Accept that you are a game

posted in: Development | 3

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.

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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.

Color Schemes

posted in: Development | 1

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.

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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.

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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.

Sources of Inspiration #1: Industry Giant 2

posted in: Development | 1

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.

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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.

Thinking about the setting

posted in: Development | 5

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.