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The sea is boring (but fixable)


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I’ve been doing some hard thinking on the sea, and i think ive come to some conclusions and had some good ideas on how to “fix” sailing in DST.

 

firstly, we need to “pick a lane”. What do i mean by that? I mean do we want sailing to be a major gameplay feature, or do we want sailing to be a minor “get resources and dont touch again except for fun” system. 
 

basically is sailing about the journey or the destination?
 

right now at least, sailing has boats that would be especially good for long term ocean survival, and absolutely no reason to do anything more than the bare minimum to get your sea resources and get back to base. What i’m saying by this is that the style of boats, and the gameplay that is encouraged is at odds with one another.

 

okay so what should we choose?

 

well that’s entirely up to klei, but to me at least, id say that everything currently circles around getting what you want and leaving.

 

SPEEDRUNNING THE OCEAN 

 

 

Its all about the destination currently, so we need a focus on tools that make discovering and reaching locations fast easier. Spyglass from shipwrecked is obvious and good, but personally i think its a bit unimaginative.

 

tools that would be good for rushing ocean content:

small maneuverable boats that can move fast even if you just use oars, but provides little space for “basebuilding” and is very cramped if a fight happens on it.

spyglass

upgraded spyglass

Maps buried in graveyards showing POI on the ocean (salt stacks, waterlogged biome, possibly even the moon quay) 

a boss that when killed reveals the lunar island for a more natural way to discover it rather than exploiting a map generation bug. (Also make it give material for upgraded spyglass)

small sail: for the aforementioned small boat, gives little acceleration for large boats but turns extremely fast. Is comparable to a regular sail when placed on a small boat.

personal flotation device: basically a inner tube that a player can wear to swim for a few minutes. Primarily used to cross small patches of water AND to mine and gather stuff not worth getting the boat close for.

And of course more can be imagined, but the point of all these addons would be to encourage and enable “rushing” the ocean content. Show players where the good stuff is and let them run out and grab it easily. You can still use the bigger boats for extended trips on the water though.

now all that is only one side of this proverbial coin. Some ideas can go both ways so to speak and would be nice even if added with none of the rest, but those are the speedboating tools.  
 

some of you may be going “well this is just a whole list of suggestions” and you wouldn’t be entirely wrong, but i promise theres a philosophy behind what i’m suggesting and why i’m saying what i’m saying. It will be explained later with examples from both sides. Also a reason will be given as to why we should pick a side and not just implement everything.


OCEANBASING:

 

 

Lets talk about the other side of the coin.

if we want sailing to be a major feature. Then we need a sailing gameplay loop outside of reaching destination. We would also need sustainability so we no longer are tied to our bases quite so heavily (i.e ocean sources for typical resources) this to me feels like what klei wanted boating to be eventually, but we are just not there yet. 

This would require the most changes, but i’m sure a lot of people would greatly enjoy boating if treated right.

For major feature boating we need: 

A primary and secondary method of obtaining enough food for players while on the ocean.

examples include {

2x2 buildable farmplot for ocean farming, with included rain barrel for an ocean water source (and also for watering crops at base without a nearby pond)

An easy source of small fish e.g. fishing net.

Something to kill for food

a source of filler that doesn’t require you to ram the boat into a single kelp and let go of the steering wheel and either drop the anchor or hope that you can collect it before its pushed out of your reach. 
}

a source of basic crafting materials like sticks and grass and wood.

(Probably a biome with small ocean trees that can be harvested like regular trees, with fish in it that are attracted to sticks as bait specifically, and give 2 sticks and 2 grass for every fish caught)

a better portable light source than building a fire on your boat, that is entirely accessible from the ocean.

It would be nice to have a bigger slower boat for mobile basing on the ocean, you wouldn’t want to fight anything that causes leaks using this boat, but it would allow players to have a functional small base on the ocean. Basically we should be able to start our boat moving and not even worry about collisions because unless we strap 2 or more sails we wont even hit leak speeds. 
 

