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Improving Survival


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Here's a paper that I've been working on for a long while and goes over some concepts and ideas that I think will improve the Vintage Story gameplay. Some of which are already in Vintage Story but might be best expanded upon. To save the forums from a wall of text. I've put the wall into a document instead. Enjoy!


Edited by Stroam
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Some thoughts:
Decay and the resulting need for maintenance is of course something very prevalent in survival games. It's basically what hunger, thirst and tool durability are. They are the struggle, a force directly fighting against progression. Only when the player can overcome the struggle can he progress and when he falls victim to it his progress will slowly diminish. In an ideal survival game the player always overcomes the struggle and moves forward at a constant speed archiving a good pacing and constant motivation. But games usually aren't ideal and players are different. The player may overcome the struggles and progression may make maintenance too easy, removing the struggle and ruining the pacing. The player may not overcome the struggle, losing progress and motivation.

Player punishment is very important, because a struggle without failure and the resulting learning and improvement of the player is just a grind. As punishment, the player needs to lose some progress. However punishing the player to much is demotivating, punishment should only be small setbacks to progression. Punishment also needs to be relative. If the punishment for not having eaten in a long time is bigger than the punishment for death, players will chose death. This is for example often the case in Minecraft, where being hungry limits your ability to run, which leads to players often killing themselves and afterwards just picking up their stuff, as it is far less punishing than having to get food without being able to run.

When combat inflicts lasting wounds, slowing you down, death and having to pick your stuff up afterwards seems like the better option. Adding more decay also adds more struggle, which adds more maintenance and more punishment, which makes progression slower adds more progression setbacks, which are in turn even more significant. This can very quickly spiral out of control and ruin the fun.

As player progress directly counteracts the maintenance, this can also go the other way, where players who have progressed very far experience no struggle at all. They will probably get bored to death, also diminishing the fun.

So what is the solution to all this?

A good way to avoid this problem would be to introduce new struggles with progression. When the player has build a farm, the struggle for food and the system of hunger is largely eliminated, however food decay becomes a new struggle. Old problems can be solved, providing a sense of progression, but new problems arise. Of course, the game can't constantly introduce new problems, because progression can't be endless. The question now is if the player should be able to solve the last problems or not. Not being able to solve the last problems obviously leaves the player with something to do, but nothing to archive. Being able to solve the last problems leaves the player to archive, but nothing to do afterwards.

A pure survival game would now either become repetitive, boring or end. But Vintage Story is also a sandbox game, where the player can set his own goals, like building a huge castle. It therefore makes sense to make the last problems solvable, so the player is able to archive his own goals for once, having him finally beaten the game.

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  • 1 month later...

I really appreciate Stroam's ideas to improve VS. If I can add something to the discussion, I'd like to say that I actually do hiking and practice survival in real life hence I think that introducing more accurate survival mechanics, could give also a didactic value to the game

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