(Uh, this is going to take a long time so you may want to get some snacks.)
I will mainly focus on the usage of the shovel; the metal detector is rather a minor point.
Before I continue, it’s fair to mention that the digging mechanic and the metal detector have been already suggested, so it’s not a groundbreaking idea by myself, but my try to extend these thoughts:
Before you ask, I am not going to propose making the shovel affect ground level or creating visible physical holes, as suggested in given links. Although trenches and underground bases would be interesting, there are obvious issues: Making holes would break the game by either making locations unaccessable or underground areas easily reach- and thus exploitable. Multiplayer servers would be less enjoyable: The entire world could be completely devastated, with holes being everywhere, similiar to wooden structures / ruins made by players.
So instead, I suggest to have the shovel not affect the environment physically, but by having the player either perform a digging animation or leaving a small pile of dirt behind which disappears after a while, similiar to trees and metal boulders regenerating.
Chainsaws are better than axes, jackhammers better than pickaxes. So there should be an electric uprgade for the shovel as well. Would consume power, make noise, but allow to click-hold on the ground. Maybe some sort of drill.
Here’s an example of an animation from DayZ (honestly, it looks really stale, but it gives an idea of what I mean:
When talking about details, it would be nice to see the shovel being sticked into the ground, maybe using your foot to glide the shovel in easier. By lifting the shovel, little piles of dirt (or whatever soil you are digging in) lie on your shovel’s blade and would be thrown aside.
Mounds indicating buried objects
When exavating or burying something, a little mound forms where you were digging. Depending on the area’s material, the pile adjusts and becomes camouflaged. When exavating in areas with grass, the mound will have a brown appearence (dirt) at first, but will adjust after some time. When leaving the hole empty, it will disappear and the spot will look like before.
H1Z1 has an one-use item called hand shovel that creates a similiar camouflaged mound:
Characteristics of digging
(The ability to dig can be compared to fishing.)
Digging will take some time to complete, unskilled players having to spend a while for one hole, maybe digging 30 times or 20 seconds. This might discourage players to spam traps (will discuss later).
You will be able to dig almost everywhere. Materials like grass, soil, sand, gravel, snow and other soft ground types pose no problem, while harder surfaces like rock will be harder to dig in, maybe using a pickaxe to loosen the ground. Roads, asphalt and floors inside buildings won’t be able to dig in (unless there are available piles of digable materials, like collapsed ceilings underground).
An old game named ‘Stranded 2’ has digging nicely implemented, even has a skill branch for this task:
(skip to 9:48 – 9:55 and 14:00 – 14:15)
Just as any other action, skill will make your digging ability better. Effects that are enchanced could be:
- Guarantee (increases chance of finding something),
full skill: 100% guarantee
- Luck (chance of finding high tier items),
full skill: high tier more likely
- Duration (how long you will have to dig),
full skill: ten seconds or digging five times
- Amount of yield (how many items you find with each try)
full skill: multiple items, similiar to Agriculture
- Sensibility (avoids damaging objects and gaining items with poor quality by digging more carefully, could be crucial for excavating mines),
full skill: items more likely above 50% of condition, mines and duds can be excavated without triggering
- Stamina consumption (digging is exhausting, so less used stamina and calories),
full skill: minor consumption
Here’s an example of Stranded 2’s skill system:
Like axes and pickaxes (and their electrical variant), shovels would be the third tool to scavenge the environment for resources and items. There could be stuff as:
- building materials: dirt, sand, rocks
- edibles: roots, mushrooms (truffles), insects
- trash: cans, nails, metal scraps, plastic bags
- treasures: gold, gems, crates, documents (blueprints, notes)
- old war relicts: WW2 weapons, ammunition
- dangerous objects: duds, mines
Depending on material type and local spawn groups, there would be a specific chance to find items, with some being restricted to certain materials (you cannot obtain sand when digging in grass etc.).:
- grass, soil: dirt, edibles, roots
- sand, gravel: sand, gravel, rocks
- military / ranger locations: weapons, traps
- rock: rocks, ores, minerals
Similiar to airdrops, there can be randomly spawned dirt mounds that will have a higher chance (but no garantee) of finding very valuable items that can be easier found via metal detectors (will come to that later). Or randomly spawned map charts (outside of camping spawns) which will have a location mark to an extremely valuable item, like legendary items. In other words, treasure hunting,
Since a lot of traps proof ineffective against other players because of being too visible and thus doomed to fail, there could be the ability of burying traps underground or making them much more camouflaged. I thought about:
- Holes : A simple hole hidden underground, causing its victim to stumble and rendering them defenseless for a short time (to distinguish them from a hole you don’t want to use, there must be placed something like a cover on top of it)
Might be ridiculous, but I thought about Animal Crossing’s pitfall traps:
- Hidden spikes : A hole filled with spikes which will have the effect of regular spikes, but hidden and also rendering its victim shortly defenseless by stumbling
- Hidden landmines : Buried underground, they pose a lethal threat. Can be detected by metal detectors and defused
Because this might render these traps too overpowered, these would be their downsides:
One use only: After stepping in one, the hole and trap collapses. While this is obvious for mines, spikes might be more powerfull since they have durability in U3. So, after stepping out of the trap (unless there’s nothing left from you), it’s used up.
