We had the chance to sit in on a press roundtable with H1Z1 Senior Designer Jimmy Whisenhunt, who fielded questions about SOE’s post-apocalyptic zombie survival extravaganza. For fans starving for information, it helped to fill our food meter a bit, even if some of the answers were a little… unsavory.

First steps. In his initial “in case you’re new” description of the game, Whisenhunt talked about the escalating need to find first food, then shelter for the night, build a campfire, and then deal with other players. That’s hardly a revelation, but the way and the order in which he described things had me thinking a little more Minecraft or Don’t Starve than DayZ.

Creation and destruction. You’ll be able to craft some basic weapons, like axes and bows, as well as your own buildings and barricades. User-created structures can be destroyed by other players and environmental hazards, like zombies and (“Hypothetically,” Whisenhunt said) natural disasters like (hypothetically!) earthquakes. While there is no real progression in terms of skills between lives, you will “remember” crafting recipes that you discover from character to character.

AI. The game’s emergent AI for zombies and animals, while not as vibrant and complex as what’s expected for EverQuest Next, will still make your life difficult. “If you close the door on [a zombie], it will find another path very quickly. It will run around to the back door.”

Player servers. As John Smedley confirmed a while back, players will be able to rent their own private servers and implement their own rules sets. For instance, to make zombies easier or less of a threat, you might give them 50% of their base HP; to make them more menacing, you could double their movement speed. Another monetization option could include game modes, such as offering two-hour “last man standing” deathmatch arenas. (Edit/clarification: These will be in addition to “normal” central MMO-style servers run by SOE.)

Weapons and combat. Whisenhunt said there are 13 weapons (melee and ranged) in the game right now. Melee weapons will use a timing-based system where there will be an “optimal time” for each swing. For guns, he specifically mentioned .308 hunting rifles, 1911 .45 pistols, and AR-15 semi-automatic rifles as examples of the sort of things that will be added as the game continues development. Weapons will have limited durability and occasionally require repair or, if broken, replacement. (A previous version of this point said there were 13 melee weapons alone.)

Vehicles. The only vehicle specifically mentioned was the all-purpose off-roader seen in the video streams so far. They don’t want to overdo it at the start, and will see how many and what kind of vehicles people want going forward.

Group play. Similarly, grouping/party mechanics are not currently in the game, though the devs could “flip a switch” and make it happen. It’s another “wait and see what the players want” kind of feature.

Players as zombies. Reanimated player corpses are a distinct possibility, as might be the option of playing as a zombie.

“It’s made of people!” Cannibalism is something they could implement, but it’s a question of should they? As a side note, the subject was broached in the office by someone Whisenhunt described as “one of the sweetest people ever.” Good, that means I won’t need to add sugar…

Story. There is a backstory to the world, but it’ll be told in a “more passive” way. “You’re not going to run around and find journals everywhere, but you will see tokens of the world’s past.” The design staff are big fans of the old History Channel show, Life After People, which told the “stories” of famous structures and monuments and how they would decay after people vanished from the planet.

Player spawns. DayZ has fully random spawns, where friends might wind up on opposite sides of the map, while a game like PlanetSide 2 lets you spawn right on top of other (friendly) players. Whisenhunt said they’re tracking statistics and exploring the possibility of some kind of middle ground between those two extremes. “We look at how long a player runs and we can get a good idea of what they’re doing… and we really want to study, why are they running in that direction? And usually it’s to find a friend!” He said they’re looking at possibly spawning within a radius of a friend – far enough so as to “have a story” to tell once they’ve hooked up, but not so far as to create too much frustration.

Loot spawns. There’s a procedural loot system that Whisenhunt said will ensure that, while loot is more likely to spawn in certain locations, like guns in a military building, each individual location will have a “loot cap.” So, if the game is told to spawn loot somewhere, and that location is already “capped,” it’ll spawn somewhere else. In short, you won’t want to just skip buildings because you “know” nothing useful spawns there.

Proximity chat. The louder you talk, the farther your voice “carries” in-game. Neat.

Hackers. Whisenhunt cited the progress SOE’s made on PlanetSide 2 as an example of how far they’ve come at stopping cheaters in their games, especially free-to-play first-person shooters, which are about as hacker-saturated as any gaming environment.

Early access is still about three to four weeks away. Are you ready to face the apocalypse?

By Jason Winter

Michael Dunaway has been part of the MMOBomb team for years and has covered practically every major Free-to-Play title since 2009. In addition to contributing First Look videos and news articles, Michael also serves as the Community Manager for the upcoming MMORPG, Skyforge.

20 COMMENTS

      • You mean this was the info you misheard and completely misintrepreted. The best thing for you to do is take this article down and go check your info. Otherwise this site will be a total laughing stock.

        • Tell me what’s incorrect, and I’ll go back and listen to my recording. There was some confusion on the melee weapon info, which SOE pointed out to me and I corrected. Other than that, they haven’t informed me of anything that’s wrong.

          • This site is one of the least known MMO media sites. He probably didnt give a shit about it and was simply too polite to tell you.

            How do i know this? because in other media interviews he gives different information than to you, yet his answers are the same with the others.

          • For some reason, can’t reply to your post. So…

            I was on the call with representatives from MMORPG.com, Massively, and TenTonHammer. We all asked questions and they answered them for all of us to hear. I asked about four or five, only a few of what’s answered in the article. If they were lying to me, they were lying to everyone.

            Again, tell me exactly what’s wrong. If you can’t do that, then you’re just spouting nonsense with nothing at all to back it up. Nice try, troll.

  1. I am looking forward to this game…
    I love apocolypse involving games 🙂
    The walking dead from telltale games was great
    I think that this will be even better 🙂

  2. I see nothing but an attempt to hop on the “get ripped of aka War Z” train.
    I expected, atleast…. A permanent world like planetside instead of self-bought servers

    • I think he totally misunderstood how servers are going to work. The word from SOE president himself, John Smedley, is that SOE will run the servers and everyone who plays 5 hours or more will get a token. You will vote on server rule sets you would like to see and they will make the server if it gets enough votes.

      You can also buy a 2nd token, but you will not be able to vote more than twice a year. If the server you vote for is selected as a winner you get a refund, though not sure if that was the token or the station cash to buy the token.

      • Yeah, sorry if that’s confusing. There will be standard servers run by SOE, like any MMO, but players will also be able to “rent” their own servers with their own rule sets. I didn’t include that first bit of info because I thought it was already well-known. Apparently not 😛

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