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While the main concept surrounding Don't Starve is survival on islands, does that preclude being able to travel into caverns below them? I think it would be interesting if you could locate gaping holes in the ground on certain islands. And every sunset bats could come flying out of it...

I imagine with a mobile light source, like a torch (due to the darkness) and some rope, you could climb down inside them. Players would then get a chance to explore various underground caverns and interconnecting tunnels... discovering strange creatures and resources hidden from the world above. Naturally there wouldn't be any trees, saplings, grass, or manure undergound so you would need to ration your fuel sources while exploring or risk being devoured by a Grue.

If you explore far enough the tunnels might even lead to another hole (exit) on another island. Maybe an island that has no land bridge connecting to it. In which case you would need more than just a rope... but a grappling hook as well? Better have that from the very beginning.

Underground players could survive by harvesting various mushroom (one type could even be poisonous...), catching albino fish from cave pools, and mining new ores (iron...?).

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The secret here, I think, would be level segregation. You have, for instance, a well. You animate the character jumping in the well, potentially with a loading screen of them falling or whatnot, and then open with them at the bottom of the well, and depict the underground in the same 2.5D fashion as its overground counterpart. I've been thinking that it would be interesting to see some variegation in the landscape in the form of small cliffs. You draw them from one side, in a sort of slope _-----_ like so, and make them impassable from the lower side, but Wilson and company could jump down them from the upper half. It'd make for interesting travel, and some fun desperate runs through the pitch black of the forest at night.

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Basically it is hard to add a 3D aspect to a 2D game environment (well 2.5 but still)

Well I wouldn't suggest actually creating different elevations, rather just allow for the hold to transition between two 2.5D areas, with the key difference being caverns walls. And those could be resolved by make them semi-transparent and now letting them block clicks (i.e. when picking up or dropping items).

Access out of the hole would be done by clicking on the rope dangling next to the cavern wall where you first drop down. And if they need a loading animation they could have one of your character climbing down a rope (not actually moving down it, just having the animation and the cavern wall move in the appropriate direction) with only the light around them illuminating the darkness of the descent/ascent.

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I find this idea insatiably appealing... :D

Sounds fun and challenging; I really like the idea of having to plan out your inventory before going spelunking to avoid running out of light/food etc. It also seems like caves would be a good way of moving between islands that aren't directly connected, assuming the caves can run underwater.

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