In the last installment of “Do Your Part,” we discussed how to give feedback about the development of the game. There are several different ways of offering up constructive criticism and your opinion, but there are an even greater number of opportunities for you to give back to the community in a way that benefits everyone. If you have ever found yourself asking, “How can I help?” or wish to make a positive impact but don’t know how, this discussion should give you a better idea of how you can take advantage of your greatest resource — yourself!

Be An Example

The most important thing you can do for the betterment of the community is to be an example of what you wish to see from your fellow gamers. You don’t have to be a well-known personality to have an impact, only the desire to contribute and an idea of what it is you are hoping to accomplish. Every little bit helps, even if it’s just a considerate reply to questions posed by your fellow players.

Part of being an example is promoting a positive atmosphere. I want to be clear: criticism is valuable, but negativity does not enhance its value. Any qualm you have with the game or its development process should be approached from the angle of, “Here’s how the game could be better” rather than, “This game sucks because ______.” It’s the same conversation, but the positive one is more likely to be productive and enjoyable for its participants.

Being helpful and respectful, even when it isn’t necessarily deserved, goes a long way towards cultivating a climate where everyone can feel comfortable sharing without the fear of being shut out or ridiculed for simply offering their thoughts. Be mindful that not everyone has the same level of knowledge and we all have to start somewhere, so if a person is lost or misinformed, point them in the right direction or offer assistance rather than ignoring them or insulting them.

Speaking of differences, learn to respect those who have interests that aren’t the same as your own. This game is many things to many people, and that’s what makes it so great — it’s whatever you want it to be. Too often we fall into a mindset that what we like should be the focus of the game, but never forget that others might be just as passionate about a different aspect that divides the efforts of the development process. It’s possible to embrace your shared love for the game while honoring each other’s preference for a certain style of play.

Stay Informed & Be Part of the Discussion

The more knowledgeable each member of the community becomes, the less confusion and misunderstanding we will create. Not everyone has the time or desire to view every little post or announcement by the development team, and that’s okay because we already have enthusiastic players who are diligent about distributing that information. Whenever the opportunity arises, absorb as much of that information as you can, because it will help you better understand the game’s development and allow you to more easily assist others who may not have as much time available as yourself. Keeping informed cuts down on the clutter that results from easily-answered questions, too.

Don’t just stay informed though, be part of the conversation! If you don’t speak up, your thoughts and ideas will only ever be known to you and not anyone else. However, consider what you say before you say it. Needlessly hurtful comments don’t help anyone, nor do they further the development of the game in any way. Misinformed commentary can be detrimental to healthy discussion, so be sure of what you’re saying before you say it as well.

Share your suggestions in the appropriate places, and don’t fear what kind of response you may receive in return. You never know when you might have the next big idea that gets adopted officially, but it can’t ever become anything if you allow yourself to be shut down before it’s even posted. On the same note, don’t expect universal praise for your ideas either; it’s impossible for everyone to agree on anything really, so you will receive your fair share of criticism both positive and negative. What you choose to do with that criticism — allow it to kill your idea, or use it to make the idea better — is up to you.

If you choose to make a suggestion or share an idea with the community, it is fair of them to expect you to present that idea in an organized manner. Explain your idea in detail, demonstrate why it would be a worthy addition or change to the game, and if at all possible include media with your post (i.e. concept drawing, video, etc.) to help your audience visualize the idea.

Focus Your Efforts

If you have a genuine interest in aiding with development of the game, the best use of your time is to find out what needs tested and organize some of your play time around evaluating that particular part of the game. Most often, this is going to mean playing on the Experimental branch because it is dedicated to testing purposes and exists specifically for the development team to work out major bugs while collecting data from players that can be used to make changes.

As of this writing, there is no central list of goals or needed testing for any given time period or build of the game. That may change in the future, but for now your best bet is to periodically check both official sources and social sites for information about what you should prioritize. Committed testers can be found anywhere in the community, but what is perhaps the biggest crowd of them can be found conversing in the Experimental threads on the official forums.

Sources of information regarding what to test consist mostly of Twitter and forum posts from members of the team along with occasional anecdotes in the Status Reports. Official requests for players to concentrate on something specific will usually come in the form of an open invitation to play on some type of “special” server. In the past, that has taken the form of unique server configurations (extremely harsh weather), limited-time builds (0.58 camp hotfix), and stress tests (100 person servers) just to give a few examples.

As unexpected bugs are discovered with a new version of the game however, the community can take the initiative to analyze and provide feedback regarding those issues without being prompted by the developers. One of the tools at your disposal for finding things to test is the Feedback Tracker. Although you’ll obviously only find issues there that have already been reported, the original ticket may be vague, incomplete, or require additional data. This means there is plenty of opportunity for you to provide input in the form of commentary, video/screenshots, an upvote/downvote, etc.

