Day Z | The Game That Defines Will

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Audio

 

The Games That Define Us features carefully chosen music and remixes from the franchise of the game represented. Music is a key component of sharing the emotions one feels about a game, so we hope you will press the play button if you’re in a position to do so. 

introduction

Just a brief summary if this is your first time here: This collaboration is a 34-day long adventure through video games. Each piece is its own unique audiovisual experience, complete with artwork, designs, music, and (most importantly) amazing works of prose by brilliant bloggers around the world. This adventure will take you through nostalgia, joy, ambition, self-discovery, regret, anxiety, frustration, mourning, and every human experience in between. Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.

The zombies. They’re back.

You know what else is back? The illustrious double-act of Geek. Sleep. Rinse. Repeat! That’s right, today we’ve got Will from G.S.R.R. covering a surprisingly modern game. It’s a stark contrast to the previous zombie game we covered all the way back on day five.

Will composes some great pieces for G.S.R.R., so if you survive this piece, you should journey over there. Here are some recent favorites:

Also, be sure to check out Murr’s much brighter piece on Pokémon Red and Blue.

We’ve turned down the lights in order to set the mood. The hunt begins, as well as the next chapter of The Games That Define Us!

– Matthew, Normal Happenings

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starring

Dow6Zb8UYAAtKsL

Will @ geeksleeprinserepeat

Twitter: @Will_GSRR

For the adrenaline…

Game: DayZ
System: PC
Release Date: December 16, 2013

1P Start

Since DayZ, survival games have come in droves, some have stuck around but many failed and disappeared, they just couldn’t quite capture that DayZ feeling… I owe that game so much, it has shaped me as a gamer, it is the game that has inspired me to make videos, to write stories about my experiences. I’ve literally made friends for life playing it.

DayZ, just the mere mention of it can spark some very firm views; it’s a game that splits opinions, a game that has been sat in early access for over 4 years. Some say it will never be finished, some say it’s a scam, others claim it to be a unique and incredible experience. Whatever your opinion on it, for me, it completely changed my video game world.

DayZ first existed as a mod to Arma 2; I only played the mod after the standalone version came out back in December 2013. Back then I wasn’t really a PC gamer and only had a laptop that could run a few games that weren’t too taxing on your processor or that didn’t need a super powerful graphics card to run – basically I played Football Manager and that was pretty much it.

Nevertheless, I was excited for the DayZ standalone experience, I wanted to play it and forked out for it on steam when it first released. This was my first ever early access game and my first ‘proper’ video game on a PC in about 10 years. Up to that point I’d been an Xbox owner, all of my serious gaming was done on console. But with the new generation of consoles, my gaming community became fractured. I stayed with Xbox and got the XB1, as did one of my friends, Murr – who I run the site with, picked up a PS4, and our other friend didn’t get anything, slowly but surely our group played together less and less.

But all was not lost, I had another group on the horizon they were PC gamers – one of which was my now brother-in-law. Actually at that point he was the only one I really knew from the group.

So there I was, with my laptop – underpowered though it was, and booted up DayZ for the first time. It ran like crap, my laptop could barely handle running it – it sounded like a jet trying to take off whenever I played it, and there was basically no optimisation at all. I was lucky to get 20fps on it, but I still persisted and I’m glad I did.

One of my very first sessions playing has stuck with forever. I’d spent some time searching around Electro – one of the bigger cities on the coast, and had a decent bit of loot which included a revolver in my backpack. I was making my way to try and meet up with a friend when I was held up by this kid – he must have been about 13. He was trying to make me do this quiz in order to keep my life – kind of like in Monty Python when they’re crossing the bridge. Anyway, he turned his back on me and I was able to quickly equip the revolver from my backpack and kill him before he could kill me – he was always going to shoot me, I’m not dumb.

It was only a brief encounter, but it was my first one that I’d ever had in an open world online game, it was an encounter that was unscripted with a stranger. This was something that I’d never experienced before; my heart was racing because I didn’t know how it would play out. I knew there was a good chance I would die and that I would need to choose my moment to strike perfectly. After it was over, the adrenaline was running through me, I was excited and actually glad that I was alive.

This encounter set a precedent and every time I was playing DayZ things like this would happen often – totally unique and unscripted moments that you just couldn’t really get anywhere else. Remember that up to this point I had either been playing single player games, co-op games, or multiplayer shooter games like Halo, Gears, and Battlefield. In my eyes there had never been anything like DayZ before, nothing that offered this freedom, the potential to meet all these random people with totally unpredictable outcomes.

Over the next few months I played DayZ more and more, eventually to the point where I decided I needed an upgrade in my rig. So I forked out for a new PC powerful enough to run most games.

