This is just a brief overview of a game that I would like to be made in the future. There are probably games like it somewhere but this is mostly about what I would like to see all of in this game. The general premise of the game would be dinosaur survival. I'm a big fan of the Far Cry series and while I've been roaming the dense jungles in FC3 I can't help but think about a game where it's pretty much the same sort of geography but with dinosaurs. Below I'm just going to list the kinds of features that I think would be great in this kind of game. I choose a listing system because I think it would be easier than just trying to type it out in prose. Just to warn you, my spelling of dinosaur names may be atrocious but I'll try my best.
- One or two large islands with jungle terrain similar to that in Far Cry 3. If one island then it should be divided into territorial zones. For example, the T-Rex's inhabit the centre of the island near a large lake whereas the Raptors live in the more dense jungle to the west. Brachiosaurs roam the plains in the north along with Triceratops and Stegosaurus'. In the waters you can find various creatures such as Icthyosaurs, Pleisiosaurs and, if you are unlucky, the Liopleurodon. Pterosaurs inhabit the mountainous regions. Then there would be the more general dinosaurs that would live in all areas like Dilophosaurus, Hipsilophodon etc. This doesn't necessarily need to be restricted to Cretacious or the Jurassic periods. While I like things to be realistic, the very act of ramming humans and dinosaurs together to create this game could be explained in a way that would also allow dinosaurs from different periods to live together. Basically, a kind of Jurassic park kind of set up but instead as a reserve like Isla Sorna in the later movies.
- Lots of craft-able equipment such as bows, daggers, clothes, arrows, fire, tents etc. I'll provide a list of equipment along with their uses, even though some of them would be quite obvious.
- Plenty of Dinosaurs. A no brainer really.
- Either a good back story or none at all. I'm kind of torn up between this. I'm not sure whether I would prefer a good back story to keep the narrative going but with a large survival element taking place or whether there should be little to no story at all and the player is just thrown onto the island for little cause, kind of like what happens in minecraft, space engineers, rust, that kind of thing. Two concepts for stories that I've come up with are Ranger station and breadcrumb trail.
- Ranger station: The player is a ranger at one of the few ranger stations scattered across the island. These rangers are responsible for the welfare of the dinosaurs and frequently patrol the island looking out for injured or ill dinosaurs and try to help them. While the player is helping some dinosaurs people start arriving and trying to steal them or set up labs for unethical research on the dinosaurs. While they do this, mercs hired by whoever is doing it try and destroy the ranger stations, introducing the survival element where the player has to survive in the wild with the dinosaurs as well as ambushing merc patrols for food, medical supplies, weapons, ammo etc. The player could also decide how they were going to go about it, whether they were going to attack the patrols by luring dinosaurs in, stealthily steal what they want or just go in guns blazing. This could combine a little animal care kind of mini-games along with some standard shoot 'em up gameplay with the mercs. However, if this concept were to be followed then the devs would have to be careful not to spend too much time on either of these ideas and stick to the core concept of survival on the island. I'm not as fond of this idea as my other one but I think with some serious brainstorming and throwing some ideas around, a group of people could probably come up with something really great.
- Little to no back story: Sometimes the simpler angle works the best and while the previous concept might have some good stuff to play about with, particularly the raiding of merc camps, stealth etc, it might drift too far away from the survival aspect of what I would like to see in a game. In this concept, there could be no back story at all which would just leave the player in the wild on this dinosaur inhabited island, maybe in a location where there are very few of the more dangerous dinosaurs like raptors or rex's. You would start with maybe a couple of tools to get you going and you just have to build, hunt and hide to survive the vicious jungles. Quite a simple concept but I prefer the little back story variation. In this one the player would be dropped on the island, maybe through a plane crash or something that would give the player a reason to be there, but not enough so that the character is written for the player. This way the players can decide who their character is. One the island/s would be small abandoned research bases (maybe in the more dangerous parts to prevent players from just camping there all the time, at least until they are more established) which contain things like files, disks, recordings etc that paint a picture of what scientists were doing by creating these dinosaurs (Jurassic park esk).This way, the back story is there but the game isn't forcing the player to experience it at particular points and allows the players to form their own story. I think I like this concept the best because it doesn't completely remove humanity (although you'll still be alone), gives a reason for both the dinosaurs and the player to be on the island without a huge in depth storyline. It also allows the player to experience the story at their own pace.
- Needs. I think this is one of the more important features in a survival game. The player needs to eat, drink and sleep to stay alive, as well as avoiding the hungry nasties in the long grass. Obviously, we're not trying to rebuild the Sims in a prehistoric world (although that would be pretty good too) so there are limits. The system that was used in Fallout: New Vegas for the eat, drink and sleep was pretty decent but in that game it didn't work so well due to the ease in which one acquire the necessary items to reduce the meters. Also, they increased a little too slow.
