back to article The revival of survival – the gaming genre that refuses to die

In these times of austerity it seems ironic that my free time is being taken up with trying to survive death by hunger and cold. Next I'll be nicked for dumpster diving behind Iceland. I am, of course, in the grips of day 48 of Don't Starve, a perfect gem in the rash of survival games popping up on Steam. Early Access on Steam …

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  1. JDX Gold badge

    Expensive

    Paying for beta access isn't that new, and I don't mind the idea. But you should be paying a fraction of the full price and £20-26 is quite expensive even for a finished indie game. You're supposed to be incentivised to play pre-release by getting it cheap, or getting free life-access to pay-subscription features.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Expensive

      People spend a LOT more than that on games that don't exist as alpha via kickstarter. I myself spent £150 on the E:D kickstarter, and that did not even give me Alpha access..

      Sure it's the only full game I've put money on for years (well except buying a few Team17 classics they released for Android, Alien Breed & Worms, child hood revisited right there!!)

      1. Miek
        Linux

        Re: Expensive

        Arma3 alpha was £19.99 when I bought it, the release price is £39.99. These games add a lot of features before launch and are often worth paying £15-20 for the early access versions. DayZ was also (or still is) £19.99 and will be quite feature rich on full release.

        In contrast, the release version of Battlefield 4 (Digital Deluxe) is £54.99 as a digital download and the add-on "Premium" expansion is £39.99. There were no discounts for pre-orders or early-access.

        1. JDX Gold badge

          Re: Expensive

          Battlefield 4 is in a whole different league to these games though.

          1. Peter2 Silver badge

            Re: Expensive

            Is it?

            Ok, the production values are through the roof and they have lots of well done maps etc but if you take the time spent playing an indie game and an AAA release and divide the cost of the game by the number of hours spent enjoying them both then the results can easily come out with the AAA game taking second place to indie titles.

          2. Miek
            Linux

            Re: Expensive

            "Battlefield 4 is in a whole different league to these games though." -- Yeah, the bottom of the division. Leave it to EA to ruin a great franchise. EA rushed DICE (so the story goes) to market with BF4 approx 6 months earlier than they were ready. On the whole, BF4 is the most unpolished, poorly implemented and virtually untested game I have /*ever*/ played, including my own simple endeavours recreating Space Invaders et all for my Android phone.

            EDIT: "Have they fixed the sound bug in BF4 yet?" -- Sort of, I believe they may have partially cured the loss of sound on Hainan Resort, in particular when in a vehicle, BUT, they have now introduced that same sound bug into other game modes, without vehicles. I hear (lol) TDM is particularly affected by this.

    2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: Expensive

      Some early access games on Steam even come down in price as they get closer to release. Generally these are games that were initially funded on Kickstarter, have subsequently been added to Steam's early access program, and thus use the original Kickstarter pricing structure to be fair to their original backers. This seems perfectly fair to me but that doesn't stop entitled idiots on the Steam forums from ranting about how they're being ripped off (before they've even purchased it, natch). I wonder whether you're serious when you suggest that you should only have to pay "a fraction" of the final price for a game that's released while it's in beta.

      In Australia, AAA games often sell for more than $100 in stores, even the ones that have five hours of gameplay and no replayability. $40 indie titles that were made by people who love making games don't sound so bad any more do they?

      Ultimately the way they run their pricing structure is their business. If you don't think it's good value, don't pay for it. I value games by the enjoyment I get out of them, not who made them or how much money went into their production.

      1. Hellcat

        Re: Expensive

        Have they fixed the sound bug in BF4 yet? That felt like a game that was released to a deadline - regardless of how finished it was.

        I've had significantly more enjoyment out of the free to play War Thunder, even if it is still officially in beta.

  2. Khaptain Silver badge

    Why Zombies

    If there is one thing detestable in games, it is Zombies. I honestly can't think of anything less appealing that shooting something that is already dead ( well half-dead). The Zombies don't have guns, don't shoot back and are generally unintelligent.... They play the role of mere cannon fodder.

