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Kalishikov

Some ideas and general concepts, for a more dynamic and exciting world!

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Kalishikov    12

PART 1

Since it’s so close to the next update, and i’m really hoping some new map generation will be included, i’ve been waiting to start my next run of Don’t Starve. So instead of playing briefly today I decided to write up some observations and general ideas.

So aside from the feather hat I have built/tried all craftables, done battle with every kind of monster and played all the available characters. I would certainly say i’ve used all the content so far. After a few deaths just working out what in the game is deadly and what isn’t, i’ve ended up suiciding with all the characters just to try a start with each one.

To start, let me just say I really love this game - the art design, quirky character quotes/personalities, and feel of the game world are all excellent. I found it by far the most entertaining at the beginning, having no idea what to do (didn’t read any spoilers) and testing things out. However, one thing that seemed pretty obvious was that the only threat to surviving was really doing random dangerous stuff as part of the learning process (dying at a beehive, spider nest, fighting tree-zilla, etc). Gathering enough food seemed really trivial even on my first playthroughs, and that was without using any “exploits” - I was using traps with bait to catch rabbits and bird traps to catch birds. Never even saw a reason to transplant berry bushes although I did later on just for the fun of building a garden of sorts.

My first suggestion would definately be making the (early) game much more difficult. There are just so many resources around, and sources of food, that it doesn’t feel like a struggle to survive at all. Now I was considering the result of having far fewer resources around, and initially that would seem bad simply because the map would be quite bare and unappealing. Perhaps it would make more sense to have some “filler” type things, such as shrubs or sapling trees that are too small to yield usable resources. This way it would be possible to avoid the abundance of resources we have currently without making the screen look barren. On my last start i had more than 40 carrots after a couple of days of exploring, that seems totally excessive for a game focused on survival.

I understand that some of the problem with re-starts seeming quite easy currently is due to the research system, which will be changed (hopefully this coming update), and that should help to make a new start a bit more fun as there will be more to do with prototypes. No big suggestions here as I quite like the idea of building prototypes, hopefully at a much higher cost so that it is not trivial to just research everything. Can’t really say more on this until the new system is revealed!

So, what seems like the biggest issue for devs and sometimes for players, is having a “base” that is just too safe, as well as lack of motivation to leave and explore. I felt like the idea of having resources be divided in some cases between different biomes was designed to encourage the player to travel between different areas to gather needed resources. However, transplanting of course made it extremely easy to go dig up however many grass/trees/bushes you need and build little farms of the stuff at your base. I had two ideas that perhaps would help with this problem.

Firstly, having the process of transplanting reduce the output of the plant. So once a plant is moved, it then will grow much slower than in the wild. Providing the reduction in growth is significant this would mean wild plants would be much more valuable in terms of yield as transplanted ones. Now I know people reading this will be thinking “if that was implimented, we’d just go dig up as many extra plants as needed to compensate”.

So... secondly, how about changing the mechanics of digging up a resource, so that it does not automatically produce a plant that can be replanted. Say if you only got a plantable resource 20% of the time, it would be more of a risk/reward choice to try and dig things up as you might end up destroying them. Now if this was combined with my earlier suggestion about reducing overall resources in the gameworld, the choice could be an important one. The way I imagine it is that founding several bases of operations near different naturally occuring resources would be preferable, and that digging up plants from more distant areas that would be too far to harvest to suppliment the natural resources might be the way to go.

This kind of setup would help encourage travelling further out to get more of an elusive resource, and due to the element of chance in trying to dig up the plants there is more of a sense of adventure in it (rather than knowing 100% you’ll get X number of berry bushes from a location).

Making these kinds of changes in general environmental difficulty would make the early game less of a cakewalk like it is at the moment, although even if current resources were halved along with a low % chance to produce a plant when digging, it would certainly be within the grasp of the average player to create permanent camps planted with needed resources. However, it would be a (I think) fun challenge to find and build up a bunch of bushes, or grasses, or whatever resource you wanted, with perhaps some sense of achievement to it. At the moment I’m seeing screenshots of people planting 50+ of everything in big fields all around their camp with no difficulty in doing so.

