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In a lengthy new interview over at Polygon, DayZ creator Dean Hall talks in great depth about Early Access -- the style of game development that made him a star, but also has become controversial thanks to games that fail to live up to their potential or even close up development entirely.
"I both love and hate Early Access," Hall told Polygon.
At his new company, Rocketwerkz, he's taking lessons learned developing DayZ into the development of two projects, including the sci-fi survival game, Ion. "For me, I learned one big thing: you need to have a good road map. When I was in charge of DayZ, we didn't have a good road map. That's a huge pitfall," Hall said.
But, paradoxically, that was intentional, or maybe necessary: "I tried to keep DayZ super agile. We didn't really have a road map, and whenever we wrote one we got out of place. That's been a huge lesson. Ion has a solid road map."
There's another piece of the learning curve with Early Access that Hall calls out: "... a lot of the people who end up dissatisfied -- say with DayZ -- they don't end up dissatisfied after two hours. They're dissatisfied because the game's progress is slower than they expect. It might be that the game is developing at a normal development pace, but it's going slower than their expectations."
But he also says that Early Access offers the best opportunities to build great games; he points to Kerbal Space Program as an example: "If they had just stayed in a room and finished it, that's what it would have stayed as. You might have had incremental changes to Kerbal Space Program 2. But because they had this small idea and it started to explode, they just started increasing the scope as it went."
There's much more in the interview, including Hall's thoughts on Microsoft's PC and console policies -- Ion was announced at the company's E3 conference and will release as an Early Access game on Xbox One.
He also talks about community policing in survival games like DayZ and Rust, and his plans for Ion in that regard: "But there will not only be paid people in the game, game masters we've employed to be federal agents, but there will also be deputized players whose job it is to do contracts, to find bad players and trolls and things like that."
The full interview is quite long but worth the time, and you can read it over at Polygon.