I’ve been working on Shipwrecked since June. Even then I realized that it was very ambitious, but rather that continue to work on it throughout the rest of the year, I’m going to call what I have done and move on.
It’s amazing what a deadline can do to productivity, though. In the last few days of the month, I managed to add the ability to create objects, sleep, and go fishing.
I created a number of new objects, including sharp rocks, fishing poles, and opened coconuts.
The crafting screen tells you what you can make and what you need in order to make it.
Fishing doesn’t work quite as well as I’d like.
It’s too easy! Fish seem to sail onto shore for you, and I would rather it be more difficult, requiring patience and time.
If I had more time to develop this game, I know of a number of things I wanted to add:
- Daily stamina, which reduces as you take actions, such as walking with heavy items or swimming, and requires rest to recover. Right now, sleeping simply fast-forwards time.
- Food spoilage.
- Encumbrance. I added weights to the objects, but the player can still carry an unlimited amount. I would like it if swimming was more difficult with too many items, for instance, so drowning is more likely.
- Weather, such as extreme heat, rain, and bad storms.
- Other entities, such as sharks to pose as water hazards and crabs to be dangerous food sources.
- Caves to explore.
- Debris, such as crates floating to shore from presumably sunk ships. Suddenly life on the island is more interesting when combing the beach results in finding bottles of wine or magazines.
- Morale and sanity. I had a vision of the player going insane the longer he/she survives. Insanity would manifest as coconuts being the heads of people walking around the island, for instance, or objects such as rocks suddenly being seen as edible.
I took cues from Harvest Moon and NetHack primarily, plus I always liked the book Robinson Crusoe.
I learned that surviving on a desert island is a very common theme in games. For example, Stranded by Unreal Software was released in 2003.
Most recently there is Wayward, and when I learned of it, I almost lost motivation to continue work. Here was a game that was a very in-depth, turn-based version of what I wanted to make, although I had no intentions of adding bears and giant spiders.
I also felt bad because I realized that I needed to provide a way to create objects, and adding a crafting element to the game made me feel like I was copying the big trend since Minecraft became famous. It seems as if every aspiring indie game developer is making a procedurally-generated world in which you have to use nearby resources to survive.
As for this game, despite working on it for almost 50 hours across two months, I’m afraid it doesn’t have a lot of depth. The island has its objects randomly generated within it, but it’s not a very interesting algorithm. I would have liked to have created an expansive island to explore, with jungles and cliffs, but for now, the island is populated with random trees, boulders, shells, branches (where are the trees that made those?), and empty nets.
Of course, it’s only 50 hours. I’m sure if I worked on it full time in a given month, I could have accomplished much more, and if I dedicate multiple months to working on it, I could have something richer.
So on that note, I got quite a bit accomplished for this project. B-)
What I learned, however, is that even if I have plans for a lot of inter-dependent systems in a game, I should implement one to completion before moving on to another. It took way too long after I coded in a system for hunger and starvation for the player to have a way to avoid such a death, for instance. If I added hunger, I should have added food right away. In a similar way, I created a lean-to because I had plans for a need for shelter, but I never did put in any reason for a shelter to exist. A number of items become merely ornamental as a result.
All that said, I really enjoyed making this project. I hope I come back to it in the future and flesh it out more fully.