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6 Pillars of Survival
At first I was afraid, I was petrified! (Surviving, the Hashtag way.)
It's one thing to rant about a beloved genre endlessly, but it's quite another to sit with pen to paper and come up with definitive- maybe a touch idealistic- definitions.
It's actually pretty fucking hard!
Dee, Becca, and I have been mauling over this Pillars idea for ages now, probably since the inception of Hashtag Survival a couple of years ago. There's always been that unspoken feeling of this game being survival and that one just not cutting it. It's one of those "felt, not explained" things you feel in your bones. Whenever we'd jot down a handful of ideas or criteria, the "next big survival game" would hit the scene and further dilute the genre umbrella - not to mention the weekly drop of dozens of survival titles and asset flips.
Instead, we flipped over to the other idea, paring the titles into manageable, bite-sized subgenres. The Hashtag Subgenre list is a great way to find your "survival bucket"- a pile of games that play and feel similar. Here - have some subgenre pictures.
After that, we went back to the Pillars idea again. We wanted gatekeeping- a list of criteria to know whether a game was worth our time. We were tired of looking for another experience similar to Green Hell and getting recommended Valheim. So we penned some notes. Played some games. Went back and tweaked things. Gamed. Argued with folks on Reddit.
Yanno, your standard stages of nerd thinking.
Finally, we had a working draft of the pillars. The Pillars are currently malleable. They are no longer in the 'taffy stage' where anything goes; they're more like modeling clay. It takes more effort to change them, and you need a clear mental picture of what you're trying to convey and shape. (Am I making sense?) I expect to do some tweaks here and there- swap a word, add in an example—and do some light dusting.
They encapsulate the genre and hoist the flag for folks yearning for survival to feel more like survival.
Preach, Reddit commenters!
Now- on to the Pillars.
6 Pillars of Survival
As a core element of gameplay it should be necessary to monitor a nutrition system, which can include water and food along with at least one other resource such as sleep, energy, sanity, oxygen, morale, etc. Neglecting these requirements should have significant consequences. Shelter should exist for more than just decor, and impact player gameplay and behavior.
Limitations or restrictions (ex: weight, size)to inventory management should exist beyond the simple slot requirement found in other genres like MMORPGs. It requires players to make consequential decisions about what to take or leave behind when scavenging.
The game world should feature environmental aspects that directly impact gameplay or the character(s). Changing seasons can result in resource scarcity, while shifts in weather or temperature can negatively affect the player. Nighttime should require a light source and/or careful planning because of potential dangers or dropping temperatures.
Tension is a crucial aspect of the game, with the potential for sudden emergencies or catastrophes to befall players. The fear of venturing into the unknown should be ever-present, and a single decision or event can drastically alter the player's situation.
Resource acquisition should involve problem-solving, adaptation, creation, or exploration. Players may need to craft or scavenge tools and structures, hunt and farm for food, or forage for resources. The acquisition of higher-quality materials may require a succession of tools or far ranging travel.
The game should feature a bodily harm and injury system that goes beyond 'damage equals lost hit points.' Complex issues (broken bones, infections & disease, respiratory or gastrointestinal ailments) and cures (pills, tinctures, herbal remedies, splints and slings, bandages) are welcome.
We’d love to hear your thoughts!