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SethR

Fireside Chats (with a video game designer) - July 22, 2014

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SethR    1,229

Playtest #2: Return of the Playtest: The Reckoning

 

Last Friday (July 18), we ran another playtest of Don’t Starve Together in the office. We intended for it to just be four or five people (i.e. the Don’t Starve Together team) playing cooperatively for a slightly longer period of time. A handful of other folks in the office ended up joining us, which we only realized when we ran into them in-game: a welcome surprise! We played for about an hour total, including one reset due to a server crash. Ultimately, we had to stop playing because there’s a bug where the science machine isn’t correctly unlocking recipes for all players. It was fun while it lasted. It was useful to see what a more cooperative game looks like and gave us some good insight into specific problems that we’ll need to address in order to improve the experience of playing cooperatively.

 

 

What’s Changed?

 

In addition to the different focus/intended playstyle, we’ve made some changes to the game’s systems over the past couple weeks that went into the playtest. On the tech side, a lot of usability and performance issues had been addressed. On the content side, I put in a spawning system so that we didn’t all start in the exact same location. The character-specific ghosts went in.  I re-tuned haunt-reactions: fires are way less common and haunting now tends to be a much more neutral (or even positive!) thing, but with a looming threat of disaster. I also made it so that your life force never increases: haunting an entity will pause the life force drain briefly, keeping you ‘alive’ slightly longer. Additionally, your life force and humanity can actually drop to zero now, which fully kills your character. I added a first-pass (read: horrible programmer art) effect to things that have been haunted. Lastly, I overhauled the sleeping mechanic to make it work in a multiplayer context, though this didn’t actually factor into the playtest.

 

 

Some More Footage

 

This time around there’s not much to explain in terms of what you’re seeing. The one exception is that you'll notice that some really ugly FX play on objects when they get haunted: that's my awful programmer art for feeding back that something has been haunted to players, which will stay until it bothers an artist enough to fix it. It's basically a few clips of people playing together: not revolutionary stuff, but exciting just the same. Enjoy!

 

 

Takeaways

 

With the new scattered spawning system, our first order of business was to find each other. Some people really appreciated the breathing room to get some basic resources and inevitable stumbling into each other that came with this. Others found it frustrating to not have any idea where anyone else was: it turns out that “I’m in the Savanna” isn’t necessarily that helpful when the Savanna could be in any direction from where you are (not to mention the fact that there’s probably more than one Savanna in the map). My thinking right now is that the scattered spawn will be the default behavior, but that you’ll be able to set a server you’re hosting to use a single spawn point.

 

Once we did find each other, some nice friendly exchanges of food and resources to make certain tools took place. As night was falling, a couple players put down campfires and people got to cooking what they’d gathered. And then one particular player (look, I’m not going to name names) decided that, with everyone stuck by the campfire, it was a great time to try out his fire staff on an unsuspecting cook, which resulted in the cook chasing the fire-jerk around in circles for the rest of the night. The fire effects that show up on players while they’re burning aren’t currently propagating to clients properly, so I didn’t really understand what was going on at the time. I thought they were just running around for a bit of fun. In any case, the lesson here is: trust no one. Not even your boss. Not that it was our boss. Or anything. No sir. Definitely not that.

 

After daybreak, we made a little plan to split up and find the various resources we needed to start properly establishing a base. I started down the road in search of a Rockyland biome. A voice sitting to my left called out, “Wait for me!” Being the generous and trusting man that I am, I obliged. Whether I just didn’t know that the owner of this voice had been attacking the group or if I am in fact just foolish is up for debate, but wait I did. Wendy carrying a fire staff came in from off screen and made quick work of my remaining health. Enjoy the bounty of my inventory, Wendy! See above point about not trusting anyone. Japes aside, there is actually a super valuable piece of information that we got from splitting up into small groups like this: it’s really hard to keep track of other players. Without a ton of landmarks and cardinal directions being less-than-obvious after even a single camera rotation, as soon as another player is off of your screen, they may as well not exist. The limited information that you get from only knowing about stuff that’s on-screen is important to Don’t Starve, but it also makes cooperating or adventuring together extremely difficult. In an attempt to alleviate this, I’m going to look into adding indicators to the UI to show where recently seen players are (while they are still sufficiently close). We found that, even when striking out together, your paths tend to diverge slightly because when you travel in Don’t Starve, you’re often picking up resources as you go, not moving in a straight line. Because of that, you tend to get briefly and repeatedly separated--I’m expecting these UI indicators to help quite a bit.

 

After I died, I became a ghost with glasses (I was playing as Wickerbottom), which was a nice change from the hordes of flower-wearing ghosts of the last playtest. I found that, since I couldn’t resurrect myself by haunting, I was haunting things less frantically and more strategically. I’d spotted a Touchstone earlier in my travels, so I worked my way back towards it, stopping to haunt something every few seconds to stave off the draining of my life force. I eventually made it to the Touchstone and resurrected myself, which was great because we were still pretty early in the game and no one had the resources to craft a reviver yet. The changes to the system and the retuning of the haunt reactions was a step in the right direction and I’m keen to see what differences those changes make in larger and in longer games.

