Game Analysis: Subnautica


Formal Elements

Name of the gameSubnautica
The platformPC, xbox, PS, switch, etc.
Time played (should be at least 30 minutes)at least 7 hours
If you could work on this game (change it), what would you change and why?I wish the game was more informative about where you are supposed to go, I mean I get it’s an alien world and your stranded of course you not going to know where you need to go but i often find myself confused.
How many players are supported?1
Does it need to be an exact number?yes there can be only 1 player (unless you mod the game because there are several working multiplayer mods)
How does this affect play?subnautica is a single player, exploration, sandbox game
Some types of player frameworks:Single Player – like Solitare.Head-to-head – 1 vs. 1, Chess.PvE – Player vs. Environment, or multiple players vs. the game. Common in MMOs like World of Warcraft.One against Many – Single-player vs. multiple (obvy).Free-for-all – Every man for himself (1 vs. 1 vs. 1 vs. 1..). Most common for multiplayer games, from Monopoly to Modern Warfare.Individuals Against the System – Like Blackjack, where the Dealer is playing against multiple players, but those players have no effect on each other.Team Competition – Multiple vs. multiple, i.e. sports.Predator-prey – Players form a circle and everyone’s goal is to attack the player on their left and defend themselves from the player on their right.Five-pointed Star – Eliminate both players who are not on either side of you.
What are the players trying to do?your overall goal in the game is to cure yourself of a virus that has put the planet on lock down so you need to cure yourself, build a rocket, and leave. (also there’s a giant alien gun that shoots down ships until confirming that the virus has been cured so don’t even try to escape until you get yourself cured)
Some common objectives include:Capture/Destroy – Eliminate all your opponents pieces (Chess).Territorial Acquisition – Control as much territory as you can, not necessarily harming other players (RISK).Collection – Collect a certain number of objects throughout the game (Pokemon).Solve – Solve a puzzle or crime (Clue).Chase/race/escape – Anything where you are running towards or away from something (playground game Tag).Spatial Alignment – Anything involving the positioning of elements (Tetris or Tic-Tac-Toe or that game at Cracker Barrel).Build – Advance your characters or build your resources to a certain point (The Sims).Negation of another goal – The game ends if you perform an act that is forbidden by the rules (Jenga or Twister).
Rules/Mechanicsthe game can be divided like this:
beginning – your ship crashes to an alien planet then the game starts you begin collecting resources and scanning wreckage to construct a base and advanced equipment such as large O2 tanks and diving fins.
middle – the middle begins once you hear the rescue ship sunbeam’s messages they send you coordinates for a small island and ask any survivors to meet them there, you make your way to the island and discover a building the sunbeam then enters the atmosphere and is automatically shot down, you then learn of the virus and the middle of the game begins.
end – you finally have become cured and you disable the gun tower you then construct a rocket and launch yourself into space.
There are three categories of (what the book Rules of Play calls) operational rules:Setup – the things you do at the beginning of a game.Progression of Play – what happens during the game.Resolution – How an outcome is determined based on the game state.
What controls are used?well you know buttons and stuff on controller its all the buttons but on computer its only some buttons, listen i really don’t know how to answer this.
Was there a clear introductory tutorial?yes there is after you put out the fire inside your life pod you are introduced to the controls and the mechanics soon follow
Were they easy to understand or did you find yourself spamming the controller?very easy although I rarely find controls hard to understand however street fighter controls are evil there’s no tutorial and you have no conformation you’ve even input anything and the combos are so hard to do and its impossible for a new player to even understand what button they hit if they somehow accidentally pulled off a combo.
Resources & Resource ManagementNOTES
What kinds of resources do players control?you are in control of your health, hunger, thirst, oxygen levels, base power, vehicle power, base integrity, vehicle hull integrity, battery power levels, crafting materials
How are they maintained during play?they are maintained through the fact they do not fix themselves if you are too low on oxygen then you black out and drop some of your items or your vehicle might break causing you to lose all your expensive upgrades because you forgot to repair the hull, etc.
What is their role?the role of subnautica’s resources is to keep you working making sure that you always have to work and be aware
A resource is everything under the control of a single player. Could be the money in Monopoly or health in WoW. Other examples are:Territory in RISK The number of questions remaining in 20 Questions Objects picked up during videogames (guns, health packs, etc.)Time (game time, real-time, or both)Known information (like suspects in Clue)
Game StateNOTES
