Every Death You Take: Perma-Permadeath in DayZ

This town is, frankly, big enough for the two of us It's DayZ. It's huge.

Games with permadeath — wherein you start over completely when you die — provide certain stakes to a gaming session. Rather than reloading your last save after you die, you lose all your gear, you lose all your progress, and you essentially lose all the time you’ve spent playing up to that point. For a while now (a couple years, to be honest) I’ve been thinking about a way to up those stakes, to go a step beyond perma-death: perma-permadeath, where dying means you don’t just lose your stuff, you lose the game itself. Forever. Survival Week on RPS seems like an apt time to finally give it a try.

So, today I’ll play DayZ, and if I die, I won’t simply start over. I’ll stop playing DayZ, and I won’t play it again. For the rest of my life. For real.

Granted, this still may not sound like whole lot in the way of stakes. There are and will be tons of other games to play, and it’s not like I’m going to chuck out my entire computer and start, like, reading books or something. Still, I love DayZ. It’s my favorite game of the past few years, and according to Steam, I’ve sunk 250 hours into it. What’s more, as a games writer, if someone were to contact me (as Graham did) about writing a paid piece on DayZ, not only will I be losing out on that pay, I’ll have to explain that I can’t play it because I promised the Internet I wouldn’t, which makes me sound like a fucking idiot. So, there are financial stakes, as well as whatever you call stakes that make you look like a complete moron. Mostly, though, if I die in today’s session, I’ll be losing a game I truly enjoy, forever, and that feels pretty heavy.

I came up with a couple ground rules to make sure I don’t just squat safely in the woods eating berries for the day and then declare myself a winner. The servers I play on need to be at least half-full so there are other players around. I’ll also make myself visit two big cities, one in the north and one in the south, forcing me to cover a good bit of ground and enter areas in which zombies and players are likely. Once I’ve visited those two cities, which will take at least a few hours, I can call it quits and start playing normally again.

Why am I doing this. Why am I doing this. Why am I doing this.

I take a deep breath, wonder why I’m doing this, and then spawn in as a freshie on a server with 21 people on it. I quickly get my bearings: over my shoulder, I spot an island with a lighthouse on it. That’s Drakon, which means I’m in the south, close to Electro. Good news! I’m on the outskirts of my first big city without having taken a step. I perform the perfunctory DayZ bambi business by stuffing my shirt into my pants and tearing it into rags, then hustle toward Electro.

The first few buildings I loot provide me with gloves and a red children’s backpack. There’s also a water pump nearby, and I start filling my belly, spinning the third-person camera around to watch my own back as I drink. I immediately spot a creeper zombie fast approaching, perfectly framed by the pump. Naturally, I can’t cancel the drinking animation, because this game is still so damn incomplete, so I’m forced to sit there, serenely sipping water and watching as my potential ever-death closes in.

Ohhhhhhhh sheeeeeeeeeit.

I recite some calming words aloud as I watch, something like “Stop drinking stop drinking STOP DRINKING COME ON STOP DRINKING YOU FUCK,” but to no avail: the creeper, and a second upright zombie who’s joined him, are pummeling the blood out of me by the time I can straighten up and flee. I manage to lose them and bandage myself in the bushes. Cripes. I run along the beach to the other side of Electro, somehow becoming soaked in the process despite never stepping in water. Ah, early-access.

After calming down — I was legitimately sweating — I continue. I find a black cap, a tin of tuna, and a can of peaches, the last of which needs a sharp tool to open it. A pajama zombie chases me from a house I’m looting, though I find a machete in a shed so I can return and hack him to un-death. I open my food and take a long interrupted drink from another pump. I’m now energized and hydrated. All things considered, not a terrible start.

While checking out a few more buildings, I run into a shed and find myself face to face with another player. I’m so utterly shocked and terrified I don’t even remember to take a screenshot, but this is what he looks like to my wide, panicked eyes:

OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD.