On a side note - having plants around that don’t yield resources, to fill up some screen space in the absence of some current resources, would give the opportunity to use them as decorative items should you wish to dig up and replant shrubs/saplings around your camps.

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Kalishikov    12

PART 2

After many hours of gameplay, what I notice most is that the game world seems quite static, in that things mostly just interact with or respond to the player’s actions. If the player isn’t causing AI behaviour, you just get pigs walking around doing nothing, beefalo meandering around, spiders hiding in their webs.

What would be excellent to see would be a more interactive environment (in that parts of the environment interact with each other). Some examples have been given in various other idea threads, with my favourite being the introduction of predator/prey behaviour. This should not be restricted to carnivores (such as spiders hunting rabbits/birds for example) but also herbivore behaviour also. If the beefalo herd actually ate the grass it would affect it’s availablity for the player. I think i saw a suggestion somewhere that having the Tallbirds gather sticks for their nests would be good too. Obviously as more kinds of creatures are introduced with new content this could be expanded.

The main idea is that the ecosystem changes over time, which can affect the player. So if you camped near some beefalo, and they slowly over time ate up all the grass you were using, it would be an incentive to move to “greener pastures”. Or a player that was camping around rabbit holes and gathering morsels might find spiders moving into the area as they look for rabbits to eat, forcing the player to either move or clear out increasing amounts of spiders.

I know some of this dynamic environment is planned with seasons and weather events, but this kind of species interaction would seem like a natural compliment to those ideas. A great example that I just recently saw was Kevin’s hint at seasonal behaviour changes for beefalo (I’d presume they get aggressive in spring when it’s mating season) which also hint at baby beefalo. Having animal interaction change with the seasons (or during weather events) would be a great addition to planned behaviour changes.

For example, maybe during winter the spiders all hole up in their webs (I could be wrong but spiders are usually more active in hot weather?) and during summer they become very active, coming out during the day and chasing after birds/rabbits. If the beefalo actually use up grass resources, maybe they migrate to another suitable biome once a year (or for the winter season).

Now, all these general ideas about environmental changes, seasons, having things eating other things, well they sound nice but my main consideration with these ideas is what the effect will be on the player! To make these kinds of changes and have them actually promote a change in player behaviour (i.e. discourage turtling and/or encourage explorations/expeditions) one or both of these things would have to be in effect;

1. Resources would have to be much much harder to come by. Previous suggestions of non-automatic digging up of plants, simply making all resources harder to come by, and having animals eating/nesting plants would all help with that.

2. More resources would be required for survival. Possibilities might include reducing the amount of hunger gained from food (perhaps reduce the easily gathered food and leave the “end-game” foods as they are?), or increasing resources for crafting.

The overall idea being that, if the system of crafting and producing food we currently have was to remain unchanged, then halving the global resources and giving an 80% chance of destroying a plant by digging it up would not really make surviving much more difficult, just more time consuming. However, if the resources themselves were also either more in demand (due to higher costs) or less effective, then the choice of where to travel and what to harvest each day could actually be a choice worth considering.

Combine this daily/nightly decision with a changing environment due to seasons, weather and dynamic ecosystem, and hopefully the end product is a much more exciting experience than exploring everything, building a base and living happily ever after! :)

I hope this long string of text conveyed my notions clearly enough, I know some of the ideas mentioned here have been brought up by others previously. Thought it would be good to have a group of ideas/concepts all together to put some things in context - how one change might affect other changes, etc. Look forward to discussion of any/all of this stuff, and to future scavenging in the world of Don’t Starve!

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Siriusface    10

I haven't played nearly as much as you, Kalishikov, but I like your ideas- a game called 'Don't Starve', and I've yet to die from starvation? But I'd assume the devs worry about accessibility and 'fun-ness'; while it would be cool to make everything more desperate, spending all your time running around just barely living might not be the best time. Still, having a more dynamic world that interacted with itself would be incredible, though that'd also be a huge amount of work.

