When I originally heard about H1Z1 i wasn’t that impressed with the idea, another zombie survival murder box in a long line of discarded titles. Do we really need another? As it turns out, the more I think about it I actually think we do need another and That SOE could do really well with it.
For some reason every single one of these titles seems to sell really well. Day Z, the title to spurn on the survival genre in a way has sold over 2 million this year with it’s stand alone title alone, then I’m guessing countless sales of arma just to play the original mod. The there is rust and the recent Forest and Stomping land all doing well as well as countless other titles gaining a decent sized community around them.
Now another title coming out now would still seem to do well it seems regardless of any inherent polish… or even quality but the reason why I think Hizzy could do especially well is because it might just avoid the one major failing factor of all these titles. The curse of Early access. All of these titles aren’t finished products and in some cases not even close. The are missing core features, mechanics to make it interesting, variety in content and any sort of end-game or long term goals that might make the experience anything more than a griefing simulator.
Looking at Day Z in particular I think Hizzy would be able to surpass sales dramatically and even maintain a consistent playerbase if they fix many of the more prominent flaws. There are so many things great about the title and that create a rather enthralling experience but there is also so much that frustrates, lessens the experience and creates an environment that really isn’t conducive to gaining a larger playerbase.
One thing that I believe makes the experience far less is that the environmental dangers are actually rather minimal. The main Danger, the undead really isn’t that dangerous. The damage is rather weak, they are always interspersed rather than in large groups and rather inconsistent around the environment, their aggro range is just weird and they actually leash back to a certain spot within only a small space. Added on to this the Ai and pathing of them is just terrible… hell, with the bad coding the can not spawn at all after being killed either.
Once you get a weapon it makes them almost entirely irrelevant and this irrelevance only becomes more and more as you get more powerful weapons and supplies. In the face of these zombies really not providing any external danger there is really no reason or need to work together that much. You really don’t need other players to overcome anything except other players and even then group size can be minimal. Change this factor and I can see players being more amenable to making random groups.
If you know what your doing in Day Z, have read up a little on locations and such or have friends to help out your progression can end ridiculously fast. All you need is a decent amount of clothing and a ranged weapon and your pretty much done… sure yiou can get more powerful guns, mod attachments and such but they don’t help too much and well… are easy to gather if you know how anyway. Just bounce around servers in a particular space until you find what you’re after.
There is no character progression in regards to stats or abilities to work for or long term goals that your character could learn which makes these avatars entirely disposable. To not worry about the risk and use with abandon. If there was something greater to lose here; if gear was rarer and harder to find or if your character grew and learned as you played then the attachment built would create a greater risk to your activities. Attacking another group for resources would mean far more, walking into an unknown space would create far more apprehension. It could also be a point of pride too with living a longer length than others with special perks as a result.
The other point is that there really aren’t any end-game activities beyond showing off your superiority against others and this is sorely needed. Without the only thing to do is endlessly gank others. There needs to be more than for people to work towards as long and short term goals that are external from the character. Actual building mechanics to create your groups safe space to rest and store supplies, added with the more dangerous surroundings it would be more of a required feature to work towards too.
Then there are many other elements to work towards such as farming and activities that make daily hassles easier and more long term crafting items. Traps, alarm bells, speciality tools and even cosmetic items for the person or base of operations. You could even have specialty areas that have a greater difficulty or maybe special creatures hidden around. All these add activities to do that focus attention away from griefing but also encourage creating and maintaining groups.
Early Access Issues
Day Z, and mopst games of it’s kind are just so incredibly Alpha. An eventual feature list a mile long but a current list you can see at a glance. They are anything but a complete game and the experience suffers greatly because of it. The game fails to really produce a proper survival environment beyond the superficial and even these base mechanics can be ridiculously unfinished. What does get added is often so slow that you lose all interest in the game in the mean time.
These games are also very unpolished. Bugs are a prevalent feature with some things glitching out while others create complete system crashes. Coding for near everything is rather poor at times and it shows in everything around. The unoptimisation is a key element for me as well as it makes this games often completely unplayable, either not loading at all, a stuttering screen or incredibly low FPS. And then there’s the network coding on top of this that is far from providing a smooth multiplayer experience.
There are many other elements there to creating an engaging and enjoyable multiplayer survival title but these are definitely the maibn issues as I see it. Coming from a larger studio with the experience and resources to make a polished product I can see these issues mostly being resolved, or at least far less pervasive. If this is the case it could do very well, these titles all seem to sell a million or more as unfinshed, unpolished incredibly alpha affairs… in fact, I don’t even think that need to make the allowances they want with server rulsets towards more pve friendly gameplay and it would still do incredibly well.