I Dream Of Eating: Do Play Don’t Starve

By Nathan Grayson on April 24th, 2013 at 8:00 pm.

As far as near-universally applicable life advice goes, Don’t Starve is up there with “do breathe” and “do not play in high-speed traffic unless you are an RPS spambot programmer or a car.” Klei’s survival sim designed around that concept, however, is anything but simple. Instead, it’s a methodical, almost insanely hostile thing, requiring brains to triumph over a sickly lack of brawn, the ever-ticking clock of mortality, and  that most universal specter of them all: steroid-infused pig men. Wisely, then, Klei opted to put its delicate ramshackle shelter of cards through various phases of testing for quite some time, but now it’s finally and fully out in the wild. There’s a new trailer outlining the launch update after the break.

Tentacles, nostrils and ominous obelisks and fashionable winter wear and mimes, oh my! The biggest change here is the completion of Adventure Mode, which will now run front-to-back through five randomly generated stages. “There are tons of changes, tuning, and new features within adventure mode,” Klei noted in a forum post, “but listing them all would ruin the surprise.” Well boo. But it is understandable, given Don’t Starve’s powerful penchant for discovery and bizarro mysteries.

Even though Klei now considers Don’t Starve “complete,” don’t think they’ve abandoned it to the ravages of a cold, cruel world. Updates will continue their avalanche-like pace for at least the next six months. First, though, the team’s taking a much-deserved break, so the next update won’t drop until May 21st. Also, probably expect slightly less sudden changes from now on. Klei explained:

“Because we are out of Beta, we need to be more careful in how we add content to the game. Previously, we’d throw our new content in the game almost as soon as it’s done, but we feel more testing is required post April 23. Given that, we are going to be moving to a 3 week update schedule, and open up our staging branch early to both give a sneakpeek at new content as well as give feedback before the content officially goes live.”

For now, though, Don’t Starve’s meaty core game is ready for primetime, and it promises quite the unique experience. For a better, more hilarious idea of what you’re getting yourself into, check out Adam’s diary series. It’s a magnificent tale of science machines, forest fires, and horrific acts of pig man cannibalism. So go. Be enlightened.

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62 Comments »

  1. dawnmane says:

    This is the game of 2013 for me and my wife. It’s one of those games that you can be really bad at without missing out on any of the fun.

    • Lemming says:

      I wouldn’t agree with that sentiment. Personally, I’ve tried this game from scratch a few times and just got annoyed with not being able to do anything before night falls. Then, even if you do the most basic minimal stuff so you are literally just surviving, some crazy dogs come and just kill you whether you’ve got a fire going or not. That kind of learning curve is not for me. I prefer Minecraft’s survival mode. I feel I have more time to try things out.

      • Blue_Lemming says:

        They did change the spawning of dogs to later on in the game, along with many other weird and wonderful updates.
        I found the learning curve a bit steep, but after a few goes i usually last about 11-15 days before i start getting really hassled by dogs or anything really nasty. In-fact spider hunting is a must. Kill it, KILL IT WITH FIRE!

        Love it.

      • valz says:

        What? You can do lots of stuff during the daytime. I think you’re just not approaching the game right, somehow. It’s learning curve is fairly short, other than learning how to completely master it.

    • calibypolege says:

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      (Go to site and open “Home” for details)

    • kwyjibo says:

      Isn’t there a WordPress plugin you could install that allows users to report spam instead of just blocking it?

  2. pakoito says:

    >Updates will continue their avalanche-like pace for at least the next six months.

    I’ll play in 6 months then, I don’t want another Terraria-case where my 50 hours of launch play got me to see a 10% of the content because it was implemented later.

    • Makai says:

      I dont think it applies (i have played Terraria) in this case because you’ll never have 2 identical playthroughs due to the rogue-like sense of the game. Even if they add more things, it wont make that much of a difference.

      At First you’ll die and restart so often that you wont be seeing all of the current content as it is.

      I would HIGHLY recommend this title. Been playing for over 20 hrs and every run is somehow different.

    • deadly.by.design says:

      Dungeons of Dredmor might be a better comparison. As the other poster has said, the features won’t be missed with the game’s roguelike-ness in same way that they would be in a sandbox. Dredmor has had several free content updates and expansions, but I don’t feel like I missed anything by playing at launch. Minecraft, on the other hand, feels overwhelming now… as I’ve barely touched it since 1.0. All of the stuff I (and my server-mates) poured hours into in 2010 & 11 feel trivial as a result.

