Why Days Gone Means so Much to Me

After a year of sharing my love of Days Gone with you all, I wanted to go the extra step and put into words what this game truly means to me. Why do I run a blog dedicated to only one game? Why do I share my in-game photos daily? Why has this game impacted me the way it has? Days Gone became more than just a game to me, and I would like to honestly share why that is.


The Beginning – Events of Life

I’m a big fan of The Walking Dead, so when I saw the E3 demo in 2016 of Days Gone I was immediately excited to try the game out. At that time I thought, “a zombie game with a guy that looks like Daryl Dixon riding a motorcycle, I’m in!” I followed the news of it loosely up until the official release date of April 26, 2019. Once the release date was announced, I knew I wouldn’t be able to play it right away. My wife was due with our third child during that same time. At that point, I wrote it off and figured I would eventually pick it up when I had time. Unfortunately, my wife ran eight days late, so I figured the weekend before I would at least buy it and try it out for a few hours before the baby comes. I was loving my short time with it until I had to put it down for a few weeks to enjoy the time with my first son. If you’re a parent, you know that you will be up at all hours of the night with a newborn. To let my wife rest, I would take my son and walk him around the house until he fell asleep in the middle of the night. I was my little man’s bed as he loved to sleep on my chest for about two hours at a time until his next feeding. During that time, I couldn’t sleep because well he was sleeping on me. To keep myself up, I figured I would boot up Days Gone at 3:00 in the morning and knock out a few missions. I put my headphones on and sat back in the chair, while my son bonded with me as he heard my heart beating as he slept. We did this every night. It may not sound like much, but that initial bonding with your newborn is special and I cherished every night.

Fast-forward about a month later and I completed the game. A lot of people always wonder how parents can still game with having kids. It’s possible! Do a couple hours here and a couple hours there and within weeks you can easily finish a game. It may take a lot of sacrificing sleep, as it did with me, but it was good lack of sleep. I finished the game and was blown away by it all, the characters, the story, the world and the fun gameplay. However, at this time of my life, I was also hit with some bad news. My dog was diagnosed with cancer and didn’t have much longer to live. She was only seven years old. We rescued her when she was about two or three years old after she was abandoned and left outside in a kennel while her owners just picked up and moved away. My wife and I drove sixteen hours in one day to save her before being euthanized at an animal control place for lack of capacity. Her name was Sadie and she was an Australian Cattle dog. The sweetest and best dog you could ever ask for and I thought she would be with us as my children grew up. Her death hit my family hard and was the first pet death I’ve ever experienced. To help get my mind off the whole situation, Days Gone provided an escape for me. Not only that, but the last few nights of her life she would lay at my feet while I played. I would get on the floor with her, constantly pause the game and just pet her. I captured the first image below with her the night before we had to put her down. Days Gone has been with me through life and through death. It’s been with me in one of my happiest moments in my life and one of my saddest.

The StoryHow it Connected to Me

Expanding off that last part, Sadie was my Jack. Just like how Deacon went out to find a puppy to heal Boozer’s soul, Sadie and my other dog Pepper were the ones to heal my soul at a time when I needed it the most. In 2013, new things were happening in my life and I wasn’t adapting well to it. I felt depressed at times and confused on where to go next. Then I got the first dog I ever had in my life, Pepper. Within months, we went to go get Sadie. From that point, those dogs perked up my attitude and I felt happy and ready to let go of past tribulations. They too healed my soul. After playing the part in the game where Boozer receives the puppy, all those emotions came running back to me. I remembered taking Sadie out of that animal control cage as she jumped in my lap immediately ready to go home with me. In that moment, a bond between a man and a dog began and grew more than I would have ever thought. Now as I replay the story and that scene hits, it brings tears to my eyes knowing that my Sadie isn’t with me anymore. I feel what Boozer is feeling in those moments with the dogs and that hits straight to my heart.

The biggest reason why this story resonated with me is because of the relationship between Deacon and Sarah. Their relationship reflects my relationship with my wife and I in a lot of ways. Remember how Deacon and Sarah first met, with Sarah being broke down on the side of the road? That little back and forth that they had with Deacon being a smartass mirrors how my wife and I met in high school. It was Sophomore year of high school and we both had gym class together playing basketball. Like Deacon, I was the smartass here teasing her because she was absolutely terrible at basketball. That simple initial interaction was the moment that started our relationship. We were high school sweethearts, got married at nineteen years old, and now have three children together. My wife is a lot like Sarah, she’s beautiful, strong and way more intelligent than I. While, I’m the “rough and tough” guy like Deacon who became a better man because of her.

