Self-satisfaction and soup

Self-satisfaction and soup

Feeling cool is awesome (feeling awesome is also cool)! It’s usually because you did something you couldn’t before and trumped the “old you”. Sense of accomplishment though relies on knowledge of your past self. Without the right info to measure against, you’ll never know just how honestly terrible you used to be!

So we’ve cultivated some features that are going to help nurture this feeling of self-satisfaction and give you the info you’ll need to make decent strategic decisions about the production of soup.

Receipts – Every shipment of soup returns with not only your payment but a detailed receipt. Handy. :D

Earnings Report – Check your shipment history over time with a breakdown of soup flavours per shipment included.

Galactic News – See reports from abroad about the effects your soup production is having, and get market tips for possible future strategies. “Galactic tomato soup shortage drives up price? Well, this red alien thing looks close enough, let’s earn some bonus coin!”

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High scores and best lap times are historically great ways to pat yourself on the back. Games like Inc even give you the chance to be reactionary mid-play and improve. Change your production line design, swap soup ingredients, keep refining until you have the off-world soup production facility you always wanted. :)

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Ecologicated

Ecologicated

Hello, I am programmer kalin. I wrote the original prototype of PJ Inc long ago, and when I can find the time, do various gameplay design and prototyping in the current version.

Today we’ll talk about ecology!

Recently I added a simple ecological system and spent some time tweaking it. Ecology-related game objects are divided into Flora and Fauna – plants and animals.

Flora will continue to spread as long as there are sufficient nutrients around; be it soil or water or maybe even poison gas! Left long enough, it can get quite overgrown.

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Fauna will breed and multiply when they are well fed and happy. Usually they reach an equilibrium with their surroundings, but sometimes they can over-populate and eat all their food sources. Sadly this doesn’t end well for them… needs a little bit of tuning still!

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So I wondered what would happen if I tagged the fauna themselves as a food source… started up the game, the fauna searched for the nearest food source… and found it – themself! All the fauna in the world promptly consumed themselves and disappeared in a puff of particle effects. Oops!

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So overall the current system feels natural. Untouched areas grow thick with plant life, and creatures tend to gather around food sources – so be careful leaving your farming areas unattended!

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Research my broken heart

Research my broken heart

This week I’ve been plotting away, steeped in the design of our research & upgrade systems. I’ve come to an important conclusion: “Transforming buildings are awesome”. :)

I thought we’d share a design idea we’re probably NOT going to use for a change and point out some of the reasons why not. Here’s one of the ideas for research & upgrades we had:

You can unlock new building blueprints and levels with the money you make from exporting soup. Then choose which buildings you want to level up (also costing money). Seemed simple enough. Each building type (EG: my Generators) has a clear linear progression of power. Each instance of a building carries an internal ‘level’ and with an exchange of currency and labour you can ‘level them up’ by shooting them with a laser.

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So here’s the 2 main issues unique to Inc with this popular tower-defense style system:

  • It requires a lot of micro, jogging around to each building and ‘leveling it up’. In a pure tower defense game where that’s the ONLY thing you need to do, this might be fine, but you’re far to busy with other fun things in Inc to devote ALL your time to building maintenance and upgrading.
  • It’s impersonal. There’s no difference between my Lv2 Generator and yours. I want to tune for my playstyle and customise my base!

So that one probably isn’t the holy grail for research design we were looking for. We’re still testing a few different ideas yet for how research will ultimately play out. The end goal though is still to not have you bogged down in DOING research & upgrades but let you get on with ENJOYING them! :D
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Tubes can deliver, direct to you!

Tubes can deliver, direct to you!

Tubes are cool. Specifically, late 19th century pneumatic tube messaging systems. :)

The tubes that went in this week can deliver ANYTHING you place into them from point A to point B. Simple as that. :D We felt that setting up farms was taking a bit of space, and often built our factories in a slightly removed location closer to the power generators. Tubes mean now we can just mail all our harvest right next to the factory and someone can collect it at that end for soup production.