    Or are they used solely on the premise that the games companies are "relieved" from the responsability that "Shooting games result in real world scenario shootings" ? Sorry guys but Zombies look a helluva lot like people to me.... ( just not very healthy ones)

    How about a game where the targets are the silly law makers, the corrupt politicians and the thieving bankers. No, I am not putting all law makers, politicians and bankers into the same cart, just the bad ones....

    1. auburnman

      Re: Why Zombies

      "How about a game where the targets are the silly law makers, the corrupt politicians and the thieving bankers. No, I am not putting all law makers, politicians and bankers into the same cart, just the bad ones...."

      You're looking for Assassin's Creed. Or possibly Watch Dogs when it comes out.

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: Why Zombies

        Watch Dogs looks promising, it even has an IT theme. If the game really is as good as the video then it will become a must play... Hopefully there won't be too much travelling/driving about which tends to get really tedious.

        Assassins Creed was just far too boring.. Eternally repeating the same missions, shame because some of the places were superb.

      2. RyokuMas Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Why Zombies

        +1 for opinion of zombies in games. Would be +10000 if I could.

        Zombies are to indies what sequels are to AAA.

      3. dssf

        Re: Why Zombies Politicians.... hehehe

        Player: (holding blood-soaked axe over head of bureacrat) THSI IS WWHAT YOU GET FOR ALLOCATINGG AND APPROVING $350,000 FOR A TWO-SEAT, HALF-LENGTH MONKEYBAR, 3/4-SIZE MERRY-GO-ROUND, NO-SANDPIT PARK IN A NEIGHBORHOOD WITH NO KIDS!

        Polidician: (simpering, pleading pussianically) BUT I WAS PAAAAYED TO DO IT. I'M NOT RESPONSIBLE...

        Player:

    2. foxyshadis

      Sir, You Are Being Hunted

      You want a survival horror game without zombies, see the title. It's so cruel and unforgiving it gave me bad weather on the brain, though, every moment of helplessness and crushed hope distilled into a game.

      1. Boothy

        Re: Sir, You Are Being Hunted

        @ foxyshadis

        Thanks for that, not heard of it before, will check it out.

        1. Khaptain Silver badge

          Re: Sir, You Are Being Hunted

          @ foxyshadis

          Never heard of this either, it reminds me a little of Alone in the Dark...

          Tweedpunk Stealth ( quite original if I say say old chap)...

      2. Ian 55

        Re: Sir, You Are Being Hunted

        It's quite fabulous on so many levels, and the only one I was prepared to pay money for (albeit in a Humble Store sale).

        If the (Bath-based) developers are reading this, implement slow motion for those of us without the reflexes and mouse control of a teenager :)

    3. NomNomNom

      Re: Why Zombies

      "I honestly can't think of anything less appealing that shooting something that is already dead"

      how do you kill something that's already dead?

      "How about a game where the targets are the silly law makers, the corrupt politicians and the thieving bankers. No, I am not putting all law makers, politicians and bankers into the same cart, just the bad ones...."

      Thing about zombies is they are easy to code AI for because they are mindless.

    4. auburnman

      Re: Why Zombies

      The big problem in the game industry is bandwagoning. Zombies are here at the minute because x years ago one of the zombie games came out and at the time it was fresh and new. All the game companies pounced on it and now even though lots of people are sick of zombies the industry hasn't really got the message yet. It will eventually die off when the new bandwagon comes along, like the WW2 shooter glut from years ago died when Modern Warfare became the new hit thing.

    5. Hellcat

      Re: Why Zombies

      Spent another hour last night playing Left 4 Dead. Perhaps one of my favourite co-operative games I own. Yes they're zombies... but it's far from boring.

  3. Crisp Silver badge

    Early Access

    Otherwise known as: Buy our half finished game for full price now!

    Don't Starve implemented this well, with frequent updates and a game that looks sort of finished now.

    Kerbal Space Program.... I'm still waiting on biomes past Minimus, not to mention kerbalnaut training, and for them to finish off career mode.

    I don't think I'll let myself get burned like that again.

