[quote=“Coolthulhu, post:13, topic:11742”]Game design isn’t about 50% sticks 50% carrots in every part of the game. It also isn’t a simple linear system where “you win” gives you 10 happiness points and “you lose” takes 10 points away. Victories don’t feel like victories if they’re given for free.
You don’t get a pat on the back for not fucking up. Except maybe in shovelware survival games.[/quote]
I don’t even think this is about any sort of “carrot to stick ratio” or anything, nor is it about making the game “too difficult.” Difficult can be fun, and I think that’s part of why I like this game so much. This is about presenting challenges that are interesting and engaging to overcome. I don’t think being given half a dozen new invisible meters to feed is particularly engaging on its own. Additionally, it brings a level of complexity that goes beyond even real life - a vast majority of people don’t bother checking the nutrition facts on their food, particularly anything beyond the “Calories” count, and yet serious vitamin deficiencies are exceptionally rare in first-world countries. Most people do eat a variety of different foods, but the level of micromanagement required to avoid such deficiencies is far lower than presented in Cataclysm.
I mean, yeah, the concerns about the current state of the food system are valid - it is too easy to survive on one single foodstuff, vitamins are overpowered, the health system was bad, and so on, but I think these individual vitamin meters cause more problems than they solve. They do make the player be more creative about where they get their foodstuffs, they do a good thing. However, on top of that, they add several more tasks of raw busywork onto the character’s plate, so to speak. Now, in addition to having to scavenge or otherwise arrange for a diverse supply of foodstuffs, they must carefully scroll through all of their food’s menus to ensure that all of their food has the right numbers attached to it, then when they eat, they must make sure to scan through all of their food’s attached numbers again to make sure they’re getting the right amount of each number, while remembering how much of all said numbers they’ve consumed in the last week to make sure all their invisible number meters are happy, and if they remember wrong or can’t find enough of a certain number? Well, enjoy your scurvy.
You know what? Let me see if I can come up with something that I think would work better.
[ul][li]Morale bonuses give diminishing returns when eating the same food multiple times over a certain period, which can turn into morale penalties, as eating the same thing over and over again would get boring pretty quickly. Morale penalties could also be given more of a sting, though that could possibly throw off other parts of game balance.[/li]
[li]Health penalties for failing to eat foods of certain “materials” for a long enough period of time. Food materials are currently just flesh and vegetable matter, so they’d probably have to be subdivided into a couple more categories, i.e. fruit matter, grain. I’m not sure how this fits in with the food group exclusion traits (lactose intolerant, hates meat, etc), but I feel there’s a better way to connect food diversity to health than vitamin juggling.[/li]
[li]Add another form of meat that is obtained when butchering unusual creatures, such as most “Giant [X]” creatures. The meat is safely edible, but it applies a significant morale and health penalty when eaten, as I’m sure a chunk of roasted giant wasp is neither as good for you or as appetizing as a flank of venison. This should also apply to ant eggs and the like.[/li]
[li]Buff morale bonuses for eating more complex meals significantly. A nice, hot, home-cooked meal of multiple ingredients is one of the finest luxuries left in the apocalypse, and should be treated as such. Getting the “Elated” stat bonuses from morale should be possible without a vibrator, massive amounts of drugs, or gamey tactics. Not necessarily possible from food alone, but possible.[/li]
[li]Cap the bonus given to health by vitamins. In fact, cap just about all sources of health bonuses in general. Doing one healthy thing repeatedly doesn’t by itself add up to a healthy lifestyle. Probably cap some of the penalties too, but relatively severe health problems can be left uncapped (i.e. drug/alcohol abuse). This should probably come with a rework of the benefits and drawbacks of high and low health, respectively, but I’m not sure how that particular aspect should be approached.[/li][/ul]
So what about that? It’s probably not perfect, and for all I know could be a bitch to implement (though if I ever get around to learning C++ I’d be willing to lend a hand), but honestly I think this would be a whole lot more interesting and realistic than giving the player six new invisible meters to constantly have to worry over and micromanage. It would probably scale better along the difficulty curve, anyway. Early-game players wouldn’t have to worry about it so much while they focus on basic survival (as opposed to suddenly getting hit with a vitamin B12 deficiency or something on day 3), while mid- to late-game players still have a reason to vary their food intake without the process of doing so being too tedious.