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Features for an Island Survival Game


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#1 Llogres   Members   -  Reputation: 101

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 10:48 AM

Hi,
I'm currently working on a Game Design outline for a Island Survival Game. I already came up with a lot of features that I'd like to see in a game, but now i want to know what you guys would want to have in it.
  • What would you want your character to be able to do? What kind of Items do you think should you be able to use/create?
  • Would you like to see other intelligent life on the island, or do you want to be really alone?
  • What core stats would you like to manage? (Classic examples would be hunger & thirst)
  • What activities would you like to engage in? (examples: crafting, hunting, fishing, farming)
  • What do you NOT want to see in a game like this? Maybe you played a similar game and something about it really annoyed you.
  • What kind of threats for the player do you think would be possible, apart from dying of thirst and hunger?
  • Any other suggestions for features you'd love to see?

Thanks, i really appreciate your help!

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#2 ThatGuyinaBlackSuti   Members   -  Reputation: 102

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 11:34 AM

I hate absolute loneliness in games, but at the same time it is also kind of interesting to be alone in a sense. So, what if there where tribes of people on the island, one hostile and one that is helpful, but the player can not truly communicate with them due to a language barrier.

#3 Labouts   Members   -  Reputation: 133

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 08:59 PM

What would you want your character to be able to do? What kind of Items do you think should you be able to use/create?


Depends on if the game has a "real world" setting or if it can have monsters and such. Unreal beings would present a good additional sense of being exposed and defenseless. I'm imagining a game where you find things you weren't expecting and have to find ways to evade and run from them for the majority of the game, climbing up trees or getting in water if they can't swim. End-game items could give you a fighting chance. You can do this with normal animals too, but monsters add a lot more variety to the kind of experiences they offer.

If you're going for a realistic cast-away experience, the game could focus on getting resources and experimenting to discover "recipes" for things. Probably a mix of an xp system and actually player experimentation. Rare materials that has to be gathered in an unusal way (eg: burning a substance off the ceiling of a cave) or that only exists in dangerous locations (eg: a flower that grows in the middle of steep cliffs) would give the player interesting goals and problems to solve.

Would you like to see other intelligent life on the island, or do you want to be really alone?


I think it'd be most interesting if you felt alone for most of them game then discovered something intelligent late game, perhaps hidden in an area that's very hostile or something you meet if you follow a string of hints.

What core stats would you like to manage? (Classic examples would be hunger & thirst)


Hunger, Thirst, and Stamina come to mind immediately. I think you should model health as a wound system rather than an hp system. eg: instead of "you took 5 damage", it'd be "You received a bruise on your head" or "you broke your left arm". Dealing with specific wounds give it a much stronger survival feeling than managing a health bar. You could also have skills (things like climbing, cooking, spear throwing, ect) to manage. If you wanted to try something rarely done, you could have to manage your character's mood and do things to make yourself happy (eat good tasting food, play instruments you crafted, go fishing, ect) to preform at your best.

What do you NOT want to see in a game like this? Maybe you played a similar game and something about it really annoyed you.

I played an island survival game that had repetitive quests from the natives. If you do have quests, try to make them more unique and interesting than “Give us five banana because we're too lazy to go ourselves”.
The game should give the player the opportunity to feel like you're slowly mastering the island, but make sure the player can never feel completely safe. They should be able to make parts of the island relatively safe, but if an area is 100% safe, it can alter the tone of the game in a negative way.
Finally, make sure the player has some direction. Dropping them somewhere and saying “Have fun” usually won't work. If people want that, they'll probably go play Minecraft instead of your game.

What kind of threats for the player do you think would be possible, apart from dying of thirst and hunger?


Dangerous creatures(either animals or monsters), illness/disease, dangerous weather, quicksand/quickmud, poisonous things, pissing off natives(if you choose to have them), active volcano, risk of down sharp drops (when exploring caves or gathering resources on a cliff), disturbing the ecosystem (eg: killings too many tigers increases the pig population which means pigs will be eating plants you might want), finding a safe place to sleep, drinking contaminated water, and the risk of wound infection come to mind.

Any other suggestions for features you'd love to see?


If the island or some aspects were procedurally generated, that would do a lot to improve its longevity. Including roleplaying things that don't necessary relate to survival, like decorations for your shelter, would add a lot.
If you aren't going fully realistic, I'd love to see something mythical and mysterious that you can unfold. Something strange and difficult to study that can be uncovered. That would fit perfectly with the isolated feeling of an island survival scenario.

#4 Llogres   Members   -  Reputation: 101

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 04:02 AM

Depends on if the game has a "real world" setting or if it can have monsters and such. Unreal beings would present a good additional sense of being exposed and defenseless. I'm imagining a game where you find things you weren't expecting and have to find ways to evade and run from them for the majority of the game, climbing up trees or getting in water if they can't swim. End-game items could give you a fighting chance. You can do this with normal animals too, but monsters add a lot more variety to the kind of experiences they offer.

