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Nutrition, Bulking Up, And You


Landar
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This was originally just an idea for a mod, but as I worked on it, I realized that I'd actually really like to see such a system implemented in the base game, so here we are. This suggestion encompasses a wide array of game mechanics, but mostly revolves around making better use of the nutrition system by making it more relevant to gameplay, both in the short and long-term.

The overall goals of this system are to:

  • Introduce 5 stats based on a character's physical traits, each tied to a different type of nutrient and with a different impact on gameplay.
    Immediately, this gives nutrition worth beyond just increasing health, which most players don't even need as combat is easy to avoid/cheese. It also provides a long-term goal and reward for players that manage to stay alive for long periods of time, while also allowing players to specialize in a certain stat to suit their gameplay style.
  • Each stat is levelled by performing basic gameplay actions.
    This should allow players to naturally progress towards desired stats in a passive manner, as the methods for increasing those stats should be things you were doing anyway. For example, a "strength" stat might grant bonuses towards melee damage, but the method for increasing strength might include dealing damage with melee weapons itself.
  • Actions that would progress a stat do so by consuming both satiety and its specified nutrient.
    Here, the end goal is to use nutrition as a measure of progression, pushing the player from consuming smaller, less nutritious, and frequent meals in the early game, to consuming infrequent, nutrient-dense meals in the late game to keep up with the body's increasing demands. This also gives late-game cooking a new purpose, as raw foods and simple meals, while filling, won't give nearly as many nutrients as more complex meals.
  • Foods give more satiety in general, and nutrient density as a measure of food progression.
    This ties into the above point. Currently, you'll need to eat half your weight in berries to go from empty to full. To change this, food should be less plentiful, but restore much more satiety than currently. The tradeoff? Early-game raw foods and simple meals should give much less nutrients. This means that while you need to eat less to become full, you also can't gain as much nutrients as you'll become too full to eat with the poor nutrient density of early game foods.
  • Satiety and nutrient consumption scales with total stat values.
    This serves as a natural difficulty increase over time, as the player grows and their food requirements grow to meet it. Currently, it's way too easy for your food production to vastly outweigh consumption, so this serves both as a growing resource sink, and as stated above, a measure of game progression. Attaining better foods then becomes a long-term goal for the player to chase after, since nutrient-dense foods will be needed in order to fuel progression towards later stat levels.
  • Satiety as a measure of fullness.
    After I eat a meal, I don't immediately start getting hungry again. After eating, characters should stop losing satiety for a period of time, scaling with how large the meal was. This allows players to get on their day rather than having to constantly scarf something down every couple of hours. The transition from hunger-gatherer society to agricultural was marked by the reduction of need to constantly be looking for food, and this system should reflect that.
  • Integration with the class system, as well as any future systems or mods.
    Classes could be further specialized by granting them starting bonuses to specific stats, or even granting them multipliers towards their progression. For example, a hunter might have bonuses to "fitness" or "endurance," whereas a blackguard's defining traits would lend themselves better to "strength" and "immunity." The nature of these stats as a reflection of a character's abilities also lend themselves well to other potential game mechanics such as illnesses, wounds, stamina, etc.
  • Give starvation a more meaningful penalty.
    Starvation should be a problem of multiple days rather than hours. Thus, starvation would cause one to slowly lose their store of nutrients, and potentially a small loss in stats when there is nothing left to burn. Staying in that state for a period of time would then start to eat away at the body, which would finally be the stage at which hp loss occurs.
  • Give death a more meaningful penalty.
    Similarly to the above point, death doesn't mean much beyond having to make it back to your body if your spawn point isn't nearby. With a stats system, death could carry a new penalty of a stat reduction, perhaps in the range of 10% or so. This being a percentage means that it is much less of a consequence in the early game, while being much more of one in the late game. To go along with this, there should be a temporary immunity to stat loss for a time after dying to prevent chain deaths from completely obliterating one's progress.

