DayZ: The Vision
DayZ Standalone has been a long time coming and it’s finally here, at least in alpha form and I think it’s understood this could turn into one of those forever alpha/beta games.
We’ve all had a lot of time to salivate over what DayZ could be, many mods have explored some of those avenues to an extent, but playing DayZ Standalone the ambitions of a solid base to build on are obvious and new doors are being opened for mod makers to venture forth.
In this piece I want to write about some of my own visions of what DayZ could become a few years down the line, post-release when the mod makers have at it. Keep in mind this is just a dream, I don’t know the capabilities of the engine and if these features are remotely possible.
Think of this is a kind of wish list, or fantasy.
First and foremost, there needs to be deep character customization. The base of the game as it stands is very good; we are able to swap in and out parts of guns with a number of attachments already available. Heck, the multiple configurations of the two primary weapons are the main distinguishing factors between a geared character and otherwise.
As Rocket has already stated, we need different spray paints for weapons; I want my crew to be rolling with pink/white camo guns to more easily identify each other, add in the ability to dye clothes and we’re set.
It would be interesting if your character developed scars and disfigurement from being injured. This would add more story and depth to your character, which adds to the ‘immersion’ of the game.
Perhaps with the addition of clans it would be a good idea to allow clan emblems that are patches in-game on certain clothing. Imagine killing an enemy clan member, stealing his patch and stitching it onto your own to infiltrate their clan. If Minecraft can store player skins on a central server then I’m sure DayZ can do the same with said clan emblems.
Settlements, trading and currency
As an avid fan of the STALKER series, for me a post-apocalyptic world requires trading and settlements. Not only is the current way of trading tedious, but I also believe when combined with settlements and a “trading tax” system it could work wonders in DayZ.
Groups of players, or clans, should be able to move into certain villages or military camps, or even locations like the shipwreck and it as theirs.
How exactly the building system is implemented into the game is a tricky question and definitely one for a game designer. Personally I’d rather there weren’t random blockades and such placed all around the map.
While I do not like restrictions on where players can build, simply because it’s more dynamic and interesting seeing what crazy idea’s people come up with, I think a pre-determined tiered base upgrade system is best.
A trading settlement would have a “market” area where other players can come in and trade, with the tax on trades within the settlement giving the owner share, incentivising the protection of traders. You want your trading outpost to be known as a safe place.
The tax from the trading in your outpost can be used to pay clan members for guarding the traders among other expenses.
To skip a few steps and further this system you could tie it into the bandit/hero reputation system and allow hero settlements which don’t allow selling of illegal goods while bandit camps do, players who sell illegal goods or foster the selling of those goods gain bandit reputation while players who destroy illegal goods gain hero reputation.
A reputation based settlement system would create a more interesting dynamic between players and settlement sieges, during which settlements could be captured and change hands.
To support settlements within the game, the map will need to be bigger and with more players, which is something Rocket has already said will be happening.
Typically in DayZ the further inland you head, the more likely you are to find rare loot, in locations such as the Northern Airfields and Military Bases. On a larger map, unique loot that spawns in the far north would have more value in trading settlements near the cost than in the north where it is more readily accessible.
On the other hand, there could be other loot that is more common on the coast than inland and would thus be of more value inland.
For this to happen the map needs to be so big and dangerous that there is need to be able to buy things instead of just going and getting it yourself. This adds a purpose for merchants within the game, which I will discuss in the next section.
Currency is another interesting concept in this discussion. While I really like the idea of barter for currency instead of traditional dollars or euros, it is certainly a lot more convenient to use a common currency. Perhaps a blend of both would be more likely.
Keeping the conversation rolling, players have limited bag space for currency/barter and/or probably don’t want to carry all their currency around with them. As such, they will want to stash their stuff as we did in DayZ with vehicles. Perhaps settlements will be able to rent out storage space that is under their protection.
There are so many interesting ideas that spawn out of storage space and as many caveats for each that I don’t want to explore that, it would take another article. But I think it is agreed that keeping all your loot in a hidden vehicle, then losing it all to a server restart isn’t ideal.
For the record, I don’t like the idea of player’s hording equipment on the hive wide storage and being able to instantly re-gear; there should be risks if it’s to be possible to do so.
