Brian Hicks Creative Director 4 years ago

So, one of the topics that is frequently on my mind is difficulty. Where we fall on the spectrum, and if you’ll forgive the expression – “What we can get away with”.
Peter (Lead Designer) and I frequently spend a lot of time thinking about this, talking about this, hell even arguing about this. There will be times where I swing from one side to the other, the game developer side of me wants to make things as hard as they can be, the side of me that spent thousands upon thousands of hours playing and streaming DayZ Mod on is very aware of the border of playability. Fortunately we have a Lead Designer that is willing to do whatever he needs to do to survive when in DayZ, so he is *in tune* with struggling to survive. 🙂

DayZ suffers (at times) from a small amount of double personality. We’ve been known for a long time for being a punishing survival experience. Obviously that shifts from build to build during development, but the titles identity as a whole has always had that associated with it. That said, because of the uniqueness of the DayZ experience – be it from the stories you experience and pass on to others, or the tension that comes from the uncertainty of potentially losing it all over the smallest of choices, DayZ has carried a very large identity in the consumer market outside of the typical personality type that might enjoy something punishing in his/her survival. You can see it in the countless hours of Youtube videos, twitch streams, and reddit posts. DayZ has become (and potentially always was) something different to many different types of people.

So where does that leave us, the developers, with the base game experience? It can be daunting combing over user feedback and trying to take that into consideration when paired with the intended game design of DayZ. Let us not forget that happy consumers rarely feel compelled to get up and let their feelings be known (for the most part, there is always the exception to the rule) they are too busy playing the game, and experiencing their own stories. The vocal userbase is more often than not those that are unhappy, and with DayZ (aside from the time it takes to develop the title) you can frequently see the vocal masses pipe up when the title gets too difficult (see: 0.55).

This is where our strong commitment to game modification (modding) comes into play. The decision to “hand the keys to the kingdom” over to the DayZ community once the base game and engine are at a point of stability allows us to do our best to stay firm to what DayZ is, and do our best to keep it difficult without having to make those types of users feel ignored and neglected. A good portion of the userbase has expressed concern about this – citing the fractured userbase of DayZ Mod once the binaries (or hell even the old Hive.dll) made it out into the public ecosystem. Mods such as Lingor, Namalsk, Taviana, Epoch and many others certainly did split the userbase up. There is no denying that – but there is also something to be aware of, a lesson I’m sure many of my favorite game developers when I was younger had to learn (see titles such as Ultima Online, Shadowbane, Asheron’s Call, etc). You can’t force people to play the way you want them to. You can design the path to go the direction you want, and iterate upon it, and refine it time and time again – but given enough time, people (life, heh heh) WILL find a way (around it).
Not to mention the fact that the industry, and the ecosystem in this genre is already large, and only growing larger. If you don’t give people the option or the tools to play how they want to – they WILL find another experience that does. In the end, you have to get ahead of the bull – so to speak.

So that leaves us with a few key points.

– Keep the experience as punishing as you can while maintaining the core gameplay loop.
– Do your absolute best to ensure that the users are combating the environment, the antagonists, the struggle for survival – and NEVER the gatekeepers to those areas. (UI, Usability, etc)
– Provide the community with the tools they need to take the work we the developers have done, and craft it to their own style of experiences.
– Continue to iterate upon the base game past 1.0 – keep it fresh and compelling, like watering a beautiful house plant you do your best to keep the base game community thriving and interested.

I apologize if I’ve rambled – I like to sit down and type out my thoughts at times to let you all see a bit behind the curtain.


This post was not published here by Brian Hicks himself.
This is a simple duplication of the original source. Check the bottom link for the original post.


  • Profile photo of KungfuBeer

    Many of us feel that you are trying too hard to make this a shooter game instead of what attracted us to the game as a zombie survival game. As the mod became more military, SA pulled back to the basics. Now, it seems that there is a major push to have too much military style gear and too much emphasis of vehicle development. I think if you placed horses and bicycles in game instead of cars, you’d nail it! I do not have an issue with minimal military gear, but the excess has resulted in less want to craft, stock food, and set up camp because a small group kitted to the teeth (and everyone gets to that point quickly) can take out an entire community of survivors in seconds. In my opinion, an emphasis on survival from zombies would put you back on track, not the tools to hunt and kill players so much.

