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What's the driving rationale behind item/mechanic design decisions?


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Hi Folks,

I know that there are multiple factors that go into game design decisions for a game like DST:

- Game should be enjoyable for both casual and expert players. (this is done by making boss fights optional)

- Game should feel playable regardless of number of players. (this is done by having difficulty scaling to number of players, eg. hounds are per-player)

- Game should not change drastically at any point. Most changes should be additions to avoid alienating longtime players.

etc.

Even with this being the case, I couldnt find good explanations for why the devs decided to make certain things the way they are. For example:

- Pathing system (most strats and optimal patterns revolve around units continuing to walk indefinitely)

- Science Machine v/s alchemy engine crafts ( certain things are just straight-up never used past day 10 or so )

- Item effectiveness cliffs. (upgraded items are drastically better than downgraded versions, to the extent that rushing things is very often the ideal approach)

What are your thoughts?

 

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I'm not sure what you mean by the "pathing system."  Do you mean player pathing, monster pathing, build paths or is this comment about something else?

As for science machine vs alchemy engine - in this game your own knowledge and skill within the game makes many things obsolete.  The science machine in general is obsolete for most experienced players - only building to pre-craft the alchemy engine and then walking away.  Maybe you make a backpack at this time, but its not something you typically place anywhere specific, where an alchemy engine will be placed in a base location.

This is true for many of the recipes as well.  Rabbit earmuffs are a commonly mentioned item right now because they aren't very good - but consider you are not able to confidently fight beefalo yet in that case rabbit ear muffs may be your move.

Thinking back to the first days I played this game where surviving through a few nights was tough, getting hit with my first full moon, and first winter were major obstacles - all of those things are pretty meh at this point.  I can easily join a world and pretty confidently know I can last a year or more, only dying if I don't build some hound deterrent or fail at a boss fight.  That doesn't mean all of the things I no longer use aren't any good just because I no longer need them.  Is a beefalo hat strictly superior to rabbit earmuffs?  Yes.  Can everyone hunt enough beefalo to get a horn in time for winter?  No.

I don't think its good to force incremental design either.  I want to be able to start as far up the food chain as I can XD  I already have to start over fresh since each world is its own instance.  My entire first year and them some is already dedicated to certain tasks on a schedule just to reach that >_<  imagin having to wait until winter to get an alchy, or second autumn to get magic >_<

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The whole being able to rush things is dst's way of rewarding the expert players. Think about it. In most games the good stuff is always locked behind a challenge or problem that always need to be done the same way in order to get it no mater who plays said game. But being able to take decisions that change the efficiency and paste of the game drasticly while being fun and enjoyable is the reward of being an expert in the game. 

I dont think that making a change to this system is right at all but you know i see you're point so i cant blame you for it. 

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On 5/8/2020 at 1:00 AM, Shosuko said:

I'm not sure what you mean by the "pathing system."  Do you mean player pathing, monster pathing, build paths or is this comment about something else?

I specifically meant monster pathing. Hence me saying (most strats and optimal patterns revolve around units continuing to walk indefinitely).

Dragonfly is rushed by making lavae walk dumbly across a sign. Pig farms, gobbler farms, klaus rushes, traps for vargs, etc. etc.

On 5/8/2020 at 1:00 AM, Shosuko said:

As for science machine vs alchemy engine - in this game your own knowledge and skill within the game makes many things obsolete.  The science machine in general is obsolete for most experienced players - only building to pre-craft the alchemy engine and then walking away.  Maybe you make a backpack at this time, but its not something you typically place anywhere specific, where an alchemy engine will be placed in a base location.

 

On 5/8/2020 at 1:00 AM, Shosuko said:

This is true for many of the recipes as well.  Rabbit earmuffs are a commonly mentioned item right now because they aren't very good - but consider you are not able to confidently fight beefalo yet in that case rabbit ear muffs may be your move.

These are sensible statements. I dont mind better items making worse items obsolete, but what bugs me is how much better those items are, to the extent that some things are straight up never used(bedrolls, dapper hats, spears).

On 5/8/2020 at 1:00 AM, Shosuko said:

Thinking back to the first days I played this game where surviving through a few nights was tough, getting hit with my first full moon, and first winter were major obstacles - all of those things are pretty meh at this point.  I can easily join a world and pretty confidently know I can last a year or more, only dying if I don't build some hound deterrent or fail at a boss fight.  That doesn't mean all of the things I no longer use aren't any good just because I no longer need them.  Is a beefalo hat strictly superior to rabbit earmuffs?  Yes.  Can everyone hunt enough beefalo to get a horn in time for winter?  No.