    1. Ashton Black's Alt.

      Re: Early Access

      Agreed. I made the mistake of buying into Godus. Been on 40% complete for quite some time now.

      On the subject of Kerbal, the modding community, has extended this game, for me, without them, I don't think I'd still be playing.

      1. NomNomNom

        Re: Early Access

        "On the subject of Kerbal, the modding community, has extended this game, for me, without them, I don't think I'd still be playing."

        Yeah but I always found modding fragments the game. They can never quite cram the stuff in as well as the actual developers and then it all breaks when a new version comes out and has to be rejigged. Dunno I just feel that modding ends up creating some fragmented mess where you don't feel you are playing the same game anyone else is playing.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Early Access

          Game modding makes most of these sand box games... there's a ridiculous amount of stuff you can do in Kerbal - however I'm waiting till Career mode is fleshed out more. And why would you want to play the same game anyone else is playing, that's part of the fun. Then you can post your mod lists to other people and they can play them and you can play there mod list... it's all part of the online collaborative experience right?

          At least it has a career mode now. I don't mind Kerbal at least it's going somewhere.

    2. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Early Access

      And squad is about 10 guys working out of mexico city......including their new interns

      And they've been open and honest about , yes its a alpha stage game and unfinished, but everytime it goes through a version, the price goes up .

      So us lucky early adopters who played when the world consisted of Kerbin, the mun and bugger all else paid a tenner.... for another years work you're paying another tenner on top.

      <<<off to go blow up another contraption

      1. imanidiot Silver badge
        Gimp

        Re: Early Access

        I bought KSP a while ago and thorougly enjoy the hell out of it. Yes, its very rough around the edges, but it's still quite fun. The early version of career mode also reinvigorated my enjoyment of the game. Mucking about in Low Kerban Orbit after having all the doodads just available to you is a nice change of (s)pace.

        Fanboi icon: reasons are obivious I'd think :)

  4. Michael Habel Silver badge

    Remember Kids don't eat the Mushrooms

    But, this goes against the convention I learned as a Kid playing Mario Brothers...

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      "playing Mario Brothers"

      Yet you missed the bit where you suddenly appeared to be much larger than normal, head-butting bricks for money and throwing turtle shells around whilst dodging over-sized turtles with spikes on!

      "Remember Kids don't eat the Mushrooms unless you want to take an unexpected trip".

      tftfy

  5. jason 7

    How about a game called...1%?

    Where your job is to reduce the numbers of 1%'ers and the money they have gets redistributed to the 99% lifting them from poverty and eventual full slavery before it's too late?

    Too soon?

    1. Vociferous

      Re: How about a game called...1%?

      > Too soon?

      No, too dumb. I sympathize with the occupy movement, but just like with libertarians in environmental issues or religious rightwingers on anything science, it just seems you can't resist dragging your political propaganda into unrelated issues. Like, for instance, gaming.

      1. jason 7

        Re: How about a game called...1%?

        Ahhh yes and you also have to fight against the 1%'s brainwashed impoverished supporters bent on satisfying their masters needs in the hope they are dragged up from the pit.

        They never will though.

        1. jason 7

          Re: How about a game called...1%?

          However, to offer a balance game you can also choose to play as the 1%'s supporters.

          You get to take on the uprising using your AR-15, getting battery upgrades for your mobility scooter, refills for your breathing tanks and a supply of 'Diabeetus' medication that keeps you alive. If you fail the meds get taken away slowly till you die.

          Kickstarter here we come.....

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: How about a game called...1%?

      Where your job is to reduce the numbers of 1%'ers and the money they have gets redistributed to the 99% lifting them from poverty and eventual full slavery before it's too late?

      This game has been tried a few times before. There is the quadro pack, which includes all of the "Hitler", "Stalin", "Mao" and "Pol Pot" earliers successes. I especially like the add-ons where you can drive trains (look for 'Thomas the Gas Engine'). The versions of "Zimbabwe" and "Commandante Chavez" are rather lackluster (and frankly, the subtitles need a refresh), but more recent.

      1. jason 7
        Devil

        Re: How about a game called...1%?

