Thursday, January 9, 2014

Is DayZ Being Ruined by its Own Community? by Eli English

Oh DayZ, where to begin? You made me fall in love with the idea of survival games. You've made me meet some great friends and have some fantastic times in an unforgiving and changing world, while keeping things challenging in a great way. Yahtzee put it best in his video for the game: "You don't lose because someone is 10 levels higher then you. You lose because he has a gun and you don't." DayZ was made a fantastic game due the random encounters which could play out in hundreds of different ways. I've had plenty of times where I'd meet a bunch of random players who would stop me and go "Hey dude, do you need some food? Here. Have an assault rifle with a bunch of ammo and a military-grade backpack." (The other half of the time, they shoot you and stuff rotten food in your mouth.  -Ed) Without those random and awesome encounters, the game would turn into another FPS that just so happened to have no end goal and zombies constantly on the map. However, a large amount of regularly playing DayZ gamers are also ruining DayZ for the rest of us. Here's why:
1) Shooting on Sight.

Part of the thrill of DayZ is to run around with no clue on what's about to happen. That one guy you see down in a fire station could either become your new best friend and help you survive the days to come...or he could blast your head off with a shotgun as soon as you walk through the door. That's the thrill of the game. There's no scripted events like in other modern first person shooter games. There's no people who you can trust for sure besides a small group of friends, if you're lucky. However, there is shooting on sight. LOTS of shooting on sight. In the first couple of weeks of DayZ, friendly players were rare, but not terribly hard to find. 3 out of 9 players would simply shout out "Hey dude, I'm friendly" when they saw you. They probably wouldn't give you anything, but they would usually leave you alone and go on their own way or maybe even team up with you. Now? In my experience, 1 out of 12 players have been friendly.

This is a problem as it causes everyone to be FAR more aggressive then they should be. There has to be some bad seeds who will shoot you on sight no matter what, but there needs to be less chaos in order to keep the intensity there. Shooting on sight only leads to shooting on sight. I don't care how much you like to play the good guy in games. I don't care how many times you've done a Paragon run on Mass Effect or how much good Karma you have in Fallout. Anyone who plays DayZ will eventually shoot a player on sight due to the fact that they've been shot on sight far too many times and don't want to lose what they've taken hours to collect. Think about it like this; if you were going throughout a town and have taken hours to collect the required parts to fix up a car (cars are incredibly rare in standard DayZ servers) and a random person just ran behind a corner and into your face -- weapon in hand and raised -- what would you do? Before, I would make the newbie mistake of shouting out "Hey dude, it's okay. I'm friendly!" and have been shot in the face almost every time because of it. The one reason I've stated is because shooting on sight is so rampant, but the other reason is also because there's no consequences to your actions. Lets talk a bit more about that as well.

2) No consequences

So you've killed your first couple of players. Congrats, your player model has changed and... that's it. You don't lose anything. You have a great skin that matches to most environments while looking cool (if you're on a server that makes bandits outfits turn into ghillie suits, that's even better) and there's no real way for any players to find out you killed them unless you're on a very specific server. It's almost as if playing a bandit is the only way to go. Think about it. After you've killed a player, you probably have a fresh gun with ammo to boot, a decent amount of food and a couple of bandages while the person you just killed has to start from scratch and forget about all the gear he took hours to find. And even if you are murdered in cold blood and know who did it, very few players will give a shit. By the time you scream out "BANDIT IN ELEKTRO!!!" in the global chat, a player will either be running to the gunshots with his M4 at the ready (usually to kill that player and steal both your shit) OR they'll just note it for later use and move on.

Having no consequences doesn't kill the thrill of the game, but it hurts it a lot thanks to players who just kill whoever they see. Adding some sort of consequence would add more excitement to the game and would make people react with a bit more hesitation when it comes to just killing a player. That hesitation helps the game a lot as it requires you to make a fast choice without the assistance of reloading an old save like in most games. That thrill makes you a better player in the long run and helps keep the games intensity going strong. Without having some sort of consequence for killing another player for no reason, most players will attempt to take down a threat because there's no reason to think things through. Me and my friends have had discussions about what to do when it comes to having no consequences between making trader cities in which bandits are always shot on sight or making trader cities give out rewards for when someone kills a bandit, but currently there is no official way to combat against bandits minus hunting these players down as a team.

In a recent article, the top priorities of the DayZ team, as reported by PCGamer (, are the following:

Server performance, stability and security

Animals & hunting

Cooking & gathering resources

Playable user customizable vehicles

Player created constructions in the environment

More complex interactions with the environment and crafting options

Streamlined user actions and interface

Control and animations expanded and improved for fluidity

Upgraded graphics and physics engine (including ragdoll, etc.)

Support of user mods and more flexibility for user hosted servers and game types

These are all good things and will help support the community for the months to come. Adding hunting to the game will allow a new way to survive for those who don't wanna go city hopping for food, while still giving players stressful situations to deal with because DayZ isn't about the zombies. It's about the human and natural threats. If you don't drink water, you'll start to dehydrate yourself and your ability to sprint will soon be lost. If you don't eat food, you'll start to starve and it can effect your overall health. Keep up a bad diet and it'll effect you in more ways then one (note: diet hasn't been added to the game yet, but it's something the developers have talked about A LOT). Adding hunting, cooking, player made constructions and more interaction with the overall environment is a VERY good thing. I'm a bit worried about customizable vehicles, but as long as they're careful about what they allow players to add to their car, it should be okay.

The article gives me hope that DayZ can become a much better game with less shooting on sight and consequences for those who continue to do so in the long run, but I'm hoping that day comes sooner rather then later. Until that day comes I'll continue to set up hunting parties in order to take those bastards down.

1 comment:

  1. Mike here: Eli, what are your thoughts on this being the game working as intended? As I understand it, DayZ is supposed to be a post apocalyptic survival simulator, and that sounds like what you've described here. People are only looking out for themselves, are living out the violent murder fantasties, and the only way to stop them is for groups of decent people to band together for protection.

    That sounds exactly like how the zombie apocalypse would work. :)