Idk about this. On the scale of player experience, is it valid to say maybe the 10% newest people should use certain items, and the others shouldn't? If you watch youtube streams, you would think that beating bosses is the only way to play; partly this is just misinformation but partly it's what players are primed to do.

On 5/8/2020 at 1:00 AM, Shosuko said:

I don't think its good to force incremental design either.  I want to be able to start as far up the food chain as I can XD  I already have to start over fresh since each world is its own instance.  My entire first year and them some is already dedicated to certain tasks on a schedule just to reach that >_<  imagin having to wait until winter to get an alchy, or second autumn to get magic >_<

I dont mind alchemy engines being available early, but i do mind wanting to hammer down your science machine the moment you make one. I do mind never having hatitators around, never wanting to make top hats, or dapper vests, or one-man bands. Idk, it's that sort of thing.

On 5/8/2020 at 12:13 PM, bagherthegamer said:

The whole being able to rush things is dst's way of rewarding the expert players. Think about it. In most games the good stuff is always locked behind a challenge or problem that always need to be done the same way in order to get it no mater who plays said game. But being able to take decisions that change the efficiency and paste of the game drasticly while being fun and enjoyable is the reward of being an expert in the game.

I actually disagree with this. In DST specifically, boss rewards aren't really proportional to the amount of investment you might put into it. It's worth doing for the expert points, and to know that you can, and to have fun; but i wouldn't say it makes survival that much easier.

Maybe Bee-queen/Shroom-dude are exceptions, to the extent that they basically let you stockpile things and unlock creative mode.

 

 

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2 hours ago, ashinator92 said:

I specifically meant monster pathing. Hence me saying (most strats and optimal patterns revolve around units continuing to walk indefinitely).

Pathing exploits are the same regardless of what pathing a monster uses.  Sometimes you're exploiting something that rushes at you, sometimes you're exploiting something that tries to stay away from you, something that does a linear dash, or something attracted to a bait - all pathing can be exploited.  If a game's pathing couldn't be exploited I think it would be bad design because that really just means you have no way to interact with the monster.  It does whatever it does regardless of whatever you do...  not a great framework for a game imo ~

Its easy to name off the straight forward exploitable pathing like dfly and lavae or klaus, but the mgoose has odd pathing in that it won't leave a certain vicinity of its nest.  It also sometimes drops agro making the fight a bit more chaotic sometimes.  Hounds are also quite a challenge as they easily fall out of sync making kiting difficult.  Monkeys and bishops are distance attackers, we have charge attacks with the slurpers, jumping spiders, and ambushes with the depth dwellers...  There is variety, some just don't like to admit it - constantly poking at a few choice examples they seem to be bothered with.

Bee Queen used to be a decent solo fight with walls and grumble pathing.  Since they added the ocean it doesn't work though - everyone complained about pathing "why do the grumbles fly around the wall" well now they just fly directly to you, and one more enjoyable way to fight a boss solo was taken from us -_-

Quote

Idk about this. On the scale of player experience, is it valid to say maybe the 10% newest people should use certain items, and the others shouldn't? If you watch youtube streams, you would think that beating bosses is the only way to play; partly this is just misinformation but partly it's what players are primed to do.

Bosses get hype, bosses are fun.  They are probably a main reason many people play DST.  There are also people who play this game and enjoy it without ever fighting bosses.  These people probably enjoy watching others fight bosses, but don't want to do so themselves.  I know there are at least a few long time players who never go to the caves / ruins or do big bosses like dfly / bee queen.  I didn't until only recently.  I think fuel weaver was out and ANR was done before I ever took out dfly or any other big bosses.  I probably had over 1000 hours in the game before I did any of that.  So there is plenty to do without those bosses...  Of course now that I've gained experience with these bosses and enjoy the loots they offer I spend the first game year downing all of these bosses just to get started, and I'm still figuring new things out.

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Why do the lower tiers of stuff exist?  Simple:  So you have _any_thing to use in that category at all, unTIL you _can_ get the higher stuff.

Me, for example--sometimes I just take a long freaking time to _find_ the beefalo.  I have huge worlds, and randomised season lengths.  This means that often I don't have any big fluffy things to shave and steal their hair in the night (or kill, but I'd rather not kill something so useful unless absolutely necessary) before winter hits _at all_.  You know what's usually way easier and quicker to find?  RABBITS! And I'd much rather have a "sucky, useless item" than have a NOTHING, and die of hypothermia.  (This is what happened in my "No Science Machine challenge"--because the earmuffs do need that (I'm with the people who say they shouldn't), I was BONED when winter hit.)

