Hot Testing Action and Starvation

The Gaslamp Games office is heating up.

Top Men sweat furiously, cursing script errors and crashes. Top Buttons are unbuttoned, frantic SVN commits hammered out. Meanwhile Daniel “Action CEO” Jacobsen blasts some Kenny Loggins to set the mood. In other words, we’re implementing a stricter quality control protocol for pushing test builds of the game as we get closer to the danger zone. People have been putting decisive, serious looks on their faces while they nod with their arms crossed.

Cooking! It's pretty important.

Cooking! It’s really important now, actually.

So just this morning after a round of furious internal testing, we’ve fixed/added/unbroken:

  • Some kind of crash due to workcrews?
  • People no longer gossip with dead people
  • Food displays food value
  • People prefer to eat cooked food over raw food
  • Pathfinding error fixed
  • Fixed temporary tools not deleting themselves when dropped (and weapons no longer delete themselves, because they shouldn’t).

And there’ll be another round this afternoon set to “Eye of the Tiger”. The product of this frenetic development will then get sent to our “lucky” testers (who are super patient and wonderful people and good looking) for additional beatings. As shall become the Weekly Tradition, our changelog for the next testing revision is as follows:

  • FIXED: Tables causing script spam, then exciting animation errors
  • FIXED: another memory leak in gameSimRequireModule::RequirementMet
  • FIXED: beacon crash
  • FIXED ( ? ): rendMachine crash
  • TEST: For now, colonists will summon any tool needed to do a job out of thin air. The tools will disappear upon drop. This does not apply to weapons, which will be limited to what you start with and must be crafted to gain more. Basic tools removed from gamestart.
  • Character tooltips now display if a character is not assigned to a work party (B. Orel)
  • Alert icons will now display over characters if they have something you should deal with, Banished-style. BANISHED STYLE. (B. Orel)
  • FIXED: More table script spam, leading to a console that is 135 megabytes long
  • FIXED: holy crap, oneSecondUpdate in citizen.go was deactivated. No one starved, got tired, etc. It’s now reactivated, so people can suffer again.
  • Food value is now pulled from the “restorative” field from foods in edb ; this is used to reduce hunger.
  • Food is going to become really, really important now. Eating anything no longer completely resets hunger; bread is now 1/3rd as effective as before, you cannot sustain a colony on raw cabbage. Colonists can go 3 days without food before dying. Good luck!
  • increased starting fog of war reveal radius a little
  • FIXED: Colonists will no longer target corpses for gossiping
  • FIXED: somebody eating, or otherwise mutilating, the corpse of an overseer will crash the work party menu
  • People now prefer food tagged “cooked_food” over “raw_food”; no accommodation has yet been made for the raw food diet.
  • tooltip for food will now show a numerical food value

So, basically we added a bunch of starvation so that player’s colonies can become Blasted Famine-ridden Hellscapes.

Another fine day on the frontier.

Another day like any other on the frontier.

Now I’d like to take a moment to discuss two Game Design points that have come up in the last few days: Tools and Starvation.

Tools, the problem with

We have been treating tools as discrete objects on the map that must be crafted then picked up and wielded for a worker to do certain jobs. What happens if a work crew of six workers takes on tree chopping jobs and you only have four axes? Right now, two workers are left idle and the player isn’t told why. This obviously isn’t good as the player is not given feedback that provokes them to solve the problem, they just see people not doing their jobs and get mad at the loafers (as they should be). There’s a lot involved in making this work correct, just for a start we should have workers attempting to do a job query idle workers who are holding the required tools, and there should be UI helpers stuck to everything so that the player knows this is going on, and knows when it fails and why.

So while the solution is clear, it’s really complex to implement.  We’re juggling a lot of feature developments so it’s impossible to implement every solution at the same time right now. So, janky hack: I removed tools from the game and made them spawn from thin air when a worker requires one. When they drop the tool, it disappears. This is good enough for now even if part of the game economy is removed because other more pressing issues/features must be resolved for players to really appreciate the game economy enough to want to worry about how many axes they have in the first place.

Game development triage, in other words. (Though don’t worry, tools as discrete objects will be back when the systems are in place to support it.)

Food, why we need it

Up to this point colonies have been running happily by eating tons and tons of raw cabbage. No longer! Each type of food will now provide a certain amount of nourishment, with cooked food being significantly more nourishing than raw food. This should encourage players to build up a more complex production system rather than grubbing about with raw cabbage forever.

Hurry up with that aurochs steak!

