Things have been pretty crazy here recently. Thought I'd make a quick christmas day post to wish you all a peaceful time and hope you all have a great new year.
Next year is likely to bring some changes as I'm talking with another indie developer to do some work for them, but in the meantime I'm getting on with AI work for HOPE and I thought I'd share a little on that.
One of my main aims for HOPE is to have a totally autonomous society created on the rig. Your goal as a player is to make this society form in the way you believe is best. The goal being to give players the tools to be able to roleplay as the leader/founder of this social structure in much the same way you might have as a settler in a new country. You start the game with a small rig structure and a minimal set of inhabitants (who give you the ability to perform trades and conduct simple research initially), it is then up to you how that society grows. Who you let on the rig, how you build new structure, what rules you put in place, who you throw off etc. Those are up to you.
I've been working on the trade system the last few weeks. Mainly to get the trade aspect sorted out so you can generate the starter income, which you can then develop into new objects for the rig. This trade system is reasonably complex, in that it generates a whole system of rigs that you can trade items with, generates a distribution of items and creates trade routes between rigs. Most of this of course is implemented as virtual data, but as you play the game, you will get an increasingly better picture of this network of rigs and their trading activity. So players who want to play the game as merchants can totally focus on this aspect, by growing a fleet of trade ships, finding rigs with unique trade goods and building relationships with them.
Here's a video of me working on early trade ship movements.
Funny enough this video got content ID matched on youtube, because apparently wind is copyright now.
One of the other ways you can play the game is to focus on society. By building a desirable social order you can attract new rig workers and build up a structure that invites them to come and live and work on your rig. This is a balancing act because obviously more people need more work, but most work involves pollution of some kind, so careful siting of industry and accommodation is needed.
Right now I'm working on the management and interface aspects of these systems. As a player you need to know how well you are doing, tracking progress and generally keeping up with the various trade, social and structural issues. I think of this style of gameplay as "plate spinning" in that it requires you to pay attention to naturally degenerate systems, so everything tends to break down unless you maintain it.
Once these systems are in place, my main plan is to get on with the character AI. The trade system that causes rigs to send ships to complete trades is the main way that new inhabitants will be introduced to the rig, so the work on these feed naturally into doing work on the really fun stuff of character AI.
So there you go. AI. Lots of AI work to come. Stuff I really enjoy. Although I'm not forgetting to work on other aspects of usability and making fun stuff for you to do as a player too.
I hope to show some of the trade system interfaces in the next week or two. I have a pitch to prepare for another project and some travel this next two weeks, so we'll see how it goes.
As ever, take care and I look forward to letting you try and early build in the new year!