What does the author want to say with that headline? Let me explain: In Industry Manager (and yeah, we renamed the game recently) you’ll have to keep a lot of factors in mind. Probably you won’t notice all the little details we took into consideration, so let me just explain you a few things here. Maybe someone might find it helpful once the game is out there.
When you start the game you will need to buy a sector on the map so that you can actually place buildings for your production chains. And in fact it can be quite a heavy decision as sectors are completely different. Not all resources are available in each sector. And even if they are available their amount varies. In some sectors oil is more common and therefore can produced quite quickly. In other sectors it is rare and it will take ages to get it out of the earth.
Well. These are the obvious things. We have hidden way more factors which influence the sectors. For example you can hire way more people in a sector which is closer to a town. Why? Well, cause people live close by. The farer away the sector is from a town, the less people you can hire. Also water. Water is quite important if you want to produce food in farms. If the sector is closer to a lake the ground will be more fertile. On the other hand, if it is closer to the open sea, it will be less fertile due to the salt level.
So if you ever wonder why something is like it is in our game: Just think about it. Take real world effects into consideration and you’ll probably find out…
What I never understood was the fact that many economy simulations offered sandbox modes but did not really allow the players to customize their sessions. Where’s the point in offering a sandbox if you just play the game over and over again in the very same way? Why do these games not give the power to the player? Well. We don’t know for sure but what we know is that we’d like to give as much power to the player as possible.
What does this mean? Options. That’s the answer. Options upfront, before you start your sandbox journey. How big do you want to have your map? How much starting money would you like to have? How many AI opponents would you like to have? Would you like to get some things automated? But that ain’t everything. Why not allowing the player to customize the game while he or she is already in the game? Well, we do that, to be honest. Just one simple example: Renaming the product you are producing? Go for it. It’s up to you.
Whenever you have a sandbox, make use of it. That’s the credo. And we’re following it.
First of all: A happy new year to everyone out there. And sorry for the lack of updates but we were pretty much busy with developing the game these days (yes, even over Christmas. A game doesn’t code itself and we’re working really hard for progress). Anyways. It is time for a new entry in the devblog. I mean, it’s a new year, so we should start talking again.
Where to start? Well, I think I’ve got something in mind for the post today. And the title already gives you a small hint. Accept that you are a game. Or to describe it a bit better: Make your game accept that it is a game. Economy simulations most times are super realistic and don’t offer humor at all. They take themselves way too serious. Which is, well, fine. But also it’s not. Developers often forget that the players know that it is a game. Sure, the mechanics must be realistic and believable. That’s part of the genre. But why do games of this kind not just accept that they are a playfield for the players? Actually that could be part of the immersion.
At least that is what we thought. I mean, we already have a future setting. The mechanics are based on our days economy systems and they are quite complex and as realistic as possible. But are all the products realistic? We don’t know. We assume they will be real at some point. We did a lot of research on what is and what will (hopefully) be possible soon. But of course we cannot predict the future, just guess what’s likely. What does that mean? Well, we are developing a realistic game which might be unrealistic. And that gives us some freedom as we already accepted that we’re developing a game.
So how do we make the game accept that it’s a game? Nothing easier than that: Make it a playfield. Once the developer accepted that it’s “just” a game, it’s much easier for the game to accept itself as well. And I think we found a good way to show that it is a playfield. Where other games continue the maps and block the camera of the player we decided to stop the map and let the player see that it’s “just” a map. That way the player will always be aware that it’s just a game and hopefully understand that the game itself is aware of that, too.
Finally I found the time to write the entry I wanted to write weeks ago. Remember when I promised to write something about color schemes and their effect on the user. Or better said the experience which they can influence. It’s all about expectations and a bit of the mainstream feelings. Sounds weird? But that’s how it is in fact. Take yourself as an example: What emotion do you associate with the color “red”? In most western countries red is associated with love, while black, for example, is associated with grief (which is a bit stange as in some other regions white stands for grief). As we chose a half futuristic setting we also had to think about the colors we could use in the menu structure.
The most important question was: What colors do we, do people, do gamers associate with the future? With modern design? With technology? Of course we had our own assumptions. We thought that white, blue and everything in between would fit for the future. We googled (yes, developers do that as well, obviously we cannot know everything). And in fact, what we felt was right, was indeed right. If you google for futuristic design and search for pictures you’ll find a lot that will look shiny white and pale blue. Everything a bit metallic. And what is also clearly visible (or not so visible, pun intended): transparency.
Currently we do not have the final menu structure set up. We rework the menus on a regular basis, adjusting things all the time, making the menus easier to use, experimenting a bit with the buttons, their sizes and their exact positions (and their looks). So everything you see in this post is subject of change. The only more or less final things are related to the colors and colorcodes.
What do you do if you have a lot of colors you’ve chosen? Well, you could definitely just include them in your game. But did you know that colors often don’t really fit to each other? Even if they are close to each other they can seem disturbing to the enduser. We could definitely hold a talk about this topic but there’s an easier way to find a solution to this problem. In fact, we’re not the only ones who ever faced that situation and actually Adobe has a tool available to help you. Which colors do fit for the colors you’ve chosen? And do these colors actually fit for each other? So we used it. And it was fine. It’s a pretty cool tool we’d like to recommend if you’re ever struggling to find the right colors. The results are pretty nice.
Today we’d like to start (yet) a special series for our development blog: The sources of inspiration. Every game created has inspirations of course, may it be movies, comics, books or other games. And we want to share our inspirations actually. In 2002 a game called “Industry Giant II” was released and it was a great game for fans of the genre. It had some really interesting mechanics which will also be part of economica.