By this point I also now had 3-4 other people to play DayZ with and we would regularly group together for adventures. During our time playing we had firefights across airfields, made friends with survivors, betrayed other survivors, got betrayed by survivors, saved people, stole vehicles, crashed vehicles, died climbing ladders, lost hours’ worth of loot in the blink of an eye, ‘assaulted’ a place called Green Mountain only for it to end in a massacre. It was incredible and an unparalleled experience.

Before seriously getting in to PC gaming, I played a lot of single player games, I was able to sit down for hours upon hours and plow my way through huge expansive RPG’s, spending tens upon tens of hours exploring every inch of what they had to offer. Nowadays I can barely complete a game that has a campaign of around 10 hours. I just lose interest with so many games now. I have a burning desire to play co-op or online, to play these sandbox style survival games where ‘anything’ is possible. Spending almost 30 hours on Rust one weekend was a joy because it was an experience that only my friends and I had.

Writing my DayZ diaries series on my blog was such a fun experience that again, no one else will ever have. That is what has stuck with me all these years, so many unique and memorable moments with my friends that you just can’t get playing games like Call of Duty or similar.

But it’s not just my experiences that I’ve loved, I’ve also loved watching and hearing about others playing the game, I closely followed a number of YouTubers through their adventures in the game seeing what they would get up to and who they would meet.

Since DayZ, survival games have come in droves, some have stuck around but many failed and disappeared, they just couldn’t quite capture that DayZ feeling. Sure it ran like crap, and has been stuck in development hell for years, but I owe that game so much, it has shaped me as a gamer, it is the game that has inspired me to make videos, to write stories about my experiences. I’ve literally made friends for life playing it.

The experiences I’ve had in that game are unique to the people playing at that moment in time and that’s what makes it so special for me, not knowing what’s going to happen when you next log on to play.

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WordPress Reader viewers, please consider enjoying this post again on the site. While we designed with you in mind, you miss some of the nuances of the piece by not enjoying it in its original form.

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This collaboration took an overwhelming amount of time and dedication from 34 exceptionally creative, incredible makers! Help us with the resources to make more, even better, collaborations in the future! We also have aspirations of developing a podcast called Normal Talks about optimistically appreciating everyday life! Please consider becoming a patron of Normal Happenings and help us try to make the world a better, more positive place!
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Zombies Ate My Neighbors | The Game That Defines 3PStart

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introduction

Welcome to day five of The Games That Define Us! You’re in for a treat this week, as we’ve got some absolute beasts in the writing realms presenting some outstanding contributions.

Just a brief summary if this is your first time here: This collaboration is a 34-day long adventure through video games. Each piece is its own unique audiovisual experience, complete with artwork, designs, music, and (most importantly) amazing works of prose by brilliant bloggers around the world. This adventure will take you through nostalgia, joy, ambition, self-discovery, regret, anxiety, frustration, mourning, and every human experience in between. Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.

And the award for most fun to design goes to… this one! At least for now. What is it about quirky zombie books, films, and video games that can always be counted on to capture our collective imaginations?

Today we’re joined by The3rdPlayer from 3PStart for a very surprising pick: Zombies Ate My Neighbors. I remember playing this 16-bit cult classic a while back, and it just oozes with quirky undead charm.

Here are a couple of 3PStart pieces you should absolutely pick up after finishing here. Also, kudos to those awesome blog post titles:

All right, enough from me. We hope your braaaaaain enjoys this chapter of The Games The Define Us!

– Matthew, Normal Happenings

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Audio

Well, at least we managed to work in one Zombies Ate Me Neighbors remix into the playlist. After that things began to get a little crazy.

 

 

The Games That Define Us features carefully chosen music and remixes from the franchise of the game represented. Music is a key component of sharing the emotions one feels about a game, so we hope you will press the play button if you’re in a position to do so. 

starring

DmRZQAuU8AANmR1

The3rdPlayer3PStart

Twitter: @the3rdplayer

For the neighbors!

Game: Zombies Ate My Neighbors
System: Sega Genesis
Release Date: July 19, 1993

3pstart

Zombies Ate My Neighbors is satisfying candy. It’s a game that I can pop in to start the distraction that will lead to me feeling better. While it’s a fantastic game, there is no story to speak of that will snap me back to reality.

It would be an understatement to say that the early 1990s forged my pop culture tastes. I was preoccupied with horror movies and finding the next great game to play. When I came across Zombies Ate My Neighbors at the tender young age of 10, I only knew two things — the cover looked like a cheesy black-and-white horror flick and the back sounded goofy and entertaining. After convincing my mother to buy it for me, I went home and popped the game into my Genesis, eyes wide and white knuckles on my controller.  

Needless to say, my mind was blown.

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Around this time in my adolescence, I was still playing at games in the backyard over at my best friend’s house. If we were playing a game that would normally involve guns, it was Super Soakers or Nerf guns in lieu of the real thing. Shields were inner tubes or plastic garbage can lids. If we were using magic or superpowers, we found a dodgeball or something less damaging than rocks to lob at one another as spells. While 1993 was the time when reality was setting in inch-by-inch during our hangouts, we still incorporated things like squirt guns and other props into our more frivolous moments.

