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Game Design and Suggestions


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I want to preface this by saying that I realize that the concept of "fun" is subjective. I do like long progression games, and I've played and enjoyed a lot of Terrafirmacraft and Gregtech, as well as Fortresscraft Evolved. I also recognize that this game is in alpha at the moment. The game has lots of positives - the world is beautiful and stylistic, and I am excited to see what the mod-focused development style will yield.

However, I would argue that the primary question when designing games and game elements should be, "Is it fun?" With this in mind, I feel that there are a number of aspects which could be improved:

General Combat - Walking backwards while throwing rocks is the best weapon in the game so far. The spear feels weak, slow, and ineffective in melee, and makes a very poor ranged weapon, due to how much inventory space one of them takes up. Introducing sheilds and blocking mechanics could add some interesting dimension to melee combat? Or any of a variety of other primitive weapons could add some variation as well.

In-game Crafting Wiki - This game could hugely benefit from something similar to NEI, and I think it would help get new players on-board much more smoothly. I know there's the help manual, but it doesn't show crafting recipes, or what various things can be used for. (For instance I found rock salt. Is that useful? Should I throw away the food I found in favour of it? I have no idea.) The online wiki helps, but it's also incomplete, or inaccurate. I think the game could also use some kind of starting help guide or tutorial in-game as well. A lot of the mechanics are very specific (Find clay, make a crucible, fire the crucible, chop logs into firewood, make a charcoal pit, burn to make charcoal, make a clay mold, fire the mold, put the crucible in the fire, put the copper in the crucible once it's in the fire, heat fire with charcoal, pour copper into the mold. No new player is going to intuit their way through that process without a bunch of reading or video watching.)

Wolves - They detect you at long range, approach silently, and then blind side you, killing you in a few hits. Realistic? Maybe. Fun? Not so much. I would argue that the issue with that is there isn't much the player can do to avoid or guard against it. Sometimes you're randomly killed by a wolf, and lose all your stuff. Don't get me wrong, I think it has the potential to be an interesting and intimidating adversary, but right now it just feels frustrating. What about having them be semi-passive during the day, where they'll growl and stand their ground if you get too close, but not outright make a bee-line to the player? And then go into hunting mode at dawn/dusk? That would give the player a chance to be aware of wolves in the area while presenting them as a threat, and still be able to travel during the day without stepping on that random wolf landmine. (Wolves made me press the Rage Quit button on several occasions.)

Beds - Why not allow players to sleep through the night if they want to? It's not difficult to just wait out the clock standing in your mud hut, listening to Drifters groaning until morning... but what does that add to the game in terms of fun? Instead, why not add some kind of healing mechanic to better bed tiers? Or have the lower tier beds consume the hunger bar at a greater rate?

Spawn Point - Why not have beds set spawn? Without that, players are realistically locked to the world spawn for the first main portion of the game. What does removing that freedom from the player contribute to the game?

Drifters - They're more interesting to fight than wolves, but combat still feels mostly like a slugging match. They also spawn all over at night, so every morning I need to spend a bunch of time killing the drifters that spawned during the night. This shortens the amount of day time the player has, and killing them seems to yield nothing most of the time, and so this kind of feels like a chore. Would it make sense to have them move off at dawn and try to seek darkness again? Burrow into the ground, and despawn? Or add some interesting drops for them to have? (Honestly I'm not sure what they're supposed to be, so I'm not sure what would be appropriate for that.) (Also, why are they called "Drifters"? I kind of feel like I'm murdering homeless people...)

Knapped Tool Heads - Why can't these be stacked? Logically they're no larger than the flint they're made from, right? And there's nothing else to do in your mud hut at night for the first while, so this seems like a wasted opportunity.

No Flint Hoe - Why not? It's no more complex than an axe head, right? I understand trying to gate things, but this seems like it's at the expense of basic logic. You're still bound by location of bodies of water in the stone age anyway, which is a significant downside.

Early Game Storage - I like to horde items, but I feel like I've spent forever standing in ponds smashing reeds to get those tiny inventory upgrades. Why not allow other kinds of plant fiber as well? Or some kind of pottery storage container?

Prospecting Pick - Personally, I question the fun of this mechanic. To me it feels like busy work, just hammering surface chunks to try to win the RNG lottery and find a vein. I like the presence of visible surface traces indicating veins below, like the ore rocks some games/mods use, or plants/flowers which indicate what might (or does) lie below. I prefer this because it emphasizes exploration more, and observation of the game world. But, that might just be a matter of preference. (Though, that said, I prefer it to blind branch-mining in Minecraft, so it does have that going for it.)

Hope that helps. I'm curious to see where the game goes in the future!

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9 hours ago, ColdComfort said:

In-game Crafting Wiki - This game could hugely benefit from something similar to NEI, and I think it would help get new players on-board much more smoothly. I know there's the help manual, but it doesn't show crafting recipes, or what various things can be used for. (For instance I found rock salt. Is that useful? Should I throw away the food I found in favour of it? I have no idea.)

Indeed - Minecraft did this with its 'Achievements' UI. Encourage the player to take the first RIGHT steps. A 'template' for crafting items on the crafting grid HAS been done in a MC mod also. (You see a transparent / faded-out ghost of the item that needs to go in each box)

There are tons of little Quality of life improvements that can be made to reduce player friction also. (Crafting UI item-recall, multi-craft, outlines, container 'loot-all', ect...)

Them WOLVES are bloodthirsty beasts, bent on devouring the player at all costs (or at least the male wolves). I once ran ~200 blocks to my own fortress... the Battle of Black-wolf Hill I called it. Hyena's also put up a competent threat.

It would be nice to have ARMOUR - since 2/3 of everything that moves wants to eat you and the other 1/3 just wants to trample. Some form of Boiled-Leather and then Brass scale/Lamellar mail should be the next addition.

Pottery; this is like 99% of what its used for IRL - Urns, pots, CONTAINERS. Not really portable, as ceramics are heavy but thats OK for first tier clay craftables.

Prospecting Pick <- I wrote a mod to assist with finding ore... thats how useless it is!


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  • 2 weeks later...

Broadly, I agree with lots of ColdComfort's points, especially the sleep and clearing of drifters consuming the morning. I do however really like the collecting rushes, that seems oddly authentic. 

I find the knapping and pottery mechanic very fiddly and it plays merry hell with my crook shoulder. It really limits the amount of time that I can play and i suspect will make the game impossible for me to play long term. Perhaps some sort of optional automation/abstraction to allow auto creation  once you have created an item once would be possible? At the moment I suspect there is a genuine risk of players hurting themselves. Minecraft is a very "click" heavy game, but this combines that mechanic with clicking tiny boxes.

I do like the game though.

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