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The Standalone Makes a Splash at PAX East

Michael Bitton Posted:
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2012 was a whirlwind year for DayZ creator Dean “Rocket” Hall and after a highly successful run with his mod for ARMA 2, Bohemia Interactive gave Rocket its blessing to work on a standalone version of the game, providing him with the financial and logistical support necessary to undertake the project.

Over the past couple of months we’ve seen bits and pieces of the mod here and there in the form of screenshots, blogs, and video blogs, but PAX East was to be where Rocket would give players their first live look at the upcoming game. We spent some time with Rocket to discuss the DayZ standalone and get a short preview of some of the interesting bits he’d be showing off at the PAX East panel. You can find that interview below:

One of the interesting things we learned about the project is that the DayZ standalone isn’t really based on ARMA 2 and it isn’t really ARMA 3, either. The underlying technology is kind of a mish-mash of whatever the team needed for their project. For example, some tech, such as the improved controls of ARMA 3, was leveraged to enhance the DayZ experience.

The team is also updating the skeleton used in the game (the first time in eight years) to improve motion and animation. This also means separate skeletons for first and third person, which should allow for better melee combat, something that will be much more common in the DayZ standalone than it is now.

 As part of the new control setup, Rocket is playing around with a new function that requires players to physically aim at a target in order to indicate they are hostile. The hope here is that having your gun pointed downwards by default should alleviate some of the kill-on-sight behavior found in the DayZ mod.

There were a couple of key points Rocket wanted to highlight at PAX East. The most important of which had to do with the delay of the alpha (which was supposed to release by the end of 2012) due to complications involving the implementation of the DayZ standalone client/server model. In the ARMA 2 mod, hacking is extremely rampant due to the fact the vast majority of the game is clientside. In order to avoid this, Rocket and his team are implementing a new client/server model that keeps just about everything on the server side of things. Since the team was unable to get this done in time for the projected alpha release date, the release was delayed. The team is tentatively looking at around June for the new release date as Rocket will be scaling Mt. Everest over the next two or so months. No. I’m not kidding.

Rocket also used PAX East to show off the standalone’s new inventory system. He was a bit apprehensive of showing this to the public due to the fact the feature hasn’t had an art pass yet, but the functionality looked much improved over that of the ARMA 2 mod. The new inventory screen is similar to that of your typical MMO paper doll, complete with the ability to drag and drop objects on and off your avatar, including the dropping of items into applicable item slots, such as a shirt pocket. Pocket sizes will be realistically modeled, too. This means you won’t be able to place an assault rifle into a shirt pocket, for example. The new inventory will also tie into the game’s crafting system. A sort of context menu will allow you to combine certain objects with each other when you drag-and-drop them onto each other.

New gameplay designs are being implemented to shake up the survival gameplay of DayZ, too.  For example, in addition to your health and blood levels, Rocket is adding ‘Shock’ to the game. This feature is inspired by the original X-COM and the short version of it is that if your shock level exceeds your blood level, you will be rendered unconscious.  Your blood levels will regenerate over time as long as your character is meeting hunger and thirst requirements. Once your blood levels are back to normal your ‘Health’ will begin to regenerate as well.  With that said, Rocket wasn’t happy with the fact players could just pig out on food and be OK, so there will be detrimental effects to your character based on your diet. If you try to just live off of a ton of energy bars, you’re going to have a bad time.

Rocket will bringing DayZ “back to basics” when it comes to weapons and vehicles in the standalone. In fact, there won’t be any vehicles at all in the standalone’s initial release. The assortment of weapons will be greatly reduced as well, with the focus shifted to melee weapons. Expect melee weapons to be much more prevalent than ranged weaponry, at least initially.

A new radio system based in part off of the ARMA “A.C.R.E” mod will allow players to use radios with a variety of channels to spy on other players. For example, you’ll be able to hide a radio at a location and listen in on others’ conversations (both voice and text chat). This should allow for some interesting possibilities when it comes to protecting territory, among other things.

Finally, base building was mentioned once again. The plan is to allow players to dig their own underground bases that are essentially separate instances. The reasoning behind this is that the map isn’t large enough to have players build bases above ground. Bases will take a considerable effort to construct and maintain and their value was compared to EVE Online’s capital ships during the panel.

Q&A Highlights

A Q&A session was kicked off following Rocket’s presentation; we’ll sum up some of the highlights for you below:

  • Rocket wants to discourage kill-on-sight behavior by giving players more to do and enhance the importance of medical supplies. He doesn’t want to force players into any particular playstyle.
  • The team is looking at restoring some sort of scripting functionality to allow players to script for locked doors and set traps. Rocket compared this to the way scripting works in Minecraft.
  • MMO-style trading system to be implemented.
  • Systems will be in place to deal with server hopping. Server will be able to detect you are doing it and will lock you out of the game for a period of time or even load you into the game asleep on the ground, which will make you vulnerable to being attacked.
  • Ammo will be separate from magazines. It will be possible to refill and remove ammunition from existing magazines.

These were some of the most important points we picked up from the panel. If you’d like to check out the full panel video, you can do so below:


Michael Bitton

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB