Thoughts on the prospects of the survival genre

CryomatrixCryomatrix Cambridge, MAMember UncommonPosts: 1,030
edited November 9 in The Pub at MMORPG.COM
Hello everyone, 

So I recently tried out my first survival game. I chose Conan Exiles mainly because of a nice youtube channel about it from (thranxes)[ a recommendation from Sovrath (I highly respect his opinion). The game has its pros and cons. 

I've been playing a ton on a vanilla solo player server. I'm currently lvl 24 and I wonder about the prospects of the genre. 

Keeping your belly full and water is easy to do and a nice realistic touch. 
Crafting everything you need is good and fun. It has excellent crafting capabilities. 

But then, what else is there? It seems like it is just it. It is a bit more gritty than other games but other than crafting, what else? The fact that the servers are small and max out at 40-70 players. I see that you can run your own server which is nice but I wonder why not just make a huge MMO map with thousands of players and have food/drink be the issue. 

What are your thoughts on the survival genre? I only paid this game, but what do other games have to offer? (Edited for clarification)

Down below is a quick review of Conan Exiles

Pros: 
Good graphics
Good crafting and building capability
Thrall system is nice (basically enslave NPC's)
The world is immersive, I like the lore, makes me want to see the old Conan movies
Religion system is nice
Night, day, sandstorm, heatstroke, freezing


Cons:
Combat is atrocious
NPC models move and rubber band in awful manner
Easy to exploit pathing bugs and issues with large monsters
I've died from crappy pathing

Cryomatrix
Post edited by Cryomatrix on
YashaX
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Comments

  • SEANMCADSEANMCAD Houston, TXMember EpicPosts: 15,966
    I think evaluating an entire genre by using one game is not a good idea.


    waynejr2Tokkenalkarionlog

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  • IselinIselin Vancouver, BCMember LegendaryPosts: 10,142
    I have tried several and I'm always annoyed by the same thing: despite its realism (or rather, lack thereof...see below,) the constant search for food and drink feels just like annoying busy work to me. And most survival games overdo the need and underdo the yield when you gather or hunt to a huge extent.

    If it wasn't for that, I'd love the exploration, building, etc. in a sandbox.

    Give me a survival game that abstracts the need to eat and drink and I'll play it.
    KyleranimmodiumLoke666YashaX
    Ah, you've been with the professors and they've all liked your looks
    With great lawyers you have discussed lepers and crooks
    You've been through all of F. Scott Fitzgerald's books
    You're very well-read, it's well-known
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    Do you, Mr. Jones?
  • KyleranKyleran Paradise City, FLMember LegendaryPosts: 26,652
    Iselin said:
    I have tried several and I'm always annoyed by the same thing: despite its realism (or rather, lack thereof...see below,) the constant search for food and drink feels just like annoying busy work to me. And most survival games overdo the need and underdo the yield when you gather or hunt to a huge extent.

    If it wasn't for that, I'd love the exploration, building, etc. in a sandbox.

    Give me a survival game that abstracts the need to eat and drink and I'll play it.
    Going way back to 2010, Xyson was clearly an ancestor to the modern survival game.  I gave it a go on someone’s recommendation here and one memory that sticks out is how annoying it was to have to spend far too much time eating and drinking or finding them in game.

    i think one reason these games have so much of it is they really lack content so Devs have to do what they can to keep players busy and entertained,


    YashaXStjerneodd

    "I need to finish" - Christian Wolff: The Accountant

    On hiatus from EVE Online since Dec 2016 - CCP continues to wander aimlessly

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  • sunandshadowsunandshadow Pittsburgh, PAMember UncommonPosts: 1,692
    edited November 10
    Kyleran said:
    Iselin said:
    I have tried several and I'm always annoyed by the same thing: despite its realism (or rather, lack thereof...see below,) the constant search for food and drink feels just like annoying busy work to me. And most survival games overdo the need and underdo the yield when you gather or hunt to a huge extent.

    If it wasn't for that, I'd love the exploration, building, etc. in a sandbox.

    Give me a survival game that abstracts the need to eat and drink and I'll play it.
    Going way back to 2010, Xyson was clearly an ancestor to the modern survival game.  I gave it a go on someone’s recommendation here and one memory that sticks out is how annoying it was to have to spend far too much time eating and drinking or finding them in game.

    i think one reason these games have so much of it is they really lack content so Devs have to do what they can to keep players busy and entertained,


    This is why I prefer soft-survival or survival-lite games like A Tale In The Desert where you can't actually die, and instead food is used for purposes beyond staying alive.  (Though, I hate the cooking system actually.  Having a food's stats change based on how much of it people eat across the server is insane.)  But, I do think the game could have required people to eat fruit or one of the other easily-obtained foods for survival without it being too annoying or difficult for newbies.

