In real life, I have a definitive lack of sense for direction. I couldn’t tell you if I was facing North or West, let alone navigate through unfamiliar territory without someone else pointing me in a direction and then taking the lead themselves. Unfortunately for me, navigation is a fairly large part of DayZ, and I fail pretty badly.
I was spoiled when I started, playing with a group and all, so whenever I died, or spawned on the other side of the map from them, or logged off before they did, meeting back up was a chore. Trying to use landmarks to navigate had me turned around and lost faster than you could say “powerlines”. I don’t know why my sense of direction is broken—it just is. Most of our early days playing were mainly spent trying to rescue me. Most of our time travelling was slowed because somehow I would manage to get lost in the woods. The person I was following would just Poof! Disappear.
I was the last player on the team to get a compass, and the last player on the team to get a GPS, but I was OK with that. (Why give the fancy tools to the player that has a penchant for dying and being confused anyways? I completely understand the logic.) I was grateful for the support from the guys, and the constant encouragement from them to go ahead and take point. To be honest, I believe that withholding those tools from me forced me to learn how to navigate better than if I had been handed the tools to begin with. I’ve learned a lot from the map and the terrain, and I’ve learned a lot about breaking down the map into smaller, more manageable sections while traveling without compass or GPS. The beautiful thing is that ArmA (and by proxy DayZ) are simulations, so I can use the sun, stars, shadows and clouds to navigate without those tools. Did I mention street signs are a godsend?
Something I’m constantly working on is knowing where I am, and where I’m facing, and where my teammates are in relationship to me. The guys still get frustrated with me from time to time when they are in the heat of the moment and ask me what my position is and I stutter and stammer and can’t give them anywhere near a useful answer. Not to mention, if we’re in a hot zone like Cherno or Elektro, my teammates get really nervous when I start following another group because somehow I’ve gotten turned around, and the group of three I’m following looks suspiciously like my group of three, except it’s not. (We were in Elektro, my team was on one block corner, while another team of unknowns were on the opposite diagonal block corner. I was running between the two groups, in the middle of the street, confused as to which group I was supposed to be with. Everyone was screaming at me on TS. Thank goodness the team of unknowns were non-hostile, and more than likely just as confused by my display of idiocy as my teammates. Once I was settled back with my group, I was met with simply a “Dammit Bael, you’re going to give me a heart attack.”)
I’m always thinking to myself, where is the coast in relationship to me. I’m always thinking about the layout of the cities I am raiding–are they oriented North/South, or East/West? Now when the guys ask me for a location, I immediately find the nearest or clearest easily identifiable location and base my position off of that. “I’m northeast of the fire station, in the field.” It’s not perfect, and in the heat of a raid with shots fired, I’m still likely to stutter, but it’s getting better. Each and every day, it’s getting better.