SCUM's ridiculous survival meters include vitamins, muscle mass, and even a tooth counter

I hope you aren't tired of survival games with hunger and thirst meters, because SCUM has those—plus a reading for every vitamin and mineral your character's body needs. That's just the start. You can see SCUM's full character data screen above, which includes caloric intake and usage, muscle mass, and even a stomach volume meter.

Outside of its flagship metabolism simulations, a lot seems to be up in the air with SCUM, and it's changing as the developers react to feedback from a smallish group of invited alpha testers. The gist is that you're a prisoner on an island reality TV show, and you can compete in events to earn fame points to spend on gear, healing, and other things you might need to stay alive.

What will players do in the singleplayer mode? Will there be NPCs who give you quests? How customizable will the 64-player servers be for those who choose to rent their own? Will there be 'safe zones' on the island? All of these were presented as questions yet to be answered when I chatted with community manager Josip Barišić at PAX East a couple days ago. But vitamin deficiency simulation is settled.

Survival isn't a binary problem of 'eat or die' in SCUM. Though I assume you will die if you don't eat, what you eat is important, too, and will affect your character's physical characteristics. If you create a heavy, buff character but are unable to maintain a diet high in protein and carbohydrates, you'll lose muscle mass and weight. Barišić tells me that the tooth counter exists because if someone knocks all your teeth out, you won't be able to chew solid food and will have to find a way to liquefy it. That is apparently a real feature in SCUM.

According to Barišić, players won't have to pop open this screen and track their carb intake—just like in real life, you can get by without paying a great deal of attention to nutrition. Players who want to min-max their vitamin B levels, however, have the option to. A carefully planned diet and exercise regimen (see the video above for more on the latter) can give you an advantage, improving stats like speed, max carrying weight, stamina, and so on.

There is a goal to SCUM: get off the island. And there's an in-game explanation for all this nutrition data, which is that it's transmitted to you by an implant in the back of your neck. Barišić tells me that before you escape the island, you'll have to find a way to remove the device without dying—probably with the help of other players who've leveled up their medicine and programming skills. Once you do, you'll no longer have the benefit of knowing your precise sodium level.

A lot about SCUM remains unclear to me, and may simply be undecided. For instance, I noticed that when Barišić changed his character's body type during character creation, his intelligence number changed, which doesn't make much sense. But it won't be like that in the final game, he tells me. 

Everything being subject to change, I don't know exactly what SCUM will look like when it releases in Early Access sometime in the next few months. Just playing with its comically detailed simulations may be enough to make it fun for awhile, though. Aside from metabolism, SCUM also simulates the wetness of fabrics, and includes a frighteningly complex skill system. I look forward to laying out my gear to dry and manually zeroing my scopes while munching on high-protein, high-fiber foods, even if just for the novelty of it all.