    • Profile photo of shitchops

      I think most of what you speak of is a lot to do with loot distribution, which is still a ways off and always has been.. Sooo much more specific tuning has to be achieved before the game even feels remotely apocalyptic. Apparently they have done alot for it (loot distrib) in .60 but i will take that info with a grain of salt. There was a mention in the last status report about specific zombies now spawning in related areas e.g doctors spawning on medical locations etc.
      However lets not forget my grain of salt statement ^_^

    • Profile photo of newt

      Good thoughts, but horses must stay out of it. killing a cow to eat is acceptable, but you will get the nasty f’ers shooting horses just for fun and then there will be a whole f’ing debate on animal cruelty etc etc etc. Same will happen to your dog companion that was rumored a quite while ago. I always wondered after that rumor how the dynamics will work. do you pick up a stray and befriend him, what happens when you die. where do you park your dog if you want to pvp etc.etc etc

  • Profile photo of Zodiac

    i may say this outta ignorant thoughts of what u have in bag for future of dayz.. but i will say dayz now days is mastered very easy.. the hardest thing for new players is the map and how to navigate.. other than that everything else is completely easy..
    if i want to make improvement to the game.. i would make it really.. reaaaaaaally hard.. and not hard because i don’t have a certain Item.. it’s hard cuz im not good enough to go some where, dynamic events was a really coo addon. try to make that for the predators and make alot of em. diseases should be common also.. not cuz i’ve done something or they should be random occurrences. survival was always based on the know how… nothing more.. and plz remember this… out there.. the more you know.. the less you need.

  • Profile photo of SereLaw

    “want to craft, stock food,”
    You can still do that. Stay away from people. Stay off high pop servers.
    Carry a gun and be ready to use it.
    Quit sniveling. Nut up ladies.

    A lot of us just want to just kill fuckers..

  • Profile photo of

    I played today for the first time in a long time with a few people on a quiet server.. I forgot how it felt at night in 1st person.. watching the sun come up driving along in a bus truly stunning (DAT GLOW AND GODRAYS ) … and I’m sorry if I doubted or ranted.. (cheats though grrrr wooosaaa) I think ive fallen in love again <3

  • Profile photo of newt

    – Continue to iterate upon the base game past 1.0 – keep it fresh and compelling, like watering a beautiful house plant you do your best to keep the base game community thriving and interested.

    Stick to that, just change the difficulty of things so it never stays the same patch by patch. Thanks for your thoughts and your hard work. I am glad you don’t push the game out to 0.60 as it will ruin this beautiful game for more people than it will gain if things are not smooth sailing.. Patch 0.59 is not a bad patch at all an me and my group love it all the way. I can only hope for one thing though, and that’s to release all that you can (even the little bird if need to) so you can buy yourself time to get the next patch queued. If you release all map changes at first go, you’ll get thousands exploring the new beautiful render-er for hours on end and maybe drop a scarce weapon (or any nicety) every week to keep the player base exploring.

    One last thing, I need help from anybody who can please. I need to get hold of The Book, The New Testament. I have searched a couple hundred hours and this book is non existent to me. can any one please help me with Ideas where to find it.

    • Profile photo of zCaptain

      lol I found it like 3 or 4 times, in those small chapels.. (really small, like a hexagon-shaped building, know what im saying?)

      • Profile photo of newt

        Thanks man, but i really tried. I just get the normal bible every time. I really need that book now. I am trying my best to collect the books, all of them. I just need 10 more then i have them all. 24 are damaged though and to get them pristine or worn would be ideal as they look better. had the book youth for a while as damaged and thought meh, its just plain until i found a pristine one and saw its beauty. so to have them with beautiful visible colors would be ultimate. if any on could find me that new testament i would appreciate it a lot. we could hook up as friends and get together. please it would be great

  • Profile photo of T0ffel0k

    To do a reading of the current difficulty, ask yourself this question: when was the last time you died from something other than a bullet from another player (or a bug, but that doesn`t really count, does it)? I can`t remember the last time I was even close to dying from zombies or the environment. It`s good to see the community wanting for a survival title and not the pvp title the mod turned into. A harder game will also make an impact on KOS, as people will have more of a reason to cooperate. MUCH harder zombies and MUCH harder survival combined with an AI opponent in the shape of a military force on the path of extermination (yes the cliche, but damn it would fit dayz like hand in glove if you ask me) would really do the trick. Knowing how able the engine is when it comes to making dynamic events from dabbling with the mission editor scince the operation flashpoint days and up until now, it should be no problem making enough random stuff happen to make the game playable and enjoyable (read hard enough) as a single player game.