Saturday, January 28, 2017

But I Digress... The Hunger Game

By Cat

This week I want to share with you one of my new favorite games. It’s been around a while, in its various incarnations; but it just hit my radar within the last few weeks. Don’t Starve Together (DST) has to be one of the most hilariously frustrating and enjoyable games I’ve played in a long while.

I even get warm fuzzy nostalgic feelings, because it reminds me of games I played at my dad’s many years ago (late 80s – early 90s) – the Space Quest and King’s Quest series by Sierra Entertainment. I didn’t play all of them but the few I did, I remember fondly. It was always fun to figure out all the hilariously horrible ways to die.

Fun with Frog Rain, Gameplay with Selina in her world. (The pile of skeletons was me.)
Don’t Starve is a lot like that – it’s a dark fantasy focused on character survival. Characters must pit themselves against the wilderness, which is brutal even in its easiest settings. The original game had an adventure element with plot content. The lore of the game world unfolded and various characters unlocked as you progressed towards facing the bad guy.

Since, the game’s creator, Klei Entertainment, has expanded the Don’t Starve experience with DLC. You can participate in Reign of Giants, where absolutely enormous and cantankerous monsters spawn into the world; or you can choose the Shipwrecked option where you travel from land to land on rafts as you face dangers both on land and at sea. 

The version Selina introduced me to is Don’t Starve Together. This version of the game provides a multiplayer option and uses the Reign of Giants framework.  Collaboration is the key in boosting your survival chances!

Promo art from Klei featuring Giant called Deerclops

Here’s the best part, though – the game is fully customizable. You can host a server for your friends or open it up to the public. You can even run solo. Absolutely everything can be tweaked in the world generation settings. You decide if you want the potential of giant monsters stomping your base or not, certain types of regular world critters and resources, and even which seasons you are willing to endure. There’s always the option of leaving everything to default settings and playing vanilla, too. 

There are fifteen core characters for the collective Don’t Starve. All but the characters unique to the Shipwrecked are available in DST, so you don’t have to add any of that type of modification if you enjoy one of those. Each character comes with perks and also weaknesses. My favorite is Webber, the spider-guy. Spiders love me, but everything else pretty much attacks or runs away. Bonus? I can eat almost anything. (Take that, Wigfrid the carnivore! No, seriously, that character can ONLY eat meat. I died SO many times.)

Steam’s Workshop is also a source of game mods that are absolutely free to use. Mod creators have crafted all sorts of goodies that can either make your Don’t Starve experience easier – or harder.

There are custom characters, such as Selina’s favorite, Felicia by Tovath & foxel. The red-headed character mod was modeled after Felicia Day (The Guild, Supernatural, Con Man). You can add, remove, or augment things from your world beyond what the standard world creation settings allow.

I’ve enjoyed playing the game both in its default vanilla state, and running mods. Some might think that a lot of the mods unbalance the game, but let me tell you – this game offers nonstop challenge regardless of how many benefits you give yourself (within reason). 

Keep in mind, however, that subscribing to the mods will increase your memory usage while running the game. You might check your system specs before you add any. This also impacts load time. You will wait longer on the outset for your world to generate and even to resume your game if you have a lot of mods running.

It’s also a good idea to read the comments for the mods you’re considering. Some mods can cause other aspects of your game to stop working or can cause your game to crash due to buggy code or coding conflicts. You can generally see if someone’s complaining about such things before you choose to subscribe. Remember – the more mods you add, the harder it is to figure out which ones might be causing issues.

Left: Seasonal Mod | Right: Event Year of the Gobbler Loading Screen

Some of my favorites are Spring Festival Pack by lunarDust & leonie, Ultimate Tool by nkiy, DST PickyPickyPicky [FIXED WITH CAVES] by Wyvernal & Afro1967, 45 Inventory Slots by M.Y, Increase Storage by Luis95R, Persistent Compass HUD by Pixxaddict, Extra Equip Slots by NubsPixel, Chester Recipe by MrSaturn, Minimap HUD by squeek, Pickle It by Xaben, Mineable Gems by star, Increased Stack Size by ChaosMind42, Birds and Berries and Trees and Flowers for Friends by Underwear Apprentice, More Actions by Isosurface, [DST] Storeroom by MrM, Personal Chesters by Dragon Wolf Leo, Invincible Chester by Golden Heart, and Item Info by Ryuu.

My little base-in-progress on my personal server

I’ve found that there’s a lot of trial and error in discovering what works best for the DST experience you’d most enjoy. I like to collect shiny cool things so these mods are great for me. For example, I added Personal Chester; but then was dismayed when every spider and other monster I came across would attack the durn thing. Invincible Chester was the only thing that kept me from tearing out my hair without giving up the cute little hopping pet chest/dog/pumpkin thing.  I tried to use a new ice backpack recently but found that when trying to craft a regular backpack, it caused me to disconnect. 

The most horrific and funny experience I’ve had with a mod recently would have to be the “More In Tumbleweed.” Tumbleweeds in the game are rolling grab bags of materials. You can get grass, twigs, random food drops, useless junk, tools, and even surprise monsters. This mod increases your chances of finding cool stuff in the roaming combustible weeds – the tradeoff is that there is equally an increased chance of monsters. This mod is not configurable to raise or lower any of the percentages, either. You could literally get ANY monster as you open these terrifying tufts – even if you have that monster disabled in your world/server settings. How do I know this? I suddenly had crazy things chasing me – like a giant cranky living evergreen tree, blow-gun wielding walrus people, killer bees, clockwork chess pieces, and giant bunnies of doom that instantly tag-teamed me into death (because they don’t like spiders). Needless to say, I don’t use that one anymore.

Left: Tentacle attacking koalefant by spider nest in swamp | Right: How to kill killer bees? WITH FIRE!
Gameplay with my friend, Leo.

Just for fun, here’s a video of YouTube star, Markiplier (SMOSH: The Movie, Scare PewDiePie, Gamer's Guide to Pretty Much Everything), running afoul of a treeguard (the giant living evergreen tree monster).

This is an epic game for low cost ($15.00 on Steam), and I would highly recommend it. How long will you survive? 

If you would like more information on the game and/or how to play, you can find the fan-maintained wikia here. There are also many threads on Reddit that offer discussion and tips such as here.

Left to right: Selina's Felicia character, my Webber character

But I Digress... is a new weekly column for that can't be pinned down to just one thing. It's Cat's celebration of tangents, random references, and general fan geekdom that both intertwines with, revolves around, and diverges from our movie-review core. In homage to the beloved Brit comedians, we want to bring you something completely different!

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