There were 4 of us standing on a rooftop in a cold deserted town. We see a figure lingering in a building across from us frantically moving. We hide behind cover hoping that the person hasn’t noticed us. This person isn’t part of our group. We ask if he is friendly but he doesn’t respond. I move to get a clear view of the person. The server admin is standing beside me peeking around the corner.
“I got a visual,” I tell the admin.
“Go for it,” he says.
I raise my weapon and as my avatar shakes from the cold I peer through the scope. It is a player looking out a window with his gun at the ready position. Is this person friendly? Why didn’t he respond?
I fire the first shot. The sound is deafening and echoes through the town. After the smoke clears, the player drops as he bleeds profusely from the chest. I make sure he is doesn’t get up by taking another shot.
At that moment, I had realized that I was a bandit.
– A memoir from one of my journeys in Namalsk
DayZ is an MMO survival simulator for the PC that takes place in the 225 square kilometer fictional post-Soviet state of Chernarus that’s based on an area of the Czech Republic. An infection has taken over the city and your main goal is to stay alive for as long as possible. You start with the clothing on your back and a flashlight at the south part of the map. Your immediate concerns are hunger and thirst as they deplete slowly over time due to factors such as energy and weather. You also have a life bar that tells you the amount of blood in your system. The inhabitants of this world are other players (can be up to 60 “survivors”) and hoards of the “infected” which are controlled by AI. The game world uses real world time and features persistent objects which allows for things like hiding vehicles that will still be there the next time you log in. Every home, building, and compound is enterable each with their own loot types which are intuitive. Car parts can be found at gas stations and auto shops, supermarkets will have food and water, and barracks will have weapons and high quality gear. These are just some examples.
The game is truly unforgiving. Bleeding requires you to bandage yourself, a broken bone can render you immobile, you can become unconscious due to shock from injury, and you can get sick from bad weather or drinking bad water. When you die, you lose everything. All your gear, items, weapons, everything. This makes each and every movement, decision, and interaction hair splitting as you traverse this world not knowing what will be just up the road ahead. It forces you to think as if you are there and to make rational decisions. While zombies roaming the map might be enough, you also have to think about the intentions of other players which will always be unknown and will make interactions all the more real, dynamic, and heart pounding. Nothing is scripted. There are no storylines or experience points. If anything, your loot is your experience. You will remember moments in this game as if you were really there, all because of the fear that you felt in your bones when you faced that encounter. The feeling is exacerbated due to the fact that it may take hours, even days before you encounter another player, making it more intense.
Suicide is sometimes the best option
DayZ was originally created as a mod for a first-person military simulator game Arma II. The company, Bohemian Interactive, are known to have developed VBS (Virtual Battlespace) which is a program for special military training that is being used globally today. Released in 2009, Arma II had a few ground-breaking features such as proximity based voice-chat, large scale maps with real places, realistic physics for bullet trajectory and penetration, destructive environments, and real-world vehicles, weapons and equipment who’s specs were meticulously replicated into the game. The missions online can have up to 100 players, can take hours to complete, and are hyper realistic. This type of gameplay requires you to read the terrain and apply real-world tactics.
The Creator of DayZ, Dean “Rocket” Hall
The man behind the mod, Dean “Rocket” Hall, was a game designer who worked for Bohemian Interactive at the time. According to his wiki, “Hall was a Commissioned Officer of the Royal New Zealand Corps of Signals in the New Zealand Army,” and that he used “video games as a method to train soldiers in the emotional reactions they may face.” He came up with the idea of DayZ while doing survival training in Brunei “as a suggestion for training soldiers through exposure to situations provoking emotion and relevant thought processes”. Hall first released the mod to veterans of the Arma community which received overwhelming approval. He kept all of the core mechanics from Arma II and only took away the military assets that you would not find in a civilian setting. He then added fast running zombies that were inspired by the ones from 28 Days Later. Once he released it to the public, it gained one million registered users in 3 months while being on the best sellers list for 7 weeks. This prompted the company to create a dedicated team and eventually announce a stand-alone game. When that got released, it sold “over 172,500 copies in the first 24 hours, totalling over US $5 million in sales” according to the DayZ Standalone wiki. Dean eventually left the DayZ Development team to make his own studio RocketWerkz and has left it up to Brian Hicks to take the lead.
The game inspires artists who try to depict life before the outbreak
The unforgiving nature of this game can turn some people off. The feeling of dying after building your character for a week can really leave an sting that lasts for a few hours. The PVP nature of the game is one to get accustomed to. As with every game, there are a few bad apples. But when you do find comradery, it does make it all worth it. This game will test your morality. It is a social experiment that aims to simulate the order and chaos of a virus outbreak. There is something about it that makes me want to go back. I haven’t touched it for 2 years. Maybe it’s because my friends have lost interest, but I still hold on to it. Maybe one day I will pick it up again, and possibly get a different story. You know what? No. Bandits are always bandits and that’s what I love about this game. Thanks for reading.
Me and a few buddies hanging out
Awards (as per wiki)
- The mod was nominated for the “Online Innovation” category at the Game Developers Conference Online Awards 2012
- PC Gamer gave DayZ the “Mod of the Year” 2012 award, calling it “one of the least-forgiving and most intimidating games of the year.”
- Good Game gave DayZ the “Quiet Achiever” award for 2012.
- PC PowerPlay gave DayZ the “Game of the Year 2012” and named it number five on their list of top 100 games of all time.
- DayZ won the MMORPG.com award for Best Hybrid MMO at PAX East 2013
- August 2013 it was announced as the winner of IGN‘s People’s Choice Award of gamescom 2013, beating 49 other games with 15% of the votes
- At the 2014 Golden Joystick Awards DayZ won the Best Indie Game and Best Original Game awards.
- DayZ was named the 12th best PC video game ever by PCGamer.