January 28, 2014 5:45 PM | John Polson
In-game footage of Svajūnas Žemaitis' Sustain caught the attention of the indiegaming community on reddit for its flat shaded polygons and natural survival interactions, and now the developer has released an early alpha of his first-person game.
The present alpha showcases four different items for defending against wolves, tree chopping, and rock mining, along with simple day-night progression and the ability to build and cover over a fire. The only controls that weren't explained in the readme were how to pick up the animal meat, which requires being bare-handed and continually holding the left-mouse button while up close to it.
Sustain doesn't have much information floating outside of the reddit post and the developer's YouTube channel. He shared that he will release the game for "pay what you want" including free and has already begun to take donations via PayPal.
I reached out to Svajūnas Žemaitis and asked when the alpha would release. Along with the reponses to my questions, he offered up this Windows-only alpha version made with Unity for people to try.
Svajūnas tells me he is 18 years old and a senior student at Lithuania, Kaunas (KMUG). He started developing Sustain about a week ago. "It all started from a cashier simulator game that I made just to prove to my friend what a stupid game that would be. It was a game made for laughs, but I actualy learned a whole lot. The whole grab and carry system came from that game."
He says he then saw a post on reddit about flat shaded models and got visually inspired. He also says he is 100% self-taught when it comes to making games. "My understanding of making games came mainly from YouTube tutorials."
With only a week into the game, much of the conversation surrounded the future. "I plan on expanding the whole survival aspect of the game and make the gameplay feel natural via interactions like you can see in the videos, such as cooking the meat by hovering it above the fire... the natural feel that I strive to induce in the player is all of the small details, that other games don't bother showing."
As evident in the alpha, Sustain is only single player at the moment. He mentions the game having a degree of procedurally generated content, but he hasn't decided the extent. "I could make a massive hand-crafted world that could look amazing, but the replayability would be lost, or I could make a bland world with high replayability. But I think I will make the world static and add other aspects of gameplay that add replayability. The goal is to make the gameplay hard but rewarding, and I think Don't Starve captures that nicely.
"Also I have this idea of adding bosses, but the fights would be something similar to Shadow of the Colossus: I want to capture that scale and awe of fighting a giant beast. The survival aspect will be expanded upon beyond just nature, of course there will be temperature to handle in different biomes (desert, snow), but the enemies will be a big threat. I feel like I'm starting to sound like Peter Molyneux, but I think all of these features are possible to implement."
With all these big plans, he says that Sustain is the first game that he actually wants to finish. "I'm now very motivated to keep on developing this game, after all of the positive response that it got."