    • sabrage says:

      In the case of The Binding of Isaac, I played a good deal, beat it a few times, put it down a short while after the DLC came out. Then an RPSer was kind enough to gift me the DLC and I ended up more than doubling my playtime. This model lends itself well to “roguelikes” which are by nature (almost) infinitely replayable.

      The appeal is to see something new, not to see everything.

    • monomer says:

      I don’t think I will ever understand someone admitting to playing a game for 50 hours and then complaining about it’s lack of content. Especially at this price point. Did you just sit there begrudgingly, gritting your teeth the whole time in some kind of weird self-punishment?

      • lordcooper says:

        That isn’t what pakoito said.

      • solidsquid says:

        The problem that Terraria had was that, when they added new content, you had to start a new world in order to access any of it. You *could* transfer things between worlds, but it meant any construction you’d done and any progress you’d made in that world would have to be re-done in the new one. This meant that a lot of people missed new content that would have been really cool to play with because it didn’t appear in the world they were playing

    • Rindan says:

      That is a goofy take on this game. This isn’t a game where you build up your 50+ hour fortress. This is a game where you die. Die as in perm death and all your stuff is gone. You die often. The world is just not a nice place to scrawny little starving kids.

      I suggest playing it now. When you get bored of it, stop. Then, play again in 6 months and you will have even more stuff to play.

      • DerNebel says:

        Welcome to the bizarro world of videogames where that sounds absolutely amazing. I love opposition. There is nothing like not winning, it’s basically something I believe certain kinds of games really need.

        I mean, let’s look at a nostalgia darling: Final Fantasy 7. It has the most basic, powerful sense of “losing” in a game. Aeris dies. Scripted loss, but so goddamn iconic, because so many played the game and felt like they’d, in some small sense, just lost the game. It made beating the game that much more satisfying.

        Beating the chest in Binding of Isaac the first time wouldn’t feel so good if it weren’t for all the times were you didn’t dodge well enough, didn’t play smart enough or just got screwed by the RNG.

        I had a look at Don’t Starve half a year ago, and I loved the concept but it seemed a bit bare-bones. From what I’ve seen, the game has evolved hugely since then, and I’m VERY interested. Now, just to finish up Anodyne today…

  3. Premium User Badge

    RedViv says:

    Don’t Starve – also, Don’t Read The Patch Notes Before Playing.

  4. HexagonalBolts says:

    RPS-ers, do you recommend this?

    • Makai says:

      I do (im rather new here, but i’d like to think it counts :P)

    • HexagonalBolts says:

      No review seems to put me any closer to working out what the game is actually *like* to play, is it more on the casual-quickly-completed end of the scale or…?

      • Makai says:

        No, i think is on the other end actually, the basic idea is a survival game, as you play you’ll unlock new characters with different skills, but other than that every playthrough can run from 10 min to several hours if you’re good at surviving.

        It can get REALLY hard after the first 10 days if you are not prepared and have enough supplies to pass the night.

        Its simple to understand but hard to master.

        • Schaap says:

          I disagree, it’s hard to understand but very easy to master. My first run didn’t last me two weeks but in my current third run I’ve crafted pretty much everything, have infinite food and sanity supplies and will probably never die. Not that dying matters because I can be resurrected twice before it’s game over. I mean really three tries was all it took.

      • Just Endless says:

        Somewhere between Binding of Isaac and Minecraft, really, it’s not on either end.

        Each run is finite, because you WILL fail, but each run is probably multiple sittings. Note that I played it 4ish months ago, so this may be inaccurate now, but I think it still applies.

        • Makai says:

          It still applies, believe me. And i agree with the comparisons.

      • Astroman says:

        It’s very slow to play and has no instructions. You gather items and craft with them, eat them, experiment. The game has events that happen as you progress. (e.g. wolf pack attacks your camp) The longer you survive the more dangerous the events become, so it’s very trial and error.

      • Strangerator says:

        Closest comparison is a survival-roguelike. If you die once, game over. You start with nothing in your posession and must carve out an existence in a brutal wilderness, mostly by gathering and crafting. It’s quite excellent.

      • kinglog says:

        Kind of like FTL in that when you don’t know what you’re doing it can take a few minutes as stated above – when you do and things are going well multiple hours long sessions. Either way it’s a blast if it appeals at all.

      • StranaMente says:

        The game is surprisingly deep, and even if I played a bit of it in the beta I now found myself a bit lost among the new things. You might have to figure out many things on your own (for example how to improve your sanity meter or how to interact with the local animal and plant life) but that, I think is the core part of the game, along with trying to survive longer and better than the last time.
        The art style is really nice, and the game feels finished. The future updates can only enrich this really interesting title.

