Stranded II

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Castaway Sim

Free Download
Peter Schauss
Suggested By:

Stranded II is what the name suggests: You're a castaway on a desert island and must build yourself the wherewithal of survival from scratch, Robinson Crusoe-style.

It's implemented in rather crude 3D (using Blitz Basic). Primarily, it's a crafting sim: you need to figure out how to build yourself an axe and other tools, how to start a fire, how to construct shelter, and so on. The main mechanism for doing so is borrowed from adventure games: use object with object to combine.

It's quite well done, within its limited palate; one criticism is that the learning curve is perhaps the inverse of what it should be. That is, you may well die in the first day or two, of starvation or by getting eaten yourself, because you haven't figured out what you need to do yet. Subsequent days become easier, although the game does throw interesting twists at you from time to time.


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Crusoe and Empire

I don't have a PC, so I wonder from those who play it: does it include Robinson Crusoe's imperialist undertones of civilising the natives?

Not so much the imperialism

Not so much the imperialism thing, but there's definitely some racism going on on that fourth island. Not a heck of a lot, but enough to make me uncomfortable. It fits in with the general silliness (none of the NPCs are flattering portrayals of the relevant stereotypes) but it's still a little cringeworthy.

On the whole, though, it's an addicting and entertaining game. It blends a couple different genres in an interesting way. (As I remarked to my girlfriend this afternoon, "I've fed my character a dozen meals, and skipped my own lunch!") I very much enjoyed building up my little camp on the first island, then using those lessons to survive on the fourth island. The first few days on an island are remarkably tough, devoted to sheer survival. You start to get a feel for the landscape and where its treasures are, learn how to hunt and fish, start planting crops for long-term ease. Most of the buildings make sense, though I only built the hut out of boredom and a sense of prettying up the campsite. (I only discovered after building it that this was considered crucial enough to warrant making the construction of the hut a trigger for the next stage of the plot) Much of what I get out of this game is what I get out of Dwarf Fortress: a sense of having to struggle to survive, a sense of having built something that's mine, having achieved something. They struggle with the same issues that Sims Castaway does: once you've built a little life for yourself, the game quickly becomes routine, and the plot just doesn't pick up the slack that well.

The problem is that it takes a few too many lessons from RPGS: there's way too much grinding (collecting logs and leaves especially) and while there are a few quests that make for interesting gameplay (catch an animal is the one that drove me crazy) most of them are of the "Do this N times, then come back and claim your reward" type. This is particularly obnoxious just after the game strips you of your possessions! I just had those vines, honest!
Other games of this type tend to solve this problem by allowing you to make progressively more useful tools, just like civilization itself advances. Stranded II does this to a certain extent, allowing you to make an axe to chop down trees for logs much faster, for example. But it's not quite enough, and the "tech tree" levels out pretty fast, leaving the only challenge to be the sheer amount of crap you need to collect to proceed.

All told, though, I got a good amount of entertainment for a free game, and it really got me thinking about taking a vacation! (Oh, and keep some of your wheat in reserve at all times -- locusts are a real heartbreak)

Press Y to sleep

For newcomers, two hints:
1: Press Y to sleep.
2: You sometimes need to combine three or more items simultaneously (like the axe that I had to do without for so long!)

This gem of a game cost me the vast majority of the weekend (and possibly my marriage...) it is so wonderfully addictive. Add to that the silly tone and the more than sufficient graphics and it is a real treat.

It is amazing the way you start out fighting to survive but then soon enough find yourself looking over a substantial plantation with multiple buildings, thinking "Did I really do all that?"

My main criticism is the lack of danger, which (as the previous poster mentioned) really leaves only grinding towards goals as the "challenge". I think I have only ever died in one of two different ways: Lack of sleep (before figuring out the button that lets you do that) and raptors. The fourth island makes things far too easy, with plentiful food sources and even an unlimited water supply near your starting location (yet I still have to press leaves to get water for bread... grr!) In the end I spent most of my time getting high, waiting for those damn banana trees to grow...

Give us more predators of a greater variety, and have them wandering from time to time. Make healing a slow process that requires time (as in days), not food. Make actions such as applying a bandage or building a splint take longer. Give us negative effects from spending too long out in the rain - or the sun. Let a storm raze a building or animals destroy a crop (good star with the locusts, however).

I also entirely support the previous poster's opinion about the game becoming a grind - the most obvious example being construction. I get the impression the designer wanted us to lose track of time in-game, but the net effect is a lot of time spent doing nothing. This could easily be resolved, too - rather than keep time linear and require button-mash gameplay, when the player engages in a task they could skip the length of time that task requires then walk away with the goods, with triggers to interupt if, say, predators or worthy prey come into range.

Still, a great achievement.

Very engaging, as said

Very engaging, as said above. It'd be nice to see a game come out that actually has survival skills in it drawn from real life survival manuals.

It's hard to think how to marry the survivial concept, and yet also have increasing challenge level, rather than it being upfront mostly.

I think this is a key

I think this is a key problem with genre-mashing (intentional or otherwise); different people expect gameplay akin to different genres, or sometimes even both. I also think this is a particularly difficult pair of genres to combine - adventure games are all about trying to figure out what works whilst RPGs are about doing what works until you are good enough to do something else. (I am not saying they should be about these things, but that's a different discussion...)

