The Stamina bar is often a secondary thing in gamers minds. It’s like, Oh, so my energy goes down if I use this. And they continue on with the game. So if you’re mining, you just have that stamina bar in the back of your mind as you carefully whack away the stones and your stamina drops down little by little.
And that’s how far most stamina bar in farming games goes. Actually, you can say that to a lot of games now, but let’s just stick with the farming genre since my game is in that genre.
Anyways, in the farming genre, the stamina bar is very simple. You use a tool and your stamina goes down. Running. Stamina goes down. Fishing, Stamina goes down. Use any tool, your stamina will go down. But what about your fatigue?
In real life, you have stamina and fatigue and other things too like stress. But farming games don’t explore these ideas further on. It’s just stamina. And that’s mostly because if you introduce something complex, it takes longer to teach and for gamers to learn. That’s why most farming games stamina bar are simple. It’s very intuitive to understand. Only two step process you need to take. Use a tool and watch your stamina drop. Very easy to observe and to learn quickly.
But let’s say I wanted to add another variable. Let’s say I wanted to add a fatigue bar to that stamina bar. Then things really get complex and interesting.
In my game, there is a secondary bar. It’s the fatigue bar. So when you use a tool your stamina goes down, but as you play the game, your fatigue goes up, effectively reducing your max stamina capacity. Pretty cool huh? This makes cooking and eating more complex. Instead of thinking about eating to raise your stamina, you have to think about how to reduce your fatigue or find ways to increase your max stamina. It adds another layer of complexity to the game. For example, in my game, you can eat a coconut and gain stamina, but your fatigue doesn’t go down. So how did I design my game to lower my fatigue? Cooking. When you cook a dish, you need to collect ingredients and it takes time to. Once you do and eat it, your character gains stamina and also reduces your fatigue. Instead of eating a coconut with plus 5 stamina, using coconuts to make a coconut dish, you can gain 17 stamina and reduces your fatigue by 7! Effectively increasing your stamina by 24! There are other ways to play with this fatigue and stamina concept. For example, when you feed your cow, you can reduce your fatigue and still gain stamina. Or you can find items to slow down your fatigue rate so that your max stamina capacity won’t be depleted so fast. The ideas give a new design tool for me to work with and it expands on the farming genre games.
Usually game developers don’t give a lot of thought into stamina bars and how it can affect the characters and game design. It’s often simplified for gamers to understand. Even adding another bar makes the game more complex. What would happen if you had a fatigue bar to a mana bar? See what I’m saying? It would change the RPG battles a lot by just adding that extra bar. It would be very interesting and fun to play, but designing around that idea changes the game design a lot. One little small change like that does change the game play a lot. So that’s why most farming games don’t think about this. This simple design requires a complete makeover to their existing game design. But for my game, I gave it more thought because I had to innovate on how my game is different from other farming genres. The fatigue bar didn’t come in a day. I was really sketching and trying to figure out how to make this work. It probably took me 6 months to implement, iterate, and polish this concept up. Anyways, no one talks about the stamina bar in farming games that much. And it needs to be talked about it more for new innovative game designs. It also doesn’t have to be stamina bars, it can just be about how fighting is done in farming games or talking to an npc. Talking about this and iterating these designs helps give more unique games out there because right now, we’re approaching where farming games are becoming similar to each other. It’s just a matter of time before there’s a 2nd stardew valley that’s slightly better.
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