    • Rollin says:

      Yes it’s great.

    • Geewhizbatman says:

      It’s pretty excellent for the survival game niche. It really hits all of the things you might want it to. From danger to exploration to just sitting around twisting grass into rope.

      Also, one thing that doesn’t seem to have been pointed out (so maybe it was removed in this release patch but I can’t imagine why) is that there is the ability to edit your sandbox world. That means you can basically remove night, overfill the place with all the resources you need, remove all the scary monsters–whatever you’d like. You can in fact create within it whatever type of survival game you’d like, from fast paced monster dodge to low pressure homestead maker. Which is further enhanced by the fact that at any given point you can collect certain objects, combine them, and then go into their adventure mode—which is essentially specifically built worlds that offer certain challenges. Being killed there returns you to your sandbox mode until you’re willing to try again. Which means that if you’re good at surviving, or you have made an easy world, and are getting bored they’ve offered ways to spice things up.

      If you really want to get a taste of it in action, I’d suggest go watch some Don’t Starve Adventure type of youtube videos. People might boo and hoo and hiss at the idea that you might learn some sort of noob forbidden knowledge….but honestly, at this point with Don’t Starve there is SOOO much stuff to keep in your mind at any given point that unless you have a photographic memory, I think it’s safe to say it won’t spoil anything for you by the time you actually get to it in game.

    • dmoe says:

      It’s really fucking good.

      • Chalky says:

        Yep, it’s fantastic, give it a go if you have even the slightest thought that it might be for you.

    • Ganjatron says:

      Watch this guy’s videos on it, he goes in blind, and honestly its quite hilarious to watch his misery.

  5. guygodbois00 says:

    On the subject of dreaming: I dream of playing single player turn based cRPG. Also, what is it it with nostril infatuation in the latest articles and comments around these here parts? Have I missed something?

    • godofdefeat says:

      I am asking myself the same thing.

    • Mbaya says:

      I’ve picked up on that too, maybe I’ll have a nose around and see what I can dig up.

    • Strangerator says:

      Smells fishy to me.

    • Makai says:

      You’re right. They are a bit on the nose.

    • Premium User Badge

      emertonom says:

      Just had to search and see if anyone else had noted today’s nostril-laden prose.

      I had some math professors at one point who used to have a running challenge–each day one would give the other three strange words to work in to their lecture. The students would try to pick up what the words were, and if they could identify them, the prof lost, and had to do something or other–I think it was either wear a “penalty tie” (a comically ugly piece of neckwear) for a week, or, if it happened again within a week, provide snacks for the class. The profs thus had to disguise the strange words by including lots of unexpected words in their classes, which meant using outlandish examples and colorful anecdotes. Their classes were as a consequence always entertaining and lively, and the students had an incentive to pay close attention. It worked very well.

      I wonder if there could be a related idea at work on RPS…

  6. Cytrom says:

    Meh, if I’d buy it now, I’d literally starve while playing. Hopefully it’ll go on a sale soon enough…

  7. Bobtree says:

    Don’t Starve is engrossing, and full of weird surreal stuff, but I find all the collecting tedious, and winter is pretty boring if you’re under-equipped. I hope it continues to get more balance work and content. I want to be able to explore and experiment more. A map-revealing telescope or a way to fast travel would make home-site selection much more forgiving.

    • marak says:

      There is fast travel – Worm Holes. Takes you from one “side” to the other, at the cost of some sanity. Set up a camp by one hole, then use it when you need to pop across the map.

      • Bobtree says:

        Worm Holes are more like quirky map topography than a fast travel feature. Regardless, it is handy to camp near one to quickly access more territory.

  8. Premium User Badge

    Terics says:

    Since it doesn’t tell you much about anything I thought that the early hours felt kind of aimless. That later worked in its favor when I discovered the amount of stuff in the game. Once I got into the right rhythm, I had a ton of fun with it.

    On a side not I think its weird that this has no coop yet they sell it in a two pack. The survival nature of Don’t Starve seems like it would be ripe for coop play.

  9. Maniac says:

    … Nostrils…
    Am I going mad, or has the word ‘Nostrils’ been in every post today? And if I’m not going mad… Does this mean the Hivemind is going mad?
    Or have you gotten generous financing from… Well… Nostrils?
    – - I mean, obviously I do quite like a good pair of nostrils to play with, but it can easily become too much of a good thing, you know?