Just as Deacon decided to go Nomad for Sarah, I decided to stop pursing my sports career early on because I found something more to life than my personal ambitions. I found a partner I would be willing to give everything up for, I found my first and only love. Just as Sarah responds to Deacon’s Nomad patch saying, “I didn’t ask you to do that.” My wife gave me the same response. That didn’t stop Deacon or I for doing what we wanted to do because we knew that they were all we needed.

From the very start of the game when Deacon put Sarah on the helicopter, I was captivated by the story. I immediately put myself in Deacon’s shoes. How would I be feeling in this moment? What would I do? His search for his wife, knowing in some slim chance she may be out there is one of Deacon’s most honorable traits. To never give up is how I was raised and is how I teach my own children. Having hope keeps us motivated and moving forward helping us find a reason to live. The feelings that Deacon felt through the story talking with O’Brian had me on the edge of my seat every time because yes, I was trying to find Sarah, but in my mind I was trying to find my wife through him. If that makes sense. I understood Deacon’s love for her and that’s what made this story very real to me. Driving south with the song Hell or High Water playing in the background, is the best gaming moment I’ve experienced. Why? All those emotions I feel for my wife, the love I have for her, the mission I would be on if I ever lost her played in my head as I traveled those snowy bends on the Thielsen Pass. Morior Invictus.

Bend Studio

One of the best experiences I’ve had with Days Gone is the interactions and support from the team at Bend Studio. I only started using my Twitter account in early May right after Days Gone released last year. I rarely ever went on before that, since I never had anyone to interact with. I decided to share a couple screenshots of Days Gone though, just because I was having a lot of fun with it when I started. My first post had very little interaction of course, but I was excited to see that members of the Days Gone team were the ones to like it. I didn’t expect anyone to really see it, let alone the people who helped make the game. After posting a few more shots to Twitter over the next couple of weeks I noticed them liking those ones too, especially the Game Director Jeff Ross. This may not sound like much, but interactions from the developers to the players do make a huge impact. It creates a sense of connection between the player to the game and the developers to the community. They may be normal people with awesome jobs, but to gamers they’re like the equivalent to our favorite players from a professional sports team.

When I first completed Days Gone, I tweeted a post of how much I loved the game. I remember one sentence precisely when John Garvin the Creative Director quoted that tweet and said, “This game was made for players like you.” Once I finished Days Gone, it really felt like this game was created for me. I thoroughly enjoyed every single aspect of it and immediately Days Gone became my all-time favorite game. When receiving that simple message, it made finishing Days Gone that much more special. I never knew that developers interacted with the community like this and those interactions I had in the first month made me realize that the people behind Days Gone over at Bend Studio were special.

As I continued to play Days Gone, I started to meet the other developers at Bend Studio. Almost one year later, the majority of the people at Bend follow me and that truly means a lot. At least I haven’t scared them off! I can’t thank them enough for giving their time to me to come onto my little blog for interviews, the support they give to my photos and just being all around nice and awesome people. It genuinely makes playing Days Gone that much more fun. There are a few of them that I would like to give a special shoutout to. For months now, Eric Jensen the Lead Open World Designer rarely ever misses a post from me and I post a lot of photos! He also contributed a lot this past week for Days Gone Week, and I felt like he was involved on Twitter just as much as I was. After planning this event since the beginning of this year, it means a lot for the developers behind the game to be so supportive toward it. Like I said, it may not sound like much but it always makes the player feel good.

I could go on and on listing people from Bend Studio, but one I must give a shoutout to here is Community Manager David Lee. This blog wouldn’t have turned out the way it did if it wasn’t for him. David always listened to my requests and worked with me to setup not only Days Gone Week but the interviews I have conducted thus far. I hope I didn’t bother you too much David! As a small creator that focuses on only one game, he didn’t have to even respond to my emails, but he did and I am very thankful for that. I remember landing my first interview with Jeff Ross last year and I was very excited to have the opportunity to do something like that. The Broken Road blog was a place just to write my thoughts about Days Gone and the people at Bend made it more than that for me. Love you!

