The Problem With Survival Building Games [In My Opinion]
So before I start, this post will be completely biased to what games I like/want to play. As a game designer if you aren't making games you don't like to play... you won't finish them. I've played my games more then I've ever played any games ever (Skyrim included) because as a game dev you are testing the games over and over again. If you get bored with your own game, then it probably wasn't that good to begin with. So lets talk about Sand for a second.
Sand is (or will be) a survival/base-building/adventure game, or at least that is the plan. I worked on the coolest part first and that is base building. I've nailed down the feel I want and adding new things is fun and easy for me. I've got the adventure, exploring, story part (a la Fallout 1 and 2 [some of my favorite games of all time]) down as well. Lacking in content but the building blocks are there. I also enjoy the story telling and the world building part. The survival part well isn't really in the game yet. I mean you have water draining as you walk and food if you want to heal yourself in a tent, but that isn't a survival game. So I started to look at games similar to Sand and see what they did. This is what I discovered:
All the games I've played with building and survival (again my opinion) does it wrong. I feel like, now, the two games styles are diametrically opposed. Let me explain. A survival game you are tasked with keeping yourself alive at all cost. You'll have to hunt or find water and craft things like tools and weapons to keep yourself alive. The player is focused on staying alive. You might argue that build a house or a stove is building. Well I guess technically it is, but it isn't base-building. Think of Minecraft. Hours are spent in the game building awesome things. The player is fully immersed in the gathering resources to build new and better things. Experimenting with the redstone and new building blocks the craft or discover is the key game loop. You might say "but you have to eat." Yes but it is just an annoying thing they added on (that as far as I know, no one asked for) that takes little or no time to completely negate through a tiny farm. It isn't true survival like building a workstation isn't true base building.
I just can't find a way to enjoy both building a cool and elaborate base and fighting to survive. If the survival part is too hard, I feel like it is just getting in the way of me sitting back and enjoying the building process. If it is too easy it just feels a cheep add-on (like Minecraft does). The balance is difficult. I haven't found anyone to do it right.
The point of this whole rant/post is to try and work out the survival aspect of Sand in a very public way. I've gone through this in my head over and over again. I think the only way I can proceed would be to separate out the building and the surviving. So think of this: you have a base your can sit in a build to your heart delight and an outside world you'll have to bring/find/craft supplies to survive in. So say you have hunger, tiredness, and thirst. None of that will matter in your base. You'll never have to stop creating to eat, sleep, or drink. In your base though you are preparing your people to explore the wasteland by crafting canteens, bandages, weapons, tools, lunchboxes, etc but you aren't really in a rush because you are safe inside your base. When you leave your base you will then start the survival part. You might have to stop and rest to eat and sleep or find some cactus to fill up your canteen. Things will be more rushed as you struggle with the question "just one more square?" So you'll have this ebb and flow of tenseness and calmness that player (as the agent) can control. I feel like that is a better way to handle my dilemma.
Anyway let me know what your thoughts are about this. I could talk forever about some very specific examples cough... Fallout 76 ...cough but I've taken enough of your time :)