Beta Feedback: Sandbox mode
So I put in a solid 6 hours on a sandbox game last night on the Hyla's Crescent map.
- In sandbox you start very close to 2 Potash, 1 Iron and 1 Zorium. This part is excellent, but these nodes could be larger.
- I was in a CONSTANT state of Nanite starvation. Unlike the campaign modes were quests give you a healthy supply of nanites, I found I was never getting to a point where my production was anywhere near high enough to keep up with demand. It took a solid 3 sols before I could even afford to get an immigration terminal to get much needed people after putting down a mine, T1 geothermal power plant, T1 nanite facility, a T1 farm and greenhouse, an apartment and some tunnels. I'd suggest adding more nanites to the referendum rewards to compensate for no quests. I will probably do a better job of rationing this on my next run, but I basically had to force people in and out of jobs at the start.
- Zorium and native plants/byproducts could not be exported. Only "earth" food types, and Iron/Copper/Nanites could.
- The mining nodes were far too small, this might have been a setting I missed on initial launch, but my Iron mine was fully depleted in 2 or 3 sols. Thankfully I had just enough nanites stored to get a mine down on the next closest node.
- Food consumption in general was needlessly harsh. By the time I was ready to quit last night, I had 6-8 greenhouses and 5-6 Tier-3 farms and could barely sustain a population of ~250 over winter growing a variety of crops with rationing policy turned on.
Quality of Life Suggestions
- Batteries should auto switch between absorbing and providing power or there should be a policy where you can turn all batteries to one state or the other.
- Greenhouses should produce more food in winter - I don't think this is quite balanced yet. Maybe make it 60-75% instead of 50%, or make them produce less overall (they're only 4 tiles), but 100% production all year. It's a greenhouse after all.
- Mills and Chemical plants should allow you to set what you're crafting independently. I'd like to be able to have one mill dedicated to nothing but flour production and another mill doing the bread / pasta etc.
- Storage facilities should have a filtering system where you can specifically say don't store, or only store certain types of resources - Raw material, Nanites, Water, Food, etc.
- The starting buildings (Life support module, mini storage, etc) should be recyclable.
I was starting to take some serious frame-rate hits putting down paths, or any time there was an overlay late game. Placing buildings that highlight coverage areas was probably the worst.
Overall, for a beta, this game is stellar. I love the micro-management aspect, and really feeling like you're trying to survive, though it was pretty slow getting the initial colony off the ground in sandbox mode with the nanite problem.
Great write-up and I feel pretty much the same about early game sandbox today as I too am trying out the Hyla map in sandbox mode. Where in the campaign modes I had nanites thrown at me for every single mission, the sandbox is missing a reliable way to get them but with the same building requirements as the campaign mode, making it a much more difficult start straight out of the box.
I don't mind it being more of a challenge, but it needs to make sense in balance for that challenge. As you said, there's not enough spare nanites after basic survival and life support to even get an immigration center going so you can grow your population for the first 2-3 sols so you sit there watching your single nanite factory slowly churning them out one at a time because you don't have enough workers ... which you can't get any other way than that immigration center. It's a vicious cycle for the first bit. I did get ahead of the curve a bit now but barely passed first and second referendums by a nose-hair because everyone's on minimum life support and no spare for entertainment ... Sandbox solo start with no missions is very challenging. There needs to be some sort of reward yearly or as you said, for winning referendums. The reward for getting that first 50 colonists pales by comparison to how difficult it is to actually get them in the first place.
Glad I wasn't the only one. I think next run I'm going to skip the geothermal until I can start getting immigrants. This will have all my workers focusing on the farms and nanite production instead of power.
One other thing I was thinking about was Water - This is probably the single biggest hog on storage capacity. I think adding a water tower / reservoir would be a huge relief to the storage problems. Once you start getting more people you're spending almost half of your overall storage on water.
Agree on water tower.
About sand-box mode, you can just set number of drop pod to 3 and high resources and set resources from drop pop, number of depot to high sand-box settings.
If you play first 2 map, you can get off the ground easily but the 4th map is a nightmare. Only 1 Geothermal and 1 ore depot at start and those nearest require more nanite just to get it. Plus that map have a long winter season so starvation and low on power always haunt your colony. I can only survive there for 5 sol before i fail.
Hey all! Some great feedback here. Not enough time to respond to everything in detail at the moment, but a few quick notes:
- Sandbox maps do need a lot more tweaking and more mineral nodes added.
- We'll definitely be tweaking the trading options extensively during the beta (mostly adding lots more trade options) and are considering a feature to let you request specific imports or exports.
- I'm actually glad to hear you say food production was too harsh; we'd been worried it was too easy for some time. We'll keep investigating this.
- We're considering switching Mills and Chemical Plants to be separate in terms of their production lists, or at least having this as an option. At the same time, having it be global does scale better to larger colonies with more of these structures and also helps smooth over production issues when you run out of components for one thing you're manufacturing, and we'd hate to lose that entirely.
- Storage is global -- when you add a storage building of any type, it's treated as a single shared global inventory. We experimented with separate inventories early in development but we found it was quite confusing, and we don't want to add any unnecessary complexity to the game.
- We agree that starting modules should be recyclable at some point, though we made them non-recyclable to ensure players wouldn't accidentally shoot themselves in the foot. We may make them recyclable after a certain population threshold or after the first referendum or something like that.
Sounds great. Have to say you guys are doing an awesome job keeping people informed of the direction you're taking! Keep up the excellent work!
Just as an update - I did a second Sandbox run on Hayla's tonight and completely failed around Sol 6 due to lack of food. This time I skipped the geothermal, and went for T2 solar and batteries until I had an immigration terminal. I also went for T2/T3 farms instead of greenhouses. The food was still a major problem, even when growing melons which have the highest growth rate on this map.
The biggest problem is having <50% of jobs filled and everything running so inefficiently. You basically require a mine, nanite processor, power, water, and 2 farms at a minimum just to get started.
By the time I could get people in, I was in a downward spiral of food/nanites/power to the point where there was simply no recovering. This was with everything set to max resources morale etc. I'd almost say saving up for greenhouses is 100% necessary or you're done come winter. Summer production was never enough to cover any winter immigrants without the farms producing.
I also played the 2nd campaign. I'd say for the 2nd mission this was almost a little too easy, but overall pretty well balanced. By the end I was producing so many nanites it was basically free play. Food was not an issue only using T2 greenhouses with a mix of Quinoa, Barley, and whatever the quests asked me to make.
I did have a couple of hard crashes tonight. Nothing repeatable, but it just lost its marbles a few times. Thank god you implemented auto-save! Every time I came back, I followed the exact same steps up to when it crashed and the game continued without issue the 2nd time
Thanks again for a highly addictive game! 😀