Let’s Try To Play: Stranded Deep

Earlier this week I took a look at early access big-seller Stranded Deep. And was confused to find a scrappy, woefully empty game, riddled with bugs. But gosh, a game I wish they could get right. The first big patch arrived yesterday, mentioning it fixed a good few of the bigger issues, and putting in some interesting-sounding new features. So I thought I’d take another look. And record my attempt.

25 Comments

  1. Mr Bismarck says:

    This game informed me that I’m a gigantic crybaby.

    The first time I was underwater in a shipwreck looking for items and the shaaaaaaaaaaaark music started, I puckered so hard I turned my IKEA office chair into the world’s largest diamond.

    • Niko says:

      On the plus side, now you are a gigantic crybaby with the world’s largest diamond.

  2. Viroso says:

    Sharkface.

    No but seriously, I’d like to maybe see a survival game that’s completely into the realism. Like, really really into it. No magic pockets or trees being turned into chopped wood or dead animals turned into processed meat or dying of hunger in 2 hours.

    • karnak says:

      I second that wish.

      I suppose such a “realistic” simulator wouldn’t be as hardcore and hard as these survival simulators.

      I mean, a guy can survive for 1 – 2 weeks without food as long as he has a source of water, right?
      Such a game should simulate urine drinking as well. :P

      • Chuckleluck says:

        I think the issue is the timescale. I don’t think a game that had a 1:1 day/night cycle would be appealing to most gamers.

        • GameCat says:

          You can just simply kill the character after 10-14 in-game days (making him weaker with each passed day) instead of 10-14 in-game hours.

      • Niko says:

        Unless he gets sick. But let’s say he’ll manage to survive those two weeks, and will eventually find some food, but then he might get scurvy or disentery.

    • Mrice says:

      I think you just described wurm.

      • Mrice says:

        For the sake of clarity.

        “No magic pockets” : Harsh weight limit and backpack volume limit based on stats, can use wagons and stuff to deal with very heavy jazz

        “or trees being turned into chopped wood”: Axe to cut down tree, saw to make the cut tree into logs, saw to turn into planks. also carving knives, chisels, so on so forth, wurms crafting system has to easily be the most complex out there.

        “or dead animals turned into processed meat” : Butchering skill and specific tools. You always make a mess of it if you haven’t butchered anything before.

        “or dying of hunger in 2 hours.” : Takes about 5 hours to burn up all the calories you had “in your stomach”. then about a week real time for you to burn up all your fat, if you are starting from max.

  3. Mr Bismarck says:

    The firepit had been in the game before yesterday and, like you, finding it was a revelation for me and my culinary efforts. It can be refueled, you just have to bumble about until you find out how.

    Working out how to make a spear was also a revelation, but you can’t make it with stick+twine+knife, even though that’s the most obvious spear in the world.

  4. Sam says:

    I think a key part to the survival fantasy will be out of reach of games for the foreseeable future, and that is ingenuity.

    Your plane has crashed in the frozen north, so you use metal sheet from the wreck to make a pot to melt water in over a fire you start with spilt fuel. If that’s an option on a menu when you click on the wreck there’s no sense of you having cleverly solved the problem. If it’s not an option in a menu and you have to somehow describe to the game what you want to do, you’re doomed to a life of frustration when half of what you want to try hasn’t been programmed in (similarly, see all the bits of wood in John’s video that can’t be used because they’re decoration, not entity_stick.)

    That said, a text based survival game can get close. I’ve seen neat engines that assign properties to objects in such a way that they can be used in any way that would make sense, even if the designer never thought of it. So you can freeze the tail of a rat and use it as a lockpick, because video games. All we need to do is extend that system for all of physics and all objects in the wild, then using magic generate graphics for it all.

    You can get close with general rules like “crab sufficiently near a fire gets cooked.” Letting the player either hold it there (with fireproof hands) or build some kind of spit. But any kind of improvised cooking platform is going to be a fiddly mess of physics objects bouncing around.

