The Road To Deliverance: Finding Fun And A Path, In DayZ.

Like many before me, my first few life’s in DayZ, a mod created for Arma 2 and its expansion Arma 2: Operation Arrowhead (from developer Bohemia Interactive), were short, and full of tension and wonder. Spawning on the shores of an open world island with a flashlight and a bandage makes you feel pretty vulnerable. Adding to the tension is the foreknowledge that the island is infested with zombies, out to feast on your body like a drug crazed Florida man. Dean Hall, the creator of DayZ, was inspired by his time spent with the New Zealand Army in Brunei, as part of a military exchange program between the New Zealand Army and the Singapore Armed Forces. Originally to be a training implement that exposed soldiers to the emotions and sensations of stressful situations [1], it has quickly become a game that invokes these emotions within gamers, myself included.

Dying regularly during your first couple of hours in DayZ is part of the games appeal and genius. The difficulty and intricacies of play is definitely far more advanced than the majority of your first person shooters; part of the games appeal and the reason it has received so much free social media marketing. The best way to learn how to excel is by experiencing. You can catch a handful of tutorials online that teach you the basics, but the lessons Dean Hall wanted to convey to soldiers are best absorbed by coming to the realizations on your own. The first time you sit on the outside of a small community calculating the risk to venture in and deciding your path that you will crawl to avoid zombie eyes, something clicks. You realize the balance between risk and reward, which is a constant companion during your time spent in DayZ.

The tension created by limited supplies and terror demanding music instantly grasps your attention the first time you spawn on a beautiful sandy beach. The first time you run unarmed squealing like a pig from a zombie, who heard you as you went from the noise suppressing grass to the echoing pavement, is exhilarating-and all this from a game still in alpha. You instantly relate to the actress in the clichéd zombie movie, who is running and screaming for her life. After you make your blood trailing escape though, the relation you have to the silicon beauty from movie-land ends.

After your escape, you have to bandage your wounds before you bleed out. Find an animal. Kill said animal, if you have the means to do so. Gut it and cook it. Eat. Then worry about your next meal and not becoming anyone else’s. Oh, and don’t forget the threat posed by other players (bandits), they can kill you just as easily as thirst and hunger. DayZ is The Road combined with Deliverance, and you get to experience both hands on. And yes, that is fun.

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DayZ#Development

Free to Play: The Death of Single Player Campaigns?

Will free to play [FTP] be the death of the enjoyable and immersive single player campaign? Will the new and continuing stream of ‘no charge’ game play become the substitute for the detailed story driven games we talk about with friends? The continued trend of developers offering FTP games could definitely have an impact on the single player experience.

Recently Steam, the leading source for digital gaming downloads on the PC, started making free to play games part of their distribution practice. This significant development by the most significant distributor is a sign of things to come. FTP is here to stay, has been for awhile, and is growing in popularity and quality.

Valve is even in route to develop their own FTP game (http://www.ology.com/technology/valve-working-free-play-game). Other big developers jumping on board include EA (Battlefield Play4Free) and Bohemia (Arma 2).

—————————————————————————————————–

Battlefield Free2Play doesn't look like the FTP flash games of old.

—————————————————————————————————–

Will the FTP genre replace the single player option though? Not entirely. Though the trend of developers going the FTP course seems pretty overwhelming at the moment take a look back to the massively multiplayer online [MMO] start-ups of the late 90s and early 2000s. Look in particular at Blizzard and World of Warcraft. Did it stop them from creating enjoyable single player experiences? No, just look at StarCraft II and, with fingers crossed, Diablo III.

The FTP craze will settle a bit. Developers will see it for what it is, another income generator of many. The business model of today (even more so for online based operations) are multiple sources of income, and that is what FTP is, that is what a MMO is – and that is what a game with a solid single player experience is as well. The real winners will be us gamers, and those developers who can combine those aspect effectively.

There will be some effect on single player campaigns. Some developers, whose sole focus is FTP, will muddy the waters with stitched together single player campaigns attached to, what they hope is, a micro transaction money maker. This has already been seen and will continue. Those who make FTP their focus and increase their audience appreciation (and therefor their subscription bases) with a worthy single player experience will rise to the top.

As gamers we will adapt to the new landscape of FTP and subscribe, spend money (micro-transactions), and support the communities of FTP games that make complete games. Those developers who market their games accurately by only making polished online experiences their focus will have an advantage over companies who try to market an all encompassing game (i.e. single player, online and micro-transaction based play) that gets nothing right.