Dean Hall is the project lead on DayZ and is, as he puts it, in charge of making sure the original vision of the game remains intact as they continue to add new people to the team and move the game onto a new engine.
He’s also, and again these are his words, "brutally honest" about the state of the game and where things are as they continue work on the project.
"I guess the most fascinating thing for me is some people just get so much playtime out of it," he told Polygon. He has a huge number of hours into the game himself, but the systems just aren’t where he wants them to be. You can play the game on the "stable" servers which provide a smoother experience, or test new features on "experimental" servers. The current stable build doesn't have as much to do as the experimental build.
"I find it very difficult to enjoy the current stable because I just don't think there's enough, not content, but not enough of a hook for me to keep playing. I think the experimental has some really good stuff in it. Like the new fireplaces, some of the new changes there," he continued.
"But I still think, I find it very surprising when I find people saying on Twitter I’m going to stream some DayZ now cause I'm like, really? Surely you must be sick of it," he continued.
You may want to wait a bit
Hall is a happy and confident person when you’re face to face talking about DayZ, but he’s also refreshingly honest about the state of the game. "I just find it very strange with the amount that some people play it and they say how much they enjoy it cause I think that, I don't know, I just think we've still got quite a ways to go," he admitted.
The game is currently available as a $30 Early Access release, and has enjoyed massive success since its release. But Hall doesn’t mind if people want to wait until there is a more fully-featured version of the game on the market before buying. I asked him point blank: If someone comes up to him at E3 and asked if they should buy the game now or wait, what would he tell them?
"I think if you have to ask that question the answer is don't buy it," he said. "I'd been saying a few months ago wait a couple of months, but I think because some of the push we've done for architectural changes has been a lot slower for us to push stuff out to the stable than we wanted. So I think it's still just not at that point. I don't think I would recommend it, no."
That sort of honesty can get them in trouble, but Hall is quick to point out that most developers feel the same way, they just don’t say so in the press.
"So for us our whole strategy is just to be brutally honest."
"I think it's very liberating because a lot of people out there with a lot of games, they say the same stuff we do but they say it internally. They say to themselves ‘oh God I wish our game was better.’ I think the vast majority of people in the industry are not out there to make, it isn't all about making a lot of money. They all like making games," he said.
So why do developers and PR talk up preorders and enthusiasm even if they think the game needs work?
"So when a lot of people are saying you should preorder, they're definitely saying it because they need the resources to continue to make the game and continue to make it better," Hall said. "I guess with us, part of our whole approach is we don't spend any money on marketing, we don't even have a booth here this year. So for us our whole strategy is just to be brutally honest."
It also helps that, due to the game's early and overwhelming success, they don't need the money right now, although more sales are always nice. Besides, the $30 price tag won't be forever.
"So for us it doesn't hurt us to tell people we don't recommend you buy it right now because in fact it's going to be more expensive later on anyway," he said with a laugh. "So for us it helps us there."