Thursday, 31 May 2012

DayZ - Survivor Diary - Life 1, Day 2

Day 2 route.
1
After eating some rations and drinking water from my only water bottle, I set off North down the hill towards the settlement of Msta. Keeping a wide berth of zombies along the main road through the village by ascending to the Northern treeline, I stumbled upon another wooden deer stand, surrounded by 3 zombies in Army uniforms. Avoiding their gaze I climbed the ladder to find myself staring at a mountain of equipment. More ChemLights, flares, bandages, tins of food, spare mags for an M9 pistol, and above all: an AKM with around 200 spare rounds. I hastily dropped my Enfield for the automatic rifle, confident that my inferior equipment problem was now out of the window. Moving east away from the roaming horde towards a barn a couple hundred meters away, I made the conscious decision to keep the weapon in semi-automatic; ammo would be sparse and it would be wise to refrain from going Rambo on everything in sight, despite the temptation.

2
Rounding the corner of a large haystack next to the barn, I set sights on a trail of dead zombies that led up to the main door. I soon heard the unmistakable sound of flies, the indicator of a dead survivor nearby. Entering the barn I found a mound of zombies at the foot of a some stairs, and the recently deceased player up on the next level. No loot was in the barn, but more worryingly there was no loot on the dead player, meaning he was either travelling with a group and they took what he had or someone had just been in the barn not moments ago. Imagining wild scenarios in my mind and slightly weary of unwittingly walking into a clever ambush, I crept out of the barn the way I came in and walked down the hill to the North East, keeping an eye on the road and treeline to my right for movement.

3
Pausing in a clump of trees, I stopped to assess my situation. Despite finding ample food supplies in the recent deer stand, I only had one soda can in the way of drink. This, along with trying to find a map or a compass, was my primary concern. At some point in the not so distant future I would have to investigate a town or residential area for the essential items. Not knowing how far I was from the coast, and having completely lost my sense of direction, I headed towards what I thought was East, but now looking back at a map it turns out was more North East. Crossing a main road between a hamlet near Solnichniy and Dolina my direction veered North before eventually turning North West. Had I looked West down the road towards Dolina I would have noticed a lake to refill my water supply, but I think I was far too occupied with being on the look-out for bandits now that I was inland to actually concentrate on anything other than the horizon.

4
The village of Orlovets completely eluded me as I kept heading to the East (actually North), because by sheer misfortune I kept to the West of a large ridge-line that kept me from seeing the coast on my right. Blindly following a wooded area I actually started to move further away from the coast.

5
After surveying the surrounding area on a small hill, and completely missing the fact there was a factory with a lake to the South and a deer stand just to the North West, I now continued in a Northerly direction on the Eastern side of the aforementioned ridge-line, still unable to see the coast because of the tree cover.

6
Begrudgingly I had to drink my last can, meaning I was completely out of water, but mercifully the trees cleared to unveil a main road and my first sight of the coast for many kilometers. Taken aback that the coast was on my right I thought, by the look of the sprawling town below, I must have walked a massive circle and ended up near Elektrozavodsk on the South coast. Not knowing it was Berezino I was thinking of making my way back to Msta to finish off my day which would have been to the East. Instead, I crossed the road and ended up heading further North. Further illustrating my completely misguided sense of direction I soon went over a smaller tarmac road to the East of Dubrovka, which meant walking under some power lines. Knowing there was a power station in the vicinity of Elektrozavodsk, this further reinforced my belief that I was in fact on the South coast.

7
Certain of where I was, I continued North whilst walking along a treeline next to another main road. Noticing a small hut on the opposite side of the road I decided to cross and investigate. Here I found my first zombies since all the way back in Msta, but unfortunately all I found loot-wise was a load of empty cans and broken tins. Dejected, I continued North. Upon reaching the end of a small line of trees I chanced a look to my left, where all of a sudden I saw a survivor in the open field running towards the hut I had just left, with a pack of 5 zombies chasing him down. I went prone behind a few trees, watching silently as he quickly dealt with the small horde with his Makarov pistol. Whilst he was searching the bodies I made my break across the open field to the North and another wooded area where I took shelter; luckily he was too busy to notice.

