A more involved item durability system.


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I want to say that I love the feel and immersion of The Long Dark. In a sense, that's the problem.

Hinterland has done such a fine job, already, of making the game experience feel almost real at times that when it doesn't, it's rather jarring.

I wouldn't be the first to talk about item wear. While I've not read the whole forum, I think I might be the first to propose something like this as a solution however.

Two, separate, indications of item “goodness.” Let's call them condition, and integrity. Arbitrary, but things need to be called something.

I'm going to resort to examples here, because it works better than generalities.

Lets start with a hatchet. Condition of a hatchet, in this system, would indicate sharpness. The better the condition, the sharper the edge, the more effective a hatchet is at slicing and chopping. Once it get's dull enough, lets call that a condition of 0, it's really not any better than any other heavy stick, and it's quite reasonable to say that after eight hours or so of use, especially in unskilled hands, that the blade is pretty darn dull.

Restoring condition, in this case, is a matter of sharpening. How long that takes depends on skill, and tools available. Novice or expert, some random rock, a good oxide whetstone, a file, what are you using here? It's going to effect how long it take, and how good a job you do, which works well with the current system, excepting the fact that nothing is consumed in this process. You don't use up scrap metal, or a branch of fir, just to sharpen the blade, and restore condition.

This is not to say that the tool should be indestructible. That's where integrity comes into play. Integrity is a gauge of things like how well the head is seated to the handle, or even how well the head itself is holding up. A head of soft metal might deform to the point a forge would be needed to right it, while a head of brittle material might well break in the cold.

Of course, this is why nobody sane makes axe heads of garbage material, but that's a question of item quality, which, well, that's a bit beyond the purview of this game. You don't make this stuff, or buy it from one of hundreds in a store. You find it, and even if it's crap, you're glad to have anything that might work.

Regardless. Integrity is the value you have to look out for, when it gets too low, the hatchet head might fly off and get lost in the snow, or lodge itself in your knee. Not a happy prospect, but Integrity is something that would degrade slowly. Eight hours with a hatched would, probably, have only the smallest impact on the integrity of the tool, so long as the condition is good.

When the condition is low, the blade is dull. You have to use more force, and more of it gets redirected into places it shouldn't be, like the handle, damaging it much faster than it would if the condition were better.

Alternately, an unskilled or fatigued user might keep overreaching with the blade, and striking the handle against what he or she was trying to chop, which is going to impact integrity rather quickly.

To repair a low integrity could require a new bit of wood, a blade to carve it into a handle (the head of the hatchet itself can be used for this. Its not easy, but I've done it,) and something to use as a spike to keep it there. Things like glues could give a boost too, so long as things weren't too bad to start with.

Once you've got a new handle, the integrity problem is solved, for a while.

Maybe the new handle isn't as good, condition lowers faster with it, and might have a lower maximum value. It's overall integrity is probably lower too because you used a soft piece of fir, instead of hardwood like hickory, cherry, walnut, or even birch or alder.

That's my proposal for item wear, outlined with a hatchet.

It works with leather goods in much the same way. The leather has to be kept oiled and supple, especially in the frozen north in the winter. It dries out pretty quick, and once it does, well, it doesn't last like it should once that happens. Remnant commercial products, like mink oil, could restore the condition of leather goods, or, in the absence of nice prepackaged tins fats, like deer tallow, could be used.

When the integrity of the leather itself is gone, well, then you're going to need new leather... and that's always such a joy. It's far more economical to buy a new one, now, but, if there isn't any new one, well, then its a job worth doing.

On things made of sheet metal, like Jerry Cans, condition could be rust and dents. Neither is hard to fix, if it's minor. Once it gets bad, the integrity of the can starts to go, fast. Then it's all done.

Cloth items are a bit trickier, but, given the game's setting, and that clothing's main value is it's warmth, this actually works here too. Clothing's condition measures, basically, how dry it is, and how compressed the insulation has gotten. Condition of your parka is low? Take it off, let it air out by the fire.

Integrity is a measure of rips, tears, and disintegration. Needle and thread, and possibly patch cloth required.

In short:

You fix condition with your hands or simple tools, a small amount of time, and in some cases a small amount of a consumable like fat. Failure to fix low condition renders the tool useless, and damaged its integrity.

You fix integrity with tools, a significant investment of material, and a large amount of time.

To my mind at least, this system would make things feel a lot less gamey, without making things much more complicated, especially on the end user side. It's not real world level realism, replacing one measure with two, but, it's a lot closer, without turning the game into “small tool repairman simulator 2014”

Depending on how things are programmed, this might be impractical to implement at this time, but then again, it might not be. Besides, this is a wish list forum, not an expectation list.

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