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5 Pillars of Survival

At first I was afraid, I was petrified! (Surviving, the Hashtag way.)

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There's always been that unspoken feeling of this game being survival and that one just not cutting it. It's one of those "felt, not explained" things you feel in your bones. And before I dive into that idea, keep in mind that this document outlines the framework that defines a survival game in our shared space. If you're looking for our Subgenre list, the thing that organizes untidy game piles

From This:

To This:

Then you're looking for the Hashtag Subgenre List, which is a great way to find your "survival bucket"- that pile of games that play and feel similar.


So, pillars. The Pillars are currently malleable. They are no longer in the 'taffy stage' where anything goes; they're more like modeling clay. It takes more effort to change them, and you need a clear mental picture of what you're trying to convey and shape.

They encapsulate the genre and hoist the flag for folks yearning for survival to feel more like survival.


Preach, Reddit commenters!


It’s high time we call out the lazy trend of slapping the “survival” label on anything with a hint of crafting or a sprinkle of food mechanics. Finding a survival game to enjoy has become a scavenger hunt in a sea of half-hearted attempts, and we’re fed up. (Or at least I am.)

The pillars of survival that Hashtag has crafted are not about mindlessly checking boxes; they’re about depth and about weaving survival elements seamlessly into the game’s DNA. They're meant to help you navigate the wilderness of nonrelevant titles where advocates of dumbing down the genre are making more noise than those of us craving realism. I want to tip the scales and give credit where it’s due - cheers to the real survivors and the games that nail it.

Now, let’s dive into what makes an authentic survival experience.

NECESSITIES: A focus on monitoring a nutrition system and incorporating various factors like sleep, energy, sanity, etc., adds depth to the core gameplay. Neglecting these requirements should have significant consequences and introduce a meaningful layer of challenge and consequence.
MANAGEMENT: An inventory system that rises above limiting "slots" is a clever move. It forces players to make strategic decisions about what to carry, enhancing the realism of resource management- and making scavenging and travel require more thought and organization. 
WORLD: Including environmental aspects that impact gameplay, such as changing seasons and weather conditions, adds life and complexity to the game world. For example, true dark nighttime requiring a light source or darkness forcing you to modify your travel attempt can bring a tactical element to exploration.
RESOURCES: The emphasis on problem-solving, adaptation, and exploration in resource acquisition aligns well with the survival genre. Crafting tools, hunting, farming, and foraging contribute to a rich and varied gameplay experience, fostering a sense of progression.
HEALTH: Going beyond a traditional damage system by introducing complex health issues and corresponding cures adds realism and depth. This enhances the overall survival challenge while providing players with more agency when it comes to 'staying alive.'

Visualize the five pillars as the sturdy legs supporting the foundation of the “table of survival.” Yes, it’s a quirky five-legged table – humor me. And sitting on top of that table is a big ol’ ball of TENSION. 

Tension is the vibe that naturally brews when Necessities, Management, World, Resources, and Health are in full swing. When they’re in disarray – poorly executed or balanced, even downright absent – the tension takes a nosedive. It’s akin to balancing a table on one shaky leg – not the setup you aim for.

When you immerse yourself in an actual survival gaming experience, You fall into the sweet spot where tension naturally brews right in the thick of the action. 

  • Eyes on your needs.
  • Analyzing your tools and gear.
  • Navigating a chaotic world.
  • Hunting for resources.
  • Keeping yourself in top shape.

Keep it straightforward; let those five pillars collaborate, and tension follows suit. It doesn't need to be forced through artificial friction- adding a pointless boss, elaborate (and endless) crafting tiers, or poor mechanical balance to mime difficulty. 


Cheers to simplicity and crafting unforgettable gaming moments.
We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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