A new ocean threat: hounds aren’t well suited to situations inwhich you cant run away, they come in numbers too high to reasonably fight off in a confined area, its why hound tooth traps are a thing. Instead maybe we could have something that circles the boat like a bat, and climbs on the boat 2 at a time per player currently on board.


then, most importantly, we need a good reason to be out on the water. 

i’m not exactly sure what this could be. I mean your base being mobile is a huge step foward on that front, because you can just move it wherever would be convenient for your current task, but thats more a good reason to have a mobile base. 
 

i think making there be a good source of healing and armor would be helpful, maybe the ocean threat has a 25% chance of dropping a pigskin(?) would be nice. More islands also helps, but runs the risk of the current “harvest then leave” mentality. 
 

i think a good candidate is to revive the ocean chest loot system. Make it more easily obtained (pinching winch sucks sorry klei) and make them always spawn within a certain relatively long distance. About half the map is reasonable. They should spawn pretty frequently too. 
 

all of thats purpose is to give players a good reason to spend a lot of time out on the water, ideally they could spend time making a nice boat, then set sail and almost never be forced to land again. (They will land again eventually to explore the inner map)

THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE CHOICE:
 

 

Now we can talk arguably the most important point: why pick a side, you could just enable both playstyles.

and you COULD, in theory, just add all of that, and players will pick the playstyle they prefer. And that COULD work, and it could be fun too. But too much choice is a problem that exists.

let me explain:

when we were talking about features, it seemed like i was primarily highlighting things that would be nice to add to the ocean, and you’d be right in thinking that, because i WAS.

but theres a topic involved that i specifically steered away from because its a bit controversial.

things that would be nice to be removed from the ocean:

a shocking thought, just deleting content, but one gameplay styles boon is often another ones pain. 

if we want speedrunning the ocean to be the playstyle, the random ocean stacks are ideal, they provide an obstacle that you need to steer around or you’ll be smashed against them. You have to pay attention or you can smash your ship, its good design.

 

but if we want a slow moving ocean base? The ocean stacks being randomly placed is a huge hinderance basically requiring you to stop and mine them out repeatedly. Itd be antithetical to the experience of chillin on your ocean base if every half day you had to stop what your doing and break a sea stack that you bumped into. Even if it doesnt damage the boat its a pain. In essense, its bad design.

 

essentially, gameplay mechanics that work well for one design style doesnt work for all styles. 

In a fast moving boat, the hounds as they exist now are a great threat. They force you to get to land quickly and fight them in a safe manner. It adds a lot of danger needing to rush back to solid land or your small boat would be swarmed quickly. The new threat i reccomended for large boats would take away that urgency and possible “i’d rather crash my cheap boat than be caught out on the ocean like this” moments
 

in a large slow boat however, you cant possibly get to land in time before the hounds reach you, so instead of forcing you to deal with an unreasonable amount of hounds in a still relatively small area, we add a new more considerate enemy who is themed around the ocean.

a placeable farmplot for ocean farming is cool for mobile bases, but useless if you arent going to be on your tiny raft long.

Revealing all the POI before you ever sail would be spoilers if boating was slow.

no one would ever spend the time to gather grass and sticks and logs on the water if they could just rush back to their base and do it in bulk. 
 

The point i’m making is that they need to make a decision so that way they can intelligently plan out future gameplay mechanics. 
 

some of the current mechanics are already suffering from a lack of understanding of where they wanna go.

crabking is a terrible boss, but all of his mechanics are good. What gives? Well the boats are too big and slow to actually dodge any of his cool attacks, so instead players are forced to tank through them. This leads to boats being rapidly smashed through, and people having to bring 10 or more boat kits so they can make and throw away enough boats to widdle him down. Its bad implementation of good design.

crab king could be redesigned, keep all of his current mechanics, and become good, but thats not what this post is about. 
 

the ocean content needs a direction, and it needs to be stuck to. We could have really cool boating one way or another, but it needs to be one way or another. Boats as they are just dont work, they clash with how the ocean is currently designed. So we either need to redesign boats to benefit the ocean (its more than just movement speed thats the problem) or we need to redesign the ocean so that a slow big boat is the way to go.

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1 hour ago, Copyafriend said:

with included rain barrel for an ocean water source

honestly, that should be an addition even without the ocean farm suggestion

1 hour ago, Copyafriend said:

better portable light source than building a fire on your boat, that is entirely accessible from the ocean.

we already have skittersquids which would be nice if they could be tamed with live fish

 

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The Ocean is Boring because it doesn’t have enough Content, and what little content it Does Have is tucked away in its own little secluded area somewhere. So what ends up happening is you sail through a painfully empty and boring ocean until you get to one of these points of interest. It also suffers from being something they added to the game rather than being there from the start. Prior to Return of Them DSTs ocean was inaccessible and just a cardboard cutout invisible barrier you couldn’t cross. Because of this the way the games biomes generate still do not properly account for the game having an ocean so every biome is just one massive landmass all clustered together with the exception for the two or three points of interest out at sea.

