Pain point iteration

Leveling System 

We have been continuing our "pain point iteration," that is, playing the game, finding pain points - things that are painful to endure when playing, fixing them and repeating the process. Again we sat down as a team on the weekend and had a multiplayer game of T&T. Once the game was over we discussed what is the biggest thing that needs to be improved?

Surprisingly we came away feeling that the game was really fun and well balanced. It caused us to have to think about where and when we built, to watch the wallet and to ensure we were encountering profit before we proceeded to attempt to expand.

The biggest pain point was that the only way to expand was to expand to other cities and develop resources all over the map (lets call this "horizontal" gameplay). The cost of horizontal expansion is significant which leads to a mid game economic slump. The early game we have the bank to give us enough of a loan to get up our first resource chain to deliver profit, then we hit the mid game slump where all we could do was wait for enough profit to be able to go for the next horizontal expansion.

After much discussion we have decided to implement a system to level up cities and resources. This provides something we call "vertical" gameplay). It means that even if you stay confined in a small area, you can continue to develop those resources by leveling them up. This provides more supply and demand and adds demand for additional resources on cities. Cities for example can level up and start producing more or demanding more resources. But beware - these cities and resources can go backwards if you do not keep up the movement of goods! This should encourage the player to optimize the system, as expansion always ends up with things getting clogged up and sloppy to some degree, and here the player risks resources leveling down.

Other Goodies

A non-gameplay pain point has been the way we plant forests on the map. Previously we have had a texture which we call a clutter map, which has a bunch of points on it which then instance the tree props. The problem is, we cannot see these props in the editor, we can only see them in game. This leads to real problems trying to tweak the forests such that they are where we want them.

I solved this recently by allowing the map designer to draw a polygon on the map and for them to indicate what ought spawn inside the polygons with what density etc. This was surprisingly easy to implement and eliminates the problem of not being able to see forests in the editor!

A lovely screenshot of forest tech in the editor!

Path finding has been a bit of a pain point. It used to work well, yet seems to have degraded over time. I spent a good amount of time going over the routing system and I found a rather large amount of bugs and then I killed them all! Here is my test setup:

That's all for this time folks! See you next time.

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