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Difficulty in DST


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Recently, I've been seeing more and more people complain about DST being too easy the way it is currently. Whether be it in suggestion threads or balance discussions, one thing I keep seeing a handful of people say is that the game doesn't need to become any easier. So in this post, I'd like to explain my view on how difficulty is in this game.

First off, I'd like to talk about how DST is to a beginner. I'm sure anyone that's played the game here struggled with the first winter at some point (if you didn't, then congratulations.) Over time, players that don't give up keep trying to survive, learning new things with every life they attempt. Whether it is through info online or trial and error, a player eventually reaches a point where they can survive past the first winter, and eventually they can survive indefinitely. I think the game relies on the lack of knowledge for its difficulty. A player might struggle with food because they might not know the best food sources in the game. Anyone that's played the game for a while will probably tell you: farms / improved farms are probably one of the worst food sources in the game. It seems intuitive that agriculture would be a good food source, but as it is in this game, farms are far too expensive to set up a sustainable food source with. Even the best crops require you to sacrifice two thirds of your harvest for more seeds. An experienced player would probably tell you that bunnyman farms are one of the best food sources in the game. You can hammer the hutches from the caves and rebuild them in the surface. The fact that each bunnyman drops two carrots and one meat (most of the time) means that paired with a birdcage, you can make a handful of recipes using bunnymen alone (meatballs, bacon & eggs, meaty stew, pierogies, the list goes on.)  It isn't really logical to assume that dangerous mobs from the caves would be a good food source. Does this mean that bunnymen should be nerfed? After all, it's unlikely that the developers intended for them to be a good food source.

I think they're good the way they are. and this brings me to my next topic: How DST is for experienced players. Once you can consistently survive indefinitely, you've basically beaten the game. No threat can stop you. Does that mean you stop playing and go find another game to play? Not necessarily. I think something a lot of people aren't aware of is that DST goes from a survival game to a sandbox game once the "survival" part is a piece of cake. You start doing whatever you want. It's up to you to set whatever goals you want.

  I don't personally believe the game can be made difficult again for experienced players. The way the game is, you can basically only do that with tedium. Making every recipe more expensive would make the game more difficult, but because it's making players spend more time doing menial tasks and thus giving them less time to do other stuff. I personally believe that that's bad game design. Does that mean that every recipe should cost as little as possible? No, for most recipes the price serves as sort of a time cost, making it necessary to consider whether making it is a good investment or not. For other recipes, the recipe uses materials only obtainable through specific means, forcing the player to explore a bunch or restricting them from a certain item until the point where it'd be balanced to have. An example for this is the Walking Cane. The main ingredient in it is the Walrus Tusk, which can only be obtained when winter starts, and only if you've found the walrus camp and prepared yourself to defeat Mactusk's hunting party. Another example is the celestial portal. It's unlikely that you're going to find 20 moon rocks in the two meteor biomes and the moon stone. You have to wait for meteors to land and mine them until you eventually get 20. You can try to find the lunar island early or use the moon stone event's enemies to get more moon rocks, but those are significant time investments you're making.

  I personally believe Klei uses methods like these to ensure that some of the good items aren't obtainable by an inexperienced player. Why? So that the game is made easier for experienced players. If they don't have to spend as much time doing survival stuff, they can spend more time doing sandbox stuff. Moon glass axes make obtaining wood faster, which is needed for a big chunk of the game's recipes. Toadstool's Funcaps slow down the hunger rate for players, allowing them to focus more on stuff other than obtaining food. Bee queen's bundle wraps allow players to preserve food indefinitely, making it so that a player can amass a large amount of food and keep it fresh for whenever they need to eat it. Dragonfly's Scaled Furnace allows players to cook food and  keep Thermal Stones heated without constant maintenance. 

The point I'm getting at is: The game has a LOT of content making the game even easier for experienced players than it is for inexperienced ones. It's because, like I said, making the game difficult yet fun for experienced players isn't really possible. Late game DST shines as a sandbox game, allowing players to build whatever crazy contraptions they can with the content the game has. Klei makes sure that these contraptions are still balanced, at least somehow. A memorable example for me is evil flower sanity stations. A player had figured out that Abigail's Flowers that have been left on the ground for long degrade into regular flowers. The degrading ignored minimum spacing, allowing flowers to be placed on top of each other. This, combined with the Bee Queen crown and the ability to turn flowers evil by haunting them, let players create piles of ridiculous amounts of evil flowers, letting them instantly restore their sanity to full with a Bee Queen crown, or go insane instantly without one. When Klei learned about this, rather than making Abigail's Flowers use the same spacing as butterflies when planting flowers, they simply nerfed it a bit to make it still place flowers closer than normal, but not on top of each other. Evil flower sanity stations still work to this day, just not the same as they used to.

I write this post because I believe that taking away from the sandbox part of DST to make it more difficult would make the game worse for the majority of long-term players, me included. I also hope to reduce the amount of people that keep shutting down suggestions for late-game content on the basis that "it'll make the game too easy." One example of this is a thread a while ago suggesting that Glowcaps and Mushlights should stop the spoilage of what's inside them. Many people said that they disagree because it would make darkness not an issue at all and that the game is easy enough as it is.

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That's right, no need to turn this game in a punishment. Experienced peoples mostly die from greediness and this is the only correct way to keep beginners safe for as long as they want. If they can't go to the end of the challenge, the game have to wait for the player and then make it regret if it wasn't enough prepared. This is mostly how the game is going lately also, the best example is the bosses from A New Reign that have so much health that is seems sometime ridiculously hard to new players, and with time you know how to deal damage from skills/exploits/teamwork.