 

Overall, everyone enjoyed playing (mostly) cooperatively. We did notice that it makes getting established a much faster process. We’ll be keeping an eye on the effects that has in future playtests where we’ll be able to continue playing past the science machine.

 

 

Next Steps

 

Not much has changed since last time. We have a few new tasks based on the stuff I talked about above, but largely it’s still “let’s try to get ready for PAX.” As I said last time, that makes for busy times, so this might be the last update for a little while. Thanks for reading and keep the discussion going!

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CaptainClam    158

That touch stone footage is cut up really wierdly. Anyway, nice tease for the ghosts... keeping the suspense by only showing us Wickerbottom!

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The Letter W    5,433

Who was the Wilson who said "Yo yo" that is the funniest thing I could imagine coming out of Wilson's mouth.

 

Seriously, I can't wait! It's looking fun already! 

 

edit: is there going to be a potato cup in the game? 

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Maximum124    1,233

Looking good! Can't wait till I can play it myself

 

Also from what it looks like now the ghosts technically have "health" ? Taking away hunger and then hp so you cant stay as one forever? Clever, I like it. Also doesn't punish your HP if you can get rezzed fast enough. Unless the health penalty still happens? The video didnt show.

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Spazmatic    1,033

I'm liking the looks of this so far, keep up the good work! There are a few things I am wondering though:

 

- The UI indicators, will this also be a server option? For keeping the difficulty to coordinate together (yay more challenge)

- The current available communication method, text appearing above your character and the character "talking", will this be the only method to communicate? If so, awesome!

- During the playtest, did anyone become insane? If so, was this visible to other players?

- What is the maxmimum amount of players that have been in one server up to this point?

- How does sleeping in MP work at this current moment?

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Flare2V    1,247

Ghosts implemented, fire chance lowered on haunt, player interactions and sounds fixed.
This is really coming together!

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Maximum124    1,233

Ghosts implemented, fire chance lowered on haunt, player interactions and sounds fixed.

This is really coming together!

 

Or you could say this is really..........don't starve together

 

my jokes are terrible i should be ashamed.

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Flare2V    1,247

Or you could say this is really..........don't starve together

 

my jokes are terrible i should be ashamed.

NICE

the together thing was intentional i should feel just as bad

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Mario384    1,030

Or you could say this is really..........don't starve together

 

my jokes are terrible i should be ashamed.

 

They really make corny jokes, don't they?  Anyways, it's been confirmed more than one of the same character can be played as at once.  Also, is it possible to attack ghosts?

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Maximum124    1,233

They really make corny jokes, don't they?  Anyways, it's been confirmed more than one of the same character can be played as at once.  Also, is it possible to attack ghosts?

 

...Who are you talking about? Flare?

 

Also I hope you can't attack ghosts, especially when it comes to PvP.  You've already killed them! No reason to kill them again, and the ghost are already "dying" slowly by the looks of it.

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Zeklo    15,949

They really make corny jokes, don't they?  Anyways, it's been confirmed more than one of the same character can be played as at once.  Also, is it possible to attack ghosts?

 

This really bugs me... once again this is early stuff it can change. So no its not really confirmed (unless I missed something like an idiot in the wall of text).

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tracc    17

- During the playtest, did anyone become insane? If so, was this visible to other players?

 

It would be very great if you could tell by their looks wether they are insane or not. Like adding a slightly insane looking model for someone that is elligible for attacks from shadow creatures.

 

About the shadow creatures, will they spawn for each player individually and not be seen (even by insane) other players? Because the shadow creatures should be figments of each persons mind.

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J20hawkz    768

Everything is coming "Together" very well. I'm very happy to see the ghost mechanic and their own character arts. This pvp/turning on others is a nice touch and I can see myself having much fun with this.

The way we are able to ultimately prolong our inevitable death as a ghost by basically stalling is an excellent idea, maybe have it so you can only haunt something every so often. So essentially there is a fixed time, but this can obviously be prolonged by haunting but only after a certain amount of time. Or is that how it works already?

Just a thought, can we have an option to allow/disallow (in game) or an item which we can craft and place (has an area of effect) that hides our character on the world map from others. So if I decided to be the "baddy" my smiling Wilson face won't be visible on the map for all my enemies to see.

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J20hawkz    768

Can we chat with other players by typing Chinese?

Language packs aren't a problem. IF Klei didn't included Chinese there will definitely be someone who makes a language pack mod for Don't Starve Together.

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MrBreeze    0

It's looking absolutely fantastic! I can't wait for this to be release, really.

 

You briefly discussed about how difficult it was to keep track of people in the game, and how you are thinking of ways to be alerted of someone's presence. I think a good way when co-operating with people in order to keep in track of them is to develop a "group" type system.

 

The concept is fairly simple I just wonder if it is possible to implement. You send a request to a player in order to be grouped with them and when they accept they appear on your map just like you would for yourself. I think it would be good if you could "group" with someone when you meet them, so having the option when you meet them or something.

 

Then perhaps if you get fed up of said person or people and just want to go vigilante, you could simply remove yourself from the group or something through a small menu.

 

I think using something like this would be great for establishing group vs group play.

 

Please tell me if this has already been mentioned, I've not read everything.

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