Ecology - Predator/Prey behavior


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One of the things that games often suffer from is a sense that the world simply exists for the sake of the player. While this is obviously the real state of affairs, I don't think it is desirable for it to be obvious. The thing that makes the fake nature of the world most clear is when nothing seems to happen that is not caused by the player.

To give the world a greater feeling of depth (i.e. that it existed before the player and will happily continue on without him), I would like to see greater interation between the systems of the world. For example, if Beefalo were to eat tall grass tufts, it would show that grass had a purpose other than to be collected by the player, and that it had been growing back from being cut down long before the player entered the world.

What do spiders eat? How do spider nests form when they aren't placed by a player? What were the tallbirds guarding their nests against before the player arrived? Why do Beefalo form herds? (In the real world cattle bunch up into tight herds as a defence against predators. That said, while beefalo might start in tight herds, they don't seem to stay that way, so it's not too bad)

I would particularly like to see the spiders become actual predators. At the moment they are the most 'gamey' of the creatures in Don't Starve, seeming to have no purpose in life other than to torment the player and provide him/her with webs. What if they actually placed webs in the world that functioned similar to player traps? When they start wandering around in the evening it could be that they are actually going out to collect their catch for the day and place new webs.

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To give the world a greater feeling of depth (i.e. that it existed before the player and will happily continue on without him), I would like to see greater interation between the systems of the world. For example, if Beefalo were to eat tall grass tufts, it would show that grass had a purpose other than to be collected by the player, and that it had been growing back from being cut down long before the player entered the world.

We're on the same wavelength here, as I've also suggested this. One of the key issues is that right now beefalo are finite, they never have babies. Once beefalo can have babies, what's to stop them from multiplying endlessly? I'm of course assuming that baby beefalo would eventually become adult beefalo. Now a game play solution would be to place a cap on beefalo numbers, but then that would mean no new baby beefalo until an adult died. A better solution would be to either control beefalo numbers with a predator or require them to eat, grass being the obvious choice, or else they starve.

What this would mean is that beefalo and the player are competing for the same resource, grass, and when this resource is depleted because of them the beefalo who cannot eat it will starve and die. This would create a natural buffer against beefalo overpopulation, while also giving the player a reason to hunt beefalo, if in fact they don't have a predator. Of course the hounds will attack beefalo... but they're not that good at their job.

What do spiders eat? How do spider nests form when they aren't placed by a player?

I never gave this much thought. I assumed pig men, since they're often close to each other or "anything that crossed their paths" (rabbits, beefalo, ect). As insectivores maybe they would/should even eat spiders from other nests, similar to how ants from different colonies will fight each other even though they are the same species of ant.

What were the tallbirds guarding their nests against before the player arrived?

We can assume spiders, or maybe hounds, as they appear to be the only outwardly hostile monsters... well except on the full moon. Of course you never asked what the tallbirds eat. IMHO, I suggested tallbirds eat berries, so that there could be another creature other than the Gobbler that eats this resource... only I would suggest a tallbird only needs to eat 1 bush-worth of berries per day. In turn tallbird eggs should hatch, leading to baby tallbirds who grow into adults and maybe create their own nest. As with the beefalo I suggest population control be handled by the need for tallbirds to eat berries, and as there are often much fewer berry bushes than grass tufts their populations would be much smaller than a beefalo herd.

Why do Beefalo form herds? (In the real world cattle bunch up into tight herds as a defence against predators. That said, while beefalo might start in tight herds, they don't seem to stay that way, so it's not too bad)

One complaint was that beefalo start on the map in a single herd, but over time their AI has them wander everywhere... and often far from each other. In short, the herd breaks apart over time. Another forum member suggested a solution would be to create an "alpha" (male) beefalo and have it serve as a magnet to keep all other beefalo within range, and thus maintain the herd effect. If the alpha dies then the herd would break apart, but after a certain numbers of days the game would choose another beefalo from those still alive to become a new alpha, and it would wander the island gathering up the stray beefalo again back into a new herd.

I would particularly like to see the spiders become actual predators. At the moment they are the most 'gamey' of the creatures in Don't Starve, seeming to have no purpose in life other than to torment the player and provide him/her with webs. What if they actually placed webs in the world that functioned similar to player traps? When they start wandering around in the evening it could be that they are actually going out to collect their catch for the day and place new webs.