The Shipwrecked DLC was designed with an ocean in mind from the start, so biomes are spread apart across the water, and content is sprinkled around the ocean itself for example you’ll find coral reefs scattered about the waters as if you had took sprinkles and carefully scattered them across a cake. DST on the other hand.. mostly pours all its sprinkles into one spot.

Or to Reshare my TL:DR images of why DSTs ocean sucks-

Current Way content is generated.

D7EBC104-FE45-4CA8-A883-B747E13FA199.thumb.jpeg.911b55e582d001ea361bb6a6ea8cf9c1.jpeg

Vs How it would’ve been Generated in Shipwrecked-

45F493B4-4A0A-42A9-BF63-8C8D1A577A3D.thumb.jpeg.942140f9dcf854f6c02b24526f19b9a2.jpeg

Its important to note how biomes, and points of interest are scattered about all over everywhere in the second image, as opposed to the first.

This is largely why DSTs ocean content sucks, even after 4 years of doing updates to it.. and any content they continue to add out there will continue to suck as long as it’s tucked away in its own little secluded point of interest meanwhile- Everything inbetween those Points of Interest is a slow boring boat ride through painfully empty waters with nothing to see or do, or interact with.

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5 hours ago, Copyafriend said:

 

A few ocean threat: hounds aren’t well suited to situations inwhich you cant run away, they come in numbers too high to reasonably fight off in a confined area, its why hound tooth traps are a thing. Instead maybe we could have something that circles the boat like a bat, and climbs on the boat 2 at a time per player currently on board.

Really big cookie cutter kraken mix called the plaqken, tentacles keep your boat still while it digs through the bottom of your boat and you have to fight it off

Imagine a big segmented tentacle wraps around the boat, a big shape under the water, you win by killing the tentacles holding you down which drop monster meat and something else tooth related while it chews through your boat from below, this concept is rife for puns. 

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I don't think we have to be exclusive with these choices.  I also think this is talking around the bigger issues.

When ocean content was first released I loved it.  I could rush a boat and get on the ocean in first autumn and I enjoyed finding a way to survive through the seasons touching the main land as little as possible.

But like - every update they added ruined it a little more.

For starters a lot of the stuff on the ocean is very binary.  Many things can outright destroy your ship, or you.  There isn't much room to recover.  Even when you do recover, boat patches mess up your boat so you have to replace it anyway.  There isn't a good gray area where you can encounter something without perfect play and get by.

The nuisance level is way too high as well.

See a school of fish?  Awesome.  Here are sharks that will jump on your boat with big aoe attacks and erratic attack patterns.  They might eventually go away, or they don't.  Who knows?

Want lightbulbs for lighting?  Here are squids, which have an erratic spawn pattern, very complicated combat patterns, and you get like what, 1 light bulb?  Why are they so annoying and difficult for just a lightbulb?

Speaking of light, here is a boat lamp - with a horrible light radius that barely lights up the boat if placed perfectly centered.  Never worth using.

Like everything Klei adds they think "now how can me make this addition cursed so that players would rather just not deal with it."

The Moon Quay update sounded so interesting!  I love the idea of pirate raids, but again they are so binary.  They WILL board your boat, break things, and steal things and the ways to counter this aren't fun or engaging.  Its too binary and punishing.

Its like Klei is so afraid of actually giving us anything good out there, that they make everything so annoying to get and under tuned that it just isn't worth it.  The good things on the ocean usually relate to a mainland base, like the Moon Quay resources and structures, tree nuts, etc.  They even resort to FORCING us to tackle things like CK in order to unlock CC.  Imagine if Misery Toad was a requirement to fight AFW lol

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

What can be done about it?

Well for starters Klei can recognize that boat life is a different way to play the game that can add variety and choice to players.  Based on the content we've received so far I feel like Klei doesn't actually want us to use most of the ocean and boat stuff.  They need to recognize that its OKAY to let players have a place they can actually enjoy that isn't just trying to harass and kill them non-stop.  There are plenty of places in the mainland and caves where you can stop and chill, and recover.  The ocean needs this too!  Its OKAY to give players something decent for getting out there and navigating the more hazardous places.  Compare rushing ruins to ocean and its night and day the effort / risk / reward between the two...

