Day of Defeat - the Computer Game Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Day of Defeat - the Computer Game

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Day of Defeat (abbreviated as DoD) is a multi-player mod1 for Half-Life, a computer game of the first-person shooter genre. It is also available as a stand-alone game.

DoD is set in the Second World War, and as such is a team-based game, the three teams being American, British and 'Axis' (ie German). A little atmosphere is added to the game by the Axis' voice commands and class names being rendered in German (eg 'Cover the flanks!' is rendered 'Deckt die Flanken!').


Like Counter-Strike, the game is fairly realistic. For example, weapons are not 100% accurate, and firing them generates recoil. Any movement causes your accuracy to decrease. This recoil and inaccuracy can be reduced by crouching or going prone. Also, most weapons cause fairly heavy damage, so self-preservation is important. One fairly unusual aspect of gameplay is that each player has limited stamina, so 'jump dodging' is less useful than in other similar games.

After death, instead of respawning2 instantly, or after some fixed delay, there is a delay between respawns. The effect of this is that players respawn in groups, rather as if a platoon had been sent in as reinforcement, hence the name for this system - 'wave reinforcement'.

Apart from this, there are two kinds of gameplay in DoD. Which one is played depends on the map3.

Control Point Capture

On most maps, gameplay is based on the capturing of key positions, marked by flags. Some of these flags can be captured by a single player touching them; others require the player to hang around for a few seconds to make sure the area is really secure; still others need more than one person to capture them, making teamwork essential.


Other maps use gameplay somewhat similar to Counter-Strike, where the object of the game is to achieve various goals, or prevent the other team from achieving them within the time limit - perhaps to blow up an AA gun or a (static) tank. This type of gameplay is called 'paratroopers', or 'para' for short.


Like Team Fortress, Day of Defeat players can choose from a number of classes. Unlike Team Fortress, though, the only differences between classes are in their player models4 and the weapons they are issued. The weapons and names of the classes are different for each team.

On 'para' maps the player can only choose a paratrooper, but they can choose from any weapon, including a few para-only ones.


There are essentially six types of weapon: rifles, submachine guns, support weapons, heavy machine guns, pistols, knives, and grenades.


Good at medium-to-long range and for sniping, these weapons are mostly semi-automatic. They are quite accurate and powerful - most of them are capable of killing in one shot.

One rifle on each team has a scope for dedicated sniping. These guns are useless unless the user is looking through the scope, so snipers usually wield their pistols when moving into position. The scope fades in when deployed, since it takes a few seconds to settle into it. It also disappears when moving too far too quickly5.

Heavy Machine Guns

DoD is unique in its genre in that it implements heavy machine guns. They are all useless, with extremely heavy recoil and no aiming reticule, unless you deploy the bipod6. You can do this at certain places in maps (such as on low walls or in windows), or anywhere if you go prone. Being rooted to the spot, and the fact that you have no secondary weapons, makes use of this weapon very much a matter of teamwork. They are extremely effective for securing an area while the rest of the team advances, since they have a very high rate of fire7, are very powerful, and have large ammunition belts. Nonetheless, they seem to run out of ammunition very quickly, so riflemen and grenadiers (which are equivalent classes on the Allied and Axis teams, respectively) carry an extra belt that can be dropped nearby - yet again encouraging teamwork.

Other Automatic Weapons

Submachine guns such as the M1A1 Thompson excel close in, since they spew out lots of bullets very quickly; but not so good further out, due to their recoil and poor accuracy. They are all fairly similar.

Support weapons, such as the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR), are like a cross between machine guns and submachine guns - most useful for simply providing extra firepower for an assault, but also usable on the run, close in. These have bipods like a machine gun, but are quite different weapons.

The German para-only FG42 comes in two varieties, proving the similarity in role of machine guns and snipers - one with a bipod (so it can be used like a heavy machine gun), and one with a scope (so it can be used like a sniper rifle).

