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A thought about food and water.

You could have both hunger and thirst diminish at a set rate, but for thirst that rate could increase while you're in the sun, reverting to a lower rate when you're in shade. Likewise hunger could increase while you're using tools, before returning to the base rate.

This would allow you to introduce a reason for the player to build shelter from the start, without making it overly difficult in the early game.