Zombies Ate My Neighbors is a crucial element and persistent reminder of those definitive times for a number of reasons. In a very straightforward way, it was a go-to game for me whenever I had someone to play it with. Whether it was my best friend or my mother, it was a bonding experience laced with the frustrations and joys of cooperative gaming. Growing up as an only child, it was one of the first games I really played with friends rather than alternating one controller, spawning my love for couch co-op and eventually online gaming with friends. There’s so much more to how this game really defines me, though.

I’ve told a few folks, if they want to get to know me as a gamer and a person, play Zombies Ate My Neighbors. Plenty of gamers have a specific game or two that they resonate with; it truly feels like the game was made for them. It reminds me of a prominent concept that people talk about with music — if you listen to their favorite song, you’ll understand them better. This game — from the case, to the manual, to the actual game experience — has always felt like my game in that sense. Heck, growing up, I’ve spent two Halloweens as Zeke from both the original game and the sometimes maligned sequel, Ghoul Patrol.

Above everything else, the game is quirky and doesn’t take itself too seriously. The only real direction that you get outside of the instructions comes in the form of level introductions, all of which are some play on pop culture from all over entertainment history. Fighting giant babies, tourists-turned-werewolves, and chainsaw wielding stalkers with soda can grenades and silverware felt reminiscent of movies like Monster Squad and The Goonies where kids had adventures full of danger and resourceful solutions. While there was the fear of Game Over screens, the horror always felt light and tongue-in-cheek. Rather than the game feeling like it was punishing me, I felt like it was there to entertain and challenge me. Much like the films I mentioned, it also gave me the desire to go outside and be active — in between gaming sessions, of course.

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I also learned how important having interesting game design is. At the base of everything, you’re doing the same thing over and over again. The undeniable allure for me comes from the touches that are so easily overlooked. I still remember finding all kinds of secret passages in the pyramid levels and tripping across the secret lair of the questionably named Dr. Tongue in a solid nod to Frankenstein’s monster. I remember getting lost in the hedge mazes strewn throughout a couple of levels, but never being so frustrated that I gave up trying to navigate them. Even the scope of the levels felt different with neighborhoods always feeling like sprawling fields compared to office buildings and cave systems that appropriately felt claustrophobic and a little tougher to navigate but easier to strategize around. Among plenty of other examples, these pushed my interest in game design and intention. Each level just feels custom-made to give a great experience, once again prioritizing my experience as a player rather than a need to pad out the game to justify a price tag. The construction of these levels and small touches cultivated my opinions on what makes a great game so great.

On the deeper personal side of things, Zombies Ate My Neighbors has always been my failproof mental health enhancer. As a huge fan of RPGs growing up, I have plenty of games to go back to for that warm and familiar feeling that bring me back into the positives when my mood is low. Those games, though, have beautiful stories with conflict, self-discovery, and grandiose adventure. They also tend to bring up reminders of the issues that have gotten me into the negative place I’m in, so there can be fluctuation as to whether they can be a positive influence on me as the experience goes on. During a the few devastating events in my life involving relationships and family, I could only get so much mileage out of returning to games I love like Final Fantasy VI and Secret of Mana.

Zombies is satisfying candy in this sense. It’s a game that I can pop in to start the distraction that will lead to me feeling better. While it’s a fantastic game, there is no story to speak of that will snap me back to reality. Levels are short so there is always some sense of achievement and the game really is just goofy fun laced with exploration and reflexive interaction. There are more than a handful of specific memories that I have of racing around as a teenager, straining to make sure I took all of the right precautions to swoop in a retrieve that last cheerleader before some axe-throwing killer doll could, all while I felt like my life was coming down around me half an hour before.

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Like me, this game is nostalgic, quirky, full of esoteric trivia and references, and just a little bit long-winded. Much like an important part of my own philosophies, it also feels like, despite its difficulty, it wants everyone involved to have a good time; developers, programmers, designers, and most importantly, the players. LucasArts has always felt that way, as anyone who has played Maniac Mansion, Day of the Tentacle or any of the Monkey Island titles can tell you. The fact that this game is my go-to for hard times is completely incidental, but I’m glad it has been. Zombies Ate My Neighbors suits me and my tastes to a near-perfect T from the humor to the references and everything else that it has to offer.

adventure map


WordPress Reader viewers, please consider enjoying this post again on the site. While we designed with you in mind, you miss some of the nuances of the piece by not enjoying it in its original form. 

patreon

This collaboration took an overwhelming amount of time and dedication from 34 exceptionally creative, incredible makers! Help us with the resources to make more, even better, collaborations in the future! We also have aspirations of developing a podcast called Normal Talks about optimistically appreciating everyday life! Please consider becoming a patron of Normal Happenings and help us try to make the world a better, more positive place!
become_a_patron_button

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