28 minutes ago, Shosuko said:

There are also people who play this game and enjoy it without ever fighting bosses.  These people probably enjoy watching others fight bosses, but don't want to do so themselves.  I know there are at least a few long time players who never go to the caves / ruins or do big bosses like dfly / bee queen.  I didn't until only recently.  I think fuel weaver was out and ANR was done before I ever took out dfly or any other big bosses.  I probably had over 1000 hours in the game before I did any of that.  So there is plenty to do without those bosses... 

(raises hand) MEEEE...!  I just...don't really _care_ about the combat in this game, and since I don't care, I don't have the motivational energy to learn, so...I'd rather not lose my entire world with all that stuff I carefully gathered and built and took care of for hundreds of days, just to go tangle with some completely/possibly optional giant monster that I KNOW can destroy all that in _one_ lucky hit, 'kay?  'Kay.  If you didn't lose your _world_ when you died in this game maybe I'd be more willing to try, but....then you'd still have to get past my "I'm booooorrreeed, can we go do something else? ooh!  that berry bush just grew back!"  (runs off to go play some more "H.P. Lovecraft's 'Harvest Moon'".)

Also, newbs.  And resource scarcity.  And difficulty of finding certain ingredients in time, possibly.

Also also, I'm an edge case, but I very much like the fact that there IS variety around because sometimes I _deliberately use the lower stuff for a long time_.  Why?  Mainly the "March of Civilization Challenge", but I would never have come UP with that in the first place if DST _didn't_ have tiers.  Like, I can't pretend to be a primitive Bronze-Age farmer who just now figured out that if you plant useful things' seeds on purpose, you'll get more of them later, if there are no Basic Farms.  THAT fits that part of the challenge much better. Parasols aren't as good as umbrellas but...umbrellas look like they're made out of plastic.  It'd make much more sense for an ancient-times person to put something together out of flowers and sticks...  In real gameplay terms, what if you haven't found a source of pigskins yet, or the damn spiders are hiding this time around?

Although it may seem unnecessary and even annoying to experts, I have always thought that it feels more _organic_ and fun to have things develop gradually, for things to HAVE lower steps, rather than just jumping straight to the end.  It just...I dunno, the other way just feels way more artirficial to me.  The one is more like "Here, you're in this wilderness world with nothing, figure it out yourself!" and the others is like "THIS IS A GAME.  YOU ARE A MODERN PERSON WHO HAS READ THE WALKTHROUGH ONLINE.  GO GET YOUR MOST EFFICIENT STUFF IMMEDIATELY WITHOUT ANY LOGIC OR STORY BEHIND HOW YOU KNEW TO DO THOSE THINGS BEEP BOOP."

It's the difference between Don't Starve and the Hunger Games, basically.  In the Hunger Games, you can get fully-made modern (or slightly futuristic) stuff sent right to you wholesale if you play right, and it's just flat-out known that you are in an artificial survival environment that can be controlled by other humans on purpose.  The Constant, however, may have STARTED as an artificially (magically) created world, but quickly got out of hand...

On 5/8/2020 at 2:00 AM, Shosuko said:

My entire first year and them some is already dedicated to certain tasks on a schedule just to reach that >_<  imagin having to wait until winter to get an alchy, or second autumn to get magic >_<

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA _imagine_?  Dude I've lived entire in-game YEARS' worth without those things, on purpose.  Why? Feel like it. 

(Well TECHNICALLY I make an alchemy engine at the very beginning because you need it to make the thermal stone, but I consider that to be _very_ low-tech in actuality, so it'd be okay for the "hunter-gatherer" to use, narrative-wise.  But  after that said alchemy engine is strictly to be used for present-opening only, until at least that year is over.)

Anyway, the lower-tier stuff exists for many reasons, is what I'm getting at.  Noobs, challenges, lack of resources, not finding the right biome in time...all kinds of stuff.  You may want to leapfrog over the lower-tier items, but not everybody does, and to take the earlier stuff out entirely would feel jarring and artificial, as if pages had been ripped out of the book.

...Notorious

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1 hour ago, CaptainChaotica said:

Why do the lower tiers of stuff exist?  Simple:  So you have _any_thing to use in that category at all, unTIL you _can_ get the higher stuff.

