Interview with Don’t Starve: Reign of Giants’ Seth Rosen, Part Two
Don't Starve reigns as one of the most interesting titles in recent years, offering more in the ways of the experience and focusing on the journey rather than being a means to an end. Klei Entertainment's Seth Rosen (Designer/Programmer) elucidates some of the finer points of Don't Starve, communities on both PC and console, and what's next for our morbid little dudes and dudettes in the vast wilderness. Special thanks to Klei's CM, Corey Rollins!
Read Part One of the interview here: http://n4g.com/user/blogpos...
KYLE: As a title rooted in exploration and experimentation, are metrics available to you to measure what percentage of players have discovered objects and locations to you? If so, how do these metrics affect your fixes to Don't Starve?
SETH: We collect metrics on a variety of things, ranging from how many people are using mods (and which ones) to how people are dying and on what day. In addition to that data, we also get some "metrics" from anecdotes on the forums and from watching streams and "Let's Play" videos. We take a mixture of all of this into account when we're tweaking things and adding new content, but it's more of a situation where we use this stuff as supporting evidence when making changes, rather than discovering what works and what doesn't through metrics.
KYLE: With the multiplayer expansion, Don't Starve Together, coming soon, what sort of things do you hope to see as people struggle to survive together?
SETH: One of the things that we're in the process of figuring out right now is exactly how many players we'll be able to support in a single server. We're aiming to support a game with at least 4 players but are investigating having servers that can host 16 or even 32 players simultaneously. We had a playtest at the office a couple weeks ago where we were able to get about 15 people playing in a single game, so we're optimistic at the moment, but nothing is set in stone.
If we are in fact able to support these larger servers, I think we'll see some really interesting social dynamics at work; similar to the sort of stuff you see in games like Day Z and Rust. Those moments where you encounter an anonymous player somewhere in the wilderness and you're not sure what they're going to do have an inherent and compelling drama to them. We're really excited about the prospect of bringing some of those elements into Don't Starve. I expect, though, that most people will want to play Don't Starve Together cooperatively with a small group of friends, so we're making sure that's possible too.
Much as with the single player mode, we want to allow you to play in the way that's right for you. For the people that want to play just with their friends, I'm looking forward to seeing tales of times when they managed to save a friend from the brink of death, or about the time one member of your group lit a fire that got out of control and burned up all the food stores and then everyone had to work together to cling to life.
We're not looking to reinvent Don't Starve: we want it to the a similar experience but with some changes to really make it shine in a multiplayer context. Because of that, a lot of the struggles people will have will be fairly similar to what can happen in a single player game. At the same time, when a catastrophic or surprising event is experienced together with others, that gives it a different weight than if you were alone, so I think people will still get a lot out of it.
The last thing I wanted to mention is that we're pursuing using dedicated servers for Don't Starve Together. This will make it so that the world that you're trying to survive in has a history to it in a way that can't happen in the single player mode (because we delete the world when you die in that mode). You'll be able to find skeletons from fallen friends and foes and even characters that you've played in the past. I'm expecting some cool environmental storytelling to organically happen because of that persistence.
KYLE: You could have easily charged for Don't Starve Together, as the addition of multiplayer will be undoubtedly be very attractive to players. Why the decision to make it freely available to current owners of the title?
SETH: There were several factors in our decision to release Don't Starve Together as a free update for the people who already own Don't Starve. Making it free means that everyone who owns Don't Starve can try Don't Starve Together: we don't have to worry about fragmenting the community. Which is good, because a multiplayer game without a community isn't much of a multiplayer game at all. It also gives people recommending the game to friends another talking point--we're always interested in reinforcing that because it's been so successful for us so far. Lastly, it keeps the relationship we have with our community strong: it sends a clear message that we appreciate the support for the game the way it is now and we want you to keep enjoying it for a long time to come.
KYLE: What sort of takeaways do you hope that players get from Don't Starve and, by proxy, Reign of the Giants? The finality of death? The importance of each and every action? That everything can and will kill you?
SETH: We don't really have a capital-M Message that we're trying to communicate with Don't Starve, but the fragility of life and our status as just one element of a big and complex ecosystem are ideas that are definitely present in the game. Be careful in your actions, be mindful of others and the wilderness, be okay with being alone sometimes, make sure your needs are taken care of (or: don't starve); all these things are there. We're all probably going to die, so make the most of the journey.
KYLE: If you were a character in the Don't Starve universe, what would your course of action be in surviving this treacherous environment?
SETH: Well, step one is naturally not to starve. Warmth and some emergency rations are the top priorities. Shelter and a light-source become super important too if it's raining or you need to stay active past dark. It's also important to know what's okay to eat raw and what needs to be cooked. When I was twelve or so, I went to a wilderness survival type summer camp: at the end of the month, you got put out in the woods with limited supplies and were left to survive on your own for a night. That night, I learned that picking berries in the wild is a painfully slow process, making a fire with flint and steel is really hard, that hot dogs taste like salami when they haven't been cooked, and that potatoes are really gross and starchy when they haven't been cooked, but if you carve up the potato, it can make for an okay cup so you don't have to kneel with your face in a stream just to have a drink of water.
Day 15 | Klei Entertainment