Don’t let your friendship starve.

Getting through a long-distance friendship can be pretty rough, especially when you’re used to seeing someone all the time. Yet, many friends will find themselves separated by a significant distance at some point in their relationship. Too often, people lose touch or shut down when they aren’t able to physically see their friends or loved ones .This article will explore how to get through that rough patch with video games. More specifically, it will explain how I used Don’t Starve Together to get through a long separation from my closest friend.

My situation involves my best friend and fellow gamer, Katherine. We were roommates all four years of college (life can be funny like that), and we spent every spare moment together. Needless to say, summers have always been a bit difficult for us, with each of us going back to our hometowns. This summer was probably the hardest, because it came right after we graduated from school. Anyone that has survived the transition from college to the real world knows that it is a difficult time fraught with stress and uncertainty. What Katherine and I thought was going to be a two or three week separation quickly turned into three months, as we both struggled to find employment in the city of our choice where we intended to continue our time as roommates.

As the weeks wore on, we realized that it was going to be awhile before we’d be able to be in the same place again. In situations like that, I find it’s always important to find ways to “hang out” even if you’re not in the same physical location. Skype is a good option, but sometimes you may not feel like having a plain conversation. Typically when people get together with their friends, they participate in some sort of activity. That’s where Don’t Starve Together came in.Dont-Starve-Together

I had played the original, singular version of Don’t Starve during the academic year on my Xbox One. Once I discovered that there was a multiplayer version, I knew I had to get it. Don’t Starve Together, for anyone unfamiliar, is a survival game in which the world is randomly generated. Each time you start a new game, you begin on day one and move forward from there. If you die, you must regenerate the world and start at day one.

The style of the game is reminiscent of Tim Burton movies –very macabre and cartoonish. To survive, you have to make sure you maintain three types of stats. The main stat is health, represented by a heart on the top right of the screen. Damage is dealt by creatures and enemies; plus it can be degraded by environmental aspects like the cold. If your stomach bar is reduced to zero, you lose health until you die of starvation. This can be avoided by killing animals like rabbits and beefalo, or by eating berries, carrots, and other produce found throughout the world. You also have to keep an eye on your sanity. If it drops too low, the environment begins to transform and become more hostile towards you.Dont-Starve-screenshot-1

It’s a hard game with a lot to keep in mind as you play. This makes a friend all the more welcome. In Don’t Starve Together, you are joined by another player (or multiple players if you so choose) that you survive alongside with. There are a variety of ways to do this. You can create a server that allows a lot of other players to join your game, whether you know them or not. You can also create a “friends only” server that has a password to join. This is how Katherine and I played, just the two of us.

I think the most comforting part about playing Don’t Starve Together with a long distance friend is that you get to experience something together again. It goes beyond hearing about what their niece said at dinner the night before or telling them about the rude customer you encountered at work. You get to do the same thing at the same time as them, see it all go down together even though you might be states apart.

If you decide to play Don’t Starve with a long-distance pal, keep these friendship-building tips in mind. Both your characters and your friendship will survive longer if you do.

Don’t be bossy.

You probably don’t tell your friend what to do all the time in real life, so don’t do it in the game. Because of the nature of Don’t Starve, that might be more of a challenge than you think. Anyone who is competitive will want to maximize their chance of survival. That means making a plan, and any good plan needs everyone to be on the same page. If you need your playing partner’s help to make sure surviving a long time is a reality, you should be clear about your goals and what ideas you have. Make sure to ask for their ideas too, and don’t get upset if you need to tweak that master plan a little as you go–remember, the main goal is bonding!

Stick together.

When Katherine and I first started playing, we would often split up to maximize our efficiency. She would go to catch rabbits, and I would go on a hunt for spiders (and thus silk). While you should ultimately work independently of each other to some extent, you don’t want to be in completely different parts of the map all the time. What happens if one of you dies when you’re nowhere near camp, or what if you get into danger and need your friend’s help? Plus, seeing your little characters run around with each other on the map is pretty darn adorable.

Sacrifice for each other.

Don’t Starve is a survival game, so it can feel pretty natural to try to put your survival above everything else. Sometimes, though, it’s important to sacrifice for your friend. Don’t abandon them to fight a creature by themselves, and always lend a hand with supplies when needed. Being greedy about the food and materials you’ve collected is the fastest way to hurt your friend’s feelings and jeopardize the overall survival of the team. Being heroic and generous makes you look good in your friend’s eyes and can also give you a little narcissistic boost of energy.screenshot1

Pro tip #1: Have Skype audio running in the background or call your friend up on speaker phone so that you can talk in real time as you play. It makes cooperating a lot easier, and engaging with the game together a lot more fun.

Pro tip #2: Synchronize your compass with your playing partner at the beginning of the match. Basically, make sure that what is north for you is also north for them; it will make communicating a lot easier down the line.