In truth, he’s just wearing a boonie hat and blue checkered shirt, his hands balled into fists but not holding a weapon. Another freshie. “Hey there,” I say above the sound of my pounding heart. He says something back, probably “Hello” or “Hey” but possibly “I am going to murder you so you can never play DayZ again!” In my freaked-out state, I can’t be sure. Two zombies lurch into the building, and we both run out and head in different directions. I decide to consider my visit to Electro complete, and dash north into the woods. I’m sweating, my heart is still pounding, and I’m whirling my camera around me so fast I’m getting sick. I’m halfway up the hill when the server restarts, giving me a moment to sit back in my chair and exhale. This is genuinely nerve-wracking.

I am promptly getting annoyed. I am rapidly getting annoyed.

I join a new server, a chilly one. Being cold is a gameplay feature now, though I’m not entirely sure what the negative effects are. I head up the road, aiming toward the small town of Pusta, alone except for the words “I am promptly cooling off, I am rapidly cooling off,” repeating endlessly in the corner of my screen. Hey, it’s better than having to suffer through global chat.

An apple a day keeps the bandits away. Right?

I force myself to slow down a bit. Rushing is my natural instinct in DayZ, and now it’s doubled: the sooner I get to the northern city of Novo the sooner I can stop playing with this stupid, terrifying perma-permadeath rule I’m forcing on myself. But running headlong isn’t a good survival tactic. I slow down, examine my surroundings, and carefully check the road ahead. I stop to search a row of trees for apples, finding only two rotten ones. I spend some time watching an elk, appreciating its gentle beauty. Of course, if I had gun I would kill it and if I had matches I would cook and eat it, but I don’t have those things. So, I appreciate its gentle beauty.

Now I know how you feel.

I soon reach Pusta, where a few buildings offer up a hoodie, a cowboy hat, a nearly full canteen, a bag of rice, a can of spaghetti, an orange, and a can of soda. I’m doing very well on the nourishment front: I could probably make it all the way north without having to eat again. As I’m looting I start noticing major server lag: doors are opening a few seconds after I poke them, or not opening at all. I can’t move things around in my inventory, and I’m also rubber-banding: being teleported back inside buildings moments after I’ve left them.

It’s foolish, then, that I choose to engage a charging zombie. I swing repeatedly at his face, hitting absolutely nothing — lag again — and at one point my character switches from holding his machete to holding his canteen. I don’t even know what the hell kind of glitch that is. Naturally, the zombie is unaffected by the shitty server and he peppers me with blows. Bleeding again, and my new hoodie completely ruined, I use my last rag to patch myself up. It appears I’m not the only one annoyed by the lag: the server list has quickly dropped to nine players, so I ditch.

On a new server with about twenty players, I make my way to Mogilevka, a mid-sized town. I don’t want to enter it: with no rags to use as bandages, zombies are a danger. The game tells me I’m so cold I’m shaking, and dark clouds have formed overhead. I’m worried about being soaked by rain and getting hypothermia. I raid the outlying buildings, finding a proper backpack to replace my small one and a bandana to tear into rags. I find a quiet spot to eat and drink what I’ve collected, then run out of town when a zombie finally spots me.

Like you even need the water. Stupid zombie.

Eating my rice has left me parched so I stop halfway to Vyshnoye to use a water pump next to a couple of buildings, which is guarded by a single zombie. I cut him to the ground, but he lurches back up and swipes at me. I connect with his head again as he claws at me, and I hear my character cry out. Great, my arm is broken, and I’m bleeding. Well, I cut some branches earlier, so I can use one rag to craft a splint and use the other to…

No. No. Somehow, the punch that broke my arm also ruined the rags I had in my pants. Not only is that utter bullshit, but it’s compounded by my own rookie blunder: I didn’t separate my rags into different spots in my inventory, which might have at least saved one rag so I could stop my bleeding. My hoodie is ruined and can’t be turned into rags, either. I quickly search the two buildings near the pump, my panic rising. Nothing. Shit. Shit. I’m in the middle of nowhere and I have no bandages. I’m going to bleed to death. I’m going to fucking bleed to death.

If you see a bleeding man in his underwear running, run with that man.

Mogilevka. It’s my only chance. Vyshnoye is probably a hair closer but I think it’s uphill from here, so I’ve got to reach Mogilevka before I bleed out. Squirting blood as my screen begins to lose color, I sprint back down the hill, my heart in my throat. This can’t be the end. I’ll find something. I peel off my pants (a neat trick while sprinting) to see if, maybe-maybe-maybe they patched the game so you can turn pants into rags. No luck. In my underwear and backpack, my heart in my throat, I run. Mogilevka is growing closer. My screen is going white. I run.

