Wednesday, June 27, 2012

DayZ: People are jerks

The internet is full of trolls. If you're reading this, you know this is just a fact of life. It applies to many video games as well, with players attacking teammates that get vehicles they wanted or the amazing con-jobs done on EVE Online. In general, with anonymity and the sheer masses on the internet, many people let the manners and etiquette they were taught (hopefully) and games can turn into bloody free-for-alls. DayZ is no exception, but rather than attempting to try and keep these trolls and jerks under control, DayZ feeds the trolls.

Because DayZ forces you to eat and drink, you have two options: scavenge or steal. Though stealing usually results in dead bodies. You could ask somebody for food and water, but there's nothing that will ensure they won't just shoot you as soon as your back is turned and vice versa. There's no police, there's no laws, it's the zombie apocalypse. Occasionally you might find people who are friendly, but this is a rare event and tenuous at best. Let me give you an example:

I was sneaking around a small airfield looking for military grade weapons and ammo when I heard a shootout in the air-traffic control tower. Sneaking over slowly, keeping my rifle trained on the front door I waited for the victors to emerge but nobody did. It was completely within the mechanics of the game for everyone involved to be wounded enough to fall unconscious and bleed out, so after what I decided was a long enough time, I went in to loot the bodies. As I went in and started up the stairs I heard movement and a few more gunshots: Somebody was still alive! I quickly found a place to cover the stairs and started yelling out in my most confident voice. Telling them I would blow them away if they pointed a gun at me, I told them to come down. I'd never had an encounter with other people that didn't involve getting popped at a long distance from a bandit with a scoped rifle, I was flying by the seat of my pants. Much to my surprise the two people shouted back: "FRIENDLY! WE'RE FRIENDLY!"

There's a sense of desperation in DayZ when it takes just a couple bullets to die, most people shoot first rather than talk it out. I was tense and paranoid but not equipped well enough to live out on my own in the wilderness, I had to check for more things. When I walked up into the upstairs, I  found an absolute bloodbath. Five or six bodies lay on the ground, two players still standing, finishing off some of the other players still alive but unconscious. The survivors told me that they'd been betrayed by the people dead. I didn't believe them, but I didn't question it. I offered a blood transfusion using a blood bag to quickly get on their good side and show that I too was friendly. I made a quick check of the bodies on the ground and asked if the survivors needed medical supplies, which I had in abundance, and asked for ammo for my rifle.

I was outnumbered and paranoid, keeping my back to the wall, my rifle trained on one of them at all times, and they did the same. In conversation, we were friendly and polite, but all it would take is one of us making the first move and more bodies would be added to the pile on the ground. Everyone making friendly overtures, they suggested we travel together, safety in numbers and all. I agreed and walked with them out of the building but when more gunfire was heard in the distance, I crawled under a concrete wall and made a mad dash for the treeline. I could have stayed and fought off the invaders with my new friends but there was no guarantee we would have survived. Even if we fought off the newcomers, my 'friends' could have turned and killed me and taken my stuff as well.

That's just one example of how well a 'friendly' encounter can go. Most encounters involve people being shot at a distance and their still warm bodies being looted for any potential gear. There used to be a visual appearance difference between 'survivors' and 'bandits' with a humanity meter included, and a separate tracker for bandit kills as well as murders. That used to help keep some people friendly because they wanted to avoid being labelled a bandit but with that now gone, people shoot first and ask questions later. Hovering a crosshair over somebody with let you hear a heartbeat that helps signal how many murders they have, but taking the time to listen to that heartbeat and make a decision leaves you vulnerable. The line between 'bandit' and 'survivor' is now blurred.

Next time, we talk about the potential for teamwork and how sitting still for 30-45 minutes can get my heart racing.

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