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About DayZ

DayZ is an open world survival video game currently in development by Bohemia Interactive. It is the stand-alone successor version of the award-winning mod of the same name. The game was released for Microsoft Windows via early access on Steam on December 16, 2013, and is currently in early alpha testing. The game places the player in the fictional 225 km2 post-Soviet state of Chernarus, where a mysterious plague has turned most of the population into violent zombies. As a survivor, the player must scavenge the world for food, water, weapons, and medicine, while killing or avoiding zeds, and killing, avoiding, or cooperating with other players in an effort to survive the outbreak. DayZ began development in 2012 when the mod's creator, Dean Hall, joined Bohemia Interactive to commence work on the standalone version of the game. The development has been focused on altering the engine to suit the game's needs, developing a working client-server architecture, and introducing new features like diseases and a better inventory system. The game has sold 3 million copies since its alpha release. At Gamescom 2014, it was announced that DayZ would be coming to the PlayStation 4, and at E3 2015, it was announced that it would also be released for the Xbox One, with an early access version being released under Xbox's own Early Access program.

Gameplay

The goal of DayZ is to stay alive and healthy during the conditions of the zombie outbreak that have befallen the in-game world. The player begins equipped with only simple clothes, a road flare and a rag, and must begin exploring the large 225 km2 landscape of fictional former Soviet Republic Chernarus to investigate locations such as houses, barns, and apartments to scavenge supplies. These supplies include food and water, which are basic keys to prolonging the player's life. Beyond the bare bones of survival, players can find various forms of clothing, which not only allow the player to customize their character, but can bring the benefit of extra storage space for supplies and warmth. Also scattered around the map are a variety of weapons, allowing players to protect themselves from zeds or other players if necessary. Currently these are largely focused on a range of melee weapons, but a small number of firearms (more are to be implemented with future updates) are present, as well as various attachments such as bipods and telescopic sights. Player interaction is a major part of DayZ gameplay. Currently the game provides in-game voice chat which allows players to communicate with each other within a certain distance. Text chat is also provided for those players who lack any means of voice communication. DayZ also provides in game actions such as the ability to wave to other players and allowing players to put their hands up in order to show that they surrender. While travelling around the game, players can also find various medical supplies as the environment poses a range of threats to their character. Planned features include diseases such as cholera, dysentery and hepatitis, which can be caught by ingesting dirty water or rotten food and must be cured with the appropriate medicine. If a player is shot or otherwise hurt, items on their person may be damaged. The player may also start bleeding and must be bandaged quickly to minimize blood loss; excessive damage or blood loss will result in serious deterioration of vision for the player and can render them unconscious. The game also includes hundreds of public domain books throughout the map for players to read, including titles such as War of the Worlds and Moby-Dick. Planned features of the game include being able to build bases in the world in which players can keep their items safe, with the possibility of security systems and programmable computers having been considered. The standalone game will build on the text and close range voice chat of the mod version by including a new whisper channel, which will allow players to communicate over a very short distance without players nearby hearing, as well as radios (based off the "ACRE" mod for ARMA 2), which will allow longer range communication, including the possibility of encrypted two-way radios and player-run radio stations. A number of features which have been recently added to the release are hunting animals and cooking. Other features such as vehicle transportation are confirmed to be in development pending future release.

