I should start by saying that I love pipes. Seriously, I do. But people around here don’t believe me. They think I hate pipes, gears, conveyor belts, and all manner of functional machinery. I love that stuff! I just hate seeing it abused for no good reason. Gears are for doing things, not for slapping to the side of a building just ’cause!
I can say the same thing for what we’ve termed “dynamics lines”. Dynamics are basically fluids or other commodities that are required for tasks that can be either broken up into discrete units (like pails of water) or piped in (like, erm… water pipes). We’ve argued about these a lot. While they’re aesthetically pleasing, if you end up having a giant rat’s nest of pipes for a city, there’s no way you’ll be able to see what’s going on in your settlement. All of the characters become obstructed by a monstrous network of pipes and axles and other means of transmission and you can no longer tell you’re playing a game or where your favorite character is.
This is a problem.
Fortunately for those of you who love this stuff, David and Nicholas love sticking pipes and gears to things so much that we’re doing this anyway, so the best I can do is try to mitigate the damage. This was the topic of a design discussion we had yesterday.
As of a week ago, a factory would operate with a number of machines (internally referred to as modules) that would be anchored to the edges of the buildings, with bits sticking out the side and also with access points from inside for people to use them. The bit out the back was there so that they could be hooked up to the dynamics lines. A power saw would require a mechanical work input, a boiler would require water input, stuff like that.
(All of these machines also required the ability to accept discretized versions of these commodities, such as the pails of water, a spring-loaded power core, and so forth.)
We found, however, that as we designed the factories, added the option for players to add optional modules to increase their capacity to build certain things, the number of dynamics lines that would feed into them got really, really big. The amount of pipes that you could connect became quite honestly gargantuan. The pipe nightmare was upon us.
So after nearly giving David a stroke, we decided upon a new plan.
Players will now choose, when creating a new workshop which requires steam, whether they want the module which takes in steam balls that are carried by characters, or the module that requires a pipe to feed steam directly from a source. The module they pick then has the sole purpose of receiving and storing a local quantity of that commodity, be it mechanical work, water, steam, electricity, or pure phlogistic energy.
All modules in a building with the connected receptacle can access that commodity without needing their own hookups. (It’s all under the floorboards, you know?) This also frees the machines from needing to be anchored to the walls where they could accept pipe or axle inputs, so now players get a lot more freedom in how to organize their work spaces.
Finally, it’s worth noting that hooking up these static routes — pipes, axles, and so on — between generators and sinks of a particular commodity will be expensive, and in most cases you’ll be better off in the short run having characters hauling things around intelligently rather than forcing commodities to only come from one area and go to one other area.
But if you really want to streamline that crimble processing facility, and you have an insatiable love of pipes, have we ever got a system for you!