Events and Contracts
It would be interesting if there were Wasteland style events in the game. Events that are used to pull players into hot spots, such as chopper and plane crash sites, air-drops such as those available in ARMA mods like Battle Royal and Rust.
Taking another influence from Wasteland but adapting it to DayZ based on my trading discussion, I like the idea of player convoys. This wouldn’t necessarily be a feature to add but rather an intended side effect of trading.
Trader players buy loot in the north of the map at a lower value then travel south to sell it at a profit, or vice versa. Of course, these players would need armed guards (heroes) to protect them in-case they get ambushed by Bandits.
Without some sort of contract system it would be hard for the merchant and hero to trust one another with delivery on each other’s end of the deal.
Such a contract system would setup an arrangement between the merchant and hero that automatically rewards the hero with, for example, half of the payment when they are half the distance there, then the remaining half once they’ve reached the full distance. This system might require a currency and banking system, though that’s perhaps a discussion for game designers.
Upon completing of the contract the hero should gain reputation towards being a hero while the bandits gain reputation for stealing the loot and selling the goods.
Bandits should also be able to run convoys, with heroes gaining experience for stopping the flow of illegal goods.
Another hotspot on the map could be hunting locations. Hunting is a feature we know is coming, but I want to take it a step further and suggest hunting areas around the map. In one part of the map there may be one type of animal which might not be worth much there, but perhaps on another part of the map where they can’t be found it is worth more.
Contracts could be available to players who want to protect certain endangered wildlife areas from poachers (bandits). Players who kill the wildlife start a timer on their head, if they are killed by another player within that time parameter the killer gains Hero reputation. If a player takes and sells the endangered wildlife loot they gain bandit reputation.
Within the reputation system there would need to be some sort of incentive to being a hero or a bandit, or even neutral, otherwise players would just take advantage of the system and get the best of both worlds.
While I don’t like the idea of a Skill or Talent system within DayZ that gives more experienced players an advantage over newer players, I do think a sideways progression system would incentivise Heroes/Bandits.
Contracts would also allow players to put bounties on other players, which would allow bounty hunters to exist.
Zombies, the infected…
Throughout this article I’ve completely neglected the fact that this game includes zombies, forgive me for forgetting they exist in standalone.
It’s kind of ironic that zombies are more of a backdrop to the survival games of DayZ, more could be done with the zombies.
I could be wrong but I recollect Rocket talking about the idea of Zombie hordes or swarms. Within my vision of DayZ, zombie hordes would be attracted to towns with lots of loot and settlements with many players.
Not only should settlements have to worry about protecting themselves from bandits but they should also have to worry about incoming zombie hordes. Zombies are easy to shoot when they aren’t aggro, but when a large group goes aggro you need to drop them before they get close.
When a settlement is left unattended (players offline) zombie hordes would come and destroy the walls, requiring them to be repaired and upgraded again. When destroyed the zombies would just populate the ruins. This would serve as a way of getting rid of settlements in abandoned areas and servers.
With the larger emphasis on survival within Standalone it would be interesting to see Rocket play around with players becoming infected.
Players who are in contact with zombies should become increasingly more prone to infection. It would be more interesting if the infection was undetectable and contagious without a blood test, at least until symptoms start showing.
This would mean that if a player from the outside comes into a settlement that doesn’t blood test guests, that player could infect the whole camp; precious resources would be wasted containing the infection.
As a whole I’m glad DayZ is finally here and am excited for what the future holds.. Even in its current bare-bones form the game is really fun to play which speaks for itself.
Currently the most pressing issues with the game, for me at least, are the lack of loot respawn, small selection of gun, combat logging, player loot disappearing and small server sizes. Outside of that it would be nice to have a proper day/night cycle.
I’m sure over the next year of development there will be a lot of good additions to the game and frustrating spontaneous bugs before coming a stable build, but it’s going to be one hell of a journey.
Whenever I get the time I will be writing DayZ Suggestion articles with more fleshed out and specific ideas for DayZ. Some of the topics I will be writing in more detail about are Progression Systems, Stashes/Storage, Crafting (somewhat related to progression) and other topics as they come to mind.