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February 14, 2014

Dear Reader,

Syl’s got a lovely new player’s analysis of DayZ on her phenomenal blog, MMO Gypsy.  I’d strongly urge you to give it a read, especially since the majority of the content of this post is on the same topic.

Have you read it?  Okay, let’s take a trip down memory lane here at Sheep The Diamond.

It’s a completely different kind of gameplay than I’ve experienced in a long time – if not ever.

Syl feels much the same way:

Another similarity  was our two descriptions of how we think about our interactions in terms of a consequence chain:

My second encounter with a survivor did not go as smoothly, but it did reveal to me that while I may not be a killer, I’m not just a victim, either.  I was, again, in a barn.  I seem to spend a lot of time there, since I avoid the big cities.  I had seen another survivor outside and avoided them.  There’s a dichotomy there: speak out and reveal that you’re around or stay quiet and potentially have a problem.

And from Syl

Centered around survival with and against other players, DayZ is a game of endless decisions that often need to happen quickly. Dilemmas abound: Do I cross that public square in broad daylight for a chance of food or do I risk my hunger longer? Do I take a chance at the exposed well or try the popular food store? Do I have my weapon at the ready or do I prefer the faster run speed? Do I talk to that person and risk getting shot? Do I shoot first and risk to be heard? If I get heard, what’s my fastest way out? It never ends and paths lead in all directions.

So it seems we both took a quick liking to DayZ.  Even today, talking to my buddy about this post, he brought up enjoyable tale after enjoyable tale from our time playing it, but in the end, we both agreed with my previously-written final conclusion:

I’d like to discuss how in a 48 hour time period, DayZ went from what I wanted to play to what I don’t want to play any more.  I mentioned DayZ a few days (weeks, perhaps?) ago.  It’s a zombie-horror survival game wherein you play a survivor washed up on an unfamiliar coastline with nothing but a flashlight, a Band-aid, and a bottle of Tylenol.  From there, you have to find food and water, arm yourself, equip yourself with tools to hunt, build fires, and cook, and see just how long you can survive.

It’s a masterful concept, but the more my buddy and I played, the more we realized the glaring design faults.  This isn’t about the various bugs that exist everywhere in the game; it’s only in alpha, so we can hardly complain.  No, the game clearly wants to be about one thing – survival – but due to poor design, it becomes something else – a Belarusian Counterstrike.

The primary outcome of the flawed design is that everyone becomes a “bandit.”  A “bandit” is a player who kills other players for no reason.  Now, I’m not against the PvP elements of the game; in a true survival situation, there will be bandits, even teams of them, and there will also be desperate situations where it’s kill or starve, and they’ll be misunderstandings that lead to bloodshed.  But not everyone will be a bandit.  It’s simply not realistic.  However, after our first few play sessions, literally everyone we ever met shot at us for no reason.  In most of those cases, we died.  In a few, we pushed them back.  In one, I killed the fellow.  So to be clear: I’m not against the PvP.  I’m against the concept that the whole goddamn game is PvP.

So while I will never fault someone for enjoying a game, I’m afraid I just can’t agree with Syl.  The constant state of butchery for no reason does not imply, to me, an unspoken code of conduct.  Is there one?  Sure, but only for people who are playing it the same way I am (note I didn’t say the “right” or “wrong” way).  I’d love to hang out with Syl’s British buddies, be a part of a clan, and run around bettering the desolate world.

But all it takes is one jerk who doesn’t care if he has to reroll popping you in the head from out of sight to ruin all your hard work.  He may get killed by your buddies, and you may be able to get geared back up and into the mix, but still, you’re not the same character, nor, eventually, the same player.  How many times before it loses its novelty?  For my buddy and I, it was the fourth or fifth back-to-back snipings that made us want to stop.  No speech, no discussion, just death from the dark, and we were done.

So I hope we’ll hear from Syl again (not Sly, by the way: Syl) in a few weeks on how she’s doing, and to be honest, I truly hope she’s still enjoying it.  Maybe that will give me hope to give the new game a try.  Only time will tell.


Stubborn (and quoting quite a lot today)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Samus permalink
    February 15, 2014 2:55 pm

    Great post, I definitely agree. I just don’t see how online open PvP games can work. Players are too far insulated from consequences. You are only inside the game for a few hours. Afterwards, you are in your nice comfy safe home in real life. It doesn’t matter to you that no matter how successful a bandit you are, some of those “ganks” will eventually result in your death. You won’t actually die, you’ll just lose some progress in a video game. Start up a new character and resume your murdering.

    The other thing is living with your actions. I couldn’t count the hundreds, probably thousands of players I have “killed” in my time as a gamer. But I don’t think I could actually kill a real life human, certainly not if my life were not in danger. Am I so rare? Is the world really filled with potential psychopaths who wouldn’t hesitate to go on a rampage if not for law enforcement? I don’t really believe that. Yet that’s exactly how people behave in these games when given the opportunity.

  2. February 16, 2014 8:57 am

    Thanks for the follow-up Stubborn. our early DayZ experiences sound very similar indeed. I can see why your enthusiasm declined – I’ve no idea for how long I’ll play DayZ myself. it’s not my favorite genre but as far as the immersion goes, it has a lot to offer.

    KoS IS an issue and I can see it ruin someone’s fun with the game after they’ve been instakilled or sniped for the 100th time. on the other hand, if we are champions for the freedom in DayZ, our answer needs to be ingame: to gang up and go after the ‘bad guys’, right? CS was a game of campers too but there were always clans who would go after them, trying to establish a different gaming culture for CS. In DayZ, the bigger more coordinated groups of players do the same – at least that’s my experience. the clan I’ve run with wouldn’t rest once one of them was killed in such a fashion. they would go take the person down who did it. and thanks to DayZ’s harsh death conditions, taking out campers puts them back for a good while (not like in other games where you just run back to your corpse and continue what you’ve been doing). They’ve also addressed combat logging in the most recent patch so people can’t just disconnect as soon as they’re cornered.

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