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The next step is to have robots deposit the ingredients in the tubes FOR us.. and collect them.. and process the soup. :D Only then can we humans sit back and marvel at our  robot automated soup making empire! …until something comes to destroy our base…

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Deconstructor Om Nom Nom

Deconstructor Om Nom Nom

The deconstructor has taken on some personality! It looks kind of ominous now.. can’t wait to give it some animation. Deconstructors will disintegrate ANYTHING you drop into them and pump out ‘matter’ that you can use wherever you want. They’re hand operated, so no power is required. Om nom nom. :D

deconstructor

On a side note, our visual style has been evolving internally over the last few weeks. We’re still letting the dust settle before revealing too much :P, but we’ve become quite fond of this outline now. It adds nice definition to edges so you know where to jump from, grab ledges, etc and it looks just plain cool. As we’re using all vector data, we can also zoom in as much as we like without losing any fidelity! :D Some nicely timed zooms linked to gameplay when pulling levers, interacting with buildings, etc could be cool.

We’re already VERY busy in the lead up to GDC. I’m sure there’ll be even more for everyone to see very soon. :)

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Blowfish..

Blowfish..

Lots of gameplay & price balancing happened this week. A combination of the new natural mushroom growth system, clones (lives) costing money and the new buildings going in meant some balancing has been needed for about a week. Using the matter conversion rate of dirt as a base, Tier 1 buildings are now achievable with some early exploration and deconstruction of things. :)

The only problem has been, I’ll sit down and start playing.. then suddenly 2 hours are gone and it’s lunchtime. o.O Cultivating and then defending my mushroom farm is pretty addictive at the moment.

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Also, I’d like to introduce the BANE of your generators if you leave them undefended. These blowfish creatures currently spawn in waves deep underground and seek out your base, eventually arriving to MESS IT UP. They don’t even have any particular programmed motivation to aim specifically for generators, but always seem to destroy them first..  which leaves my towers unpowered. They’re probably attracted to the energy hum.. ..stupid blowfish… -_-

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Life on the Vine

Life on the Vine

Give it life! Well.. “lives” at least.. We added them this week. Here’s the deal.

Think of a “life” in 1-6 as cloned-data of yourself. As long as you have cloned-data available at a cloning station, whenever you die you’ll be reprinted back there again perfectly. Whichever cloning station you set to be your respawn is where you’ll be printed. There’s a few points to remember though.

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-Clones must be purchased with ‘Matter’ as you play. To make sure you never run out of clone stock, you should buy one every now and then. Seeing as they cost ‘Matter’, you could effectively farm them indirectly and setup a clone farm so you never run out!

-Clones are SHARED across all players. Yes… ..yes. :) If anyone anywhere on the server dies, they will use up a clone. Better get that clone farm started. :D

If you die with no clones left, we’re currently considering 2 options:

-Explorer Mode: Respawn as a ‘broken clone-zombie’ until you can collect some ‘Matter’ to purchase a perfect clone.

-Hardcore mode: Game over man. Game over!

And we’ve been playing around with Vine a fair bit at the office this week. Our magnet sets were made for this. :D

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Easy play. Easy fun!

Easy play. Easy fun!

This week we nailed a backlog of small usability issues that have been annoying us. Niggly things that don’t stop you playing, but just make it less fun. :( And because they’re not critical they tend to back up.. until we come and clean house! :D

One of the more notable additions was shift+clicking to build multiple buildings of the same type. This is a common control in RTS games and now we have it I’m not sure how we ever got by without it. o.O Just hold down shift and stamp away with the blueprints.

An edge grab has gone in too. Without changing the actual jump height, you can now reach 1 block higher by grabbing the lip and jumping up (or just dropping from the lip to fall safely). It’s made movement in the world just feel easier and more fun (these are good things).

