with friend and foe alike. We’ve provided two initial methods for jumping head-first into multiplayer play in The Dead Linger Alpha. From the main menu, you are presented with two main options. Solo Mode is for those of you who would like to play alone. If you wish to play alone, you will want to choose that option, and you can feel free to skip the remainder of this section!

Joining a Server
Need to find a server? Want to group up with some friends? Here’s how! We have two options available for joining a game.

Method 1: Server Browser – This is the most common way to find servers, especially if you’re just browsing what’s out there, and not looking for a specific one. From the main menu, navigate to “Multiplayer”. From there, navigate to “Server Browser”. This screen mostly speaks for itself. Find a game you like on the list of servers, click it, and press “Join.”

Method 2: Direct Connect – This is the more direct route to joining a server, assuming you already know the IP address. From the main menu, navigate to “Multiplayer”. From there, navigate to “Direct Connect”. You will be prompted to enter a string of text. This text can be IP address of the server, or the URL of the server if one exists.

We will be upgrading both these methods in the future in order to make them more robust, as well as easier to use. Future plans include – but are not limited to – adding the ability to favorite servers, filter the server browser, and find and search for specific types of servers more easily.

Creating a Local Server
Not satisfied with the way another server is run? Want to play with a few friends? Want to host a server for your clan? We will be providing The Dead Linger Alpha local server for Windows XP / Vista / 7, right from the start of Alpha. To create a local server running from the same PC you plan to play on, simply load up The Dead Linger Alpha, and navigate to “Multiplayer” from the main menu. From there, navigate to “Host Game”. Enter the server name and other options you want, and then press “Start Server.” If you want to keep your server private, remember to set a password!

Once this is completed, simply provide others with your IP address, or otherwise have them find your server on the Server Browser. They can join you by following the steps outlined in the section above; “Joining a Server.”

Creating a Dedicated Server
Along with the local server, we will be providing The Dead Linger Alpha dedicated server for Windows XP / Vista / 7, right from the start of Alpha. To create a dedicated server running from a Windows PC (such as a server,) navigate to your install directory of The Dead Linger and start TDL_ServerMain.exe. Fill out the server details and press “Start Server.”

Once this is completed, simply provide others with your IP address, or otherwise have them find your server on the Server Browser. They can join you by following the steps outlined in the section above; “Joining a Server.”

We have plans for Mac and Linux servers as well, but they are not yet ready for the Alpha Release.

Need Help?
We have an entire forum section dedicated to helping server administrators run and maintain a TDL server. You can ask questions about running a server, and find more helpful information over on our Servers & Administration section of the TDL forums.

Server Minimum Requirements
As of right now we do not have specific server requirements, but they are similar (albeit slightly higher) to the requirements for running the game itself, as far as CPU and RAM requirements are concerned. We will provide more specific details about this in the future, as well as optimize the TDL server so it is less intensive as a whole when simulating the world.

What is that world, you might ask? Dangerous, we answer.

The world of The Dead Linger Alpha is a sprawling suburbia, separated by parks, forests, and hills, with roads inter-weaving throughout. House to house scavenging is the name of the game, and every house – procedurally generated – can be entered and explored, from every room, through every door. While bountiful, the neighborhoods have tight, narrow streets and houses lining every row; you never know where a foe might emerge from. There’s a water tower to be found here and there, sometimes even two.

The forests are more secluded; some might even call it peaceful. While the zombies are scarce out there, the supplies are scarcer still. Be sure to pack your bags before heading out. The world is massive, and infinite.

As infinite as the undead.

“Call these fiends whatever you wish.
To them you’re still a tasty dish.
Be it zombies or zed, walkers, undead.
They do not care what name you say.
You’re still one word to them; you’re prey.”

- From the writings of Lloyd “The Cowboy” Taggart

Containment didn’t stop them. DOVRAC hit the infection hard, and shut down and sealed off the population centers where they could, but it spread inside the quarantine. It was all over in a matter of weeks. The humans fight an uphill battle against extinction, all but you. Knowing how to deal with the zombies is one of the many keys to your survival. There is only one law in this undead world – the only true dead is a headless zed. Destroy the brain to kill these ghouls. There is no other option.

The zombies have the five main senses and use them quite well;


Hearing – The sound you make will draw attention, that you can be sure of. Sneaking around quietly by crouching is your best bet when trying to go unnoticed. Sprinting is noisy, and you may be heard. But if you are heard, not all is lost. Be out of sight by the time the zombies come around and you can still get away without stirring up some trouble.


