Interviews// DayZ Creator Dean Hall Part 2

Posted 27 Jun 2012 17:01 by
DayZ Mod
DayZ Mod
Yesterday we gave you Part 1 of our interview with Dean Hall, creator of DayZ. If you're here, looking at this, and you haven't read that, you should probably get yourself back over there. If you have got the first part covered, there's little to add except: read on!

SPOnG: Tell us about the day-night cycle of DayZ. As when you are on a specific server from a certain region, if that server is in a place where it is night time, then it will be night time in the game and vice-versa. What was the decision behind that?

DH: Well initially this is the way I wanted to play the game; I wanted it to be authentic as possible. I am however open to suggestions - although I do have certain convictions about DayZ, discussion and debate is important. I take people's point that they don't have a lot of time and they want to play at night at home when they get in from work and not play in the game when it's pitch black. The problem is that there is a technical limitation which originates from ArmAII being a simulation game. Simulation is about time, so if I sped up the time, it has a knock-on effect on the rest of the game world. So it is unlikely we'll be making any changes to the time element of DayZ, purely for that reason. We can have inverted servers, where it's day in the game when it's night time in the server's geographical location.

DayZ Mod
DayZ Mod
SPOnG: So tell us about the Bandits, and how player vs player interaction works in the game, as that appears to be DayZ's biggest draw.

DH: It comes from me playing World of Warcraft for a bit, but I found PvP and PvE (player vs player and player vs environment) didn't make much sense to me. It's like you are driving the player to do engage in PvP, where as in DayZ we leave it to the player to make the decision to do so.

To enhance this we're looking into making bear traps to allow players to not kill people, but to injure them. This allows players to immobilise them and then rob them of their gear. DayZ has been built as a simulated world, where murder and injury are a facet of it. It's about making a spectrum of gameplay experiences that the player can choose to participate in.

Let me tell you a story of a gameplay session that I read recently - some guy was playing a really good aligned player. He was like Dale from The Walking Dead. One of his player companions didn't have a certain item, I can't remember what it was. They found this other guy and rescued him and while chatting to him they noticed he had a weapon, so this player who'd been as nice as pie for the whole of DayZ shot the man they just rescued for his weapon and passed it to one of his companions. The player was shocked at how callously he killed this other player for his items and he reflected on it. I just think that is amazing because there is no structure, forcing potential conflicts, you get these amazing emergent stories cropping up instead.

DayZ Mod
DayZ Mod
SPOnG: Another element of DayZ's appeal is how realistic it is. Everyone there is a bit rubbish at shooting a gun and is very exposed to attacks from zombies and bandit players. Also the game is set some time after the zombie hordes took over, i.e. after the world has gone to hell. This means that there are very few working vehicles. Why have you gone this way with this setting?

DH: Well there are some vehicles - there are about 600 servers in total. Out of those only 40 of them have actual vehicles on them. This is because when we set up a server we have to initialise the vehicles on it and we were flooded with requests for new vehicles and we just couldn't meet demand, so we stopped adding them. This is changing now and vehicles are appearing on servers as we speak.

As for the setting, is was the setting I wanted that was mainly out of necessity. I was limited with the technology available and I can compare it to the first Alien movie. They wanted loads of them, but they didn't have the budget so they reduced it to one, but it turned out a better film anyway.

There are other aspects of the game, such as 'why are zombies fast?', but I actually liked where the game development went with that. It's the same kind of thing with vehicles. DayZ is set well after things have gone wrong, civilization has died. You, the player, have turned up on this beach for whatever reason with very little equipment.

SPOnG: What is the future of DayZ?

DayZ Mod
DayZ Mod
DH: Bohemia Interactive have been really supportive of me continuing to work on DayZ and I believe the game will live or die based on that support. This is why I try to be on the forums and I sometimes say the wrong things. I just hope people will let me to continue to make this mistakes and learn from them, as if I stop doing that then we'll have a faceless community manager and I don't want that.

DayZ has been a commercial success and a critical one. I've been approached by large studios but I've rejected their offers as I believe I have to go with this kernel of an idea myself that I could do something amazing with. For me the best way to progress the development of DayZ is to make some kind of Minecraft-like model. We need to create a standalone, easy to install, low price point product. I want a mature Minecraft that uses terrain from a central data-base. That's my dream, anyway.

SPOnG: Would you ever port DayZ to console?

DH: My immediate reaction to that question is no. For me, the PC is my medium of expression, but if we can come up with some port of DayZ that works on consoles, sure. It exposes it to more people, it helps drive sales and gives Bohemia Interactive more money to make other cool stuff. So I'm all for making a console version, but not at the expense of the original vision of the game. I say this as someone who used to work on console games exclusively as a producer. This real problem is that you will add two years to the development period for a stand-alone DayZ game.

SPOnG: Thank you very much for your time.


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