- Food has to be harvested from plants such as berry bushes, fruit trees and some vegetables growing about the place. Make it so that there are also some poisonous foods that, while not going to far to kill you, can have some pretty disastrous effects such as increasing the food meter, lowering health or stamina, decrease damage or a number of other effects. Food can also be gained from the hunting of dinosaurs and other small animals that may inhabit the island. A dagger is a necessary tool for this as it would be required to cut the meat once the prey has been caught. There could also be a small element of scavenging, for example the player walks by a half eaten corpse that an Allosaurus left there and can cut away small bits of meat before the carnivore returns. Cooking can also be a feature. Meat needs to be cooked before it can be eaten and while the player may only have basic recipes to begin with such as grilled meat or plain fruit, later the player can unlock recipes which allow the cooking of meals like stews where meat, root veg and water are cooked in a pot to provide benefits to the player beyond merely filling up the hunger meter.
- Water is essential for the survival of the player. Water from the coast can be salt water and therefore either cannot be drunk or make it so that it can be gathered but needs to be purified through some tool technology acquired later in the game before it can be drunk. Water inland from streams and lakes can be collected with bowls or flasks to drink later. Later tech can allow water to be collected from rain and barrels to be made to store large amounts of water.
- Sleep isn't as essential as the previous two features but a lack of sleep can be represented by a reduction in strength, stamina, maybe even reduce the effective levels of technology the player can access. Eg. The player has level 3 of the tools tech tree unlocked (tech tree is entirely hypothetical at the moment in terms of levels etc.) and the player hasn't slept in two days and sleep deprivation has reduced concentration thus lowering the technology the player can actually use to level 2. Longer periods of sleep is even more detrimental to the levels of tech accessible. Sleep can be recovered through the use of beds and tents. The better quality the resting area the more sleep meter is lost per hour of sleep. eg. a leaf bed that you can make at the beginning of the game reduces the meter by 5 per hour whereas a bed roll in a tent reduces it by 15 per hour. This is to represent better quality sleep, if you are sleeping on rough ground you're not going to be as well rested as sleeping in a tent and sleeping bag.
- Dynamic weather that has an effect on the player. As well as having weather patterns such as rain and sun there is a form of temperature scale. Hot days with clear skies could make the thirst meter decrease faster and thus causing dehydration unless the player can get water regularly. Cold temperatures come with rain and can appear at night which is warded off with the use of camp fires, clothing and being inside buildings. Rain could work in conjunction with water collection tools which collect safe to drink rain water for putting into a flask. More rain = more water storage.
- Skills. Various crafting skills could be available. I've vaguely mentioned tech trees before and I don't really want to have an actual levelled tech tree which is unlocked by earning experience. I would prefer if the player either has to find recipes for tech designs in the world through either plane/boat wrecks or the abandoned research labs. However, the technology could still be graded on complexity (unseen by player) which works with the sleep deprivation feature.
- Stats/skills. Health and stamina are two things that should be there but I also think that stats/skills such as intelligence, strength, crafting, fishing, hunting, cooking etc, should be present that can be levelled up based on the actions of the player. These skills could be the determining factor for the tech tree. For example, the player does a lot of cooking and as a result their cooking skill increases (slowly, I don't want the skills able to be maxed out within a few hours of the game beginning. They must take time) which allows them to cook more ambitious things. Or crafting, as they get better they craft things quicker and can build more complex tools.
- Hard dinosaurs. I don't want a game where the player can suddenly become a master of death and can kill T-rex's with a bow and arrow. By all means, the bow could do serious damage if the player is very accurate and hits the right spot. But I would like that the player would have to use things like traps and poisons to be able to bring down the bigger beasties. The same with smaller creatures like Raptors. I don't want the player to be able to just heft a large stone axe and just walk into the middle of a raptor pack and bash them all on the head with little effort and loss of health. I want encounters to be exciting, tense and very dangerous. I want the player to be scared when they come across a T-rex stomping its way through the forest or to pause suspiciously when rustling is heard in the undergrowth. I want the player to feel that their next step could be life or death and it's their ingenuity, not sheer brawn, that will keep them alive. That said, I don't want it so that there is no way to kill a T-Rex without sustaining huge amounts of damage. The player still has to be able to kill the dinosaurs eventually, just with skill, luck and using their noggin.
At the moment, that's all I can think of but I think it would be brilliant if a game like this can be made. We know that the farcry engine can support dinosaurs because of the blood-dragons in the Far Cry 3 expansion game of the same name. The blood-dragons were basically T-Rex's with laser eyes. It is this kind of survival intensity that, even if it's not dinosaurs, I would like to see in games of the future.