 

The basis for this idea was Project Zomboid's nutrition system and how they interacted with some of its stats/skills. The part I was particularly interested in was how some nutrients such as proteins and carbohydrates had effects on how the player increased their strength and weight, respectively. Eating protein would help in gaining strength, while calories affected weight gain with carbohydrates giving a multiplier to that weight gain. For the purposes of Vintage Story, however, we'll simplify things a bit by tying each stat to a specific nutrient. 

This system results in food and hunger management now becoming much more interesting and interactive instead of just being something you do to not die. As it stands, there's currently not much benefit in cooking advanced foods when you could just eat nothing but hefty meat stews and be perfectly fine for the rest of the game, so spreading out bonuses across various stats serves the purpose of pushing the player to want to diversify their diet and create better foods that are more efficient in terms of nutrient-to-satiety-gain ratios. 

By giving more meaning to cooking, we can consequentially make related game mechanics much more desirable. This can be things such as creating large farms for food production, setting up a proper windmill to make accessing grain foods much easier, or progressing in industry to access more complex recipes that might require advanced ingredients and/or machinery like juices, cheeses, or alcohol.

 

The 5 Physical Stats (and their linked nutrients) in detail:

All 5 stats are levelled on a 0-10 scale, with each subsequent level requiring more progress to achieve. I deliberately kept the exact numbers vague, but take them with a grain of salt anyway. As mentioned before, each stat is tied to a specific nutrient, and any action that progresses a stat will consume an amount of that nutrient along with some satiety. This amount should scale with the level of the stat, requiring more nutrient-dense foods to reach higher levels. 

It should also be noted that these stats are more-or-less listed in ease of obtaining, with more early-game oriented stats at the top and late-game ones at the bottom. This reflects how difficult it is to acquire the related nutrients for that stat, as the benefits of later game nutrients are usually more niche due to how long it might take to start getting foods that provide them.

Strength (Protein) - The measure of the ability to exert oneself physically.

  • Governs attack strength and mining speed with tools.
  • Slowly increases when carrying a lot of items (>= 80% of total inventory is full).
  • Slowly increases when dealing damage with a melee weapon, or when using a ranged weapon.
  • Very slowly increases when mining blocks with a tool.
  • With an item weight system, this might also:
    • Govern max carry weight.
    • Slowly increase when carrying a heavy load.

Notes: As the easiest nutrient to obtain (in my opinion), strength is a stat immediately relevant to a player as the bonuses it gives are useful to every player, even if they don't engage in combat. I limited the bonus to mining to just mining with tools specifically to keep it as a bonus to collecting resources rather than to punching out furniture to place somewhere else.

 

Fitness (Fruit) - The measure of one's ability to perform feats of athleticism.

  • Governs sprinting speed, swimming speed, jump height, and active satiety consumption.
    • Active satiety consumption refers to satiety cost of things like sprinting.
  • Increases when performing athletic actions (sprinting, swimming, jumping, etc).
  • With an expanded movement system like that of VSMovementMod, this might also:
    • Govern range of actions unlocked (climbing, crawling, gliding, etc).
    • Increase when performing advanced movement actions.
  • With a stamina system, this might also:
    • Govern stamina consumption multipliers.
    • Slowly increase when consuming stamina.

Notes: As the second-easiest nutrient to obtain due to the wide availability of berry bushes in the early game, this stat is similar to strength in being useful to pretty much any player. And while I don't think the developers will add systems like advanced movement options or stamina any time in the near future, these potential interactions serve as examples to how this system might be integrated with such mechanics in the future (or if a modder decides to implement it).

Vitality (Grain) - The measure of one's energy and capacity for life.

  • Governs maximum hp and satiety
  • Slowly increases when eating, scaling with the amount of satiety restoration
  • Very slowly increases while remaining satiated (>= 50% of max statiety)

Notes: Filling the role of the current nutrition system, vitality is a stat that should be passively developed over a longer period of time, which is fitting as it directly governs survivability through increasing max hp. Given that grains are more of a mid/late-game nutrient due to the requirements of farming, it also makes sense to tie it to a stat like vitality as they're both more of a long-term thing.

 

Immunity (Vegetable) - The measure of the body's ability to restore itself and fend off illness.