The mighty aurochs & steak thereof. Not vegan.

Starvation also now works again and people will definitely die if left without food for a few days. They will also make more macabre choices about what to eat as they get hungrier; when a certain threshold is reached, well, if it can be eaten it’s food right?

While testing the game this morning I watched a woman hoe a field of cabbage and think about death.

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22 Responses to “Hot Testing Action and Starvation”

  1. Christopher says:

    I can’t believe that you’re getting rid of talking to dead people! That just seems so right for this outfit.

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    • AdminDavid Baumgart says:

      The problem is that they get right up and talk back. I mean, yes, there is a time and a place for this sort of thing, but “all the time” isn’t it.

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      • Ghostwoods says:


        I’m still not seeing this as a bug. Particularly not if the corpses then collapse back dead again afterwards.

        Ah well. Water Necromancy ahoy.

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        • Bropocalypse says:

          Technically the conversations between the two parties may not be a problem; both engage amicably. However, third parties may not view it so kindly, especially those of the ‘dutiful cleansing’ variety.

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    • Brian says:

      HAHAH! I know, right? Talk about a fitting glitch!

      Maybe if we’re lucky they can add it back as an inside joke. Something that people do when they start to go crazy.

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  2. SamuelMarston says:

    Definitely keep a place for that, even if it’s just certain individuals who can call up such a dread power.

    Ignatius Marston: Middlemanagement to the Dead

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  3. Headjack says:

    I had watched Sweeney Todd the other day and I said to myself, “I hope the game supports this.”

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    • Bohandas says:

      That’s a good point. Sure they resort to cannibalism in times of starvation, but what about cannibalism for fun and profit?

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      • Scott [REDACTED] says:

        I think cannibalism would be a likely outcome of insanity (and vice versa). And if you’ve eaten it once, it can’t be all that bad, can it?

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  4. Ben M says:

    So wait, colonists will stand in front of an oven while food is cooking and them grab the incredibly hot cauldron by the bottom and hold it in their bare hands? Truly, frontier folk are hardy.

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  5. Nick says:

    I was thinking that myself. Maybe some form of pact with the unknown horrors?

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  6. Bohandas says:

    Now that there’s starvation you should add obesity too. The upper class should continuously overeat and suffer from obesity as long as there is and food in the colony at all, even if the lower and middle classes are starving.

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  7. Ratoslov says:

    Please implement talking to corpses because you’re goddamned crazy. Have it help their need for socialization because they’re goddamned crazy.

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    • Sneaky says:

      Bonus, make them so crazy that they can’t socialize with living people, so they have to keep murdering people to make new friends.

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  8. Merijeek says:

    Loggins, eh?

    Are you people, perhaps, headed into some sort of zone? Maybe a zone of some kind of danger?

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    • AdminDavid Baumgart says:

      I know there is an a place nearby which requires caution. A hazardous locale, if you will. Perhaps even an area of heightened risk?

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  9. Ghin says:

    lol Don’t get too carried away with how often people have to eat. I can remember a game called Towns where your whole village basically had to be a pie-making machine because everyone had to eat every 90 seconds or so. Your citizens would starve on their way to eat while they were holding a pie in their hands. Or Banished where if one person starves to death a bug in the game creates a death spiral with 500 people trying to eat food from one place 10 miles away.

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    • AdminDavid Baumgart says:

      Yeah, it’s basically a balancing act to be determined by testing. If food isn’t important at all, then there’s no point. If people starve while holding pie, well, that’s also no good — we DO have a job interrupt system so if there is a hugely important thing like “not dying of starvation”, colonists will indeed stop whatever they’re doing to resolve that if possible.

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  10. David Short says:

    I really think it would be interesting if the next blog post was just pictures and you let commenters describe them.

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  11. Jabberwok says:

    Will food type or quality have effects on morale instead of just nutrition? There’s a lot of food people can survive on that might not taste the greatest, or be very satisfying…

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    • AdminDavid Baumgart says:

      It’s not the case now, but it’d be cool to work that in, and maybe even preference for particular foods. I recall it was a staple (as it were) of the Impressions citybuilders to have number of different foods determine overall quality of a cities diet and that was a pretty cool way to push people to diversify their agriculture/trade.

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      • Taliabear says:

        Oh man, I love the Impressions citybuilders – I still go back and play them sometimes. As I haven’t the foggiest idea how this works internally, would it be possible to give some sort of global morale boost in CE for having lots of different types of food available…? Either way, really looking forward to trying the game!

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