    ATITD and Wurm are basically the ancestors of Xsyon.  Aside from the problem that they have no combat and terrible combat, respectively, and thus no monster-hunting PvE or dungeon runs to farm boss drops, these three games have lots of gathering and crafting content.

    The Harvest Moon series and its descendants like Stardew Valley are also good examples to look at for survival-lite gameplay which includes gathering, growing crops, caring for livestock, and cooking.
    Post edited by sunandshadow on
    I want to help design and develop a PvE-focused, solo-friendly, sandpark MMO which combines crafting, monster hunting, and story.  So PM me if you are starting one.
  • cronius77cronius77 Fairfax, VAMember UncommonPosts: 1,613
    These games stem from minecraft not xyson , xyson was just a horrible version of wurm online. Conan Exiles is in early access, missing half its features, not polished or optimized, and filled with bugs. So its very hard to give any real opinion on a half finished product. The only game of this genre to leave EA so far is ARK that's similar to CE. Sandbox survival is about building and socializing or pvp if you prefer to play on a pvp server. The solo experience is only going to get you so far before you run out of things to do or build. CE does a better job imo of at least adding in dungeons and mmorpg lite features like thralls etc. The only way to really have longevity solo playing survival games is the modding community. But if you enjoy pvp then these games offer much more than your average mmorpg will ever do for pvp and politics of players.

    You should try out ARK if you want a rendition of a mostly finished survival game. Though I think in the end CE will be much better and more fun than ARK. ARK has a huge amount of mods though for it to play solo though you cant play them online unless you find a server running mods you enjoy.
    laseritYashaX
  • Stayn2010Stayn2010 Member UncommonPosts: 11
    Survival game....requiring finding food and drink in order to survive....go figure...

    LOL @Kyleran it's a core dynamic of a SURVIVAL game.

    If it is not a core dynamic, then it is NOT a survival game.
  • sunandshadowsunandshadow Pittsburgh, PAMember UncommonPosts: 1,692
    Stayn2010 said:
    Survival game....requiring finding food and drink in order to survive....go figure...

    LOL @Kyleran it's a core dynamic of a SURVIVAL game.

    If it is not a core dynamic, then it is NOT a survival game.
    What a narrow point of view.  :/
    YashaX
    I want to help design and develop a PvE-focused, solo-friendly, sandpark MMO which combines crafting, monster hunting, and story.  So PM me if you are starting one.
  • LerxstLerxst Phx, AZMember UncommonPosts: 629
    Most survival games reach a point where the word becomes meaningless. It's like meeting up with friends:

    Me: Let's play a game!
    Friend: Great idea. What game?
    Me: It's called breathe. All you have to do is breathe.
    5 minutes later, everyone's breathing... we all win!

    Most survival games don't scale with the difficulty of the player and/or lack mechanics that make longer term survival increasingly difficult.

    Two games that do alright, but still have some issues are Project Zomboid and 7 Days to Die.

    In the first, different environmental changes occur that make it more and more difficult to survive. In the second, the enemies strength and numbers increase, making it more difficult to survive their threat.
    YashaX
  • NildenNilden Canada, NBMember RarePosts: 2,261
    Well I've played many survival games. From DayZ to ARK, 7 Days to Die, Empyrion Galactic survival, Citadel:Forged in Fire, and many more.

    The biggest thing I think they could do for the genre is make it actual MMO because almost all of these games do not have servers over 70 players. So I agree completely. I would also add that the maps are usually large but not huge or planet sized. I think having huge worlds along with huge massively multiplayer servers would be very appealing.

    All in all I would say even with a huge amount of them in early access survival games are doing fine and could use some improvements. One only has to look at the sales and popularity of Rust, H1Z1, ARK, Day Z, and others to realize many people enjoy these games.

    This is really where the whole it's not an MMO argument comes into play.

    If I google "survival mmo" I get https://mmos.com/games/survival as the first match, but the only one I think might be an actual MMO is Tree of Life. Everything else is 70 players or under.