Get ready for the launch.

Our final large(ish) change for this week was the launchpad building. This was discussed last week as part of splitting “Money” & “Matter” into 2 currencies. Load up a small amount of goods into the launchpad and BOOM, fire them into space for an anonymous buyer. It’s a cheap option with a lower sale price, until players choose to research a warehouse and upgrade their shipping facilities.

And don’t mind the colours this week. We’re just spamming. :P

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Money Matters

Money Matters

Precious metals used to be the primary currency of trade in the galaxy. At a time now long forgotten though, technology was discovered which could ‘deconstruct’ any object into basic matter (the particles which make up the universe). And so it passed that simple matter became the accepted currency in the galaxy.

Certain precious metals though still remain resistant to the deconstruction process, making them even more valuable than historically known. Many establishments of old who deal in produce, manufacturing and higher technology research, still trade today using these metals.

You may have guessed it, we’ve split our currency in two!

‘Matter’ can now be obtained from ANYTHING in the world. Players can deconstruct resources down into their base particles and store them for later use. Matter is used to build new structures, buildings, perform base maintenance, repairs, etc.

‘Money’ is now earned by exporting manufactured goods and selling them to off-world buyers or markets. You can use money to research new technologies, new buildings and upgrades for your base!

We’ve already found this much simpler and easy to understand in play. It gives value to EVERYTHING in everything in the world. You can basically build an empire from dirt! It also makes it impossible to reach a ‘game over’ state as a result of poor financial/resource management. A time investment can recoup your loss!

There’s also something nice about walking through a pile of money and hearing the “bling bli-bling bling” sound as you collect it all! :D The first thing I built was a Scrooge McDuck style money pit!

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The World Wasn't Made in a Day

The World Wasn't Made in a Day

Hello! I”m Andy and this is my first post on the 1-6 blog. Since I normally like to keep a low profile and nobody knows me, I”ll briefly introduce myself and what I do at Q.

I”ve been working on PixelJunk as an artist way back since Racers. I did most of the art for the original Monsters, was responsible for the general art direction on the Shooter games and SideScroller, but I have a CS degree and got in the games industry as a level designer  because I like making levels. Because of this, I also did a lot of level design on Shooter and SideScroller, and am now helping out with programming on 1-6.

One of the things we wanted from the start in 1-6 is to have a world that is unique every time the game is run, so that every player will have a different experience, and also hopefully that people who buy the game will want to restart and try again on a different world. Anyone who has played Minecraft will be familiar with the excitement of starting a new game and finding a completely new world to explore, and this is something we would like in 1-6.

What I”ve been doing this week is writing some tests to improve our world generation. The meat of this is finding algorithms that can generate interesting patterns and coaxing them into creating features in the world such as tunnels, caves, ravines, forests, mountains; Basically areas that players will want to visit and hopefully instead of having a mess of extremely random looking shapes, will be memorable and easy to navigate by.

One of the easiest ways to add a memorable area into a procedural world is to have pre-designed areas saved in a file separate to the world, and have the world generator just stamp these into the world at random positions with only simple rules to guide it. One example is a rule that says there can”t be more than one of these stamps per world, another is a limit that prevents the stamp being placed too close to the surface of online casino dgfev the world. You could also have rules that makes stamps join together procedurally to create more complex areas.

Adding stamps can add interest to the world, but one of the problems is that – especially in a 2D game, where the player has not got a very wide view of what is around them – a single stamped area will only really be found by accident, when the player stumbles into them.

In order to help get around this problem, one thing I want to try doing is to add clues in the world that suggest the existence of something. When a player finds these clues, he or she should be able to deduce that if they follow the trail, they will find something that they are looking for. Some examples are natural formations such as a river flowing towards a lake, certain flowers that always grow around the edge of a desert, or small ruins suggesting the existence of a temple nearby.

Whilst it”s still early days for my tests, I hope to have more to talk about in a future post.