        Fantastic! I look forward to the re-written Mantle enabled versions!

  6. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Windows

    Where is my S.T.A.L.K.E.R.?

    Ukrainian clusterfuck with special slavic/post-communist-industrial-wasteland tack!

    It's is still actually good after all those years (7 years already! time flies like a banana), once you apply the patch set (Zone Reclamation Project et al.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Where is my S.T.A.L.K.E.R.?

      Seconded. There's always have one of the three games installed on my PC. Interesting link.

    2. Vociferous

      Re: Where is my S.T.A.L.K.E.R.?

      > It's is still actually good after all those years

      Personally I feel STALKER: SHOC and STALKER: COP are still the best shooters released in the last 10 years. I recommend the OGSE mod, it fixes a lot of bugs, enables a lot of content that was cut from the original release because of time constraints, and updates the graphics to the same level as the Complete-mod, but without making the game easier like Complete.

  7. 1Rafayal

    Been playing DayZ quite a lot now. So far, I havent met anyone in the game who wont shoot you on site. The majority of the villages and towns seem to be permanently free of loot and the only piece of food I have found so far is a fresh orange in a cowshed.

    Still, looks like it could shape up to be a fairly interesting experience.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Coat

      " I havent met anyone in the game who wont shoot you on site"

      Perhaps you should find somewhere else?

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Early DayZ: 1,147,237 views on YouTube

        Back in the DayZ

        (Why do I know that video even exists? OMG what I am I doing with my life.)

        1. Vociferous

          Re: Early DayZ: 1,147,237 views on YouTube

          Haha that was hilarious, thanks for linking that!

        2. TimChuma

          Re: Early DayZ: 1,147,237 views on YouTube

          Was my gateway to watching all the ShackTac videos, they make watching gameplay videos on Youtube entertaining.

    2. South

      Once you find some gear the game becomes alot better. Just got an axe so i can now take out zombies. Havent bumped into another player yet in 14hrs of playing. The game was a grind at first for me but there is something special about it and this is only the alpha.

      Was happy to pay £19.99 to back it. If they accomplish half of what they are talking about, then this game is worth the investment. Not a fan of the whole zombies thing but this is alot more about survival. Its grity and you create your own stories around the most trivial of tasks.

      To get a feel for it, this is a great article.

      http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2014/01/22/the-saline-bandit-dayz-diary-part-one/

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Early??

    Don't you mean a late Dire Straights video?

  9. DrXym Silver badge

    Dwarf Fortress

    This is the game that spawned many of these survival titles, including Minecraft:

    http://www.bay12games.com/dwarves/

    It's basically a hideously complex open ended sandbox where you have to raise a colony of dwarves while they are assailed by the environments and various creatures..

    1. lurker

      Re: Dwarf Fortress

      Relevent, a study of the pursuit of 'fun' in dwarf fortress, in comparison to 'normal' and merely 'hardcore' games:

      http://dwarffortresswiki.org/images/4/40/FunComic.png

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Minecraft and Don't Starve are seminal products, maybe throw in Terraria (I havn't played ut "but I've been informed)...

    They also managed to release finished products...

    And more importantly they have massive communities creating mods and figuring out new ways to play (Minecraft again - it seems there is little that can't be achieved in this amazing gem.)

    The downside with early access is it's a crap shot and the game company may just vanish into the ether or not follow up on their stated goals. Or it may never leave early access, or you get bored of it before it does.

    Very much buyer beware.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    games & learning

    Gaming the System: Video Games as a Theoretical Framework for Instructional Design

    http://arxiv.org/abs/1401.6716

    Ian D. Beatty

    In order to facilitate analyzing video games as learning systems and instructional designs as games, we present a theoretical framework that integrates ideas from a broad range of literature. The framework describes games in terms of four layers, all sharing similar structural elements and dynamics: a micro-level game focused on immediate problem-solving and skill development, a macro-level game focused on the experience of the game world and story and identity development, and two meta-level games focused on building or modifying the game and on social interactions around it. Each layer casts gameplay as a co-construction of the game and the player, and contains three dynamical feedback loops: an exploratory learning loop, an intrinsic motivation loop, and an identity loop.

