Making it linear and easier to traverse will be interesting to try out - transitions might be a little more difficult however. I have heard of winter and the idea of different climates affecting survival - what if this kind of design was integrated alongside vast areas of harsh/barren terrain? Have them be the barrier between the starting area and new areas of the map that are harder to survive. It would give people something to do once they've either exhausted materials or gotten bored - go on a journey to find the next set of lands. I guess it could increase exponentially until you can 'escape' the world... Some random thoughts right there, but worth writing them out.