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4 minutes ago, Kynoox_ said:

For Glowcap and Mushlights I think the light source inside them should last a bit longer than normal

amiajoketoyou.png.465939ad8798d2917576b165dc3f274b.png

(Joke aside, lightbulbs and other stuff inside last like in an icebox, so we're already pretty helped)

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And for the people who want the game to be harder/more interesting, have y'all ever tried restricting yourself by making some rules, or perhaps changed the settings? As someone who's ALSO bored with the normal, casual gameplay. I only really play on my restricted worlds nowadays, as I have to make do with what I can to survive, rather than have everything readily available to me at the start, letting me be picky.

Here's some of those I've done (incase you want to try these yourself):

  • Lights Out
  • Vegan (NO animal products or meat, not allowed to kill anything)
  • Winter Wonderland (winter forever, picked Willow for extra oompht)
  • Desert Wasteland (summer forever, no caves)
  • No Crafting Station (you are only allowed to craft what you know. the only way to get new recipes is through tumbleweed blueprints. i allowed myself to use boons, with an exception of free weapons) I acctually recomment this one, as it made Deerclops an ACTUAL threat.
  • Lunar survival (get 5 days to collect stuff then teleport to lunar island and make do till your final days. you are stranded and not allowed to leave) This one was fun, as healing was scarce. The only healing is through dragonfruitpies, but you have to be careful as the lizards dont respawn. I actually had to make farms for this one.
  • Ruins Basing
  • Adventure Mode Survival (DS only. I recommend archipelago)
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8 minutes ago, Kynoox_ said:

For Glowcap and Mushlights I think the light source inside them should last a bit longer than normal

 

4 minutes ago, ADM said:

amiajoketoyou.png.465939ad8798d2917576b165dc3f274b.png

 

3 minutes ago, Pedrito said:

doesn't the glowcap reduce the spoileage time by 50%?, just like an icebox

I'd appreciate it if the mushlight/glowcap talk were to happen in another thread, as I'd like to see what others think of / have to add to my original post. 

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3 minutes ago, Electroely said:

I'd appreciate it if the mushlight/glowcap talk were to happen in another thread, as I'd like to see what others think of / have to add to my original post. 

 

ok then. i agree as with your opinion, as a veteran player i keep playing this game to teach newbies and as a sandbox game

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I Think darkness already isn't issue at all, we currently have tons of light source: Glowcaps, Winona's Spotlight, Moon Dial, Scaled Furnace etc. The biggest thing is: Darkness is still a big problem for new players in fact they don't know good light sources, because if you reach Late Game you can just set / wait for the Winter's Feast event and farm festive lights in oasis to put in Glowcaps and have infinite light source.

Don't Starve can't be more hard to experienced players due to their large knowledge, if something new appear I'm sure they will find a easy way to deal with it and that new "Hard" thing will become more easier than it should be. It always like this. every mob, mechanic etc someone find a easy way to counter, every time.

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I made a post recently and the overwhelming response was that the game was actually too hard. I had to facepalm after reading all through the forums how easy the game was. I don't know if forums discussions are aimed at making improvements to the game, or just criticizing any and all constructive suggestions put forth.

For experienced players, the game is hard if you make it hard. You have to give yourself goals and deadlines to reach certain plateaus. I find it ironic when long time players call the game easy, but at the same time they use like 20+ client mods making it objectively easier.

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Dunno I feel like they can do some simple things to make the game a bit harder. An example would be to make Charlie one-hit-kill you regardless of HP and armor, that's an example of something that both newbies and veterans alike have to be mindful of, and helps prevent the feeling that once you survive the year you're invincible. I've played with a mod that does this and every time it turns to night I'm practically pooing bricks just incase I haven't been managing my resources good enough.

And I'm sorry (this isn't directed at anyone in particular, but it's a mindset that I've seen floating around survival games in general, and especially DS), but I really don't think Klei should be balancing the game around new players. They need to think of ways that punishes both types of players and gives them the sense that theres always a danger present. If you lack knowledge or skill then you deserve to die, it's that simple. Get better and learn more, or fall behind and perish; it's the very essence of a survival game and survival of the fittest.

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Personally, to me it's not about being easy or hard. I'd just like to see food gathering somehow still be a constant task that the player has to work on, no matter how long they've survived.

But you are absolutely right when you say the difficulty in this game is basically based on knowledge since virtually every mechanic is susceptible to exploits or workarounds. You are also probably right when you say the game can't be made any more difficultt for experienced players, at least not in the long term.

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Just now, the_revenant said:

Personally, to me it's not about being easy or hard. I'd just like to see food gathering somehow still be a constant task that the player has to work on, no matter how long they've survived.

But you are absolutely right when you say the difficulty in this game is basically based on knowledge since virtually every mechanic is susceptible to exploits or workarounds. You are also probably right when you say the game can't be made any more difficultt for experienced players, at least not in the long term.

Honestly I'm not a fan of RNG 99.9% of the time, but in this instance it could be a pretty idea good to make food farms less reliable by giving it a chance to be corrupt and gradually increasing the chance it will be corrupt as the world gets older. It fits in with the lore of the game when you think about it as well... The forces of darkness gets stronger and stronger until eventually you're overwhelmed either by manifestations itself or a depleting food source... That sense of inevitability is actually kind of appealing to me.

