Currently exploration, scavenging and otherwise nomadic pursuits are simply several orders of magnitude more fun than fortifying one’s own private slice of sanctuary. I endeavor below to present several suggestions as to how to rectify it but first will summarize what I believe to be the strong points of a migratory existence.
*Building personalized transportation- Maybe it’s just me but I believe MAD MAXING either the first vehicle one can get limping off the road, constructing something from scratch or otherwise experimenting with what amounts to a toy box of possibilities is the single strongest point of CATA in general. It demands repairs, consumes resources and improves QOL to such a degree as to pretty much become a second protagonist. Skidding into a forest and needing to nurse your damaged death mobile (and the hoard within) back to road worthiness is exactly the sort of emergent mission that makes the game great.
*Phat Loot- It’s certainly POSSIBLE to travel light, not needing to scavenge superfluous things like excess electronics, gallons of chemicals and mountains of material. That said I’ve never thrown away a book I’ve read cover to cover, turned down the chance to take REAL arms or armor from museums/mansions or failed to stockpile electronics. Even sans an immediate goal the notion one is PREPARING or PROGRESSING towards some unlearned recipe or yet-to-emerge crisis is empowering. It never hurts to let loose with the armory of weapons one steadily accrues either.
*Danger- If playing with static spawns moving is the only way to remain at odds with the apocalypse, life becoming downright idyllic should one settle down on a farm or such. The open road on the other hand offers the chance to stumble into a life threatening situation, be it in the form of an unexpected minefield, assorted Critters or the various hostile map tiles. Not to mention the tantalizing risk/reward (even if it needs more of the former to accompany the latter) of delving into labs, bunkers, mines or temples
IN SHORT: A sedentary approach needs Danger, Customization and Loot. The suggestion is as follows.
1. Eliminating one threat should invite another - Far as I can tell zombies aren’t even the dominant predators of the cataclysm (at least not initially) Wildlife, haywire robots, mutants, nether creatures and other survivors all ranking higher on the list of things that’ll kill you dead. Plenty of factors could draw these other factions to an area long after the threat of walking corpses subsides, such as:
*GIANT INSECTS - Drawn by large stockpiles of food or a thriving farm perhaps?
*MUTANTS AND CARNIVORES - Maybe brought in by a surplus of pulped and rotting corpses in the area?
*ROBOTS AND AUTOMATED LAW ENFORCEMENT - Data on a CRIME WAVE of vandalism, trespassing, burglary and other petty crimes being a player demands.
*RAIDERS - Player presence and perceived ‘wealth’.
The idea is that eradicating any one threat or faction should never make a place indefinitely secure. Something should always be reacting to player presence, for good or ill.
2. Staying put has to offer something mobility can’t - Currently about the only thing on offer is farming, which is currently more practical than appealing. It DOES give a great excess of food however, something that could be put to use in a variety of ways. Lots of food in the reality bubble could, apart from drawing pests, serve to attract NPCs. Here’s how:
*They’d need to know about it, either by word of mouth (Telling a wandering NPC to spread the word, broadcasting over a radio tower or personal antenna, etc)
*Stockpiles need to be implemented, this way you can allocate an area as a larder that guests and companions can feed themselves from when hungry. Similarly once the groundwork for that is out of the way they could arm themselves or be assigned uniforms etc. Maybe make it possible to set rationing, only allowing folks to eat once they’re a certain degree of hungry, for example.
*They need permission. When strangers show up you can welcome them or turn them away, but depending on how well or weakly defended your site is they might just attempt to take what they want by force.
So now you’ve got squaters padding their bellies on your dime, big deal right? If what I suggest next is possible, than yes, it certainly is. I’d suggest altering the already robust map editer present via the debug menu into a player accessed BLUEPRINT function used via the construction menu. Able bodied NPCs within a decent distance could be considered ‘workers’, significantly lowering the time to construct walls, dig pits, till soil, etc. To be clear we’re talking four people building a wall in 1/4th the time for example. Maybe even give the player the power to assign them tasks like leaving to gather wood, etc. I haven’t poked my head in the construction menu recently but to make this work we’d at the very least need the ability to construct scrap metal walls and barriers from car parts (Like frames, boards, sheet metal and the assorted armors)
3. Loot and looking for trouble, the lifeblood of standing still - The less you move around the more needs to come your way. Perhaps give players the ability to call in caravans or receive propositions over the radio? Missions like:
*A mutant needs refuge, but is being pursued by remnants of XEDRA/Militant Specists/A deranged tribe of its brethren
*Surviving doctors and relief workers need you to set up a clinic.
*A militia/mercenary group wants to set up in your area, but isn’t interested without sufficient fortifications
Basically these missions would require players to either take a risk or expend resources to complete the terms of a request, such as setting up tents and cots/beds for a clinic. Some might only be offered if you’ve claimed an area with certain features already present (A Mr. Stem Cell, Power Sub-Station etc) Moreover they’d be a perfect platform for molding the ‘player faction’ from whom they chose to associate with or antagonize, those that wind up sticking around offering their own bonuses and missions. Internal spats, a need for fortification and defense that grows alongside player investiture and enough variables and personality to compete with and compliment journeying off on an adventure; that’s what something like this could present the foundation for.