    Comments: Proposed for a conference paper presentation at the International Conference of the

  12. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Linux gaming

    I'm just shocked a lot of these not only "run on Linux" but are actually very playable.

    For the longest time, my selection of Linux games was 100 different versions of solitaire... then Minecraft showed up, and Kerbal Space program, and now Don't Starve.

    Heck, I don't even have an expensive 3rd party graphics card, just the integrated Intel HD4000. (granted, I do have to hand-patch KSP to get shadows...)

    1. Vociferous

      Re: Linux gaming

      > a lot of these not only "run on Linux" but are actually very playable

      I think it's a result of Valve's push to shift gaming from Windows to Linux. This is a process which will accelerate when the Steambox consoles are released.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Steam will be the #1 cause for Linux gaming to actually take off - if it ever does.

      And I do hope it does, because I would just love to let my Windows box finally die and be rid of all the endless OS quirks, the thrice-damned Registry and Microsoft thinking it knows what I want better than I do.

      Now all I need is to find a good Linux distro that has help files that are actually useful and a n00b guide that doesn't insult me for not being a Linux guru on the first day.

      1. Vociferous

        > Now all I need is to find a good Linux distro that has help files that are actually useful and a n00b guide that doesn't insult me for not being a Linux guru on the first day.

        Ah, yes, hm... The help/man files in Linux are rarely very useful, containing either way too little information or waaaay too much, but as long as you stick to a Debian-based distro (e.g. Ubuntu or Mint) then Google is your friend for any task you might want to do. Debian-based distros are compatible with each other, so programs and tips for Ubuntu works for Mint and the other way around.

        I also found it helped me a lot to make a textfile where I would cut & paste the tips I found on the net on things ranging from how to find files to how to resize a ZFS partition, because you're likely going to have to look them up several times.

        If you're going to run in emulation or on weak hardware, I'd recommend Mint with XFCE; if you've got a decent machine then I'd recommend Mint with Cinnamon. If you know Windows you'll find them both quite intuitive. I would not recommend Ubuntu, except for a dedicated server, the desktop is in my experience both unstable and unintuitive.

        As for the insulting attitude and e-peen contests, it's impossible to avoid if you ever get in any online Linux discussions, but you don't have to suffer it in everyday usage.

  13. W.O.Frobozz

    PvP

    Have always hated PvP since the days of Diablo and Ultima Online. While I enjoy a good 3d shooter deathmatch, PvP in anything else usually degenerates to cheaters or other associated @ssholes that wreck the experience. Wait, I just described Call of Duty...

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      I've hated PvP since Quake I.

      When I do play online, it is almost exclusively with my friends and people I personally know in Real Life (tm). Every time I can, I set up a private server with a good password, and only said gaming buddies have access to it. We have loads of fun.

      If we have to connect to a public server, we look for empty ones with bots. Nine times out of ten, when someone else connects to our game, it is some lame idiot who does crazy things or asshole things before leaving with some smarmy insult. Every once in a while, it is a good player who says nothing but thoroughly kicks our ass and we are left admiring how he did it. On top of that, he leaves after typing a "gg" for us to cherish.

      Doesn't make up for the idiots, though.

  14. NoOnions
    Happy

    Steam sale on 'Don't Starve' - Good timing El Reg!

    Spooky timing - Don't Starve is 60% off at £4.79 'mid-week' on Steam:

    http://store.steampowered.com/app/219740?snr=1_41_4__42

    Also, Gaming chums, the current bundle is great value...

    www.humblebundle.com

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Steam sale on 'Don't Starve' - Good timing El Reg!

      I do love humble bundle... the weekly deal this week is trash though.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Steam sale on 'Don't Starve' - Good timing El Reg!

        However! Paradox are selling EUIV for sod all in the humble store if you want the best grand strategy game ever made.

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: Steam sale on 'Don't Starve' - Good timing El Reg!

          Got it even cheaper (free) a week or so ago on PS+, just after the boys bought it off Steam.

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