This provided more tension than fifteen solid hours of The Evil Within. Right here.

I reach the town. I burst into one building, getting hung up on the swinging door for what feels like an eternity. I desperately scour the rooms. Food, everywhere, but no clothing. I run back outside and make for the large building at the end of the street. A bandana, a shirt, a first-aid kit, anything, anything, anything, don’t let it end like this, punched in the arm by a stupid fucking zombie. I sprint down the street, race up the front steps, throw open the door, run into the hall, turn left into the room, frantically scanning for

lub dub

lub... dub

lub...

...

Many, many feelings. First and foremost, crippling embarrassment. How could I have forgotten to separate my rags? Why even bother with that pump when I wasn’t dying of thirst? How could I let a zombie, of all things, kill me? Granted, it’s preferable to being shot in the face as some squeaky-voiced kid shouts racial slurs, but it’s such a lame way to go. Somehow, despite playing with additional stakes, I wasn’t being additionally careful. Fuck.

Second? Seriously, fuck.

My third reaction you can probably guess: “Okay. Let’s just pretend this didn’t happen. They just wanted a column about DayZ. It doesn’t have to be this one. Write something else. No one needs to know. No one needs to know!”

Thing is, I’ve never been as tense and nervous playing a game in my life as I was in those last few minutes, and despite losing a great game from my life, I think it’s worth documenting that. The rising panic as I realized I was in real trouble, the pulse-pounding run back to town, the dreadful knowledge that my last few seconds were ticking away, the frantic search for something to save my life knowing I’d never, ever have another one. I’ve never felt anything like it in a game before. Action games, horror games, competitive multiplayer games… nothing has ever come close. This was about as real as it’s ever gotten. It was terrible. It was fun. And, of course, I genuinely lost something.

There’s one remaining problem. How can someone reading this know, really know, that I’m never going to play DayZ again? Unfortunately, you can’t. There’s no real way to prove that I’m serious, that I’m being genuine, that I’m simply not going to play the game again, so I’ll just have to tell you this and hope you believe me: I won’t. Not ever. That was the deal. That was the experiment. That was my last game of DayZ. That was it.

Fuck.

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100 Comments

  1. Solgarmr says:

    Screw it, I vote for more Dayz, the internet grants you a second life, no wait endless Dayz lifes . . .right?

    • Musket Squid says:

      Kinda rigged in favor of never playing that game again. Or better yet it’s 100% rigged in favor of never playing it again as everyone know it’s not if you die but when will you die in DayZ.

  2. Drake Sigar says:

    This is silly, go play the game you like.

    • RuySan says:

      Don’t. God will know when your time comes.

    • Viroso says:

      See, it’s because he likes it that he’ll never play again. True love.

    • Tahmson says:

      I agree, this was a little silly in the end. Love the idea, and if you never play DayZ again then I bow to your loyalty to your … word?

      Random article, random idea that wasn’t built up or anything. You should have at least announced that this was what you were going to do, then live streamed the event.

    • Doomsayer says:

      You should have just committed to not playing for a month or two. Forever is just ridiculous.

      • Gap Gen says:

        “Forever is just ridiculous” is the new pop sensation from J-Stan 29.

  3. Hex says:

    “Hey who is this handsome, handsome man?”

    …is what I expect CL’s girlfriend is saying now that he’s emerged from his office and is spending all that time he used to devote to DayZ with her, instead.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Scrote says:

    Love it! The irrationally difficult challenges that we set ourselves make life even more worth living.

    I suggest a compromise – you can play DayZ again once it’s a stable and fully-functioning game that’s ready for release.

    (Yes probably “never” but it provides a glimmer of hope, right?)

  5. Premium User Badge

    Lexx87 says:

    That was amazing.

    I was expecting an epic struggle until you finally died, but not for it to come so quickly :D

    Best article of survival week (pending that final Neo Scavenger Diary of course….or the Skyrim one. Ah fuck it’s all too good isn’t it).