How much information in the game state is visible to the player?you are able to see your health, hunger, thirst, and oxygen as well as a few items within your hotbar you can also see the world around you as well as the creatures in it, however you cant see forever due to ocean fog
A snapshot of the game at a single point is the game state. The resources you have, the un-owned properties in Monopoly, your opponent’s Archery skill all count towards the game state. Some example information structures are:Total Information – Nothing is hidden, like Chess.Info per player – Your hand of cards is only visible to you.One player has privileged info – Like a Dungeon Master.The game hides info from all players – Like Clue, where no one knows the victory condition.Fog of War – In video games, where certain sections of the map are concealed if you do not have a unit in sight range of that area. You also cannot see other players’ screens, so each player is unaware of the other’s information.
In what order do players take their actions?well to progress in the game you need to be able to travel deep into the planet so certain areas are unforgiving, hard to reach, and most likely you will die when you arrive so the game is segmented by the fact the you require depth upgrades for your vehicles
How does play flow from one action to another?subnautica is a real time game so there is almost noting you have to wait for.
Some structures include:Turn-based – Standard board game technique.Turn-based with simultaneous play – where everyone takes their turn at the same time (like writing something down or putting a card down in War).Real-time – Actions happen as fast as players can make them. Action-based video games.Turn-based and time limits – You have this long to take your turn.
Player Interactionbecause subnautica is a single player game there is no player interaction however in describing the interaction between the player and enviroment it is direct conflict as most everything is trying to kill you
Some examples:Direct Conflict – I attack you.Negotiation – If you support me here, I’ll help you there.Trading – I’ll give you this for that.Information Sharing – If you go there, I’m warning you, a trap will go off.
Theme & NarrativeNOTES
Does it have an actual story structure?yes subnautica does have a story as i described it earlier
Is it based on a historical event (or similar)?no not really.
Does the theme or narrative help you know how to play?the story does influence how you play as the drives you forward deeper into the planet progressing the story.
Does it have emotional impacts?not really I mean this big (and i mean really big) fish dies
Also, look for en media res (does it start in the middle of the game)?whats en media res?
The Elements in MotionNOTES
How do the different elements interact?player eats small fish, bigger fish attack player, player attacks bigger fish, huge fish eats player, player respawns. also like resource gathering and stuff but that bit was funnier.
What is the gameplay like?basically you swim around exploring, collecting, eating, building, and ten collecting more and more until you get cured and leave
Is it effective?yes
Are there any points where the design choices break down?some parts such as the fact that subnautica while beautiful isn’t very well optimized and there fore create very low frame rates on certain devices
Design CritiqueNOTES
Why did the designer make these particular choices?because they wanted to create a beautiful alien world for the player to explore
Why this set of resources?because its more realistic and results in longer play times
What if they made different decisions?if they made different design decisions it just wouldn’t be subnautica
Does the design break down at any point?not really besides what I mentioned earlier.
Graphics & SoundNOTES
Does the game art pair well with the mechanics?yes it pairs really well especially the “leviathan class” creature they all have incredible designs that really make them what they are such as reefbacks being majestic gentle giants and the reapers being huge terrifying monsters that will make you scream.
Did you find any bugs or glitches?I recently watched a speedrun of the game and there are quite a few spots on the map where you are able to clip through the geometry
What about sound?subnautica really thrives on ambiance and really delivers in that field
Can you spot any technical shortcuts?no not really.
Various Stages of the GameNOTES
To wrap up, some things to keep in mind (as if there aren’t enough already) as you play:to look for any unique design choices
What challenges do you face, and how do you overcome them?you overcome many challenges as there are various “leviathan” class predators that guard key locations vital to completing the game. the only option is to sneak around them. (I mean you can kill them but that takes like 20 minutes just to kill one)
Is the game fair?yes the game is fair no task is to difficult really
Is it replayable? Are there multiple paths to victory or optional rules that can change the experience?there isn’t really much repeatability to subnautica as it has a linear story and takes a long time to complete
What is the intended audience?any age though they should be pretty tolerant to scares
What is the core, the one thing you do over and over, and is it fun?you collect resources, and no its not really fun but its necessary to progressing.

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