    Then you run into reviews where some problems seem pretty evident...

    http://store.steampowered.com/app/361800/Tree_of_Life/#app_reviews_hash

    "this game would be fun if the servers where more like ark. the game is quite fun, but it really sucks when you start as a new player and alot of player are already "fortified" their base near the new player area the map is HUGE but most of the people are already building their empire where you spawn. Since there are no server wipe because of limited servers you have to put alot of crap when starting a new game. i rarely make a review of a game but i was hoping so much out of it it kiled the game when my smal ittsy bittsy base which i byuld with a friend got wipe cleanly out of existence. al in all if you have more then 5 friends playing the game buy it if not dont, you ned people for this game i am frankly not a people person."

    "The store page makes it looks like it's PvP optional. It is not. The entire map is PvP, meaning even in the starter area a max level enemy can pop and kill you as you spawn in the world. Even if one chooses to stay in the relative protection of the starter area with a max level camp, it can be invaded and destroyed. "

    Plus complaints about cheats and exploits, which really need to be killed as fast as they happen. Plus bugs and all the other early access stuff.

    I would say an actual polished Survival MMO is pretty much an untapped market at this point.


    YashaX

    "classification of games into MMOs is not by rational reasoning" - nariusseldon
    Love Minecraft. And check out my Youtube channel OhCanadaGamer


  • RelampagoRelampago Brooklyn, NYMember UncommonPosts: 275
    They won't survive...sorry I had to.
    Kyleran
  • iixviiiixiixviiiix GSMember UncommonPosts: 1,436
    Survival games need a reason for player to survival
  • DMKanoDMKano Gamercentral, AKMember LegendaryPosts: 16,945
    I can only speak for myself - the majority of survival games just have features and mechanics that just piss me off:

    - punching bushes, trees for hours to gather berries, food and resources - I can't stand this 

    - building your base/house for safety - only to realize that there's an exploit where other players can completely destroy our hard work or just clip through walls and kill you anyway - this is a problem in almost every survival game

    - general hacking and exploits - again complete buzzkill

    - so the answer to exploits - private servers fragment the population and make the game feel "tiny" as you can be in game with like a dozen other players

    - shallow gameplay - 7DTD is an exception - but most others are just really shallow games


    ConstantineMeruscameltosisHeretiqueYashaX
  • ConstantineMerusConstantineMerus LondonMember RarePosts: 1,248
    DMKano said:
    I can only speak for myself - the majority of survival games just have features and mechanics that just piss me off:

    - punching bushes, trees for hours to gather berries, food and resources - I can't stand this 

    - building your base/house for safety - only to realize that there's an exploit where other players can completely destroy our hard work or just clip through walls and kill you anyway - this is a problem in almost every survival game

    - general hacking and exploits - again complete buzzkill

    - so the answer to exploits - private servers fragment the population and make the game feel "tiny" as you can be in game with like a dozen other players

    - shallow gameplay - 7DTD is an exception - but most others are just really shallow games


    For hacking and exploits, I play them on consoles. But punching the bushes man, punching the fucking bushes...
    DMKano
    Have you ever noticed that their stuff is shit and your shit is stuff?
  • DarkswormDarksworm Member UncommonPosts: 470
    edited November 10
    Misread Thread Title

    .: Disregard :.
    Post edited by Darksworm on
  • KyleranKyleran Paradise City, FLMember LegendaryPosts: 26,652
    Stayn2010 said: nu
    Survival game....requiring finding food and drink in order to survive....go figure...

    LOL @Kyleran it's a core dynamic of a SURVIVAL game.

    If it is not a core dynamic, then it is NOT a survival game.
    And there I thought the core dynamic was zombies eating everyone.

    I get the food and water concept,  but I'd like to see a game where it was not annoying.

    In Xyson, I had to stop what I was doing about every 10 min, run down to river, and literally "drink" for like 30 seconds or so. 

    Quickly started to feel like an eternity.
    ConstantineMerusDMKano

    "I need to finish" - Christian Wolff: The Accountant

    On hiatus from EVE Online since Dec 2016 - CCP continues to wander aimlessly

    In my day MMORPG's were so hard we fought our way through dungeons in the snow, uphill both ways.

    Don't just play games, inhabit virtual worlds™
    "This is the most intelligent, well qualified and articulate response to a post I have ever seen on these forums. It's a shame most people here won't have the attention span to read past the second line." - Anon




  • DMKanoDMKano Gamercentral, AKMember LegendaryPosts: 16,945
    edited November 10
    Kyleran said:
    Stayn2010 said: nu
    Survival game....requiring finding food and drink in order to survive....go figure...

    LOL @Kyleran it's a core dynamic of a SURVIVAL game.

