(e.g. Why I Stopped Playing: The Forest.)
Let me start off by saying that The Forest has almost ruined other survival games for me. Nearly everything about it is incredibly slick and intuitive. The titular forest feels (and sounds!) like a forest, and walking through it can be a relaxing experience.
The crafting and building game is on point as well. Instead of filling your inventory with hundreds of rocks so you can craft a furnace in your pocket, you instead lay out a blueprint out in the world. From there, you start building it piece by piece, by essentially “using” the items in your limited inventory. Most of the larger constructions require logs, which you cannot fit in your pocket. So you are out in the world, chopping down entire trees, and then either hauling 1-2 logs on your back or crafting a sled to move ~10 or so at a time. This makes each structure feel important, as you spend a lot of time crafting it and seeing it come together a piece at a time, in a way that doesn’t exist just chopping logs for abstracted resources. It’s hard going back to any other survival games after this one.
That said, the game lost me when it went from being The Forest to The Caves.
Basically, nothing you do out in the world really matters – story progression is essentially exclusive to the cave system that snakes through the landscape. Sure, you need sticks and stuff to craft bows and your other weapons, but the experience of slowly creeping through dark, linear passages and encountering scripted amounts of enemies is basically the opposite of everything that led up to this point in gameplay. Those elaborate traps and your fortified treefort? Pointless. That house boat you built after felling a hundred trees? Pointless.
I mean, I get it. This game is technically a survival-horror, and even the craziest mutants lose some of the horror bits when you see them roaming around in the overworld instead of stumbling into them in a poorly-lit cavern. But really, these are two different games. The most you are crafting in the caves is a tent as a temporary Save location, so what was the point in expanding your carrying capacity? Or exploring the different biomes?
So, I stopped playing. The caves are both nerve-wracking and boring, simultaneously. I have heard that I’m pretty close to the point at which the plot starts to unfold in interesting ways, but that plot is at the end of more caves, which is further from the truly fun and innovative parts of this game. And that’s a real goddamn shame.
Going forward though, I do hope every survival game copies certain elements from The Forest. Don’t let us keep Furnaces in our pockets, especially if we’re basically allowed to build them out anywhere in the world anyway. Make things feel more grounded in the open world. And, yeah, please keep the open world and not goddamn caves.
So, I’m browsing Reddit and I come across a GIF from the latest one, and decide to read the post before actually watching the new E3 video. And the comments… dear god, the comments…
Can someone plz tell us what’s happening?
Japanese people are weird and tell weird stories
Source: I have played some videogames before
Wait, the babys head went downwards like a somersault, but then the butt shows up in traditional “mooning” orientation, how did he do that?
Watch it in slowmo, as his head disappears you can see him start to rotate.
Dude. I’m not watching this in slowmo. I don’t even want to see it at regular speed.
They’ve released plenty of trailers by now and gameplay, and I still have no idea what the fuck this game is about or what is it you’re really doing in the game.
Probably survival game with a bit of rpg elements. You are like a courier who delivers some stuff in that big box. Then you are recruited by that woman to probably get know know what is that stuff in the box. The game theme is about the damaged enviroments where the ‘timefall’ rain has some toxicated substance that causes living organism to age rapidly fast (notice the grass/flower when norman reedus walks under the rain) For now we know there are invisible creatures in the rain and if they eat/kill you, there is some lore-related mechanics that governs respawn system (create a crater area as in the trailer says). Some also speculates that the fetus that he carries is actually a clone of himself, and can turn into his adult self rapidly fast incase he/the player dies.
Ohh, so he carries a clone of himself so that when he gets accelerated there’s another one of him to take his place? That makes sense now.
I mean, I guess.
The phrasing I have heard is that Kojima’s goal is “to do for horror games, what Metal Gear Solid did for stealth games.” Based on his stated goals with the Metal Gear series and the E3 trailer for this game (which I did end up watching), that may be “run away from the monsters instead of shooting them.” That said, it’s 2018, and there have been many, many of those sort of games for years. Hell, I remember playing Clock Tower and running away from a dude with giant scissors back in 1996.