Sight – Perhaps you’re silent, but you’re still in the open. Night is the best time to travel in the open. Under broad daylight, the zombies see best. Sprinting from cover to cover is your best option here. Do not linger in the light for too long. A zombie seeing a living survivor will always be driven harder than any other sense.


Touch – If we have to remind you not to bump into zombies when sneaking about, you won’t last very long. While the zombies have no sense of touch or pain, pushing a zombie is certainly cause for them to turn about and investigate. Do not touch a zombie you are not prepared to kill.


Smell – Sneaking past the undead is safe, but do not stay long. They will eventually smell you, and you will be met with hungering eyes before too long.


Taste – We will include “Taste” as a sense the undead have, but it’s not a driving factor. The zombies lust only for the means to spread their infection, be it by blood or saliva. If a zombie is tasting you, you’re already dead, or you should wish you were.

Aim for the head. Stay low. Stay quiet. You’ll be all right, for a little while.

The world is unforgiving. If the zombies don’t kill you, everything else can. You’ll need to remember to eat food from time to time or you’ll starve to death. Food can be found most often in houses and stores, so keep your eyes out. Don’t overeat, and don’t eat spoiled food or you’ll experience some ill effects, but I’m sure you could have guessed.

Weapons can be found in all sorts of places. Guns are a bit more rare, but a strong, sturdy melee weapon will do the trick for keeping a zombie or two from catching you. Anything from a pipe to a wrench can suffice. Items will eventually break, so be sure to have some replacements. You won’t be able to repair or craft yet, but that’s on the way.

There will be quite a few guns in Alpha. There are two handguns, two shotguns, and three rifles. You’ll need to find ammo to operate the weapons. By simply having the ammo in your inventory, you’ll be set. Remember to aim for the head in all cases, even with melee. Good hunting.

There are a few other items to be found, some have obvious uses, and some have a purpose that is bit more obscured. We’ll leave it up to you to discover. You can move and carry many of the objects in the world, so pick them up and block those doors. It’s the only way to really keep the zombies out, or slow them down, at any rate. Sometimes you have to know when to fight and when to run. That will be a decision you’ll have to make when the time comes.

If you need a run-down on how to use the Inventory, you can re-read an older article on the Menu and Inventory Design. It’s a bit out-dated, but the basics remain intact.

Here’s a quick control sheet for Alpha.

Alpha Default Keyboard Controls:
W – Walk Forward
S – Backpedal
A – Strafe Left
D – Strafe Right
LMB – Primary Attack
RMB – Aim Down Sights / Secondary Attack
F – Kick
SHIFT – Sprint
SPACE – Jump
Left CTRL – Toggle Crouch
C / Mouse Button 3 – Interact (move object, pick up object, grab door)
V – Toggle Flashlight
Left ALT – Hold to Free Look
B / I – Toggle Backpack Inventory
ESC – Escape Menu
R – Reload Firearm
T – Global Text Chat

These default controls can be rebound to different keys in the future. There is currently no voice chat integrated into The Dead Linger, but we expect players to be using Skype, Teamspeak, Ventrillo, or Mumble, as they usually do anyway.

Night is dark, but shorter than day. There’s no need for sleep right now, so you’ll be braving the cold nights. You need to keep quiet and find decent shelter. While nighttime is better for moving around under the cover of darkness, you might also get caught off guard by the wandering dead. There is one main tool – and weakness – at your disposal; the Flashlight.

Operating the Flashlight
The flashlight system in The Dead Linger Alpha will be vastly updated and improved from where it stands on Alpha release, but in order to get it functional and fun, we’ve found a simple, temporary, and elegant solution to help you see in the dark. Every survivor will have a flashlight that they can turn on using the default V key. The flashlight can be thought of as a headlamp, and will point wherever you look. The flashlight will also follow when you turn your head using Free Look, which is activated when holding the default Left ALT key.

Recharging the Flashlight
The light can be powered for 5 minutes, and will begin to flicker, going out after the duration is up. The battery takes 1 minute to recharge, after which it can run for another 5 minutes. You can also turn it off at any time to allow it to recharge. The flashlight will emit a quiet beeping noise when it is charging, and a distinct beep when it has fully charged. This sound is very quiet, and you need not fear it attracting the undead.

But with light there must always be darkness. The light from your flashlight can and will attract zombies – as well as unfriendly players – to your location if they spot it.

While we’re on the topic of unfriendly players…

While there won’t be any survivor NPCs (non-player characters) in The Dead Linger Alpha, there is sure to be plenty of survivor vs. survivor combat, but we acknowledge loud and clear that competitive PvP (player vs. player) isn’t for everyone.

