The standalone release of DayZ was supposed to be out before the end of 2012. With 2013 now upon us, and no sight of the open-world survival horror, you'd be forgiven for thinking that zombies had pounced on it while it was trying to vault over the ArmA 2 engine. Not so, according to Dean "Rocket" Hall, who has updated the DayZ development blog with info on the status of the project.
"Put simply, DayZ Standalone isn't here because we had the chance to go from making a game that was just the mod improved slightly, packaged simply, and sold - to actually redeveloping the engine and making the game the way we all dreamed it could be," Hall wrote. The plan now, he says, is to "immanently" release a closed test for 500 - 1,000 people, before rescheduling the date for the public release.
As to what the team has been doing with the redeveloped engine, Hall outlined many of the improvements you can expect to see. If you were worried that the standalone release would take away the complexity of the mod version, the team's plans for the newly implemented inventory should put your mind to rest.
"You scavenge for items now, as individual parts, picking up pieces rather than piles, looking for cans on shelves or under beds. The new system opens the door for durability of items, disease tracking (cholera lingering on clothes a player wears…), batteries, addon components, and much more. If you shoot a player in the head to take his night vision, you will damage the night vision. The changes to this inventory system are huge."
Despite the extra info it carries (cholera? Really?) the new system should at least be more intuitive for users, switching from ArmA's mess of clicking to a simpler drag and drop interface.
The UI is also receiving an overhaul, thanks to the efforts of community member Kju. "He has been working with our CEO (Marek) and me to develop the DayZ UI. We have been greatly inspired by Minecraft to make the UI simple and effective, rather than flashy and complex."
Hall does note that progress on revising DayZ's island home of Chernarus has been slowed, due to the arrest and imprisonment of Ivan Buchta on charges of espionage in Greece. "Luckily," he notes, "through letters, Ivan is able to provide some input and insight into the development of the map. Regardless, the continued imprisonment of him and Martin Pezlar has a significant impact on our ability to redevelop Chernarus."
Finally the team have been putting "a huge amount of work" into updating the game's art assets. Hall posted a selection of screenshots, including pictures of the new interiors, which I've added below.
To finish, here's a man who clearly ran afoul of the new inventory system.