Development

Following the huge successes of the DayZ mod, Dean Hall announced in August 2012, via a new development blog, that DayZ would begin being developed as a standalone game with himself as project lead, in conjunction with Bohemia Interactive. He said that the game needed to be released before the end of the year "in order to achieve what we have to do", also stating that he wanted an initial release around November 2012. The game will be running on a branch of the Take On Helicopters engine (part of the Real Virtuality engine), and the main areas of developmental focus were to be "critical issues", such as bug fixing, hacking, and security. One of the developmental focuses was making the world feel more realistic by increasing the number of enterable buildings. Hall stated that he hopes to implement bad ideas into the game, in order to find what players enjoy, rather than taking no risks at all. The game will be based on a client-server architecture, similar to that used in many massively multiplayer online games where functions such as item and NPC spawning are decided on the server rather than on the player's machine (the ARMA 2 architecture had a large proportion of these tasks performed on the client). The main aims of this change are to reduce the number of hacks and exploits available, and to remove any unnecessary functions of the previous engine (such as AI flanking). It was announced in November that the game would be released via digital distribution software Steam, allowing use of the Steam server browser and patching functionality. Following the troubled release of similar game The War Z, Hall stated in a post on Reddit that the "whole 'saga' of the development made me seriously question if I wanted to be involved in the industry" and that he had considered leaving the DayZ standalone project. The game missed its original 2012 release date, with a development update coming in January 2013 saying that the game was not yet released because the developers "had the chance to go from making a game that was just the mod improved slightly... to actually redeveloping the engine and making the game the way we all dreamed it could be." The release date was rescheduled and an internal closed test began on the game, with it being announced that public testing would not be taking place until the server architecture was finalized. In June 2013, Hall commented that the alpha release of the game would be a "very bare-bones" alpha in which the development team want a relatively low number of players providing bug reports and feedback. The secondary aim of the initial alpha release is to keep the project funded for further development until the full release. Hall has stated that he expects the beta release to be at least a year after that of the alpha. The last tasks prior to the alpha release were network optimizations, referred to as a 'network bubble', which would reduce network load on the player by only loading events which occur within their vicinity. In October, Hall stated that the development team was on the final lap of development and that the team was "100 percent focused on getting the alpha out the door." After release the developers are focusing on server performance and stability, adding extra features such as animals and vehicles, and improving the controls and animations, among other things. Throughout the game's development Hall has posted development blogs, attended video game conventions, and uploaded gameplay videos, keeping the community up to date with the development progress. The second development video showed the animation team in a motion capture session recording new animations, as well as some interviews with the development team and the third contained a large amount of in-game footage, showing new clothing items and a new area of the map. Hall said that a console release of DayZ is "almost certain" and that he had been in talks with both Sony and Microsoft about PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions. He commented that he was happy for DayZ to be released on any console that is "indie-friendly," but that he was put off by Microsoft's ban on self-publishing and their history of charging money for game updates though the development team was not counting the Xbox One out. The development team will not be considering the console version further until the game has been released fully on PC. In March 2014, Dean Hall revealed that Bohemia Interactive had purchased a new development team, Cauldron Studios, whose 25 developers would be added to the DayZ development team. At Gamescom 2014, DayZ was confirmed for the PS4 console with a release date to be determined. During E3 2015, the Xbox One version of the game was announced. Steam Workshop support, which grants players access to host servers, and a single-player mode of the game was also announced and will be added to the game in the future.

Release

The game was released on December 16, 2013 during the alpha development stage through Steam's Early Access program at a cheaper price than when it is finally released. The price will increase as development continues until reaching the full release price. This alpha release is an early access build with a large amount of the features still in progress and the development team is targeting the release at an audience who want to be involved in what Hall called a "very barebones experience that is a platform for future development." In November 2014, it was announced that the final release version of the game would be released in 2016.

Reception

The alpha release sold over 172,500 copies in the first 24 hours, totalling over US $5 million in sales. During peak sales, over 200 copies were being purchased per minute and after one week over 400,000 copies had been sold. The game reached a total of more than 1 million sales while remaining at the top of Steam's sales charts for two weeks in a row during their Winter sale despite it not being reduced in price. In an alpha review of DayZ, Rick Lane of Eurogamer commented positively on the new additions but said that the game may not be worth the current price until more features have been added. On the other hand, Craig Pearson of PC Gamer said that he had good experiences in DayZ and that it was already worth the price. By May 2014, the game had sold 2 million copies. By January 2015, the game had sold 3 million copies.

Awards

DayZ won the MMORPG.com award for Best Hybrid MMO at PAX East 2013, and in August 2013 it was announced as the winner of IGN's People's Choice Award of gamescom 2013, beating 49 other games with 15% of the votes. At the 2014 Golden Joystick Awards DayZ won the Best Indie Game and Best Original Game awards. DayZ was named the 52nd best PC video game ever by PCGamer in 2015.

See also

List of video games derived from modifications