Random elements


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Survival times are getting longer, but I think it's more because players are learning the locations rather than learning the game, though learning the game does figure into it. What I'm seeing is Will M. is changing from someone who doesn't know the area into a permanent resident of the place.

I think that's what you want for the alpha sandbox, otherwise the players would be testing fewer features.

For the 'final' sandbox, or perhaps just later during development, if this is going to be the only map (or one of just a few available maps) I'd like to have the option of having the building locations randomized in addition to the contents of the buildings.


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Part of the experience of the game is learning the "lay of the land", which is one reason we don't have random terrain generation or random shelter placement. But, the Sandbox will have more than one region. Our desire is to actually have about 5-10x more regions of similar size to this one, and continue growing the world, creating a very large Sandbox, with each region having its own "character" -- geography, amount of habitation, etc. This ties in to our plans with Story mode as well.

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Learning the lay of the land is one thing, but when you've played the region a few dozen times you pretty much have the terrain memorized. The fact that there is no map function makes it obvious that location uncertainty is supposed to be part of the experience as well.

One thing you might consider (possibly as a player-activated option) is for at least some of the regions to fit together randomly. The railroad that connects Mystery Lake to Coastal Highway might also go to other regions with suitable railroad-related scenery at the entrance/exit. This would of course be variable between games, but fixed within each continuing game.

You could also vary the buildings within a region. What seem like the easiest options to a non-programmer are to randomize the locations of similar buildings, and to have more spots for buildings than are actually generated. Kind of like the bunkers, but instead of having one item show up in one of nine (?) locations, you have X items show up in X+(1 or 2) locations.

Where you have multiple cabins on Mystery Lake, for example, you might vary which cabin is in which spot -- the desolate cabin might be on the left for a change, and the cabin with the side door might be on the right. Some of the isolated buildings might appear in different spots (allowing for space). Similarly, consider adding another hunting stand location to Mystery Lake, but randomly leave one position empty.

The thing you want to avoid is having players get to the point where they think "I know exactly what I'm going to find when I get over this hill or through these trees".

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