Revisiting the Economy

Part of the design process, it seems, is going back and changing things that seemed like they would work well on paper, but didn’t quite pan out in practice. Putting several systems together can be an especially challenging process, and the one you start with will likely need the most changing as the other pieces settle in around it.

For this release, I started by revamping the economy system. Largely, the redesign has met its goals – it has good performance, and it can represent a flexible set of events in terms of “what’s happening in the game world”. However, working on the UI for colony management has exposed a few areas for improvement. (Pictured below: not one of them.)

survey_yuendumu
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Colony Management

I’ve been making steady progress fleshing out the various colony-related mechanics, and though there’s still a lot to do there (in a way, everything for the next release has to do with colonies), there’s also a mostly-completed set of features to talk about.

colonized_systems

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Population Growth

In the last couple of months, I’ve been busy fleshing out the outpost/colony management screen shown in the previous blog post. Well, by “fleshing out” I mean “making all the buttons actually do something”, which in a few cases involves adding an entirely new set of mechanics into the game. The new mechanic I’d like to talk about here is “population growth”, that is, how a market grows in in size over time. (Brief aside: I’ll be using “colony”, “market”, and “outpost” interchangeably for the rest of the post. Yes, I really do need to straighten out the terminology at some point.)

pg_gilead

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Economy & Outposts

I’m going to break one of my unwritten rules today and talk about stuff that isn’t quite done, because the alternative is taking far too long to talk about it at all. There are a lot of inter-related systems in the works, and it’s not going to be possible to playtest properly until most of them are in place, so please keep in mind that the features I’m going to describe here may change more than usual.

Economy
If I’m counting correctly, this is the third “from the ground up” rewrite of the economy system. Well, maybe the second, since the first one wasn’t a re-write, technically. Still, the economy system has had a more turbulent path through development than just about any other part of the game.

(Let me take a moment here and clarify what I mean when I say “economy” – it’s the behind-the-scenes system that produces and moves around between markets commodities such as food, fuel, and supplies, and determines their base prices at various locations. This is different from a player-centric notion of “the game’s economy”, which focuses on how the player gets and spends credits – a perfectly fine use of the term, but not what I’m talking about here.)

eochu_bres

So, why did it go through a couple of complete re-writes? I think it’s because up until now, the primary reason for its existence – a macro-scale game that the player can participate in, which is to say building outposts and such – didn’t exist, and so the shape the economy needed to take was murky.
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Ship’s Log of Salvage Dave’s Final Mission

Order received from command: Alex wants campaign testing, especially of new salvage mechanics, missions, and abilities. So I say, why don’t I turn some testing notes into a blog post? Command approved the initiative noting, however, that it was imperative that I – paraphrased – “use discretion when it comes to certain elements you may encounter”. Discretion is my middle name! There isn’t room for it on my Domain Ident Chip however, so you’ll have to take my good word for it.  

Cycle 206, March 03

salvage_dave00

Over the last cycle, I’ve been making my living as a smuggler. The ship under my command is a Wayfarer-class freighter, the Iota-Max II, with good cargo capacity and decent armament.

Recently I’ve filled my cargo holds with contraband – and legitimate goods to disguise it.  All in all, recent life in the Sector has been relatively … Normal.

That’s all about to change.

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