Summary: We continue making progress on the development of Space Station Designer. Read on to get a glimpse of the new features coming in version 0.3.0.
Back in December we published a product page on Steam for Space Station Designer, along with a gameplay trailer. We continue making steady progress on the game, and today we would like to share with you the details of some of the new and exciting features we’ve been working on.
In our last blog post entry we mentioned that our build for version 0.2.5 was going to be the last one we were going to make publicly available, but we’ve changed our minds and we’ve decided we’re going to make version 0.3.0 publicly available as well, as it’s very important for us to get your feedback. Expect a drop of this new build sometime during the (Northen Hemisphere’s) Summer, but feel free to get in contact with us if you’d like to try it out sooner.
With all this background information out of the way, let us now show you all these new features 🙂
Public Reputation points
On top of the six existing currencies (Funds, Research Points, Industrial R&D Points LEO/MEO/HEO/Lunar Orbit), we’ve added a new type of currency named ‘Public Reputation’. The public is affected by your actions with private companies and it’s made up of two values:
- The cumulative public reputation in the current year, which gets reset at the start of the year.
- The overall cumulative public reputation.
At the end of every year, your company receives an extra financial award bonus depending on a combination of the public reputation points accrued during the last year and the overall accrued since the company’s inception.
Extra attributes on space station modules
Space station modules have several attributes such as build time, electricity consumption, cooling requirements, and mass. We’ve now added the following two attributes:
- Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF): This attribute is the average time that elapses between failures. Large MTBF values mean you’ll experience failures less often, which increase the chances of keeping your station operational.
- Service life: This attribute is the amount of time that needs to elapse before requiring you to pay for a full replacement of a space station module. Higher service lives mean you’ll have to replace your modules less often, which reduces your overall expenses.
These two elements combined provide yet another factor to take into account when designing your orbital outposts.
Up until now, when purchasing space station modules of any given kind, the stats for all their attributes were fixed and there wasn’t a mechanism for improving them. In order to address this, we’ve created the following six families of space station modules types:
- Electricity and cooling
- Crew accommodation and storage
- Structural and propulsion
- Commercial services and space tourism
- Research and Industrial R&D
For each family type, we’ve created three contractors (18 contractors in total). Every contractor from each family type has two of the following ‘Unique Selling Points’ (USP):
This creates some interesting combinations. For example, contractors that are both ‘Fast’ and ‘Cheap’ are capable of delivering modules faster and at a lower price than their competitors but, in order to do this, they need to cut some corners when it comes to the quality of their deliverables, who tend to have lower MTBFs and service lives.
Contractors even have a progression system: they get more experience for each module that they deliver to us and for each commercial service or modules leasing engagement we provide to them (more on this point later). This progression system allows them to ‘level up’ and effectively become better at their strengths. For example, a ‘Cheap’ and ‘High-quality’ contractor that levels up will be able to provide even further discounts and deliver even higher-quality modules.
The list of contractors can be accessed via the Earth Facilities screen, which is discussed later in this article:
Private companies are entities that we can provide services to. They all possess an ‘alignment’, which is one of the following three values:
- Well respected
Selling services to private companies provides both a reward both in financial terms (funds) and public reputation points. ‘Well respected’ companies tend to provide lower rewards when it comes to funds, but at the same time they provide a considerable amount of reputation points. On the flip side, ‘shady’ companies provide better financial rewards, but they actually damage the reputation of your company by providing a negative amount of reputation points. Neutral companies sit somewhere in between ‘well respected’ and ‘shady’ ones. Choosing one type of private company or another will depend on your immediate financial needs and your longer term goals.
Just like contractors do, a list of private companies can also be accessed via the Earth Facilities screen:
Providing services to contractors and private companies
When setting up a commercial services engagement, you’ll now get six options to choose from. The ones in the top row are contractors, whereas the one in the bottom row are private companies.
Similarly, setting up a modules leasing engagement now presents a dialog with six options, featuring contractors in the top row and private companies in the bottom row:
Providing services to either contractors or private companies gives you a financial reward. In the case of contractors, they also receive experience points (required for them in order to ‘level up’) and, in the case of private companies, they grant you public reputation points, which can be zero or negative, depending on whether the private company has a ‘Neutral’ or ‘Shady’ alignment, respectively.
This adds another interesting decision to make: do you choose a contractor so that they can level up and eventually become better at what they do? Do you choose a ‘Well Respected’ private company, which also provides a reward in terms of prestige points? Or do you choose a ‘Shady’ private company, which doesn’t provide prestige points, but it does provide the greatest financial rewards?
Earth Facilities management, bonuses and Continuous Improvement Programs (CIP)
On top of taking care of your orbital outposts, we’ve now added another decision layer by introducing Earth Facilities management, which allows you to construct a maximum of nine buildings. At the beginning of the game, all nine slots are locked.
In order to construct a building, a slot must be unlocked first:
Which turns it into available:
Selecting an available slot brings up a list of building options, with each one of them providing different bonuses and Continuous Improvement Programs (CIPs):
There are fourteen buildings to choose from, and only nine available slots. Existing buildings can be demolished -for a cost- in order to make room for other ones, but doing so removes the effect of their bonuses, so make sure you plan accordingly.
In order to enable a bonus slot, you need to assign an astronaut to it that possesses a relevant special skill. For example, in order to apply a permanent reduction cost to all modules by 20%, you’ll require an astronaut skilled in ‘Processes Optimization’. The caveat is that astronauts assigned to bonus slots must remain assigned for at least 52 weeks, which makes the planning a lot more interesting.
Continuous Improvement Programs (CIPs) are useful in order to improve an attribute of an astronaut, a space station module or a resupply spacecraft. They can also be used in order to enable more options and capabilities. For example, the ‘Research Division’ facility has a CIP that allows you to enable a capability for selling research points in exchange of funds and viceversa. This CIP needs to be run only once in order to make this feature available, although there’s another CIP that reduces the cooldown period for using this exchange feature:
Other examples of improving functionality via a CIP include the modules leasing slots, which can be unlocked via the ‘Modules Leasing Management Center’:
Astronauts morale and new special skills
Happy astronauts are productive astronauts (and they are less likely to leave our company). We’ve implemented a morale system that keeps track of the level of engagement of each astronaut, which is affected by various events such as receiving training, visiting the station, participating in a successful module repair, etc. The morale level is represented by a coloured bar below the astronaut’s portrait and, by pressing the information button, you can access a panel that shows a detail of all the events that have affected the morale.
In order to have meaningful special skills associated to the various bonus requirements in the Earth Facilities, we’ve expanded the list of possible special skills to twenty-seven, added a basic description for each one of them and improved the UX of the special skills selection dialog.
Last but not least, we’ve added a variety of random events affecting different aspects of the company such as the LEO station, space station modules, the commercial goods market, and astronauts. These random events add a bit of spice into the game, making each playthrough unique.
We hope you enjoyed reading about all these new features. Some of these systems are quite complex and took a while to properly implement, but we’re very pleased with the results and we definitely think Space Station Designer is becoming a much better game because of them. Don’t hesitate to get in contact with us if you want to try them out before they become available in the next public build. And if you have any comments, drop us a line in the Steam forums. See you next time!