    Chris I think you should give it another go next year, and if you die you can’t play it again for another year…doesn’t have to be FOREVER! :-(

  6. theblazeuk says:

    I like the idea but the inevitable early access issues make it a bit… I don’t know. Not foolish? Because that implies I don’t appreciate you’re earnestness with this ridiculous pledge. Not hollow, because that belittles your fear. There’s an adjective I’m reaching for that sums up as you setting yourself up to be cheated by the flaws in the game, not to suffer as the game systems actually intend you to. Real life has many silly ways to be hurt and die but none of them involve stuck animation loops.

    • Chris Livingston says:

      I know what you’re saying, and I had the same thoughts, knowing how glitchy and unpredictable the game is in its current state. I figured I’d go for it anyway.

  7. Wisq says:

    Adherence to this experiment is a weird thing, because it’s all predicated on sticking to your guns after the fact. That leads to a lot of weird results: Your level of tension is only as high as the extent to which you believe you’ll adhere to your promise to cease playing; and, failing to adhere to would only harm your next attempt, not the existing one.

    Sure, you can argue that if you just go play anyway, you’re cheapening or even nullifying the experience and actually losing something. But I think that’s bollocks — none of that changes the tension you felt at the time and the experience is still technically just as rewarding for that.

    All that to say — personally, I don’t know that I’d bother to adhere to it if I were certain I wouldn’t be trying something like this in the future. But if I thought this might become a regular thing, and/or if I hadn’t posted my experience and my promise online for all to see … :)

    • Chris Livingston says:

      There’s another fairly major flaw in this experiment, one I didn’t even recognize until spending some time thinking (moping, really) today.

      I had two goals while playing. One, obvious, to survive. The other: to have an adventure worth writing about and worth reading. These two goals are — and I didn’t realize it until afterward — entirely at cross-purposes. To put survival first would mean playing in the most boring way possible: getting some food and water in my belly and running through the woods, not stopping at towns or even any buildings at all. I wouldn’t see any zombies and, most likely, I wouldn’t see other players.

      Unfortunately, that’s not much of a story to tell, so I wound up playing the way I typically play: going from town to town in hopes of finding some adventure and drama (and gear, of course). Honestly, I was hoping to run into players. I was hoping to get into tight scrapes and close calls. Player encounters are what make DayZ fun and dramatic, and drama is required to have a good story to tell.

      But trying to play in a way that results in an entertaining story doesn’t mesh well with trying to play in a way that supports a real, one-shot survival experience. My character’s needs and this journal’s needs were in direct conflict.

      Still glad I did it! (Though definitely not glad I didn’t make it! And fuck me, bleeding out from a zombie, that hasn’t happened to me in ages.) But I wish I’d given that conflict a bit more thought first.

      • Hex says:

        There’s probably something to be learned from the fact that the least threatening thing in the game was your ultimate downfall.

      • Orillion says:

        Basically, you “Livin’ In”ned backwards and it bit you in the ass.

      • Malfeas says:

        This was a very interesting idea and a great read. But I have to agree with Wisq. You’d only hurt your credibility for a repeat of this experiment with another game/playthrough. And that I certainly don’t mind that.

        I’d rather have more DayZ by you than you keeping to the draconic contract you forced yourself to sign before stacking the deck against yourself.

  8. Premium User Badge

    lowprices says:

    This is pretty close to my idea of a truly realistic military fps: You hang around a base for 10 straight hours and then, tired and stressed, you’re sent out into enemy territory. The first time you get hit by a bullet it’s game over, the game deletes your save and then formats the disc (or removes itself from your Steam registry) and you are never allowed to play ever again.

    It was also some pretty damn good writing. I say find another game to throw away in equally beautiful fashion.

    • Chris Livingston says:

      I have a list of other games I want (maybe, maybe not) to try it with. I also think the real, true experience would be to try it with a game I’d never played before. It’d be a real, one life only experience.

      • gi_ty says:

        Firstly great article! I would like to submit you play a space engineers perma: permadeath. If you lose you ship and medbay in a say five hour session of mining hiding and building defenses you never play it again!!

  9. cyrenic says:

    You should give yourself “extra lives” for each DayZ development milestone. So try again at Beta, try again at full release.

    • Nereus77 says:

      This is what I recommend as well.

