Earlier this month, the team working on the DayZ ArmA II mod (not the standalone version) released a patch for the game that introduced a whole slew of new models for cans in the game world. Soda cans, beer cans, beans, you name it.These new can models all had quirky, funny names dedicated to forum moderators and the community absolutely hated it to death.
These new can names were put into the game in an effort to pay homage to the folks who work tireless hours to upkeep the community and message boards, but ultimately a large portion of the community didn't appreciate the gesture.
Threads began sprouting up on popular gaming communities like Reddit and 4chan denouncing the new cans, declaring that they 'ruin the immersion and atmosphere of the game' and that this was nothing short of a grab for glory by the moderators and development team.
At the end of the day, the players' voice was heard and hotfix 18.104.22.168 removed all of the can models that had been introduced just 24 hours prior. The backlash and outpouring of hate was successful, but was it necessary?
In a game like DayZ, immersion in the game world is a crucial factor, that is not up for debate. Losing yourself in Chernarus, creeping through the overgrown foliage trying to avoid the attention of zombies and, more importantly, the eye of ruthless bandits, is what makes DayZ so special. There have been attempts to emulate this feeling that DayZ gives us but, if we're honest, nobody has nailed it down yet.
But was the immersion really 'ruined' by the inclusion of a handful of off-the-wall can names? After all, they're just cans, right?
Keep reading for more on what Dean 'Rocket' Hall is calling The Notorious Can Incident.
Imagine the following scenario, for a moment:
You're creeping through the desolate streets of Cherno, foraging for anything of use while trying to keep away from the prying eyes of bandits and hungry zombies. You sneak past a shambling group of undead, feet padding softly on the street below as you move by, crouched to keep the noise down. Ahead there is a supermarket, known for housing some much-needed perishables.
The door creaks quietly as you enter the market, light spilling off the barren shelves. The place looks to be abandoned, or at least you fervently hope it is. A noise sounds suddenly from the corner of the shop, you creep towards it removing your M1911, bracing yourself for a fight. As you round the corner, the zombie comes into your line of sight. Without hesitation, you lift your sidearm to your shoulder and put three quick rounds into the undead creature before you.
He drops to the ground in a heap of rotting flesh and putrid stench.
That's when you see it. Behind the shiftless corpse at your feet, a wealth of life-giving consumables are strewn about the floor. You rush over, abandoning all pretense of stealth. "This is it!" you think, "the supplies I've been foraging for all night." You're hoping for some beans and maybe a bottle of water or two to quench your thirst and sate your appetite.
You approach the loot, crouch down and pick up a dusty can, turning it over in your hands and inspecting the label. 'Herpy Dooves Canned Muffins' it reads. "What the hell is this?" you think, snatching up another can from the floor. The faded label reads 'mZLY yZLY'. You raise your eyebrows. "What the - what is mZLY yZLY?" you say to yourself, "Can I even drink this?"
That's when it hits you. Herpy Dooves. mZLY. These must be friends of Rocket's, or maybe forum moderators. In that instant, the immersion is gone. You're sitting at your desk, once again, playing a game on your computer in your office. No undead, no threats of banditry.
It's just a game, nothing more.
On the surface, the communities complaints about patch 1.7.6 and the updated can models seems petty. Childish, in fact. Trivial. But when you reflect on the fact that DayZ players have spent countless hours investing themselves into the world of Chernarus, it doesn't seem so trvial after all.
Not many games give you the ability to truly lose yourself in the environment, to forget the woes of daily life and immerse yourself completely in a fictitious game world. To spend time with friends online, foraging for supplies and doing your level best to stay alive in a harsh, desperate world.
DayZ has the power to give this to players and as these can models prove, it has the power to take it away as well.
Authors note: these are just my thoughts. I'd like to hear from you guys, as well. Sound off in the comments below or you can always hit up the forums to discuss the matter further.