The Community

The community of Days Gone that all of us have built is amazing! I never knew I could make as many friends as I have through social media because of a video game. From our little thank you letter to Bend Studio last year, the Mongrels community continues to grow every day. Some I talk to on a regular basis! Take Twitter aside, we have our Days Gone Discord channel too that gives us another outlet to talk everything and anything about the game. I’ve had nothing but positive interactions with everyone and that makes going on social media worth it. To have an outlet to be able to nerd out on video games and talk freely about the game you love to others is so much fun. Recently, my friend @Purple_ShirtGuy sent me a bunch of Days Gone collectibles in the mail. Why? Just out of pure generosity because he knows how much I love Days Gone and he wanted to help expand my Days Gone collection. The Days Gone community continues to amaze me and I am so proud to be a part of it. #MongrelsForLife.

It’s not just the Days Gone community that I got introduced to though, but also the virtual photography community. Days Gone started my passion of virtual photography and with that I have met tons of people who share the same interest. This is another friendly and supportive group that does this art form out of pure passion. The way we inspire each other, lift each other up and be readily available if they need an ear to vent real life problems to. I love being a part of such an incredible community like this. I was touched during Days Gone Week when virtual photography pages and people who never even played Days Gone came to my side and helped support this event. They added the hashtag next to their names, changed their own logo header on their page and shared my Days Gone content without me even asking. That is what you call a true community! I really appreciate all of your support! I also host a monthly Days Gone virtual photography theme #VPDaysGone, and each month the participation I receive blows my mind. I get it that not everyone has Days Gone or gets tired of taking photos in only one specific game, but the community continues to support it and different faces enter each time. The virtual photography community is more than just participating in themes, it gives us the ability to interact with each other, support each other and have fun doing it. And that is what gaming is all about, having fun and sharing that passion with others!

Days Gone is More Than Just a Game

Why does Days Gone mean so much to me? Because it symbolizes family, love, finding a reason to live, never giving up and much more. A game with these types of traits, the type of traits I try to live by everyday is why this story connects so strongly with me. Never have I played a game to reach me on an emotional level and relate to my personal situations as much as Days Gone. That is something special that only comes around once in a generation for a video game. When I first put Days Gone into my PlayStation 4 back in May 2019, I never expected for any of this to happen. I never expected to create a blog, to get into virtual photography, or to interview developers and actors. Everything I’ve had the opportunity to do, I’m just very thankful for. My whole Days Gone journey has grew more than I would have ever imagined. I love sharing my passion of Days Gone with everyone!

Thank you to my family, especially my wife for always being there. Thank you to the Mongrels community. Thank you to the virtual photography community. Thank you to everyone at Bend Studio for creating this game, interacting with me and supporting me. Thank you all for making Days Gone more than just a game for me!

Happy Anniversary Days Gone!

Below, is a picture of my Days Gone collection, and a few of my personal favorite shots I’ve taken over the year.

Actor Jim Pirri Chats About His Role as Boozer

When we play a video game, the stories we see unfold aim to provide us with entertainment. They tug at our emotions by making us laugh, cry, or jump when we’re scared or anxious for the characters in dire situations. The best stories provide a connection between the player and the character due to a specific theme, such as love, tragedy, revenge or redemption. At some level you have an understanding of the character’s pain and the actions they take. Stories that impact you as a player only come to light by the performances and delivery of the actors who play these characters.

Jim Pirri, the actor who played William “Boozer” Gray gave the audience that type of performance, which made Boozer a standout character in Days Gone. Behind the writing of Creative Director John Garvin, Jim Pirri took the role of Boozer and brought him to life. You may have heard Jim’s voice in other video games before too including Red Dead Redemption 2, Dying Light, Final Fantasy XV, Call of Duty Infinite Warfare, Injustice 2 and many others. He has also appeared in numerous television shows including Batwoman, Victorious, Friends and voiced in last year’s Netflix Original Love, Death & Robots. Today, Jim chats about his role as Boozer, his relationship working with Sam Witwer (Deacon) and dives deeper into some of Boozer’s main story beats.


The Broken Road: You and Sam Witwer had great chemistry together on camera. One of the things I loved most about Days Gone was the brotherhood between Deacon and Boozer. How was it working with Sam?

Jim Pirri: He was the best! He made it super easy because one, he’s so good and two, such a cool super chill guy. He made it very easy to have that type of loyal brotherhood relationship because he is just a really good guy and an amazing actor. He couldn’t have made it easier.

The comical beats between Deacon and Boozer are done very well following a tense situation. How much did you enjoy saying all the arm jokes?

