The Survivalist: Eight ways to give Just Survive a fighting chance
Do you remember at the beginning of May when Just Survive was talking about “working on a plan to go forward”? I understand if you don’t: It almost seems as if Daybreak itself has forgotten about the game, so how can it expect players to remember. Well, with H1Z1 doing so well on the PlayStation 4, maybe — just maybe — the game that actually birthed the battle royale version (that it lost its name to) will get some love. We can dream! And while we dream, we can also help the studio out with its plan-making endeavors. And boy, do I think it needs some help! As it is, the next promised patch sound like little more than maintenance mode and doesn’t really dispel the rumor that the game is on the sunset path. In order to survive, Just Survive needs to step up and offer a bit more than that. So here are eight ways Daybreak can give this survival game a fighting chance.
1. Private servers
First and foremost, Daybreak needs to make Just Survive servers available to be run privately.Even letting people play a locally hosted server with friends would likely net a much larger audience. Also, rumor has it there are lots of single-player gamers out there. Crazy, huh? They might prefer checking things out on their own machine as a solo player. Private servers are pretty much a given in the survival sandbox genre now and the studio would do well to hop on this bandwagon. There are plenty of folks who do not want to deal with the problems of official servers but would enjoy playing on ones run by others. Face it, there isn’t necessarily a lot of trust in Daybreak right now. But more than that, private servers can be adjusted to have settings that are more desirable to different players. Which leads us to…
Along with private servers is the need for decent server management tools. Just Survive has a decent foundation to build upon, and sandbox players want a sandbox build-it-my-way experience. Players really want to be able to adjust settings to meet their own gaming needs. Daybreak would have more customers if said customers could play the game they want. Having two maps and a few settings is nice, but there is room for improvement here. How about the changing the density of zombies? Or changing how tough they are? Messing with the day/night cycle is also a good one. Being able to personalize the experience makes one much more invested and likely to continue. You can make events, give rewards, and do so much more to make a stable community.
Also, it’s way more likely players can talk friends into playing on a server that is controlled by someone they know and trust instead of official servers that, on top of what some consider less-desirable populations, are prone to wipes. No one wants to keep starting over again and again. Even if a wipe is necessary, private owners are also better able to compensate players for those by altering settings temporarily. This compensation also works for game bugs that destroy things and drive players out. (I know I’ve done my share of comping for bug-lost things on my servers).
Now, speaking of wipes…
3. Wipes are for diaper changes
Enough already. There really are times that it is necessary to wipe servers. We understand that some terrible exploit has ruined things for everyone else, or a game-breaking bug botched it all and official servers are no longer fair. (Of course, some of this could have been prevented if there were private servers; either there wouldn’t be a need to completely wipe everyone as owners could deal with offending parties on a smaller scale or lost progress could be better compensated.) I personally stopped playing this title because there were just too many wipes! I really got sick of starting over and over and over again every couple of months. It wasn’t fun. And without private servers and personalized settings, I had to slog through the beginning again and again and again until I just couldn’t take it any more. Too frequent wipes need to be wiped out.
Part of the problem of this game is the lack of communication. The studio has acknowledged this silence, but we haven’t really seen much improvement. No one wants to get in and play a dead game that is going to disappear any moment now, and the lack of communication with players is leading them to believe that is exactly what is going to happen. (Too bad there wasn’t a way to play on your own computer, so that the purchase price would be worth it even if the game did disappear…). Communicate more.
Daybreak owns a number of games, so use that to the advantage. Do exclusive content cross-promotions. I’ve known people to get a new game because they got exclusive loot in their game of choice, or because the loot in the new game represented their game of choice. For instance, if you buy the new EverQuest II expansion, you get a free EQII t-shirt or base decoration in Just Survive. And EQII players who buy Just Survive, or an expansion of it (hey, it’s not impossible!) get a zombie plushie or familiar. It’s just like putting an item in the Marketplace for money, but it gets people buying the game. And who knows, they might just like it if they try it! Just ask Mikey.
6.Variety should be danger’s middle name
Of course, just launching won’t fix things or make people necessarily want to come back. There needs to be something new. And what’s better in a survival game than new ways to die? Remember back when there were grand plans for a variety of zombies in game? That never really came to fruition, which in itself is a bummer. Variety really does keep things more interesting. Same old, same old day in and day out is no fun. So maybe all sorts of zombie variety ala Left for Dead isn’t feasible. OK. However, the game doesn’t really need just zombies, it needs more danger. The bears and wolves are cool and can be quite deadly, but a few more critters to run from would also be great. How about mutated ones? Deadly mutant chickens are destined to be a fan favorite!
It would really up the game’s fun factor if we could tame zombies! I don’t mean as servants, fetching or doing chores for you. I don’t even necessarily mean pets (although yes, I’d love some personalized attack zombies to guard my door!). How about something like Michonne in The Walking Dead? You can have personal zombie bodyguards to help keep other zombies at arms’ length. Or maybe you can have a pack to sick on that one neighbor who keeps raiding your base.
If we don’t want zombie pals, how about the wolves or bears? Those wolves are killers man, and probably would love a good belly rub. I’d even happily tame a cute little bunny. Or that mutant chicken from earlier.
Launch! No one can stand games that live out eternity in early access. It has been three and a half years, so launch already. Make a realistic roadmap (hey, this also counts for more communication to players when you share it!) and stick to it. Follow Conan Exiles’ example: Do some serious stabilization work and get that title out the door. Players appreciate this. Just don’t use launching as an excuse to stop content coming; you’ve got some funds thanks to the battle royale child H1Z1, so use them to also take care of its parent.
Just Survive has a good price for a survival game; $19.99 is a great deal, especially if players can have private servers and their own offline games. But there are folks who won’t touch early access — and for good reason. Take that reason to skip the game out of the equation. A small price hike at launch would even likely work, as long as the studio doesn’t go too extreme and hit $50+. Would I pay $30-40 for a fun survival that I can play with friends? Already have, on numerous occasions, and I would again. The title would need to be offering these other features , however. I sure won’t do it for official servers only.