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Don't Starve Community Q&A

JAlbor January 24, 2013 User blog:JAlbor

A couple weeks ago, you had an opportunity send your Don't Starve questions to the developers themselves. Here are the answers, directly from Klei Itself, particular Kevin Forbes, one of the game's lead programmers. Check them out below!

1. What was the inspiration behind the game's art style?

Some of the things on our mood board are Edward Gorey, Tim Burton, early 20th century advertisements and cartoons, German Expressionism, and Thomas Nast.


2. How do you keep your forum so awesome?

We have a great team of moderators that make sure things remain civil. I have no tolerance for people who are disrespectful to other players or who try to ruin the experience for others.

I try to be honest and forthcoming when I post about design decisions or the general direction of the game. The only things I won’t talk about are short-term spoilers for upcoming updates, if I want them to be a surprise. We release a lot of promotional videos that highlight upcoming stuff as well, which leads to fun speculation threads.


3. Why was the sanity level picked as the third meter? Can you share what in-game aspects will affect it?

File:Berries grown in farm plot.jpg

Sanity was picked because it fits the game, thematically. A lot of the content is somewhat mythos-inspired, which is a fun universe to play around with, creatively. We’re still working out the gameplay details, but you’ll be able to see it in game soon.

A lot of people have requested a thirst meter, but I think that that would lead to too much micromanagement. The game is not supposed to be a realistic survival simulation - fun trumps realism for us.



4. Are there plans to add structures for friendly mobs, such as houses or food dispensers?

Nothing exactly like that springs to mind, although I haven’t planned out things in detail beyond the current release roadmap. A lot of the minor decisions about content get made reactively on an update-to-update basis, as we find shortcomings and opportunities in the gameplay.


5. Are there plans to create in-game events?

Yup! The full-moon werepigs and periodic hounds were the first examples of that, and winter will be the next one.


6. How does the team approach the difficulty curve as players become better. Is there an optimal difficulty or experience you want to create?

Several Smallish Tallbirds following Wilson
IndieNerdAdded by IndieNerd
We try to keep the game challenging yet accessible for new players. I try to not upset the current balance for a new player’s first 20 days or so, as they are learning the ropes. As we see people creating optimal, self-sustaining strategies we try to make them less optimal. The game should not be beatable at all times with a single strategy.


7. Will the game be functionally endless, like Minecraft? If so, how far do you think ahead regarding very-late-game design – both in creatures encountered and late-game structures?

There’s a story mode of sorts in the works, where you progress through a couple of increasingly difficult worlds to reach a conclusion. I would expect that most players would play through that to learn the game, and then play in a free-play mode (which is what people are playing currently).

8. Are there plans for incorporating more NPCs, perhaps some that compete with players for resources?

The pigs are the closest thing to that in the game right now. I want to eventually make the Pig King more interesting, which could lead to some neat faction-relation type stuff. We also have some concept art for monkey characters that could be a little more intelligent than your average monster.


9. How does the team think of and design characters? Are there plans for including more characters or guest characters from other games?

Different characters have come about in different ways. Often, there’s a gameplay reason for a type of character to exist, so I describe the role I want it to fill with the artists, and then see what they come up with in terms of appearance. Some creatures, like the tallbird, start as a really cool concept piece, and then we think up a gameplay role that fits the look. It’s a pretty dynamic process.

I’m not a huge fan of guest characters in a game with strong theming like Don’t Starve. Things really have to fit the look and feel of the game, or they stick out like a sore thumb. <cough> Krampus <cough>.


10. Are there any plans to increase the number of biomes that appear in each world? What does the team consider when designing or implementing biomes?

We’ll get more biomes as time goes on, but I don’t feel that we’re fully utilizing the ones that we currently have. A new biome requires new level art, as well as (usually) a unique menagerie of creatures to spawn in it, so they are pretty resource-intensive to create. More importantly, each biome should serve a particular gameplay niche. This is an area where we need to improve. Right now, swamps are hard, and that’s about it- we’ll be pushing the various other places farther apart as time goes on.

Mosaic biome
A portion of a mosaic biome.
AllaeorAdded by Allaeor


11. Why was “Don't Starve” chosen to be the game's title? Were any other titles scrapped?

Don’t Starve was the title of the original game jam game. It’s memorable and cheeky, so we kept it.


12. Which enemy mobs are your favorite and why?

I like the look of the tallbird, and I feel that it is really coming into its own now that it has three phases of growth. Someday soon there will probably be wild smallbirds, which will make them even better.

13. Are there any plans for creating transportation features, such as carts or rideable mounts?

Mounts would be neat, but there are some technical animation challenges to overcome if we were to make those a real feature. Controls-wise, they might be a bit complicated as well. In the short term, we have some... more roundabout transportation items going in. You’ll know them when you see them.

A herd of Beefalos


14. Are there plans to allows players to customize their world in detail, be it the selection of biomes or range of animals/enemies?

Free play mode will probably feature a configuration screen at launch. We’re still working out the details.


15. What research has the design team done, if any? Ie: Could they survive in the wilderness?

Ha! I couldn’t even survive for more than a couple of days in the suburbs! I’d die for lack of good espresso!


16. Is there anything you want the Don't Starve community to know?

I’d just like to thank them for being awesome. We’re blown away by the support that people have shown for our game, and I’m looking forward to trying to live up to all the hype!

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