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Honestly, it's possible to have both increased difficulty while also keeping the game largely the same so newer players aren't effected as much. And that solution already largely exists in the form of character selection. We need more challenge characters that offer better risk/reward. I know Wes is often the poster-child of challenge characters, but I think Maxwell is a much better example. His low health means he's practically taking double damage, so he's got a relatively hefty risk attached to him. But he's also rewarding with how fast and easily he can acquire lots of basic resources.

One issue I'm seeing with DST as of late is character balance. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad Winona and Willow are being used more now, but look at their downsides. They practically don't exist. One of the reasons WX, Wicker and Wolfgang are considered so good is because they have strong perks and fairly negligible downsides. Most of the cast currently have a perk that negates their disadvantage, or simply have a downside that barely does anything at all. Personally, I believe strong disadvantages makes a character more interesting then one with strong perks.

Although for this character = difficulty thing to work properly, the celestial portal needs a serious looking at. It kinda defeats a lot of this if you can just switch to X character who's best at X task whenever you want for so little cost and no penalty.

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5 hours ago, Boomsl0l said:

...I really don't think Klei should be balancing the game around new players...

New players are the proverbial bread-and-butter, bulk of player-base. Game as-is atm already's considered a hard-to-learn one. If you rise the bar even further you only deter new players from sticking around. I think most of us here had at least some of our friends we brought to the game quit it because of said difficulty - in my case almost all the friends I tried to get hooked to DST ended up abandoning it even with me actively trying to teach them from start. If you want as a developer your game to have a long-life, constantly getting "new blood" as "try-hards" and experienced players naturally "outgrow" it, you need to understand where your difficulty bar is situated in relation to a median skill-fitness in your majority of player-base. If your game is too "balls-hard", well... on long term you'll have a very-very small player base, in turn making your game (and business model by extension) unprofitable.

 

5 hours ago, Boomsl0l said:

..a pretty idea good to make food farms less reliable by giving it a chance to be corrupt and gradually increasing the chance it will be corrupt as the world gets older. It fits in with the lore of the game when you think about it as well... The forces of darkness gets stronger and stronger until eventually you're overwhelmed either by manifestations itself or a depleting food source... That sense of inevitability is actually kind of appealing to me.

This means you know from the start your world will eventually "rot away", being consumed by said generalized "corruption" and slowly transforming into a barren wasteland, in turn providing a more-or-less End to your adventure. If a sandbox has a definitive end, even if is far-away, for me it means (beside the obvious not-being-a-sandbox-anymore) there's no point in my survival-sandbox endeavor, because whatever I do there is a definitive end, independent of my effort. If DST would go that way, I for one - a pretty enthusiastic player even after over 6k h of playtime - would just uninstall it and be done with it (as I did in past with other games that took weird direction from my viewpoint, like WoT for example and its drastic rework of TDs and SPGs "pour les connaisseurs" from some years down-the-line).

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8 hours ago, the_revenant said:

I'd just like to see food gathering somehow still be a constant task that the player has to work on, no matter how long they've survived.

I've mentioned that bunnyman farms were considered one of the best food sources in the game. One of those reasons is that they can be expanded infinitely and getting more food from each hutch doesn't cost anything (farms need seeds, for example.) It's a huge time investment but it pays off by giving the player(s) a lot of food in a short time.

Bundling wraps are inconvenient to use. They do stop spoilage on food completely, but Every Single Time  you want to use one you have to unwrap it, pick up all its items, eat what you need, make a rope, make the wrap then re-wrap the food. You need to have several empty slots to use them effectively. I don't personally use them for food whenever I do have a good food source because making more food when my current supply spoils isn't too much of a hassle, and it's definitely worth it if I don't have to go through the bundle process every time I'm low on hunger.

8 hours ago, Boomsl0l said:

Honestly I'm not a fan of RNG 99.9% of the time, but in this instance it could be a pretty idea good to make food farms less reliable by giving it a chance to be corrupt and gradually increasing the chance it will be corrupt as the world gets older. It fits in with the lore of the game when you think about it as well... The forces of darkness gets stronger and stronger until eventually you're overwhelmed either by manifestations itself or a depleting food source... That sense of inevitability is actually kind of appealing to me.

I get your point and fully understand the appeal it can have, but I feel like a feature like that would be harmful to the sandbox part of DST. If a player has to keep spending their time seeking out food sources, they won't have much time for much else. I can see this idea working in some sort of new game mode along some other mechanics to make the world harder and harder to survive in (the 3 different game modes we currently have in the game have only slight differences in game play), but implementing it into the game's core would really ruin the game for practically every long-term DST player I know.

I personally believe DST is made to be the kind of game that makes you struggle at first but eventually learn to conquer the world and do with it as you want. Hound waves in late-game autumn and summer practically deliver you revival items if you have a good hound defense. Armor and weaponry become abundant once you have a big enough pig farm. Players are given good sources of everything they need - as long as they've worked for it. A bunnyman farm isn't going to grow out of the ground. You have to go hammer bunnyman villages for a few hutches, and use the carrots and puffs you get from the bunnymen along with some wood you have to chop to further expand on the bunnyman farm until it's big enough to make food negligible. Same kind of deal goes for pig farms. Once you've worked for these things you're rewarded greatly, but that's IF you work for them. They still cost some time to use, so it's not like food or armor is completely free after the initial investment, but the cost is small enough for it to not be a huge hassle later on. Using evil flower sanity stations used to give full sanity instantly (with enough time invested), but Klei nerfed it by adding an effective cap to the sanity restoration speed.

