H1Z1-fit

As you may or may not have heard, SOE is coming out with a zombie apocalypse MMO called DayZ Online H1Z1. This was, in fact, what Smedley was talking about vis-a-vis the MMO that SWG veterans “could come home to.” Because… crafting? Whatever.

By the way, I’m with Syp on pronouncing H1Z1 as “hizzy.” Because just with the Xbone before it, these companies need to take a little more thought with how they name their products.

The details of the game are sketchy. Not in the ambiguous sense, but rather in the “there’s no possible way that will work” sense. Right off the top, this is a F2P full-loot FFA PvP game. In fact, the Tweets (sigh) are suggesting that the current design is permadeath, but I have a hard time imagining rerolling an entirely new character each time. I mean, if your character’s facial features and other customizations are somehow saved, is that really permadeath? Another feature is player housing that exists in the world, and people can set it on fire, presumably even while you are offline. That sounds totally reasonable, amirite? There will also be “trading,” which I understand as a euphemism for looting things off the corpses of traders. There are also no levels, which combined with the F2P aspect, seems to indicate the potential for an infinite firebombing army to reduce all player-owned structures to cinder at 4am.

Now, conceivably, these are solvable problems. Smedley has mentioned the existence of different server types, some of which will likely be PvZ-only. Some might even offer player housing protection on by default ala Minecraft. I have little doubt that we’ll also see housing immunity (or at least insurance) for 2000 Station Cash. The question mark is whether they’ll sell items directly, which could become problematic with a full-loot PvP system. “Hah, I totally ganked that dude and stole his $10 golden revolver.” [Fake edit: you keep your customization]

As a PS2 player, I wouldn't put this past them.

As a PlanetSide 2 player, I wouldn’t put this past them.

Speaking of monetization, Smedley has a Reddit thread up right now asking for ideas. No, seriously, he does. Currently, he seems pretty adamant that A) they will not be selling weapons at all, and B) they have a “preference” to not selling anything that helps with survival. Everything else is conceivably on the table… other than just asking for a goddamn subscription or box purchase. Many of the ideas so far revolve around pets, animations, clothing, and in-game advertisements ala Battlefield 2142. To his credit, Smedley shot down that last one, although ironically that would be something that made complete sense in the context of the game.

As far as the map size goes, well, here is Smedley:

I’ve seen a bunch of people asking questions about the Map size. Forgelight is built to handle arbitrarily sized worlds. Our plan is simple – we’re building the core of “anywhere USA”. When we first open it up to users the map will be huge, but nowhere near as big as it’s going to be in short order. Our Map Editing system allows us to quickly add massive areas. We want to make sure we clearly understand how the players are playing the game before we do that. On Planetside 2 we made a mistake by making multiple continents before we had a strong enough idea of what worked and what didn’t. This game is different. We’re doing it smarter. [...]

So not to worry. Zombie Apocalypse isn’t going to be any fun if it’s like Disneyland on Spring Break and super crowded. We want remote.. haunting… being scared when you see someone. Your first instinct needs to be to hide. If there are 20 players in your view it’s not a very convincing Apocalypse :)

Ah. So… an MMO where actively avoiding other people is the only sane way to play. Hey, at least I already have a lot of practice doing just that.

This is the part of the post where I balance the negativity of the preceding paragraphs with some halfhearted praise. So… uh… well. I liked State of Decay? Using the PlanetSide 2 engine means they will have a quick development cycle, although it also means there won’t be any actual physics. The “play as a zombie” mode sounds like it could be fun. And… yeah. I feel kinda bad for The Forest guys, although maybe I shouldn’t – at least The Forest doesn’t feature full-loot PvP.

H1Z1 will be up on Steam’s Early Release program in 4-6 weeks for $20. Why are we paying money for the privledge of alpha-testing free-to-play games? Because fuck you, that’s why.

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Posted on April 14, 2014, in Commentary and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Thanks for neatly summing up various levels of crazy this games announcement represents. I know for sure the few SWG refugees I played with in WoW would never see this as a suitable “coming home” game!

    Good job I have other games to look forward to because I sure won’t be playing this or anything else new from SoE anytime soon.

  2. I have to say I’m baffled in general by Steam Early Access, not just for F2P games. But people seem to like it. Then again, I’ve never been one to even get in on beta access. Give me a finished game.

    Actively avoiding other people does sound like DayZ, which in particular sounds like the ultimate existential nightmare. Nothing you do matters, there’s no hope or purpose, and all you can do is crawl around and scrape out a few measly hours before dying an anonymous death to a faceless foe. Yep, sign me up.