I also think it relates strongly to the issue of divorcing the character and the player. Once you figure out how to make an item, doing so again (either in the same game or in a replay) is no challenge; it becomes a grind. On the one hand I think it is nice to play through a game and see how well you as a player survive with your limited knowledge on the first play. On the other, it would be nice to be able to replay and not instantly have the knowledge required to make items.

Unfortunately, adventure games tend to have little replay value and require a lot of content, be it new items to play with or new places to explore. They need something of an injection from other genres in order to add gameplay (and, dare I say it, make them more commercially viable).

I am trying to think of ways the requirements of player ability and character ability could be merged in this regard. So far I am thinking about an "invention" action that allows the PLAYER to select a bunch of items, which the CHARACTER then spends time trying to find combinations for. So a player might think that a branch and stone could work well together, then the character spends time actually figuring out if and how they actually go together (it might take them a few attempts to craft a working design. So a more insightful or more experienced player might immediately start trying to build a hammer, but the character still has to manage without until they actually come up with the goods. (And has to continue surviving - without the benefits the hammer brings - until then.)

The more finely a player chooses the items to consider inventing with, the quicker the process takes - if they are the right items. Likewise, specifying a target object type (e.g. tool, weapon, foodstuff, material) would speed up investigation towards that specific end at the detriment of others.

This can also work in another way - a player totally struggling to progress could select absolutely everything for consideration and, after a substantial amount of time, may eventually have the eureka moment that allows them to build that all-important item.

Gah, how do you make an

Gah, how do you make an axe?

One thing that seems a mistake in this is that you are supposed to combine items together - but if it's not the right ones you get a smart arse responce as if its stupid, or a direct comment that it's stupid.

I think grind makes sense if

I think grind makes sense if you can make things which do the grinding for you. Like say some work structure you can build near a tree, and then afterward you can walk past and get a bunch of branches or such all at once - the work structure then has a cooldown of a certain time before you can do it again (you can gather manually in between, though). So it's good to grind and build a few of these, because then they grind for you.

That's probably why mmorpgs get away with grind, actually - as your character gets more powerful he, as in his stats, are more capable of killing something that grants more gold - so those stats start to do the work for you. But then they spoil that with the same old repeat the same cycle of buttons gameplay...oops, wrong thread!

If you haven't managed the

If you haven't managed the axe yet, you need to combine three items: branch, iron and hammer. The hammer does not get used up, it is simply required for the building process. The iron is a chunk of iron, not an iron rod or iron bolts (although you can do useful things with those, too...)

I hadn't thought about it, but you are probably right - telling the player he's being an idiot is possibly not the best approach.

The game does have facilities that do some work for you, which take different forms. Once you have planted enough crops to be able to plant berries, and then planted enough of those and waited for the bushes to grow, you will have a steady supply of berries for fruit juice - you will never go thirsty again. Likewise, a well gives you an endless supply of drinking water, albeit in a fixed location. There are also traps (mine never caught anything...) and fishing nets, not to mention monkeys...

Quick comment: if you stand

Quick comment: if you stand close enough to a fresh water source, you can 'use' flour and produce bread dough. Squeezing leaves is a desperation move for when you can't get to a fresh water source fast enough. The same is true of sticks for making bendable sticks.

Lack of food spoilage contributed to a lot of the boredom, I think. I could spend a day fishing, cook it, then pay no attention to food collection for a week.

I completely agree with the other commenter about the spoken remarks: The obnoxious "Did you expect that to work?" frequently caused me to get very irritated (the answer was usually yes!) Conversely, I found it a little creepy how excited he got when catching butterflies. But I wound up chalking it up to English not being the developer's first language.

Yeah, I spotted the axe

Yeah, I spotted the axe thing on another forum, thanks anyway Zild. Bloody world of warcraft had trained my brain to think you can't just use straight ore, it always has to be refined first! So I kept making bars and trying to use them. See, do the same thing over and over and it reduces your mental flexability on doing it another way!!!

Given the number of springs I didn't have a real issue with grinding water (and I was playing on hard on a huge random island). Also meat was fairly easy when your on hard and have to kill a lion if you want to walk ten meters in peace. It's basically branches and such that are a pain. I hear you can tame monkeys, but bananas are a long grind away. I think a series of short grinds to make things that then grind for you fits...I dunno, human nature better than a long grind to get just one thing. Atleast my human nature, anyway.

Oh, and it's probably a bug, but if you make the little tower defence things (available once you make a storage shed), they shoot arrows - and when your hunting skill is high enough that arrows sometimes stay after shooting, these things leave arrows everywhere, if you build them near lions. They are inadvertant arrow grinders/generators - though I fear a crash, as I found a pile of about 500 in a corner once .... very pretty pattern though.

Can't believe I didn't try

Can't believe I didn't try using flower at the spring! Oh well, it's not like I didn't have enough leaves. ;)

I went the opposite way - tiny hard random island. That's too small a space to comfortably sleep without killing off all the land-based predators, which did make food a bit of a struggle...

The difference between skills at the end of the adventure and the beginning of a new island was remarkable - whereas once I could catch fish anywhere, plant berries and trees and reuse spears, I once again found myself having to grind every spear and earn every fish. Mind you, when you are desperate for spears, it certainly doesn't feel like a grind. ;)

Making life easier!

Ok!There is only three things I dont under stand.First how do you Make a machete?
Second:How do you use Bones?
Third:Ok this one is IMPORTANT how do you tame:Lions,Monkeys,Kiwis
Raptors,Claw Monkeys,Sheep,and Eagles?
If anyone could awnser these questions I would be SO thankful!