I loved it! I’m nothing if not a corny dad, so loving all the dad jokes. John Garvin the director/writer was kind enough to totally give us carte blanche and freedom with allowing us to improvise. He was always, how would you say it now say it in your own words. It gave us a lot of freedom to mess around and play like that. Which, I really think helped that relationship go that well that you were referring to in the first question. Thanks to John for setting that up.

As an actor, how do you prepare for a scene as dramatic as getting your arm amputated? At that point, how do you relate to Boozer in that situation?

The simple answer is I use my imagination. I just imagine it. Acting is nothing other than playing pretend, hopefully at a really high level. What I did was I imagined what it would be like. I get the script like the night then start imagining it and working on them. For me, it’s as simple as that. When we shot it, I was focusing more on how the pain would feel and conveying that. Apparently, I am much more a crybaby than Boozer is. Boozer is a lot tougher than I am. I was just focusing on communicating that pain. John was like, no we can’t have Boozer doing that. That’s where you find the difference between yourself and a character. So we adapted and ended up playing more on the anger against the Rippers. It takes something like that to really point out the differences between you and your character which I find really funny.

The mission, ‘Drinking Himself to Death’ is a fan-favorite. I must know, what was it like voicing a drunk character singing old McDonald?

It’s the best! It’s so much fun to portray that stuff as an actor. But, the trick is getting the pain underneath it, which also is fun for us actors. I love portraying three dimensional characters that have a reason for acting stupid or silly and self-medicating in any way because that’s how we are in life. When you play the game, it gives you a deeper experience and makes it more real. Its awesome to do stuff like that. It kind of increases our understanding of humans in tough spots, which we all are at various times and I really like that.

Boozer’s story was filled with a lot of emotional trauma even before the apocalypse with the death of Joany. After wrapping Days Gone, was there one lesson that you took from the character of Boozer and put into your own life?

I will say that the looking out for his brother and his family of choice. I really like and admire and respect the hell out of that. I definitely try to do that with my friends as well, looking out for them in this crazy pandemic. You know it’s much simpler in the way I’m doing it and not nearly as risky, but that’s something I try to embody in some form or another and aspire to. 

I want to give you a hypothetical situation here. Let’s say the roles were flipped with Deacon and Boozer, and Boozer put Joany on the helicopter. Do you think Boozer would have handled the situation the same way Deacon did?

Absolutely 100%, without even thinking about it. That’s all I got to say about that one.

I have a two-part question for you. What was your personal favorite moment in Boozer’s story? What did you enjoy the most playing this character?

There’s a few moments. One of them was getting Jack. I’ve been working on it by that point for about three years and a lot of its very intense and dealing with as they say in the game, being in the shit. To have that moment, was a real breath of fresh air. Even though we’re just acting it, you’re imagining it and thinking about these things a lot and trying to put yourself in that position when you are portraying it. When you have something like getting a puppy, especially for Boozer who loves dogs so much it’s like the best thing that could happen to him. Knowing as an artist that its also going to be something that helps him find his way back towards a better life, is also really cool from that point of view.

What a badass he was. That’s honestly it, to be that much of a badass. In my real life, I am not. But I wish I were, and it was really fun to be able to play someone like him. That was the best.

Boozer is a beloved character in the Days Gone community. So much so, as there is a virtual photography theme held each month called Boozer Appreciation ran by your number one fan, @Sim_nell. When you were first casted as Boozer, did you ever think that this character would be so well received like this?

No, not at all. I was just doing my job. Just trying to do the best I could portraying this character with the awesome writing that John gave us. That’s all I was trying to do, and this is a total surprise and very very appreciated.

After a long day of work, how many times do you say to yourself “there’s a bunk calling my name?”

Right now I’m not, but when the game first came out I ended up playing it straight through like two times in a row, which is very rare for me. A lot of times I don’t make it through my own games, not because they’re bad but because I’m really impatient. But this one, I just got sucked into the story, and also just love the game. When it’s those sessions where its three in the morning and you got to get to bed and stop playing because you got work to do, I was definitely saying it a lot. I’m not saying so much anymore, but maybe I’ll start up again.

Finding a puppy for Boozer was such a happy moment in a world filled with darkness. Jack is probably more of a star now in player’s eyes than Deacon and Boozer! Are you a dog person yourself? If so, what kind of dog do you have?