      You must play again when it hits Beta :)

  10. Crusoe says:

    Fantastic piece Chris, probably my favourite of your recent stuff. But at what cost?! Wow.

    Hardcore as fuck. I salute you.

    • MykulJaxin says:

      Seriously, my thoughts exactly. And thanks for always putting subtitles into your screenshots, I always appreciate that.

  11. Premium User Badge

    HothMonster says:

    You know, I hear a lot of people say it will be a whole different game by the time it’s released…

  12. Premium User Badge

    Sleepymatt says:

    Chris, you Rogue!

    Great writing, I hope you don’t regret your decision!

    • Chris Livingston says:

      I don’t regret doing it. I regret dying like a FLIPPIN’ IDIOT though.

      • default_name says:

        You know what’s even more awesome about your death? That Mogilevka basically means ‘grave’ in Russian.
        (technically ‘mogila’ means ‘grave’, Mogilevka is a village name derived from it)

      • Premium User Badge

        particlese says:

        I hand-wavingly suspect that shows how different your mindset was going into this session — all the hats off to you, good sir, for your resolve and the thoroughly enjoyable article that resulted from it.

  13. Gap Gen says:

    Are you playing as the Scout from TF2 in the middle?

  14. ncnavguy says:

    Not us the real question is how do YOU know you’ll never play Dayz again. Remember Words can be broken so can Bones, execute the mandate

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      … are you saying if he breaks his leg he’ll be allowed to play again?

      • ncnavguy says:

        Mouth full of dirt.
        Your name is removed from the registry
        St. Peter greets with empty eyes then turns and locks the gate.

        • Premium User Badge

          Harlander says:

          I’m not sure what’s going on here, but it’s fascinating

          • Gap Gen says:

            I am the result what’s better left unspoken
            Violence begins to mend my hurting ears
            You’re not leaving without some cake

            EDIT: Oops, missed the reply below

      • Nafu says:

        Not exactly; the result’s better left unspoken. Violence begins to mend what was broken.

  15. dvorhagen says:

    Don’t listen to these enablers! I think this experiment was brilliant, and the only way to maintain its integrity — to affirm its meaningfulness — is to stick to your promise to yourself and everyone else. It sucks that you lose DayZ, but those were the oh-so-high stakes! And like you say, something even better and in the same vein will take its place eventually.

    This is making me want to try something similar — maybe with NetHack (god help me…).

    • Rizlar says:

      Yes!

      Although this does remind me of something in a comments section on RPS recently. Someone said that they were re-playing their back catalogue with only 1 life in each game. So they would load up Deus Ex or whatever, play for a while, die, load up the next game. Similar idea even if the stakes aren’t quite as high.

  16. Neurotic says:

    Amazing idea man, well done! If my own opinion is anything to go by, and as others before me here have said, you could perhaps play again, when it’s had a significant version update, or goes full retail etc etc. Just for that one Concerned strip that made me laugh so hard I cried (Frohman writes the letter that gets happy, sunny Ravenholm blasted into zombie hell), you deserve more DayZ pleasure!

    • hotmaildidntwork says:

      Wait, that was him?!
      Today I learned that one of my favorite comics was written by one of my favorite RPS contributors.

      Godspeed Chris, you wonderful nutjob.

      And don’t drink the water.
      I forget why….

    • deiseach says:

      For killing off Frohman, he deserves to DIE. In DayZ. Yes, in DayZ. Not in real life. That would be silly.

  17. kyynis says:

    Jesus Christ, this was the nerve-wrackingest piece of games writing I’ve read in a long while. Plays like a Greek tragedy, hubris, downfall and all. Bloody good job, you magnificient fool!

  18. dvorhagen says:

    I don’t usually double-comment, but I can’t stop thinking about this article – seriously, this was great stuff. I feel like your sacrifice was worth it just to get the idea out there! Hyper-ironman… I hope this becomes a trend; think of the high drama!

  19. Phantasma says:

    Wow.
    Though i do not really care about DayZ and the persistent flood of multiplayer survival/torture sims, as well as being done with zombies in general, thanks to your unique premise i had the most exhilarated read of recent times.

    Now i’m almost willing to submit myself to a similar challenge too.
    Even the thought of it makes my heart race, this should become a thing.