Besides having a working economy-system the game featured some kind of realism which we really liked. You could build your production buildings somewhere in the landscape but you were not able to directly sell stuff to the people. You first had to deliver them to a shop within the town. Actually you had to ship them to a storage before putting the product into the shelves and before doing so you had to build that shop as well.
Now that’s quite a realistic approach which highlights all the important steps of an actual product chain: Produce, ship, sell. And that’s what we are going to implement in economica as well (with giving the player a little bit more freedom). The player will be able to build several buildings producing various things (we will be talking about that in a later post). From here on he’ll have the choice: Store it in a warehouse or directly ship it to the stores (in fact, both decisions will have their pros and cons)?
In fact we believe that this way is even more realistic. Of course we have a few other mechanics in the game which will profit from this decision but overall we thought that we should improve the working system with a bit more freedom. See, it’s, as stated, more realistic. In the real life some products are directly shipped to the stores and not temporarily stored in warehouses. And yes, of course, before selling the products the player will have to build the warehouse and buy a shop in the nearest town. Why? Because that’s part of the product chain: Produce, ship, sell.
It’s time for a new blog entry, isn’t it? Actually I wanted to write about something totally different today. With yesterweeks explanations regarding the setting for economica I wanted to write something about color schemes this week. Like: What colors do people accept for (slightly) futuristic settings? But it’s always the same, isn’t it? Nothing works out as planned. We’re currently super busy with developing the game and we’re close to a first internal alpha these days (which means: A lot of features are in the game, the dev-build is still ugly since post processing effects are totally turned off and huge chunks of content are missing and last but not least the features do not yet really work well hand in hand with each other. To be totally honest: Currently the market research is trying to strangle the transport system. But that’s a different story…) and I hardly find the time to write about complex topics.
What does that mean? Well, no color schemes this week. Instead something more simple. Oh. Erm. Not for our 3D Modelers of course. But for me something more simple. As it’s easier to write down. Since we’re fans of the open development approach we’d like to share progress as it’s being made. So let’s have a look on the art creation side this week (And yep, that’s the reason for a new series on the blog. So whenever I run out of time to write a new entry, I’ll probably just follow up with the creation line). Hm. Yeah.
Okay. So. Welcome. Welcome to the first entry in the Creation line. This week we’ll have a look at our Oil Well. On the left you can see an early version of it. That was created for our first internal builds where we had to setup a building system (basically we needed something we could place somewhere in the landscape. Of course not totally somewhere as such things as cities or roads should be blocked areas, but again, different story). Since that time the 3D model was used for a while. As you can see, things changed. If I ever find the time, I’ll update the post with an animated gif showing off how the Oil Well looks when it’s animated. But as you can see: Quite a lot of things changed. The 3D Model was slightly updated here and there but more importantly the textures were added. And of course effects such as shadows (or overall “lightning”) do make a massive difference. It takes quite a while to get everything in place and to add all the little details.
Want to see an example? Well, here you got: Just have a look on some of the textures. Of course these aren’t all the textures used in the model. Lots more had to be created. For the roads, for the machines, the trees and so on and so on. But yeah, as you can see, we mind the details. Every little part in the world of economica gets treated with the very same love. If you love the details, you get the details done right. And if you get the details done right, they’ll form an extraordinary picture in the end. At least, that’s what we are aiming for.
We’ve found our setting for economica. But it wasn’t easy to find. We knew from the very beginning that we wanted to create a complex economic simulation. But: When should it play? The how was pretty much clear, but timings are not only important when it comes to delivering a release candidate. In fact, time defines the gameplay in our case. Take a look at recent history: Industry was quite different a few years ago.
Now imagine two different scenarios and how they would affect the gameplay of an economic simulation game: The industrial revolution when the first business tycoons were striving for market power and the era of the American frontier with cowboys roaming through the wild west. Okay, the later one isn’t the most obvious one if we talk about economic / industry simulations, but it would be an interesting scenario. And yep, we also thought about realising this setting. However, you get the point: The actual gameplay would differ quite a lot, while the gameplay machanisms beneath would be similiar.
As you probably can imagine (from last weeks announcement and target shots) we decided to chose a slightly futuristic setting for economica. And we did it for a reason. Cause we’re fans. Fans of the future. Nearly all of the products you will be able to produce are already available or will (according to several analysts and trend researches) be available within the next 50 years.
That’s quite exciting if you think about it. Just the hoverboards might be still a bit unrealistic (at least if we want to use them on non-metal-grounds – but that’s a different story. And yes, we did quite some research on this). Plus: There are quite a few economic simulations out there but just a very few are set in the near future. Most are filled up with the pollution of the industrial revolution. And we wanted to stand out with economica. Not only with the gameplay but with everything else as well – and that also includes the setting.
Let there be an announcement, we willed it, and at once there was an announcement. Behind closed doors, hidden in our offices, we’ve been secretly working on a new business / industry simulation. And today an official press release was sent out, announcing our blood and sweat of the last months: economica. And with the official announcement out in the wild lands of the internet we can finally unlock our development blog.
You may ask yourself what we will do with this blog and the answer is rather simple: We will talk about the development of economica. It is as easy as that. We will share our thoughts, explain our design decisions and ask for your feedback. We will talk about our inspirations, share new materials (such as Screenshots) and explain the mechanics of the game.
It is planned to keep everyone posted on the development and we will try to post here on a regular base. We’d love to read you in the comments and be assured: We’ll also be there and answer your questions.
And why are we doing this? Well. That’s also quite easy to answer: We believe in the open communication approach. We’d like to discuss with you. And external influences can only help to make the game even better.
We’d like to thank you for stepping by and reading our words. A new post will be published soonish. Oh. And yeah. We’ve got some Target Shots for you as well.