You listed a lot of good fixes - the ocean needs to be a play style that can be sustained.  I don't think we need to put a farm plot on a boat, but we do need ways we can set up food production.  We need ways to get more resources AND we need the resources required for the ocean to largely come from the ocean.  There is no progression currently, b/c everything you need is actually tied to land.  This needs to change.  The amount of effort for resources that are more required like lightbulbs, logs, twigs and grass can go down.  The effectiveness and availability of weapons and armor needs to go up.  Pirate raids are a great concept, and could easily be the oceans hound wave, but they really need to rework the execution.  Scale their difficulty with server time, and add in ways players can actually deal with them.  Also delete that curse crap - again way too binary and punishing.

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Well in the original post I have some suggestions I agree with and some I don't agree with at all, however instead of directly referring to those points (sorry OP (: ), I just wanted to put my two cents in by saying that I would have legit reasons to start my worlds by mapping out the ocean first if fundamental stuff like gathering basic resources or optional but extremely useful stuff like taming a Beefalo weren't that out of reach while sailling.

I don't dislike the journey, I don't dislike the destination. I dislike the fact that both of these are never enough of a reason for me to consider them as priorities, because otherwise I will be missing out on a majority of the game's content, be it collecting twigs or be it raiding the ruins. I will also be delaying those content substantially because I didn't prepare for them in time, meaning I will have to spend more time having less fun.

In my opinion, as long as sailing on the ocean itself (not the destinations on the ocean) doesn't offer anything particularly productive, no amount of QoL items, interesting biomes, game objectives, etc. will make the ocean content as a whole any more appealing than it is now. So I would say we need either the same options the mainland offers or equivalently valuable alternatives, otherwise the new ocean will just be the same old ocean with some additional points of interests. Also please Klei we need Beefalo with the swimmer tendency

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I think sections of the world need to be broken up requiring sailing from one area to another, with like maybe 2 or 3 other biomes attached. Other than that I really like sailing currently. Still would like more things and for normal biomes to be smaller because let's be honest, is having 2 giant forests really nessecary or having a biome that is 20x larger than the pig king area that is just dead space with a few bees really nessecary? Fill it with ocean and an aquatic biome of some sort.

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I've tried making an ocean base on top of a fish spawner that I knew didn't come with Malbatross with a bunch of meaty bulbs and fish traps, but like Shosuko mentioned it became totally non-viable once I realized how totally ****** fighting a rockjaw is. Their existence makes staying in one place on the ocean totally impossible, so I think ocean-speedrun is the way to go, a base will never work.

 

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I've said it before and I'll say it again. The ocean in DST is boring because the mainland sits smack dab in the middle of it essentially boiling sailing down to traveling in a circle to explore.

Then once you have fully sailed a circle around your mainland most ocean biomes are a short half day sail away from the edge of the mainland. It just all feels so pointless and arbitrary. 

To make sailing more exciting they either need to drastically expand the size of the ocean with additional mainland sized continents to explore and potentially base at, or they need to break the current mainland up into smaller chunks and have rivers and other bodies of water separating them to better incorporate sailing. 

 

 

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The answer is Sea Stacks.

You will surprised by just how much real estate the sea stacks occupy.

Reveal any map, look at where there are any sea stacks, and those areas are places that could have been something else.

I plan on removing all the Sea Stacks in my megabase world one day, since I have sailed around the ocean in a creative world where there are no sea stacks and sailing becomes so much more fun.

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59 minutes ago, sudoku said:

To make sailing more exciting they either need to drastically expand the size of the ocean with additional mainland sized continents to explore and potentially base at, or they need to break the current mainland up into smaller chunks and have rivers and other bodies of water separating them to better incorporate sailing. 

 

fr like in the old Adventure Mode where the wormholes connected the different lands, except you can boat too.  It would be a lot better that way imo.

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21 minutes ago, Shosuko said:

fr like in the old Adventure Mode where the wormholes connected the different lands, except you can boat too.  It would be a lot better that way imo.

Plus they could go all out with beaches, rocky coasts, river beds, beaver dams, river tides and rapids that push you in one direction but speed up travel , lakes....

I mean the possibilities are endless 

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I haven't been much interested in boating since the ocean content began to come out, much less in the short time I've played DST recently - I loved Woodie's rework when it came out solely to jesus over the ocean - but I really don't know if the devs need to overhaul the concept as hard as some of the comments are suggesting here.

I have two simple ideas to make boating more fun and useful:

1. Make the borders of the ocean a foggy barrier that wraps the map around, warping the players and their boat to the other edge of the map, like north to south, east to west, vice versa

Just by changing the watery edges of the map from a discouraging and pointless dead end to edges that wrap around to the other side, the map would feel much more open.

