Thoughts on a gameplay mode...


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So, this might be a little ahead-of-itself, given that I'm not sure exactly what the story mode will entail, but I had this idea for a gameplay mode that felt sort of in-between the Sandbox, and a more fully fleshed out story. [prerequisite apologies to anyone who already suggested this idea!]

The way I see it, Will probably had some semblance of an idea of where he was right before the crash. That means he might know that "oh, I was about 150 km North of Yellowknife right before I lost instrumentation." So, in the gameplay mode, you have one mission -- get to Yellowknife, where theoretically the population of ~20,000 might be doing better than one Canadian dude in the woods.

The Sandbox element is the same -- random starts, random spawns, random weather, etc. etc. There is no "First, you better get a coat," linear kind of thing; you just know where you need to go (which, in my mind, would encompass several very large areas, which admittedly, is lots of work for you devs!), and its up to you how you get there, how quickly you get there, and how much prep/exploration you will need to do (note: in my head, trying to speed run would probably be suicide, so SOME element of preparation is necessary). Here is what I think is neat about this idea...

All of the cool surprises and exploration you get from the sandbox are present, but you also have a single, logical end-goal beyond survival - so instead of exploring to loot houses and return to your base camp, you've got to keep moving, not really knowing where your next shelter might be (this would be especially great if movement between 'zones' was randomized, so the path you take doesn't always put you in the same place on every playthrough. Adding to this, maybe sometimes you have to go East to Yellowknife, maybe sometimes its South, etc.).

This, to me, gives the sandbox mode a sort of player-narrative-driven sense of hope; that there is a way to win, though it won't be easy by any stretch.

Along with this, it would be awesome if the end-goal city had the chance of being completely deserted by the time you got there, which was predetermined at the start of the 'round' and *not* told to the player. So, if they make the long trip through the harsh wilderness, and manage to survive, maybe they find NPCs who have food/shelter [note the game basically would end here] --- maybe, instead, they find empty buildings that have been partly looted, and the survival sim continues from there. I suppose rather than being a binary thing (i.e., the city is designated as 'deserted or not deserted' at the beginning) it could depend on a randomized clock for how quickly they get there. So one game, if you get there in 12 days, you find the city bustling. In your next playthrough, 12 days isn't fast enough, and the city is abandoned. This would add a sense of urgency, I think, since you have to balance travelling quickly, but maybe being less well prepared, with taking a bit more time, but being better prepared.


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I do like the idea of story mode containing many of the randomized sandbox elements. This keeps it fresh and worth playing multiple times.

One thing I wish to see, and this would be WAY in the future of this game for sandbox/story is a 10 year survival badge. Yes, you read correctly, an achievement for surviving 10 years in the game. Now, why 10 years? It is a long enough period of time for a population to become stable enough to the point where they are no longer living in the apocalypse; the apocalypse happened and now they are living in the new world. Enough seasons have come and gone for the population to learn how to adapt and survive to the new world. If you can live that long, you have "won".

How this ties into the OP idea for Yellow Knife has to do with how communities would function in such an apocalypse. I've mused about the Bear & Bison trading post acting as a hub for trade and information in the apocalypse, allowing the player to trade extra items for specific items they are low on. I imagine communities would function in much the same way. They would have hunger, thirst, cold, fatigue (boredom/morale) and if those things got to low, their condition would begin to suffer. They might be afflicted with community wide ailments, in need of specific items (in bulk), and ultimately might be filled with specialists who cannot survive alone in the wild like Will or Anna.

The player could choose to help the community, earning a place to rest or store their gear in safety, but knowing they must venture out into the long dark in search of that which will bring comfort and hope.

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Well, we don't know there was an apocalypse. So far we do know there was a magnetic storm which helped crash someone's plane. We don't really know if the rest of the world has gone down the toilet, and it doesn't matter, because believe me, up north, on your own, when nobody know you are missing, there is no outside world. You could be 10 miles away from a town, but if you don't know it is there, you'll be in just as much trouble as if you were 100 miles from a town.

That said, an end-game goal is good. Survival is fun, but if you know you are just doomed in the end no matter what you do, then it will become boring. Something to HOPE for is vital.

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As I see it, this game is going to follow one of several paths:

1. Episodic Adventures with a Survive Until You Drop Sandbox: Each episode will follow the protagonist, using the game mechanics to meet specific goals towards an ultimate end. This might include exploring what happened to the rest of the world, but each episode is its own self-contained adventure with no imported or carried over data. These episodes will also allow the protagonist to experience the changing of the seasons (depending on the episode) as well as the ability to visit new locations. The sandbox is a standalone survival simulator where the player tries to survive as long as they can but will ultimately die. The season will most likely remain static (as the player isn't expected to live beyond the current season) and the location will be unchanged. However, a player may get to select new seasons and locations as more content for the episodes are added and require play testing.

2. Episodic Adventures with a Survival Sandbox: Much like the above, except the sandbox allows a careful and crafty player to theoretically live indefinitely, provided they aren't caught unprepared. The environment would provide everything they need to survive, including food, water, shelter, and the means by which to obtain it. This would also necessitate the changing of the seasons in the same sandbox to simulate the natural cycle of the seasons, as well as to add difficulty to game play. Location will more than likely remain static but, like above, it can be changed as episodes expand the world.

3. Linear Adventures with a Survival Sandbox: As above, except the story mode allows a player to import the progress of their protagonist in both skills and equipment from one adventure to another, either through a load screen or by a single story mode with multiple "episodes" within that can be played organically. The sandbox would remain unchanged.

4. A True Story with a True Survival Sandbox: Story mode is its own contained world where your actions as the protagonist affect everything. Seasons change, opportunities within the story come and go (potentially being missed completely), and you have an overarching goal that motivates you. The sandbox is its own contained world where you attempt to create a new life for yourself, scavenging and living off of the land through the seasons. Perhaps there are elements of the story mode that carry over, such as NPCs, communities, and opportunities to perform actions on behalf of others in the game for rewards both tangible and not.

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@northerncities - I'm totally with you on your idea. As I've been playing that idea occurred to me as well. Chaining each of the areas together (while randomizing some elements) allowing the player to seamlessly pass between them while telling a story.

There's only so much time and resources you can harvest in a single area.

The motivation to move forward is that city off in the distance. Get there, hope is near. But how? I always think about the show "Dual Survival" and Cody's 5C's of survival (Cutting device, Combustion device, Cordage, Container, Cover). With those 2 elements in play (goal and technique) focus the players attention in a particular direction and the story unfolds.

I could see the player getting to the city as the wrap up of the first season. The next being a dlc focusing on urban survival and all the things that come along with that concept.

Whatever way the devs decide to go, you have to admit the potential is sooo there for something amazing.

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