  10. ScorpionWasp says:

    I played an early version of this, and back then the game would become trivial and unchanging once you knew what you were doing. I remember a design document from the author showing he was very aware of the problem and intent on correcting it. Did he get around to that? How successful was he? Is the world simulated now? Are there emergent, unpredictable events? Does research still carry over between deaths?

    • marak says:

      Re: Scorpionwasp

      Yes, they fixed the problem of running out of things to do. There’s probably three times as many items in the game now… plus Winter changes things considerably. There aren’t emergent, unpredictable events, but there ARE randomly generated event PLACES – as in, you’ll be wandering around and suddenly you’ll find a mini-biome of sorts, maybe with some pre-generated farms, maybe a skeleton with some loot lying nearby, maybe some angry Pigmen guarding their treasure. And research carrying over got the axe – each run starts you with no unlocked research. On the plus side, you no longer have to grind things to feed into the Science Machine; instead you Prototype an item by making it the first time while standing next to the Machine, and from then on you can make that item anywhere. So, you really have to pick and choose what you want to Prototype and unlock; you no longer have the freedom to spend 100 in-game days grinding every material in the game in relative safety in order to unlock every item in every tech tree.

      In short, it’s a MUCH more complete (and difficult) experience now. I highly recommend it.

      Re: Fallward

      You can now beat the game by going through six progressively difficult, randomly generated worlds. In each world is a Portal you can activate (by finding it’s missing bits) that will take you to the next world. Each world has unique challenges – always raining, or always winter, or maybe there’s no berry bushes.

    • Nihil says:

      *Mild spoilers read at own risk!*

      *Mild spoilers read at own risk!*

      *Mild spoilers read at own risk!*

      Totally agreed. I bought Don’t Starve months and months ago when it was in a much earlier stage and thought of myself as an ‘experienced’ player. How wrong I was. The amount of stuff they have added since has blown my mind. I’ve not played in about 4 months because I ran out of things to do and lived so long I’d basically invented my own achievement and called it ‘of the clan MacLeod’.

      This time I fired up the game and things went as follows:

      So I did my usual, I made a berry farm. Then a lightning bolt burned it down. ‘Interesting’ thought experienced player Nihil, I’ll have to space those more widely. Hang on, what are all these weird graphical bugs I’m getting? Jesus Klei, what gives? The game didn’t have these horrible ghosting issues before I’m shocked you…I’M BEING ATTACKED, OH GOD, THE SHADOWS…THEY LIVE. WHAT ON EARTH IS GOIN…

      *Several frantic and too-spoileriffic-to-mention hours of play later*

      Oh hey it’s snowing. HAHAHAHAHA I love snow. Hey a Walrus in a hat, heh this is new, New and ADORABLE! I wonder if I can befriend him like the pigs. Hi Mr Walrus! I wondered….oh god, OH GOD FLEEEEE. WHY WALRUS WHY?!

      I think I’m safe now, Christ they changed a lot. Hang on why am I dying again? Oh it’s cold. I see. Well I guess that makes sense in winter. Really made it a bit tougher didn’t they? Right back to base camp we go. No rest for the wicked.

      Home sweet half demolished home. Hang on, half demolished? Why is half my stuff broken and whats that stomping noise? I really don’t…..Oh. Deer. LORD.

      *Dead*

      Really, honestly folks. Buy this game. And whatever you do, don’t look at wikis and spoilers. Nothing since Dark Souls has made me fail so hard so many times, and still had me coming back to master it. And I will master it.

  11. Fallward says:

    Can someone tell me – can you actually win this game? E.g., ‘survive X amount of days’? Because i’m almost sold just on the rouge-like features alone but you have to be able to complete it….

    • Makai says:

      No as such, no. They have an adventure mode that has 5 stages, you can consider that as a “end game”, but other then that, no.

  12. Somerled says:

    Klei, they of Markov the Ninja? These folks need watching.

  13. chiablo says:

    I read the title as “I dream of eating play doh.”

  14. Abattur says:

    “An Uncompromising Wilderness Survival Game”
    Compared to what? The only other wilderness survival game i can come up with is UnrealWorld.

    • solidsquid says:

      The Survival Kids series of games (Lost in Blue on DS was one of them) have you trying to survive in the wild, but basic survival is actually pretty easy. The tricky bit is being able to do exploration of the island

  15. Premium User Badge

    strangeloup says:

    My interest is not entirely unpiqued, and several people have recommended it.

    On the other hand, I don’t really like the Tim Burton lite art style, and I haven’t liked anything else the dev has done. I realise I am in the minority here as most seem to think Mark of the Ninja is the second coming of The Dark Project.