I’m definitely a dog person, although I don’t have a dog. I haven’t been able to have a dog other than for short periods in my life for various situations based on primarily where I lived. I was lucky enough to foster a Pitbull for a short time while the agency found a home for her. She was awesome. Then I dog sat for a friend of mine who was working on a project overseas for about a month or so. I always loved their dog; they had this boxer name Rosie. She was the best! I loved that dog. I felt so happy to be able to interact with her, walk her, play with her, and feed her. However, I know the dogs I would get. I always wanted a Newfoundland. I love big dogs. I definitely would like a Newfoundland, although here in LA I always worry about the heat being a little hard for them to handle with that thick coat. Like I said I also love Boxers, just personality wise. I also would like a Blue Heeler. I think that’s what I really want is a Newfoundland and a Blue Heeler. That might be because that’s what Mad Max had in Rogue Warrior, actually I know that’s where that came from. Those dogs are awesome! I like smart dogs and kind of mutty looking too. 


You can pick up Days Gone on sale for only $19.99 in North America right now on the PlayStation Store!

Thank you to Jim Pirri for coming on The Broken Road to help celebrate Days Gone Week! You can catch all the latest news about Days Gone from Bend Studio on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

Credit: Photos 3-7; @Sim_nell

Days Gone – More Than Just a Game

By Rachael Fiddis@IrishSoul81

I’ve always been fascinated by the apocalypse. People fighting for their survival, finding measures they never thought about before to just stay alive and watching how it changes the mindset of humanity. I understand that this is probably a pretty strange thing to say now given that most of the world is on lockdown due to a deadly virus and how some of the elements from my morbid curiosity has actually come to light. 

When Bend Studio first introduced Days Gone almost 4 years ago at the Sony E3 2016 panel, naturally my eyes lit up. At first, it was the post-apocalyptic world that drew me in but as the developers released more gameplay and information about Days Gone, I started to realise that what really made this game so unique are the diverse characters and the meaty narrative draped across a beautifully crafted Oregon landscape.

As a video game reviewer, it’s always so important to me that I remain as open-minded and honest as possible so of course, I had a few doubts on whether the end result of Days Gone would make for appealing gameplay when it finally released. But on the day of launch and a few hours in, any doubts I previously had just washed away. The game immediately captured me. Not only was it stunning to explore with its vast lakes, majestic mountain range and lush forests – Deacon St. John instantly pulled at my heart-strings. Here was this tough but tattered biker, unafraid to show his emotions and who never gave up even when faced with hopelessness. 

Days Gone led me down a path of so many feelings which for me, makes a game stand out from the rest. At any given time, I would feel a plethora of emotions from sadness, anger, grief, hopefulness and pain. The developers at Bend Studios not only created a game with substance, but they created a game that made you feel, whether you wanted to or not; you were instantly part and parcel of it. 

As I said in my review of Days Gone, Bend Studio has crafted something unique to them, something personal, and something that asks players to enter with an open mind and a little patience. I think it’s plain to see that I loved my play through of Days Gone, so much in fact that I’ve since played it over again, gathering something new each time and Bend Studio have become one of my favorite game developers. 

One of the elements that makes Bend Studio stand out so much isn’t solely their game, as fantastic as it is. Without a doubt, they are the most approachable, most interactive and friendliest developers I’ve come across. So much so that I’ve gotten to know a few on a personal level and who have also contributed to an upcoming feature of mine. Need to ask them a question about Days Gone? Count on them to reply to you over on Twitter even if it’s just to tell them how incredible they are.

So, we have an amazing game and an incredible development team – what about its community? Personally, I don’t usually engage too much with a game’s fan-base as sometimes it can be a little, how should I put it, obstinate? The Days Gone community is unbelievably wholesome, friendly, helpful and just a lovely bunch of people where I can even count some of them as good friends. For me, this is the cherry on top of an already special package which can be a rare find today. 

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every aspect that Days Gone has brought me in its one-year of existence. I want to say thank you to the developers at Bend Studio for putting their blood, sweat and tears into one of the best video games I’ve had the privilege to play and for opening their hearts to the players, even when they are hit with some negativity. I honestly can’t wait to see what’s next for Days Gone so I await with bated breath until I can experience another journey down the broken road.

In the words of Deacon St John –  “why do we keep going on? Because what the hell else are we going to do?”

