I played Day Z for the first time yesterday. Here is a video that should hopefully bring you up to speed on the sort of game this is:
Essentially, you begin the game with almost nothing, washed ashore in the fictional land of Chernarus (that sounds like Chernobyl, I assume by design). You have no weapon, nor even a map, and are expected to forage and sneak around, building an arsenal of weapons while finding food, water, parts and fuel for vehicles. Dying is permanent, in that when you die you lose all of the progress you’ve made so far–items, weapons, location. That sounds harsh, and it is, but it means there is a real sense of danger in the game, with serious in-game ramifications for failure. If you’re interested in a “zombie apocalypse,” this game might be about as close as you’re going to get to one.
Something I should mention before I go too far is that this is a mod for ARMA 2: Combined Operations. You must own that game if you want to play this one. Another important note is that this is Alpha software, meaning it is extremely rough around the edges, quite buggy at times, and not the polished product you might expect depending on how limited your gaming experience is.
Anyway, I began yesterday after picking up ARMA 2: CO on Steam for $18. I knew quite a bit about the game before playing it, after having initially heard of it on a few gaming podcasts a month or so ago (Weekend Confirmed and Rebel FM, specifically), but I had no idea how to actually play the game, ie., the controls. That’s a portion of the game I’m still struggling to understand (I have no idea how to aim through iron sights when I get a weapon, for instance), and even things I do understand don’t always work (I’m not always clear which doors I can open, or why I can vault over a fence from one direction but not the other). I’m not here to talk about bugs and unpolished gameplay though, that’s not why anyone should try this game. It’s not ready for primetime, but if you’re willing to overlook its flaws there could be some truly great storytelling experiences waiting for you (and told by you!).
I started on the beach near a large harbor type of area. Perhaps it was a coastal town. I knew right off the bat that I need to figure out how to crouch and lay prone, as I could already see zombies in the distance and I knew that you could be killed in seconds if they spotted you unarmed (which I was). I picked a relatively zombie-free direction and began to crawl. I saw a small building across some train tracks that I thought I should investigate, so I headed straight for the doorway while constantly shifting my view to either side and behind me because I am super paranoid. I made it inside the shack-like building to find a fireman’s axe and some scrap metal. I figured out how to pick them up but not equip the axe, but was satisfied with my findings and wanted to get out of there and to a safer area. I crawled out of the shack and headed towards the train tracks again, on my belly the entire time because I knew there was a zombie just a few feet from me. As I crawled, I heard some rustling behind me. My heart skipped a beat thinking I was ambushed by another zombie, but I turned around to find another player crouched over me. I was relieved. I had no idea how to communicate, but I looked at him and looked away, hoping that my non-aggressive behavior would prove to the other player that I was no threat, and he would let me on my merry way. I crawled away assuming I would be safe, only to have a bullet lodged in the back of my head. First death, approximately 10 minutes in.
It took a few times for me to figure out just how to respawn, but when I did I realized I was a bit further left of my first spawn point. I decided I didn’t want to encounter the same cruel murderer I had before, so I decided to continue left up the coast towards a farmhouse I saw in the distance (note I’m not saying “west” but instead saying left, this is because there is no in-game map unless you can find one yourself, so I really have no idea which direction I am going. I’ve read it is possible to navigate via the sun/moon/stars in this game (how’s that for realism!), but I have yet to try). While traveling towards the farmhouse, I was suddenly attacked by a zombie. My first zombie bite! Hurray! I scrambled to remember how to stand up, and sprinted as fast as I could away from the zombie and the farmhouse, and back towards the familiarity of where I spawned (fraught with danger it is). I managed to outpace the zombie, but was bleeding and could tell that I wouldn’t live much longer unless I learned how to stem the flow of blood. I opened my pack and find the bandages that players are blessed to begin with. I bandaged myself after losing about 4000 of my 12000 blood (I have no idea exactly what that means, other than it claims I have 12000 blood pressure as my health points). Having stabilized my health, I knew I needed to find a weapon and more supplies if I was going to last any longer. I worked my way back towards the harbor town that I spawned near, and found another building with potential goodies. I very stealthily crept inside to find an M1911 handgun on the floor with a few rounds scattered around the otherwise barren room. Feeling quite proud of myself