It is 2013. If you're still alive, congratulations (or sorry, I guess, depending on your perspective)! You made it. But while this techno-neo-cyber-space-face year is going quite swimmingly so far, there's one thing missing from society's collective vision of a utopian ultrafuture: DayZ's standalone version. It was supposed to come crawling out of the woodwork at the tail end of 2012, but Bohemia's camp didn't make a peep as we all made our annual holiday sacrifices to our respective Blood Gods, as per cataclysm-averting tradition. So then, what's the deal? Why the delay? Rocket took to DayZ's dev log to provide answers.
The short version is that Hall and co simply underestimated how much work it'd take to push DayZ out of ArmA II's wobbly nest, but there is some good news: the wait's nearly over. No, for real this time. Probably. Kinda.
"The plan from here is straightforward. We will be releasing a closed test imminently, during which approximately 500-1000 people will assist in ensuring our architecture is correctly functioning. This closed test will be focused purely on architecture, not the game design. Once we have confirmed fixes for issues arising from the closed test, we will then reschedule an internal date for our public release."
But what exactly are you getting for your saint-like (well, insofar as Metallica's "St. Anger" is a real saint, anyway) patience? Well, scavenging's now done on an individual basis, and Rocket claims that "fundamentally" alters a number of DayZ's core dynamics. "The new system opens the door for durability of items, disease tracking (cholera lingering on clothes a player wears…), batteries, addon components, and much more," he explained. "If you shoot a player in the head to take his night vision, you will damage the night vision. The changes to this inventory system are huge."
UI and art direction have also received major overhauls, with the former (and thankfully not the latter) taking major influence from Minecraft, of all things. Meanwhile, Chernarus is in the midst of a large-scale re-tooling, but progress is slow due to lead architect Ivan Buchta's unfortunate imprisonment by Greek authorities.
So the wheels are still definitely in motion, but circumstance - that oh-so-prickly of roadblocks - isn't making it easy. If nothing else, though, it's good to see that Rocket and co are taking their time to get things right. I mean, it's got to be tempting to try and cut off cheap imitators like The War Z before they can muscle in on DayZ's groundbreaking territory, but Rocket's doing an admirable job of staying the course.
In the meantime, is anyone still playing DayZ's original version? Truth be told, I haven't popped on in a while, but I've heard, er, less-than-great things. Hackers and griefers and such. So, has the gore-and-gut-strewn, hope-strangling zombie apocalypse taken a turn for the worse?