Visibility: Although hidden, there are some faint traits that will tell you there’s a trap:
-Since holes are artificial, their cover will appear slightly odd compared to their surrounding (having a slight different hue, pattern of leafes, sticking out of the ground a bit)
-There’s the phenomenon of leaking mines causing plants to change in appearence due to TNT contaminating the soil. When having plants growing in a supposed minefield, plants would have an odd color (red flowers where only blue ones grow) or appear damaged (dried out plants among healthy ones). However, this only applies to mines laying around for a long time, so this might be a more realistic feature for minefields part of the mapdesign: https://www.livescience.com/47377-plants-sniff-out-land-mines.html
-They would be not completely located underground; slightly exposed, but enough to be overlooked quickly
-Alternatively, having a similiar color to the surrounding ground or ghillie-like properties
- Ability to neutralise: Traps are hidden, but not indestructable. Spikes can be destroyed, mines could be defused and maybe reused. However, in the heat of the moment, you won’t have any time for sitting on the battlefield, exposed and vulnerable for all to see. This would allow for a more strategic and stealth oriented plan rather than rushing and destroying everything on your way
Do you like these suggestions regarding the shovel mechanic?
- I like them
- They need some changes
- I dislike them
This tool informs you via audible signals about the position of items hidden nearby. It increases in volume when in proximity of the buried objects.
It acts like binoculars or fishing rods as a tool, cannot be used as a meele weapon.
It’s quite handy when used together with a shovel allowing for a directed search for hidden items. Solely, it can be used as a warning system against traps, namely mines.
Since it’s called metal detector, it can only find metallic items. Advanced model might detect more materials
There’s no distinction between the quality of objects. Found object can be a weapon or treasure, or just regular trash. Better model allows to differ so you don’t have to dig for a can or old boots.
Different variants of metal detectors:
- Regular: Only detects metallic objects, no distinction, lower power capacity
- Advanced: Detects and gives information about what might be possibly hidden underground. It won’t tell you the items exact identity, but what item group the object belongs to (weapons, trash, components etc.)
Do you like these suggestions regarding the metal detector mechanic?
- I like them
- they need some changes
- I dislike them
At last, here are two ideas I came up but which would be rather problematic than enjoyable:
While mines should be most likely found around military tier locations (and duds spawning on old abandoned military locations), there could be a rare chance of finding duds everywhere. There were always cases in former wars where grenades or explosives did not detonate, being left forgotten and posing a threat for living beings. They could be hidden traps when being unlucky. Although it might be realistic, I can imagine this to be extremely annoying when out of nowhere you get blown into pieces because you stepped on an aircraft bomb. This can be restricted to more advanced areas to increase the challenge and to give beginning players a chance to prepare themselves. Also, to be not a useless feature, they could be defused and give a huge amount of explosives to use. From a realistical point of view, that’s rather unrealistic, but hey, it’s an idea.
You can make a hidden inventory yourself by digging a hole and placing a box, crate, cooler, whatever storage inside (except for fridges or wardrobes, that would look rather odd). It will be accessable, as long as you have it dug open. When burying, it’s unaccessable for you and for others, unless you dig it out again. Could be interesting, but again, there are some issues:
- forgetting the location: you might forget where you have hidden your box with your treasure. This can be fixed by having your map create a mark showing the inventories position. But then again, this might become annoying when having
- multiple inventories: on multiplayer servers, this would rather become annoying having buried chests all over the map, similiar to player made structures destroyed by raids which litter the environment.
Do you like these ideas?
- I like them
- They needs some changes
- I dislike them
Games that inspired suggestions:
Stranded 2, H1Z1, DayZ, Minesweeper, Animal Crossing