Friday, December 20, 2013

Space food, fuel and time game mechanics

Food is very important part of our lives, without it we can't survive, and fuel too, fuel allows us to travel or get energy from it for our daily lives, so why I can't see much of that in space games? usually energy or fuel is a little bit limited but not so much, mostly in terms of travel time or regeneration speed or how far you can move, and for most of the games food is completely ignored, one of the reasons is that players shouldn't be bothered with many menial tasks and instead add more guns and things like that. Another one is if you don't have a crew to care about, why will you care about food then and how will that affect your crew?, I think this can be a very interesting game mechanic.

So food will be important as well as fuel, in Junkcraft Armada there isn't a Faster Than Light engine, so traveling can take days, weeks or months from one point to another, but the player won't have to wait for all that time to happen when playing. There are short cuts where wormholes will be available, but wormholes will allow the player to travel to specific points in space and after that, normal engines will be in effect, so fuel will limit how far you can travel without having to refuel and also food. The longer the trip the more food you will need, so why do we need two things to limit our travel? well, for example the player can recruit people in some missions, that increase the salary cost and also food consumption, so if you assumed you have food for 4 months, and suddenly in the middle of your trip you double your crew , there will be a shortage of food and this will cause stress in your crew and may even kill them over time, they may even go crazy and fight each other to survive, so food bring another dimension to think about, to recruit or to not recruit, do you want to bring more man power with the extra cost associated? will you have enough resources for that? will you feed your prisoners or not?, what if one of your crew members usually eats in excess? Food can bring happiness to crew members , a well feed crew will perform better than a malnourished one.

Fuel brings another dimension to think about. Fuel consumption and the cost associated will skyrocked if you explore every system, fighting and evading enemies also cost fuel, so do you want a faster ship or slower one, if you add more engines your ship will be able to change direction faster and react faster but will consume a lot more fuel, adding more energy generators will allow the player to expand and add many different facilities to the ship but more fuels is consumed to support the infrastructure, so what should be the perfect balance? it will depend on the kind of ship the player want, there is no free ride.

Finally "time", most games allow you to do the side/main missions as you fit, you can accomplish most missions whenever you like, most games give the player all the time in the universe to do whatever he/she wants until activating the trigger. Well that won't be the case in Junkcraft Armada for many of the missions, the player will be able to do the mission between a given time or face different consequences that will affect the end of the storyline, if you can't make it on time, the story changes, so be prepared to take action as fast as you can because events won't wait for the player, things will happen as they happen even if the player is there or not.

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