Removing micromanagement while keeping realism


#1

Hey Guys,

I was watching the livestream today and Tom was talking about how they removed intermediate steps, such as having to make flour from wheat before you made bread, and timber from wood logs before you could make furniture, because it felt like having steps just for the purpose of having steps. This to me sounds like a sound game play decision as from what they have been saying they want you to have overall management without having to micromanage each worker.

I was thinking that although I don’t want to have to tell my baker to make flour before making bread, maybe if I said make bread, the baker would know that making bread requires flour and demonstrate the via a four step series of animations, for example he would get the wheat and take it to a mill stone where he would grind it, he would then take it to his work bench where he would knead the flour to produce a dough, put the dough in the oven and then remove it thus making bread. So the baker would do all the steps necessary to make bread from wheat, but you wouldn’t have to manage each step, because a baker should know how to do all of the steps.

What do you guys think?


#2

It seems like a aesthetic step really. From the previews I’ve seen so far, there aren’t animations for changing the wood into the finished product in the wall,floor or roof. Nor do we see the process of turning wood into scaffolding before they place it; it just happens. So really having the extra step just adds extra time to completion. However having that extended time could mean higher level workers would do those activities faster and more efficiently?


#3

I’m not sure if you’ve played gnomoria, but the guy over there changed the crafting process a while ago by having your units automatically do what you’ve said above.

For example, if you wanted to build a bed. you would previously have had to micromanage each step in the chain, whereas now all you need to do is queue ‘bed’ and your worker (as long as the relevant workshops are built) would build each required material without any need for you to intervene.

By the sounds of things this is the system that will be in place for SH, in that you could possibly micro each of these things if you wanted a stockpile of specific items, but the removal of these intermittent stages frees up the time and removes items for the sake of having items.

As for the animations, I don’t think there will be animations like you are asking for - but I’m not sure on that! Judging by other games it would probably be a case of your unit moving around the workstation with a general craftin animation and then the item is built.

Edit: Just got to the section of the livestream from last night - it seems micromanagement will not be in outside of combat, you simply orchestrate your units and watch it all unfold.


#4

My villagers are made of tiny cubes. There are sentient rabbits that live underground. There is a baby dragon and a baby mammoth roaming around my village who will never grow up.

Who needs realism?


#5

Sounds like they are sticking to the principles of game design. =)
Depth instead of complexity.

If you decide to build 1 bed in the game, the decision doesn’t get any more interesting from having to order 6 wooden planks produced before you can order the bed to be built.
The intermediate step would be a pointless chore with zero decision-making involved.

The current crafting system in [Planet Explorers][1] is a very bad example for this.
If you go though the trouble of designing a vehicle, it’s not enough to collect all the materials when you want to build it. No, you have to get the material, and get the tires from this place, and the weapons from that place, etc.
It’s not fun or intuitive. All it is is one big chore instead of a unified system.

That structures may be required to build certain projects is fine. Like… you have to build a sawmill before you can build large houses.
The cost of a large house is still measured in units of wood and stone. Your settlers merely “use the sawmill” to turn the wood into boards, rafters, and whatever other parts happen to be needed.

That’s what you get when making a plan for the crafting system before coding it. =)
[1]: http://planetexplorers.pathea.net


#6

Rather than start my own thread about this i will post my 2 cents in here.

I think those steps should be take. If you are going through the steps to make “mini games” for farming, why cut out the steps to refine the materials?

Personally I don’t think they should cut out the process to make boards, ruff and even fine boards are required to make finished items. What you should have is the option to make a really basic ruff item out of the unprocessed logs. Log home vs timber home; a Log framed bed or chair vs, a nice pine or oak board bed or chair.

If you want to have different levels of furniture quality then I don’t think you can leave out the steps required to make those items.


#7

I do agree though that if ‘planks’ are a required component for furniture, then it might be nice to make them intermediately and stockpile them rather than having to make everything from scratch. This is a way to invest for the future if your units are otherwise idling. Maybe this is just handled by a storage compartment in the appropriate workshop.

If a bed needs 6 planks, then the carpenter would automatically make them if they are not in storage. There would probably also be a way to have him not use the planks in storage if you are saving them up for a really big job later - say like an ornate throne that needs lots of planks and also some fabric.

This could be one of the ways you could optimize carpentry (or other minigames) if you want. You can always just make things and the carpenter would go through the steps automatically if the resources are available, or you could be really efficient by stockpiling. The game is fine without the micromanagement, but really paying attention will give you the extra edge.


#8

This is a really interesting issue. The problem is that we have no idea what the scope of the game is going to be. Managing a handful of villagers is a small task, but what if your small town turns into an enormous, walled fortress city with a thousand + villagers?

I’m very curious to see Tom and Tony (and now whoever else they hire on) work around this issue. It seems to me that if you have to little management, the earlier stages of the game will be boring. If you have too much management, the later stages of the game will be impossible. There have to be some compromises made where as you progress in size and scope, various management options present themselves.

I hate to say this kind of problem reminds me of spore, but it really does.The change in perspective with exponential population growth kind of deal, at least. Maybe the devs could/will explain this.


#9

not to nit-pick, but i believe this is a little more than they are aiming for in SH… closer to 200 units is the number we’ve heard tossed around…

that would be Stephanie (@sdee), and whomever else they bring on… :smiley:

and i too would like to hear them weigh in officially on this… personally, i like the simplified approach to the crafting process that SH is taking… the simple philosophy i subscribe to is, is there an interesting reason why im doing this “thing” in the game? if not, weed it out…


#10

Ah okay, my bad on the population size. I was unaware that there was an official number that was being tossed around. That’s not exactly nitpicking, either. The difference in managing 200 vs. 1000 units has the potential to be somewhat drastic.


#11

well, its by no means “official”, as anything is subject to change at virtually any time… :wink:

but that number did come up, i believe during the Pizza Party live stream?

and absolutely, managing 200 units would be significantly different than trying to tackle 1000…


#12

Yea, I think population scale is an important thing to keep in mind, even though it’s not fully nailed down. But it’s probably going to end up being more than a handful and less than a crowd. :wink:

-Will


#13

The “mini-game” for farming is “Where do I plant my crops to find the most nutritive soil? How do i lay out my irrigation so that I maximize crop land while maintaining soil water levels?” That seems interesting to me. Having to make a plank for no other purpose than as an intermediate step to making something else does not. (If you are thinking of the mini-game popup from the Kickstarter video, that was a 2D mock up of the 3D farming that will happen in game. It will not be in the game itself.)

If you want items of differing qualities, then add those directly to your menu of craftable items. This way one click sets the build order and the quality. Having to explicitly create rough planks before making my splintery chair adds unnecessary complexity without deepening gameplay.

Having thought some more, though, it begs the question what is a resource and how do you monitor progression in game? If all it takes to build a castle is stone and wood, then I can build one as soon as I start a game, which is fine since function is defined by objects rather than structures. So the progression in game will really go according to what objects are available to craft, which is probably why having an intermediate step just to make an object doesn’t deepen gameplay in Stonehearth.