but also quite nervous because of the shambling horrors and potentially dangerous players that could surprise me at any time, I quickly escaped the area and worked my way up a set of train tracks that I knew would lead me towards more structures housing more loot. On the way, I caught the attention of yet another zombie, and not feeling confident enough with my shooting skills, I decided to stand up and run as quickly as I could. While running I attracted plenty more followers of the undead variety, but also noticed a large truck parked near a fuel station, as well as some players nearby gathering fuel and other supplies for their truck. I decide my best chance for survival would be to run towards them. I didn’t expect them to help me, but I knew that they would be capable of either killing the zombies that are now threatening their lives, or at least act as distractions while I run away. I continued sprinting as quickly as I could and began hearing gunshots from at least 2 desperate players. I realized I was no longer being followed, and decided to drop to the ground and hide while I watched the other players dispatch the zombies for me. I was terrified that they would find me and take revenge for what I did, but they never did, and I watched them jump into their truck and drive off. I was safe, they were safe, and all it took was a few minutes of desperate sprinting and a few bullets from their guns. I found a secluded area to hide in and logged out, satisfied that I had survived with my gun and more supplies than I had started with.
None of what happened to me was scripted (well, in the traditional sense–enemy AI could be considered a sort of script but not the sort of scripting people familiar with videogames would think of them), and so far just about every time I’ve played this game I’ve had a new and exciting experience. There are no quests, no NPC’s barking orders at you, no tutorial explaining how every feature of the game works. This is barebones, ruthless, unforgiving gaming. It expects you to figure things out on your own or die trying. If you can manage to get past the initial learning curve and are willing to pay attention to your surroundings and be immersed in what the game has to offer, Day Z can give provide you with some of the most compelling moments to exist in games today. Perhaps you need to be a bit of a masochist to enjoy something so punitive, but there are stories within this that can only happen because of what choices the player is making. I love it, and can’t wait to see where this goes as it leaves its alpha and beta phases.
I would also like to write more of the stories that have happened to me so far. If you have any tips for me (either writing tips or Day Z tips), I’d love to have them! I’m not very good at either, so I need all the help I can get.
I want to see this movie. I’ve heard great things, but I have absolutely no legal means to see it (within reason of course). The DVD comes out in September, so I guess I’ll have to wait for that, but in the mean time I thought I’d share the poster and trailer.
I can’t help but want to cry as I read this. I will miss Puck, even though I know this was a necessity and maybe even better for her. I think she was a happy ferret though, we did our best to make sure she was always happy and healthy. We just need to try to not blame ourselves for things beyond our control.
Last night, when I went to clean the ferret cage, I immediately noticed something amiss. Potion, our eldest ferret, was already awake and eagerly waiting a chance to run around outside their cage. Puck wasn’t in sight. She usually slept inside a brown hammock I made. She was always lazy and slow to rise, especially since her health started to decline, but she was usually up and ready to go by the time her roommate was. When I gave the hammock a gentle nudge, there wasn’t any movement. After doing this a few more times and calling her name, I reached in the hammock and knew right away that she had passed away when I felt her cold skin.
I felt like two people all at once; a grieving animal mama and someone more matter-of-fact all at once. I knew I had to take the hammock out of the cage…
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The following are my thoughts on the film “Brave” which may contain spoilers. Please skip to the very end if you haven’t seen the film and don’t want anything ruined!
I recently went to the movie theater to see the latest offering from Disney and Pixar Studios – “Brave.” I’d heard of the movie for months and months and was excitedly anticipating it. Every detail made me more and more excited. A film set in Medieval Scotland? Already got my attention. A strong female lead? Even better! As concept art became available, and the Celtic motifs grew ever more apparent, I became even more enticed!
I did not go into the film expecting historical accuracy. This is from Disney and Pixar, for goodness’ sake. It is incredibly anachronistic in several ways. Some men may feel it is a bit insulting to their sex. It stereotypes the Scottish at times, but…
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Check out the trailer if you’re at all interested in indie games or game development or weird guys with beards.
It’s not sharp, I know.