Dean Hall (game designer)

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Dean Hall
Born (1981-05-14) 14 May 1981 (age 37)[1]
ResidenceDunedin, New Zealand
Other names"Rocket"
Alma materUniversity of Otago
OccupationVideo game designer
Known forCreator of DayZ

Dean "Rocket" Hall (born 14 May 1981) is a New Zealand video game designer. He is best known for creating zombie apocalypse PC game DayZ, which began as a mod, and was later developed into its own game under the same title.[2] Hall left the DayZ development team in 2014 to found his own studio Rocketwerkz.[3]

Hall was a Commissioned Officer of the Royal New Zealand Corps of Signals in the New Zealand Army[4] and attended survival training in Brunei where he came up with the basic idea for DayZ.[2][5]

Early life and education[edit]

Hall grew up in Oamaru, New Zealand, and attended Waitaki Boys High School. He played role-playing games with fellow New Zealander Chris Butcher, who later became the Technical Director at Bungie working on Halo and Destiny.[6] Hall started video game development on an Amiga personal computer that his parents purchased him as a child.[4]

Military service[edit]

Dean Hall
AllegianceNew Zealand
Service/branchRoyal New Zealand Air Force, New Zealand Army[7]
Years of service2000 – 2005
UnitRoyal New Zealand Corps of Signals

Hall served as a commissioned officer in the Royal New Zealand Air Force for five years, completing a degree at the University of Otago under a Defense Scholarship.[4] In 2009 Hall re-enlisted in the New Zealand Army and was posted on an exchange program with the Singapore Armed Forces.[8] Hall was inspired by his efforts on survival training[8] and in using video games as a method to train soldiers in the emotional reactions they may face, including him pitching the concept to leadership within the Army. When interest was not shown, Hall stated he decided to add zombies and release it publicly.[9]

Hall was posted to the Singapore Armed Forces on an exchange program during which he completed his survival training in Brunei.[10] His experiences on this trip formed the basis for his ideas with the development of the mod. Hall was not used to the diet during his period of deployment, and this became a further problem as the training progressed. He ran out of food during the survival component eventually resorting to trying to eat rotten fish and ferns.[10] By the end of his training, Hall weighed 25 kilograms less[10] and required surgery to repair his injuries.[4]

Video game career[edit]

After leaving the Air Force, Hall was employed as a producer at Sidhe Interactive in Wellington, New Zealand[4] and worked on Speed Racer: The Videogame.[11] Hall briefly left the industry to return to the army before returning for a contract at Bohemia Interactive to work on Arma 3. During this time Hall created DayZ, a zombie survival horror mod for the Arma 2. After the success of the mod Hall started work at Bohemia in the position of Project Lead of the standalone version of DayZ.[8][9] DayZ mod was nominated for the Online Innovation Award at the GDC Online Awards 2012.[12]

In November 2014, Hall left Bohemia Interactive to found New Zealand game studio, RocketWerkz,[13] and announced the debut title Ion at E3 2015.[14] Development of Ion was later cancelled. Hall announced Stationeers at EGX Rezzed 2017.[15] The game was released on Steam in early access on December 12th, 2017[16]. The game draws inspiration from Space Station 13.

Views on the video game industry[edit]

In 2012, Hall stated that the seventh generation of game consoles were at the end of their lives, and that this had resulted in the PC providing more innovative games for the market.[17] Hall believed this would result in the next generation of consoles competing for the ability to cater to this desire for innovation as seen on the PC.[17] Hall has also been critical of the traditional publishing model for video games, turning down many offers to publish DayZ and asking what value publishers provide in a modern context.[18] Hall was quoted as suggesting that publishers are becoming "irrelevant", citing Minecraft as an example of this.[18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26]



In 2014 Hall left Bohemia Interactive and the development of DayZ. He indicated that he wanted to found his own studio Rocketwerkz. Hall received some criticism[who?] as the game was still in early access, a funding model in video games where the game is not released however it is for sale in a development version of the game. Hall defends his decision to leave Bohemia by saying he was only obliged to work for a short period on his contract. Hall also indicated to customers that while in early access, DayZ would be unstable. As of December 2018, DayZ has come out of Early Access [27].

Deleting Reddit Account[edit]

Hall later deleted his Reddit account after receiving pricing and release complaints for the game, tweeting that he was "never coming back" to Reddit.[28]

Personal life[edit]


Hall is an accomplished mountaineer, having climbed Mount Cook in New Zealand. In May 2013, he summitted Mount Everest, making him the 42nd New Zealander to do so.[29][30][31][32] He has stated that his experiences mountaineering have also formed part of the inspiration for his game design work.