Talking Iron Mike with the Actor Eric Allan Kramer

The characters of Days Gone were not like any other cast I’ve seen in games. They were original, diverse, human and relatable. Each one played a key role in the story and their actions made sense. Without this group of characters, Days Gone wouldn’t have felt the same. That speaks to the level of writing and the performances by the actors and actresses. One character that left an imprint on player’s hearts was Iron Mike. Iron Mike represented hope in a cruel world, and was a crucial part in Deacon’s journey.

I had the opportunity to ask the man himself, Eric Allan Kramer who played Iron Mike some questions about his character. Eric Allan Kramer is best known for his roles in Good Luck Charlie and Lodge 49, but has appeared in numerous shows and films such as, True Romance, Robin Hood Men in Tights, American Wedding and recently appeared in the new show On Becoming a God in Central Florida. It was wonderful to talk about one of my favorite characters in Days Gone and to understand a little more about Iron Mike. Eric provides an in-depth look at who Iron Mike is, what type of person he may have been and his relationship with Deacon.


The Broken Road: This was your first acting gig in a video game, correct? How was your experience, and how did it differ from television shows and films? 

Eric Allan Kramer: Very first. And probably the best way to get my feet wet in that world as everyone was incredibly helpful and available. Also some solid actors to play off of. The suit took a little getting used to but I was surprised as to how quickly I became comfortable in it once we started playing the scenes. Very different from one camera shows and films as you never had to move the camera, reset and relight to cover different angles. You were covered the entire time and could just run the scenes, very quickly finding a rhythm and flow. If anything it felt closer to Multicam shows. 

Most people know you from the TV show, Good Luck Charlie as Bob Duncan. I remember watching this show in high school! What similarities if any do you see between these two characters, Bob and Iron Mike? 

Ha! Not much, I think… Except both have to deal with other people who feel they know how to do things better. And I guess they are both exterminators in a sense, yes? 

One of my favorite quotes in Days Gone comes from Iron Mike;

“We make the world what it is, by what we do. All of us.”

This quote resonates a lot right now with our current world state. What type of positive words do you think Iron Mike would say to the people? 

I think he would say to look for the people doing good and encourage more of that. Help when you can, point out to others what can be done when you can’t. 

How would you describe Iron Mike to someone who has never played Days Gone before? 

Iron Mike, I think, is a guy who you want and, at the same time, shouldn’t have in charge. He is a compassionate leader, caring and looking out for the best interests of his community. But at the same time he has lived and seen too much. He is as broken as the world around him and I think that stops him from making decisions that he knows need to be made. He leans too much on compromise and lets his desire for how he wants things to be win out over reality. 

How much of yourself was portrayed through your character? 

I think there is always a bit of yourself that you bring to every role. Not sure how much of myself I recognize in Iron Mike, but there were certainly moments in speeches he had that hit home in a real way. 

When Deacon first arrived at Lost Lake, he was reminded that if he stepped foot in the camp again Iron Mike would kill him. In your mind, what do you think changed in Iron Mike’s head to bring him back in?

Iron Mike always, whether he admitted it or not, looked for the good and the positive in people. Maybe because he felt he lost that in himself. Deacon’s journey was an honest one and I think Mike saw that, felt that, even if he believed Deacon was blind and it was foolish. 

Iron Mike and Deacon have almost that tough father/son relationship. He even says that Deacon reminds him of his younger self. What type of man do you think Iron Mike was before the apocalypse? 

I think Mike was probably a hell raiser. Lived on the edge. I don’t think you survive very long in that kind of post apocalyptic world without having that in you.  

In the scene with Iron Mike and Deacon in Sherman’s Camp, the revelation of how it all went down was dark and really made you feel for Iron Mike. As an actor, how much does a scene like this impact you while you are giving out the dialogue? 

What’s great about this game is the humanity that is at its core. Situations and dialogue like in that scene make the world and those characters far more real. And, as an actor, characters like that are very rewarding to play.  

*SPOILERS below*

Even with Iron Mike gone, his legacy will forever mark the lives of Lost Lake including Deacon, Boozer, Rikki and Addy. Do you think Deacon can fill in those big shoes? 

If anyone, Deacon can. I think the two of them showed each other the best of themselves along with a warning of the dark that lies underneath. I’m sure Deacon will carry that with him. 

If you could change one thing about Iron Mike, what would it be?

I would keep him alive in case there is a Days Gone 2… Although, I don’t think we could ever rule out his spirit coming back and tearing someone a new one. 


You can pick up Days Gone on sale for only $19.99 in North America right now on the PlayStation Store!

