Nailing the core mechanics

  • Re: Issues with Mining/Logging/Farming - And ways to make them more interesting

    I agreed with this old thread about mining/logging/farming – they seem to represent a huge amount of what you spend the game doing, and are pretty repetitive and boring. This old post offered good suggestions on how to make them more complicated and interesting.

    But there's a simpler angle of approach I think is also worth emphasizing: optimizing the central action of each mechanic to make it visceral and fun.

    In particular for logging: striking a tree feels sort of boring and lifeless... but it doesn't have to feel that way. You could improve the animation so that each swing has the tree shake a little. You could show nicks in the wood forming. I think there's a room for chopping a tree to feel much more visceral. If you're going to be doing it 1000 times, little touches could go a long way.

    There's also a thing where manuvering wheelbarrows is very weird and hard to control (I've found I have to walk backwards with a wheelbarrow to get it to go where I want, whereas walking forwards it keeps veering off to the side) – and this again is something that I spend a lot of time doing, so the fact that it's aggravatingly hard adds up quite a bit as a "not-fun deficit" that the rest of the game has to overcome.

    And there's an even more central core mechanic: clicking on icons and dragging them around.

    Something as simple as "mousing over an icon to see the tooltip" is surprisingly finicky – it takes awhile for the tooltip to appear and disappear, which makes it hard to mouse over nearby icons if I accidentally looked at the wrong one first. (Maybe this goes away on faster machines? But there's not really an excuse "mouse over icon" to be an issue that a 2015 macbook struggles with)

    In general, my experience opening up a new crafting table is a feeling of "overwhelmedness", There's a lot going on, not prioritized in terms of which items I'm mostly likely to need or have the materials to build.

    For each of these areas I have some specific suggestions, but the more general principle is "if you're going to ask a player to do an action thousands of times, invest some polish into that action so it feels good instead of slightly aggravating." (I acknowledge this may not be a priority for awhile – I can imagine getting the high level game design right first is more important. But before the game leaves Early Access, it seems important)

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