Games Developed[edit]

Title Year Released Notes
Speed Racer: The Videogame 2008 Producer; Developed by Sidhe Interactive
DayZ (mod) 2012 (official release: Feb. 2013)
DayZ Dec. 2013 early access (official release: Dec. 2018) Project Lead; Developed by Bohemia Interactive
Ion (Cancelled) N/A Developed by RocketWerkz and Improbable
Out of Ammo Sep. 15, 2016 Developed by RocketWerkz
Out of Ammo: Death Drive Aug. 17, 2017 Developed by RocketWerkz
Stationeers Dec. 12, 2017 Developed by RocketWerkz


  1. ^ Hall, Dean "Rocket". "Rocket – profile overview". Retrieved 2012-08-14.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ a b Benedetti, Winda (8 August 2012). "'DayZ' eats up a million zombie fans, soon to be a full game". MSNBC. Archived from the original on 8 August 2012. Retrieved 2012-08-08.
  3. ^ Mack, Ben (6 December 2016). "Blasting off: RocketWerkz scales up with Tencent investment and big game project". MSNBC. Retrieved 18 June 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e McNeilly, Hamish (15 August 2012). "Game's success dazes designer". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved 2012-09-17.
  5. ^ Campbell, Colin (1 August 2012). "How DayZ Came to Life". IGN. Retrieved 2012-07-07.
  6. ^ Rutledge, Daniel (8 Sep 2014). "Destiny technical director Chris Butcher interview". TV3 (New Zealand). Retrieved 2014-09-10.
  7. ^ a b Hall, Dean "Rocket". "Rocket – Linkedin profile". Linkedin. Retrieved 2012-11-01.
  8. ^ a b c Gera, Emily (15 June 2012). "Walking with the Dead: How war shaped 'DayZs zombies". The Verge. Retrieved 2012-06-21.
  9. ^ a b Harman, Stace (21 August 2012). "DayZ's Dean Hall: Rocket Man Rising". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2012-08-21.
  10. ^ a b c Hall, Charlie (8 June 2012). "Day Z – Interview with Dean 'Rocket' Hall, the Game's Creator". PC Gamer. Retrieved 2012-06-22.
  11. ^ Hall, Dean. "Rocket – IMDB profile". IMDB. Retrieved 2012-11-01.
  12. ^ Cocke, Taylor (26 July 2012). "GDC Online Awards Nominees Highlight the Best Online Games of the Past Year". GameSpy. Archived from the original on 28 July 2012. Retrieved 2012-07-30.
  13. ^
  14. ^ Hall, Charlie (June 16, 2015). "Dean Hall reveals more about Ion, responds to accusations he abandoned DayZ (correction)". Polygon. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
  15. ^ Purchese, Robert (March 30, 2017). "Dean Hall reveals his new game Stationeers at EGX Rezzed". Eurogamer. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  16. ^
  17. ^ a b Scammell, David (21 August 2012). "How DayZ Came to Life". Retrieved 2012-08-21.
  18. ^ a b Akerman, Nick (16 August 2012). "DayZ creator rejects interest from "many, many publishers"". VG247. Retrieved 2012-08-26.
  19. ^ Purchese, Robert (2012-07-16). "Will Bohemia help Dean "Rocket" Hall build a standalone DayZ game or not? • News • PC •". Retrieved 2013-02-22.
  20. ^ "Day Z + Arma 3 interview – on Left 4 Dead, Skyrim, player emotion, and in-game disease | Features, Interviews". PC Gamer. Retrieved 2013-02-22.
  21. ^ Dan Cheer. "DayZ: gaming's hottest new property, created by a Kiwi – Feature – Gameplanet New Zealand". Retrieved 2013-02-22.
  22. ^ "What does Day Z's creator think of The War Z? | News". PC Gamer. Retrieved 2013-02-22.
  23. ^ "Kiwi zombie game lurches from strength to strength – Story – Entertainment". 3 News. Retrieved 2013-02-22.
  24. ^ Matt Maguire. "DayZ may go stand-alone and free-to-play". Retrieved 2013-02-22.
  25. ^ "Day Z Hits A Million Users". TheGamersHub. 6 August 2012. Archived from the original on 3 February 2014. Retrieved 2013-02-22.
  26. ^ "DayZ Reaches 1,000,000 Players". 2012-08-07. Retrieved 2013-02-22.
  27. ^ 1.0 launched on December 13th
  28. ^ "Dean Hall, Dayz Creator, deletes reddit after abuse from community! |". Rerbn. Retrieved 2018-04-12.
  29. ^ Mathews, Josh (18 August 2012). "gamescom 2012: DayZ Interview With Dean Hall". The Game Jar. Retrieved 2012-11-01.
  30. ^ Hall, Dean "Rocket". "RocketKiwi – Tumblr post". Tumblr. Retrieved 2012-04-21.
  31. ^ Tipps, Seth (27 May 2013). "DayZ creator scales Everest".
  32. ^ Ryan, Rebecca (31 May 2013). "Living Everest dream". Oamaru Mail. Retrieved 2013-10-16.

External links[edit]