Some players may also decide to share information about a bug via other sources like the official forum or Reddit but decline to file a ticket for one reason or another. In cases such as that you could file a ticket on their behalf or choose to examine the issue further before submitting feedback through official channels.

Tell Your Story

Somewhere along the line, you’ll probably feel compelled to share a story or other experience with your fellow players. You should absolutely do that because stories (and the adventures that lead to them) are what makes DayZ so great. There are a number of different places where you can do that, as we’ve discussed throughout this guide. Let’s talk about how you can record your experiences and the best way of posting the end result online for others to see.

Before we discuss media, let me make a suggestion: play with a pen and notepad. If not a physical notepad, then keep a note-taking app ready on your desktop, another computer, your phone/tablet, etc. You probably won’t need it all the time, but you’ll be glad you have it when you do need it. This allows you to write down critical details, map coordinates, and other tidbits that may be helpful in telling your story later.

The simplest and easiest way of sharing is through screenshots. Pictures are the universal way of telling a story, and video games are no exception. Feel free to research third party image/video capture software on your own (such as Fraps, Bandicam, Dxtory, etc.), but the Steam in-game overlay is the most painless solution for taking pictures due to being integrated right into a program you’re already using. You can do so by going to your Steam settings and navigating to the “In-Game” tab; by default the F12 key is your trigger for taking a picture.

Once you’ve taken images, they can be accessed through Steam or by navigating to their folder on your PC (by default it would be C: -> Program Files (x86) -> Steam -> userdata -> _____ -> 760 -> Remote -> 221100 -> Screenshots). They’ll be easier to share if you upload them somewhere other than the Steam Community website, i.e. Imgur. With the Steam website, you are limited to linking to a page whereas with a third party service you can link directly to image files or albums, meaning you can post them wherever and however you want.

While pictures can tell a story all on their own, they are best when used in conjunction with your own words. Taking the time to label and caption pictures before you post them will go a long way in making sure you get all your details across while adding information about an experience that may not be present or obvious in your pictures. If you would like to become better at taking screenshots, check out the separate Guide to Screenshots post.

If still pictures aren’t enough for you, perhaps you’ll try your hand at producing videos. This is definitely not recommended for beginners, because creating quality content worth sharing can be very time-consuming since it is a trial-and-error process. This is one form of sharing that you should really do your homework on prior to making an attempt. Find capture software that you like using, get familiar with the editing process, and watch videos made by others to get a feel for what works and what doesn’t.

Is media not your thing? That’s okay, words are the bread and butter of storytelling. A well-written, detailed, and funny or exciting narrative from your time in Chernarus is definitely worth sharing. Take a couple of minutes to read it over before posting and make sure you are getting your point across, that there aren’t any confusing elements, no glaring issues with grammar/spelling, etc.

In addition to sharing with the community, you may want to file feedback for bug fixes as well. For an explanation of this process and how you can use your existing materials, check out “Do Your Part: The Guide to Feedback.”

Share Your Knowledge

As I said at the beginning, contributing can be as small as helpfully answering a question posed by a fellow player. If you feel that you may be an expert on a topic or at least well-educated about it, consider sharing that information in a broader context. You can do this in many ways online, so let’s talk about a few of those methods.

Anyone is free to create a guide, and if you’re knowledgeable about a subject for which there is no existing quality guide, by all means please create one — you would be doing a major service to your fellow gamers. If you are comfortable making videos, they can be a great way of reaching a wide audience with your information. If writing is more your thing, consider taking the time to construct a well-formatted and insightful document. The format you choose is less important than the content of the guide, so the bulk of your effort should be put towards making sure the information contained within is accurate, relevant, and easy to understand.

Need some references? Just search for “DayZ Standalone guides” online and you’ll see some of the most popular examples of such work from names like Wobo, SepticFalcon, and others. As the author/producer, be prepared to answer questions you will inevitably receive when posting your guide. This goes for really anything that you choose to share with the community, but it is especially important when trying to inform others.

The most straightforward way of contributing what you’ve learned is via the unofficial wiki. Despite being billed as a definitive source of information, no wiki can ever be 100% complete; it just isn’t possible with a game that is constantly growing and changing. We as a community can keep it as close to complete as possible however if we all do our part to maintain it. The nature of wikis is such that anyone can make changes, so if you see something that’s wrong or out-of-date, change it — nothing is stopping you from doing so except yourself. If we all do a little bit here and there, the wiki as a repository of knowledge will be more complete, more current, and more ideal for use as a reference.

Find Your "Thing"

This guide is merely a list of suggestions. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide how you want to contribute and what it is you have to offer. It doesn’t even matter what you like, just be passionate about your interests and others will appreciate that passion. Find your niche — find the thing you love most about this game — and share it with everyone.

Shared by Tatanko on December 1, 2015

A discussion about how you as an individual can make the community better through your own actions.