Developer's Log #4: Scarcity

 
 "Which two should I take back?"

"Which two should I take back?"

Let's talk about scarcity. For almost the entire development of Survival City, the starting stats have remained virtually untouched. Health, Sanity and Capacity started at 5, while Melee, Firearms and Search were at 1. Several weeks before the release of the demo, something occurred to me while trying to find the right game balance. The starting "weeks" of each playthrough were all about amassing a stockpile of resources which would be slowly drained as the group's demands increased. This approach especially didn't work for the demo as the player was never truly in any danger of running out of anything in the first month.

One solution I considered was to rebalance the drop rates for T1 locations, but this would also require adjusting all succeeding tiers to coincide with that. The answer I choose turned out to work much better; I decided to lower the starting survivor Capacity to 3. While T1 locations would still drop the same amount of items, the player had to decide which of these items to bring back and which to leave behind. The amount of resources that could be obtained early on was given a soft cap that created a real opportunity for decision making.

Another unintended result of having lower Capacity was it encouraged multiple survivors to pair up on searches. Before in the early game, it was more Health efficient to send out solo survivors who would come back with loads of stuff. Now in order to bring back all available loot, players would need to upgrade Capacity earlier, or have multiple survivors go. Ideally, I imagine that survivors will take on specialized roles (Searchers, Fighters, etc) and encouraging them to group up allows that to take place sooner.

So those are some thoughts on scarcity and how survivor Capacity got lowered after years of always starting at 5.