    Maybe a session in FTL where i…no…NOOOOOGAAH!!!!

  20. FreeTom says:

    This is, of course, what ‘realism’ means. If you don’t want to be disallowed from playing something ever again after taking one bullet to the chest, stop complaning that any game isn’t ‘realistic’ enough.

  21. Premium User Badge

    cultiv8ed says:

    DayZ will be good once they add the game part of it. My experience with the standalone (I loved the mod version back in 2012) is to spend 30 minutes searching empty buildings and find nothing but hats or rotten veg. Then have a very clumsy battle with a zombie that leaves me almost dead and decide to put myself out of my misery.

  22. J. Cosmo Cohen says:

    I now demand Jim do the same thing, purely for our entertainment.

  23. Viroso says:

    That could be a feature in a game. I mean sort of that. Not the never play again thing. But more like…

    Single player game, long game. An RPG like Skyrim or a game like Terraria or Minecraft. A game with progression, where you can make something unique.

    THEN the game offers you a challenge. Complete it and you’ll be rewarded beautifully, fail and you’ll lose your save permanently.

    • Hex says:

      I could see it working with sort of procedurally-generated plots, in a world with lots of options so you can generate a bunch of dissimilar settings.

      Whenever you start a new game, the world is unique to you. If you beat the game in that world, it becomes your plaything and you can do whatever you’d like — even share it with other players.

      If you lose — that’s it. The save is deleted, the entire world blinks out of existing. You’ve condemned all of the inhabitants to an eternity of nothing.

      Every time you start a new game you have exactly one shot.

      Good luck!

      • Viroso says:

        That’s an awesome way to make “save the world” really feel like you’re saving it.

  24. chest rockwell says:

    Nice story

  25. forestrnger says:

    I registered and made an account just to say that this was a great article. Way to come up with something unique and intriguing to read.

  26. Bodylotion says:

    I like Dayz but to be honest when i bought the game I wasn’t expecting it to be THIS Early Access. I can live with a couple of bugs, a game doesn’t have to be 100% smooth but like today I was scavenging on a second floor of a building, I suddenly hear a zombie and check every corner (since the zombie could and probably will glitch through a wall. The zombie did not appear but somehow punched me from the first floor upwards to the second floor (if that makes any sense) and breaks my leg…… I had lots of items but no morphine so i had to crawl downstairs, kill the zombie , and crawl on the street where 2 other zombies attacked me….

    DayZ is still a fun game but if you think about what it could’ve been…..

  27. Tim James says:

    The funniest part of this story is how you casually mention all the infuriating flaws in the game. I kept thinking, even if you do lose, maybe it’s for the best? Think about it again in a year.

  28. Haplo says:

    Fantastic, Mr. Livingstone. Your idea of Perma-permadeath is nerve-wracking and entertaining both.

    However, we must go deeper: Perma-perma-permadeath. You play DayZ and, if you die in the game, we sent a squad of angry heavily armed squeaky-voiced kids to raid your house whilst screaming utterly incoherent racial slurs.

  29. Premium User Badge

    luis.s says:

    This could be a great way to get through a large Steam backlog; every game over is permanent, uninstall and move on. Or at least until you’ve played every game in your library. It could make less interesting games a greatly different experience, and you would build up a series of stories that feel more real and unique to you.

    I don’t think I have the discipline myself though. I’ll probably just continue to play various Civ, Elder Scrolls and racing sim games over and over.

    Thanks for the article!

  30. SAL2K says:

    I kinda also do this, but not playing the game entirely is just lame and stupid. What I do is go to a dayz community server make some friends and if I die I totally stop playing with that community. And start to play with a new one. Trust me it hurts more.

  31. AyeBraine says:

    Amazing story. But I have to ask this: is the game’s map situated in Russia? Because going by the names of the villages, it’s a regular redneck middle-of-nowhere boonies in the middle of Russia.

    • Rizlar says:

      Seem to remember reading that Chernarus is supposed to be a generic ex-soviet, Eastern European country. Even the road signs are in cyrillic but apparently aren’t part of any actual language, although they should kind of make sense to someone that knows a similar language. So yeah, Russian-ish middle of nowhere sounds quite accurate.