But it does seem like 'turtling' is currently too effective, and your ideas do seem to engage with that pretty effectively. Your ideas about beefalo migration got me thinking about a biannual beefalo stampede! The beefalo rampage across the landscape, crushing everything in their path. You hear a distant rumbling for a few hours, then dust appears on one side of the screen. Suddenly there are beefalo everywhere, crushing your dear, hard earned berry farm and ripping your grass and saplings apart as they crash through. Before long they are gone, leaving a devastated camp in their wake, and you find yourself forced to move onwards, ever onwards, hoping you can find shelter before night-fall.

How cool would that be? Beefalo move from one biome to another, and sometimes you just happen to get caught in the middle, forcing a relocation? Though I feel sorry for the devs because I'm sure what I'm suggesting is a hell of a lot of work.

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Kalishikov    12
I haven't played nearly as much as you, Kalishikov, but I like your ideas- a game called 'Don't Starve', and I've yet to die from starvation? But I'd assume the devs worry about accessibility and 'fun-ness'; while it would be cool to make everything more desperate, spending all your time running around just barely living might not be the best time. Still, having a more dynamic world that interacted with itself would be incredible, though that'd also be a huge amount of work.

I think what i was trying to get at, is that it's just so easy (though this could be mitigated by future content of course) that even if you for example, removed 3/4 of the resources from the map, there might be a small threat of starvation but still not that dire. Hence I suggest some more dynamic ideas like having animals eat plants, difficulty with relocating plants and similar, that would help make gathering resources and food not just harder but also a bit more interesting as well.

As an example of implimenting this kind of thing, take the idea of beefalo eating grass. Say each beefalo every x units of time (maybe twice a day?) would move to the nearest grass, perform a "eating" animation, and the grass resource then has to grow again just as if it was plucked by a player. If the beefalo cannot get to any grass by nightfall, it could die creating a starved dead body (that might be harvested for a fur). This means if the player competes too heavily with the native animals for grass, they will start to die off. Then having them migrate to a different "grassy" biome with the seasons would prevent them eating too much grass by accident.

But it does seem like 'turtling' is currently too effective, and your ideas do seem to engage with that pretty effectively. Your ideas about beefalo migration got me thinking about a biannual beefalo stampede! The beefalo rampage across the landscape, crushing everything in their path. You hear a distant rumbling for a few hours, then dust appears on one side of the screen. Suddenly there are beefalo everywhere, crushing your dear, hard earned berry farm and ripping your grass and saplings apart as they crash through. Before long they are gone, leaving a devastated camp in their wake, and you find yourself forced to move onwards, ever onwards, hoping you can find shelter before night-fall.

How cool would that be? Beefalo move from one biome to another, and sometimes you just happen to get caught in the middle, forcing a relocation? Though I feel sorry for the devs because I'm sure what I'm suggesting is a hell of a lot of work.

If behaviour was added allowing animals to seek and consume plants, then you could have beefalo also eat berry bushes (destroying them). Normally their natural biome doesn't have berry bushes so that would have no effect, but if they migrate through the player's camp and there's a farm of bushes.... either fight off the beefalo or lose the berry bushes. This kind of thing also helps give incentive not to pile up all plants in the same location.

Later on if more dangerous predators are introduced it would be possible that beefalo are their prey, and so they would follow the herd as it migrates making things even more interesting for the player if he/she gets caught in the way!

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If behaviour was added allowing animals to seek and consume plants, then you could have beefalo also eat berry bushes (destroying them). Normally their natural biome doesn't have berry bushes so that would have no effect, but if they migrate through the player's camp and there's a farm of bushes.... either fight off the beefalo or lose the berry bushes. This kind of thing also helps give incentive not to pile up all plants in the same location.

Later on if more dangerous predators are introduced it would be possible that beefalo are their prey, and so they would follow the herd as it migrates making things even more interesting for the player if he/she gets caught in the way!

Destroying berry bushes free of the player's will is a bad idea in my opinion. That could break the berry bushes.

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Kalishikov    12
Destroying berry bushes free of the player's will is a bad idea in my opinion. That could break the berry bushes.

It could just be "trampling" them so they take a decent amount of time to grow back, as long as it's some kind of damage to discourage investing everything in the camp. Say if it took a week for the plants to regrow (could actually be applied to any/all plants not just bushes) that would encourage the player to move to another base, or build one elsewhere, at least while everything recovered from the beefalo migration :)

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mobius187    30
So aside from the feather hat I have built/tried all craftables

Saving the best for last? I like your style. Wendy approves. :p

Gathering enough food seemed really trivial even on my first playthroughs, and that was without using any “exploits” - I was using traps with bait to catch rabbits and bird traps to catch birds. Never even saw a reason to transplant berry bushes although I did later on just for the fun of building a garden of sorts.

