The Saline Bandit: DayZ Diary – Part One

By Emily Richardson on January 22nd, 2014 at 7:00 pm.

Hey! Don't kill me.
DayZ is a multiplayer zombie survival sim which, though buggy and incomplete, produces anecdotes of drama, desperation and clown mask-wearing weirdos. Emily Richardson has been playing it with a question: can you be a good person in the videogame post-apocalypse?

I’m waiting behind a big green house in the grass, watching the city below me from my little hill. It’s my second time in DayZ, the first consisting mostly of finding and eating sardines with my guide, Andy. I’m waiting for him to find me when I see a silhouette coming up through the grass toward me, a big M4 rifle pointed at my head.

I yell, ‘Wait, wait, don’t do that!’ and turn and run round the other side of the house. When I turn to look back at him he’s stood waving. It’s Andy, but as a woman, in different clothes and wielding a weapon I hadn’t ever seen before. He thinks I’m an idiot.

I’m so new to this that I feel a lot like the hopeless little kid from The Road and Andy is a bit like my dad, leading me through the world and trying to keep me alive. But not in a weird way, that’s just an analogy. I have no idea what I’m doing, though, or what my course of action is for bashing into other survivors.

There’s a lot of kill-on-sight bandits out there in Chernarus, but I know that that’s frowned upon by everyone that wants DayZ to be an interesting game about human interaction and the balance of trust, rather than just shooting stuff. I feel like I want to be one of those brave people that makes the game more exciting, by holding people up and handcuffing them rather than just shooting them dead, but it’s difficult when everyone else is trying to kill you and knick off with your sardines. It even gets a bit annoying, and I’m prone to panicking at the sight of Andy, never mind other players.

While I’m considering all of this, Andy decides that we should trundle off to look for more sardines and maybe a gun or something. Ten minutes and a little skirmish with some zombies later and we arrive in Elektro, one of the main cities. There’s a bugged-out dead body groaning in the church and spurting blood, but it’s not good for much. Andy gives it a battering with his fire axe to make sure it’s definitely dead (it definitely was) and we move on a bit.

After a while we sit down in the middle of the main road with two medpacks open at our feet. For a good ten minutes we stay there, in the open, fiddling with a syringe, an empty blood bag and an IV starter kit. I want to take a sample of my blood to check against Andy’s in the hope I can give him a transfusion, which would spare a fragile onward journey, but neither of us know what we’re doing. In the end, Andy somehow manages to take my blood and drops it to me. We decide to transfuse it immediately since we can’t be bothered to play around with the kit any more and we don’t know what to do.

He falls unconscious and shortly afterward he’s dead. We’ve made a pretty basic mistake. I’m alone in the big city, rifling through Andy’s backpack trying to salvage our most precious items. I take the M4, our canteens and water bottles, medical supplies, compasses and so forth. I’m carrying four guns, none of which have ammo, three of which are pistols. I leave all the food and canned drinks behind, considering that in my last session sardines were easily come by.

I begin the long and tiring run along the shore to Andy’s spawn, far up north. It’s not long before I’m regretting not bringing some food with me. I’m hungry, and every small coastal town has been freshly pillaged by New Spawns. I drink what little water is left in the canteens and hope that eventually we’ll bash into each other and swap what few supplies we salvaged along the way. A good while later and I’m approaching a midway town that we’ve agreed to meet at when Andy suddenly says, ‘Oh. I’m at Kamiwobo.’

Kamiwobo being the town I was at a good ten minutes ago.

It’s a long, exhausting hike, and when we finally regroup we’re in a desperate state. We’re both starting to starve and die of dehydration. Not stopping for food was stupid. Andy met another friend called Will along the way and he’s looking even worse. We have to make a sprint for the first place we know definitely has water, so we decide to go back to Elektro, not realising that Kamiwobo has a water pump mere feet away from us.

We push on and to much dismay we crash into another survivor. He’s a New Spawn and we’re not afraid of him, but we’d like to pass in peace and avoid the inconvenience. I’d distributed the guns between us, Andy reunited with his M4 and Will and I wielding pistols. We point the guns at this noob and realise that with no bullets and no intentions we actually don’t really know what to do. We’re noobs too.

“Friendly,” the new guy announces. Well, that’s nice. Andy types ‘Hey’ into the chat and with his name coming up, the guy seems to recognise him.

It’s our friend Chris – which is a weird coincidence in a map the size of Chernarus – and he’s dying too! Yey.

We sprint to Elektro and three of us make it to the water pump. Unfortunately, fellow survivor Will succumbed to thirst on the journey, but we agree to loot Elektro and head back for him when we have some proper supplies and an idea of what to do beyond ‘keep going back to Elektro’. So Andy, Chris and myself trawl through the fire station looking for bullets and tasty treats when Andy suddenly bellows into public chat, “There’s a man with a gun out here!” or something of that horrible, panic-stricken nature. Our location and supply status has been broadcast to the entire city. Well done mate.

