Objective and antagonization.


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I have only been playing this game for a few days, so excuse me if I'm not as knowledgeable about it as I should be, but from what I have read it seems that the devs really want to discourage turtling and base-building. However, most of the current features completely discourage a nomadic lifestyle. Here's a list of some of features I feel lend themselves towards turtling:

-Permanent structures such as science/alchemy machines and the fire pit

-The necessity for armor for exploration requires you to store items in chests

-Renewable food resources that can be easily maintained and relocated

-Exploration often just leads to things that are better at killing you

-There is a cost for removing a permanent structure, not all resources are returned

-The imperative of "night" makes you less likely to go more than a day away from your current set up

-Most resources can be found within a day walk from your spawn (two if you're unlucky)

-At the moment, the game can be broken down into finding a source of resources and relocating them closer to you

-Research points require a certain amount of grinding which is made easier by turtling

What I'm trying to get at is that the game FEELS like it wants you to turtle. It feels like you should be hunkering down for the night in a well lit base where all the nice things that you've gathered are all around you, there's no reason not to. And if you're missing something, you just need to go out and bring it back. Maybe you will set up a firepit there if it's more than a day away. However, as far as the game is concerned, you're winning. You're not starving. And therein lies the problem. With the objective being "don't starve", there is no possible scenario in which a hunter/gatherer life-style would be preferable to an agricultural one. It's the reason we as humans transitioned out of that phase and into something that was better for us entirely. There's a reason it was called the agricultural revolution. Leaving our fate to the elements is always less preferable to taking it into our own hands and cultivating or herding.

However, there are certain scenarios we can look at in which humans took to nomadic life rather than fortification of a single area. For example, the plains Native Americans who famously lived in the mobile tipi and spent the seasons chasing after buffalo. This was their objective. It is a moving target that they could not reliably harness. There would be no benefit to staying in a single place when their food source was constantly moving, so they were constantly moving. This applies itself to any sort of objective based gameplay, whether it's a collection (gather 5 bear asses), conquer (beat the big bad at the end of the dungeon) or completion (unlocking all the things). At the moment, completion is the only real motivation to venture out from your base. These types of objectives motivate the player to venture out from a stable environment for, mostly, rewards, glory and princesses, just as the migration of the buffalo motivated the Native Americans to travel out onto the plains.

Chasing after what you want is all fine and good for motivation, but I feel what the developers really want to stress is the second kind of nomadic motivation: running away from things that are trying to kill you. The most notably, at least in the boring world of humans, is the cold of winter, but it isn't as easily applied to a game such as this. I have read that seasons are something they're thinking about heavily. However, it also brings up the idea of "stockpiling" (assuming, of course, that the seasons will make certain resources not available all year). Again, the uncertainty of leaving your survival in the hands of nature makes us go first to the idea of "I better overproduce what I have now because I will not have it later" rather than "I better find some way of securing a second source of food for the winter". The uncertainty, I believe, would encourage players to build more chests and bigger fields to grind more so that they don't need to rely on chance for survival. If you want antagonization to work, it needs to be something more destructive and less preventable. Something that destroys what the player has built if he doesn't move it out of the way. In this way, the trouble has to go TO the player rather than having the player go to the trouble, which discourages exploration and encourages turtling. Something like a seasonal migration of giants or an invading army of worm men. Something that will make "permanent" objects temporary.

What the game needs is the mandate of time and external pressures that amount to more than a handful of easily dispatched dogs. Importantly, however, is that the "invaders", or whatever they would be, should not specifically target the player. They should prioritize destroying his belongings before killing him. The fact that they're destroying his infrastructure is far more important than if they were trying to kill him. In killing him, they undermine the threat of starvation and remove the pressure to live without permanence. Until the time arises where he could defend a permanent dwelling from a cloud-man raiding party or a stampede of giant ferrets, he cannot turtle and will be forced to move quickly, live tentatively and explore for safer pastures.

Well, that is all I really have to say for now. I'm sure this subject has been talked to death over, but I hope I can provide some fresh insights!

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I have only been playing this game for a few days, so excuse me if I'm not as knowledgeable about it as I should be, but from what I have read it seems that the devs really want to discourage turtling and base-building.

Hmm, as I understand it they want to encourage base building, but discourage turtling. The distinction being they want you to have a home base, but they also want you to leave that base a lot.

However, most of the current features completely discourage a nomadic lifestyle.

...

What I'm trying to get at is that the game FEELS like it wants you to turtle.