This varies from player to player. I watched the Yogcast Let's Play and saw them struggling and near starvation for the first few days. I didn't, but then I had benefited from several episodes of another Let's Play series I had watched before deciding to purchase the game.

Now I was considering the result of having far fewer resources around, and initially that would seem bad simply because the map would be quite bare and unappealing. Perhaps it would make more sense to have some “filler” type things, such as shrubs or sapling trees that are too small to yield usable resources. This way it would be possible to avoid the abundance of resources we have currently without making the screen look barren.

This is debatable again. When I played I didn't starve, but I certainly never had 40 carrots... 6-10 at most before I couldn't find anymore on my small starter island. I did however find berry bushes and rabbits which kept me alive. In reference to berry bushes, I think they work a lot better now than before. You have to make sure not to harvest them too Soon, or else they wither, and of course they also wither if you transplant them so you need manure, a resource often not on the starting island. This can even confuse new players and adds to the learning curve. Not to mention the Gobbler, who now spawns a few seconds after you pick the berries rather than right away.

As for trees, I support having it that when you plant a pine cone it should start off as a "seedling" which doesn't block pathfinding and cannot be harvested, only burned down. From there it would eventually grow into the small tree.

I don't really see a need to reduce the overall amount of resources, but it's hard for me to tell since I haven't started a new game in some time. Rather, I'll leave that up to the Devs to decide.

I understand that some of the problem with re-starts seeming quite easy currently is due to the research system, which will be changed (hopefully this coming update), and that should help to make a new start a bit more fun as there will be more to do with prototypes. No big suggestions here as I quite like the idea of building prototypes, hopefully at a much higher cost so that it is not trivial to just research everything.

Yes, the prototype invention will cost more than all subsequent crafting attempts. To usher in this change the cost of all unlocked inventions are being lowered slightly, as I recall. Personally I wouldn't remind the inventions becoming locked again should your character perish or maybe when you start a new character (in which case maybe unlocked inventions should be character-specific).

Firstly, having the process of transplanting reduce the output of the plant. So once a plant is moved, it then will grow much slower than in the wild. Providing the reduction in growth is significant this would mean wild plants would be much more valuable in terms of yield as transplanted ones. Now I know people reading this will be thinking “if that was implimented, we’d just go dig up as many extra plants as needed to compensate”.

My tendency is to transplant resources because time is an enemy. The sun rises and sets, and the last thing you want is to be running around the map looking for "another sapling". However, I agree that maybe a longer respawn cycle should be the trade-off. I prefer it over the other option... fertilizing grass tufts/saplings. That would just be too tedious. Better to just restrict the returns on resources.

So... secondly, how about changing the mechanics of digging up a resource, so that it does not automatically produce a plant that can be replanted. Say if you only got a plantable resource 20% of the time, it would be more of a risk/reward choice to try and dig things up as you might end up destroying them.

This idea has been suggested before, and I've always ardently opposed it. I view it as needless punishment for a behavior that by all intensive purposes is sound. It would be better to just eliminate the shovel if the very idea of replanting resources is so abhorent. I mean, why allow it in the first place? No, I think your previous suggestion is sound and to balance it further there can be other issues with grouping resources, like the flame hound's tendency to burn everything you hold dear (lots of screenshots of this happening at base camps). In time there may be others... for example, I suggested thunderstorms be added as weather, and the lightning would strike and cause a small localized fire before the rain extinguished it. Grouping too many grass tufts would provide an easy target for something to be hit... and burned... losing a resource forever. Over time this would add-up.

And besides, no matter what the player builds in terms of a base camp... in the end they can't take it all with them (i.e. plot progress will require the player to travel via one-way portal to another location/island/world never to return).

Of course this is just my personal opinion.

This kind of setup would help encourage travelling further out to get more of an elusive resource, and due to the element of chance in trying to dig up the plants there is more of a sense of adventure in it (rather than knowing 100% you’ll get X number of berry bushes from a location).

