Monday, June 25, 2012

DayZ: Nights of Terror

Continuing my discussion on the DayZ mod of ARMA2 and its survival horror aspects, we're going to talk about things getting dark, but first I need to say this: ARMA2 is rather pretty all things considered. Released in 2009, with Operation Arrowhead (the expansion required for DayZ) released in 2010, it's had two to three years to fall behind in the graphics department but it still looks amazing. See for yourself:

He wears his sunglasses at night.

That's my teammate and gamer buddy, Wamdoodle. He's helping show how good this game looks. The models are a little dated and I've turned off some of the post-processing and shadows to help improve how smoothly the game plays but as you can see, it's a long way from DOOM or the original Resident Evil. As Wamdoodle is nice enough to point out in the photo, it's 6:50 server time, so there's a good bit of daylight left.

Dark means dark in DayZ.

That image you see isn't a glitch, that's just night time in DayZ. You can actually see a couple stars at the top of the image, as well as Wamdoodle's arm (if you squint). Time of day is set by the server's local time (or at least the time that the admin has set) so when the sun sets in the real world, the sun will soon set in the game world. There's a couple ways around this: join local servers that have their time set to a different timezone or join servers across the world. Russian servers seem to have a decent ping and the sun rising when the sun sets for me, for instance. Now, this isn't to say you can't play at night.

Notice how small a circle of light the flashlight makes.

See, when you spawn, your survivor has a backpack, bandage, painkillers, and a flashlight. Before the 1.7 patch, you got a pistol but not a flashlight. Personally, I'd rather have the flashlight, it means I can play in the evenings without having to jump to international servers. Now, you can't use a flashlight and a weapon at the same time, unless you luck out and find one of 3 weapons that has a flashlight attached to it. But this is where the survival horror really sets in.

Even a lightly forested area can feel claustrophobic.

Turn the lights off (if you're playing a survival horror game with the lights on, you're doing it wrong), turn the music off, and turn your flashlight on (sometimes). When you move, like most games, you can move at a walk or a run, and you have three postures, crawling, crouched, and standing. If you attempt to move while using your flashlight at anything faster than a walk, you'll not be able to see anything, because the flashlight is held in hand and moves as you run. You have a very limited view of things lit ahead of you and it feels like it shrinks even more when you're forced into first-person by some servers.

The cycle of the moon will actually effect night visibility in the upcoming ARMA3.
So now you have to move slowly to be able to see. If you alert a zombie, you'll want to run or they'll beat you to death. Of course, if you try to run, you can't see. Want to fight back? Can't see. Only by using chemlights or flares, both of which alert nearby zombies in their own fashion, or a weapon with a flashlight, can you fight back and see at the same time. Moving and working as a team will help with that, enabling one of you to fire a weapon while another shines a flashlight at the bad guys. Speaking of bad guys, don't forget, other players can see your flashlight from quite a distance away, and they want your beans.

Next time, we talk about bandits and other survivors.

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