    If it is not a core dynamic, then it is NOT a survival game.
    And there I thought the core dynamic was zombies eating everyone.

    I get the food and water concept,  but I'd like to see a game where it was not annoying.

    In Xyson, I had to stop what I was doing about every 10 min, run down to river, and literally "drink" for like 30 seconds or so. 

    Quickly started to feel like an eternity.

    What the devs of survival games need to do is watch those "naked and afraid" or other survival shows on TV.

    People can go without food and water way longer than 15 minutes. 

    Also I am yet to see anyone punch trees, bushes and shrubs in a survival situation.


    Post edited by DMKano on
    YashaX
  • SEANMCADSEANMCAD Houston, TXMember EpicPosts: 15,966
    My thought on Survival games is this.

    Before survial games pretty much all games involved 1. get a gun 2. shot the gun. 3. advance to the next level to shot more guns. There were some variations on theme in that like for some it was a sword instead of a gun. Some had you get gear for your armour and shoes, some had cosmetic items, and some had mysteries to solve but for the most part the entire game is kill something, move on kill something.

    Survival games have that PLUS...building and crafting.

    Please do not respond to me, even if I ask you a question, its rhetorical.

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  • SovrathSovrath Boston Area, MAMember LegendaryPosts: 23,040
    edited November 10


    Down below is a quick review of Conan Exiles

    Pros: 
    Good graphics
    Good crafting and building capability
    Thrall system is nice (basically enslave NPC's)
    The world is immersive, I like the lore, makes me want to see the old Conan movies
    Religion system is nice
    Night, day, sandstorm, heatstroke, freezing


    Cons:
    Combat is atrocious
    NPC models move and rubber band in awful manner
    Easy to exploit pathing bugs and issues with large monsters
    I've died from crappy pathing

    Cryomatrix
    Thanks for the shout out.

    Sounds to me like the cons are pretty much a technical issue on their side and not really "the game" with the exception of the "now what".

    I actually love the building thing (interesting that when I usually hate crafting in mmo's) and for me that is an end in and of itself.

    It could be fun to get a small group together and be cooperative for most of the week but have a pvp event where one group has an objective (destroy x in a stronghold) before the other group does the same to you.

    I love this genre because you are given tools and your community can decide how these games are played.

    Or at least the person running the server.

    As for D.M. Kano's complaint about punching bushes that's just him be literal. You are not "punching bushes" so much as just gathering. The dev's haven't (and I don't know why) figured out that it's ok to make animations for gathering.




    Post edited by Sovrath on



  • cameltosiscameltosis ipswichMember EpicPosts: 1,639
    My answer is based on pure speculation - I've only played State of Decay, no other "survival" games, so all I have to go on is my research into games plus other peoples reviews and opinions. 


    It seems to me that survival games are still stuck in an experimental phase. We had the initial "proof of concept" from some of the early survival games, now loads of people have jumped on board and everyone is experimenting with their own mechanics. 

    You need to survive the elements - food, water, warmth, shelter
    You need to survive the environment - bears, wolves, dinosaurs
    You need to survive other players

    Then you've got tons of experimentation - different levels of crafting, all sorts of settings from high fantasy through to modern day. Some are hosted p2p matches, others are private servers, some are centralised servers. Some are persistent, some end as soon as a match does. Some have progression, some dont. 


    This seems like a good time to be into survival games as you have a ton of choice, not just in terms of aesthetics but about actual gameplay within the genre. It looks, from an outsiders point of view, as if the genre is in a similar state to the early days of MMOs. 


    What hasn't happened (yet) is a clear winner emerging. No one design paradigm has come out on top. This means that the top developers are still largely staying away from the genre, so we're missing a lot of the depth and polish that the massive studies can bring. 

    Part of this is because (again, based on other peoples reviews and opinions) no game has perfected their game loop. The whole genre seems to be built around very short game loops - either the duration of a single match, or simply your typical actions when in game. They all seem to start off great and you love the world and the mechanics, but 1 week later you realise you are just repeating the same 15minutes to 1hour game loop over and over, but that game loop isn't that exciting. 

    I believe this fundamental issue of the gameloop is down to a lot of survival games focusing on crafting. Yes, we all enjoy deep crafting systems and it's great to see them being developed further, but the actual minute to minute fun has always been missing. There are very few people that actually enjoy the gathering and crafting process, the enjoyment comes from receiving the crafted goods at the end. But when you're crafting the same items every game, that enjoyment diminishes. 