8
Taking watch once more, I saw the player run through the treeline I had just left and straight into the path of more zombies I had sneaked past at the hut. Taking him by surprise he only had the time to squeeze off a couple of shots before they were right on him. I then saw him sprint across the road with 3 zombies on his tail and disappear into the trees to the East behind the crest of a hill. Curiosity taking the better of me, I decided to follow.

9
Sprinting across the main road and into the forest to the East, I heard shots from what sounded like a pistol close by. Just before a steep slope Eastwards in the forest I paused to regain some stamina, and as I glanced around I saw the player no less than 50 meters away to my right bandaging his wounds, zombies obviously dispatched. Creeping behind a tree to observe, I lost sight of him momentarily. In that short amount of time he was sprinting up the steep hill to the South and almost out of sight. Deciding he must have a map or at least knew where on Earth he was going, I carried on East down the slope hoping to reach the coast soon.

10
My water problem was no more, as I found another deer stand to the North of the village of Khelm full of soda cans, along with spare ammo for my pistol. Looking back at the mountain behind me where I lost sight of the unknown player, I thought for a moment I had seen a silhouette of a human making its way further South and out of view. His recklessness reminded me of the survivor I met near Kamyshovo the previous day, and I wondered for a second if that was the same guy...

11
Finding a secluded area in a line of trees to the East of Khelm, I decided this was my spot for the night. The city of Elektrozavodsk would have to wait for tomorrow, I thought, still unawares to my true location tens of kilometers to the North. My seemingly quiet, incident free day would all change as I realised my huge navigational mistake, and started the trek South in Day 3.

Until next time,
Matt.

flump_3@hotmail.com

Monday, 28 May 2012

DayZ - Survivor Diary - Life 1, Day 1

Chernarus - DayZ's full playable map (originally from ARMA2).
DayZ, as mentioned in the previous post, features a 225 square kilometer playable area. This is littered with small villages, towns, cities, farmsteads, mountains, forests, lakes, islands, industrial areas, airfields and much more.

Throughout these Diary entries I will be referring to locations shown on this main map, so it would be wise to have this open in a separate tab, alternatively you could just take a look at the individual route maps that I quickly draw up, with all point of interest markers already labelled out. It is a good idea to have some previous knowledge of how the game works, and that can be done by simply having a look at CHKilroy's "The Days Ahead" YouTube series and perhaps reading up on some gameplay features on the unofficial DayZ Wiki, which has a link to live video-streams to check out over at Twitch.tv that are always worth a watch.

Before I go ahead and start telling you the story of my epic adventure across Chernarus, I'll just mention that DayZ features perma-death. In other words you start out with a basic set of equipment, which I shall go through below, and play the game collecting whatever you find doing what you want, but when you die all your stuff you have found in that life is gone. Your character is dead, with other players free to loot your body (they've got to survive too!). To continue playing you start as a new persona with the same basic equipment, and you always spawn on the coast. You make your own objectives.

Starting Equipment

  • Basic 8-slot backpack.
  • Filled water bottle.
  • 2 bandages
  • 2 painkillers
  • 2 morphine auto injectors
  • Pack of 10 flares
  • 2 cans of food (Beans!)
  • Makarov pistol with 6 spare magazines.

Day 1 route.
Start
Spawned roughly a kilometer south of Solnichniy. Immediate thoughts were to make my way towards buildings I saw along the coastline. At this point I didn't know whether I was walking North, East or West.

1
As I made my way along the coast I heard automatic gunfire coming from the center of Solnichniy, along with at least half a dozen zombies running towards that direction. Deciding against investigating who fired the shots, given my lack of good equipment and not knowing whether they were friend or foe, I headed across the main road into the tree-line and back South along the coast.