Designed for Cooperative Multiplayer
The Dead Linger was designed from the ground up to be a cooperative (or solo) zombie survival experience. The PvP combat that has emerged from the genre is welcome, but not at the expense of the cooperative playerbase, and we share the pain that some feel has emerged from an overzealous competitive environment.

Survival Mode
Meeting in the middle, The Dead Linger Alpha will initially feature a more general “Survival” mode which will allow players to combat one another – if they so choose. We highly recommend that players who are looking for a more cooperative and less competitive experience create their own private, passworded servers, where admins can control who enters their world. This will allow players to keep PvP griefers and other nastier types away from their fun, coop experience.

Competitive Play
If you are looking for a more PvP experience, there is sure to be plenty of that going around. For the first shorter portion of Alpha, honor rules are the only rules.

Future Improvements
We will be improving the gametype options, party / team settings, and server customization in this regard soon after the initial Alpha release so that highly competitive players can play amongst themselves, while cooperative players can do the same. This is extremely important to us and we will be watching and accommodating the diverse playstyles of the community closely through launch and onward.

All things come to an end, including you. The question that will haunt you as you scurry about the world will forever hang over your head; “When will I die?”

More importantly, what happens when you die? In The Dead Linger Alpha, you will experience death many times, and it will come for you again. When you die – be it swift or slow – you will drop all of your food and all of your ammunition for your guns. You will retain all other items, once again re-entering the world a few blocks away. We believe this difficulty setting is a good middle ground for the entire player-base.

We will be introducing numerous character-specific difficulties after the initial Alpha release, along with server options to allow and disallow any mixture of difficulties, including, but not limited to, a permanent-death Hardcore mode where you only have one life.

Just remember; you will die.

In the world of The Dead Linger you might come across the ugly, the unforgiving, and the unsightly. We’re not just talking about zombies and players, we’re talking about bugs, crashes, and other manner of disgusting, unintended, and broken features you might find in the game.

You’re in luck! We work night and day to fix things up and improve the experience. Our team at Sandswept lives and breathes this game, and our lives are dedicated to making it the best, and most fun experience possible. We are always taking bugs and feedback and fixing things up, and making things shine in The Dead Linger. There are multiple pathways you can take to deliver us feedback, depending on what kind of feedback you’re giving.

Reporting a Bug or Crash – Need to report a bug, or did the game unexpectedly quit on you while you were having the time of your life in The Dead Linger? First off, we would like to apologize in advance, and we’ll work our hardest to fix the issue as soon as we can. But first, we need information! Please use the Guidelines for Help & Bugs found in the Support and Bug Reporting forum. Once you’ve read the guide, please post the bug you’ve found by pressing the ‘Create New Topic’ button in the upper right-hand side of the page, when viewing the main page of the Support & Bug Reporting forum. You will need to be logged in to your Sandswept forum account in order to do this. For those of you who report issues to us – We salute you. You are invaluable, and testing is one of the main reasons we are launching the game this early in development. Happy bug-hunting!

Suggesting Features and Ideas – Got a sweet idea for a new weapon? Want to see a new enemy in the game? Wish we had a feature? Think a current feature is lacking and could be improved? Suggest it to us! You will need to be logged in to your Sandswept forum account in order to post on the Sandswept forums. We try to read all the posts that come through the suggestions forum and incorporate the best and brightest ideas into the game!

The state of the Alpha will be ever changing, and ever growing. We will be releasing an update every two weeks, but the exact day of the week is to be determined, and may vary throughout development. These updates will contain new features, bug fixes, and content updates!

Players will most likely be required (or at least advised) to start a new world when new patches come out. Luckily, character inventory is saved to the server, and not the world, so all of your server denizens will retain their gear and progression from the previous world, although the world itself will be fresh and new, with more features, items, zones, biomes, and building types.

We will also be releasing unpredictable “hotfixes” throughout release, which are quick, small patches to fix crucial issues or game-breaking bugs that prevent players from playing the game. Hotfixes will not be scheduled, and will be fairly random and spontaneous as we see fit.

All patch notes will be available on the blog, so keep an eye on it!

