I started working on a way to allow the player to select from a set of systems to install on their station. It demanded a whole host of different development phases to be pulled together.
How would I structure the systems as data?
What attributes should each system have?
Technical aspects aside, this part of the process taught me that the one thing you can predict during the game development process is change.
I started the planning phase with nothing but ‘pure’ simulation in mind. Yes we can have a bar that shows the player how much water they have left on board the station and yes they can add new systems to increase said water supply, but what if we make it so that the water supply level doesn’t even appear until they add……A WATER TANK!
Then, later on when you are drawing art for a H2O reactor that the player can install on their space station to boost water production and fill up the water tank, I was confronted with the possibility of having to depict a pipe, sending the water to the water tank the player has been required to install before they can even get to the stage where they have my questionable pixel art rendered on their machine.
But what if they didn’t install the tank?
Would I even need to go the trouble of making them….pipe the water from the reactor to the tank. If so, do I need to add in more GitHub issues to plan programming this?
As I let out a standard sigh, I realise the question I should be asking myself is how complicated I want this game to be. Or even better, how much do I need to simulate in a simulation game before everything just get’s so technical that it’s less of a game and more of a discount pixellated holodeck?
Needless to say, I ditched the tank requirement for water producing systems. Players don’t need to install a box to store the water in, just like they don’t need to build an oxygen tank or wire up artificial gravity to stop visitors to the station from floating into the nearest bulkhead.
So my advice to anyone out there is this. When things start to feel like they are getting too complicated, ditch the water tank.
Here are a few of the new systems I created art for. Not in the game yet, just on the drawing board. See you soon. 🙂