DayZ is a free mod that has surpassed 1 million users in a little over 4 months, without a big publishers marketing budget. Due to the success of this zombie survival sandbox mod, creator and Bohemia Interactive Studios employee Dean ‘Rocket’ Hall announced that the development studio would be creating a standalone game for the mod. Converting the mod to a full game opens up the door to many new features and removes a lot of limitations that the mod suffers from. This got me thinking about what I want to see in the standalone.
Pitching ideas for a game – even when ranting to a public audience – can be extremely difficult, what sounds good doesn’t always work in practice. Sometimes the ideas that sound terrible work out really well – either way, this article isn’t going to be about what I think absolutely needs to be in DayZ, just what I think would be cool. Rocket is very open to suggestions, and frequents forums every day to find out what people want – if you want to pitch your own idea, head over to the official forums.
In an attempt to keep things organized, the following will be my ideal additions and changes to the DayZ feature list for the standalone. As far as limitations, I am not really limiting myself to any – I am running the assumption that BIS has decided to use the ARMA 3 engine as a base for the DayZ standalone and will be developing on top of that framework. This opens up a lot of opportunities, and without limiting myself – here is my ideal DayZ game.
Chernarus Expanded: Currently the post-soviet state of Chernarus is 225km2 and features a variety of terrain to trek, and locations to visit. The map is currently a big place, and you can sometimes feel quite alone – but I think the map needs to be bigger, perhaps twice the size or at least an extra 100km2. Part of the excitement of DayZ is the uncertainty of visiting certain cities and towns – not knowing who waits inside a building or around a corner. Firstly, I want to see all buildings made enter-able – something Rocket wants too.
But that’s not enough, I think the cities and towns should reflect their populations in a realistic manner. Currently on the map we see that the bigger cities like Cherno only have a few apartment buildings and residential houses. I want to see suburbs, expanded cities and towns, along with the small rural villages we currently see. This is why I want to see the world expanded, increase the player count as much as possible, make the map bigger and add in proper suburban areas in cities, shopping districts, large malls, and more.
Scenario Based Spawning: I always loved open beginnings, ever since playing my first Elder Scrolls game. The idea of waking up on the beach or some random location is great, it works perfectly. I would like to see some improvements on this though, and I think that it can be further enhanced with scenario based spawning. Spawn locations could be say in the forest, where you would be given hunting or camping gear to start with. Another person could spawn at a city, wearing civilian clothing, while another awakes in a hospital wearing scrubs and holding only basic medical supplies.
I could potentially seeing this a little hard to balance, and players quickly finding out which ‘scenario’ is the best to start out as and repeatedly killing themselves to get that – but I think it would be neat. Alternatively I would just like to see people awaken in more places than on a beach or random grassy area – have people awaken in ruined cars, camping tents, buildings, hospitals etc. There’s so much potential for added immersion there that I hope they do something special with it.
Infected Overhaul: If there’s one thing that’s currently lacking in the mod, it’s the infected (no, they aren’t zombies – according to Rocket). The AI, pathfinding, and spawning system all need a work-over and badly. First of all the way the infected spawns needs to be fixed, they should never spawn in sight of you – I can’t count the number of times I have seen them spawn right in front of me or glitch out and flicker through multiple models spawning and despawning repeatedly. It’s ugly, and ruins the immersion of the game.
Infected should spawn out of sight, but not all the time – it’s quite easy to spot where players are based on infected spawns. You should never know when entering a building if there is going to be an infected around, their AI needs to be improved dramatically to fix their perception skills – make them run properly or slower but more dangerous. If they are slower, they should follow the mentality that a few is no problem to escape from but a larger group could easily pin you or trap you.
I am a bit of a Walking Dead fan, so I love moments like when the helicopter flies over the city, attracting a herd to walk in a certain direction, that herd mindlessly keeps going in that direction and eventually hears a shot – heading for the farm where the group are currently staying. Besides a dynamic spawning system for maintaining populations where players are, I would also love to see persistent herds or small groups that will roam wherever they are drawn by natural or player causes.