This is caused mostly by the fact the game is still rather early in (content) beta. As events, critters, and other such things are going to be added, this feeling should change. As it stands, I agree. The game currently FEELS like it wants you to turtle.

Chasing after what you want is all fine and good for motivation, but I feel what the developers really want to stress is the second kind of nomadic motivation: running away from things that are trying to kill you. The most notably, at least in the boring world of humans, is the cold of winter, but it isn't as easily applied to a game such as this. I have read that seasons are something they're thinking about heavily. However, it also brings up the idea of "stockpiling" (assuming, of course, that the seasons will make certain resources not available all year). Again, the uncertainty of leaving your survival in the hands of nature makes us go first to the idea of "I better overproduce what I have now because I will not have it later" rather than "I better find some way of securing a second source of food for the winter". The uncertainty, I believe, would encourage players to build more chests and bigger fields to grind more so that they don't need to rely on chance for survival. If you want antagonization to work, it needs to be something more destructive and less preventable. Something that destroys what the player has built if he doesn't move it out of the way. In this way, the trouble has to go TO the player rather than having the player go to the trouble, which discourages exploration and encourages turtling. Something like a seasonal migration of giants or an invading army of worm men. Something that will make "permanent" objects temporary.

They are implementing something along the lines of what you mention in the end here, of making permanent objects temporary with having you complete a world, and use a portal to the next one, carrying only what you have on you to the next world. This fulfills a 3rd reason for a nomadic lifestyle, wanderlust. No matter how hard I try, by the time i get to day 30, I can't stand sitting in my safe awesome food producing area. I end up trying to do something crazy, like setting up crazy pig vs spider battlefields (doesn't work well, pigs RUN to bed too fast hehe).

Anyway, back on topic... I really like what your saying about making threats come to the player. The hounds are the first of such ideas implemented. To go with your giants idea, perhaps in the winter, all the ents migrate south? Imagine seeing 3-6 ents moving slowly towards your camp... you gonna stick around?

What the game needs is the mandate of time and external pressures that amount to more than a handful of easily dispatched dogs. Importantly, however, is that the "invaders", or whatever they would be, should not specifically target the player. They should prioritize destroying his belongings before killing him. The fact that they're destroying his infrastructure is far more important than if they were trying to kill him. In killing him, they undermine the threat of starvation and remove the pressure to live without permanence. Until the time arises where he could defend a permanent dwelling from a cloud-man raiding party or a stampede of giant ferrets, he cannot turtle and will be forced to move quickly, live tentatively and explore for safer pastures.

Well, that is all I really have to say for now. I'm sure this subject has been talked to death over, but I hope I can provide some fresh insights!

You hit on a very good point in this paragraph actually, one that may not have been fairly discussed yet, and which you are correct about. The threat of death is the wrong implementation in terms of gameplay. The game is (currently) based entirely around surviving, but if the player dies, everything else stops mattering. It provides a small thrill, small shot of adrenaline true, but if the beasts came charging in, and torching your grass fields, you would feel a much deeper thrill. Suddenly, you know you are going to survive, but you are going to have to work much much harder to NOT STARVE. I gotta say, Kudos on this observation. Its actually a really interesting point to ponder!

Oh, and the devs have stated that Theivery of some kind is expected to show up Soon.

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Funnily enough, I found my way to the future of the game post directly after posting this. You're right as far as encouraging base building and discouraging turtling which makes me a lot more confident in the direction of the game. As it stands, if they were going to go through with the direction I had in my mind, they would be fighting against the base game for a different outcome than is set up. The one-way portal to another world idea is pretty interesting, but I'll have to wait to see how it's implemented to comment.

Anyway, I'd like to add to my original post with a catch to the "migration of giants" (or equivalent) which is that it should like the giants are going to migrate regardless of you existing in the world. One thing I feel the devs really want to do (ok, honestly, it's just what I want from the game ;) ) is create an environment in which the player feels he's insignificant to the world around him. He should feel like the world would spin regardless of him being on it and that things are happening that are, in some sense, above him. Something like in Tolkein's The Hobbit, to be topical, when he mentions Rock Giants tossing boulders back and forth on the cliffs of the Misty Mountains. Even simple things such as having pig men interact with each other rather than wait for the player to approach them or have the Tall Bird collect sticks for his nest. Maybe a giant sky-manta ray that flies overhead and can only be seen if the player fully zooms out (though he'll see the shadow). Things like that, I feel, are really important to create a world that is truly daunting and "big".

Edited by Bottlegnomes
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