As of Alpha 17 of 7 Days To Die, the XP system disproportionately privileges mining and killing zombies.
WHY IT COULD BE IMPROVED
Since zombies are a source of experience, players internalize a desire and need to hunt zombies, when it should be the reverse. The game’s implicit premise is about survival, and incentivizing players to actively seek out zombies to fight is counter to that conceit.
The game features missions at various POIs, and the rewards for the mission are undercut by the fact that the XP for killing the zombies on the way to and at the POI dwarf the reward itself; especially considering how much time it may take players to travel to shops on proc-gen games.
Having a large XP bonus for mining naturally drives min-maxers to perform potentially un-fun repetitive behavior for the sake of progress.
By selectively rewarding mining as non-shareable XP, it imbalances team progress, and dis-privileges exploration, construction, foraging, and other un-rewarded activities that may be vital for the team’s survival.
Creative bases and traps have a glaring down-side in that non-kills and trap-kills don’t yield any XP.
HOW IT COULD BE IMPROVED
Have the primary source of XP be time based - the longer each player of a party stays alive, the faster the rate of XP gained (increasing logarithmically towards a predetermined maximum).
Penalize death by temporarily reducing XP gain rate - a single death could be a minor dip, where as repeated deaths, temporally proximate deaths, and team wipes result in increasingly larger penalties.
Don’t give XP for menial actions such as mining, crafting, farming, etc. - all player contributions to the party’s survival as a whole contributes to the party’s XP.
Make the only external source of XP come from meaningful milestones, such as completing missions, X days without a death, deathless survival of a “blood moon” (with required kills to discourage just running away), number of POIs discovered and cleared, etc.
Improves team-hood by encouraging players to care about their teammates, and about their survival.
Makes zombies scary again because every encounter has to be considered against negative consequences and not positive gains.
Makes it easier to tune for a specific game experiences because there is a theoretical maximum at which players can reasonably progress.
Encourages players to contribute to the team in more subtle and abstract was by allowing intangible contributions to benefit the team consequentially as opposed to based on metrics and game stats.
Provides a meaningful consequence to death other than wasting players’ time traveling back to the location of their death to recover potentially dropped items by having the cost be socially borne.
Refreshes a variety of play styles, roles, and activities by shifting to different mindset for many common styles
Builders - advancement and activity vs chunk heat and increased zombie encounters
Squatters - building’s contained resources and depletion rate vs risk of clearing a new building
Nomads (Runners) - Playing the game handicapped by a compounding XP deficit from running away on “blood moons”
Nomads (Raiders) - POI risk assessment based on needed resources vs potential hit to XP growth