This would allow players to boat to a closer edge to reach some grotesquely far continents on the other side of the map, rather than force them to sail in a tedious circle around the mainland like they do now - a restrictiveness that only emphasizes how plain the ocean is.

 

2. Make more valuable fishes, and make them one of the main appeals of the ocean.

The way the ocean is currently designed, making more uses for and designing biomes around fishes (mobs which populate the entire ocean) is in my eyes, the best way to incentivize boating long-term, over spending months developing new islands and resources that players will naturally only want to bring back to the mainland and grow at their base.

There are so many types of ocean fishes - and what, only two of them are useful and unique! Is the point of the remaining ones just to show Pearl, and for completionists? That's.. such a shame for their potential!

Cull the less useful and samey fishes, and make more distinguishable shoals that make up different 'biomes' of oceans that players can explore and visit regularly to fish up these unique fishes.

What if there was an ocean fish that made you temporarily chop/mine faster after you ate it? One that burst-increases sanity in an area when cooked? One that gives temporary night vision? One that raises your max health one time slightly until your next death?

There are two fishes that just turn into corn/popcorn when killed/cooked.. I'm glad it exists for sailor Wurts, but what if say, eating a popperfish made you throw up popcorn once every few minutes, giving you bonus dripfed hunger without taking up more inventory?

There are a bevvy of mechanics I can think of that nowhere near change the game so drastically they make exploring and earning things on the mainland or caves redundant, but can make survival convenient enough to incentivize boating for access to them, especially if they are 1) more accessible through the map wrapping, and 2) in more distinctive ocean biomes players can aim to find and visit.

 

Last things, obviously improve the CK and Malbtross boss fights... Admittedly I haven't personally dealt with the new ocean threats much. I met a rockjaw once and its shark-movie-sounds were very memorable lol. But seeing some complaints about general threats on the ocean here, what if instead of being aggressive to everything, these threats were more conditional?

Like maybe rockjaws would only appear near players who are under half health, like sharks on the scent of blood? That'd make them a more conditional threat like bunnies underground reacting to meat. Iunno

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8 hours ago, Atkvin said:

2. Make more valuable fishes, and make them one of the main appeals of the ocean.

Yes please, I particularly want to see more bigger fish 

We need more counterparts to what SW offers like swordfish, Dogfish, Whales, Dolphins, Jellyfish where they all have different behavior and ways to interact with them.

DST on the other hand has what Skittersquids? Which are incredibly rare and give you a single lightbulb asa drop... Or the Rockjaw which is such a pain in the butt to fight most players avoid them. And the Gnarwail who only seems to exist to frustrate players by eating all their fish.

Bottom line is we need more cool fish with good reasons to hunt them. 

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I think the best way would be to change worldgen so that the mainland generates in a corner. Like, really in a corner, to the point that some of the land edges are connected directly to the deeper, stage prop ocean (with some nice looking cliffs, so that it's not like caves perfectly smooth vertical walls going down to the abyss).

That way the mainland wouldn't have to be cut up into chunks, the ocean would no longer be a ring around the mainland and it'd be a much bigger area that we could, more-or-less, traverse with just one boat

Then the map would be something like this, imo, much better for the ocean and sailing:

Spoiler

image.thumb.png.e0b91766eb58184d88974ebf8d4559f4.png

 

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On 4/21/2023 at 8:35 AM, Szczuku said:

I think the best way would be to change worldgen so that the mainland generates in a corner. Like, really in a corner, to the point that some of the land edges are connected directly to the deeper, stage prop ocean (with some nice looking cliffs, so that it's not like caves perfectly smooth vertical walls going down to the abyss).

That way the mainland wouldn't have to be cut up into chunks, the ocean would no longer be a ring around the mainland and it'd be a much bigger area that we could, more-or-less, traverse with just one boat

Then the map would be something like this, imo, much better for the ocean and sailing:

  Reveal hidden contents

image.thumb.png.e0b91766eb58184d88974ebf8d4559f4.png

 

The best way would be to change worldgen so that the mainland generates as a set of islands that are very close to eachother each of them would have a couple of random biomes from the mainland, some of them would have set biomes and have the same ones in all worlds, and the gap between them would have to be enough to at least fit a big boat through without having any close calls with collision, would make so you can fall back onto one of the main islands if you really need to and would keep the worldgen of the ocean mostly the same (though I don't know if that'd be a good thing :))

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