5 hours ago, Sinister_Fang said:

Honestly, it's possible to have both increased difficulty while also keeping the game largely the same so newer players aren't effected as much. And that solution already largely exists in the form of character selection. We need more challenge characters that offer better risk/reward. I know Wes is often the poster-child of challenge characters, but I think Maxwell is a much better example. His low health means he's practically taking double damage, so he's got a relatively hefty risk attached to him. But he's also rewarding with how fast and easily he can acquire lots of basic resources.

One issue I'm seeing with DST as of late is character balance. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad Winona and Willow are being used more now, but look at their downsides. They practically don't exist. One of the reasons WX, Wicker and Wolfgang are considered so good is because they have strong perks and fairly negligible downsides. Most of the cast currently have a perk that negates their disadvantage, or simply have a downside that barely does anything at all. Personally, I believe strong disadvantages makes a character more interesting then one with strong perks.

Although for this character = difficulty thing to work properly, the celestial portal needs a serious looking at. It kinda defeats a lot of this if you can just switch to X character who's best at X task whenever you want for so little cost and no penalty.

I should have thought of character downsides while writing my post. I definitely agree that they're a great way to add difficulty to the game. My favorite downsides are probably Wormwood's and Wortox's:

Wormwood is my favorite character in both DS and DST so far. He has a great design and personality (he's adorable) and the downside of not being able to heal from food has a massive impact on game play. Pierogies and farm crops (and the recipes made them) along with some sources of early-game healing (such as butterfly wings) restore 0 health. I often have to be very careful whenever I'm around enemies or any sort of damage source. Taking a bit of damage won't kill me, but it'll force me to seek out healing source (thus spending a significant amount of time) rather than eventually heal it away with the small health bonuses food tends to have. Playing Wormwood rewards me with the ability to plant crops without farm plots, giving me access to a handful of useful / decent food items without the massive initial investment of building farm plots. Especially with this last update. Creamy Potato Pureé and Salsa Fresca are amazing foods for sanity. I've recently started using Stuffed Pepper Poppers for portable heat during winter and it's been very convenient. Dragonpies, pumpkins, eggplants and corn are different levels of good calorie food. Another perk Wormwood gets is the ability to craft Living Logs with his health. Being able to make a Dark Sword at any time with just a bit of my health and some nightmare fuel is the most convenient thing. His other perks are self-explanatory.

Wortox was a bit of a source of controversy when he was first released. His souls give him 3 things: Food, Health and Teleportation. And he gets one with every living creature that dies near him. Even butterflies. And killer bees. Does that mean that these things are literally free for him? No. He has to spend time killing these creatures. And even if he does, he can only carry up to 20 souls. This means that no matter how much time you spend farming bees for souls, even if you heal yourself completely and fill up your hunger to max before being done with, it won't be long before you'll have to come back for more. And to make things worse, every single food item in the game has its effects halved for him. With an effective double hunger drain speed, living off regular food alone can be kind of difficult. You have to spend a lot of time getting food for it to last a little bit. He basically doesn't get access to bunnyman farms due to being a monster. It's often better to just find more stuff to kill for souls. Eating souls drains sanity, and drained sanity means time spent either killing shadow creatures or restoring said sanity. Long story short, Wortox requires significantly more stat management than other characters without access to some great tools and rewards the player cheap healing and Lazy Explorer uses.

I think these two characters are the best examples of how simple downsides can have a massive impact on game play. It would be really cool to have more characters like this, and while it does sound like they're doing that with Warly's rework (not being able to eat non-crockpot food and getting less food from repeated dishes both sound like pretty big downsides) I haven't actually played him to see if it's the same kind of risk & reward.

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1 hour ago, Electroely said:

And even if he does, he can only carry up to 20 souls. This means that no matter how much time you spend farming bees for souls, even if you heal yourself completely and fill up your hunger to max before being done with, it won't be long before you'll have to come back for more. And to make things worse, every single food item in the game has its effects halved for him. With an effective double hunger drain speed, living off regular food alone can be kind of difficult. You have to spend a lot of time getting food for it to last a little bit. He basically doesn't get access to bunnyman farms due to being a monster. It's often better to just find more stuff to kill for souls. Eating souls drains sanity, and drained sanity means time spent either killing shadow creatures or restoring said sanity. Long story short, Wortox requires significantly more stat management than other characters without access to some great tools and rewards the player cheap healing and Lazy Explorer uses.

I think these two characters are the best examples of how simple downsides can have a massive impact on game game. It would be really cool to have more characters like this, and while it does sound like they're doing that with Warly's rework (not being able to eat non-crockpot food and getting less food from repeated dishes both sound like pretty big downsides) I haven't actually played him to see if it's the same kind of risk & reward.

I agree with you. Wortox and Wormwood are easily one of the best characters in the game currently.

I just want to point out that technically Wortox can carry more than 20 souls at a time. You probably know this but you forgot to mention it. If you play a multiplayer world, one single flower planted in the center of your base will spawn a very big amount of butterflies. Enough for you to catch 20 of them each day. This is useful for boss fights. You use all your 20 souls, then kill a stack of butterfly and you have 20 souls again. And healing a stack of butterflies is kinda easy too. Heck, you can even heal a stack of butterfly with... one butterfly wings. Kappa.

