Despite the generally-accepted zombie fatigue that some gamers may currently be feeling, it’s hard to deny the intriguing potential that surrounds Sony Online Entertainment’s upcoming open-world zombie survival title H1Z1. Not only does it look to provide a level of scope that all open-world titles strive for, but it also looks to be quite easy on the eyes. The Sony-backed surival MMO also aims to give players more control of the game by making use of custom servers.
For PC gamers, the idea of customizing gaming experiences to meet the tastes of individual players through custom servers is nothing new. Rather than simply opening up these custom servers to the public though, Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley states that they will be doing something new with H1Z1 by allowing players to vote on the qualities they would like to see in these “player servers”.
The news comes from John Smedley’s recent posts on Reddit where he outlines the plan for H1Z1 player servers. While there will be servers in-game that cater to all demographics, from vanilla rule sets to a more hardcore and survivalist game-type, if there is a specific type of server that players yearn for, they will be able to vote on it. If it’s popular enough, it could then become a reality. This can involve anything from varied rules to servers with different themes.
With a landscape as expansive as the recent panoramic screenshot suggests, there’s a lot of potential for H1Z1 to come in and take advantage of the buzz and early support for titles like DayZ and Rust. For players wishing to get into the voting game, a pledge token will be earned after 5 hours of play, putting the decisions into the hands of legitimate players. Each token can then be spent on a single vote. If players want to have an additional chance at changing the H1Z1 landscape, they will be able to buy pledge tokens separately, but are restricted to two votes per year.
As an added incentive to players who support successful servers, pledge tokens that were used on the successful server will be refunded to players, allowing them another chance to vote. This isn’t the extent of Smedley’s plans though as he intends to continue building upon this idea as the game ages, giving players even more options for custom servers.
Later we will expand past rulesets into adding more features. For example perhaps one community prefers to go more militaristic. So they— John Smedley (@j_smedley) April 18, 2014
add more military vehicles. So we're truly letting you, our Players get exactly the kind of thing you're looking for.— John Smedley (@j_smedley) April 18, 2014
While open-world zombie survival titles are hardly new to the world of video games, it’s admirable that John Smedley is attempting to provide players with a greater amount of choice in how they experience the game, setting it apart from genre juggernaut DayZ. It may seem like there is little ground left to tread for zombie fans, but player-focused servers could open a whole new world of choice while retaining the quality associated with official servers.
Custom servers have always been a boon in the world of PC gaming, but can often be criticized for being rough around the edges. If Sony Online Entertainment can manage to capture the charm and often wacky content of player-run custom servers while retaining a higher level of polish than the competition, players could very well start seeing open-world zombie survival with a coat of paint similar to Minecraft‘s recent candy texture pack. It may not be for everyone, but the possibilities are intriguing.
How do yu feel about the implementation of player voting for custom servers? What kind of custom server would you most like to play on? Are you eager to jump into H1Z1?
H1Z1 does not currently have a release date, but is promised to be “fully playable soon.”
Follow Ryan on Twitter @ThatRyanB.