When PC title DayZ was first revealed to the public, it was an instant hit. The game, which began life as a modification for the hyper-realistic military combat simulation ArmA II, quickly attracted a massive international following, both by virtue of its zero dollar price tag, and due to the undeniable appeal of playing as one of the few survivors left in a vast, open world populated primarily by the shambling remains of what used to be the local citizenry. In concept, DayZ is an attempt at offering players the chance to exist within a George Romero zombie movie, and even more impressively it maintains this promise during gameplay.
Given its success, it’s no surprise that the creators of DayZ would want to monetize their pet project. As a result, the developers have been hard at work on DayZ Standalone, a proper retail release of the game, for over a year now. During last year’s Eurogamer expo DayZ creator Dean “Rocket” Hall promised that DayZ Standalone would be released by the end of 2012, but with that deadline come and gone we’re quite curious as to why we’ve yet to find DayZ on the shelves of our local GameStop.
Realizing that silence only engenders slowly building anger, Hall has decided to cut off all speculation on the project by simply explaining to fans the exact current status of DayZ Standalone. In a new post recently added to the official DayZ Tumblr account Hall apologies for the delay with pleasing candor. “At Eurogamer I said that DayZ had to be out before the end of the year and that’s come and gone,” Hall writes. “I still stand by that comment, to achieve what we had originally wanted, we did have to be out by the end of the year — and we’ve failed to achieve that.”
“Put simply, DayZ Standalone isn’t here because we had the chance to go from making a game that was just the mod improved slightly, packaged simply, and sold — to actually redeveloping the engine and making the game the way we all dreamed it could be. This blew any initial plans we had dictated to pieces.”
From there, Hall launches into a detailed list of the new design ideas that necessitated the game’s delay. “One of the most profound and major architectural changes has had its initial implementation completed, this is the overhaul of the inventory system,” Hall claims. “You scavenge for items now, as individual parts, picking up pieces rather than piles, looking for cans on shelves or under beds. The new system opens the door for durability of items, disease tracking (cholera lingering on clothes a player wears …), batteries, addon components, and much more. If you shoot a player in the head to take his night vision, you will damage the night vision.”
Other changes include tweaks to the inventory system to make it more intuitive to use, a newly-designed user interface that Hall claims was greatly inspired by Minecraft to be both simple and effective, and a host of new art assets. The DayZ team plans to implement a closed test of the game’s most recent additions shortly, in which 500 to 1000 players will be invited to discover any unforeseen issues with the new UI and inventory management systems. Once this test is complete the development team will confer and decide on a new public release date for DayZ Standalone.
While this probably isn’t the good news DayZ fans were hoping for, it’s important to keep in mind that the longer DayZ Standalone remains in development, the less likely it will be a massive disappointment. If you remember the recent controversy surrounding Hammerpoint Interactive’s The War Z, you’ll recall that it was a largely unfinished attempt to capitalize on the popularity of DayZ with a similar yet legally distinct game. It was released to Valve’s Steam service where customer backlash was immediate and intense. Mere days after its debut, Valve pulled The War Z from Steam and the reputation of both the game and its developer has been indelibly tarnished by this whole debacle. Fans of DayZ should be happy to hear that the team behind it is diligently working to avoid such a fate.