-------

EDIT:   truly wanna know why my quotes keep looking like that.

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I'd like to start off my post by making it clear that I also find DST too easy but I have absolutely no issue with endgame content being added.

10 hours ago, Electroely said:

First off, I'd like to talk about how DST is to a beginner. I'm sure anyone that's played the game here struggled with the first winter at some point (if you didn't, then congratulations.) Over time, players that don't give up keep trying to survive, learning new things with every life they attempt. Whether it is through info online or trial and error, a player eventually reaches a point where they can survive past the first winter, and eventually they can survive indefinitely. I think the game relies on the lack of knowledge for its difficulty. A player might struggle with food because they might not know the best food sources in the game. Anyone that's played the game for a while will probably tell you: farms / improved farms are probably one of the worst food sources in the game. It seems intuitive that agriculture would be a good food source, but as it is in this game, farms are far too expensive to set up a sustainable food source with. Even the best crops require you to sacrifice two thirds of your harvest for more seeds. An experienced player would probably tell you that bunnyman farms are one of the best food sources in the game. You can hammer the hutches from the caves and rebuild them in the surface. The fact that each bunnyman drops two carrots and one meat (most of the time) means that paired with a birdcage, you can make a handful of recipes using bunnymen alone (meatballs, bacon & eggs, meaty stew, pierogies, the list goes on.)  It isn't really logical to assume that dangerous mobs from the caves would be a good food source. Does this mean that bunnymen should be nerfed? After all, it's unlikely that the developers intended for them to be a good food source.

I think they're good the way they are[...]

Most people of course struggle with a game when they've just started out. Unfortunately , designing a game's difficulty around not understanding game mechanics for its difficulty is a terrible approach for difficulty for an experience that's meant to be replayable, when something like a wiki and game subreddits are so easily accessible in 2019.I disagree that bunnymen "not being the logical best source of food at first glance" is an appropiate defense of a choice being so much better than the other ones.

The game relying on its lack of knowledge means that you can merely pop into the game's wiki or have a more experienced player tell you what you need to do in basically every situation. A sandbox game should be designed so that there are multiple things you can do, but also so that you have a REASON to do things differently.

DST has these "false choices"  where you have many ways to accomplish the same goal, but a lot of them are time-consuming or very tedious to pull off, compared to one of them which is usually an overlooked exploit or unbalanced item/mechanic.

The difficulty in this game is very much just memorizing the *correct* way to go about essentially everything, then following it to the letter, as the game is very stagnant and rarely changes up how things work. Same biomes, same enemies, no situation where you'd consider a "lesser" choice, unless you planned to cripple yourself.

10 hours ago, Electroely said:

  I don't personally believe the game can be made difficult again for experienced players. The way the game is, you can basically only do that with tedium. Making every recipe more expensive would make the game more difficult, but because it's making players spend more time doing menial tasks and thus giving them less time to do other stuff. I personally believe that that's bad game design. Does that mean that every recipe should cost as little as possible? No, for most recipes the price serves as sort of a time cost, making it necessary to consider whether making it is a good investment or not. For other recipes, the recipe uses materials only obtainable through specific means, forcing the player to explore a bunch or restricting them from a certain item until the point where it'd be balanced to have. An example for this is the Walking Cane. The main ingredient in it is the Walrus Tusk, which can only be obtained when winter starts, and only if you've found the walrus camp and prepared yourself to defeat Mactusk's hunting party. Another example is the celestial portal. It's unlikely that you're going to find 20 moon rocks in the two meteor biomes and the moon stone. You have to wait for meteors to land and mine them until you eventually get 20. You can try to find the lunar island early or use the moon stone event's enemies to get more moon rocks, but those are significant time investments you're making.

I disagree. I believe the game could still be reasonably engaging for experienced players without tedious mechanics, although it seems that Klei is well-versed in tedium. Remember disease?

I feel that you're inflating the difficulty of getting a walking cane. Yes, you need to wait 20 days to get it, but....that's not a challenge. You just  need to live 20 days(trivial), and know where MacTusk will spawn(not difficult) and then kill it(harder than the average enemy, but still easy. The challenges you've mentioned rely entirely on a deadline that is trivial to meet , not much else. It's not a challenge, it's the estimated delivery time of the smash amiibo you've ordered in the mail.

11 hours ago, Electroely said:

  I personally believe Klei uses methods like these to ensure that some of the good items aren't obtainable by an inexperienced player. Why? So that the game is made easier for experienced players. If they don't have to spend as much time doing survival stuff, they can spend more time doing sandbox stuff. Moon glass axes make obtaining wood faster, which is needed for a big chunk of the game's recipes. Toadstool's Funcaps slow down the hunger rate for players, allowing them to focus more on stuff other than obtaining food. Bee queen's bundle wraps allow players to preserve food indefinitely, making it so that a player can amass a large amount of food and keep it fresh for whenever they need to eat it. Dragonfly's Scaled Furnace allows players to cook food and  keep Thermal Stones heated without constant maintenance. 

