Food and Nutrition

As it currently stands, a survivor is capable of living on just meat and perhaps a vitamin pill or two, even longterm.
I believe that this should change, a more varied diet should be a requirement for long term survival.

A quick search yields that a human needs the following basic nutrients to stay properly fed:

  • proteins
  • fats
  • carbohydrates
  • minerals
  • vitamins
  • water

or alternatively translated into the following picture:

This could be implemented into the game (in a simplified way) by keeping track of how many grams of type of food the survivor has eaten.
A survivor would then need to fill part of his diet up with plant matter/vegetables and fruit and the occasional fish, instead of just meat.

Besides a fitting CBM/mutation that could show your current balance of nutrients, you could get helpfull text hints whenever you are missing something specific:
"You sure could go for an apple right now!"
Or in a more severe case:
“You crave for some delicious red meat!”

Keeping a proper diet should provide the survivor with a small lasting bonus to his morale (+5, like optimist), and a small buff to his stats (+5 movement speed? + disease resistant).
Likewise, not following a proper diet, should give a penalty to morale and stats. Starting off small, but getting larger the longer the survivor neglects his diet.

To counteract the fact that a survivor suddenly needs to watch what he eats, less food needed a day could suffice.

I think having a proper diet in the cataclysm is an important factor in survival, and this suggestion could help that in the right direction.
Tell me what you guys think about this.

I think this idea could certainly prove to be a good one, thought I think it’d have to be implemented carefully. On one side, you could say that the mechanic would punish players who couldn’t get all the various foods due to a position they are in in the game, making it unfair. However, you could certainly argue that that’s the cataclysm, not everyone gets lucky and you have to try your best, and maybe sometimes that isn’t enough. The mechanic could encourage someone to move to a better spot rather than hole up somewhere where they can get 1 type of food very easily.

You’d have to rebalance traits like Meat Intolerant and Hates Fruit, which suddenly become severely crippling. (Carnivore and other dietary mutations would presumably instead alter your nutritional needs - this might even make Carnivore a positive mutation.) Probably decouple the nutrition value from the material, so you could have tofu dogs made of veggies but counting nutritionally as meat (etcetera). Plus things like woods soup should count in multiple categories. Also, vitamins would have to be reworked to somewhat compensate for missing fruits and veggies. It sounds… complicated.

Something like this has been suggested several times, that is tracking nutrients. The reason none of the proposals have gained any traction is it requires annotating every piece of food, now and in the future, with the new dietary information. When I look at implementation, that either boils down to having an unsatisfyingly coarse approximation that has very little to do with reality (in other words no real improvement from what we have now, but more work), or a reasonable approximation of reality, but adding a LARGE amount of variables to be tracked in the food data.

This particular set of nutrients, well it’s not nutrients at all. The food pyramid is an attempt to simplify dietary intake to the point where education campaigns can meaningfully impact dietary choices, they are only a rough approximation of a proper diet. Also, you’d have to declare by fiat what a balanced diet for a survivor is based on food types, and that balance is nonexistent.

Personally I think the implementation of such a system would be pretty annoying at any intermediate stage between the current health system and realistic (enough). Fleshing out the current health system a bit more might be a good idea though, perhaps some kind of food saturation.
For example if you eat only smoked fish for a week or two, eating more smoked fish will reduce your health stat more and more, which would force the player to eat a variety or take vitamins every day rather than rely on a single food source.

Lots of people I talk to have tons of misconceptions about nutrition and healthy foods/diets that it’s hard to believe a quick implementation would be realistic at all, and unless we’re going to model long term nutrition it probably won’t add a huge amount to the game play.

As I understand it, the current system primarily rates food on macronutrients (“nutrition”) and micronutrients (health effects). Breaking up the latter category is a nightmare, but maybe you could break up the former into carbohydrates (sugars/starches), fats, and protein to good effect? Again, it’s quite a lot of extra data entry and it’s not clear how much would be gained.