If you're going for a realistic cast-away experience, the game could focus on getting resources and experimenting to discover "recipes" for things. Probably a mix of an xp system and actually player experimentation. Rare materials that has to be gathered in an unusal way (eg: burning a substance off the ceiling of a cave) or that only exists in dangerous locations (eg: a flower that grows in the middle of steep cliffs) would give the player interesting goals and problems to solve.


First of all thanks for all your great ideas! I really like the idea of dangerous locations, and i could come up with a system that would create the world in a way that some dangerous locations would be bottlenecks for further exploration of the island. I really want to use an XP system but i also want the game to be played "forever", but I've not yet come up with an idea how to combine both...

Hunger, Thirst, and Stamina come to mind immediately. I think you should model health as a wound system rather than an hp system. eg: instead of "you took 5 damage", it'd be "You received a bruise on your head" or "you broke your left arm". Dealing with specific wounds give it a much stronger survival feeling than managing a health bar. You could also have skills (things like climbing, cooking, spear throwing, ect) to manage. If you wanted to try something rarely done, you could have to manage your character's mood and do things to make yourself happy (eat good tasting food, play instruments you crafted, go fishing, ect) to preform at your best.


I like the idea of mood as a metric, i think that would work out quite well. And i guess a broken leg equals "you're as good as dead - why not start over?" ;) There's plenty of possibilities if you also bind attributes to certain body parts, like strength of your arms, etc.

I played an island survival game that had repetitive quests from the natives. If you do have quests, try to make them more unique and interesting than “Give us five banana because we're too lazy to go ourselves”.
The game should give the player the opportunity to feel like you're slowly mastering the island, but make sure the player can never feel completely safe. They should be able to make parts of the island relatively safe, but if an area is 100% safe, it can alter the tone of the game in a negative way.
Finally, make sure the player has some direction. Dropping them somewhere and saying “Have fun” usually won't work. If people want that, they'll probably go play Minecraft instead of your game.

I'm definitely not going for quests. I really like the aspect of exploring the whole island. I'm not sure how big to make the island to really give the feel of "you're on an island and there's water all around it" but also give enough room to explore. Instead of making the whole island open for travel from the beginning it would be possible to block you by using dense vegetation, steep cliffs, broad rivers and stuff like that you'd have to overcome as a self-given "quest".

If the island or some aspects were procedurally generated, that would do a lot to improve its longevity. Including roleplaying things that don't necessary relate to survival, like decorations for your shelter, would add a lot.
If you aren't going fully realistic, I'd love to see something mythical and mysterious that you can unfold. Something strange and difficult to study that can be uncovered. That would fit perfectly with the isolated feeling of an island survival scenario.

Yeah, I'll go for procedurally created islands, but give the player some settings to tweak, for example: volcano? - yes, no, random. So that if someone really hates some aspect of the game, like volcanos they can turn it off. And of course players should be able to share their random seeds to play identical worlds.

#5 Luckless   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1765

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 10:01 AM

If you haven't already, pick up a number of survival guides. You can get a lot of interesting ideas from them.

To limit exploration of the island from the start, you have the very logical blocker with the issue of running off into the wilds is likely to kill you before you finish. You'll die of exposure if you're not prepared.

One thing I would love to see in a game is having to actually design/build your shelters and possibly tools. Not "You have collected 10 sticks, and 50 palm leaves, now you may build a lean-too, aka Shelter_Level_1", but "I have collected a number of procedurally generated branches, now let me play with a physics engine of some kind and actually put something together using the natural landscape". I've spent many nights on vacation without cabin or tent, and some of my best times came from sleeping under natural shelters with minimal work on my part.
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#6 Llogres   Members   -  Reputation: 101

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 06:41 AM

One thing I would love to see in a game is having to actually design/build your shelters and possibly tools. Not "You have collected 10 sticks, and 50 palm leaves, now you may build a lean-too, aka Shelter_Level_1", but "I have collected a number of procedurally generated branches, now let me play with a physics engine of some kind and actually put something together using the natural landscape".

I tried to come up with an idea how to actually do this in a 2d tilebased game. I think you could modify Tiles in a way that turned some tiles into a shelter, instead of just building a shelter-tile. So instead of building the shelter you'd build protection from rain, protection from groundmoisture, protecture from insects, etc. You'd just build up all the protection you need around you, but in a logical way. for example using leaves for a roof would provide some protection from rain, but building your whole shelter in a cave or under a tree would be even better. So you'd kinda expand the natural landscape to fit your needs. So you're probably better off buidling a fire in a cave than starting to chopping down trees to build a small lean-to shelter.

I still have difficulties trying to think of ways to expand gameplay in an intesting way. What happens when you have a shelter and maybe a way to get all the food you need? I would appreciate some input on that as well :)




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