      • AyeBraine says:

        Oh, it’s “Chernarus”, is it. I see now. “Chernarus” is the same as Belarus, only the opposite: actual Belarus means “White Russia”, and Chernarus is “Black Russia”. (Belaya is white (fem.), and chornaya is black (fem.).)

  32. Talksintext says:

    Well, you can technically still play DayZ 2, so it’s just a few years.

    Second, you SHOULD’ve made the stakes “I won’t play for a month” instead of “forever”. Just hindsight and all.

    Because that would be something other people might be willing to take up: a set time period of “down time” after you die. Then you could’ve talked about how setting rules for yourself over heavy temptations and sticking to them is a great way to build willpower and confidence. Or something about zombies, I don’t know, I’m not a game writer.

    Personally, I liked to do a “done for today” when I died, even if it was 5min into my playing time (and I’d planned a 2 hour session). Alternatively, I could’ve made the rule “done for the week” or “48 hour break” or whatever, a month. That still gives you a rush (the longer time periods especially), but without permanently screwing yourself over, plus let’s face it, this is a game where constant playing turns into an unfun grind after a while. Such “time outs”, however, will keep it fresh.

  33. celticdr says:

    Nice article!

    Yeah I thought about how you could implement some sort of perma-permadeath in games like Oblivion a while back, the best compromise I could come up with (why would gamers buy a game if you only had one life and that’s it) is that the game boots you out for a month on dying – a month gives it more of a risk factor, ergo more excitement, than a week but it isn’t so long that you won’t buy the game in the first place.

    It would certainly cut back on the amount of griefing in coop matches (as gamers would value their in game life more) and I’m sure with some server modification it could be done for games like DayZ, you could even call it “extreme” mode, one life per month…

    I hope you stick to honouring your crazy gamble, a promise is a promise.

  34. Kitsunin says:

    The problem with this article is, you’ve probably started a trend, and the natural next step for someone is going to be perma-perma-permadeath, where you kill yourself in real life if you die in the game.

  35. Mittens89 says:

    This article is nicely written, but I think the whole idea of never playing a game again that you paid for and clearly love is probably the daftest thing I’ve read for a long time.

    Its like me crashing during a race on Assetto Corsa and not racing ever again (on AC) as a result.

  36. El_Emmental says:

    Interesting experience :)

    It gave me an idea: every time you’ll die in DayZ, you’ll have to make something you should, but were procrastinating for weeks, months or even years – to earn a new DayZ life.

    Suddenly, rooms will be cleaned, medical checks will be done, paperwork will be finished, distant friends and relatives will be called, crushes will be revealed – just to get another chance at being the one who’s shooting in Cherno.

    (edit: now that I think about it, that plan is quite evil… :D)

  37. TheSplund says:

    Ah, there’ll be a Daisy-Z 2 one day, and does dying in this version preclude you from playing the Arma 2 mod?

  38. passingtramp says:

    This was great.

  39. Monggerel says:

    Know what I want?
    Someone play Planescape: Torment with permadeath.
    Yup.

    • Bodylotion says:

      But……….. you already are dead………… Ooooooooooooohhhhhhh!

    • Dekartz says:

      But there’s a certain point in the game where you HAVE to die to progress.

  40. Shadowcat says:

    This reminded me of Vietcong and its checkpoint save system.

    As much as checkpoint saves can be a massive PITA; when they’re forced upon you and you have no idea when the next one will be, but you know they’re sometimes far enough apart that failure could mean losing a couple of hours of progress, you treat the game seriously.

    Vietcong provided a few of my most frustrating gaming experiences ever, but a bunch more of my best gaming experiences ever; and it was totally worth the former to experience the latter.

    I guess the higher the stakes are, the more intense the experience is likely to be when you know you’re vulnerable; so based on my recollections of Vietcong, your experience with DayZ must have been off the charts…

  41. Colej_uk says:

    Maybe the compromise is you’re not allowed to play again until DayZ is out of early access… Whenever that will be!

