Designing time elements and survival needs

by Kim Aarnseth March 10, 2018

Designing time elements and survival needs

Time, time, time. And some survival needs! In this week's devlog which will be about Lunar Soil we'll be talking about:

  • Spacesuit and indoor gear.
  • How time works in Lunar Soil.
  • How time affects mood and characteristics.
  • Survival needs.
  • Why we bought The Sims 4 on PlayStation.

One small step for man, one giant leap for clotheschanging-kind

Each character has an indoor setup with clothes like hats, pants and other accessories (for example backpacks).  They also have an outdoor setup with a spacesuit and an airtank. Moreover, main hand and offhand tools are shared between the indoor and outdoor setup.

However, we noticed a problem with this; when being in an outside scene and going inside we wanted to show your indoor stuff. When being in indoor scenes we simply loaded the indoor gear. As we've created smaller outside buildings, we saw a need to seamlessly switch between the these two states; both for air re-supply reasons and base building reasons.  

So to solve this issue, we first tried make an awkward scene transition. This scene transition ended up just punishing players for going inside and outside and slowed down the game pace. Another thought was that you had to take off your spacesuit yourself which was just cumbersome and boring.  

So now we've landed on this magical poofing super streamlined transition extravaganza (as can be seen below); putting on your spacesuit automatically!

Naked - Spacesuit - Naked - Spacesuit - Naked... Naked - Spacesuit - Naked - Spacesuit - Naked...


Wip - Poof! Indoors outdoors Wip - Poof! Indoors outdoors

The flow of time at the rate of 42

We implemented and combined our night and day cycles with our main lights for the in-game time-system. Time goes by pretty fast in-game and we're still tweaking the correct value; Douglas Adams seams to know a thing or two about that as 42 looks to be a pretty good amount of seconds per in-game hour. Time should flow quite fast since we want short days and nights; avoiding having you stucked in long, dark night. Shadow and light will mainly play a role in viability and we might need to take care of designing enough interesting light-sources for base building.

Time, light and 42 Time, light and 42

Designing personality traits with time

Time is pretty important in Lunar Soil. It affects a lot of game-systems like character's needs and physiology, trading and cargo shipment, scientific research, plants growth and constructions.  We created some pretty simple but really useful events which we can design around; we have hourly events, minutes, weekdays as well as four parts of the day (morning, afternoon, evening and night). For now, we don't need monthly or yearly events but we do keep track of months and years as well.  

Now that we have this time system implemented we can for example begin to look at how the mental-state of an AI reacts to and will be affected by time. For example, the time system could affect moods and characteristics (that allow different dialogue options) or simply just change the amount of stamina a person has at night that is afraid of the dark. 

We can start to design personality traits like "morning person" which would give a character bonuses and efficiency in the morning. A specialist miner that only finds rare gems at night - is a another example of this.  

Cold crispy blue - day and night cycles. Cold crispy blue - day and night cycles.


The survival needs in Lunar Soil

Right now we're also digging deeper into the the survival needs of your crew; looking at how to design the UI the best way for both gamepad, mouse and keyboard. We just bought The Sims 4 on PlayStation to see how they deals with the handling pf several characters' needs for gamepad. Our aim is to make the game super user-friendly which can become tricky as we have many recourse managing systems needing space in our UI. Our UI should be as minimal as possible, adding to the game play, not disrupting it. Looking at how other games deals with similar systems can sometimes add some thoughts when figuring out how to best design our UI - or how to not design it ;-) Being a good designer means playing or investigating many games and how players play them which can give you inspiration and some do's and don'ts.

Air management - suffocating in space. Air management - suffocating in space.

Some of the basic survival needs in Lunar Soil are stamina, food, health and air (and of course the personality stuff which we'll be talking more about later, meanwhile read this post about Big Five). When out on missions these needs will become a somewhat important aspect of the gameplay. When you are low on stamina you will become slow and and for example unable to chop stones. This will force you trying to get home, rest or eat some some super-food. Being low on air means that your health will take damage; if ignored you will eventually get injured and unconscious and wake up in the medic bay.  

To survive you must also eat. You will probably have around 100-200 food points. At each stage during the day;  the morning, afternoon, evening and night, we'll reduce the food points by -10, meaning that one day will cost you around 40 food points (how much points that will be reduced during each stage will of course be tweaked until we reach a perfect balance; or almost perfect at least ;-) ).  

We actually wanted to have a water need as well, but removed it as it is too similar to the food need. We will have water as a trade-able recourse instead.   This week we also posted some news about: Our free subscriber mini game Spacebase 19 A new RymdResa patch solving an annoying loading error A new imprint-X patch containing new puzzles and bosses  

Btw, which are your favorite resource & management games?

Kim Aarnseth
Kim Aarnseth