Summary: The development of Space Station Designer continues at a steady pace. Please read on to get a glimpse of the new features coming in the playtest version 0.5.0.
It’s been a while since we posted a written status update of Space Station Designer. Development continues at a steady pace, and we’re planning to release a large update of our playtest version in the upcoming weeks. In the meantime, please find below the details of some of the new systems and improvements that we’ve been working on.
Breaking down the game in three phases
One of the major pieces of feedback we received from the community is that the game offers too many mechanics from the get-go, and this presents a steep learning curve. In order to resolve this, we have modified the tech tree and broke up the game in three ‘phases’. Accessing phases 2 and 3 requires acquiring the newly added ‘Expansion in LEO’ and ‘Expansion beyond LEO’ research technologies, respectively. Some of the existing mechanics, such as Commercial Services or Modules Leasing, are only available in these later phases.
Streamlining of the ‘orbital outpost’ screen
We implemented a series of UI/UX improvements to the orbital outpost screen. These include:
- Grouping some of the fields in the stats panel on the left-hand side of the screen (e.g., electricity/cooling, raw materials/supplies, etc)
- Changed some the stats in the main panel located in the top-center area of the screen (e.g., number of astronauts on Earth, number of astronauts on station) with more fundamental ones such as research points, public reputation points and Industrial R&D points.
- Added button groups in the right-hand side of the screen to reduce the clutter in the screen.
There are also a few new buttons in the top-right area of the screen, more on these in the next subsections!
Improved Interactive Tutorials
We did a complete pass on the various ‘Interactive Tutorials’ available from the main menu based on feedback we got from the community. Some of the improvements include changes to the instructions themselves, and removal of unnecessary information. We have also temporarily disabled the tutorials that belong to mechanics that are only available in phases 2 and 3, so that you can jump into the campaign sooner.
New mechanic: Discarding space station modules in the Campaign mode
The option for removing modules has been available in the ‘Sandbox’ mode for a very long time, and it has always been incredibly useful for adjusting the layout of the station. In the upcoming update, you’ll also be able to discard modules in the Campaign mode for a fee, which will be handy in order to remove old modules to make room for upgraded versions.
Changed of the game’s turns granularity from ‘Weeks’ to ‘Months’
After some extensive playtesting, we realised that having a turn granularity of ‘weeks’ made the Campaign way too long. In order to resolve this, we converted the granularity to ‘months’ and adjusted all the game’s systems and user interface accordingly.
End of Fiscal Year Rewards
We’ve revamped the system that grants a financial reward at the end of the fiscal year so that it’s not exclusively tied to reputation points. The new systems featuers a series of clearly defined goals for every calendar year, such as ‘Cumulative Astronauts Flight Months’ and ‘Number of Active Modules’.
These goals, along with their current status of completion, can be accessed via the ‘Government’ button in the orbital outpost screen:
At the end of the calendar year, the ‘End of Year Report’ dialog will provide a detailed breakdown the granted rewards, along with a series of objectives for the next calendar year.
New mechanic: Commercial Goods Market variations
Up until now, the prices of commercial goods changed once at the end of every turn. In order to make things more exciting, we made a few changes to the core systems so that the prices of all commercial goods change multiple times on any given turn. This is also reflected in the stats panel, which has also been modified in order to display the value of the commercial goods that have dropped and increased in red and green, respectively.
New mechanic: Pressurized modules
In order to add an extra dimension of challenge and planning to the overall design of the space station, we’ve implemented a new ‘Pressurized’ attribute for all modules and added a restriction in the ‘Campaign’ mode that prevents you from installing a pressurized module to a non-pressurized one.
New mechanic: Control Centers
Up until now, every time a module broke down it would bring down all modules behind it that no longer had a connection with the Core Module. While this rule presented some interesting challenges, we realised that it could become quite unforgiving, especially for medium and large stations. In order to resolve this, we have added a new type of modules: the ‘Control Centers’.
Now, whenever a module breaks, all the modules connected to it that don’t have a straight connection to either the ‘Core Module’ or one of the ‘Control Center’ modules will become unavailable. As the space station designer, you’ll have to carefully balance the location of these ‘Control Centers’.
New random events and an ‘Events Records’ list
We’ve implemented a complex system for random events across a wide range of categories, such as ‘Astronauts’, ‘Contractors’, ‘Maintenance’, ‘Manufacturing and production lines’ and a lot more. Some of these random events are just informative, whereas others present you with a series of choices. This system provides a lot of gameplay variety, and we’ve been spending a significant amount of time fine-tuning the various parameters.
And speaking of fine tuning…
Overall game balancing
We spent quite some time tweaking our “MasterSpreadsheet”. There’s still some adjustments to make, so please do let us know in the forums if you find the game too easy/difficult, as there’s only so much internal testing that we can do.
Redesign of the ‘Contrators’ mechanic
We’ve redesigned the ‘Contractors’ mechanic so that there’s only three contractors for all modules types instead of having groups of contractors for each major group of modules. The Contractors are unique to each region and they still feature the core mechanics introduced in the previous update, such as having two ‘Unique Selling Points’ (USP), and being able to “level up” as they gain more experience.
The list of ‘Contractors’ can be accessed by using the button on the right-hand side panel in the orbital outpost:
We’ve added descriptions to all space station modules and research technologies available in phase 1. These can be accessed via the ‘Information’ buttons in the modules selection and tech tree screens, respectively.
New team member!
Before we wrap up this update, we’ve got some exciting news from our home base to share with you.
Nicolas, a seasoned hand from our previous game “Buzz Aldrin’s Space Program Manager”, has now become a part of our development team. Nicolas has been with us for a few months already and he’s been amazing at helping us finding bugs, redefining some of our existing mechanics, and coming up with ideas for new ones.
We hope you enjoyed this development update! Stay tuned for the release of the upcoming 0.5.0 version via Steam Playtest. See you next time!