I'd like to take some time here to analyze the balance situation of Don't Starve as it stands (especially in terms of high-level design) and point out places where I feel it's currently lacking. I've been wanting to do this for a while, but I figured the devs would rather wait until the winter patch hit to really go into it. Warning: this post is going to be very long, very detailed, and maybe a little bit harsh, but I think it's important to get some of this stuff out into the open. The very, very short version: the game is still extremely easy (in the long term, anyway; the first two weeks, not so much). In the interest of keeping this massive wall of text at least vaguely navigable, I'm going to divide the bulk of my analysis into the three main pillars of survival--FOOD, SANITY, and HEALTH--before bringing it all together. FOOD: In spite of the title, it is essentially impossible to starve in Don't Starve. There's just so much food everywhere, and with the exception of naturally-generated carrots, every single food source is infinitely renewable. Winter has failed utterly to put any additional pressure on your food supply, at least for a well-rounded map. In my current game I actually hit winter completely unprepared (I expected it on day 30, not 20), with no more than a standard food supply of maybe 4-5 days' worth, and I was totally, 100% fine. In fact, by day 30, I not only had more food than I did before winter began, but I had more food than I have EVER had in this game. The main reason for this is rabbits and beefalo. They aren't affected by the winter climate in the slightest, and either of them is more than enough to feed you forever by themselves, with little to no supplementary food sources. All I did was hunt rabbits a bit every morning and even with the shorter days I had morsels coming out my ears. I made meatballs out of two morsels, a berry, and a monster meat to eat every day. When the berries ran low I just used three morsels. I still couldn't put a dent in my supply. I laid traps, but didn't bother harvesting them; the rabbits I speared by hand were more than enough. With the reduced food spoilage rate, if anything it was actually EASIER to maintain a steady food supply than usual. I didn't even bother with the beefalo after the first day of winter, but they could have single-handedly fed me just as easily as the rabbits. I could have probably lived off of 100% fish if I wanted to as well, though it would have been a fair bit harder due to the low nutritional content of fish and all the mosquitoes I'd need to swat. Stockpiling food during the summer is 100% unnecessary. You can go into without a single scrap of food in your inventory and do fine. Just settle near some grasslands and your backyard will provide you with more food than you could possibly eat. And the summer foods are still problematic too (as unnecessary as they are, given that rabbits and beefalo are available year round). Setting up a huge vegetable or berry farm is pretty easy. The only real attempt I've seen at limiting the effectiveness of those farms is the need to fertilize occasionally, but since manure is so easy to get (from beefalo in huge supplies for free, or from pigs using the very crops you're using the manure to grow) it's basically meaningless. If it wasn't for winter, you'd eventually be able to live forever on berries or vegetables just as trivially as on rabbits and beefalo. SANITY: Sanity is currently working pretty much the exact opposite of how you want it. The sanity meter is at its most oppressive at the very beginning of the game. With the change to food values, it spirals steadily downwards, and if you don't take action you'd probably be dead within a week or two from terminal craziness. In practice all this means for an experienced player is that you need to sleep every couple of nights, which is pretty much a non-issue since grass is the most bountiful resource in the game and if you time it right you lose very little food. Once you have a top hat sanity will only ever go up for the rest of the summer. Winter is still easier than that first week, because the winter hat gives enough sanity to offset the bulk of what you lose from the long nights. I don't think I ever went below 170 or so while doing nothing to bolster it. The only people who will ever suffer from sanity drops in this patch are newer players who don't understand the mechanics (i.e. don't know that they need to make a grass roll and sleep it off). And they'll suffer hard. Sanity is a fairly esoteric mechanic and it'll be very easy to get killed by it without having the slightest idea why or how to prevent it. And even if you change the numbers around to patch over the most glaring problems, sanity still won't be a threat because it's so incredibly cheap to fix. The worst case scenario is I make a few more grass rolls than usual. I'm never going to run out of grass, and I'm never going to run out of food, so what do I have to fear from low sanity? And