Whenever I write anything about DayZ, the conversation is dominated by two things: DayZ not being finished and Dean Hall not finishing it. There are legitimate concerns tied around misinformed ones. I have tried to put all of these to the game's creative director Brian Hicks.
After a whirlwind three years Dean Hall has gone, left Bohemia, returned to New Zealand, started a new indie studio, walked away from day-to-DayZ. "Saying goodbye is like a mountain summit," he wrote on Twitter in December. "People focus on that, and forget that it is the journey there and then onward that really matters."
It seems counter-intuitive to say it, but Steam, the biggest and most popular digital video game shop we have, may be selling too many games - or rather, it may be selling too many of the wrong kind of games.
I'm always late to the party - even when most of the people at the party are dead. In the case of DayZ, I'm very late indeed. It's been two years since Dean Hall's mod started to turn ordinary gamers into hardened survivalists, and in that time, it feels like the game has helped cement a genre - or something that certainly behaves like one. I get hundreds of press releases in my inbox every week, and about two thirds of them promise that the latest title I'm about to fall in love with is just like DayZ - or just like Minecraft. These titles are not unrelated. In 2014, we love foraging and scavenging. We love finding our own tools and getting by on next to nothing. We love hardship. We love suffering. It's no longer enough to just thrive - we want to feel the sharp edge of survival itself.
Imagine waking one morning to discover that two of your staff had been detained in a foreign country over allegations of espionage. What would you do? You're not the head of MI6. You don't employ spies. You employ developers who make video games. You discover the news in your online forum but soon it's spread like wildfire, to local radio and TV, and people are knocking at your door for comment. What do you say? What do you tell the families of the arrested men?
Dean Hall talked about the reaction to his leaving Bohemia and DayZ during a live on-stage interview at EGX Rezzed this weekend passed. The archived live-streamed footage is on Twitch now.
When is DayZ coming out in full? How far down the road are discussions about getting the game on console? How serious is Dean Hall about putting horses in the game? And what does he really think about similar survival game Rust?
Traditional MMOs have gone out of fashion lately. It used to be that every gaming brand had exciting untapped MMO potential and every publisher wanted an MMO in its stable, but the gold rush inspired by World of Warcraft yielded little precious metal, and a lot of publishers got burned in the process - especially Electronic Arts with Star Wars: The Old Republic - while the term "MMO" has become taboo when discussing a new breed of games that includes The Division and Destiny, even though in many respects they are both massively multiplayer and online.
The bombastic E3 show floor was packed with open-world games.
Like all the best zombie games, DayZ isn't really about zombies at all - it's about the way that the presence of zombies and their implications make people behave. But DayZ was the only zombie game this year where that behaviour was all down to you and other real people rather than a fictional cast of characters. It's for that reason that many people feel DayZ isn't just one of the best zombies games, but the best outright.
For over a million people, Dean 'Rocket' Hall, creator of ArmA 2 mod DayZ, is responsible for some of the most emotive stories to come from a game in 2012. But he'd be hard pressed to recount how any of those stories have played out or how their inevitable, often gut-wrenching, ends came to be written.
Two possibilities: Either you're excited about DayZ, or you haven't heard of it.