Massively Interview: Bohemia's Matt Lightfoot on DayZ, modding, and zombie survival

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Massively Interview: Bohemia's Matt Lightfoot on DayZ, modding, and zombie survival
Massively Interview Bohemia's Matt Lightfoot on DayZ, modding, and zombie survival
Thanks to viral content, word-of-mouth praise, and a passionate, growing fan base, Arma II mod DayZ has become one of the most talked about games in the industry. We sat down with Bohemia Interactive's Matt Lightfoot to get an idea of how exactly this game came to be, why it has exploded in the way it has, and how he'd attempt to survive a real-life zombie apocalypse:

Massively: Could you give us some idea as to how DayZ came to be? What was the inspiration for the game?

Matt Lightfoot: DayZ was created by Dean Hall, a former soldier in the New Zealand Armed Forces. He originally came up with the inclination to make a survival game when he was doing survival training in Brunei. The zombies come from Dean's discussions with his brother Richard, who is a world expert on influenza. Dean created it in his spare time after moving to the Czech Republic to work for Bohemia.

The nature of gaming is changing. By the old standards, almost every modern game could be considered an MMO. How do you see the role of modders and the gaming community in helping the industry evolve into an always-connected world?

I think modders are a fantastic way of keeping the gaming industry connected with the community as they are not influenced by third parties (such as publishers). Modders make what they want rather than what will make the most profit. So they make what the players want because they are players themselves.

DayZ Interview
We've seen some massive success stories from small developers and individuals willing to take chances on bold ideas. What factors do you think helped create a supportive environment for such endeavors, and how could the industry be open to new concepts?

I think things like Steam Greenlight and Kickstarter are fantastic methods of giving more choice to the community, as they allow players to decide what they want games companies to produce.

What is it specifically about DayZ that you think resonated so strongly with gamers? How can other games harness these qualities?

The idea of a tough game that allows players more choice in how they play and interact, I think, is the key aspect with DayZ. Other games could definitely give players more choice and give players the opportunities that DayZ provides.

We now know that DayZ is set to become its own standalone title. Is it intimidating to try to build a hit again? What are your thoughts on capturing lightning in a bottle more than once using the same concept?

We aren't worried -- I'd say it isn't really catching lightning in a bottle for a second time. More of expanding on the success through removing some of the problems. Going standalone expands the horizons of DayZ and allows us to do things that weren't technically possible with the mod.

What advice would you give to the aspiring modders and content creators of the world?

I would say do what you enjoy and create what you want to create. You are creating exactly what players want because you are a player yourself.

Let's say you find yourself in a DayZ-type situation. What's your first move?

I would head out to the mountains, somewhere with a low population and plenty of natural resources. The perfect place for someone to survive long term.

Sounds like a solid plan. Thanks so much for your time!
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