2
Approaching a bend along the coastline I saw a glimpse of a lighthouse through the trees across the road. With no zombies in sight and the sounds of gunfire and other players way behind me, I entered the lighthouse in search for loot. Unfortunately there was nothing of value, only some empty food and soda cans. Climbing the lighthouse did give me the opportunity to survey my location, however. I noticed to the West (I thought) a small coastal village that I made my objective to explore next. Shipwrecks and a mountainous island greeted me to the South, and this became an important visual marker to keep my bearings.

3
Making my way West I emerged from the tree-line, crossed the road and hugged the water's edge up to the outskirts of what I soon found out to be the village of Kamyshovo from the nearby road signs. Zombies roamed the main street and blocked my route near the water, so I climbed the hill to my right and skirted across to a road heading inland that had more residential housing to explore. Nothing but scrap and the odd pile of wood that I could use to light a fire, if only I had matches.

4
Deciding to leave and head further West, I hugged the tree-line yet again. Suddenly, a few hundred meters away on the main road I saw another player jogging towards me in a low crouch. I immediately thought he had saw me first given he was headed straight towards me. I walked out to the middle of the road, hoping he was friendly. Not knowing what to expect, he stopped next to me, and then carried on down the road East back towards Kamyshovo, stopping to look back as if expecting me to follow. That's just what I did. Looking at his backpack I could see he was new to this world the same as me, however he seemed to be a little more gung-ho than I prefer. Now jogging straight down the main street, we were attracting attention from zombies across the village. I soon burned through half my ammunition seemingly just to protect this other guy, and that's when he got taken down. Hurt and on the floor, I finished off the last zombies that were alerted to all the commotion and used one of my bandages to stop the guy's bleeding. Regaining control, we headed inland. Only for him to attract yet more zombies by making too much noise. I made my mind up, this guy was a liability. I abandoned him. He ran off in the direction of the lighthouse, with a comically large number of zombies at his tail, whilst I skulked away into the hills.

5
Knowing that everyone spawns along the coastline and are probably doing exactly the same thing near built up areas, I thought I would end up with more of a chance inland. I found a warehouse following the Kamyshovo road North which was surrounded by about 5 zombies. Trying to avoid a confrontation I sneaked into the building by keeping my distance and going slow to make less noise. Inside I hit the jackpot; a Lee Enfield rifle with 15 rounds, more ammo for my Makarov and a mag for an M1911 pistol, should I ever find the gun. Exiting, I made a mistake. Not looking where I was going I actually walked straight into a crouched down zombie. Panicking, I fired whatever I had in my hands; unfortunately it was the Enfield. The loud crack echoed through the surrounding woods and the 5 zombies immediately made a bee-line for me. I turned and started running West up a slight hill. When I noticed I had a gap between me and the first zombie, I turned and began to pick them off. Only the last one managed to take a swipe at me, but I got away fine.

6
After that close encounter I continued up the hill Westwards, soon coming across an elevated wooden Deer Stand on the edge of a field. 3 military uniformed zombies we stumbling around nearby, and I took them out with the Enfield. Up the steps and in the stand were some medical supplies (bandages) including more flares and a pack of 10 ChemLights, small multicoloured glowsticks that last a full 60 minutes as apposed to 5 minutes for flares. Pleased at my new equipment I made my way up to a ridge-line, which I followed along in a North Westerly direction.

7
Marked on the map as Rog, this was a small rocky ruin of a castle high up among the trees I happened to come across. Sneaking closer, I saw at least a dozen zombies. More than I could take out with my Enfield and Makarov given my limited ammunition, I abandoned the search and followed a dirt road North. Two lone zombies were ahead of me a few hundred meters along the track, so I dived into the trees and crept past. The trees petered out, and a clear field opened out facing a long sloped hill.