    • Nothing you do matters, there’s no hope or purpose, and all you can do is crawl around and scrape out a few measly hours before dying an anonymous death to a faceless foe.

      They should really quote you and put it up on the back of the box. Assuming there is a physical release at some point.

  3. Reading your article, i have to say you either have no interest in the Zombie-Surival genre or are the most casual player to ever exist, either way you should not be the one reviewing a new game of this type. I’m not saying this to be rude, it’s simply true;

    DayZ Mod already has successful Base Building/Player Housing (with systems in place to prevent against “nocturnal night raids”), Permadeath and Trading (in-game currency, not “looting off of merchants corpses”…lol). Literally every mechanic you listed that “can not possibly work”, already DOES work in a MOD for a different game, so is therefore easily possible in a game designed completely from scratch (and is already being implemented through DayZ Standalone).

    The only plausible problem that you listed with the game is buying in-game items, as it causes the problem of “If i kill someone that owns an item bought with real money, does the item get duped so that they keep it and i get it? Do they lose it, and therefore the money they paid for it, and i get it? Do they keep it and i miss out on loot? Or does it just dissapear completely?”, so some sort of system would have to be made to make it fair for both parties, although i really do hope items bought with real money don’t hugely effect the gameplay. As confident as i am in my own DayZ skills, it just wouldn’t be fair on newer players.

    • Err… you might have missed the point on some of these items. I’m not suggesting that, say, player housing is impossible. I’m suggesting that player housing in a game that the devs insist you’ll be able to set on fire is untenable. As far as I could tell from Google searches, DayZ housing is only destructible from getting stuck by a vehicle. Is that true? Can you loot other players’ houses while they’re offline? Destroy them? If not, we’re talking about two different things.

      The trading bit was more revolving around how much Smedley was going on about killing other players on sight/bring afraid/etc. It’s also a F2P game, so you can basically run around with infinite disposable characters to try and murder people while moving the loot to your main. Maybe this will be dissuaded via the emptiness of the map (e.g. people being rare), who knows.

      As for not being someone “to review a game of this type,” err, this must be your first time here. It’s being billed as an MMO and it’s made by SOE, which is more than enough of a reason to “review” what we know this far. I like zombies, I enjoy roguelikes, although it’s true I dislike full-loot PvP, but whatever. Besides, once you’ve been here for a while, you’ll know that I don’t need a reason to talk out of my ass.

      That said, if I’m wrong about something, feel free to correct me.

  4. I think there’s an increasingly obvious disconnect between the tiny number of hobbyists writing about MMOs, the huge number of people currently playing them and the still huger number of gamers playing other online multi-player games, who MMO developers see as a potential goldmine. I’m not sure any of these three groups has all that much understanding of or empathy for any of the others.

    H1Z1 makes absolutely no sense to me, either. I wouldn’t want to play a FFA PVP game in which not only could I lose all my stuff but while I was asleep someone could burn down the house I’d spent fifty hours building. But I’m a bookseller in my mid-50s. I am in no conceivable way the person whoever developed this game had in mind when they came up with it. It really doesn’t matter what I think.

    I’m guessing from the massive global popularity of all things zombie and the considerable interest in survival-mode gaming that a demographic for H1Z1 may well exist. I’d guess it would largely comprise males from 12 to 25 with a lot of anger management issues but god knows that’s always been a deep well to dip. I don’t think, therefore, that the premise and set-up are entirely unreasonable.

    The main issue would seem to be timing. Have SOE left it too late to jump this particular bandwagon or are they safe in thinking it has a year or three left to roll? Either way, by slipping it out on Steam while it’s half-done and getting customers to fund the remaining development certainly minimizes the financial risk.

    • I agree that they are definitely appealing to a different market than you or I, but I still take umbrage with a “build a base in the world!” and “burn other people’s bases while they’re sleeping!” design. Maybe there are details we don’t know yet, like some sort of log-off immunity (that will surely be abused) or something. As it stands, it feels… inelegant at best. And I think contradictory design goals are worthy of criticism regardless of whether a given game is being marketed to oneself.

      As for whether it missed the boat, I think it definitely has a shot at some form of popularity if it at all is as quirky as Rust. The meteoric rise of Twitch streamers pretty much ensures a minimum level of success to most sandbox games, especially when there is multiplayer involved. Kotaku pretty much had weekly DayZ stories all of last year.