Thank you to Eric Allan Kramer for coming on The Broken Road to help celebrate Days Gone Week! For Iron Mike! You can catch all the latest news about Days Gone from Bend Studio on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

Lead Open World Designer Eric Jensen Rides The Broken Road

Days Gone is known for a harsh but beautiful world that is unforgiving and will push you to its limit. You must adapt to your surroundings if you want to survive. Whether that’s a horde of Freakers, enemy marauders, infected animals or a roided out Freak as Deacon likes to call them, they are all coming for you. That’s one of the mechanics that sets Days Gone apart from other games. The open world is full of life and it doesn’t allow you to take a breath. The game wants your heart to race, it wants you to use your whole arsenal and it wants you to use strategy. That’s when you know you are playing something special. So, how does a big open world like this come to be?

I spoke with Lead Open World Designer Eric Jensen, who oversaw and worked on creating the open world design in Days Gone. Eric is a huge part of Bend Studio’s success over the years. He started his career with Bend over 14 years ago where he worked as a QA Analyst for Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror. Now, he and the rest of Bend Studio produced their biggest game to date last year and it displayed the type of incredible talent that is located over in Bend, Oregon. It’s always a pleasure to learn more about their development process and gain an understanding of the type of hard work that went into it all. Eric shares plenty of interesting insight here, including his role in Days Gone, crafting the open world and those sweet PlayStation trophies.


The Broken Road: As a Lead Open World Designer, what were your main responsibilities in Days Gone?

Eric Jensen: I worked on, oversaw, or collaborated on most systems, content, and interactions outside of missions. This included all of the Ambush Camps, Infestations, NERO Checkpoints, Hordes, Encampments, camps jobs, dynamic encounters, open world population, and collectibles. I think that’s everything… 🙂

The trophy photos relating to the storyline were all scripted by you to capture a cinematic moment that tied to the trophy itself. Usually in games, our trophy photos capture a blurred picture or even a black screen. Hopefully, this kicks off the new norm for trophies in future games. What made you choose to do it this way?

Yes! I absolutely hope that more people adopt this technique. The best thing about Trophies is they offer a record of the games you have played, for better or worse. When you think back to all of the games you’ve played in your life, for the most part the only proof of those accomplishments are your own memories. I see Trophies as a cool opportunity to both show off those accomplishments but also to remember them yourself. That’s where the Trophy screenshots come in to play.

I’ve always loved the idea of capturing the moment when you accomplish something in a game but quite often they end up as black loading screens, some menu screen, or an in-game shot with very little context of what you achieved. Apparently it’s a little known feature, but the PS4 has a screenshot cache function where you can trigger a Trophy screenshot in advance of the Trophy unlocking. Insomniac’s Spider-Man used the same technique with their story act and boss Trophies.

Since Days Gone was a story heavy game I chose key moments within the story to tie Trophies to and then found the coolest frames within the cinematics tied to the moments. I would add a key frame to each cinematic then when it was hit it would capture that screenshot. When the mission was complete and the Trophy popped, it would then attach that previously captured shot to the Trophy. My hope is to continue this technique and advance it in the future so players have something cool to look back on after they have completed their favorite games.

You oversaw the trophy names too, correct? That must be a fun job to have! Tell me, how many references do you initially try to throw in?

I did! Myself, David Lee (Community Manager), and Elyse Lemoine (Senior Narrative Designer) worked together on all of the Trophies. Jeff Ross knew how passionate David and I were about Trophies so he gave us the opportunity to lead the charge with them. Looking back at Trophy lists from some of our favorite games we noticed it’s always been an opportunity for developers to have a bit of fun that may not always fit the tone of the game.

Very early on we knew we wanted to have references to other games as well as some of our favorite movies.

We have references to Die Hard, Shaun of the Dead, The Fast and the Furious, GTA IV, Ghost of Tsushima, Burnout, and even Syphon Filter. I also snuck in SpongeBob Squarepants and Wu-Tang Clan in to a couple Trophies.

It was a lot of fun, but it was also a lot of work to try and come up with clever names that also made sense to what the Trophy was. I think my favorite was “Days Gone in 60 Seconds” for defeating a Horde in under a minute in Survival Mode.

Many people may not realize it, but the open world of Days Gone was designed by only 5 to 6 people and you were a big part of that. How did the team accomplish such a great feat?

Yea, the open-world design team was at its peak 6 people. I will note though, that we absolutely could not have accomplished any of that without the help of other designers, artists, animators and programmers.

