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A lot of fans of DayZ seem to have become disgruntled with the progress (or lack of it) as it trudges through the slough known as game development. It's a long, hard road toward the goal of claiming “completion” but Dean “Rocket” Hall and the rest of Bohemia Interactive are still moving forward. Through this process, however, the team has had to assuage the concerns of fans and address the roadmap of the game's current development direction.
Over on the DayZ forums producer Brian Hicks does his best to explain some of the highs and lows of game development, writing...
“You are not playing DayZ, you are playing development builds. Early development builds.
I think the comparison to Bob Ross is spot on. Game development is not something that unfolds in a progressively uniform state. It's not like building a railroad track where each piece is completely in a segment but everything before that segment is operable. In game design you're dealing with asymmetric design principles that sometimes break older features or inhibit the use of new features, or cause problems in some other part of the game's design.
For instance, as DayZ has its core engine upgraded there were some things that broke in the process while trying to improve other aspects of the game. In the long run, the upgrade (s) will allow the team more creative breadth for how the game evolves and grows. However, in the interim, gamers will have to deal with a lot of developmental setbacks and roadblocks that the team will have to overcome.
You can't always plan for the unknown, even when you think you see it coming.
Hicks goes on to say...
“I can promise you none of your favorite AAA games played, or even resembled the final product that early in their cycles. (Okay, maybe some of the larger titles that push small incremental updates out every 12 months - but we all know those are special snowflakes)”
Nice jab at Assassin's Creed and Call of Duty (I'm not hating... I'm just saying).
Hicks offers users some respite from the Early Access phase of DayZ, encouraging some gamers to take a break and comeback, which is kind of funny because original Dean “Rocket” Hall, the lead designer, didn't really want a large amount of gamers involved with the alpha just because he foresaw the inevitable backlash that would happen when a large amount of people would get involved with an unfinished game.
“Take a break, and come back in beta or even the full release. The Early Access period of development will have many peaks and low, low valleys. This is the nature of software development. Yes, it is stressful as heck - for all of us, but you get to be part of shaping the DayZ experience.”
Okay, two things: First, I completely understand what Hicks is saying and I agree. Sometimes you run into problems designing a map, fixing a bug or trying to stomp out a glitch and you'll get stuck there for ages (sometimes even months). It happens. Other times things will progress fast and smoothly (usually on the asset and object creation front), and that's all good and dandy but that's not how it always is when designing a game. So it's understandable that they're dealing with these issues and gamers have to deal with these issues alongside them. It's growing pains.
Second, I also understand the point of view of gamers. There were dates and windows mentioned by Hall – meretriciously said of course – that would get some gamers geeked only to find that the setbacks and delays didn't quite pan out to their expectations or the hype built around the game.
It's a give and take measure, and gamers are getting to peer into the window of the development process with the Early Access phase of some of these titles. I do agree with one poster that if DayZ is less than 33% complete, some kind of percentage of completion or a bar on the Early Access page might help newbies better understand how far along (or how not complete) the game actually is.
Nevertheless, DayZ had sold more than 2 million copies from a report back in May, and is scheduled to arrive on the PS4 first, before eventually arriving on the Xbox One.