Game-balancing a galaxy

Have you ever thought to yourself, “Damn I wish I had paid better attention to my math teachers in High School“?  Or have you ever had a graph with so many different lines that you need notepad open to keep all them straight?    Well that’s where I’ve been the last couple weeks..  I have been trying to bring a bit of balance to our supply/demand and production/consumption rates in Interstellar Transport Company and it’s been painful.

graph_hell
PAINFUL amount of lines, thank you desmos.com for your great calculator!

The pic you see above is just 2 of the resources in the game and how the production and consumption rates change over time, with population etc…  Our simulation also takes into consideration the size of the planet,  habitability, water availability, development level, raw material availability and at least a dozen other smaller factors and balancing constant values.

The biggest challenge I came across at first was trying to make everything “realistic”.  I started off by taking the population of a single unit of transported passengers, then approximating their weight, I estimated and researched how much food, water, iron etc… can be carried using this same weight.  I then had to look into data on how much of these things a single person would need to survive and based off of those numbers is how I had originally balanced the game.  This in itself took many days of work.  I quickly realized that the amount of spaceships needed to transport this amount of “stuff” in our game would be unattainable.  I had to re-examine all of the equations I came up with and put divisors on each good and every variable that fed into each of those goods.

 

mars_planetoid_view
Mars is a very new colony at the start of the game along with the Moon, both will demand lots of food, water, and machinery to start.  These two planets allow you a “jumping off point” to start your new space transport business.

After I had come up with base numbers on how much of each good made up a single “unit” transported, I had to get some sort of balance struck so that production and consumption rates were sufficient to keep large planets producing and consuming the things we wanted them to and smaller planets doing the same.  For example, when a planet has a low population and little development, the main focus will be on supplying it food, water, colonists and machinery to make sure it can become more self-sustaining sooner rather than later.  Once a colony has reached a certain development and population level you will notice that it will require little or no imports of food and water (depending on the planet’s conditions of course, an inhospitable planet like Venus will never be fully self-sustaining) it will instead be providing you good amounts of the various raw materials it has available and may be demanding some of the more rare resources and things like tourists and consumer goods.  Even later in a planet’s development cycle it will provide the rarest of materials, machinery to supply to the developing planets and passengers of all kinds while demanding raw materials, consumer goods, and passengers of all types.

Then came the challenge of making sure that all of the things you can transport in game were able to be transported profitably which again meant more charting and dozens of hours of testing.  I can safely say that most of our transportable goods are now in a fairly balanced state.  It’s no longer game breaking and our team can playtest without balance issues getting in our way completely!

mars_3-24-2017.png

Plenty of other things have been worked on as well these past few weeks.  Chris has been hard at work with our modding system, I have begun to implement passengers into the game (which might be the focus of next weeks article), there has been a new news ticker added and we had some great playtesting sessions which have given us a bugs and improvements list that’s almost 100 items long now!  So back to work for me please let me know if you enjoyed this article and don’t forget to like and follow us on Twitter and Facebook, we need all the support and feedback we can get!

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