Mood - some things to make the game a bit more FUN (difficult)

One of the major things that’s annoyed me and killed my immersion recently, was when clearing out a regional school and killing ~500 zombie children in a single day. I realized that mood is effectively pointless to maintain. In my eyes, one of the major themes of a zombie-infested apocalypse, is in keeping your spirits high and not succumbing to despair. Food, water, and shelter are important, but more important is keeping yourself mentally fit, if you ask me.

That said, I’d like to see a bit of an expansion to the current mood setup. My initial thoughts were something to the effect of four meters that are managed by positive and negative effects.

My suggested four would be:



Comfort specifically relates to the character’s level of satisfaction with their environment. Long spans of being hungry, thirsty, cold, hot, or overburdened would contribute to comfort negatively, while reading a good book in a chair, sitting by a fire, sleeping in a comfortable bed, and enjoying a hot meal would contribute positively. When comfort falls, it directly detriments dexterity and perception, as the player is sore and thus less limber, as well as unable to focus on their surroundings for the sake of their physical discomfort, or daydreaming about better times.

Players can become accustomed to their environment over time. The longer their character is above or below a certain threshold, they will become “addicted” to certain creature comforts. Let’s say a character has become accustomed to a full belly, a warm bed, and a well-lit environment, they will lose the benefits of high levels of comfort slowly, and thus have to seek greater comforts over time in order to achieve the benefits. Meanwhile, dropping below those accustomed levels of comfort will result in more severe penalties for being uncomfortable. The opposite is also true, where if a player is uncomfortable for a significant period of time, they will eventually become quite accustomed to their harsh environment, and the penalties will be not as severe (until it falls beneath the truly catastrophic thresholds.)

Players who are uncomfortable lose focus easily, and take longer to craft, while players who are comfortable take less time to craft and gain focus more steadily.


Occupation is the mental stat that keeps track of the player’s level of boredom and loneliness. Much like Comfort, the player can become accustomed to this over time. Boredom will make the player suffer lesser benefits to comfort, as well as eventually begin to affect their sanity. Players with high levels of boredom may eventually gain access to crafting recipes that allow them to create an imaginary friend that they can activate and talk to. This decreases sanity, but gives the player a boost to comfort and boredom. Players will also become “addicted” to their imaginary friend, and if they don’t have it somewhat nearby as their addiction increases, they will feel increasingly anxious and uncomfortable.

Occupation can be increased by performing tasks and reading entertainment books. Over time, other avenues for entertaining yourself might take shape. There’s always narcotics and booze, but there’s also the possibility of a somewhat insane character being entertained by killing zombies (at the cost of further sanity).

Some characters might have an affinity for certain skills, for instance, a character might genuinely love tinkering with vehicles while others might be bored to tears by it. Sewing might make one character itch to go outside and do something else, while another will be pleased as punch to do nothing more than embroider doilies.



Sanity is where the fun starts with mental stats. Sanity is affected by the amount of trauma your character receives. Killing a huge number of zombie children might severely impact the character’s sanity, and loneliness and boredom could severely impact this stat as well. As a player goes insane, there is a chance for cravings for human flesh, an uncontrollable urge to kill the undead, or in the worst cases, your character can slip into delusions.

Sanity isn’t as simple as “300 points makes you hallucinate”. The mind is a plastic thing, and as such, the mind has to adjust to long term environment changes to forget its prior grasp on reality. Short term dips below certain thresholds of insanity would result in nausea, depression, skin rashes, stomach pains, or extreme cravings for food (or even a reduced appetite). However, the player has to get themselves right, and fast, because every hour you are below the sanity threshold makes you more likely to stay beneath that threshold. Once your sanity level has settled beneath a threshold for a certain period of time, your character runs the risk of acquiring a semi-permanent affliction, such as hallucination, twitch, chronic depression, sleep disorders, eating disorders, hairloss (permanent -10 warmth to head), compromized immune system (2 times as likely to catch ambient diseases), night terrors (chance of waking up at night with anxiety-affecting dreams), etc.

Discussions for fixing longterm sanity afflictions are definitely in order on this note. I haven’t fully fleshed the idea out. However, my thoughts are that the permanent disorders might only be fixed by reading self-help books and can be suppressed by certain drugs. Each time you read through a self help book, for instance, you have a very small chance of escaping the affliction, though you also have to boost your sanity level through a change of environment, relaxation, and keeping yourself busy. Other factors, such as being extremely comfortable, happy, healthy, and occupied for a long period of time could potentially cure the psychosis as well.


