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Brainstorming Thread: Food System.

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While I'm posting brainstorming threads here today, I figured I'd lob out one more.  The idea of some sort of food system, whereby player characters have to eat or even sleep, is something that of course a lot of people find really attractive and interesting from a distance.  After all, anything that makes the characters feel more like people and less like little boardgame chits is a good thing, right?

The trouble is, and the conclusion that Keith and I always seem to arrive at whenever we talk about food systems, is that food systems are annoying.  There are some exceptions, and I hear that -- for example -- the food system in Skyrim is really interesting and extremely fun.  But that's in the context of a much slower-moving western-style RPG, and that's just a really different sort of game flow in general.  I've seen some food systems work out pretty well in some other western-style RPGs myself, again largely due to the general pacing and structure of those entire games.

Those games are a far cry from AVWW in almost every gameplay sense, though.  So the question really is: in the context of an action game, like Zelda or AVWW or Minecraft or whatever, is there any system of "you periodically have to eat" that wouldn't be just an annoying chore of "time to press this button every so many minutes?"

Keith and I sure haven't been able to think of anything, so it's the sort of thing we just would normally lay to rest and forget about.  But since I'm in a brainstorming mood today (apparently), I thought I'd pose the question to the forums.

As a side note: One of the cool things about having a playerbase that remembers games from the 80s and 90s is that there were all sorts of cool or almost-cool systems used in some obscure game but then never used again.  Those sorts of things were definitely an enriching influence on AI War in particular after 1.0 came out, but it's not something I'd really sat back and thought about until today.  It's kind of cool to be able to call on this "obscure game mechanic encyclopedia" that exists in the forum, if you think about it. :)

I personally don't like food systems like in Minecraft, but that's just my playstyle. I prefer building (but legitimately, so creative mode isn't really an option) and having to go out and hunt pigs to get food is annoying. Especially during the time period of 1.8, when once you killed something, it was gone for good. Now that you can breed animals it's more acceptable, but I still consider it less fun.

That said, AVWW isn't in the same vein as MC the way I play it. IT is an adventure, not a building game, so a food system wouldn't interfere with that as much. However, having to periodically go out and craft/hunt foods doesn't sound like very much fun. I don't know what to do with this. I'm starved for ideas at the moment.

Sleeping, though, sounds like it could be good if done right. I like the way that it is in Minecraft: Optional, but a benefit for doing it. Perhaps in bedrooms of buildings you could find beds (and in settlements) which, when slept in, give some sort of benefit. (partial stat recharge, or perhaps your spells decrease in power slowly over time, and sleeping resets this. So, you could theoretically go forever without sleep, but would become very ineffective and vulnerable if you go too long.

The reason we enjoy food in real life is that it's a sensory experience. Eating actually gives us pleasure, and takes away pain when we're hungry. Without something hurting and food being completely bland, eating in life is just a chore too. Video games can't feed us, nor do they take away hunger pains, so you'd be hard pressed to find a way to put in our system of eating into the game.

The only way to make food fun would be to have it be that you're hunting for food, and have to do something fun to get it, then you eat it and your counter restarts. But that seems unnecessary because you can just get rid of food and have the fun stuff without the monotony of "I'm doing this on my daily schedule", instead giving better rewards.

So, scheduled eating, that's really tough to make fun. Unscheduled eating... well, if you have an interesting and useful ways to get food, then all you have to do is make that food something that's desirable but not required. You'll have OCD people stocking up for nuclear winter, but for the most part, you should be able to have people enjoy food.

Some possible ways to make food desirable: status effects, making you stronger for a period of time based on the food and quality, bait and AI control, allowing players to change the behavior of enemies, or even tame them to help you in other systems. Both sound pretty good, and the first would create an obvious settlement management improvement of adding shops (which are hopefully planned already), to sell you some food items with food quality based on morale, happiness, and natural ability of the worker. And by sell, I mean "use X resources/shards from the settlement/character to make food items".

tl;dr No scheduled eating, that makes most fun things unfun in this style of game, where time is an essentially unlimited resource. Make food a commodity that helps you, maybe via status effects or AI adjustment (bait/taming come to mind).

The only way I see a food system fitting with this game, would be in the strategic view. Somehow make the availability of food limit movement on the strategic map, similarly to how movement previously was restricted by the occurrence of wind storms.
If this resource was shared between the player and the NPCs it could potentially lead to some interesting scenarios. Manage the availability of food between player and NPCs, and how to extend your reach by establishing new settlements and outposts at which you can resupply. Build more farms to create supply for more frequent and longer expeditions. Use NPCs with slow metabolism to extend your scouting range within the limits of available resources. Trade of between inviting NPCs into settlements and using the excess food supply for further exploration missions.

Eating on a personal level can be good if you want to get more into the survival aspect, basically as a limiter of how long you can be out (or something to make being away from settlements seem harder/ more dangerous to keep going), or if there's some inventory management aspect (which I doubt you want to add).

If it was just a matter of a buff, it have a food item in your pack and have it reduce (or use) every x moments, it would be a bit dull, just another bonus to farm.  I suppose it could also be done like the malaria shots in Far Cry 2 - use every once in awhile, and when you run out you're forced back to settlement.  If done on a personal level I'd probably leave it like a rested buff in MMO's, eat (somehow) and get bonus to xp . . though it might not make sense as you're leveling your civ not your avatar.

I do think that you should always have food so long as your settlement does, would be weird if they were eating and you were starving.  As such, as others have mentioned, might work better on strat map level than during your fight with a miniboss having to eat a sandwich.  I guess that could be how you "carry" food- in settlements if you're closer to one with food, you eat too, if you're near one without food (or int he deep wild), you're going hungry.

Personally, there are enough elements in AVWW to make it have a good survival feel without having to make food an item to use, outside of its mention as an aspect of the strategic game.  I wouldn't hate it if it was put in interestingly, and I enjoy such tings in RP oriented games, just don't see it fitting in yet.


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