the other main protection against insanity is the top hat, which only needs to be built once out of a relatively common material and then works forever. Candy isn't necessary, and even if it was it's only a matter of time before you can build a bee farm and get all the honey you'll ever need. Moving the sanity meter further away from the food meter was a very important start, but there's a ton more to do to make it a robust and threatening mechanic. HEALTH: Surprisingly, death-by-HP-loss is the threat that this patch beefed up the most. In the previous patch most combat was a joke due to the absurd strength of the log suit and the ease of kiting and stunlocking things, but your margin of error is a lot slimmer now. The new winter monsters are a bit of a mixed bag. The Deerclops is obviously never going to kill you directly, since you can outrun it, but the thing is relentless. It chased me around the map for like half the day before I was forced to dive into a wormhole. That would be a neat little mechanic if it happened more often and if being forced to spend the night in the wilderness away from your camp actually exposed you to any threats (keep out of the swamps and you'll never bump into anything scarier than a common black spider at night). I decided to go look for the Mactusks on the last day of winter just for the heck of it. Even with flame darts and a tentacle spike it was pretty rough...if I hadn't had the foresight to bring a second set of armor and a few fistfuls of jam I wouldn't have survived (although that was partially due to the hounds being untargetable by the darts for some reason...I'll make a separate report of that later). I was really disappointed by how passive they were, though. For a hunting party they sure aren't very interested in tracking you across the map. They just mill around the biome they spawn in. There's a big missed opportunity there...they could be forcing you on the move with repeated attacks kind of like the Deerclops does but on a different scale. Ultimately, in my current 35-day game, I've almost died...probably at least four times in various circumstances. That's fairly encouraging, but I'm not sure the feeling will stick. A lot of those near-death experiences were due to me making mistakes that I'm not likely to repeat (don't screw with pigs, only farm silk at dusk and not during the day, a 50% log suit is not ample protection from anything, keep a good supply of health-efficient foods on hand if you're going to hunt bees, bull-rush the hounds as they attack rather than letting them group up, etc.). And apart from the Mactusk fight, they were all pretty early...in the first two weeks. By winter I felt pretty much completely safe. So this might be another case where the current mechanics are making it hard for a new adventurer to get established but not doing much to threaten people who are already doing well. One thing that I really don't like is that combat is pretty much entirely voluntary. If it wasn't for the occasional hound attack, you could probably survive forever without ever drawing a weapon against anything bigger than a rabbit. There aren't all that many monsters in the world, and what few there are will mostly leave you alone if you leave them alone. And none of the basic essentials of survival are ever guarded by anything hostile. The idea that you can just opt out of being killed by monsters doesn't sit right with me. Hounds help a little, but I feel like you're relying too much on them. They feel like a random encounter rather than a persistent and threatening force in the world, which isn't all that satisfying. Especially since they aren't linked to your pursuit of food or sanity in any way. (UPDATE: I actually recently started a new character and have hit day 14 without any health-related scares at all, so I'd say that my previous difficulties were completely due to me making bad decisions as a result of unfamiliarity with some new monster attributes. If you're prudent about where you poke your spear it's still pretty easy to stay safe from monsters due to how few of them are actively hostile.) THE REAL ISSUE: Ultimately, all of these problems are the same problem: all essential resources, of all types and for all purposes, are categorically trivial to acquire. That's easy enough to see in terms of food resources, but it's not just food. It's everything. What are the basic staples I need to survive? Mighty armor that deflect a huge percentage of all damage? Made of mere logs and grass. The only weapon you're ever likely to need? Rocks and twigs. Sleeping bags which will trivialize any insanity problem you ever face? Just some grass. A crock pot, which massively increases the efficiency of the most common food items? Logs and rocks. An icebox to preserve my food? Rocks and the spare gold I had left over from the alchemy machine anyway. And most of the rest is silk based, with black spiders being the single least dangerous monster in existence by a huge margin. Look