The alpha build of DayZ standalone will be released before the end of the year, probably in December.
"And it's going to be cheap," creator Dean Hall said at the Eurogamer Expo today.
"It has to be out before the end of the year," he stressed. "Not just because we've committed to it but in order to achieve what we have to do. It has to be. There's no 'we hope it is'; it has to be. And it's going to be cheap. We've decided that we don't need to sell a heap of units in order for us to be OK with where it's going. The more units we sell of it the more ambitious we get, because the project has the better resources.
"I like to think we're taking cautious and sensible steps at the moment. I don't really like cautious and sensible. DayZ as a mod wasn't cautious and sensible. But our first few steps have to be that. And if we can achieve that in December, then in January and February we can start to do all the cool stuff, move to more ambitious features."
Why the rush? Copycats. Dean Hall made a point of being "suitably vague to stop clones". That was a bullet point on one of his presentation slides. The most notable of these 'clones' has been War Z. An audience member asked what he thought about it.
"Obviously you feel lots of things," Hall answered, "and a lot of your feelings aren't legitimate. I feel like eating ice-cream all the time; it doesn't mean that I'm going to eat ice-cream all the time. So maybe it's natural to get upset, jealous, scared - those kind of things. I definitely think all of those things.
"I could stand up here and be very critical of anyone who does a clone copy of the game. What would that actually achieve other than making me look like a dick? It's not going to result in a better game."Dean Hall, creator, DayZ
"Maybe they will make a better game - I don't know. Maybe what they're doing is not cool to me, but the way I look at it is what are my options? What could I do? I could stand up here and be very critical of anyone who does a clone copy of the game. What would that actually achieve other than making me look like a dick? It's not going to result in a better game.
"Should I sue anyone who ever mentions something to do with zombie horror - will that make a better game? And the whole premise of of DayZ, and the whole premise of our development is we're going to make an awesome game. That's what we're selling. We're going to price it low and lots of people are going to play it. If we compromise on that, we're screwed.
"I guess what I'm saying is what I feel isn't important," he added. "Maybe that's what leadership is: saying my feelings aren't important here - my feelings are often selfish. There are a lot of other really interesting, cool projects out there like The Dead Linger. How do you think they feel? They probably feel a bit s****y too. I have to be realistic about it and say the responsibility is on me to make a good game. And that's just life."
Dean Hall may have been "vague" by his standards, but by my standards he revealed a tonne of new information about (standalone) DayZ. The top priority is tackling hackers. That's "the" issue, he stressed.
Performance optimisation and bugs are other top priorities. Hall's even made friends with Valve and Notch and Eve Online maker CCP, who all want to see and help with early code of standalone DayZ before it goes live.
One setback is the imprisoned ArmA 3 developers in Greece. They were the two people making ChernarusPlus for standalone DayZ. And they're friends of Hall's. "I just want to see them home," was his coy (and he apologised for being coy) answer. "Whatever I do to see them back is important."
Hall's plans for standalone DayZ were vast. He mentioned diseases spreading through faeces and vomit; removing the user interface; using household weapons; allowing people to craft splints to help mend broken bones. Vehicles he said were a longer-term, "end-game" feature to implement.
But to try and summarise all Hall said would be to do him a disservice. He's a fast and charismatic speaker - a natural, in other words. Luckily his presentation was videoed, and will be watchable, once it has been "processed", below.