| Monday, March 3, 2014
"Don't Starve," I told my citizens. "We love that game," they replied. I attempted to clarify, "No, I mean you should not starve." "We sure hope not!" They did.

Tech trees are a lie. They suggest, incorrectly, that if you have built Structure A that you are ready, and should, build structure B. More likely you should have built three of Structure A before even considering Structure B, so it's a tech pyramid. Banished does not tell this lie. It instead says nothing. It stands there, watching you, without any expression. You look at the game and ask, "Should  build this yet?" It does not reply.

So you figure it out yourself. You stumble through getting enough food. Your first town starves. You try again and try harder with the food. They freeze to death, homeless. Finally you get it all worked out, with food, housing, and firewood. Now things are rolling. Until your tools break.

Rather than building iron monuments to your greatness, which unfortunately do not exist, you instead create quarries and tools. Then someone gets crushed by a rock. Your aging population is not making enough children. Meanwhile the few are growing up uneducated. Productivity suffers. You find that food reserves are low because someone has stuffed ten thousand deer carcases in their house.

Much of the game is a juggling act, trying to get workers in the jobs needed to get the resources needed. Eventually you realize that you have a labor shortage. Everyone has a job. There's so little slack that even if you wanted to build another farm you can't. But without that farm will you have enough food to feed a larger population? The coats run out.

I'm at a point where my town is stable. It has plenty of diverse food, high health and happiness, and plenty of resources. I could turn up the game speed and leave it to itself until the quarry ran out. But that's boring. I'm trying to grow the town. That means trying to get more housing so people can make more families, but I need enough food for them, so I must have a surplus and that must be sustainable enough to hold up with dozens more useless children. Meanwhile the infrastructure needs a step up, with more firewood for all the homes, nearby markets, and before long, another school.

I've noticed that a strange patterns emerges, almost like a boom-bust economic cycle. There are recessions. Things slow down, waiting, just waiting, for enough resources for something to happen. This might mean more people or more stone, but even if I have a plan, it isn't possible, not yet. These are less severe as the town develops, as I get more workers into stable jobs like mining, rather than the cyclical farmer/laborer division. It all becomes more predictable and manageable.

But I know one of these days those nomads are going to bring a disease.


McJigg said...

I found I could keep at least 1 person in every profession once I had about 100 people. You also can't really stop expending, because if you don't give them room to breed, they won't, and neither will an older population if you wait to expand until later.

(Note, no where in game will it tell you that it's possible to over fish, or that if you don't let a crop fallow every 5th year, the soil looses nutrients and your crops start only giving a fraction of the food they should.)

Klepsacovic said...

I quickly gave up on fishing. It seems to be terribly inefficient. I had no idea of the fallow, though I figured there was something odd going on with farming; if only there was a good way to track that.

Right after I posted this I was hit by a few years of constant starvation, so much for my stable town. It turns out I'd expanded into my hunting areas, which had previously been so productive that my farms were just there for nostalgia and stuff to trade. The game was scared off and as a result I lost my clothing industry (my main trade good) and so much food that I'm still recovering.

Anonymous said...

It's new to me about the farming. The funny thing is I wondered on the first day I bought the game if it was possible to exhaust the soil. Theres no way to track harvests year to year so it's impossible to notice something like that.

That said, I have no experienced food shortages. As the years roll on, my food supplies climb. Are you certain about the fallowing?

Otherwise, great write up Kleps. Everything you said echoed my experiences. This made me laugh. The family with the 10k carcasses IS SO TRUE.

Klepsacovic said...

I learned that markets help to regulate consumption: the vendors gather a variety of everything from everywhere, so people have more diverse diets (healthier) and supposedly take less too. But make sure you have a market stocked BEFORE you build the houses that it will serve, otherwise, regardless of your 15k surplus, you're going to have being dying of starvation on the roads.

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