Me, for example--sometimes I just take a long freaking time to _find_ the beefalo.  I have huge worlds, and randomised season lengths.  This means that often I don't have any big fluffy things to shave and steal their hair in the night (or kill, but I'd rather not kill something so useful unless absolutely necessary) before winter hits _at all_.  You know what's usually way easier and quicker to find?  RABBITS! And I'd much rather have a "sucky, useless item" than have a NOTHING, and die of hypothermia.  (This is what happened in my "No Science Machine challenge"--because the earmuffs do need that (I'm with the people who say they shouldn't), I was BONED when winter hit.)

(raises hand) MEEEE...!  I just...don't really _care_ about the combat in this game, and since I don't care, I don't have the motivational energy to learn, so...I'd rather not lose my entire world with all that stuff I carefully gathered and built and took care of for hundreds of days, just to go tangle with some completely/possibly optional giant monster that I KNOW can destroy all that in _one_ lucky hit, 'kay?  'Kay.  If you didn't lose your _world_ when you died in this game maybe I'd be more willing to try, but....then you'd still have to get past my "I'm booooorrreeed, can we go do something else? ooh!  that berry bush just grew back!"  (runs off to go play some more "H.P. Lovecraft's 'Harvest Moon'".)

Also, newbs.  And resource scarcity.  And difficulty of finding certain ingredients in time, possibly.

Also also, I'm an edge case, but I very much like the fact that there IS variety around because sometimes I _deliberately use the lower stuff for a long time_.  Why?  Mainly the "March of Civilization Challenge", but I would never have come UP with that in the first place if DST _didn't_ have tiers.  Like, I can't pretend to be a primitive Bronze-Age farmer who just now figured out that if you plant useful things' seeds on purpose, you'll get more of them later, if there are no Basic Farms.  THAT fits that part of the challenge much better. Parasols aren't as good as umbrellas but...umbrellas look like they're made out of plastic.  It'd make much more sense for an ancient-times person to put something together out of flowers and sticks...  In real gameplay terms, what if you haven't found a source of pigskins yet, or the damn spiders are hiding this time around?

Although it may seem unnecessary and even annoying to experts, I have always thought that it feels more _organic_ and fun to have things develop gradually, for things to HAVE lower steps, rather than just jumping straight to the end.  It just...I dunno, the other way just feels way more artirficial to me.  The one is more like "Here, you're in this wilderness world with nothing, figure it out yourself!" and the others is like "THIS IS A GAME.  YOU ARE A MODERN PERSON WHO HAS READ THE WALKTHROUGH ONLINE.  GO GET YOUR MOST EFFICIENT STUFF IMMEDIATELY WITHOUT ANY LOGIC OR STORY BEHIND HOW YOU KNEW TO DO THOSE THINGS BEEP BOOP."

It's the difference between Don't Starve and the Hunger Games, basically.  In the Hunger Games, you can get fully-made modern (or slightly futuristic) stuff sent right to you wholesale if you play right, and it's just flat-out known that you are in an artificial survival environment that can be controlled by other humans on purpose.  The Constant, however, may have STARTED as an artificially (magically) created world, but quickly got out of hand...

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA _imagine_?  Dude I've lived entire in-game YEARS' worth without those things, on purpose.  Why? Feel like it. 

(Well TECHNICALLY I make an alchemy engine at the very beginning because you need it to make the thermal stone, but I consider that to be _very_ low-tech in actuality, so it'd be okay for the "hunter-gatherer" to use, narrative-wise.  But  after that said alchemy engine is strictly to be used for present-opening only, until at least that year is over.)

Anyway, the lower-tier stuff exists for many reasons, is what I'm getting at.  Noobs, challenges, lack of resources, not finding the right biome in time...all kinds of stuff.  You may want to leapfrog over the lower-tier items, but not everybody does, and to take the earlier stuff out entirely would feel jarring and artificial, as if pages had been ripped out of the book.

...Notorious

There’s a lot going on in this post.  Some of which I agree with, some of which I don’t.

For example, once you’re sufficiently established there’s no risk in a long standing world if you fail to kill a boss.

Just plop down a meat effigy at your base and do whatever.  There’s no chance of losing everything to an optional boss.

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On 5/12/2020 at 2:15 AM, Shosuko said:

 

Just a little note. You still can beat bee queen with walls, you only need to make them longer and put doors (i put  1 on the road and 2 in the opposite sides)

Even if the bees come from the sea you will have some time to hit her for a while

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