Nov 19, 2016

Development Snapshot 14

Snapshot 14 (S14) is officially done.

As part of my attempt to get my project back on track I decided to limit the scope of each snapshot. In the past I'd planned for 6-8 week development cyles, which (due to lack of discipline) wound up overrunning and being more like 12+ weeks. This time round I tried to restrict myself to just 2 weeks. I ran into some unexpected hurdles that pushed that time out a bit, but S14 came in at just over 3 weeks. Hurrah!

What did I achieve in Snapshot 14? 

About half the time was spent on refactoring and improving existing code. I've learnt a great deal about writing better code in the last year, and there's plenty of poorly thought out design in my codebase. This is a legacy of the fact that I'm a much better developer now than when I started the project 6 years ago.

I made good on my promise to start building parts of the system which are essential for the game to be releasable. Eg: the ability for the player to die.

(work in progress)

Starvation and Dehydration are now actual threats in the game. The way it works is as follows:  Living creatures have health, food and water stats. Creatures will be able to consume food or drink that will instantly affect their food or water levels, but health can only be regenerated naturally.

The player's health, water and food display

While alive, creatures consume food and water. These rates are dependant on factors such as the activity level of the creature and the ambient temperature. Once the creature runs out of one of the resources, the amount consumed (plus a penalty) is instead taken from the creature's health.

I'm still tuning the rate at which it occurs, but for a player at full health its something like 2 days without water or 5 days without food before death occurs. Obviously if you're already injured and you're out of both food and water it's going to be considerably shorter.

I'm hoping to make the game less about combat and more about other interactions, such as exploration, negotiation, stealth etc. Since you can't instantly regenerate health, the way players approach combat will need to be more tactical. eg: Taking an enemy by surprise and knowing when to retreat. In addition, NPC's will be less likely to resort to deadly violence unless desperate as they value their lives and the lives of their families.

What's in store for Snapshot 15?

Next I'm going to expand the eating and drinking system to include food and water borne illnesses, such as eating uncooked meat or drinking contaminated water. Also on the agenda will be the ability to save and load the game. Most of the code is already in place to serialise and deserialise the gamestate, however its not being persisted to disk yet.

It's not a huge amount of effort, which is probably why I've put it off, but its essential for Release Ready status.  As previously stated my plan is to drag the game up to a point where I can start making test builds publicly available. Its quite a way off, but at least I'm now heading in that direction!

Nov 7, 2016

Basic Survival

So, as previously mentioned I've spent the last few weeks refactoring my codebase to remove ugly static references. I also improved the design of a few important modules, and overall I think the results are very positive. There's still a bit of work to do in this area, but the parts involved I've planned to completely rewrite in the future anyway, so I'm comfortable leaving some ugly code in there for the short to medium term. Note to future Chris: hahahahaha suck it!

What's next? Addressing the lack of focus on the important elements of a survival game. For example, being able to die. In the early game there are 3 big threats to survival ; Lack of shelter, lack of water and lack of food.


The most critical factor is shelter. Humans can survive several days without water and a week without food, but extremes of temperature can kill you in hours. Staying cool in the heat and warm and dry in the cold will be vitally important if you expect to survive.

The easiest way to shelter from the elements will be to find a natural cave or a ruined building. In some cases you may have to clear out its existing inhabitants first. If such a shelter is not available, the player may have to construct something.

The simplest structures the player can build will be little more than a few strategically arranged tree branches. This will stop light rain and give the player some shade from the sun, but they are fragile and will be easily destroyed by moderate winds. Since they only provide partial protection from the chilling effects of wind, a campfire will be essential for surviving the night.

Once the player gains access to better materials and tools they will be able to build more permanent structures such as huts that will also keep in warmth and provide protection from other threats such as wild animals.

Clothing will also influence your ability to stay warm. Being caught in the rain or falling into water is a nuisance when you live in suburbia and can pop home to change your clothing, but in a survival situation it can be fatal. Better find somewhere to get out of the rain and get a campfire lit before the chilling effects sap your strength.


Lack of water is the next most critical survival factor. Depending on the weather and exertion levels, humans need somewhere between 2 and 5 litres of water a day. Once the player has a shelter sorted out, finding (and maintaining) a source of fresh water will be the player's most pressing daily need.

In the early game the player may be scavenging water from whatever sources they can. If the player is lucky it will be a freely flowing river. If not, it may be a stagnant muddy pool with any number of pathogens lurking within.

Recognising if a source of water is safe to drink will be a vital skill. Contracting a water borne illness will only accelerate your dehydration and leave you vulnerable to other afflictions. The safest option will be to boil your drinking water, but this may not be possible if the player can't find a suitable container or a way to start a fire.


Food is the final factor. There is less urgency to this one, but it cannot be ignored completely. There will be many food sources available to the player depending on their skill level. In the early game it will be edible plants and less palatable options such as insects. This will only get the player so far though. If the player wants to survive long term, fishing, hunting and trapping will provide improved sources of food if the player has the necessary skills and equipment.

As with water, food borne illness will be constant threat, so avoid spoiled food and cook things prior to eating.

Final Thoughts

In reality if you're in trouble you'll probably die from a combination of these factors.

Without food you may lack the energy to build a shelter. Without shelter your hands may become numb with cold and you're unable to start a fire. Without fire you shiver through the cold night and are unable to boil your drinking water before consumption.

Your thirst has been quenched, but you're exhausted from lack of food. You're approaching the beginnings of hypothermia and you've just started having stomch cramps, nausea, vomiting and dizziness.

Sometimes life is cruel.