Dean ‘Rocket’ Hall will have left Bohemia and the game that made his name behind by the end of this year. He’ll move back home to New Zealand to start a new multiplayer studio, and DayZ – which Nick thinks everyone should play in his DayZ review – will continue on in the capable hands of the team he’s built at Bohemia.
“I am a grenade,” he explained, unhelpfully.
“I am a grenade,” he told Eurogamer from the DayZ office in central Prague. “I have a specific use. I’m really good at risk-taking and making other people take risks, I’ve always been good at that in my life. Like you say, maybe I’ve got the gift of the gab, so I can talk, I can explain something, I can talk people up to the ledge and get them to jump off it.”
That risk-enabling role is what Hall offered to DayZ, both as a mod and as a standalone game. But eventually, he says, the risk-taker – the grenade – is a “bad person to have” in charge.
“Eventually, you don’t want the guy telling you to go over the top and get through. So at some point I’ll be a disaster for the project, at least in a leadership role.”
Hall further pointed out that Bohemia and Prague were never intended to be his home. He’d planned to stay at the studio for a few months, not two years – and still feels like he’s “cooking in someone else’s kitchen”.
“I don’t want to be constantly telling Bohemia that this is how I do it and this is the way we do it,” said Hall.
“Originally I wasn’t going to do this year, but it would be stupid not to, and it would be unfair to the community. I have to be on the project as long as it’s important to,” he went on. “Whether that role is as the leader, whether that role is in a more creative sense… But at a certain point there will be diminishing returns.”
Hall’s willing to stay a little longer than planned, “as long as Bohemia wanted – needed – me”. But in 2015, he’ll be in New Zealand, at the head of a new multiplayer-focused studio. He has three new game ideas written already, with a further two in a slightly scrappier state.
Hall remains “fascinated” by multiplayer games, and “very interested” in survival concepts – many of his ideas have “similar DNA” to DayZ. But he thinks DayZ is a “fundamentally flawed concept”.
“I’ve always recognised that,” he said. “It’s not the perfect game; it’s not the multiplayer experience, and it never can be, [with] the absolute spark that I want in it.”
Setting up the new studio will take “years”, and so he’ll “start it cooking” remotely now. But until the year is up, Dean Hall will remain the DayZ man.
“The thing is, if I’m involved in the project, I’ll be fighting anybody on the project to make sure it’s good, so for the rest of the year, I’m there,” he said.
“And I don’t just sit around; it doesn’t matter if I’m the cleaner or the leader or whatever, I will be making sure – I will be in Marek’s [Spanel, Bohemia CEO] office yelling at him. I’m notorious for it.”
Questions remain. Will DayZ’s alpha – which hit 1.5 million sales over the weekend – reach nominally ‘finished’ state before Hall leaves? And ought we begin calling him Dean ‘Grenade’ Hall now? What do you lot make of this?