What are traits you like and dislike in survival crafting games?

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by Alexandar04, Jan 1, 2018.

  1. Alexandar04

    Alexandar04 Warper Member

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    By survival crafting games I'm talking about games like "Don't Starve", and "this little war of mine". For me I love the sense of progression especially if the game includes base building/customization options. It makes me feel great when I go from this run down shack to having a fully self-sustaining base of doom :D

    Naturally this brings me to what I hate in survival crafting games, pointless items. So for example I hate it when the game lets me craft like a water pump or a food growing kit but then even at max upgrade it has no intention of letting me become self-sustaining (aka the amount of water/food it gives me is RNG or always kept low enough where I have to go out to get more supplies), it's super annoying. It's like "well what the hell did I waste my time getting these items for if I still have to end up getting water and food anyway"? It feels like a cover up for bad game design, the designer being like "Well sheep, if they're not going out getting water and food then what else are they doing?" Once I have my basic needs taken care of I should be able to focus on searching for rarer/more valuable material to make even better items OR focus on actual story related quests to end the game.
     
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  2. Titanhex

    Titanhex Do-It-All Veteran

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    Yea I agree. In a survival game, the point should be to become self-sustaining. The game should keep trace elements of that, but should then evolve another mechanic.
    Otherwise, you're forced into repetition, and there's no sense of progress within the feedback loop.

    If you have reached the highest tier of sustainment, the game should end or a new mechanic to master should be introduced in order to complete the game.
    If you want an interesting perspective, The Sims is actually a survival game which quickly evolves. It's core mechanics closely imitate survival games. Maintenance of needs, providence of shelter, and gathering of resources. However, you reach sustainment very quickly, and other parts other game take over.

    There's a benchmark of progression that is really felt in survival crafting games. The amount of progress you feel from first starting to reaching the end is visceral. You feel like an expert. A survivor. It appeals to a very base need.
    What I hate is definitely the repetition. If you get stuck in a loop where you are only getting enough supplies to barely meet demand, the game becomes stagnant fast. Also the optimal strategy can become apparent fast in a lot of them. And if these two combine, you have an awful game. Nothing worse than doing the optimal strategy and still getting nowhere. The sharper the progress, the better the game.

    I also get bored quickly when I've reached a ridiculous level of godliness.
    Also these games are prone to griefing in open-server multiplayer setups.
     
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  3. Requiem

    Requiem Veteran Veteran

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    I'm not your target market (I don't remember the names of the 2 games I played...)

    But one had absolutly brutal RNG (the dev said they wanted the players to fail and fail often).
    Fair enough. but I don't want to replay it 20 times if I KNOW I have the optimal strategy just so that I can commiserate with the characters on screen

    The other thing is that the animations slowed down everything. It's essentially a max/min game, so I want to iterate as fast as possible.
     
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  4. Kes

    Kes Global Moderators Global Mod

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    This is what I dislike above all, I end up feeling like the dev is simply trolling the players. Is it that they need to do this to feed their egos? Is it that they didn't have the competence to develop a challenging but fair game and said this to cover that up? My opinion (biased, I admit, as survival games are not my first choice of game) is that too many of them fail to come up with interesting mechanics which evolve as you progress, so you either get stuck in repetition, or (more rarely) you can't progress because you are being set up to fail.
     
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  5. Titanhex

    Titanhex Do-It-All Veteran

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    @Kes What's your take on survival-game variants that bank on the players failure.
    Case in point, Oxygen Not Included and Dwarf Fortress, which are slowly spawning a new genre of survival-colony games.
    In these, many of your first playthroughs may have a lot of death and restart, but there's an element of enjoyment that's suppose to be taken from that.

    I suppose it's merely a matter of whether it's addressed by the design.
     
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  6. Kes

    Kes Global Moderators Global Mod

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    @Titanhex Where the failure comes from not having worked out a good strategy, then that's fine. Restart and try something different. Where, as Requiem said, you have the optimal strategy and you still fail, than that is, imo, unacceptable. I am not a fan of brutal RNG in any genre, so that needs to be taken into account when assessing my opinion. I am also not over-enthusiastic at the practice of some devs of having 'the' optimal strategy become the 'only' viable strategy. There should be some wriggle room to account for players' different approaches, otherwise it is not a survival (or whatever) game, but a dev mind reading game, which I find tedious.
     
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  7. Countyoungblood

    Countyoungblood Sleeping Dragon Veteran

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    Dwarf fortress is one of the most frustrating games I've ever loved. there is a certain type of player that loves researching and tinkering with mechanics to try to find the most amusing outcomes. Im one of these.

    Im entirely fine with watching my dwarves kill eachother because somebodies baby wandered into my training machine and got chopped up because I know they will be fine after the survivors have a couple legendary meals in their legendary dining room. that is soul food.
     
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