With such a big world, and such a small team, we had to go about everything a bit different than what we were all used to or even comfortable with.

Everything we created needed to be built for versatility and adaptability. This allowed us to spend a good amount of time designing and polishing a piece of content that could be used all over the world without feeling repetitive or too copy pastey™.

We also built a lot of dynamic systems that would adapt to the state of Deacon or how the player was playing the game so that no two experiences would play out exactly the same.

Think smart, work hard, and you can do a lot with a small team.

You seem to have your hand in a lot of the development for Days Gone. What else did you do for this game that the general public may not know about?

I helped out a bunch with the UI. I designed and implemented a lot of stuff on the Map Menu including the Region panel that shows all your progress in each location, as well as the Fast Travel system.

I helped design and maintained most of the Inventory, Crafting, and Collectible systems.

I designed and helped implement the Trophy menu that shows all of your progress on unlocking Trophies.

I came up with almost every fake brand or business name in the game. I also went to Garvin with the name for the town of Farewell and NERO, the National Emergency Response Organization.

Name one thing that you are most proud of working on in Days Gone.

It might sound a bit obvious, but I’m incredibly proud of the Open World and the team that built it. We had never built an Open World game. We had a small team. It may have taken a bit longer than we originally expected. It really seems to have resonated with people and it’s the thing that nearly every player spends the most time engaging with. So, for that I’m very proud of the Open World we built for the players of Days Gone.

‘This World Comes For You’ holds very true to the dynamic of Days Gone. It’s more than just a saying, as it is the core for the open world gameplay. Was this always the vision, or was it an ever-evolving door to try and set it apart from other open world games?

We knew very early on we didn’t ever want the player to feel comfortable just standing around in the world. We knew we didn’t want traditional slow-moving, shambling enemies, which meant they would likely always be chasing after the player. Then you throw in hungry animals that aren’t too picky about what they eat anymore, and a bunch of ruthless Marauders that are going to kill anything that gets in their way of surviving, and you have a world that is always coming for you. When we first got a version of the open world population up and going and some of our dynamic encounters triggering, it was brutal. It was very clear that we were headed down the right path. After probably 1000’s of hours of play testing and user testing we dialed it all into what shipped with the game.

Was there anything else that you wanted to throw in the open world that had to be cut for some reason? Whether that is a certain style ambush, an additional animal to hunt, different collectibles, etc.

From the first day we knew we were going to have the game take place in our homeland of Oregon, I wanted a Freaker sasquatch. Myself and Greg Callahan (who sculpted the incredible Deacon vs Freaker statue) talked about it from the beginning. Bigfoot is kind of a big deal in Oregon and we both thought that it would be awesome to have one in the game. It would have been so cool but unfortunately, we didn’t get the idea of the ground. Or did we? Maybe there’s one out there somewhere that hasn’t been found. There isn’t. Or is there? There isn’t. =(

The world is constantly alive. When I’m riding the broken road, I will come across wolves chasing deer, Newts crawling off rooftops, bears attacking Freakers and so on. When creating this interactive and seamless world, what is the biggest challenge you came across during development?

Making the world feel alive, lived in, and active was quite difficult. You can’t just throw population in the world and hope that it looks real. We had to create rules and mark up a bunch of stuff in the world with information that we could read in order to produce the correct population. The Hordes seek out the nearest food and water sources. Deer are going to be attracted to water and seek out the same plants that Deacon can collect. We tried to give everything a purpose and a goal in the world, in order to make it as believable as possible.

I saw your name a couple times up on the leaderboards in the challenges as they released in the summer. What was your favorite challenge, and which character would you usually choose to play with?

Haha, Lord knows I tried. I think I was only ever near the top of the leaderboard a couple times and it didn’t last long. Man, the Challenges were so much fun. Both to work on and to play. The Horde challenges are always a blast, but I think my favorite was the golf cart challenge, Dead Don’t Ride. It just had a charm to it that I hadn’t seen in games in a Crazy long time. Also, we were able to feature songs from artists in the studio which was awesome! While I don’t think I’m at the top of the leaderboard on any of them anymore, I did get Gold in all of them in order to get all the Trophies. =)


You can pick up Days Gone on sale for only $19.99 in North America right now on the PlayStation Store!

Thank you to Eric Jensen and Bend Studio for coming on The Broken Road to help celebrate Days Gone Week! You can catch all the latest news about Days Gone from Bend Studio on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.