Good news for DayZ fans. The lead developer of the project, Dean “Rocket” Hall, has just tweeted that for the first time, the tests server had 50 players simultaneously playing at the same time. The actual reported number was 52 players at peak levels.
For the first time, we broke 50 players on a single DayZ game server. Great day for us all here #DayZDaily
— Dean Hall (@rocket2guns) December 3, 2013
This news comes as a breath of fresh air for fans of DayZ, fans that have been waiting for the release of the standalone game for almost a year now.
For those of you that are unaware of what DayZ is all about, let’s recap. DayZ started out as a mod for the highly controversial Arma 2 game. DayZ sets the players in a post-apocalyptic zombie infested world, where your only concern is survival. You spawn in a random location on the shores of Chernarus, a fictional map in an East-European setting (well, let’s be honest, it reminds us of communist Russia). You have little in terms of items, the only things you’re starting with being a bandage, a flashlight and some painkillers. From there, you’re given the freedom to do whatever you want and go wherever you want. The thing is, everywhere you look, there are either zombies trying to eat you alive, or armed players trying to murder you and rob you of whatever you’ve managed to gather. You need to eat, drink, and survive. If you die, it’s game over. You’re starting over. There’s no saving your game or leveling up. The entire progress you make is the amount and quality of gear you manage to amass, and the duration of each of your lives before you eventually meet a very painful end.
With such an original concept, and a map that literally stretches for kilometers in every direction you face, it’s no surprise the mod was a huge success and brought in a lot of fans that haven’t even considered playing Arma 2 before. Dean Hall, the developer of the mod, quickly understood the potential his idea has, but also faced various difficulties in improving the mod because of the limitations of the Arma 2 engine, and began working on a standalone version for the game (think of this process in the lines of what happened to Counter-Strike, a game that started out as a mod and evolved into the standalone game we all know today).
At first, the standalone project was aimed at a late 2012 or early 2013 release, but the magnitude of improvements to be made saw the release date pushed back time after time again. To this date, we still don’t know when we can expect DayZ standalone to be released, but, seeing that huge progress is being done, we’re hoping the wait will be worth it.
A few weeks back, Rocket released a several minute long gameplay footage, showing some of the changes that went into the game. We know that a lot of work has gone into improving zombie pathfinding, making more buildings accessible, and rebuilding the inventory and loot finding systems from scratch. Take a look at the video below:
[embedvideo id=”2aRJhG2TwR0″ website=”youtube”]
Yes, the axe-hitting animation looks cloggy, zombies are still buggy in terms of pathfinding, and loot is floating in the air. But, we can’t deny that progress has been made. And, since the release of the video, Rocket has tweeted that the floating loot issue has been resolved. So no, you don’t have to grow wings in order to pick up items anymore.
Now, returning to the news at hand, today’s tweet gives us real hope. DayZ is only fun if there’s activity on the servers, and Rocket has stated that in time, the standalone will be able to handle well over 50 players constantly, per server.
If you’re asking yourself what the big deal is (because yes, in the mod, there are servers with up to 75 players playing at the same time), let’s make it clear for you. The huge challenge came from the fact that the devs have redesigned how zombies and items work on the server. In the mod, up until now, zombies are spawned client-side, which means huge decreases in performance (your CPU has to calculate pathfinding for hundreds of zombies at a time), and which also means that you can easily tell where players are on the map based on where zombies are spawned. In the standalone, zombies and items will be spawned and hosted by the server, not individual clients, which makes server stability a new issue. But, seeing as they are making progress and the servers are now capable of handling over 50 players, we’re very optimistic about the outcome. Expect much better framerates in the standalone. And while we’re on that subject, another important aspect to consider is that the standalone will use an updated version of the game engine, sort of like a mixture between the old Arma 2 engine and the newer Arma 3 engine. Fans refer to this as the Arma 2.5 version. Visuals are better, and performance is supposedly better.
In conclusion, Rocket’s tweet today shows that the game has the potential for an Alpha release soon. We’re not giving dates, and Rocket sure isn’t promising anything anymore either. But, given the fact that a 50-man server is now stable, and most of the groundwork has been completed, we can look forward to some zombie hunting soon enough. When released, the game will most likely be available on Steam, for under $20.