A highly incomplete list of some of the upcoming features planned for after Alpha Release:

  • Improvements on everything you’ll find in the Alpha Release
  • Better first person hands and better first person immersion.
  • Tons more buildings and zones. Far beyond count.
  • Better zombie AI, zombie pathing, and zombie world interaction with doors and windows, as well as the player.
  • Tons more weapons and items. Far beyond count.
  • Vehicles (Probably in Beta, while we focus on the ground)
  • Improved world generation spiral, so the world loads faster, and more efficiently around the player as they travel.
  • Improved distant objects, so you can see more forest, towns, and cities from much further away.
  • Improved item systems, such as reloading systems, and battery-flashlight systems.
  • All un-used equipment slots in the inventory/backpack will have items and uses. (i.e. Tertiary slot)
  • Strength system
  • Infection risk system
  • Re-bindable keys
  • Character customization, including Female characters (art is finished!)
  • A lot more graphics, sound, and game customization options.
  • More gametypes, PvP FFA, PvP Teams, and Coop Survival.
  • More server options for a more customized experience.
  • [redacted] and other nasty surprises.
  • Clothing manifesting visually on the player. The art is ready, but we are still working on tying it into the engine.
  • More zombie types – not special infected mutants – but variations on zombies and some zombie animals, which will be optional, though recommended.
  • Improved text chat.
  • Integrated VOIP voice chat.
  • And much, much more.

That’s just a small taste of what you can expect in the coming months, steadily pouring into the game every two weeks.

Sandswept Community
The Sandswept Legion is the Sandswept.net forum community. If you’ve made a forum account, please be sure to introduce yourself and meet fellow survivors if you haven’t already!

Forums
The Sandswept.net Forums are the go-to place for community involvement, help, and information. The number one step you should take is to read our Global Forum Rules. The forums are moderated by outstanding community members as well as our own staff in order to keep things civil, and keep the environment fun for everybody.

Each TDL Forum (see list here) has a specific purpose. Here is a brief overview of what each forum is here for:

News & Announcements: All announcements related to TDL, such as blog posts, patch updates, and other various news will be posted here. This is your collective resource for official TDL news on the forums.

General Discussion & Questions: Exactly as it states, all TDL General discussion and questions should be posted in this forum.

Suggestions & Ideas: This forum is not for discussion of TDL information. This is to suggest points to implement in the game. Many of these points have been reviewed by the devs and have actually been implemented in the game already.

Survivor Advancement: This thread is for all discussion, questions, and suggestions of your TDL in-game characters.

Survivor Creations: Where Survivors (like yourself!) post your own creations. More information on this forum is in the section below.

Survivor Clans: All TDL clans will recruit in this thread. Looking for a clan so you’re not alone this Halloween? Check here!

Role-Playing: RP fans, this forum was added for you! This forum is exclusively for in-character role-playing. Like all forums, there are rules, however, so please be sure to read those before you post!

Support & Bug Reporting: [Recently unlocked!] The section above has thoroughly explained the purpose of this forum. You can also go here for support about PC requirements and running the game.

Seeds: [Remains locked until relevant] The Dead Linger Alpha will be using seeds (a string of letters and/or numbers) to generate worlds. You can share those unique seeds here and generate the same worlds.

Servers & Administration: [Recently unlocked!] Need help running a server or want to find a server to play on? This is the place for you.

Survivor Creations
All Survivors are encouraged to share their 3D, 2D, Audio, Fan Fiction, and whatever type of creation they can come up with on our Survivor Creations forum. Select Creations will be chosen and showcased in our Survivor Showcase blog post (check out previous Survivor Showcases!) Those Survivors that have pieces of work showcased will be awarded the “Showcased!” achievable that they can proudly show off on the forums. You are encouraged to provide constructive criticism and positive comments on fellow Survivor’s creations.

In the future, you’ll be able to contribute to TDL by submitting creations to be put in game. We’ll have more on this later, but in the meantime, prepare your work and be sure to post it in our Survivor Creations thread to receive feedback from the community.

Is there an NDA?
There is no NDA! Post videos, screenshots and talk about the game to your heart’s content.

Regarding monetization of YouTube videos…
Making Lets Play! Videos, walkthroughs, reviews, and any other type of video featuring The Dead Linger Alpha is encouraged. Please be sure to provide proper accreditation and direct people here!

Mods & Hacking
While modding is not yet supported officially, we are well aware that some members of the community will be modifying or attempting to modify the game in whatever ways they can. As long as they’re not being sold for profit.

We will be taking some preventative measures to avoid griefing and hacking that disrupts the game for other players, and further measures depending on what emerges post-release.

Thank you for taking the time to read The Dead Linger Alpha survival guide! Please spread the word, and share this with your friends. There will be more very, very soon.

This is a message to all survivors. There is still hope for the zombie genre. It can be found here.

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