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07/29/12 - Sunday: "DayZ - Zombie Simulator Walking Game Thing"

DayZ is a sandbox zombie survival simulator. I mean game. I mean, it's been called an "anti-game". What does that even mean? In any case, it's a mod currently in alpha for the game ARMA 2, which is a somewhat realistic military simulator. You're not alone if you haven't heard of ARMA II before, it was released in 2009 with little fanfare. I say this mainly because I tend to keep up with video game news and didn't hear anything about it until DayZ rose in popularity, amazingly bringing ARMA 2 to the forefront of the Steam store in 2012.

In DayZ you play as a survivor in the zombie apocalypse that is taking place in Chernarus, a fictional landscape resembling a real landscape in eastern Europe, the Czech Republic, or some other place like Russia. Who cares. The point is, you are a survivor who starts out with only very minimal gear and you have to scavenge for items like food, drinks, medical supplies, and even guns, if you want to survive - that being the only real "goal" that is assumed for the game. Of course, the abundance of zombies and bloodthirsty or paranoid players mean this isn't particularly easy.

When your character (or "avatar") dies in this game, your character loses all their items and gear and starts all over back on the beach - the place where all new player characters start. Because your gear (and sometimes location) are about all that define your character, this is sometimes called "permadeath" of the character. Having such harsh consequences for your character's death has also been described as "hardcore" gameplay or "hardcore" mode.

The game is still in alpha, and has it's share of bugs, including slow loading times, glitching through walls, the occasional warp from server lag, ladder glitches that send you falling to your demise, doors that smash you to death, zombies that rubberband around to the point you can barely aim to shoot them, and even has some problems with hackers. But it still somehow manages to be fun a good part of the time. That is, the part of the time where you are actually doing something in the game other than walking, which currently makes up a substantial part of the game, since apparently most vehicles either wore out, were severely damaged, or were destroyed when the zombies took over, and the map is quite large and good loot spawns aren't common.

What makes DayZ tick is a central DayZ server that handles changes across all the community servers that have been authorized to run DayZ by the mod's creator. This allows your character to "persist" across servers they join, keeping all the same items and in most cases the same location on the game map, which makes it work very similarly to an MMORPG with multiple servers.

I found some YouTube videos that you may be interested in checking out if this game sounds like your cup of tea:

YouTube: Days After Infection - Day 1 - The Introduction (DayZ gameplay) - Part of a series of videos. (Day 1, 2, 3, etc.)

YouTube: ArmA 2 Dayz- Scariest Moment - I recommend start watching this one at 4 minutes and 10 seconds for best effect.

YouTube: DayZ Beginners guide - Learning the basics - Orientation video for beginners.