Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Diaries From Day Z: Day Five

Day five of this place. Seems like every time I start to get myself properly equipped, I get killed by bandits or end up starving to death. A harsh circle of life that seems more apt to punish me for no great failing of my own. I do the best I can with the knowledge I have, and always seem trumped by poor luck and circumstance. So I keep coming back to this place, hoping to make it longer in my next life, to learn from my mistakes, hoping to find better loot and more interesting locations, wondering if I'll come away with any unique and exciting stories. I respawned on the coast near Balota in the middle of a sunny day.

A small village was visible on the horizon to my left -- presumably Balota itself. Ordinarily, that would be the first place to go, with a large number of houses guaranteeing at least some sort of valuable loot. But I saw something that looked far more promising: an enclosed camp of military tents. Military tents crawling with zombies. Zombies in full military combat dress, and even a few in officer's uniforms. Accustomed as I am to sneaking past zombies unarmed, I managed to get through two or three segments of double-gates, crawling through the grass to avoid detection, slinking into every tent in sight. 

And there was nothing to loot. No food, no ammo, no bandages, no tools, no weapons. Not even a pile of empty tin cans. Losing hope for finding anything worthwhile, my eyes lit up when I found a rack full of AK assault rifles. Yes, this was what I had come here to find. This is what would make all of this careful snearkery worth the time and effort. My eyes, formerly filled with bright optimism, shed a tear as I discovered those rifles were merely pieces of environmental decoration, not actually programmed to be usable items. 

While I was infiltrating this useless array of tents, my friend JSL had logged in and spawned one town over. We planned to meet outside the tents, him running my way as I checked for loot. As I crawled my way out of the encampment, he came running past me with a train of zombies in tow, and then the server disconnected us. We logged into a different server (thankful that the train of zombies chasing JSL had now been cast into oblivion with the dead server), and it was dusk. 

Creeping around with JSL at dusk

Across the road from the useless military tents was an airstrip -- a narrow dirt runway with two large hangars, a control tower, and numerous defunct vehicles. In the low light, it was pretty easy for us to sneak past zombies on our way to the first hangar. We found a revolver and a few road flares inside and then moved on to the next one, somehow managing to attract a zombie along the way. Not wanting to attract other zombies (or waste already limited ammo) with the revolver, we ducked inside a large metal shipping container and shut the door. Thinking he might get hung up on the door, we slowly made to leave through the other end of the container, and the zombie started punching us through the door, before clipping all the way through and chasing after us. 

After a little bit more ring-around-the-rosie, we managed to sneak away from PFC Zombieface and enter the base of the control tower. It was pretty dark inside, so we lit a flare and had the whole place lit up. Across several piles of loot (some of which may have been dropped by another player at some point), we found quite an impressive haul: an MP5 submachine gun, an AKM assault rifle, a 50% larger backpack, and an M1911 pistol, among other things. Continuing up the stairs, we nearly came face-to-ass with another survivor. Just as we saw him, I noticed the message appear in the bottom left of the screen: "Player Maverick is losing connection."

Reloading my revolver

Presumably, he'd been in the tower before us and saw the light from the flare when we lit it (it apparently lit up all three floors of the control tower, further evidencing how crappy the lighting in this game is). I wondered if maybe he was intentionally trying to disconnect in order to avoid a confrontation. Out of curiosity, I shot him in the head with the revolver, seemingly to no effect -- I put three more rounds in his head, and he still didn't die. After a few more moments, Maverick disappeared from the game space, along with any precious loot he may have been carrying, wasting four of my previous bullets in the process. 

So much for that. Now that we had weapons, at least, we needed to find food and water, so we went through the woods toward the next town, running alongside the road. Almost out of nowhere, I saw the beam of a flashlight through some bushes, and then spotted saw a survivor crouched in the middle of the road. "Survivors on our left," I exclaimed to JSL; we dropped to a prone stance and crawled further behind cover. There were two of them -- one with a SMG and another wearing a ghillie suit. Ghillie-man did not appear to have a weapon. "Should we shoot them?" JSL asked. "I don't know," I replied. "I don't think they see us."

Arrows pointing at JSL and the two survivors (click to enlarge)

I'm not a big fan of the overly prevalent "shoot on sight" mentality that seems to plague paranoid survivors, so I don't really want to perpetrate it. It looked like we had the upper hand -- more firepower and the element of surprise -- but I'd just gotten all this good stuff and didn't want to risk losing it if I didn't have to. So we laid low and watched, hoping they wouldn't see us and then shoot us on sight. JSL crawled into a bit of shrubbery, I got behind a tree. The other two survivors kept going down the road, occasionally stopping to look around. I kept them in my crosshairs, ready to fire at the slightest provocation, when suddenly one of them turned and swept the beam of the flashlight right over us. 

"Oh shit oh shit, did they see us?" I contemplated rolling to my right to get behind the tree, but the survivor hadn't moved -- he was still sitting in a crouch, and I worried that the motion might attract his attention. Meanwhile, Ghillie-man had disappeared from sight. "Where's the other one?" ~ "I don't know, I think he went left but I don't see him." I was very concerned that the one guy had seen us and the other one was now trying to flank us. My heart raced faster and faster, trying to decide what to do -- shoot, call out, roll to the side, do nothing? If they had indeed seen us, the longer we waited to act might mean losing the advantage. Too anxious to do anything, we just sat there, waiting. 

After many moments drowning in tension, Ghillie-man came into view from behind one of the shrubberies and headed off into the open field, in the direction we had come from. The other survivor followed him. We kept still, waiting to make sure they were sufficiently out of range and out of sight before pressing on. I'm still not sure if they saw us and decided not to shoot, or were never the wiser to our presence. I kind of hope they did see us and just didn't shoot, because that would mean someone out there other than myself has reservations about random, pointless murder. 

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