[Mechanics Ideas] Navigation

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I was reading a few discussions in here, and two things struck me : compass is useless, and going to see to hunt a swordfish is deemed so convenient that the Dark sword, which you can make easily without moving from your base island, is not even worth considering.

Those two things made me think that maybe, navigation was too much like walking, and not really a new Don't Starve adventure of sadistic world building designed to amuse shadowy overlords. I'm even kind of wondering how Wilson managed to get shipwrecked at all in shipwrecked :p


Bear in minds these are rough ideas. Here's a TL:DR, rationale will follow.

1) The map stops updating as soon as you're too far away from a landmark, something like 2 screens maybe ? A landmark is anything stable you can use to navigate: an island, a coral reef, the often-requested marker buoy.
When you get too far from a landmark, your position icon grays out and remains at the spot where you left the "known map". I will from now on refer to this distance as the "land range" for simplicity. When you get back into any "land range", the character says it ("Land ahoy ?"), map updates, and your position icon is moved to your actual position.

2) Things can insidiously push you off course. Strong winds, taking a wave to the side, the sea-currents I saw some people talk about... Maybe a new enemy type too ?

3) Things make your screen orientation change : fog banks, sailing at night, whirlwinds...

4) Things can reduce your land range: Fog, Dusk, Night and rain.

5) When used, spyglasses extends temporarily your "land range" : if land is in spyglass range, the map screen is brought up, and shows the reveal from the spyglass with your position icon updated. If no land is in range of the spyglass, the character says something to indicate that he sees only sea (pun not intended) and nothing happens.

7) A Tier 1 Magic Item, the Navigator Figurehead, is made from Living Log, Brainy matter and Spyglass. When put in the Aft position of a ship, it allows you to use the map as normal. It can have a limited a durability, something sail-like maybe ?

8) A Structure, the lighthouse, can make a specific point easier to see at dusk and at night, extending your land range around this specific point.


Now for the explanations.

The idea here is to make the sea something to be tamed by making navigation harder to predict. Real life navigation require tools to make up for the total lack of geographical landmarks to guide a ship. I can imagine that if "They" want a ship-based puppet show, they'd like the puppets to be lost.

Based on the compass discussion, the main issue with compass non-use is that the map is so convenient you can't get lost. Meaning, when at sea and beyond sight range of the coast, the map should become worthless. The compass can then become your go-to tool to go somewhere. When a geographical landmark is seen again, everything returns to normal. Fog, dusk and night reduces your sight range, meaning you need to get closer to the landmark to get back your map. This also creates a use for the spyglasses that mimics their real-world use: by spotting landmarks from afar, you can get map updates even while in the midde of the sea.

I don't expect a don't starve sea to be something passive, either. If They" want to enjoy you being lost, it makes sens that the sea would actively try to do just that. Wind and wave could move your ship, more or less insidiously, to put you off course. Maybe some enemy (hammer sharks, shadow creatures) would do that too. Map orientation could also be changed by some things, like wind (to make sea in rough weather something to be feared), fog, and night. 

Finally, Don't starve is also about wrestling back control from "Them", so a few items should allow you to mitigate navigational hazard. The compass is a easy one. Buoys could be another (artifical permanent landmarks to help you navigate). Some Ship items should help, maybe a magic item that extends your land range so much it gets pretty much the same as now (I'm picturing a silly figurehead with a spyglass). A specific structure to mark your home(s) should also exist, something like a lighthouse.

Thanks for reading, and, as always, enjoy shipwrecked :)


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