Items for Survival(ish) Themed Game

mlogan

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I'm slowly, ever so slowly working on a game that, while perhaps not exactly a "survival game" but borrows elements and themes. Namely, you will start with a small amount of items (a backpack with perhaps things like, a knife, a water bottle, a bit of rope, some non-perishable food, etc), and you will need to use those and other items you collect to solve puzzles and escape situations.

That being said, it got me to wondering what might be some good items to have or collect over time in a RM "survival" style game. (Yes, I realize I am using the definition of a survival game a bit loosely here.) And while yes, I will likely pull ideas for my own game from this topic, this topic is for general discussion as to what might work in such a game in general.

Mine is a modern-day game, so my list so far reflects that, but feel free to add items from other time periods, or perhaps even magical settings as well.

Beverages:
- bottled water
- sports drink (maybe the powder mix)

Food:
- beef jerky
- trail mix
- granola bars

Tools:
- pocket knife
- multi-use tool
- rope
- axe

Other:
- flashlight
- batteries
- matches
- candles
- tent
- cell phone
- charger
 

Ms Littlefish

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For a modern game. I'd think: loose change, tape, road flares, small (battery-operated) radio, poncho, some sort of fortified food. Just to start with a few, I could probably think of more! I think the biggest thing would be inventory space. It'd be unrealistic to carry everything, so making players choose is always an interesting mechanic to use.
 

The Stranger

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I guess it really depends on how survival oriented a game is. You can have things like:
  • Flint
  • Water purification\filtration device
  • Various traps
  • Make-shift tools & weapons; spears and what not made from various modern stuff.
  • Shovel and\or spade
  • Various pots and other vessels
There's an awful lot more you could use, but that's what I can think of (in addition to what you have) right now. :)
 

palinskyjoe

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I always enjoy when a game puts a spin on ideas. For example, you need to acquire string to tie something but there is no string. You find a yo-yo and you have a knife. So you can use the knife to disassemble the yo-yo and use the string.

That's me, though. I love when the puzzle is just a hair more complex than it needs to be. I love this idea, though! I also think that lanterns are a great item that work in any setting. Flashlights are modern but people still use lanterns of all kinds when approaching survival situations because batteries/etc. may not be present when the light is needed.
 

jezebelthenun

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Watch some Survivorman for interesting and modern survival objects and how to use them. Seriously, there are some interesting things there. Going off of what @palinskyjoe said, there are infinite ways to incorporate items, and just as many ways to problem solve.
 

nandaron

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Games. Gotta have games in your game! One of my favorite examples of this is in Fallout: New Vegas. Particularly in the card game "Caravan." It uses cards from a regular deck of cards that you find while out and about, and playing it allows you to network with various npc's, as well as you can win sweet loot!

Also, I guess it depends on your survival world. Like, natural disaster? zombies? Are there any surviving groups? Are there only "old world" items, or is it a Mad Max style affair where everything is new or newly appropriated? I mean you could have a fork tied to a stick that you use to ration corn-meal or scratch your foot. I'm not judging! hah

In the setting of a "survival" world, especially in a game, it seems that items only really exist to be interacted with. So the question really is, what all can the player do? And why? Not, why do I have shovel, but why do I need to dig a hole? There are a lot of games, AAA games, that have "item bloat." MMO's are the worst for this. Like anyone needs 10 different things that do the same thing. At this point I'm rambling, but it did always make me wonder why certain games featured certain items. Especially when other concepts were completely abandoned.
 

Alexander Amnell

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Well obviously not everything will fit in your world probably but I'm just going to dump out my camping/bug-out-bag (unpacking and repacking it is half the fun anyway) and rattle off a few of the key things I'd really want to have around during a survival situation and how they might be useful from a gameplay perspective and maybe a few of them will give you good ideas.

