Dean Hall has been on a roller coaster of 16-20 hour days since his highly successful ArmA 2 mod, DayZ, broke free and was officially announced as a standalone project in early August. Hall had previously expected the standalone version to launch in December, but that release window was cast in doubt yesterday.
"We really don't know, it's still our target," Hall told us when we got in touch late yesterday to discuss the state of DayZ. "But the architectural changes are scheduled to be complete next week. These are still on track to be completed then. But we don't entirely know what effect these changes will have, if any, on everything else. So there could be a massive amount of unforeseen work that comes out, we just don't know until it's done and we test."
According to Hall, "The changes we've been making are so fundamental to the game that estimates can be a bit of a stab in the dark. The lucky thing is, so far nearly everything has taken less – even much less – time than we expected. So we won't know until next week, and we'll let people know the plans from there. Regardless, we'll be into some open testing this year anyway, as we need to capacity test. So the likelihood of seeing something is high even if we did push our release date."
DayZ has not been delayed, but it may be pushed back if development doesn't proceed to Hall's satisfaction. "We haven't announced a delay yet," he said. "We're just saying, if it comes down to it, we will slip the date no matter what effect it would have on sales - rather than ship something we believe is not ready as a first step. We're also trying to be honest about the uncertainty over the impact of these major architectural changes. Initially, this was just going to be 'mod on steroid'. This is now really a refurbishment of the engine specifically to suit DayZ."
"I personally think that, assuming we don't majorly screw up, once the PC development has stabilized and sales have been good – a console port would be very likely. So, do I think a console port will happen? Yes. But not until the PC is done. And by 'done,' I mean finished its creative process."
Hall also told us he's wanted to share more of the project in development, but he's been burned too many times now. He's hoping that'll change very soon, saying, "I wanted to release some more media, UI concept work, and a whole host of stuff. But it is really heartbreaking to see my ideas get plundered, so unfortunately that has had to be shelved for the moment. I've been pulling 16 to 20 hour days on DayZ since March without a break and often including weekends, so it's like having someone kick you in the kidneys. But I hope to have some of this stuff out as soon as we know a fixed date, and that there is no way our ideas could be replicated before then."