It was a crazy fast month, but a lot got done for Plotz. The big news is that Nuclear Compost Game Studio LLC is now a reality. I'm still learning a lot of business-related stuff but having it up officially feels nice.
I started working with a game artist this month, so I'm hopeful that I'll have some real graphics to show off soon! I'm incredibly excited to get Plotz looking as good as it deserves to.
As for development, I packed a lot of new stuff up into a demo version. Here are the highlights:
- Total makeover for the water cycle. This was an extensive effort, but very much worth it. The player has a little bit less control now, but the weather is much more balanced. The game finally has the feel I was going for where you need to plant a variety of crops and hedge your bets against what the season might bring for you.
- New soil types! There are now 3 types of soil in the game - sand, loam, and clay. They have different properties of how they handle during wet and dry seasons. Certain crops are best grown in certain types of soil. It's adding a nice new dimension of depth to the game.
- The Item Shop has a new menu mode where you buy an item and it goes straight into your hand instead of going into the Tool Shed. It's a nice usability enhancement that makes some aspects of farming go a lot faster and require fewer clicks.
- The tutorial has been merged with starting a new game. This came out of a great suggestion. I think it flows a lot better and should make it easier for new players to get right into things.
- The starting conditions of the game have been adjusted so that the seeds you have and the starting saturation levels mesh well. Now you should be getting pretty much any seed to at least come up as a seedling on day 1. Previously the starting conditions were such that you might have to do a decent amount of work to even start your first plant, and it was an unnecessary obstacle for new players.
- Now when you have a bag of seed in your hand, you'll always see the soil metrics for that seed's plant, even if there's already a different plant in the ground you're hovering over. This was mostly done to make it easier to "see through" the wild grass when you're planning where you want to plant something.
And for the promised charts, here's a few examples of water usage from some captured game data using the new and improved water cycling. They're great because you can really see how the weather patterns give your water usage a nice reciprocal pattern. First up, here's a well balanced season. Water usage cycles nicely - never bottoming out and never hanging on the top edge for too long:
Looking good! Now here's an example of what happens when you plant too many water-greedy crops in a dry season. You can still see the weather cycle at work, but you can also see how it has no chance to make up for the excessive water needs of the farm setup:
A big focus for me this month will be getting lots of marketing preparation done. I don't think I'll have a whole lot to post publicly for this until the big bang of the Kickstarter, but I'll let everyone know how it's going generally.
For development I'll be finishing up a handful of small usability and accessibility issues. I'm planning on improving soil initialization, but there won't be anything in terms of massive new features. The demo should be settling down to its final state over the course of this month.
Until next time...