DayZ has become one of the Shacknews community's favorite games, with a dedicated server for community members to set up shop and go on raids around nearby towns. After months of playing through the game, however, at least one Shacker has found the game a little too forgiving. Sure, there are brain-eating zombies running all over the place, but there are just too many ways to dispatch the ambling undead.
Erich Geiger (aka BeowolfSchaefer in Shacknews circles) is a part of a team that's working on DayZ 2017, a mod designed to take DayZ to its logical next step. Fast-forwarding to the year 2017, zombies continue to roam the earth and the human population is quickly running out of defenses. "The core idea is that the events of DayZ took place five years ago and the world has moved on, so to speak," explains Geiger. "Remaining resources have largely been scavenged, exhausted or lost and mere survival has become even more of a challenge."
Geiger is a recent addition to the team, working primarily on balancing. The project is led by modder Luke "shinkicker" Hinds, who most recently adapted the Celle map for DayZ. "He uses a combination of Blender and Oxygen 2 to do his modeling," Geiger added. "In general, Arma is an extremely moddable platform, which is one of the main reasons the original DayZ was developed for it."
Aside from ammo availability, Geiger indicates that players will notice a visual difference between DayZ 2017 and its predecessor. "The new player models will have a more ragged appearance, as will the remaining vehicles," he said. "Stories like The Road and Book of Eli are particular influences for Luke and this shows in the models."
Killing zombies in DayZ was a tall task before, with the game's realistic take on combat. Geiger points out that the actual practice of engaging zombies remains unchanged in DayZ 2017, but players will need to exercise new strategies before doing so. "Higher end weapons have generally been more important in PVP scenarios in Day Z," he explains. "However, we hope that limitations on food and medical supplies will make recovery from zombie attacks more difficult and encourage players to be more cautious about when and how to engage them."
Of course, a world completely devoid of ammunition is hard to swallow. I asked Geiger about the chances of hidden caches or undiscovered military ammo dumps being placed in remote parts of the world. Geiger answered that there may be a surprise or two, but the team is dead serious about limiting weapons for absolutely everyone. "A bonus to our approach is that when an item is removed from a mod, hackers (which have been a problem in Day Z) no longer have access to it, either," he added. "So we gain an extra element of security that happens to fit the narrative."
Player behavior in the original DayZ has varied, depending on the server and on the person. A group of people will band together to try and forage for supplies for their camp. But there are also cutthroat ne'er-do-wells out solely for themselves, living to backstab others and steal their supplies. Will the sudden depletion of supplies lead to a greater sense of cohesiveness? "Our hope is to see more teamwork," Geiger said. "But DayZ has been called a social experiment. We'll just have to see what the results are."
Geiger has been a member of the Shacknews community since 2010. He joined in 2010 as a part of the Minecraft community and has stuck around ever since. He's also the admin of the site's DayZ server, which is kept running by Shacker donations.
Those looking to venture into the future of DayZ will be able to try out DayZ 2017 very soon. In fact, Geiger says the new mod is on track for open testing within the next week. The final version will be released shortly thereafter.