    So, for the future of the survival genre, I believe we'll see another year or two of experimentation. If, during that time, one game can establish an awesome gameloop that really takes off then the genre will move into the polishing stage. Big devs will get involved, the genre will become mainstream and we'll see concepts bleeding into other genres. However, if no winning formula can be found, the genre will become oversaturated with almost-good indie attempts and eventually the public will get tired and move onto the next fad. 
    YashaX
  • nightraidernightraider pittsburgh, PAMember UncommonPosts: 22
    In every survival game I've played the difficulty was the hardest at the very beginning and got gradually easier till the end where it was easymode boring.  Once you have and can craft all the best items, have the map explored, know exactly where to get all resources easily, etc. there is no longer any challenge. Aside from the occasional content update/DLC, long-term playability just isn't there.


  • SEANMCADSEANMCAD Houston, TXMember EpicPosts: 15,966
    In every survival game I've played the difficulty was the hardest at the very beginning and got gradually easier till the end where it was easymode boring.  Once you have and can craft all the best items, have the map explored, know exactly where to get all resources easily, etc. there is no longer any challenge. Aside from the occasional content update/DLC, long-term playability just isn't there.


    I would say that is true. However, I would also say its likely true for most single players games across the board and for that matter some MMOs.
    Kyleran

    Please do not respond to me, even if I ask you a question, its rhetorical.

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  • Octagon7711Octagon7711 Chicago, ILMember EpicPosts: 5,959
    SEANMCAD said:
    In every survival game I've played the difficulty was the hardest at the very beginning and got gradually easier till the end where it was easymode boring.  Once you have and can craft all the best items, have the map explored, know exactly where to get all resources easily, etc. there is no longer any challenge. Aside from the occasional content update/DLC, long-term playability just isn't there.


    I would say that is true. However, I would also say its likely true for most single players games across the board and for that matter some MMOs.
    They need a difficulty slider with loot to match.

    "Change is the only constant."

  • SEANMCADSEANMCAD Houston, TXMember EpicPosts: 15,966
    SEANMCAD said:
    In every survival game I've played the difficulty was the hardest at the very beginning and got gradually easier till the end where it was easymode boring.  Once you have and can craft all the best items, have the map explored, know exactly where to get all resources easily, etc. there is no longer any challenge. Aside from the occasional content update/DLC, long-term playability just isn't there.


    I would say that is true. However, I would also say its likely true for most single players games across the board and for that matter some MMOs.
    They need a difficulty slider with loot to match.
    however I am suggesting that the same problem exists across the board in all kinds of single player games and even some MMOs.

    A single player game having more than 100 hours of play time used to be rather uncommon I would think

    Please do not respond to me, even if I ask you a question, its rhetorical.

    Please do not respond to me

  • Octagon7711Octagon7711 Chicago, ILMember EpicPosts: 5,959
    SEANMCAD said:
    SEANMCAD said:
    In every survival game I've played the difficulty was the hardest at the very beginning and got gradually easier till the end where it was easymode boring.  Once you have and can craft all the best items, have the map explored, know exactly where to get all resources easily, etc. there is no longer any challenge. Aside from the occasional content update/DLC, long-term playability just isn't there.


    I would say that is true. However, I would also say its likely true for most single players games across the board and for that matter some MMOs.
    They need a difficulty slider with loot to match.
    however I am suggesting that the same problem exists across the board in all kinds of single player games and even some MMOs.

    A single player game having more than 100 hours of play time used to be rather uncommon I would think
    Perhaps they could do that on Thursdays? :smiley:

    "Change is the only constant."

  • SovrathSovrath Boston Area, MAMember LegendaryPosts: 23,040
    Kyleran said:
    Stayn2010 said: nu
    Survival game....requiring finding food and drink in order to survive....go figure...

    LOL @Kyleran it's a core dynamic of a SURVIVAL game.

    If it is not a core dynamic, then it is NOT a survival game.
    And there I thought the core dynamic was zombies eating everyone.

    I get the food and water concept,  but I'd like to see a game where it was not annoying.

    In Xyson, I had to stop what I was doing about every 10 min, run down to river, and literally "drink" for like 30 seconds or so. 

    Quickly started to feel like an eternity.
    That's my issue with, for example, skyrim's survival mode. Whether it's done by the company or it's a player mod.

    You have to eat every 10 minutes or so and while I understand why they do it (they have it pinned to how the days and nights move in the game) it should be more in line with play session.

    "We" experience time at our own pace so having to eat/drink pinned to some artificial game time just doesn't seem to work.
    immodium



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