how easy this stuff is to get! I can grow all the wood I will ever need within the light radius of my fire pit. I can't go two screens without finding a dozen grass tufts. Rocks are lying around by the hundreds in vast fields completely unguarded. Spiders will funnel out of their nests one by one and cough up silk almost without a fight every day at dusk. And apart from the rocks (which you need very few of for the most part), it's all 100% renewable. Why, in a game called "Don't Starve", can I build a functioning refrigerator out of junk from my back yard on day two? You never need to struggle to obtain anything. You aren't fighting against scarcity. You aren't fighting against a hostile environment that jealously protects its resources. Absolutely everything you will ever need can be found within a two-screen radius of a well-placed campsite, and it all just keeps growing back. My current character has lived to day 35: the end of the first winter. What could POSSIBLY kill me between now and the end of the second winter? Or the third, or the fifth, or the tenth? Every tree I've ever cut down to make tools is still there for me. So is every berry I've ever plucked, every rabbit I've ever speared, every spider nest I've ever raided, every beefalo I've ever hunted and then some. All just as pristine and bountiful as the day I arrived, if not MORE bountiful. They fed me and clothed me once, so why won't they again? And this time I don't just have them. I also have all the infrastructure I've added to the world: my transplanted bushes, my farm plots, my bee boxes, my crock pot, my iceboxes, my traps, my tools. Without the looming threat of growing scarcity or some kind of shifting threat in the wilderness, the game can only ever get easier and easier the longer you live. The ONLY exception to this right now is the hounds. Even if the strongest food supplies get nerfed, and even if the winter gets harsher, this core issue will still remain. Surviving until day 35 might get harder, but unless something fundamental changes, that's where the difficulty curve will end. Hounds aren't going to cut it. I'm not going to grind through the same routine for dozens of hours just to see whether or not maybe a hound pack would have finally gotten me a hundred and fifty days from now. FINAL THOUGHTS: I want to take a minute here to look back at the very first game of Don't Starve I ever played, back when I didn't really know what I was doing yet. I started out trying to live off roasted rabbit morsels. It kept me going, but there weren't all that many rabbit holes around. Catching them was time-intensive, and it didn't leave me with much buffer to travel on. Eventually I discovered a pair of spider nests not far to the southeast of my campsite. Eager to access the new technologies that silk would unlock, I made hunting them part of my daily routine. The amount of time this took put a dent in my food supply, and I wasn't all that great at kiting yet, so sometimes I took damage. Healing off that damage required eating more food than was necessary to satisfy just my hunger, pressuring my food supply even more. Sometimes I left myself at half health while waiting for my hunger meter to wind down, trading some security for efficiency. Sometimes I had to eat a bit of monster meat here and there to make ends meat, planning on offsetting the sanity loss later on. But I overdid it, and got crazy enough that the rabbits turned into beardlings. Deprived of my only reliable clean food supply, the situation rapidly deteriorated, and I was ultimately devoured by a figment of my imagination after trying to eat monster lasagna in desperation. This is what I want. I want the act of satisfying one of my needs to put pressure on all the others. I want the daily drudgery of collecting food to steadily drive me mad. I want to be forced to venture deep into the wilderness is search of the precious resources I need to keep me sane. I want to be faced with monsters that try to guard those resources, putting pressure on my health. I want the need to restore that health to cut deeper into my already-strained food supply. I want to be forced to venture further and further away from my camp each time, while the world gradually grows more hostile and less productive until I either succumb to the monsters or am forced to flee through the teleporter. I don't want to just cycle through my own backyard every day, tending to my hunger-fixing farm and my sanity-fixing farm and my health-fixing farm before going back to bed, day in and day out, without variation, forever. The game already has most of the basic framework you need to make this happen. All that's missing is a tech and resource system that forces the player to get bolder and more reckless as time goes on rather than becoming more withdrawn and more self-sufficient, and a more hostile wilderness that's ready to punish that boldness. It probably wouldn't even take all that many additional assets if you play your cards right.