Anxiety is the last mood affecting stat that I’d like to describe. Anxiety balances with sanity and Comfort. Players that are comfortable are less likely to be afraid of their surroundings, while players that are insane are more likely to imagine horrifying things just around the corner. (There might be some afflictions that feed off of sanity in the reverse, where your character is made uneasy by periods free of danger, or whose fears are sated by prolonged periods of violence.)

Each time a player hears a noise in the night, walks into a dark basement without a flashlight, is awoken by bad dreams, or is caught out in acid drizzle, the player will begin to fear, and anxiety is increase. Anxious players are jumpy, jittery, and more likely to make loud noises while out walking around, dropping items, and crafting. They are also slightly more likely to fail while crafting, and will be less likely to dodge attacks or even trip and fall while being attacked due to either freezing up, or overbalancing.

Dealing with anxiety can be as simple as taking a Xanax, relaxing in comfort, or being in a familiar setting (being around their own scent-polluted tiles, for instance). Players can also get used to a certain amount of anxiety, and can learn coping mechanisms to deal with them. Talking to yourself can help ease anxiety for a very short period of time, albeit making a bit of noise, and doing things that you are familiar with (using skills that you have practiced quite a lot) can also help ease anxiety. If occupation is too high (as in, the player is doing too much too fast), players can actually suffer from anxiety due to being overstressed.


Sorry this was long, but the entire mood thing has really made me somewhat unhappy with my survival simulation. I’m a skilled programmer, and would be happy to contribute if I had time to do so, but I have a number of contract jobs right now going that make that an impossibility.

Any input on these ideas?

It seems over complicated but I like the idea.

Yeah, that’s kind of the idea. I’ve played ADOM, Nethack, Dwarf Fortress, Angband, ToME, and about a dozen other roguelikes. The more complexity, generally speaking, the more I wanted to play.

That said, the current mood system is phoned in, and I don’t think it can really be fixed without implementing a couple of different mental needs that all respond to different stimuli. I guess my biggest worry is that something like this doesn’t get put in quite right, resulting in players being forced to either turn it off, or do repetitive tasks on a daily basis to keep their stats high, rather than just playing the game.

I think, though, if the actions that affect all four of the stats are put together in such a way that they encourage exploration, crafting, and making a more comfortable bunker, that they should be alright as long as there is some variety in how it’s all handled.

Good ideas, and a very complex and well thought out system. However, and this is a very personal preference (although I know many others agree) - mood can get sort of annoying in many cases as it’s too abstract and takes away a lot of control from the player.

If you become to demoralised to do anything, then it’s just instantly un-fun. Similarly, if your character becomes paralysed with fear or gets into a cycle of depression/sickness, it becomes very un-fun. A good example of this is when units get into a panic cycle in other games, that annoys me no end.

From an abstract view (and this is my thoughts really), I think it’s because you think ‘I wouldn’t react like that in that situation’ or that you would be able to overcome certain mental challenges, so again, it sort of takes away control from the player. I’d suggest the ideas of fixed (with possibilities of gaining more) phobias/needs would be a simpler way to get across moods, although a more complex system than 'hate spiders = -100 morale, is definitely needed.

Yeah, I agree with the distraction sort of thing to some extent, Binky.

I think though, the important thing is to tune it so that it’s meaningful without becoming the central focus of your game. I definitely see it as something that should impact gameplay, but really shouldn’t be so crippling/beneficial that it effectively consumes all of your time. I think the part of my idea for this system that makes this doable is that there’s a constant shifting level of equilibrium, where you can become accustomed to a more minimalist sort of life over time with minimal impact, whilst others may live a more lavish apocalypse, and others will spend some of their time mixing drug cocktails to make their rugged experience more bearable.

If you become to demoralised to do anything, then it's just instantly un-fun.

This is exactly what I would want to avoid. I’d actually like to see all stats, hitpoints, morale, etc. Completely abstracted to the point of obscurity. Basically, mood would be a sort of hidden stat that you get periodic notifications about “You feel comforted by reading this book.”, “That was really entertaining!”, “Your hands ache for want of violence.”, etc. I’d really see taking the control out of the player’s hands a major thing to avoid, and would want to see players put in potentially surprising/unexpected situations. Rather than directly penalizing actions to the point of oblivion, I would definitely agree that the effects should be pervasive and all-encompassing but not the primary influence of ability.

