It's been the season of zombies. The Walking Dead, Warm Bodies, The Walking Dead games, the impending atrocity that is the movie version of World War Z, the existing atrocity that is The War Z and, well, of course, Day Z (did you get all of that?) - it's been zombies everywhere you look. Naturally, some of these offerings have been better than others and Day Z, by and large, is arguably the most hardcore and delectable of them all.
A quick run-down for those unfamiliar with the mod: DayZ is a mod for Bohemia Interactive's ARMA 2 and has been widely praised as one of the best zombie games ever made. Within its first four months of life, the mod achieved one million players - a pretty impressive feat, most certainly. Needless to say, this eventually led to the creation of the Day Z standalone, a work-in-progress that has countless fans frothing at their mouths with impatience.
On a whim (and with some editorial nudging), I decided to see if I could figure out exactly what players were hoping to see in Day Z. With a little bit of help from Dean Hall (who was kind enough to retweet my question to his loyal legion of pans), I managed to catch a glimpse of what the fans are hoping for.
Some were simple enough. @SamBsox' only hope was to have as many Day Z stories as he did D&D tales, @ChesireGrinn's desire was to see an end to all hackers. The person behind @Anbraxamasgames probably had the most poignant response: "My hopes are that the Day Z SA wil make a statement to developers. Letting them know a lot of us do not want a casual experience. I hope it shows the value of our much taken for granted medical system. It reminds people that sickness used to be a huge deal."
No lootmaps were another common demand as were zeds that were capable of terrifying the jaded masses. (Personally, I'm still scared silly of them but that's just me.) Naturally, there were requests for features like the ability to fortify buildings, craft items, build traps, make use of trip wires, stockpile necessities, create notes and even partake in mountain climbing.
(There was also some mention of rag doll effects and, quite possibly, the ability to cause mammary glands to jiggle in provocative ways.)
Amidst the tsunami of responses, one thing was clear: people want a world that they can live in. More importantly, people want a world where they can die in, where you're constantly a knife's edge away from impending doom. Video games, in general, are a lot safer these days than they used to be. A checkpoint is generally sufficient to redirect the course of history. In most modern titles, you can't fail. You can only be temporarily inconvenienced.
Day Z is anything but easy. Much like in real life, death is usually followed by complete and utter loss, something that makes every triumph and disaster all the more poignant. Given what we know about the upcoming standalone version, it looks like Day Z SA will be more of the same... but more. As for me, I know what I want from the standalone when it finally releases – the same as everyone else, a world that lets me tell stories of how I died and of the rare few times I did not.
What about you?
Read more of Cass's Independency columns from days gone by: