Video Explosion: Meet Nether, Phosphor’s DayZ Killer

By Nathan Grayson on September 17th, 2013 at 12:00 pm.

Phosphor – who kicked up a few dust tornadoes with superpowered open-worlder Project Awakened – is forging on from the weeping ruins of a failed Kickstarter. With Awakened “on the backburner” for now, the team of former Midway standouts has turned its attention to massively multiplayer sandbox survival with Nether. The short version? Think DayZ, but in a delicately crafted post-apocalyptic cityscape instead of a re-appropriated Arma island and with the promise of community involvement from top-to-bottom. For better or worse, Phosphor claims that this riff on that Z-iest of days will be at the whims of its fans from day one. For now, however, it’s already decently far along, so go below for two tense PVP scenarios and a video interview with creative director Chip Sineni in which explains why Nether’s not just another DayZ clone.

First up, here’s a video interview that introduces the game, setting, and monsters, and fields potential complaints of DayZ cloneliness (which is not next to godliness). Apologies for the utterly heinous glare. I’ll get a real camera soon! I promise!

Next, we have two PVP videos provided by Phosphor. First up is a potential scenario that might unfold via the game’s emphasis on capture and maintenance of safe zones.

And lastly, evidence that – as with DayZ – perhaps Nether’s biggest villains are still other people. Watch as a group of players gangs up on another group, attracting nearby monsters and causing murderous shenanigans to ensue. Oh human nature, you so crazy.

Finally, it’s worth noting that all of this is absolutely subject to change. For one, as you almost certainly noticed, Nether is extremely early (hello enemies who’ve managed to achieve my dream of melding the Moonwalk and what goes on in my head every time I hear “Walk The Dinosaur”), and Phosphor wants its community’s wishes to drive development above all else.

“Something we’re trying to do with this game that a lot of teams only give lip service to is letting the community help decide the direction of where this goes,” said Sineni. “We’re not just talking about balance or loot drops or enemy difficulty. We mean literal feature driving. Like, are vehicles a high priority or not? Is crafting a high priority? Should more survival be a critical thing? Should you have to, say, fix a leg wound with a splint?”

“Or maybe people will want server options – like the ability to turn off all creatures in the world. Then it becomes a rogue simulator. Can you live in that world? In that case, it’s a much more subtle game. If some guy has a big backpack and a gun, then you might spend all day tracking him, waiting for him to make a wrong turn so you can kill him or stab him in the back.”

“There’s so many ways we can take this game. Right now it’s just a framework. Where it goes from there is really up to the people playing it. Because they’re ultimately the people who are going to decide if it’s a success or not.”

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35 Comments »

  1. The_Great_Skratsby says:

    Doesn’t look like a Day-Z stand alone substitute but it sure as hell looks promising, particularly the more supernatural angle.

  2. Metalfish says:

    Listening to fans/community/sentient-toxic-waste is all well and good, but my impression is that 97% of the suggestions directed at DayZ from their (mostly horrible) forum would either a) break the game b) deflate the atmosphere and tension or c) be pointless bloat.

    I’m becoming increasingly of the opinion that I don’t really know what I want and it’d be a bit arrogant of me to demand games be a certain way in light of that.

    • Bull0 says:

      This is how it starts. You can light the way. You can… teach the others. There is hope!

    • Stevostin says:

      I am in between. Listening to the community is all well and good but I do believe you need to come with a plan first. One thousands people thinking for 5 minutes doesn’t construct the same kind of thinking one loney guy thinking over 5000 minutes. You need both kind to be smarter.

    • BooleanBob says:

      I know exactly what I want from games, but not from anything else. Would you care to trade?

    • pupsikaso says:

      Getting feedback from the community is very important, yes, but trying to develop the game solely on the community’s whim is daft. Nevermind how hard it is to actually sift through the garbage the community spits out to somehow find little nuggets of ideas they truly want – the biggest problem is that the community DON’T know what they want! Because the “community” is made up of various gamers that want different things, and they all want it at the same time. So how do you make a game that is PvP but not PvP, has perma-death by no death penalty, is super-hard and realistic but is an arcade arena shooter?

    • Edgewise says:

      I think that this is an unusually erudite observation from the user perspective. I don’t develop games, but I do develop software for end users, so I have a complimentary perspective. As a developer, what you really should be doing is creating the software that your users need, not necessarily the software that they want. This means that you don’t take them at their word, but it does mean that you have to listen to them, closely and often.

      Development without user input can be a disaster; the engineers themselves are too close to the application, and can have a hard time seeing what would not be intuitive for someone less familiar with its inner workings. Also, developers tend to have “really cool ideas” that sound better on paper than in practice. One of the things I have learned from listening to users is that sometimes the smallest things can make the biggest difference to their experience. Little things like which field in a UI gets focus can have a high impact on productivity when a user is doing the same operation two hundred times an hour. You only learn that by sitting down with them and really getting into it.

      Like I said, I don’t develop games, but if anything, games are even more subject to the foibles of look and feel and small UI details. Users don’t always know what’s best for them, but developers absolutely need their input. Phosphor stands to learn a lot from its users through their approach, so long as they run all those suggestions through their personal brain-filters. It also suggests that they are strongly committed to Agile development methodologies, which warms my heart cockles.

  3. Larios says:

    this has written war z all over

  4. LionsPhil says:

    Right now it’s just a framework.