Okay, but I know we aren't playing Don't Starve to play "Berry Bush Bingo", will it die on being dug-up or not? I think better way to consider this is how reeds and ponds work. As you know both only spawn in swamps and reeds cannot be transplanted because they need swamp water to grow. As such, whenever I need more reeds or I want to fish I need to travel to the swamp. It's really that simple. Have resources for higher tiers require resources that cannot be transplanted, while leaving the essential daily resources alone (renewable food aside, as that's another matter).

On a side note - having plants around that don’t yield resources, to fill up some screen space in the absence of some current resources, would give the opportunity to use them as decorative items should you wish to dig up and replant shrubs/saplings around your camps.

An interesting idea... why not?

Some examples have been given in various other idea threads, with my favourite being the introduction of predator/prey behaviour. This should not be restricted to carnivores (such as spiders hunting rabbits/birds for example) but also herbivore behaviour also. If the beefalo herd actually ate the grass it would affect it’s availablity for the player. I think i saw a suggestion somewhere that having the Tallbirds gather sticks for their nests would be good too. Obviously as more kinds of creatures are introduced with new content this could be expanded.

I'm not sure if you've been reading my posts, but yes. I agree we need predators/prey and animals need to eat. I support the idea that beefalo should be eating the grass from grass tufts, and thus competing with the player for them. Imagine a player's annoyance when they go to the trouble of collecting all the island's grass tufts for their base camp... and find beefalo have migrated there because now it's the only source of their food. Each beefalo should eat between 2-4 grass per day (depending on how many spawn initially and how baby beefalo will work, if/when implemented).

If any beefalo cannot eat the required grass, amybe because you've harvested them all, then it should starve and die, thus showing your impact on the world around you. This would also act as population control for beefalo (again, if/when baby beefalo are added), in addition to hound attacks, as a beefalo predator (after all, why should they always just hunt you?).

I hadn't heard about the tallbird/sticks idea, but that sounds like a good suggestion. In the past I suggested that tallbirds should eat berries, with each one eating 2-3 bushes worth. Once stone bridges are elimianted tallbirds won't have trouble tracking down where a player may have replanted the berry bushes, if they are the closest ones. This in turn would lead to confrontations with tallbirds as they're very hostile to the player. In short, putting too many berry bushes in your base camp, and specifically taking those the tallbirds rely on to eat, will bring trouble right to your doorstep and you only have yourself to blame.

For example, maybe during winter the spiders all hole up in their webs (I could be wrong but spiders are usually more active in hot weather?) and during summer they become very active, coming out during the day and chasing after birds/rabbits. If the beefalo actually use up grass resources, maybe they migrate to another suitable biome once a year (or for the winter season).

These are all fair suggestions.

Combine this daily/nightly decision with a changing environment due to seasons, weather and dynamic ecosystem, and hopefully the end product is a much more exciting experience than exploring everything, building a base and living happily ever after!

I can't help but think you've overlooked something. I see you focused on natural resources in terms of food, but what about crops? I complaint I often make is that with enough seeds and manure you never need anything else. Just plant a seed, fertilize it 3 times, and voila, instant food. Other than the need for seeds it seems to me that players are getting an easy ride here. In anotehr thread I discussed with several other forum members the idea that crops should take longer to grow, with no instant manure-assisted growth, and need player interaction at certain stages (i.e. add manure or water plants... unless it happens to rain).

Anyway, you've certainly made some good points and I would enjoy discussing the topic further with you. I'm sure we won't meet eye-to-eye on everything, but we don't need to as the Devs will decide in the end what's best. Until then, let's keep on making suggestions. :)

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mobius187    30
Seriously? no berries, carrots even? :S

They found berries and a few carrots. They had a horrible time catching rabbits and when they tried to replant the berry bushes... they didn't realize they would become withered and need manure. They don't have any manure (not near the beefalo).

If you want, just pop onto YouTube and search for their episodes. Last time I saw Yogcast had 2 of them posted. It's kinda painful at times to watch, but it gives you a clear idea of how some new players will play the game. It's an eye-opener for sure.

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