Sign up FAST! Login

How a Near-Death Experience in the Jungle Inspired a Blockbuster Zombie Game

He visualized a new kind of game, one in which there were no missions, no objectives, and no ability to simply be respawn when killed. You had one life, and if you lost it, you lost everything.

Day Z

Eventually he hit on the idea to replace Arma‘s terrorists with zombies, but the undead would actually be the least of a player’s concerns. Hall was designing the game as a social experiment: Every time a player logged in, they’d be pitted against other players also hunting for supplies. Players would compete for limited food, water, and weaponry, and their anxiety would make them more deadly than the brain-eaters. The gameplay re-created his feeling of isolation in the jungle, surrounded by dozens of starving strangers, any of whom might be plotting to steal his meager supplies just as he was plotting to steal theirs. Hall wanted the possibility of dying and losing everything to drive players to kill other survivors in order to steal their rations. He would call the game Day Z, a twist on D-Day.

But days later Buchta loaded Day Z to check it out. The game placed him near an old warehouse. He had a baseball cap and not much else. He quickly found an old handgun with no bullets. There were zombies in the distance and the threat of other players killing him for his gun. The scenery was just like Arma 2, but everything seemed different. “I felt really naked,” he says. Most first-person shooters equip newbies with guns and enough ammo to survive a sustained firefight. Now Buchta was scrounging for bullets and counting them carefully. “I’m a professional game developer, but I was immediately scared and tense,” he says. “Games don’t usually work like that on me.”

Stashed in: Zombies!

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:

That careful management of inventory resonates as an interesting form of gameplay.

You May Also Like: