There was a time when DayZ was one of, if not the most popular game on PC. It started out as a mod to the military sim game Arma 2 before development began on the standalone version. Unfortunately that’s kind of where the story ends, or does it? Creative director Brian Hicks has been doing the rounds assuring what fans remain that DayZ is still alive and kicking and hasn’t yet succumbed to the Zombie apocalypse.
DayZ has been stuck in development hell for a number of years now. The full game (alpha) released back in 2013 in Steam’s early access but has been plagued with tons of bugs and glitches ever since. 3 years later and the game is still not fixed and is still poorly optimised. Dean “Rocket” Hall standing on Sony’s E3 stage and Microsoft’s a year later to announce console versions went down about as well as you might expect, especially since he’s now abandoned the project to start work on his new game which I don’t want to advertise.
For those that have never seen or heard of DayZ, the game starts you off on the beach of a place called Chernarus. You have a flashlight and the clothes on your back. Your goal is to simply survive the zombie apocalypse. You’ll need to hunt for food and drink, find weapons so that you can defend yourself against the Zombies and/or bandits (non friendly players). If you die then you lose your gear and re-spawn on the beach with your trusty flashlight. It’s a brilliantly simple yet fun concept and I spent many hours playing the mod but where is the console version and more importantly what is going on with the game full stop?
Creative director Brian Hicks has told Eurogamer in an interview “No it’s not dead at all”. So you may be wondering where it is then, well fortunately Hicks went on to say “The PC is our flagship platform for DayZ. That is where 99 per cent of our development resources are focused. And while there was a lot of push from Sony and Microsoft to get up on their stages and say ‘yes, we’re coming’, our focus has been exclusively (I want to say exclusively because there’s about a one per cent development resource trying to keep those platforms at a point at which, once we get to our beta and our bug fixing, we can start pushing forward on that) on the PC. We can’t really move DayZ over to these platforms, at least on a playable level for consumers, until the base engine, Enfusion, is complete. Or if not complete, feature-complete so to speak – the core tech is there.”
Perhaps they felt it was unfair that PC gamers enjoyed all the disappointment and frustration or perhaps someone no longer at the company wanted to get a bit of attention for when his new project was revealed at E3. Either way announcing console versions was plainly a stupid idea if you are only going to commit 1% of your team to a project especially when the other 99% can’t even manage the PC version.
Microsoft are very keen to get DayZ on their platform according to Hicks which kind of makes sense given that they have the Game Preview Programme .
“Microsoft has been very eager – I’ll say this much – for us to get it on their platform, the Xbox Game Preview programme. We do keep a small group of programmers on making sure that our PS4 and our Xbox One version are at least, tech wise, it’s running on those platforms. But we’re not going to be releasing any announcements on dates for those and I don’t think we ever have”
Sony would do well to embrace their lack of support for early access games with this one I feel. PS4 players already have H1Z1 missing, presumed consumed by a Zombie whilst focus is on the PC version.
“Once we get to a point with the PC that we’re comfortable and we can start dedicating a little resources into catching up those [console] platforms then we’ll look at doing some announcements and talk about the Xbox Game Preview programme, which is what I would imagine is the first place we’ll get to since Sony doesn’t have something similar.”
So what has been going wrong? Well in short, they’re changing the game’s engine. Bohemia’s new Enfusion engine is being implemented which I see as a positive since the last one was clearly the wrong choice . DayZ can’t go any further without it but implementing a new engine during development is quite complicated and in short, ridiculously difficult.
Hicks was good enough to answer questions on people’s anger and said “I can understand people get upset and frustrated playing the Early Access builds. It’s an incomplete product when it’s in Early Access; there are a lot of things that haven’t been finished or a lot of old technology on the Steam Branch. It’s just an end-user or gamer who wants to get in there and have a good time, and it can be frustrating. I deal with the same things. And I appreciate everyone who’s been patient and engaged and I think, I firmly believe, that for everybody that loves DayZ, when we leave Early Access they will all be happy. ”
So is there a light at the end of the tunnel? Well I can see a spec of light but my fear is that there is just another tunnel around the corner. If you are a console gamer and are excited for DayZ please lower your expectations. you will be waiting for a while yet. As for me, well I will check in on the game every now and then to see how it’s progressing or IF it’s progressing to be more accurate.
“Honestly, when it comes down to that kind of stuff, when people say that kind of stuff, my personal opinion is just they care – a lot – about the game,”
My hope is that one day DayZ will release and it will be like the good old days. The game is a brilliant concept and I love the DayZ mod to this day but I fear that the ship has sailed and the negativity may well have sealed its fate. I hope Hicks can succeed where Rocket failed and couldn’t be bothered but after all that’s gone on I’m going to require a lot of convincing.
DayZ is due out sometime this century on PC and later this millennia on Xbox 12 and PS15, there’s no news on a Nintendo 5DS version yet.
In the meantime may I recommend perhaps the best DayZ mod series on YouTube. It’s well worth a watch through especially if you want to know more about DayZ and why people are so passionate about it.