8
Making my way up the hill and looking back towards Rog, I could see everything to the South. Not a soul in sight and the Sun setting to the West, a small copse of trees and long grass made my camp for the night at the summit. A final scout around made me notice a settlement at the base of the hill to the North East; the objective for the following day.

More stories from my adventure coming soon!

Until next time,
Matt.

flump_3@hotmail.com

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Time for a de-fib - CLEAR!

Time, I think, for a bit of a reshuffle. Given that all I had on here were a few rambling posts about my personal life, it came as a surprise yesterday afternoon, as I logged on to create this post, that this blog has had around 3600 page views. Completely unexpected, and slightly embarrassing. After giving this a little thought, I just wanted to inform you guys of what you can expect coming from this blog over the course of the Summer.

With a good bit of free time at my disposal, and my final year of University doing Games Design invariably approaching, the time has come to start thinking about ideas for my FYP, a year long personal project that rounds off my degree. From the get go I would rather base this around an academic, long-form, essay-like format rather than a prototyping script-based one, purely down to preference. So long as I am writing about something I feel engaged with, I feel is worth talking about, and I find enjoyable even after many hours spent working on it; I see no reason why I should not go down this route. In terms of topic, my previous work based on Realism in Games, along with the moral and ethical considerations that naturally arise in that area of study, seemed to be well received and I certainly enjoyed working on it. So for the time being I will seek to expand on what I already have.

Since an FYP of this sort will have to be quite hefty, I will no doubt have to do some of my own research, possibly in the form of many iterations of surveys. That's not what I intend to inflict upon you on here though, oh no. If you happen to be a gamer who likes to keep up with all the latest games, who maybe occasionally looks at a few gaming news sites, for example Kotaku or N4G, then you may of heard about an ARMA2 Mod that's been recently making it's way around Teh Interwebs called DayZ. A tonne of videos and interviews can be found all over the place, and they will give you a much better idea of what it's all about than I ever could. I will point you all to this PCGamer article however that seems to sum it all up nicely, but in summary DayZ is a zombie survival horror game like no other. 225 square kilometers of fully explorable landscape, up to 50 players on the same server, only one objective: SURVIVE. Play how you want: team up with other players to form a roving gang of scavengers or go it alone, become a bandit and kill any zombie and player you see, collect loot, food, water and other supplies to survive as long as you can. A rather chilling statistic on DayZ's website is that the average life expectancy across all servers is 27 minutes. Your player location is saved every time you log out of a server, so you will spawn back where you were no matter what server you join next. Also, as I found out, the in-game time of day directly correlates to server location. So playing DayZ on a server based in the UK at midnight means it will be the dead of night whilst playing in-game.

There is so much as a player that you have to be aware of and plan for. You do not start with a map or a compass, you have to find even the most basic of tools and equipment such as a flashlight and matches. The gameplay itself brings a wave of possibilities and situations that I have never experienced in a game before. The genuine fear when you see another player in a field or down a dark road, and the uncertainty if that player is a bandit or a friendly. Do you go speak to them and try and form a group, or do you follow them for a while and see if they have good or bad intentions? Packed with moral choices, and with so much potential when it's not even out of the Alpha stages of development, this is something that I will certainly be playing all Summer. Heck, it's got Cliff Bleszinski's (Design Director of Epic Games) attention, so that's good enough for me.

Now, I've been playing this for around a week so far. In that time I have been keeping a log of all my movements and actions, and THAT is what I intend to write up on here for all to see. You will be able to keep track of where I have been, where I intend to go, close encounters with players and zombies alike. All of this "Survival Diary" content may well form a vital part of some decent degree work later on down the line. For now though it will hopefully be a fascinating insight into the world of DayZ for you guys, and it also gives me a fun way to gain motivation after a rather difficult start to the year. So watch out for the first part soon, right here!

Until next time,
Matt.

flump_3@hotmail.com