It also opens the potential for better uses of a larger, more realistic world. Places like larger cities and towns, if having suburbs and more realistic sizes etc, should range from being rather quiet to completely overrun (think Atlanta in Walking Dead). Imagine clearing houses in the suburbs, you have trouble with an infected and have to shoot – this draws a massive herd over to the suburbs. There’s far too many to run so you decide to barricade and bunker down in a house. Perhaps able to drag furniture and hide in the house till the herd passes, while also having something to do in the mean time of course.
More Realistic Mechanics: ARMA II prides itself on providing a level of realism that exceeds your average shooter, a lot of this realism has been transitioned over to DayZ. There are still some things you can’t do or that are missing that don’t make sense. I love the survival simulation aspects the most, so I want extreme emphasis placed on making the game feel as real as possible. From animations, to actual game mechanics – there’s a lot that could be added.
Simple things like being able to drink from water sources without a water bottle, to being able to move and drag objects. Adding more health issues, sicknesses and ailments – down to eating rotten food and throwing it up or getting food poisioning. Along with that players should need to maintain and clean their weapons to stop them from jamming, and snipers worry about wind when firing – a mechanic that never made it in to the current DayZ mod.
More Items, Clothing & Objects: Currently the only items in the game that litter the ground are items you can use – including tin cans, they can kill infected and break through hospital windows! There is a bit of item variety already available, but I would love to see much more clutter and random everyday items. Combine this with more useful civilian and military items, and you have my interest. More items should have uses as well, most of which should be unspoken for – items which can be used in any way you can manage.
Using a rope to climb a small cliff face, or scale down the side of an apartment building, or even perhaps tying up and kidnapping a player. I could think of a million different objects, and several ways they could be used. In a sense, each object is a tool, and it’s up to players to decide how they can be used – not the game. The more of this ‘fluff’ they add, the happier I will be.
Crafting & Maintenance: With all the extra items, and hopefully added realism – I would hope that the standalone had a decent crafting system. From things like crafting makeshift tools, to more detailed repairs of vehicles and building structures. Additionally, other tasks currently in the game could be fully fledged out, like cooking could have recipes or ingredients that provide certain benefits to your health or ruin your health. Learning to not cook with a certain type of plant or rotten food would give some of the MMO Chefs out there something to focus on.
While you’re building and crafting, you should also have to maintain things – giving you reasons to gather more supplies rather than just gearing up. Things should deteriorate and weapons should have to be cleaned and repaired. Adding weapon modules would be one way to do it, give them durability and enable players to pull other guns to pieces and use them for parts. Once again, adding as much realism and immersion in to the world as possible is never a bad thing in my books.
Player Bases, Outposts, Camps: Once you have played DayZ for a while you begin to delve in to setting up camps or tent cities. Some people go ahead and use sandbags, tank traps, and wire fencing to create fences and perimiters around their bases. There’s a lot of potential in base buildings or constructing additional objects – from bases to setting up trading outposts. Players should be able to re-build civilization to a degree, inhabiting and customizing their own area in the way they see fit.
From bunking down in a farm to setting up your own makeshift base – there should be plenty of objects and structures to craft to help you in rebuilding or renovating the world. Players should also have a reason to want to find a place to settle down, and have enough things to do in these areas to keep a player busy for a long time. Go back to the herd example in the suburbs, you decide to bunker down while you wait for the herd – let’s say they are slow and it takes them several hours to fully clear out. You shouldn’t feel the need to log off and go to another server or play later – you should be happy that you have time to craft, clean your weapons and perform other fluff tasks.
I could go on forever about many many more features I would love to see – perhaps another time – but for now I will leave it at that. That’s a glimpse at the kind of game I want to see DayZ become, and I have a feeling there are a lot of other DayZ fans out there who share the same ideas. What do you want to see in the DayZ game? Share your ideas in the comments below!