Agreed. I like how spiders come out at night and how they interact with other creatures (i.e. they attack tentacles), but they don't seem to bother other creatures, like the beefalo. They also don't bother treeguards, but I have no real issue with that... other than to say treeguards shouldn't drop meat when they die. that's just so... wrong.

As for using webs to trap players... that's certainly feasible... maybe along the ground? It makes me think of the webs used by cave spiders in Minecraft. Very annoying as they slow you down when passing through them while the spiders aren't slowed in the slightest. Of course most creatures don't move around at night (i.e. rabbits hide in their dens, birds fly off), so I can only imagien what the spiders are trying to catch.

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We're on the same wavelength here, as I've also suggested this. One of the key issues is that right now beefalo are finite, they never have babies. Once beefalo can have babies, what's to stop them from multiplying endlessly? I'm of course assuming that baby beefalo would eventually become adult beefalo. Now a game play solution would be to place a cap on beefalo numbers, but then that would mean no new baby beefalo until an adult died. A better solution would be to either control beefalo numbers with a predator or require them to eat, grass being the obvious choice, or else they starve.

What this would mean is that beefalo and the player are competing for the same resource, grass, and when this resource is depleted because of them the beefalo who cannot eat it will starve and die. This would create a natural buffer against beefalo overpopulation, while also giving the player a reason to hunt beefalo, if in fact they don't have a predator. Of course the hounds will attack beefalo... but they're not that good at their job.

For best results I would like to see a combination of the two. Without predators you will constantly have starving beefalo, which doesn't look that good. Starving beefalo should be easier for predators to hunt, which would mean they would be targeted first.

As for using webs to trap players... that's certainly feasible... maybe along the ground? It makes me think of the webs used by cave spiders in Minecraft. Very annoying as they slow you down when passing through them while the spiders aren't slowed in the slightest. Of course most creatures don't move around at night (i.e. rabbits hide in their dens, birds fly off), so I can only imagien what the spiders are trying to catch.

Actually, I meant webs should act like player placed traps. (i.e. catch rabbits or birds that wander into them. Should probably also trap butterflies and bees.) That said, I wouldn't be against the idea that players need to be careful about them too. Otherwise they might become a much too easy source of silk.

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For best results I would like to see a combination of the two. Without predators you will constantly have starving beefalo, which doesn't look that good. Starving beefalo should be easier for predators to hunt, which would mean they would be targeted first.

Agreed. I recall another aspect of my suggestion involved carcasses, from when a beefalo starved to death. It would allow a player to gather beefalo fur from it, but no meat (as that would be rotted).

Actually, I meant webs should act like player placed traps. (i.e. catch rabbits or birds that wander into them. Should probably also trap butterflies and bees.)

But since spiders hunt mainly at night, wouldn't the only person benefitting from these trapped animals be you? I say that because birds only "spawn" in you immediate area, however bunnies do appear to spawn everywhere so long as there is a bunny hole.

That said, I wouldn't be against the idea that players need to be careful about them too. Otherwise they might become a much too easy source of silk.

The key issue I see with this is what would stop the spiders from places webs everywhere? Maybe the webs placed one day would disappear the next day? Hmmm. It's hard to say.

On a side note, for another suggestion thread about "events" I suggested that spider might, once every year, migrate from their spider nest to create new spiders nests. And if not careful a player may find the spiders growing in numbers. Of course we all know there are ways to deal with spider infestations...

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Spiders putting web out to catch prey is a good idea. Maybe they can only put one web trap out until something has been caught and they´ve eaten, only then they can make another web trap. Spiders, rarely, going off to create a new nest is interesting. I´d think they would find a place which has their prey living there.

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As for using webs to trap players... that's certainly feasible... maybe along the ground? It makes me think of the webs used by cave spiders in Minecraft. Very annoying as they slow you down when passing through them while the spiders aren't slowed in the slightest. Of course most creatures don't move around at night (i.e. rabbits hide in their dens, birds fly off), so I can only imagine what the spiders are trying to catch.

I think that there should definitely be more of these "web walls" possibly being strung between trees? the spiders should build these structures around their nests frequently. although perhaps in higher concentrations AKA, level three nests, they begin to make a pseudo nest of sorts?

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