    This is, unless I’m mistaken, exactly why Project Awakened failed.

    If you are an indie, do not try to make an all-encompassing but vague engine and bunch of systems that the community may one day shape into a game.

    Make a game.

    (Did this really have to be split across two articles?)

  5. golem09 says:

    It’s online? Not interested then. In the end it turns into 80% pvp anyway, because, people.

    • jellydonut says:

      ….that’s the whole point.

      • golem09 says:

        People thinking that way is exactly why I don’t play this. I’m only doing PVE games. Had hopes this would be one. Looked like one.

        • conti027 says:

          I don’t mind online but would love to see a coop only part. Where you can invite your friends and just do PvE.

  6. spamenigma says:

    It does remind me of The WarZ a little, but hopefully the vague familiarity in scenery is where that impression ends. I actually feel sick for paying money for that scam game The WarZ… Nether on the other hand I’ll not judge until I see more, and get to try.

    • Shodex says:

      At least it’s embracing it’s Day Z inspiration, and taking strides away from it. The War Z (or Infestation: Survivor Stories, as it’s now called) pathetically tried to say that it was around for five years before Day Z and was in no way a rip off. Nether is also showing gameplay which clearly demonstrates bugs, and some clunky looking mechanics. The War Z gave us manufactured screen shots, and no gameplay at all. Then expected out money.

      Likening something to The War Z is not giving the aforementioned thing enough credit.

  7. bretlee996 says:

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  8. Gap Gen says:

    I can only really see myself paying this to fight pigmen for a bit, but the lack of beds or placeable water in this game means I won’t spend a lot of time in it.

  9. Ratchet says:

    Am I the only one that wants a more realistic survival game? No zombies or monsters or any of that, just humans on the brink of extinction fighting one another (and realistic wild animals, I guess) for the last bits of whatever they need to get to the next day.

  10. Corb says:

    Why is everyone comparing this to War Z? All they’re doing is demoing and asking for beta sign-ups. They aren’t asking you to throw down $60 right now to get beta access to an early alpha. They’ve said it is still under construction and beta is still a bit off, they aren’t duping anyone, and yeah, it’s pvp so the carebears can feel free to just ignore this game. There’s nothing fishy going on here and the game isn’t just a straight rip-off of a fan mod.

    • Barnaby says:

      Where were these open world survival zombie games before Day Z? I realize they’ve existed in the past, but Day Z is what brought zombie survival to the forefront of the industry. Now, look at the level of polish on this game (running animations, yuck) and compare it to the unpolished pile of shit that is The War Z. If you don’t see the similarities then you aren’t looking very hard.

      Even the way they suggest they have no clue what to focus on in development, that the community decides, wreaks of them piggybacking on an idea that isn’t their own, then injecting community ideas to give it life. Obviously Rocket has tried to incorporate the community into the Day Z mod, but at least he had his own ideas of the overall direction of the project. The lack of direction here will be the primary cause of this being a dud, in my opinion.

      • Shodex says:

        The difference is War Z tried to pretend that it was the first, and Day Z wasn’t.
        Nether isn’t doing that. It’s not duping you, or trying to fool you with fake screenshots.

  11. Cik says:

    This does look promising. Ive played dayz and enjoyed it, and wouldnt touch Rust with its alpha and the hacking going on, particularly the desync hack, or lag-switch capability http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lN8gYqNb2Y

    But maybe this is one to watch.

  12. jonahcutter says:

    Supernatural monsters could be an interesting twist. I like the mist limiting visibility. And the verticality of a cityscape looks like a lot of fun, and something I really want to play with in more games. Something about it felt kind of arcade-y though. Maybe it was just the giant shotgun cursor.

    And I think he said the setting is ten years or so after things go wrong. But the urban destruction/decay and vegetation regrowth almost look like a generation or two.

    DayZ didn’t invent survival gameplay, nor the post-apocalyptic genre, nor zombies. Hell, DayZ borrowed/was inspired by/stole its name and setting from the novel “World War Z”. The point being, any game that has elements DayZ has, is using elements that already existed pre-DayZ hype. Writing it off as a DayZ-clone is nonsense. Especially so considering…

    DayZ itself was a failure at delivering quality post-apocalyptic survival gameplay. The reality of the DayZ mod is that it was a slow-paced deathmatch with a paper-thin zombie-survival veneer. Perhaps it will provide a better experience with the standalone (some of the elements they’re talking about adding in point in that direction), but it still needs to prove itself as an actual good game and not an overly-hyped mod.

    Nobody has become the genre-defining experience yet.

  13. chabuhi says:

    Really want to support Phosphor because they are local, but as someone else mentioned I want to see them make a game, not an engine/framework.

  14. ptoxiq says:

    Meh. I’ve yet to see any other game that would match the sense of immersion I get simply from moving through DayZ’s topographically realistic terrain.

  15. thundercnut says:

    So this is where War Z went! Do me a favour, its the WarZ. With weird teleporting zombies. Made by the same half witted moron that still thinks saying bad things about the game that inspired him is a good marketing strategy. Go home mate. Ps hurry the f**k up rocket! I nearly bought this shite waiting for you.

    • iseemonkeys says:

      It even has the same cash shop that a complete copy from War Z and a lot of the same art assets. Most of the world is same copy and pasted textures, objects and building. most are clipping into each other.