DayZ and the mastery problem

Disclaimer: It should be noted that these are my personal musings and reflections, and do not reflect the official stance on design for any project I am associated with, nor the official position of my employer. So last time I wrote I started to poke into the core game loop of DayZ, and some of the implications when looked at things through a more traditional game design perspective. One of the things we ended up touching on very briefly was the mastery problem. Now, while obviously there is a direct connection to the economy of DayZ and mastery – there are larger points here. Some of the oldest design struggles DayZ has had since the mod days were directly related to experienced players who “mastered” the progression path and essentially ran up against an issue with agency. As I had mentioned earlier, player to player interaction (of any degree honestly) is the great motivator – the main attraction when dealing with open world gameplay that leans heavily toward supporting emergent gameplay. The original economy within DayZ mod was significantly smaller in scope. While the world size was effectively the same, the majority of the space was more or less unused/open/dead...Read more

DayZ and the core gameplay loop

Disclaimer: It should be noted that these are my personal musings and reflections, and do not reflect the official stance on design for any project I am associated with, nor the official position of my employer. Over the last week or so I’ve been re-reading through one of my favorite books on game design (A Theory of Fun for Game Design by Raph Koster) and thinking over how DayZ as a game looks through the lens of the systems and lessons within it. For a book written well over ten years ago, it still holds up incredibly well when applied to the modern video game industry, a testament to how spot on Raph was with a lot of his musings within. There are several areas of DayZ as a whole I’d like to cover – but initially I’d like to take a look at how the core game loop for DayZ is both brilliant, and in some cases very lazy. (Yes, I said it – but you’ll understand why later on) DayZ’s core gameplay loop is pretty simple straight out of the box – it is effectively unchanged from the DayZ Mod, or the launch of the Early Access build...Read more