Or maybe the game is a big meta-commentary on the wastefulness and drudgery we generate from ordering everything on Amazon Prime. I once used the Prime Now feature to have someone deliver milk to my front door within 2 hours because I didn’t feel like putting on pants. Maybe we’re the invisible time monsters that leave craters everywhere! /thinking
Regardless, I’m all for these weird-ass games that push the envelope. Bring it on, Kojima!
As you may or may not have heard, SOE is coming out with a zombie apocalypse MMO called DayZ Online H1Z1. This was, in fact, what Smedley was talking about vis-a-vis the MMO that SWG veterans “could come home to.” Because… crafting? Whatever.
By the way, I’m with Syp on pronouncing H1Z1 as “hizzy.” Because just with the Xbone before it, these companies need to take a little more thought with how they name their products.
The details of the game are sketchy. Not in the ambiguous sense, but rather in the “there’s no possible way that will work” sense. Right off the top, this is a F2P full-loot FFA PvP game. In fact, the Tweets (sigh) are suggesting that the current design is permadeath, but I have a hard time imagining rerolling an entirely new character each time. I mean, if your character’s facial features and other customizations are somehow saved, is that really permadeath? Another feature is player housing that exists in the world, and people can set it on fire, presumably even while you are offline. That sounds totally reasonable, amirite? There will also be “trading,” which I understand as a euphemism for looting things off the corpses of traders. There are also no levels, which combined with the F2P aspect, seems to indicate the potential for an infinite firebombing army to reduce all player-owned structures to cinder at 4am.
Now, conceivably, these are solvable problems. Smedley has mentioned the existence of different server types, some of which will likely be PvZ-only. Some might even offer player housing protection on by default ala Minecraft. I have little doubt that we’ll also see housing immunity (or at least insurance) for 2000 Station Cash. The question mark is whether they’ll sell items directly, which could become problematic with a full-loot PvP system. “Hah, I totally ganked that dude and stole his $10 golden revolver.” [Fake edit: you keep your customization]
Speaking of monetization, Smedley has a Reddit thread up right now asking for ideas. No, seriously, he does. Currently, he seems pretty adamant that A) they will not be selling weapons at all, and B) they have a “preference” to not selling anything that helps with survival. Everything else is conceivably on the table… other than just asking for a goddamn subscription or box purchase. Many of the ideas so far revolve around pets, animations, clothing, and in-game advertisements ala Battlefield 2142. To his credit, Smedley shot down that last one, although ironically that would be something that made complete sense in the context of the game.
As far as the map size goes, well, here is Smedley:
I’ve seen a bunch of people asking questions about the Map size. Forgelight is built to handle arbitrarily sized worlds. Our plan is simple – we’re building the core of “anywhere USA”. When we first open it up to users the map will be huge, but nowhere near as big as it’s going to be in short order. Our Map Editing system allows us to quickly add massive areas. We want to make sure we clearly understand how the players are playing the game before we do that. On Planetside 2 we made a mistake by making multiple continents before we had a strong enough idea of what worked and what didn’t. This game is different. We’re doing it smarter. […]
So not to worry. Zombie Apocalypse isn’t going to be any fun if it’s like Disneyland on Spring Break and super crowded. We want remote.. haunting… being scared when you see someone. Your first instinct needs to be to hide. If there are 20 players in your view it’s not a very convincing Apocalypse :)
Ah. So… an MMO where actively avoiding other people is the only sane way to play. Hey, at least I already have a lot of practice doing just that.
This is the part of the post where I balance the negativity of the preceding paragraphs with some halfhearted praise. So… uh… well. I liked State of Decay? Using the PlanetSide 2 engine means they will have a quick development cycle, although it also means there won’t be any actual physics. The “play as a zombie” mode sounds like it could be fun. And… yeah. I feel kinda bad for The Forest guys, although maybe I shouldn’t – at least The Forest doesn’t feature full-loot PvP.
