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[Suggestion] Theory on Together's Difficulty Balance

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Theel    3

Multiplayer Difficulty:

When I reviewed Don't Starve, I said that one of its distinguishable ingredients was its survival balance.  Therefore I trust that the developers will also get it right for Together.  But who doesn't like to express their opinions and ideas?


Discussing Don't Starve Together's game-play without being able to actually play it is really discussing theory.  I and I'd imagine everyone else who hasn't tested it extensively can't speak with full authority on what Together will need in regards to balance and difficulty  changes.


So my idea or suggestion is founded on theory and by no means is it intended to be conclusive. Concerns over elements of game-play and expectations is what drives my approach to balance.  If maintaining game-play wasn't a factor, then many of the ideas I rule out could suffice.  What Together will bring to the table is more players in a world, this means more hunger to be fulfilled, more resources gathered, and easier time with combat. 


Resource Gathering:

When you have four players gathering resources, you also have four players requiring food; in a way this should balance itself out assuming there is enough resources in the world.  There may be less balance changes than you'd expect.  The real lack of balance I theorize in Together is how fast the resources are gathered.  With 4 players you potentially have 4 times speed in resource gathering.  Suddenly a 10 day survival with four players could potentially be compared to a 40 day survival of a solo player.  This is where one area of balance should be concentrated.  The other is combat, but I will get to that later.  So how should resource collection rate, number of days, etc be balanced?


The solutions need to be dynamically adjustable based on the number of current players or prespecified at creation of world.  There are advantages and disadvantages to each of the above systems.  Regardless of how that is done, I feel there are a few approaches to this rate of gather balance problem.  The balance solutions below are in order from least affecting game-play solutions to most affecting game-play.

  1. A new world day structure for Together.
    1. Changes to hound frequency and numbers.  
    2. Changes to seasonal rotation numbers.
    3. Other occurrences that appear over days.   
  2. An increase to resource cost of items. 
    1. The resource increase should be directed towards placed items (aka base buildings).
  3. Resource replenish rate.
    1. The actual rate of regrowth and replenish.  This would be hard to balance.
  4. Resource gather rate.
    1. Slowing down the actual gather rate, taking slightly more time to gather  resources.  This would be a direct approach, but could add annoyance to game-play expectations.

The problem with world resource changes:  Obviously the world generation of resources will need tweaked a bit for Together.  However, the problem with using world generation to balance rate of gather is you'll positively affect one stage of survival, but negatively affect another stage.  Meaning beginning stage could be easier or harder, but later stage would be the opposite.  The idea is to keep the constant balance of difficulty, or at least close to it.


Resource Conclusion:

I can't imagine a single system managing to balance everything out.  It'll take multiple layers and systems to handle the resource balance of Together.  Identifying those systems and organizing them by how they affect game-play should be priority.  I hope that my theories offer some insight into the difficulties of balance.



Combat is something I'd recommend not to touch much.  Most importantly is to not have it dynamically changing based on factors.  Most players don't like unpredictable or changing things in a game-world.  Players don't enjoy learning that it takes more hits than normal to kill a monster because there is another player involved.  The same to be said about the reverse and knowing how many hits you can take from a monster.  I don't think the game should be balanced by scaling monster health, damage changes, etc.  Having more monsters isn't a solution, because it could greatly affect resource balance elements.  Not to mention having more monsters could affect network reliability.  The potential problem with combat in Together is you have players work together to get hits in on monsters at the same time (between stuns/attacks), greatly reducing difficulty and time to kill of monsters.  So how do you balance this potential issue with combat?


Well I'd personally say having more fighters in a fight should bring you an advantage and not much balance should be needed in combat.  However here are a few ideas that could be used if my theory is incorrect:

  • I already saw it mentioned, but less stun time on monsters.
  • One direction is weaker than two.  Meaning if two players are attacking a monster from the same direction there is a reduction in effectiveness.  This makes logical sense because the two fighters would get in each others way.  This would create a need to flank or surround the monster to gain maximum effectiveness.
  • I hate seeing my friends hurt!  Well I'm not sure this would fix the problem, but could be interesting for a specific character if anything.  When a friend gets hurt/hit on screen (they are in the same fight), you can lose sanity. 
  • Monsters can run away!  This could really add annoyance, but spiders and some other monsters could run away when outnumbered.  Not always though.
  • Grab! Hold! or Drag!  Monsters can grab a player and attempt to hold them or drag them away.  A hold doesn't last very long and a friend can end it by attacking the two together doing some damage to both the monster and the held player.  Hounds however will try to drag, instead of hold.  The hound will attempt to drag a player away from the group into the dark or to get them alone for the 'pack'.  Another player can stop the drag and release the player by attacking the monster.  This is obviously a new feature and would only be available in Together.

Combat Conclusion:

I'm not big on the combat for Don't Starve, I'm good enough to take on single targets, but usually I just have pigs or traps do my fighting for me.  So I might not be the best authority on this matter, however I hope my ideas help.


Alone Versus The Group:

The entire point of Together is to survive together.  So here is a concept that I feel is needed for Together.  Being alone should be harder than being together.  Therefore I think there should be an added sanity drain after being alone for awhile.  I think you should be able to be alone for a night or two before the increased sanity drain occurs.  As more and more days go by being alone the sanity drain keep increasing. 


Other New Difficulties:

Other difficulties that could be introduced with Together:

  • Decreased drop rate on monsters (not sure about this, but may be needed)
  • Random occurrences
    • Insect Swarms (damage to crops or bees based on type of insect)
    • Wind Storms (difficulty traveling/visual, some damage to buildings maybe)
  • Sickness (might have to rely on your friends you cure you)


There are many ways to balance Don't Starve Together, but I hope the roads taken don't harm the already established game-play.  I look forward to seeing the ideas the developers have and hope that the above ideas help in some form or another.

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Sasuga    109

I like most of the above suggestions.  Sanity for seeing friends hurt is awesome.  Spiders running when out numbered is brilliant.  I'd also increase the number of spiders that come out of a nest when there's more players.


Resource Collection


Perhaps in 'Together' the number of items slots the character's have (assuming they're playing Co-Op... Assuming there's a mode other than Co-Op) can change based on the number of players in the game!


I don't know how many items a character can hold right now, and I'm not going to bother counting.  However, if there's two players in a co-op game, then each player has half as many items slots as a single player game.  I would make this count for backpacks and such as well.


If there's 3 players, then number of slots divided by 3, and with four players each player has 1/4th as many slots.



This encourages cooperation and moving as a group, while not out-right forcing it.


Sure, things will be sped up as one player can collect wood while another collects barriers, and another hunts beefalo, but as the player can't hold as much they can't collect beefalo meat and grab some grass on the way back for the group as easily.

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Zandorum    28

Alone Versus the Group:

I think that although this should be a thing it should have a Cap as well as be an option due to people want to do things like 1 Vs 1 Vs 1 Vs 1.



The only thing in this I wasn't 100% on was the people attacking from different angles but I'm fine with it I wouldn't mind it if it was in the game or not. Not partial to it not against it. Everything else is amazing though. It will be very disappointing if the Hounds thing isn't added.


Note: Still reading, this comment will continue expanding (I've been reading out of order lol).

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