We scout around outside the fire station but find nothing. Andy says he might have been wrong, he might have just imagined it. We need to help another survivor we know who’s stuck at the top of a smoke stack at the factory, so we set off through the main roads once again. As we’re trundling along, my screen suddenly reads, ‘YOU ARE UNCONSCIOUS’, which soon turns to, ‘YOU ARE DEAD’. I yell at my friends to run.

They replaced the old, ugly message, thank goodness.

Chris’ Twitch stream reveals that I was shot first, then Andy went down to a second gunshot. Chris dodges into a nearby house and hides, peering through a little window to try and get a view of our attackers. A third crack and his screen joins ours in darkness.

We messed up a lot, but I’ve learned a great deal from this first real adventure. Chiefly; don’t screw around in the middle of a main road, and secondly, eat anything and everything that you can’t carry in your backpack. Just gorge on it all.

Being shot in the back of the head so soon has also made me realise who I want to be in DayZ. Ignoring that time when I caved Andy’s head in with a baseball bat (he asked me to), I haven’t killed anyone and I don’t intend to unless they’re going to kill me. I’d rather have a high-stress debate in the middle of a warzone than shoot at people and never know who they were or what they were like. Better yet, I’m gonna campaign for everyone to just get along like nice little bandits should. I’m assuming an identity as the Saline Bandit, and I’m going to holdup and heal everyone I meet, with a little help from some friends.

We’ll see exactly how long it lasts.

The Saline Bandit will return… on Friday.

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40 Comments »

  1. Bitberry says:

    Oh Gosh darn it!

    I keep trying to resist this thing—there are hardly any zombies, the apocalypse is a lie!—but Kotaku and RPS seem to be display something impressive every other day of the week. Are there any RPS groups or readers that bundle together for a play out of, let’s say, a natural fear of scantily-clad cult clowns reciting nightmare-fuel?

    • Clavus says:

      The zombies aren’t really a necessity for DayZ to work. They’re not the main attraction, unlike a lot of people seem to think. Their only purpose is to make it harder to traverse towns, forcing people to live in the wild more (although the camping and hunting mechanics need to be implemented first).

      • Bitberry says:

        Yes, role-playing a survivor is the main attraction! Yet from what I’ve seen it feels contrived at this early point in development. Shooting a player until you’re shot dead yourself is what people are gravitating to because, well, it’s the only rewarding (you’re also a terrible person) and clear-cut objective.

        That the zombies are missing is a pretty big deal, I think! It’s like forgetting why people should be working together in the first place, and why running your umpteenth mile is done because the local corner store had its owners eaten and wares looted.

        Down the line I hope the engine is beaten into shape to allow enough predators in the form of animals and zombies to stop you from shooting a fellow survivor.

        *And even more loftier goals down the line!

        • Rizlar says:

          The zombies were very present in the mod, afaik they do exist at this point in the standalone alpha but they are very buggy.

          There was a definite prevalence of shoot-first in the mod as well, not because of lack of zombies, but kind of because there was no real drawback to just shooting and looting everyone. And if you didn’t shoot first then you died. The idea they are going with now in the alpha, of damaging equipment when you shoot the person holding it and allowing you to non-lethally restrain people, is quite clever. It should make non-lethal robbing the preferable option, creating more room for player interaction and opportunity for the underdog to fight back.

          Not bought into the alpha yet though, I’m restraining myself (geddit?) until it’s finished.

          • arccos says:

            I really like that they’re trying to increase the cost of shooting someone so it’s not worth it if they’re new (and have little to no supplies), but even that is trivial once you have more than one gun.

            I think taking out all guns except for a short-ranged 6 shot revolver would do wonders for the game. Even better if they could add more variety in how melee combat is done.

          • kris713 says:

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            (Go to site and open “Home” for details)

      • JoeX111 says:

        I kind of wish they’d ditch the zombies altogether, but I doubt that’ll ever happen.

        • FurryLippedSquid says:

          Me too, there have to be better ways of bringing people together.

        • hungrycookpot says:

          Yeah, it’s called Arma…

          • JoeX111 says:

            Either you’ve not played both games, or you totally missed the point.

          • groetzi says:

            obvious troll :D
            but try wasteland. it feels like halfway between vanilla arma and dayz. you have lots of guns (have to loot good stuff, though) and vehicles. there are regular flashpoints across the map in order to gather players for combat. it is quite popular and fun with friends. theres also an arma 3 equivalent

    • FurryLippedSquid says:

      There’s a group of 4 or 5 of us from another forum who play the mod pretty regularly, welcome to join.