H1Z1 will be up on Steam’s Early Release program in 4-6 weeks for $20. Why are we paying money for the privledge of alpha-testing free-to-play games? Because fuck you, that’s why.
With an odd sense of inevitability, I beat Don’t Starve’s Adventure Mode Sunday night.
In one sense, my victory was all but assured the moment I zoned into the first world as WX-78. As I may have mentioned, each of the various alternate characters have different pros and cons. The default Wilson has no negative qualities, and has the benefit of growing a beard; if left unshaven, the beard acts as insulation against the cold, while shaved beard hair can be used to craft a Meat Effigy (placeable respawn structure). Wickerbottom has higher penalties for eating spoiled food and can’t sleep, in exchange for the highest Sanity pool, the ability to craft spell books, and can use a lower-level research structure to build higher-tier items. Meanwhile, WX-78 has the lowest starting stats and takes damage in the rain, but can eat spoiled food with no penalty and can eat gears to regain health/hunger/sanity while also increasing said stats by 20 each (to a certain maximum).
With the exception A Cold Reception – where it rains constantly – victory was more or less assured with WX-78 due to the gear bonus alone. While the locations of the Things you are hunting are random, the set pieces in which they are located are all the same. Thus, you know there will always be at least four mechanical enemies at the “exit” to a given world and they will drop two gears each. Gears stack up to 40 in a single inventory slot, do no spoil, and as mentioned earlier they provide a huge boost to all three meters.
In fact, it turns out that I wasted a significant amount of time cooking food throughout most of the worlds given that one gear snack would have been enough to sustain me for an entire day – I waltzed into the final world with 40 gears and left 4 days later. Compare that to my best Wilson run, where I was constantly in dire need of sustenance in a world where plants don’t grow and rabbits need to be dug out of the ground. Indeed, my death in that last level was due to stopping to dig up mushrooms to boost my health/sanity, which was completely unnecessary with WX-78’s gears.
Do I feel satisfied? Well… more or less. I definitely feel like a switch has been flipped off in my mind, allowing me to move on (for real this time). The difference in implicit difficulty sort of made it feel like I had godmode on, although I suppose I should not discount the fact that I had 50+ hours of experience and knew what to expect going in. Another part of it though? I think that I expected to have beaten it that last time with Wilson. The roguelike aspect of having to redo the whole thing generated more hours /played, but not necessarily more enjoyment.
In any case, there is actually more to do. The most recent update fleshed out the Cave system even more, which acts as its own mini-Adventure mode insofar as dying in a cave simply respawns you outside the entrance. I could also seek to, you know, actually survive in Survival Mode – the farthest I got was about day 40. Or… I could move on.
I’m going to try the latter and see if it sticks this time.
As I mentioned back in my Card Hunter post, it is pretty rare that I get 100% engrossed in a given game. The all-in immersion in a game’s delicious logical systems is precisely what I desire, but gaming today is typically focused on front-loading the fun, followed by a tapering off of stimulation. So color me surprised when I found myself playing Don’t Starve until 6am again, trying (in vain) to get myself prepared for a winter I have never survived long enough to see.
In a nutshell, Don’t Starve is an indie survival roguelike. You wake up, get taunted a bit by the above-pictured guy, and… that’s it. As the Steam store description states:
Uncompromising Survival & World Exploration:
No instructions. No help. No hand holding. Start with nothing and craft, hunt, research, farm and fight to survive.
They’re not kidding. Just when you think you’re getting the hang of a particular mechanic… BAM! You get stung to death by angry bees.
