Pressuring Design Detail

Pressuring Design Detail

Heya everyone :D I’m going to try something a little different this week. Normally I try to avoid the long-winded, overly-granular design discussions and give you something short and punchy about our latest feature. I thought for a change it might be interesting though to show you guys a more granular level of the thinking that goes into how we pick what to do each week. Disclaimer as always, everything is in a state of flux and it liable to change (hopefully for the better!). So here we go!

We’ve been considering the soup “satisfaction system” that went in a week or so ago and the flow-on effect it’s having to ‘pressure’ on the player in game. Currently, the level of pressure feels somewhere between mediocre and frowntown. :( Here’s a run down of the current system, the results and some potential fixes.

Satisfaction system: Customer satisfaction starts at 0%. Shipping soup increases satisfaction between 5%~15% depending on how much they like the flavour shipped. Satisfaction slowly decays over time and sending a bad flavour can sharply reduce it by -5%. Money is earned each payday from shipping the soup to satisfy customers.

Motivation to ship soup: 

  • Buy research (the research and upgrades purchased are all quality-of-life improvements related to building a base & shipping soup).
  • Collect as much money as possible for Soup Co. to fulfill an end-game condition (effectively a high score with no functional application beyond bragging rights).

Here’s the two pressure points that are currently in-effect.

ENEMIES: Spawn conditions:

  • Fail to ship soup for a while (punishes players already under-performing).
  • Ship bad soup (punishes players already under-performing).

Available design knobs:

  • Spawn timing
  • Number spawned
  • Relative strength (HP, damage)
  • Behaviour (flying, charge attacks, lays eggs, aim target buildings)

OXYGEN: Spawn conditions:

  • When outside, the player’s oxygen bar depletes over time until it runs out and they suffocate. Linked to the world environment, it is omnipresent and unchanging.

Available design knobs:

  • Suffocation speed

Current pressure problems: Neither of these are currently tied into the gameplay cycle. A regular player will never be attacked and not engage with the leash-range of the oxygen. Without external pressures there is no forced validation of your base design (“Oh noes! My eastern wall and corridors were breached. I need to build more towers over there and change the corridor angles!”). This also means there’s no “Yay” moment to watch your newly improved design overcome previous challenges.

The research rewards are related to soup shipping but, that activity itself doesn’t produce any pressures (“Yes a new robot and quicker soup factory! Now I can make even more soup faster!”). These rewards are helping perpetuate the current pressure-free play cycle.

On the note of “pressure”, what constitutes “good” and “bad” pressure for Inc?

Good pressure: Present a problem that has multiple solutions requiring player action.

Bad pressure: Present the player with a problem that has no engaging counterplay. Can also be short on available design knobs to turn for tuning or balance.

So what do we do?

The first low-hanging-fruit change would be to tie enemy wave spawning to soup launches or the satisfaction percentage. Pressure it creates will naturally scale relative to player base size. More soup exports on a bigger base will certainly incur more enemies, but a bigger base also implies further research progression and better defenses. This should feed nicely into the soup export reward-cycle which already produces things directly related to the act of building a base & shipping soup.

A potentially more impacting long-term test (albeit difficult with our low number of developers) would be to try replacing the oxygen system with a fog-of-war. Fog-of-war maintains a similar vibe to the oxygen while also creating a new currency of ‘vision’. Buildings produce a light radius, so base building for safety is still necessary. Navigating the dark is also a problem that comes with better risk/rewards (restricting information can lead to enemy attacks or your base being partially destroyed rather than the time-tax of returning for air vs death).

Let me know in the comments if you guys enjoy this sort of thing and I’ll try to do one every now-and-then. Or yell if you just want more GIFs. :P

Analysisbot

My coworker is robot!

My coworker is robot!

Hi there! I’m the beer & robot loving artist Yamatron!

My work colleagues have been increased! And, they’re robots!

…although just in-game robots.

Robots that will help the Astroworkers in the base have been implemented this week. Picking up ingredients, they put them in factory, automatically! Now, it’s easier to expand production. Above all, it’s not lonely!

porter_image

robot_factory

 

tokobots

Yummy!

Yummy!

There we go.. NOW I feel connected with my soup eating customers. The new GUI we’ve added this week lets you see exactly how satisfied they are with the soup you’re currently shipping. In the future we’re thinking different planets could have different flavour preferences, difficulties to satisfy, *insert your fun idea here*. :D It also gives us a chance to visually bring in some of the outside Galaxy, showing you the planets and faces of real Soup Co. customers!

yummy

mmm

bad

I love how the “BAD!!!” guy clearly hates it, but is still forcing it down for some reason. Nice work Yamamura! :)

eatbot

New LOS Towers

New LOS Towers

We finally have our newly designed towers and they are WA~AY more engaging than the old towers. :D

turret_sample

So the ancient debug towers from another era had 360deg vision and could shoot through walls. The new towers obey proper line-of-sight (LOS), have a reduced vision and CAN’T shoot through walls. Base layout really matters now when you get attacked.

I also found an unexpected use for our T-junction corridor pieces. “Makeshift roach-motels” to bait enemies looking to come inside. :)

turretturretbot