The point I'm getting at is: The game has a LOT of content making the game even easier for experienced players than it is for inexperienced ones. It's because, like I said, making the game difficult yet fun for experienced players isn't really possible. Late game DST shines as a sandbox game, allowing players to build whatever crazy contraptions they can with the content the game has. Klei makes sure that these contraptions are still balanced, at least somehow. A memorable example for me is evil flower sanity stations. A player had figured out that Abigail's Flowers that have been left on the ground for long degrade into regular flowers. The degrading ignored minimum spacing, allowing flowers to be placed on top of each other. This, combined with the Bee Queen crown and the ability to turn flowers evil by haunting them, let players create piles of ridiculous amounts of evil flowers, letting them instantly restore their sanity to full with a Bee Queen crown, or go insane instantly without one. When Klei learned about this, rather than making Abigail's Flowers use the same spacing as butterflies when planting flowers, they simply nerfed it a bit to make it still place flowers closer than normal, but not on top of each other. Evil flower sanity stations still work to this day, just not the same as they used to.

Contrary to popular belief, sandbox games other than Don't Starve Together DO exist. And they manage to be difficult , engaging, AND better than DST at being a sandbox. Minecraft and Terraria immediately come to mind, and you could argue they contributed to inspire this game, one way or the other.

That DST's lategame experience is not difficult is not an intentional design choice: it is a design failure that they've run into. It's not difficult OR good as a sandbox. Thinking about the sanity farm you mentioned...can you think of a reason you'd go out of your way to make it besides "it's kinda cool?". Sanity management is both trivial(shadow creatures aren't that dangerous) and easy(green caps), so you have no reason to make this contraption. It's a contraption that is just plain overkill.

For comparison, Minecraft has gold farms. Gold is normally pretty time-consuming and takes effort to get in bulk , but gold farms make amassing gold a risk-free and more efficient process, allowing easy access to golden apples(powerful healing) and powered rails(a). It is a game that actually has a REASON to make these contraptions: they circumvent actual in-game challenges. Sanity in DST was never a challenge to begin with.

Sorry, but it just seems like a justification to keep DST in it's current state to say that "no game can be difficult for experienced players". Don't Starve Together relies ENTIRELY on memory for it's difficulty, so the developers have a reason for not making a tutorial for new players...which is ironic, since you and multiple others in this thread are in favor of new players being supported, which Klei hasn't really taken a step towards. No in-depth tutorial explaining mechanics, all left to intuition and trial and error. Doesn't sound like a new player friendly environment to me. Can you support a design philosophy that the core development team itself seems to oppose you in?

Minecraft and Terraria contraptions push player creativity for some truly amazing solutions to problems. DST is the history exam I sat down an hour to study for that one time.

11 hours ago, Electroely said:

I write this post because I believe that taking away from the sandbox part of DST to make it more difficult would make the game worse for the majority of long-term players, me included. I also hope to reduce the amount of people that keep shutting down suggestions for late-game content on the basis that "it'll make the game too easy." One example of this is a thread a while ago suggesting that Glowcaps and Mushlights should stop the spoilage of what's inside them. Many people said that they disagree because it would make darkness not an issue at all and that the game is easy enough as it is.

The solution here would be to make early game darkness actually difficult, not giving players access to a torch that you can make within 30 seconds of starting a new playthrough that you can use for about 20 minutes before you even need a new one, for FAR longer if you burn trees and just wait out the night. Back to what I said earlier, glowcaps are an in-game item that solve a problem that wasn't really a problem to begin with.

I'm fully expecting people to reply with "mod the game if it's too easy for you bucko". So here's my response:

-I'm criticizing the vanilla core experience of the game, which most new players are going to be part of, as they seem to be a focus of this thread. Most new players won't use mods.

-I actually found DST fun to play when I decided to mess around with server commands and file code, but once again, this is not part of the core experience. A car with a busted engine but well-tuned tires is a bad car overall, but there's something good about it.

Thanks to anybody who took the time to read this very long post, these are faults I've seen in the game for a long time.

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1 hour ago, Sketched_Philo said:

Most people of course struggle with a game when they've just started out. Unfortunately , designing a game's difficulty around not understanding game mechanics for its difficulty is a terrible approach for difficulty for an experience that's meant to be replayable, when something like a wiki and game subreddits are so easily accessible in 2019.I disagree that bunnymen "not being the logical best source of food at first glance" is an appropiate defense of a choice being so much better than the other ones.

The game relying on its lack of knowledge means that you can merely pop into the game's wiki or have a more experienced player tell you what you need to do in basically every situation. A sandbox game should be designed so that there are multiple things you can do, but also so that you have a REASON to do things differently.

DST has these "false choices"  where you have many ways to accomplish the same goal, but a lot of them are time-consuming or very tedious to pull off, compared to one of them which is usually an overlooked exploit or unbalanced item/mechanic.

The difficulty in this game is very much just memorizing the *correct* way to go about essentially everything, then following it to the letter, as the game is very stagnant and rarely changes up how things work. Same biomes, same enemies, no situation where you'd consider a "lesser" choice, unless you planned to cripple yourself.

I'd like to make it clear that I wasn't necessarily PRAISING the way the game does difficulty, I was just explaining how I believe it works. I didn't mean to say that bunnymen farms not making sense is an excuse for them to be this good (I should have been more clear in my post about a lot of things), just that them not making sense as a food source shouldn't be a reason to nerf them with the direction the game seems to be taking. I do agree with you on everything said here.

 

1 hour ago, Sketched_Philo said:

I disagree. I believe the game could still be reasonably engaging for experienced players without tedious mechanics, although it seems that Klei is well-versed in tedium. Remember disease?

I feel that you're inflating the difficulty of getting a walking cane. Yes, you need to wait 20 days to get it, but....that's not a challenge. You just  need to live 20 days(trivial), and know where MacTusk will spawn(not difficult) and then kill it(harder than the average enemy, but still easy. The challenges you've mentioned rely entirely on a deadline that is trivial to meet , not much else. It's not a challenge, it's the estimated delivery time of the smash amiibo you've ordered in the mail.

