Dean Hall (game designer)

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Dean Hall
Born (1981-05-14) 14 May 1981 (age 37)[1]
Oamaru, New Zealand
Residence Dunedin, New Zealand
Other names "Rocket"
Alma mater University of Otago
Occupation Video game designer
Organization RocketWerkz
Known for Creator of DayZ

Dean "Rocket" Hall (born 14 May 1981) is a New Zealand video game designer. He is best known for creating DayZ, a zombie apocalypse mod of ARMA 2.[2] Hall founded his game studio Rocketwerkz in 2014.[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
Allegiance New Zealand
Service/branch Royal New Zealand Air Force, New Zealand Army[7]
Years of service 2000 – 2005
Rank Lieutenant
Unit Royal 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 later created DayZ, a zombie survival horror mod for the ARMA 2 tactical shooter game by Bohemia Interactive. Hall briefly left the industry to return to the army before returning for a contract at Bohemia Interactive on ArmA 3, after the success of the mod, Hall started work at Bohemia as an employee in the position of Project Lead of the standalone version of DayZ.[8][9] Hall 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 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 later deleted his Reddit account after receiving pricing and release complaints for the game, tweeting that he was "never coming back" to Reddit.[27] 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 2018, DayZ is still in early access six years after its release.

Immigration Controversy[edit]

In 2015, Hall came under scrutiny of Immigration New Zealand. Concerns were raised when Hall had stated his intention to pay migrant game developers $35,000 NZD annually, much lower than their recommended salary of $60,000. Hall argued on twitter that this was an unreasonable amount in New Zealand;[28] in response, the Ministry made an exemption for Hall and lowered the required salaries to $37,500. Hall argued this meant immigrants would be paid $2,500 more than his local employees. Hall called Minister for Immigration Michael Woodhouse “out of touch” on Twitter, and indicated he would take his studio out of New Zealand[28]. Hall wrote an open letter to the government agency asking them to "stop wasting the time of me and my staff", the conflict between Hall and Immigration New Zealand reportedly lasted several months, and the outcome is unknown.


In July 2017 Hall tweeted that a price increase on PC game Ark was “****ing OUTRAGEOUS”, he said that the game was not ready for such a price, and attributed it to greed. Ark developer Jeremy Stieglitz retorted “That's a little rich coming from Dean Hall, a person who didn't finish his own game”.[29][30][31]

Personal life[edit]

Hall purchased a Tesla Model S P100D in 2017 for a reported cost of $262,000.[32][33]


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.[34][35][36][37] 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
DayZ 2013 Role: Designer

Developed with Bohemia Interactive

Ion N/A Cancelled

Developed with RocketWerkz

Out of Ammo Sep. 15, 2016 Developed with RocketWerkz
Out of Ammo: Death Drive Aug. 17, 2017 Developed with RocketWerkz
Stationeers Dec. 12, 2017 Developed with 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. ^ "Dean Hall, Dayz Creator, deletes reddit after abuse from community! |". Rerbn. Retrieved 2018-04-12. 
  28. ^ a b "Immigration stoush could mean game over for $20 million Dunedin studio". Stuff. Retrieved 2018-04-12. 
  29. ^ "Dean Hall a Twitter: "Just so we're clear on my opinion: the price increase for Ark is ****ing OUTRAGEOUS."". 2018-04-11. Retrieved 2018-04-11. 
  30. ^ "Dean Hall on Twitter: "Ark: The game is nowhere near ready for that kind of price. It's greed - pure and simple, it represents a huge disconnect with the community"". 2018-04-11. Retrieved 2018-04-11. 
  31. ^ "Let's talk about the controversial Ark: Survival Evolved price hike". Retrieved 2018-04-12. 
  32. ^ "Change at hand for Dunedin Tesla driver". Otago Daily Times Online News. 2017-10-11. Retrieved 2018-04-10. 
  33. ^ "Electricity now spinning his wheels". Otago Daily Times Online News. 2017-03-15. Retrieved 2018-04-10. 
  34. ^ Mathews, Josh (18 August 2012). "gamescom 2012: DayZ Interview With Dean Hall". The Game Jar. Retrieved 2012-11-01. 
  35. ^ Hall, Dean "Rocket". "RocketKiwi – Tumblr post". Tumblr. Retrieved 2012-04-21. 
  36. ^ Tipps, Seth (27 May 2013). "DayZ creator scales Everest". 
  37. ^ Ryan, Rebecca (31 May 2013). "Living Everest dream". Oamaru Mail. Retrieved 2013-10-16. 

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