This is a bit of a complicated mechanic to explain, so let's skip the introduction and get straight into the details.
The first part of this mechanic involves dividing all the food items into multiple food groups, you can see which food belongs in which with this little infographic I made (it's not beautiful, but it works).
The first 8 are the main food groups, the combination food group is something a bit different, I'll get into that later.
The second and main aspect of this mechanic is the Diet Meter. How the Diet Meter works is a tad hard to explain so bear with me here. Each food group has its own specific color attributed to it; when you eat a food from a certain food group the outline of 1 drumstick on your hunger meter will change to the food group's specific color, this is the Diet Meter. Let's visualize this with a photo.
Let's say blue is the color of the seafood group. The player here has eaten 5 pieces of food from the seafood food group and their Diet Meter is half full. The Diet Meter is static and won't go down over time, however, there are 3 ways that it can be reset.
- You eat a food from another food group. So say the player in the above example ate something other than seafood like an apple which is in the fruit food group. This would cause the meter to reset to zero.
- Your hunger meter reaches zero.
- You die and respawn.
Once your diet meter is maxed out like so:
You will be granted a unique status effect depending on which food group is maxed out. Since this player maxed out the seafood food group they will be granted an ability unique to that group. I haven't decided on which groups have what status effects, but I can give examples. Since this one is seafood its buff should have something to do with water, so maybe the buff lets you swim faster or your hunger goes down slower while underwater. The buffs should be new to the game and not be able to be acquired from potions.
I also must mention my idea of how to balance this. I think most players and maybe the devs as well will agree that meats are the best food source in the game, they're easy to obtain and filling. So my proposition is that foods groups that are harder to get and maintain such as fruits, fungi, junk, and golden have better buffs than the filling and easy to get food groups such as meats and vegetables. The unique perks of the meat group and vegetable food groups don't have to be bad per se, just not as good as the perks from the harder to get food groups.
Ok last but not least is the Combination group. Combinations are complex foods that cover multiple food groups. Combination foods allow for stacking of food groups on your Diet Meter. Let's visualize this.
I know it's not pretty, but it gives you a better idea of what I'm talking about. As you can see these three colors represent three food groups. The only combination food in the game is Rabbit Stew which is made up three food groups: meat, vegetables, and fungi. So if you eat a Rabbit Stew this is what will happen to your Diet Meter. If you max out your Diet Meter on rabbit stew you will receive the 3 unique buffs from the food groups it covers. There is also one little quirk to a stacked meter, let me explain.
- We know by now that if you eat a food from a food group you aren't focusing on your Diet Meter will be reset correct? Same thing with the stacked units. If you ate an apple your diet meter would be reset because rabbit stew does the not cover the fruit food group.
- The extra quirk to stacked units is what happens when you eat a food from a food group that it covers. So if you're eating rabbit stew and your Diet Meter is maxed out with stacked units and then you eat something from the food groups you covered the stacked units will convert into normal units of the food group you just ate.
So I have a full stacked diet meter from all the rabbit stew I ate, it covers the food groups meat, vegetable, and fungi.
Then I accidentally eat a baked potato, uh oh!
Now all my stacked units have turned into normal vegetable units, and my meat and fungi buffs have disappeared!
I think and hope combination foods will help give this mechanic a bit more complexity while at the same time incentivizing players to craft more complex foods as it creates the question "which combination food should I make?" and lets them decide which combination of buffs they'd prefer to have.
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