DayZ has become the latest example of community-driven game design and its popularity continues to increase ever since it was recently announced that the ARMA 2 mod would become a standalone game. Bohemia Interactive and DayZ creator Dean Hall are hard at work with their six-person team of programmers (supported by Bohemia Interactive’s other internal departments) planning out and developing the first build of the game with plenty of features new and old built from the scratch.
The most exciting part about the rapid success and evolution of DayZ is that the first playable alpha build will be available for players before the year ends. The sky is the limit for Hall’s upcoming game and the biggest challenge for him may be to narrow down the list of ideas to determine what makes the cut in the early versions of the game.
In chatting with PC Gamer, Dean “Rocket” Hall excitedly shared what can only be described as an unlimited amount of potential for the future of DayZ. In the interview, Hall discusses the issue of hackers in DayZ and the importance of making the standalone game more secure, the Minecraft-style release plans for the game, a target date for the first playable (and purchasable) build, running the standalone game alongside the DayZ mod for ARMA 2, the eventual addition of mod support and ideas for destructible (and constructible) environments.
“I had a personal target of October. But I think that was really me just plucking a time out of my head, doing a back-of-the-napkin calculation. I would say this year, definitely. If we don’t have something out, say, before Christmas, then something’s gone wrong. But when I say “something,” I mean a heavily discounted alpha. Minecraft-style. That’s why we’re so programmer-heavy now. The idea is, let’s tackle all those problems and bugs and issues properly, that I’ve either been hacking through in the mod or just haven’t dealt with at all. Let’s clear those out of the way now and get that backlog tidied up. Then once we’ve got that, put a little bit of the extra content with credit in, when we have some people who aren’t busy, and put that out there and see what people think. Then we can start getting crazy.”
Even though DayZ built its success as a mod itself, albeit a buggy and incomplete one, as a standalone game it understandibly will not be releasing with mod support of its own at first because of the fixes, programming needs and release plans for the title. It will however, support mods eventually once the game is fine-tuned.
“That’s a definite end state. We’ve talked about that. It’s hard, because you don’t want to make something that came from being heavily moddable and then make it not like that. But the issue is, we’re making a game that allows players to interact with each other in a competitive environment. So we need some rules. What we’re going to start off with… Because it’s a small team, because we want to focus the development as we lock it down, the moddability will come later once we’ve solved that problem. We need to say, “Okay, this problem is effectively solved.” You’re never going to completely clear out hacking, so solving that is not getting rid of it completely. But at the very least we should be able to detect it adequately and deal with it adequately and roll it back and such. Once we’ve reached that point and pushed the game through, that’s when we can start doing it. And maybe we can get a little bit creative and make sure it fits within the world. We’re going to be able to do a lot more creative stuff with the mod itself. The idea is maybe to open up that a little bit more, to allow quite a bit more experimentation while the game itself gets locked down more. There could be some real synergy there.”
Hall later explains that DayZ was initially intended to be a short-term experience simply about surviving as long as possible, but it’s grown beyond that where clans have formed, legends have been made, and stories have been shared. The goal now with DayZ is to explore what happens beyond simple survival after the zombie apocalypse.
“I love the way they did destructible terrain and stuff like that. I thought it was very visceral. I think we need to come up with some kind of visceral… And I like underground as a method of construction of these player bases. It fits in with the narrative I’ve been talking about with my brother, in terms of the setting and the virus and all that. I think my vision for where the players can go is, I want to see them building the world after the zombie apocalypse. So your first challenge in DayZ is surviving DayZ, and that’s what everyone’s experiencing now. It was never really intended to be more than a one- or two-day experience. It’s something of a miracle that it’s got the staying power that it does. The next stage from that is either banding together or deciding that you want to go off and be a lone wolf or whatever. But maybe you’ll have to even visit these player cities are built. Maybe different factions take over these underground cities, and then someone else comes back and takes them over again. They may swap hands several times. But basically having to dig out your city and build it from the dirt is what I see happening.”
As for the setting of the standalone DayZ game, it will begin much the same as the mod in that it’ll be based in an augmented version of Chernarus, but could grow to include things like villages, malls, underground structures or even islands, some of which could be purchased as map packs.
In the long, long term, Hall would ideally like to see DayZ continue to grow and evolve into something like EVE Online has where the players control the universe and the stories that happen within are generated by the players just as they are currently with the community already embracing the ARMA 2 mod.
DayZ represents an exciting experiment as its being shaped by what the community has embraced and what they’ve voiced as desired features, fixes and updates for the game. More on that later!
“I guess what I really want to see DayZ become is a non-standard franchise. The thing that excites me most about it is that… You take things like Star Wars or Star Trek, anything like that. The lore and the world behind that is generated by a team of writers. It’s generated by that company. What’s happening with DayZ is that the lore, the stories, and these player legions… They’re being generated by the players. Like the Black Widow and Dr. Wasteland. The Mountain Dew. It’s lucky to find it but unlucky to hold onto it or drink it. So all this stuff is coming out. I want to find ways of supporting that. I think growing that element, that initial little genesis of this entirely player-driven story world, is something I really want to see. I guess I see community maps as possibly filling in there. The more DayZ can break out of a traditional model the better. We can try things and see what works.”
Hall plans to go to PAX to do some recruitment for artists and other devs who can help program specific ideas he has into the game so stay tuned for more in the coming months as we learn more about the plans and progress of DayZ.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.
Source: PC Gamer