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DayZ promising motion-captured dysentery and other gaming firsts


Bohemia’s Matt Lightfoot is telling me about infectious diseases that you can catch in DayZ.

“If you drink polluted water, you could get something as mild as a cold, or something as serious as cholera or dysentery, and you’ll have a bad day. Because dysentery will kill you very quickly unless you either have medicine or lots of access to clean water. If you don’t, or if you drink even more dirty water, you’ll make it worse.”

“Wait wait wait,” says I. “Dysentery comes with a rather notable symptom. Is that going to be in the game?”

He grins, “What we want to have is animations. We motion-captured that animations already. That was a fairly fun day.” 

The commercial release of DayZ promises to be so much more than just a standalone version of the mod, at this point. Name something, anything that could arise while trying to survive a zombie apocalypse in the wilderness, and the chances are it’s either in the game, is planned for the game, or is at least on a wishlist to put into the game somewhere down the road. It’s a dream project for the DayZ team, seemingly driven by a series of, “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?” thought experiments.


The diseases are one of the most interesting wrinkles. Not only is the world of DayZ going to rife with the potential for illness, but the illnesses themselves present at different times. The “latency period” between the contraction of an ailment and when it will present recognizable symptoms can be quite high. That gives players time to travel with others, do transfusions, and generally help spread even more pestilence around DayZ.

“For example, I hatchet Chris, and he’s got hepatitis over there,” Lightfoot explains. “I then hit you with that axe. There’s now a chance you have hepatitis.”

There is a morbid level of detail that will be available to Bohemia. They can seed diseases into the world and track who gets infected, and then watch the spread as the player travels around the world and changes servers. “We can get this intricate map of infection. You ever seen Contagion?” Lightfoot starts laughing. “Like that!”

They’re also working on creating sophisticated in-game radios. Right now there are simple two-way radios and one-way receivers, but Lightfoot explains that eventually players will be able to acquire and use encrypted radios. Two-way radios can be used to create a private chat channel on a single frequency between groups of players, but they’re vulnerable to having other players eavesdrop simply by dialing in the correct frequency. They also have limited range, and as a group gets spread out, they may lose contact with each other.


Perhaps even more interesting, however, is the “community radio” that Lightfoot suggests will be in the game. DayZ may end up featuring several radio stations run by members of the community, doing their own programming and entertainment. There will be a few rules they will have to follow, ensuring that content is both in-character and appropriate, but Lightfoot envisions players listening to something like Fallout’s radio stations.

The wishlist is miles long at this point. Players will be able to construct their own bases to stash their gear and help defend themselves, although each base will have to be a separate instance underground, otherwise DayZ would be covered with forts in no time.

Eventually, as Lightfoot finishes explaining the full-length books players will be able to find and read in the game, I start to wonder whether they aren’t setting themselves an impossible task. DayZ is trying to have it all, and it sounds like the team are constantly working on complicated new systems in the name of fun and realism.

But that approach made DayZ a huge success, Lightfoot explains. “We’re doing this because we love it. We regularly work until nine at night and weekends because we enjoy it. We’re like school-children, and now we can see the game! We get carried away.”