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,

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