  • water-resistant 4-cell maglight (what cops shine in your face when they pull you over at night): Good for light obviously, but also a nice, comfortingly weighted club if the pc walks into a place that isn't particularly friendly to their goal of survival.
  • headlamp: a good hands-free alternative to a regular flashlight if your game wants to get that technical about things.
  • MRE: Good old, chalky survival rations, come in many flavors, all of which leave something to be desired. If your game has an inventory limit these can be the king of lightweight nutrition, and are self-contained not requiring so much as a fire to prepare, just a little water. If the player can carry anything they want I'd probably just stick to canned goods and wild game instead.
  • Magnesium Firestarter: a pain in the butt to use but much better than flint or a couple of sticks if you need to be able to make a fire but can't just go to the store and buy some lighter fluid anytime you want.
  • Eagle Torch: How to start a fire quickly and effortlessly, or moderately quickly in adverse conditions such as wind and rain, as long as you've got plenty of butane.
  • Paracord Spool: Good for any situation where you need a sturdy rope, but with the weight/space of a big spool of thread.
  • Trench shovel: Good for all kinds of things, from entrenching your fire (keeps it less visible and makes cooking easier) to burying a supply cache of items you don't want to carry but might need later. Can also be a vicious weapon if you need it to be.
  • Hammock: Around 1/20 of the burden of a two person tent, and about a hundred times more comfortable to sleep in a hammock is the perfect thing for a lone survivor except during storms. Also can be fashioned into a makeshift pack to help you carry more things if your pc is unlucky enough not to have a backpack already or loses it at some point.
  • water purification tablets: So much more ergonomic than carrying around a powered purifier and more reliable than the collapsible kinetic-powered ones that are out there (which I've seen people and myself get sick from in the past) and tend to wear out really quickly anyway.
  • Gauze, alcohol, bandages and bandaids to replace healing potions without getting to technical with the first aid. Burn cream or harvested aloe vera juice for soothing burns and itches. Willow bark to combat illnesses or brewed into a tea as a desperate man's coffee even. Aniseeds for dealing with cramps or digestion issues. You'd be amazed how many plants can be used to substitute medicine in a pinch provided you have a pocket herbalist along to help you safely identify them.
  • water bladder: Like a lot of things above it's just more ergonomic and convenient than trying to carry around a bunch of water bottles. Might not be a good early game idea but I think it'd be a nice find for a player further into a survival game once things beyond getting your next meal start to become more important and carrying a dozen bottles of water begins to become more tedium than it is fun. Also purification tablets are usually designed to batch a liter or so per pill pair so it's good to have something around that can hold enough water if you're going to use them.
  • 20 gauge birdshot: gives you access to all kinds of fowl, rodents, rabbits and other small game as a food source but can't be relied upon to kill (or really do anything beyond bring pain and make it want to kill you) anything big enough to actually hurt the player so that your survival game doesn't risk becoming a shooting gallery. If blasting poor animals isn't a feature you want to include a length of paracord and a spry sapling can make a nice little trap to snare them for dinner instead or or drilling a small hole in a log and putting something shiny (pocket change maybe) inside it that's to big to be taken out can trap raccoons; not a trap I'd recommend for several reasons, but it can actually work and would make a cute Easter Egg. (had to try it as a kid after reading 'where the red fern grows' :oswt:)
  • Multi-Tool: no brainer for any environment, from using the saw to cut cord and kindling to screwdrivers for breaking into deserted urban environments looking for salvage or just making rudimentary repairs to things. Forget survival, everyone should really carry a multi-tool around just for general purpose needs.
  • signal flares: Can be used for more than just signaling, maybe you blind/scare off a frightening foe/animal or you can use them to light the obligatory 'light the braziers puzzle' from a distance when you can't reach them conventionally. Maybe you don't have any batteries for your flashlight and you just pop a couple off ahead of you to help navigate dangerous terrain at night. Most propelled flares tend to be 12 gauge and can be shot out of most shotguns lacking chokes so if you did include it you could allow it to fire the flares rather than make the player carry a separate gun for both (never do the opposite though!) and though I haven't been able to find them in years I've had 20 gauge flares before so they can exist somewhat believably in a game as well.
  • A big old, loyal dog: The puzzle applications alone are endless, they can fetch things for you, brave waters that the pc can't (at least not weighted down with a bunch of survival gear) sniff out friendly survivors or recently used hidden shelters and alert you to the presence of potential hostiles and tree small game so you can leisurely shoot it down and cook it. Also none of the stupid drama you're liable to get when multiple humans try to survive harsh circumstances they aren't used to together, If I can only have one friendly in the wilderness I'll take a well-trained fuzzy buddy over most humans.
 
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jezebelthenun

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Some items I'd like to see in a survival game other than what has been mentioned are:

Compass
Binoculars
Magnifying Glass/Mirror
Matches and Waterproof Matches
Old t-shirt or long johns (rope, bandages)
Nylons/Pantyhose (useful for fishing/rope)
Broken Canoe or Wrecked row boat (shelter)
Chocolate bar (the wrapper with a little chocolate on it becomes an item when the chocolate is eaten, useful for starting fires)
Rain Poncho
Scouting Guide (shows flora/fauna info, medicinal recipes, edibles, etc.)
Pencil
Paper Clips (useful for a ton of stuff, notably fishing, wound sewing if sterilized, otherwise infection)
 

Alexander Amnell

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@jezebelthenun Paperclip stitches; been there once, just made it worse, think I'd risk bleeding out next time(of course I wasn't even stranded, just hate doctors) if I were stupid enough not to learn to have sutures on hand after that. They can work for sewing fabric, they might be able to work in a pinch if you are sewing someone else, I don't think many people would be able to sew themselves up with a hot paperclip though, just to thick, to easy to stop-start from the pain.
 

jezebelthenun

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@Alexander Amnell Yeouch! Maybe sharpen it on a rock first? Man, I'm cringing hard over here. Perhaps I'll change my answer to "leather needle", though they're a bit less common. You must have some pretty rad scars, though.
 

Alexander Amnell

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It doesn't look to bad, I gave up pretty quickly and the clip was sharpened/heated. Just another example of one of those dumb ideas young men tend to get in their heads when they wanna think they're tough...or an example of just how terrified I am of hospitals more likely.
 
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Pierman Walter

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Depending on if you want to include foraging as a game mechanic, you can also have: wild garlic, blackberries, eggs, rabbits, dandelions, and other fascinating food. An interesting thing to do is to base the forageable food on the setting of the game. For example, if the game is set in England, you can find lots of burdock, skirrets, and barberries, and if the game is set in Northern California, you can find lots of yarrow, aronias, and gooseneck barnacles.
 

Guiguimu

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Well, hunting animals for food and using all parts of the animal... Like the meat for eating, bones to create weapons to hunt more and the skin to create clothes, tents, beds... For a starting trap the player could use the axe to chop wood, with the knife create sticks and create a cage with sticks and the rope. Set the trap and wait a day or so. I'm saying this because in a survival game normally the character doesn't know that he is going to get lost so why should he carry many things? Better to start light and with those little things create more needed stuff.
 

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