July #1GAM: I’m Pickin’ Up What You’re Puttin’ Down

My last One Game a Month July project update mentioned updated exhaustion animation and more complex stamina and air supply systems, which I think added a bit of richness to the game.

My most immediate goal was to be able to identify objects in front of the player.

July #1GAM

In the above screenshot, the player is facing a coconut tree, and a little bit of descriptive text appears.

July #1GAM

And as you can see, I shrunk the boulders. It’s temporary. I wanted to add rocks to the game, and rather than create a new object, I just changed how an old one is rendered.

You’ll also notice that standing in front of a rock results in an action becoming available. If you press the spacebar, you’ll pick it up:

July #1GAM

And that yellow box at the top right corner of the screen is your currently equipped item from your inventory.

Putting that box in required changing the UI slightly. I think it works out well enough:

July #1GAM

What happens when you want to change what’s equipped?

An inventory system is the next item on my list!

I want the player to be able to bring up an inventory menu to:

  • select and equip items
  • drop an item
  • eat/use/consume an item
  • combine items

That last one is how the resourceful Castaway will best be able to make the most of a life on a desert island. Combining tree branches would result in a lean-to, which the player can place to provide some shelter, for example.

As I think about all of the items and combinations, I realize that there’s a lot of systems to add to make them worthwhile. For instance, the lean-to is really only useful if I require the player to sleep and seek shelter from weather, which means I need some kind of per-day exhaustion mechanic and a weather system.

Also, can you combine sticks with rocks to make clubs? It would make sense to have a need for a club, such as attacking any wildlife you find for food.

Whoa, wait! What about the Low Violence Challenge? If you recall, I wanted to challenge myself to create games that were less about destruction and violence. I was inspired by Corvus Elrod’s Low Violence Challenge. It was surprisingly hard at first! I have a game idea file that was almost useless this year because so many of my one-line designs depended on “ATTACK” as the main mechanic.

While I think that adding combat mechanics necessarily adds violence to the game, it won’t represent the majority of the game play. Weapons and violence aren’t going to be the focus of this game. Yes, you can attack animals and eat their meat, but you can also opt to be a vegetarian. This game is about exploration and survival, and it is most definitely not about eliminating all other life on the island.

And besides, since it isn’t the core of the game, it’s probably not going to be the first thing I work on. I have less than three weeks to finish the game, after all.

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2 Comments

  1. To provide valid options for nonviolence, make sure that items with violent uses also have useful nonviolent uses (e.g. club to knock down or open coconuts).

    I think the key to an effective survival game is to make it fit realistic expectations, even if those are contrary to video game norms. You may be trying to encourage survival thinking, which is not even close to, for example, “Zelda thinking”. How about giving inventory items some weight that may encumber you when moving/swimming? When this becomes an important consideration to the player (when swimming or when being chased and speed is vital), you could add some sort of animation to the inventory item(s) that is affecting you (i.e. add some juiciness).

  2. Thanks for the feedback, Jonny D!

    I’m definitely planning on adding encumbrance. This isn’t a game where you must collect everything you come across. You have to make choices. You can only hold so much at once, and you don’t have pockets.

    Of course, maybe this means you should be able to create a container or at least feel like you can drop your things in the same area and know they’ll still be there. At the same time, if you want to try to carry everything all at once, you can try, with all of the repercussions implied.

    NetHack does a great job here, and I’m taking a lot of inspiration from Rogue-likes for this project.

    Regarding “juiciness”, thanks for reminding me! A little juiciness can go a long way towards making the game more immersive for the player.

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