Space is big. Huge really. Infinite in fact. And whilst Star Trek has spent the last 40-odd years convincing us that exploring its vast hugeness is an exciting non-stop thrill ride of wonder and daring do, it is in fact a boring, black, cold, empty dunghole of mind-numbing proportions.
Endless landmasses in games are like that too. Sure there’s an occasional interesting lake or mountain or cave but the rest of the time it’s just a huge stretch of land that, by turns, green, brown, flat, lumpy, sandy & snowy to such an extent that it all starts to look exactly the same.
Now many folks would have you believe size matters, and they would be right but maybe not in the way you expect. Look at it this way, if it’s small enough to garner derision or big enough to cause eye-popping discomfort them it’s the wrong size and/or, possibly, shape. When it comes to games and penises, size is less important that what you do with it but as penises are for a different blog let me turn towards the size of Survivalcraft.
Survivalcraft is big. Huge really. Infinite* in fact. But that great size can also make it a little dull. Run in any direction you want and very soon the land will begin to repeat itself like the backdrop of a Tom & Jerry chase scene. Hills, grass, sand, trees, snow, hills, grass, sand, trees, hills, hills, grass, sand, trees, hills, hills, grass, sand, trees, hills, hills, grass, sand, trees, hills, hills, grass, sand, trees, hills, hills, grass, sand, trees, hills, hills, grass, sand, trees, hills, hills, grass, sand, trees, hills, hills, grass, sand, trees, hills, hills, grass, sand, trees, hills, and so on until you are no loner sure how far you have gone from your base or in which direction because it all looks the same.
Alright then smartarse, what should Kaalus do, I hear you say. Well, let me tell you what I think would be a better layout.
Islands. Lots and lots of islands. An almost infinite world of islands in fact.
These islands would be a mix of small to huge, but each one would be one vital thing. Finite. There would be an end to the resources on each, an end to the available landmass on each, and, more importantly, there would be a sense of achievement in the complete exploration of each. And when an island has been stripped bare or explored inside and out, it would be time for a brave survivor to build a boat and brave the dangerous seas (I’m thinking weather and giant quid attacks here) and move to the next island. Each island would be procedurally generated just as the landscape is now, but there would be a greater variation between islands so that terrain & climate change wouldn’t seem as jarring as it does now. I’m imagining a jungle island, an island of nothing but mountains, another of cliffs all the way round leading up to a high plateau, and yet another full of dangerous volcanoes! There could even be variations in animal types that would allow people to try and ‘collect’ all the different breeds! I’m only just scratching the surface here!
You see, for me, when the terrain is varied in a more interesting way and full of an endless number of achievable goals I find myself far more engaged with the world than if I had the whole of creation on one flat plain to play in.
So what do you think of my Survivalcraft Archipelago idea? Do you have any landmass models you’d like to see Kaalus adopt?
* Well, almost but let’s not quibble over such a small thing.