  42. Kefren says:

    Stick to it, Chris! Many people don’t seem to understand self-abnegation (I find that people seem shocked when I talk about fasting), or keeping your word (to yourself or others). Basically, willpower is like a muscle. Every time you use it it gets stronger; every time you give in it becomes easier to give in again. The argument that you’ve now had the fun of feeling you would never play again it no longer matters if you go back to it isn’t correct: if you did go back then if ever you repeated this experiment again with another game (or any time you gave your word!) you’d know you backed down last times. The stakes would be lower, the self-respect would be lower, it wouldn’t have the same impact. If you stick to it then the opposite would be true.

    And there’s no shortage of games!

    I did a similar (but nowhere near as extreme) experiment this weekend – installing lots of old games from GOG (i.e. ones I have played and possibly completed before). I allowed myself one game of each, then I would uninstall it and not look at it again for some time. It meant that every game was really tense, much more immersive than I remembered it; even mediocre games became exciting. In Another World I only got to the start of the jail then died – but found myself thinking about that adventure and what would have been next far more than if I had just kept playing. The games _enthralled_ me in a way that they had not for years. Maybe that’s something to try next time? But stick to your word. No-one should break their word lightly. Sticking to it, even when it is difficult, is something to be proud of. Thanks for the great article!

    PS The URL I about a permadeath dairy. Probably a typo, but it makes me think of zombie cows and the amount of blood and pus parts-per-million allowed in dairy milk. There must be a game in there somewhere. Reminds me of the film Isolation: link to imdb.com

    • Rizlar says:

      You must be the RPS commenter I mentioned further up in the thread. Great idea though, endless back catalogue of old classics + 1 life for each.

    • Raiyne says:

      The importance of willpower is indeed very important when it comes to self-regulation as a means of enhancing a particular experience. However, to add on to what you’ve said, I also think the player should establish how much they are willing to compromise for such a heightened experience. I think if it was a game I really loved, implementing a one-month or even a two-week cooldown between “game-over”s would probably not take away from the urgency of such situations, whereas maybe for more casual or less intense experiences, it’d take a much longer time for the itch to really come back.

      • Kefren says:

        Yes, it needn’t always be all-or-nothing. But whatever you do decide, you need to stick to it, or it loses its power. Which means – think about it properly before acting. Which is good advice in life anyway.

      • Nereus77 says:

        A YouTuber really needs to pick up on this. Have the date in the corner of his gameplay vid. When he dies you’d here him curse, it would fade to black with the words 2 weeks later on the screen, then the next session would start. It would get quite intense!

  43. Goose Springsteen says:

    This was a fantastic article (in fact, it has prompted me to make my first ever comment!).

    Truly my heart was in my mouth as I progressed through it because I was fairly confident it wouldn’t have a happy ending!

    Of course this a commitment you’ve made to yourself but I do think you were unduly harsh on yourself, it will be a great shame that you’ll never get to play DayZ when it is polished and not fraught with the problems that come as part of an Early Access release.

    Oh and on a more pedantic note (here we discover the true purpose of my comment!) I think that large Cervidae was a Red Deer because Elk are only native to North America and parts of Asia!

    I mean, everybody knows that right?

  44. 0WaxMan0 says:

    Did many others find them selves by the end of the second paragraph wanting to shout ‘Noo DON’T do it’ and shaking your monitor furiously. I kept hoping right up until you launched that you would see sense and not follow through.

    I do agree with the suggestions that release of DayZ the game should come with forgiveness for all that has gone before a new beginning and a chance for every one to change their ways and make up for all the shoot first encounters of the past as well as both foolish and regrettable promises made.

  45. JF13 says:

    I played Battlefield once, died, I never played again, I played Grid 2 once, when I lost I never played again, good to see people are playing games the way I do too.

  46. zlig says:

    and how about the True Death? as you are still alive to tell your story, a true experiment must end in the True death. if they would find your last game recording and mail pertaining to the experiment it would be an amazing story, and oh the media would go nuts.

  47. A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

    I did this with one of the CODs once. No regrets

  48. Kensington says:

    Dude.

  49. Deviro says:

    Castle Doctrine actually has permadeath servers – if you die in a server with that rule, you can never play on it again.

    Obviously, that wouldn’t work on DayZ – hoping servers is one of the major and unappreciated features of DayZ.

    Great piece and really – I say play the game again when it’s out of Early Access and has many more features. If you like the game, don’t torture yourself like that.

  50. Ergonomic Cat says:

    This right here is why I love RPS.