      I don’t see the appeal of the standalone just yet. Very few weapons, very little loot, no vehicles, and very few zeds who can walk through walls. I’ll pass until later in the year!

    • Gap Gen says:

      I’d love to see a completely co-op server with little settlements, trading, bus services, etc.

    • Buttephon says:

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  2. FurryLippedSquid says:

    Glad you’re as hauntingly confused as I am in the mod sometimes, even after 20 hours.

    Keep up the good work, you’ll feel semi-competent (sometimes) soon enough.

  3. DRoseDARs says:

    I used to be a starving adventurer like you, then I took a bullet to the back of the head…

  4. Rizlar says:

    The Saline Bandit, Dr. Wasteland; I like the idea of these urban-mythical heroes who you dream of but never actually get a chance to meet since you keep bleeding to death in the forest. Or maybe you see them flying past in a chopper to rescue someone else.

    http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2012/07/the-healing-touch-dr-wasteland-brings-hope-to-day-zs-grim-world/

  5. MrJellybean says:

    A nice read.

    Keep carrying the fire.

  6. lautalocos says:

    you say you are a good player, but you drained andy´s blood of his dying body.

    you are a vampire

  7. DestroyYourEgo says:

    >yawn<… wish I had a time machine to jump into the future where every other "news" article wasn't something about DayZ.

  8. JoeX111 says:

    I had a great encounter with a medic, or “medic.”

    Some friends and I have holed up in a little structure to the north. I was the only one signed in when someone approached, heard me moving around in the building and called out to me. He claimed to be a medic, asked me not to shoot, offered to heal me. When he asked if I was alone, I lied and told him my brother was patrolling the area nearby.

    He offered to drop his gun and come inside. I circled around to both exits and could not see this guy anywhere. Fearing he was setting me up, I sprinted out the door and into the nearby woods. I circled the camp looking for him, but couldn’t find him anywhere. Finally I crept back into the building, hoping to spot him from the upper floors.

    That’s where I found him, crouched by a window, scoping the surroundings with a sniper rifle. I told him to freeze. He whirled around, gun raised, and I blew him away. Turns out he was fully loaded with medical supplies, but also more Mosin ammo than I’d ever seen in one area. No idea if he had been upfront with me or looking for an easy score.

  9. Gap Gen says:

    Ah, game logic, where food doesn’t weigh anything if it’s inside you.

  10. Gap Gen says:

    Ooh ooh ooh also what does a saline bandit use to shoot people?

    A salt rifle.

  11. The Random One says:

    “Ugh let’s just inject my blood into your body, it’ll totally work man” – Shaun of the Dead 2, obviously

  12. Kuze says:

    So what can we learn from this? Just that DayZ is still a buggy alpha mess as it was when it exploded onto the scene last year. Its also still about only being able to trust friends you know outside of the game cos everyone else is an ahole. Its still just a boring griefing game where people who have tons of gear murder the weak (you basically did nothing here and then got 1 shotted… dull).

    Also the mechanic of if you shoot people you *may* destroy the lootable gear is nice in theory but in practice utterly pointless as most of the time the idiots griefing/killing you already have awesome gear and no need of yours!

    **Edit Just to clarify as my post seems fairly negative, I have played and enjoyed DayZ alpha mod back when it first became a thing. However after a few weeks of playing with friends I just saw how shallow it was. It doesn’t seem to have progressed past that point which is annoying as it had (and still does) some genuine promise.

    • Talon2000uk says:

      I’m afraid I have to agree. I’ve played a LOT of DayZ and while its fun for a bit it’s not the game I was hoping it would be. Its basically a very slow death match and always will be until one thing is changed. The Zombies must be a huge threat.

      They must be faster, deadlier and be everywhere.

      There need to be specials that hunt you.

      There must be something for people to do other than hunting noobs, for shits and giggles. Such as base building, R&D and rebuilding society.

      Until all of the above happens DayZ will stay what it always has been the worlds slowest death match, fun in its way but not a post Apocalyptic Survivor game.

  13. Hideous says:

    Oh man. Total pet peeve, but it’s not “Kamiwobo” – it’s Kamyshovo. Russian letters, man.

  14. Eric292 says:

    Brilliant story! Love it, can’t wait for Friday!

  15. El_MUERkO says:

    I’ve picked it up, played last night for an hour, got a rucksack and a few bits, logged off, logged back on, there was my character with all my gear on the front screen, cool, join the game, I’m a new survivor on the coast :/

    TBH I bought this for one reason and that’s the map, now to bribe Sa Matra to make Wasteland on it.

  16. chelseavbuchholtzsoldangi take says:

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  17. Kethis says:

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  18. mgadeleo says:

    Anyone willing to make a group in the standalone version?

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