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DayZ creator to leave game’s lead dev role, launch indie studio

Dean Hall, the creator of the Arma II mod-turned-full game DayZ, intends to leave his lead development role at Bohemia Interactive on the standalone zombie survival release by the end of 2014, Eurogamer confirms. Work will continue on the game without Hall’s input as he returns home to New Zealand, where he intends to launch an indie studio and work on another, unannounced multiplayer game.

“I am a grenade. I have a specific use. I’m really good at risk-taking and making other people take risks, I’ve always been good at that in my life,” he told Eurogamer. “But eventually, that’s the bad person to have. Eventually, you don’t want the guy telling you to go over the top and get through. So at some point I’ll be a disaster for the project, at least in a leadership role.”

It was never Hall’s intention to stick around at Bohemia. He originally left New Zealand to take some time away and ended up sticking with the Prague-based developer to work on DayZ. He expects that the game, which is a zombie survival sim with persistent servers (i.e., your character data follows you every time you log on, until you die and respawn) set in a massive open world, will be far enough along by the end of the year that he’ll be able to leave his vision in the hands of others.

Hall’s long view now involves returning to New Zealand to found an indie studio where he’ll work on creating some sort of multiplayer experience. He’s got multiple ideas in mind, many of which “have similar DNA” to DayZ, as the game’s unique approach to multiplayer speaks to a personal fascination for him. Don’t expect anything soon though: Hall expects that he’ll be busy with setup and prep for “years” before he’s ready to show anything.

The DayZ mod surfaced in 2012 and immediately made an impression with its uniquely social take on survival. Using the open world of Arma II, Hall constructed a freely explorable zombie apocalypse filled with resources for players to find. Players aren’t bound to any particular rules of engagement in either the mod or the full game that it spawned, and all progress is saved as a person moves from play session to play session.

The freedom inherent to this design allows for a wide variety of approaches. Some players choose to go it completely alone, others band together and terrorize the remaining humans, while still others commit themselves to the noble pursuit of helping those in need. While many zombie-focused video games place their emphasis on violence, DayZ instead examines the social implications of a world populated by flesh-hungry monsters and those fighting to survive.

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