    • Sam says:

      As John experiments to find what things he can make, the absurdity of a hidden menu of crafting options is so apparent, and so far from that idea of ingenuity.

      The dream: Wandering around a woodland looking for a stick just the right shape to hold a cauldron over your fire, also keeping an eye for young straight growth for arrow shafts, dry tinder, edible berries, signs of animal runs, etc., etc.
      The reality: Hacking down every tree you see to get a pile of identical logs that you hope might be able to turn into something but you have no idea what that would be and what other items you’d need.

      Even without the pointless obfuscation of not telling the player what ingredients are needed, the treatment of all broadly-similar items as being identical is simply not how nature is. Sticks are not mass produced to +/- 1mm tolerances by a factory of robots.

      • Arcanestomper says:

        Now I’m imagining a game where the first half of it plays out like one of these typical survival games. Set recipes, identical plants, things just happening to be where you need them.

        And then you explore far enough and you find a glitch or a hole in the world. And it turns out all these things are being churned out be legion of machines hiding away below the surface. And the reason why you can only fit things together just so and everything is identical is because they actually are mass produced by robots. All trying to keep the player character from trying to discover the true nature of the world.

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          tigerfort says:

          That sounds awesome. Someone should make it. (For maximum points, actually, instead of robots, everything should be being made by little imps, bossed around by the disembodied voice (and hand) of Richard Ridings.)

    • Viroso says:

      I think the solution would be abandon the real world setting and come up with something completely different. A place that doesn’t work on fire cooking things, instead a world with its own physics and sets of rules for the player to manipulate.

    • Ayasano says:

      Can you give a few existing examples of such a survival text game? (Assuming they actually exist and I’m not about to be terribly disappointed)

  5. rcguitarist says:

    This game is heading in the direction of a survival game I will like. But it still won’t hit the mark. I want stuff like high-tide washing away things you don’t secure down, too much sun exposure causing severe burning, etc. I would like it if the game actually taught you real things that you could rely on if you ever found yourself in that situation in real life. Maybe they should involve survivorman in the development of the next game they make.

  6. mpk says:

    The disembodied axe shadow really bothers me.

  7. Faxanadu says:

    Can’t wait to watch Pewdiepie play it some more. Could never be bothered to play it myself.

  8. R0ll3rG says:

    Cringe at fire fail… just hold sticks in inventory and add to fire??
    Love how “they” are the idiots ..

  9. badmothergamer says:

    I have to say there really isn’t any excuse for starvation or dehydration. Coconuts are ridiculously plentiful and can be used to easily handle both (chop a coconut twice to remove the green husk, once more to make it drinkable, then twice more to split it and make it edible). You don’t even need a fire for cooking or boiling sea water so all your wood can be used for shelter building.

    Short of a shark attack (rare) or falling off a palm tree and breaking a bone (which I’ve had the misfortune of pulling off more than once) survival is easy. The hardest part of the game in the current state is not getting lost when venturing to other islands.

  10. frightlever says:

    Are you Stampy?

  11. pancakeru says:

    This trend of complaining about things in an early access game is just a little ridiculous. They are unfinished games. Do not go in and then become annoyed about bugs, poor balancing of gameplay systems etc.

    • Chaz says:

      I think sometimes they just decide they don’t like something and that’s that. Salt for instance was even worse at this stage in its life, but they love that game. It’s all just personal opinion. For instance I have both Salt and this, but I prefer this. I also have The Long Dark but don’t really like that much at all.

      But yeah complaining about bugs and things that don’t work in an EA game, especially at such and early stage (only been released little more than a week) just seems a bit churlish. I don’t even expect full price games to launch bug free these days, let alone early development builds.

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      JiminyJickers says:

      The whole point of Early Access it to provide feedback on what does and what doesn’t work. So complaining about bad design decisions and bugs isn’t ridiculous, it will make the game better in the end.

      In my opinion, people using the Early Access tag to just blanket ignore valid criticisms and complaints are getting a little ridiculous.