This would make all that rping directly purposeful. I’m all in for it but make it optional.

Yes, another thing that makes the game more annoying to play and drives away new players! That is what the game really needs! I can’t believe no one has ever thought of this before!

I’m not saying the morale system doesn’t need some kind of revamp down the line, but this sort of overcomplicated mechanic that exists pretty much for its own sake is basically the number one problem with this forum.

[quote=“Inadequate, post:7, topic:4335”]Yes, another thing that makes the game more annoying to play and drives away new players! That is what the game really needs! I can’t believe no one has ever thought of this before!

I’m not saying the morale system doesn’t need some kind of revamp down the line, but this sort of overcomplicated mechanic that exists pretty much for its own sake is basically the number one problem with this forum.[/quote]

That’s the point of the Suggestions forums right? To discuss, refine (potentially) good ideas and make bad ones better. Not all ideas can/should be added to the game but at least we can discuss what’s wrong with it. Especially considering that Ter13 is new to the forums too with his ideas, I can understand it, the feeling of you’re new and full of good ideas (or at least that is what everyone would think about their ideas). It’s the love for the game that drive everyone, especially the newcomers to come up with ideas. And I don’t see you adding much to the discussion, please tell him why you think it’s would be such a bad idea? Because it’s too complicated or it exists for the sake of existing or other reasons. Complicated and pointless features may drive new players from the game, but outright reject their ideas without providing an explanation will drive new members from the forums and potentially miss out good ideas too.

And I’m going off topic too, adding nothing new to the discussion. I’d like to provide a feedback (however short it is) for this idea but I kinda tired now, I think I’ll pass.

I got up to the point where he complained about ‘MY IMMERSION’ in the first sentence, and stopped. Nothing useful has ever been contributed after that phrase. Add in the part where he conflates fun with difficulty in the title, and it’s easy to see that even if the idea is mechanically sound, it’s from the same mindset that ultimately bogs down the community.

It’s like you don’t want people to have opinions.

Are you still angry that your suggestion of ‘make the game harder by, I don’t know, but do it anyway’ was ignored? Adding in overcomplex mechanics with improper documentation just bloats the game and makes it difficult not just for new players, but for anyone who doesn’t keep up with the forums. It’s a completely wrong attitude to approach the game with.

Uh…I suggested ways to improve the game and they, in fact, weren’t ignored. So you’re wrong…that’s pretty embarrassing, dude lol.

So…making the game a truly difficult game…instead of a sandbox game…is bad…OK…gotcha…

Yes, that sandbox thing was, in fact, the general consensus the last time you asked. So at least you’ve learnt one thing from that.

It’s people like you who bitch on rogue like forums that eventually turn them in to a disgrace to RL games lol.

“Don’t make the game harder!”, you say. Well, alright, go get a Xbox One and play console games.

So now you’re complaining about an entire category of opinions. Either that legitimizes my complaint earlier, or proves you’re a massive hypocrite.

There’s a difference between holding an opinion and blatantly disagreeing with someone just because you don’t want the game to change.

The latter is also an opinion. I don’t think you understand how opinions work.

lol wut.

Hey, how about instead of starting arguments and posting unbelievably rude responses to good-natured suggestions, you post something simple and inoffensive, like ‘I think this is too complex for Cata’ or ‘needs refinement’?

I would definitely be interested in an expansion of mood, this being a game about surviving the horrors of an apocalypse, something that generally relies a lot upon mood to provide its entertainment. All the same, I’d like to see what the powers that be have in store for morale before jumping straight into something this complex.

I like the idea that’s been presented. It is a bit complex but the complexity seems mostly on the actual development of the mechanics and not what would be presented to the player. If these stats were mostly hidden from the player besides through status messages I don’t see how it would be all that confusing. I really like the possibility of a character going insane from the stress of the world they’re living in.

As far as complexity driving away new players, I think that’s silly. Lot’s of people love complexity in the games they play and are drawn to games that provide such depth. Many of us here come from dwarf fortress and that game is fuckin ridiculously complex. But people still play it and new people still waste hours trying to figure out how to dig their first tunnel or stop their first magma flood. Being afraid to add new things because we think it will be to hard for new players detracts from the game for us and seems presumptuous about what new players can handle/learn.