May 8, 2015

We Play at Dusk: Don't Starve Together

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Lilith: "Sonja, you realize that the name of the game is 'Don't Starve', right?"

Me: "...maybe."

My friend, the DM of my D&D table (clarification: not Lilith from above), was very kind to buy me the Don't Starve Mega Pack when it was on sale a few weeks ago. With it, I got Don't Starve, the multiplayer Early-Access Don't Starve Together, and the Reign of Giants DLC for the former title. And what was I up to on my first night of playing? Well, starving to death. No, the apparitions hadn't yet gotten me, and we'd just chased out a legion of spiders the night before. I'd found myself without berries and a Tallbird on my tail. Night ticked on.

My friend Glow and I
I'm not often the co-op type of person when it comes to long nights with my PC. Sure, I play Portal 2 on co-op more often than not, and I definitely have had some thrilling adventures there (Like in this post, featuring two humanized chairs and the funniest death-leaps ever). But approaching Don't Starve Together was something that was a little newer to me.

Of Mods and Madness

The first time I played Don't Starve Together, I downloaded a ton of mods to play with my friends who played on their own modded server. For someone who shrank (and still shrinks) at the sight of spiders, having a ton of Tallbirds roaming around the place was a little much, and it took me some time to become accustomed to the crafting and foraging systems under the time constraints that we had. However, I got it to work out...kind of. For the time being, my streaks there have been about two days before I run into Tallbirds - a somewhat uncommon, but fast and aggressive enemy - and get pecked out of existence.

Something I especially appreciate about Don't Starve Together, though, as much as it causes in my imminent death and my friends' frustration, is the fact that it is very, very unforgiving. The only way to resurrect a friend is by fighting fast, dangerous mobs (OK, so maybe I exaggerated that a little, but I still die from them!) in the forms of demented, big-eyed spiders in order to put together a component that will detract from the other players' statistics for your benefit. Adding onto the fact that one must keep three statistics simultaneously in sync, the game's learning curve is something that was definitely new and interesting to me.

With Glow, both celebrating the insanity process
with whoops and hollers of
"EEK! WHAT WAS THAT!?"
At its core, Don't Starve isn't especially difficult. One must collect resources to not only keep oneself fed, but to have some light during the nighttime. When it comes down to things, these resources are very simple to find. Problems arise, however, in the little add-ons Klei Entertainment put in to complicate situations. Different kinds of terrain will yield certain kinds of materials, and getting dumped in one for what seems ages on your first day in the game is brutal. However, a combination of luck, experience, and perseverance can result in a great camp being set up that pushes an individual or team to victory.

The next server, I played with a friend who had watched a few playthroughs of the game and specifically turned off all the mods I'd been playing with. The success was made a little easier for the both of us, though I definitely missed certain things like improved mining and craftable path lights. However, it is my philosophy that using mods to make the game easier when the game already has a simple concept is a little too nice to oneself, so we stuck with the standard options and only tweaked season times. That said, I did a lot better and actually began to figure things out like the Science Machine - an important crafting component - and trapping, an important meat-gathering mechanism.

I'm the one facing the camera. Our first night at our base camp.
Two Wilsons, Wigfrid, and He Who Sparks in the Rain

A few nights ago, I played with a few of my friends of varying skill levels. And like the title of this post, we started at about nine o'clock at night and wound up logging off at midnight exactly. I had kind of an idea as to what I was doing, and was off exploring pretty quickly, sticking together with the friend who had bought me the games, who was completely new, and two of our other friends, who knew perfectly well what they were up to. We started playing as two Wilsons, the first playable character in the single-player storyline; WX-71, a robot; and Wigfrid, one of the most lively, but more difficult characters to take on.

Our original base camp was set up something like this: We stayed in the middle of a Savannah area, setting up traps near rabbit holes (These were especially important, seeing that Wigfrid could only eat meat). We established jobs for each of us: WX-71 managed getting materials for the Science Machine, and Wigfrid focused on getting everyone else food while we managed food for her as a group. The other Wilson assisted with the Science Machine and as well with storage supplies (WX-71 was particularly interested in making farms, but stayed behind to make sure nothing got attacked or caught on fire). I managed fire supplies in a small meadow area to our southeast. I quickly began my birch tree orchard on the path going just by our camp.

Things went pretty well for a good while...but then Wigfrid died. We didn't have enough meat to feed her, and her hunger ran too low. None of us saw what was coming after that; Things started catching on fire! First it was the science machine, which began catching the farms on fire, and at last our chests. The rest of us watched and fled as our camp burned down, leaving us almost without resources to rebuild. We gave in and decided to restart our server, all of us laughing sadly but eager to start again.

Source: Klei

Soultamer Speaks

A soultamer of a game? Yes, yes, incredibly so. Don't Starve Together teaches the hard lessons in teamwork quickly, as well as those in fast adaptation in a less-threatening way. This game brought me closer to my friends, whether it was through getting chased by Tallbirds (and then ditched to die off in consequence of having made a mistake in item-collecting) or setting up a base camp and working as a team to keep it and everyone in it alive. Don't Starve Together deepens the gaming experience of teamwork and the wisdoms of resourcefulness.

One of the things that is different from Don't Starve Together, though, is that one must be very self-motivated to continue on in the game. It's not like the single-player where surviving for a certain number of days will equal progression and rewards; The reward of Don't Starve Together is companionship and success through teamwork. It's a different approach to a game, but with the high intensity and potentially short playing sessions, it's a good buy for people of different approaches. There's something for everyone!

And hey, if anything, you've always got the giants to look forward to. 

Take the honey and run!! (source)

3 comments:

  1. This really sounds like fun yet depressing at the same time. I DO hope the game has as many ways to succeed as it does to die lol. Wow, maybe I AM too much of a Carebear lol. I just love my stories and fantasies and happy endings, yet this does intrigues me. You have succeeded as a blogger in that I am not curious about something I formerly knew nothing about. Well done :D

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  2. I love this game so much haha and multiplayer adds an extra bit of crazy on top.

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    1. And what's a good time without a spoonful of crazy to season it with? Thanks for stopping by! :)

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