One part I meant to include in my original post (but I forgot to) was the main reason I think the game can't be difficult for more players. I could be wrong about this, but I believe that with the way the game controls, ESPECIALLY in DST where there's latency involved, actions requiring precise movement or timing don't really work well. 

I didn't mean to say obtaining the walking cane was difficult. I was trying to explain how it's an item newer players will likely not get. Having to kill a creature that comes with a small army and a ranged attack sounds intimidating. I personally just go after Mactusk himself as soon as I spot him as to not take any damage in the entire fight. I don't actually think it's hard, I just think it works in influencing which players actually get one.

1 hour ago, Sketched_Philo said:

Contrary to popular belief, sandbox games other than Don't Starve Together DO exist. And they manage to be difficult , engaging, AND better than DST at being a sandbox. Minecraft and Terraria immediately come to mind, and you could argue they contributed to inspire this game, one way or the other.

(I'm really sorry I really should have been more clear about these things in my original post)
I didn't mean to say that DST can't be difficult BECAUSE it's a sandbox game. I meant that it can't be difficult for experienced players (because of reasons stated earlier) and that it plays like a sandbox game later on with the way it's designed. A very limited one, definitely, but a sandbox nonetheless. You can set your own goals and you're (usually) given a variety of ways to achieve them. Items like slurtle slime come to my mind when I think of DST as a sandbox game. It's rarely ever used by anyone that's simply trying to survive or thrive, but I think it has potential (it's an explosive you can basically farm) and I try to find ways it can be useful.

 

1 hour ago, Sketched_Philo said:

That DST's lategame experience is not difficult is not an intentional design choice: it is a design failure that they've run into. It's not difficult OR good as a sandbox. Thinking about the sanity farm you mentioned...can you think of a reason you'd go out of your way to make it besides "it's kinda cool?". Sanity management is both trivial(shadow creatures aren't that dangerous) and easy(green caps), so you have no reason to make this contraption. It's a contraption that is just plain overkill.

I personally am not sure if it's intentional or not, but the point I was trying to make was that the majority of endgame additions the game has received have, for the most part, reduced the time you'd spend "surviving" by a significant amount, which I think is evidence that the developers are taking the direction I mentioned: survival game for new players, sandbox game for experienced ones.

Also, while I do think that there are contraptions that are overkill, I just want to mention that I don't think the sanity station is one of them. While yes, most players would consider sanity a joke, Shadow Creatures are intrusive and annoying and working towards sanity restoration items (such as green caps) will take some time, even if it isn't much. 

1 hour ago, Sketched_Philo said:

Sorry, but it just seems like a justification to keep DST in it's current state to say that "no game can be difficult for experienced players". Don't Starve Together relies ENTIRELY on memory for it's difficulty, so the developers have a reason for not making a tutorial for new players...which is ironic, since you and multiple others in this thread are in favor of new players being supported, which Klei hasn't really taken a step towards. No in-depth tutorial explaining mechanics, all left to intuition and trial and error. Doesn't sound like a new player friendly environment to me. Can you support a design philosophy that the core development team itself seems to oppose you in?

Minecraft and Terraria contraptions push player creativity for some truly amazing solutions to problems. DST is the history exam I sat down an hour to study for that one time.

I never meant to say that no game can be difficult for experienced players. It's just that DST, with the way it's designed and the way endgame content was / is being made, doesn't really seem like it was meant to be difficult for experienced players. I also didn't mean to say that the game should be more supportive of new players. I just think that new players aren't supposed to have access to the late game content because of how it could make the game too easy for them. The end game content that the devs have added to the game in A New Reign reward the player for killing a boss with something that makes the game easier. A lot of players don't seem to consider these bosses difficult as you can build tons of rabbit hutches or catapults or whatever to kill the boss, but I think it's something that that's not something an inexperienced player would try to do.

Both Minecraft and Terraria offer much more complex tools for that kind of stuff. DST just kind of has you build nice stuff that looks pretty with its amazing art style.

1 hour ago, Sketched_Philo said:

The solution here would be to make early game darkness actually difficult, not giving players access to a torch that you can make within 30 seconds of starting a new playthrough that you can use for about 20 minutes before you even need a new one, for FAR longer if you burn trees and just wait out the night. Back to what I said earlier, glowcaps are an in-game item that solve a problem that wasn't really a problem to begin with.

It goes back to what I said about endgame content - I think it's designed for a sandbox setting. Glowcaps are a convenience / decor structure more than anything.

1 hour ago, Sketched_Philo said:

I'm fully expecting people to reply with "mod the game if it's too easy for you bucko". So here's my response:

-I'm criticizing the vanilla core experience of the game, which most new players are going to be part of, as they seem to be a focus of this thread. Most new players won't use mods.

-I actually found DST fun to play when I decided to mess around with server commands and file code, but once again, this is not part of the core experience. A car with a busted engine but well-tuned tires is a bad car overall, but there's something good about it.

I personally think mods are an amazing thing. I'm REALLY glad the game is so moddable. Mods can let you play the game however you want, as long as someone with the necessary knowledge makes the changes/additions instead of the devs. I do wish mods were accepted by the community. I can understand reasons why players would want these kinds of changes to be put into the base game (you can't use server mods on any server you join, mods don't get the kind of constant support official content does, the experience isn't as widespread if it's specifically tailored to your own via mods, etc) but I really do think that mods are a great thing that shouldn't be put out of consideration. 