The Axis' MP44 - the first ever assault rifle, or Sturmgewehr - can be used in either of these capacities, being accurate and yet controllable.


There's not much to say about these. The Americans use the famous .45 Colt 1911, while the Axis use the 9mm Luger P.08, and the British use the Webley Mk VI revolver. All classes are issued with one of these, except machine gunners. They are usually used as a backup if reloading would take too long, and by snipers as a sidearm.


Not much to say about these, either - except that the Axis generally use their 'entrenchment tool' (ie, spade) instead of a knife, since it deals more damage8. These are mostly used to humiliate snipers and machine gunners who get a little too comfortable. The German 98k rifle and the British Lee Enfield also have a bayonet. Again, all classes except machine gunners carry one.


The Allies use the MkII fragmentation grenade, while the Axis use the Model 1924 Stielhandgranate high-explosive 'stick' grenade. Both are deadly when used properly (especially to the thrower, if not used properly). Snipers and machine gunners do not carry them; riflemen and grenadiers carry two, and the other classes carry one.


There are three ways to communicate with other players in DoD:

  • Chat - this is textual, rather like IRC. Messages appear in the bottom-left corner of the screen, above the status bar, with the name of the person who typed it on the left of the line, and are colour-coded by team - green for Allies, red for Axis. Chat can be restricted to your own team or shown to all.

  • Voice commands - like the radio in Counter-Strike, there are a few preset calls such as 'I need backup!'. These are designed to cut down the time it takes to issue common commands. Hand signals are also available when stealth is necessary.

  • Voice communication - This is by far the most convenient method of communication - it involves attaching a microphone9 to your sound card, and speaking into it, while holding down a key. Many clans10 insist on members using this type of communication, since it is faster and more flexible than the others.

System Requirements

DoD shares the system requirements of Half-Life. That is, just to run the game you will need:

  • A 233 MHz Pentium or equivalent
  • 32 MB RAM
  • A 6 bpp SVGA video adapter
  • A 28.8 kbps modem, with a 32-bit connection; and
  • Windows 95 or later.

This setup will be very slow, however: you will get frame rates of about 5 fps11 at 400x300 pixels, with very bad latency. For such low-end systems a 3D accelerator card is essential. Almost any 3D card will do, as Half-Life was released early in the history of 3D accelerators. This will remove much of the load of generating game images from the CPU, improving frame rates and latency, and enabling much higher resolutions. Resolution can be important - the visibility of (say) a sniper at 300 yards is doubled with double the resolution.

Because of all this, DoD's requirements, as stated by the publisher, are:

  • Windows 98 or better;
  • 450 MHz Pentium II or equivalent (recommended 700 MHz);
  • 64 MB RAM (recommended 128 MB);
  • 535 MB hard disk space12;
  • 640x480 SVGA display at 16bpp (recommended 3D accelerator); and
  • 56 kbps modem (recommended 100 kbps).

It is possible to run Half-Life on GNU/Linux using Wine or WineX: see Linux Games for detailed instructions.

1A mod (short for modification) is an expansion for an existing game or program, which might be an extra weapon or virtually an entirely new game.2To respawn is to reappear in the game after dying.3The model of the game world, or arena.4The 3D object that is the player's in-game manifestation.5In most other games, a sniper can run about looking through the scope, making it possible to hide behind an object and take pot-shots at a distant enemy who has a good view of you. This feature makes such tactics impossible in DoD.6The M249 in America's Army: Operations also has a bipod, but this weapon is more like a BAR (see the weapons section).7The German MG42, as in real life, has a rate of 1200 rounds per minute... however, it is also prone to overheating.8This is based on actual anecdotes. No, really.9Most people use a headset, since this eliminates feedback and is more convenient than a desktop microphone.10Organised teams who regularly play against each other.11Frames per second.12This is for the retail version. The mod version takes up about 275 MB; it also requires a copy of Half-Life, taking the total space requirement to about 800 MB.

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