  • Governs hp regeneration, resistance to temperature change, resistance to extreme temperatures, and ability to eat spoiled/poisonous foods.
    • Mitigates nutrition loss of spoiled foods.
    • Reduces damage from eating poisonous foods.
  • Increases when regenerating hp.
  • With an illness/sickness system, this might also:
    • Govern likelihood of illness and ability to recover from one.
    • Increase when successfully fighting off an illness.
  • With a wound system, this might also:
    • Govern wound recovery rate.
    • Increase when successfully healing from a wound.

Notes: This stat is one that's a little hard to place in the game's current state. Without any form of advanced health system like wounds or illnesses, a stat like this is mostly relegated to just recovery and fighting off indirect threats to health. Of course, with such systems, this stat becomes far more valuable.

 

Endurance (Dairy) - The measure of one's ability to remain active for extended periods of time.

  • Governs incoming damage reduction and passive satiety consumption.
    • Passive satiety consumption refers to natural loss of satiety.
  • Very slowly increases when moving.
    • This encompasses any movement action, from sprinting to just simply walking.
  • Increases when taking damage, scaling with the amount of damage taken at once.
  • With a wound system, this might also:
    • Govern likelihood of a wound being inflicted.

Notes: Similarly to fitness and immunity, this is a stat that gains more value with the inclusion of additional systems such as stamina or wounds. This stat is also a bit awkward to balance, given the difficulty in acquiring dairy. Since we don't really have Seraph mothers, animal husbandry is pretty much the only way to acquire dairy, so the mechanics it governs are a bit less relevant than the others to prevent feelings of useful bonuses being locked away behind end-game content.

 

Conclusion:

While this is a lot of information to take in at once, it's my intent that such a system is more of a long-term goal that the player has in the back of their mind as they advance them in a passive manner by just playing they game as they would normally. In my opinion, this system is one that would positively affect many different parts of the game, as well as one that should be relatively simple to implement in terms of programming, since a lot of the groundwork is already there, but would probably just need a lot of balancing to make work.

Of course, these are all just ideas, so I'm always open to further suggestions or criticisms of them to see if we can't make something even better,

Cheers,

- Lan

Edited by Landar
small fixes
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I think this is really well thought out and you've done a wonderful job explaining your suggestion. 

My only concern is I think we're a ways off from a stat / skill system that Tyron (I believe) plans to implement into the game. But your leveling idea and it's dependency on nutrition and food variety is gold. This brings a huge importance to food over time. Your specific mention of how your satiety and depletion of satiety would scale as you live for longer and your stats increase (realism view the bigger and stronger you are, the more you need to eat to maintain that strength) is the best suggestion I've seen in a while. It also helps solve easy food production which as you stated, is the issue right now and requires players to consume more. Could even help generate a greater food economy over time in bigger servers online. 

Hope your suggestion or a very close version gets implemented I think it would bring this game to a new level. 

 

 

Edited by Davis
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Posted (edited)

  After doing some digging on other nutrition-related suggestions, I found this tidbit from this post.

 

On 10/8/2021 at 9:46 AM, l33tmaan said:

Starving should reduce your Max HP, not your Current HP.
Prove me wrong. 😈

 

Something like this has some quite interesting potential. Currently, starvation is a binary state, either you have 0 satiety and are now losing health, or you're not. So instead, how about measuring hunger on a spectrum? That is, allow satiety to go into the negative; the hungrier you are, the weaker you get.

Essentially, this would mean that the rate at which you burn through your nutrients would be tied to how much "hunger debt" you have. Once you've finally burned everything, only then you'd finally start to eat away at your body. This is where the penalty for starvation would become reducing max hp instead of taking constant damage, until finally the player died from their max hp hitting 0 (or other means). It would also make starvation something to actually have to recover from, since max hp would have to be built up again by remaining properly satiated for an extended period of time. This could further be tied to this stats system I mention in the original post, where having higher stat levels in something like vitality or endurance could reduce the penalties of starvation or make recovery from it faster.

Edited by Landar
wording
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