If you die, that’s it, game over; your save file is erased. Occasionally there will be a sacrificial altar-looking thing, which acts as a one-time respawn mechanic. You can even construct your own Meat Effigy, which will also respawn you once… but you will have a lower maximum HP for as long as it exists. And keep in mind that you don’t resurrect with your gear – all of your shit is piled on the ground next to the giant spider nest or
murloc Merm camp or swamp filled with giant tentacles or whatever nightmare area you died in.
And that’s another thing: there’s a sanity meter too.
But, seriously, Don’t Starve is one of the most brilliant games I have played in years. While I sort of feel like it’s still in beta (there’s a countdown until the next patch on the title screen), how all the game systems already interlock is astonishing. As you might imagine from the title, getting food is important. But actually getting enough food to survive is pretty easy. The problem is that actually foraging all that food will consume a large portion of your day, leaving you little time to explore before nightfall. You can’t just hoard food either, because it spoils. Even worse, no crops grow during the winter and the ponds freeze over and you can’t eat monster meat without going insane and… you get the idea.
What I find so engaging is how I feel like I’m… juggling. You know in RTS games like Starcraft (etc) when you’re trying to micromanage some battles and having your base produce more units and sending scouts out to look for expansions? I actually dislike RTS games that are structured that way – I can do any one of them well, but not all simultaneously – but Don’t Starve somehow threads that needle. I would spend a few days making food supplies, then trek out into the wilderness looking for more of a certain resource I was lacking, foraging when I could, and trying not to get too far afield. Then come back, craft some new feature in my camp, and then get attacked by Hounds and die on Day 22.
And I’m not even mad.
Each world is procedurally-generated, which means next time I might be able to locate an even better starting location for my camp. Or maybe I’ll run across one of those random set-pieces and get a huge leg-up on survival with the ready-made supplies there. Or maybe I’ll actually find that goddamn Maxwell’s Door again and be able to play the game within a game. Oh, did I forget to mention that? The base game is a sandbox, but you can do Adventure Mode (a story-ish game mode) if you walk through Maxwell’s Door. If you die inside though, you get booted back outside into the “normal” world and it’s forever closed to you on this world. Collect four mysterious items though, and you can jump to a brand new world with another Maxwell’s Door located somewhere on it.
But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves though, because none of us are likely to make it. As it says on the Steam page:
Randomly Generated New Worlds:
Want a new map? No problem! At any time you can generate a new living and breathing world that hates you and wants you to die.
One day, I will see the winter. And die horribly, no doubt. But seeing it will be enough. For now.
It is kinda true what they say about donating to Kickstarter and the like: you can’t stop at just one.
I’m stopping at two.
Meet Darkwood, a top-down survival-horror roguelike with crafting elements. It is also open-world and procedurally-generated, but I’m kinda tired of typing out that phrase. Could we maybe come up with an acronym or something? “Pro-gen” or maybe start using Minecraft as an adjective. Anyway, Darkwood is actually over on Indiegogo instead of Kickstarter, and as of two days ago it passed its $40,000 goal, by virtue of my $10 gamble no doubt.
Take a look at the video:
What caught my eye – aside from the fact you never really get a good look at the monster(s) you are fighting, or how you can’t see the light shining behind you – is when the dude laid down a bear trap, put meat on it, soaked it in gasoline, and then set a gas trail on fire to burn the trapped monster. That… is pretty clever. Plus, I’m a big fan of looting. Not the sort of mechanical action of inherent to every game ever, but the whole ransacking of an abandoned house in search of random post-apocalypse survival tools. I always find that sort of thing both compelling and mentally soothing at the same time.
Please announce Fallout 4 at E3. Please announce Fallout 4 at E3. Please announce Fallout 4 at E3.
Anyway, it’s $10 to secure your infinitely reproducible digital copy on Indiegogo. The projected release date is “mid-2014,” which is admittedly a bummer. Even if you’d rather wait for my inevitable review, do go ahead and pop open your Steam client and vote for the game on Green Light. The more of these indie games that get onto Steam, the more likely you can pick them up for 75% off later. Win-win.