In most games, food is an afterthought, something you need to periodically consume to ‘not die’, but beyond that it doesn’t usually do a whole lot. In Eco, food is pivotal, because it is tied to your skills. In Eco, the better fed you are the faster your skills go up. Not only do you need to have a sufficient amount of food consumed as an individual, but that food must have diverse nutrition. Thus, eating only one type of food may let you survive, but your skill improvement rate will not be at the top of the charts.
Skills in Eco raise continuously, even when you’re offline. As a player, you choose which skill you want to raise and it will continue rising, with no level-cap. Depending on the type, those skills determine what you can do in the world and how efficiently. Skills in ‘Logging’ for example will raise how quickly you’re able to harvest trees, and how much yield you get from each tree. As your skill increases ad infinitum, you will begin to get diminishing returns, meaning it will usually make sense to change skills at some point, but there’s always room to specialize more in any given a skill. Players will be able to load up their inventory with food and set their character to eat offline, so they can stay at the top skill rate even when logged out.
Because players simply don’t have the time to specialize in every single skill, they will need to seek out others to help them in skill areas they lack. This limitation on skills thus has a tremendous impact on the game, because it creates the need for a player run economy. Players will be able to build a society much more efficiently if they collaborate with others, trading goods and service that they specialize in for goods and services they don’t (read about how players can sell not only goods but services in our earlier update here).
This connection between skills and food is key, because it ties players directly to the ecosystem from which their food comes. If a society is going to thrive, they need to take care of the ecosystem that is fueling them to ensure a diverse diet, or else their skills will stall, and they will lack the abilities needed to collaborate successfully. The growing, harvesting, and processing of food will become an industry itself, and players that support this industry can make a huge impact on the overall skill levels of the server, and thus the ability to work together to stop the meteor.