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I think just tune the game's end game content. Make some better, well-designed bosses and enemies, and add scaling challenges further in the world you go. New players rarely get past winter and once they start getting to a year they should be well invested in the game enough to adapt.

 

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5 hours ago, Sketched_Philo said:

...The solution here would be to make early game darkness actually difficult, not giving players access to a torch that you can make within 30 seconds...

I remember first time I've played this game I had no idea I need a torch for the night and if not getting one or any other light source I would be mushed by something unseen in the dark. Was if fun and exciting when it happened? Not really, I actually considered it bull$%it as nothing hinted to such outcome, but hey, you learn from your mistakes. Yet if those mistakes mean 100 deaths with 100 lost worlds (Survival), you can see why a major number of newbies-and-not-only-newbies drop the game.. like I dropped (for the time being) the Terraria you mentioned - why? Its building stations aren't very intuitive and the sheer amount of building materials overwhelmed me. Thus what you deem creative design as a positive for some might not be such a positive, good game design. More so Terraria capitalizes on memory as well, as you need to know what to combine and from where to obtain it - aka a myriad of sources - and yes, in my case, that was part of the overwhelming factor too.

Making DST needlessly complicated and "balls-hard" from start would impede even more, not just newbies that will be totally destroyed by that proposal ("make early game darkness actually difficult, not giving players access to a torch"), but now medium players as well, even some of the experienced that aren't familiar with Lights Out scenarios.

If you go even further and combine the above with:

14 hours ago, Boomsl0l said:

...make Charlie one-hit-kill you regardless of HP and armor..

..I for one think would be a recipe for disaster from a developer point of view. Because I suppose these type of changes you want would be only the beginning. And while you, as an experienced player, will reach in no-time another knowledge-and-adaptation plateau, newbies, noobs, mid-level etc players would be, again, totally annihilated on-and-on starting with early game, much more and harder than already atm.

 

Ofc creativity should drive a general balance of content and core-of-game, but again you as a dev need to be mindful of the bar you set up. If is way to high you will limit a lot your player and customer base.

 

That's why I for one am a proponent of the 2-steps increment of difficulty, akin Terraria's Wall-of-Flesh mechanic: have it more or less how is now for newbies and relaxed-playstyle players, but after a world-changing event, let's say old FW take-down or what new boss-fight would Moon Island offer, you get an up-in-difficulty in all Constant. Mobs AI goes up and their attacks get more complex, maybe even with some RNG patterns too spice it up (like Pigs being able to cooperate and having various types of attacks alternating with an RNG component), mobs get more HP, higher attack-dmg, more type of wave-mobs attacking periodically but in an RNG-ish manner, harder variants of attack-mobs appear (Varg-waves, Alpha Hounds, Haul Hounds), calamities to the world like some drought years, some blizzard years (and the special seasonal boss themed for respective calamity year gets amped-up - let's say in a drought year DF goes wandering again through the landscape, scourging everything in path, has new types of attacks and-so-on), true RNG seasons (with varying lengths and recurrent bursts - think Spring coming and then, 2-3-4-etc days later, another chill wintery weather remission suddenly occurs, RNG-based again), etc etc etc. This from my view-point would be superb, making the world truly feel alive, changing, evolving with the players. But also am realistic: Through the Ages I believe proposed this concept that am sure is very demanding at the volume and complexity of work/design level going in it, and that in turn would require hard cash, more so than the current free-yet-dependent-on-skins-sales one can amount to. For now let's see what Return of Them will bring... and have hope it won't be the last major update in the line.

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1 hour ago, x0VERSUS1y said:

-sneep snoop-

That's why I for one am a proponent of the 2-steps increment of difficulty, akin Terraria's Wall-of-Flesh mechanic: have it more or less how is now for newbies and relaxed-playstyle players, but after a world-changing event, let's say old FW take-down or what new boss-fight would Moon Island offer, you get an up-in-difficulty in all Constant. Mob's AI goes up and their attacks get more complex, maybe even with some RNG patterns too spice up (like Pigs being able to cooperate and having various types of attacks alternating with an RNG component), mobs get more HP, higher attack-dmg, more type of wave-mobs attacking periodically but in an RNG-ish manner, harder variants of attack-mobs appear (Varg-waves, Alpha Hounds, Haul Hounds), calamities to the world like some drought years, some blizzard years (and the special seasonal boss themed for respective calamity year gets amped-up - let's say in a drought year DF goes wandering again through the landscape, scourging everything in path, has new types of attacks and-so-on), true RNG seasons (with varying lengths and recurrent bursts - think Spring coming and then, 2-3-4-etc days later, another chill wintery weather remission suddenly occurs, RNG-based again), etc etc etc. This from my view-point would be superb, making the world truly feel alive, changing, evolving with the players. But also am realistic: Through the Ages I believe proposed this concept that am sure is very demanding at the volume and complexity of work/design level going in it, and that in turn would require hard cash, more so than the current free-yet-dependent-on-skins-sales one can amount to. For now let's see what Return of Them will bring... and have hope it won't be the last major update in the line.

I actually think utilizing the Ancient Gateway for this would be a good idea, and maybe something with the moon as well? I'd love a season randomizing thing, too, there's a mod that does that / may have done that and it doesn't work in the current version(s).

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