0
Under review

Various ideas to expand the game

norritt 2 years ago updated 2 years ago 4

Okay so this is a collection of ideas and suggestions on how to expand Lacuna Passage in a way that fits its general theme. That is keep things realistic, no combat except against the environment. Some of these ideas are more refined than others. There will also be different ways to achieve mechanics similar to what I'm going to describe here, feel free to build on that or apply changes.

These are some observations I took away while playing the game. Obviously this is subjective and I cant speak for everyone else, so different views are welcome.

LP sets a strong focus on maintenance and resource management. Big pros in my opinion are:

  • The detailed maintenance system
  • Incentives to go explore and gather for more resources incl. the rover
  • Unlock more locations (waypoint stations, habitats ...)

Once the player established his first base in one of the habitats and figured out the maintenance system, the game becomes pretty straight forward: Go out repair everything, preferably at night to make full use of the solar power during day. Basically the only thing the player can do in the habitat is

  • accessing inventory
  • craft
  • sleep
  • watch the outside system's condition
  • monitor weather

The storms add a nice additional challenge to the game, however I regard this mechanic as incomplete. As a player you can monitor weather and basically have two choices: either stock up, stay in base and sit it out, or change habitat other than that the player is totally passive. In this regard LP is missing opportunities to involve the player and urge him to prepare for and survive the storms.


Ideas:

  • Have the storm severely impact the efficiency of solar panels since the dust blocks most of the incoming sunlight. This will severely impact the ability of the player to just sit out a storm in a habitat depending on its duration.
  • Have the dust clog up the oxygen generator filters which may lead to an emergency shutdown, forcing the player to go out and clean the filters.
  • Introduce a power management system where the player can use the terminal to divert and regulate power as necessary. I.e. turn the heater down in order to save energy for oxygen production at the cost of burning more calories.

To make this more interesting give the player the opportunity to prepare for such events. This will also extend the exploration aspect of the game. Give the player the opportunity to expand habitats by certain components. This is not supposed to be actual free base building instead have there be predetermined upgrade slots in the base (i.e. a wall mounted powercell charger) that are not installed from the beginning but rather can be:

  • found as unit
  • found by collecting multiple components
  • crafted by finding blueprints (i.e. on those data sticks that are already in the game) and using the 3D printer.

Ideas for components:

  • [Powercells/Powercell charger]: Has slots for powercells. Powercells are charged by solar panels during daytime. They can be used as emergency backup for the base i.e. to bridge the missing power generation during dust storms. Powercells can be removed from their sockets and used as power source for the rover. To craft powercells the player will need to obtain lithium (i.e. by using the drill rover) among other materials to manufacture powercells. Powercells are also used to power lifesupport in pop tents. If a pop tent is missing the powercell the player needs to install one first in order to pressurize the tent. Also allow solar panels to be attached to the tents additionally so the tent may recharge on its own.
  • [Wind generator] the player can find an/or craft to ensure powersupply during dust storms. The generator can be set up on a predetermined lot outside the base.[Air compressor]: Require the player to find/build/unlock/install the air compressor in order to fill empty oxygen tanks instead of directly crafting them filled.
  • [Air compressor]: Require the player to find/build/unlock/install the air compressor in order to fill empty oxygen tanks instead of directly crafting them filled.

 
Rover Upgrades:

  • Allow upgrades for the rover that can be manufactured via blueprint or found on the planet
  • [Solar panel mounting brackets (blueprint)]: Player can 3D print mounting brackets to attach solar panels to the rover
  • [Oxygen generator module  (blueprint)] Have a slot that allows to mount sth. like the pop tent oxygen generators on the rover. Once enabled the player can recharge EVA oxygen at the cost of rover power drain.
  • [Trailer coupling (blueprint)] The habitats have a sealed hatch on the opposite site of the actual air lock. Have one or more modules that can be towed with the rover to attach to the habitats, i.e.:
    • [Greenhouse module] with glass dome roof used to grow food
    • [Remote control room] that is used to operate the drill and scout rover, maybe add flying scout drones.
    • [Recycling module] Used to grind larger scrap pieces to produce granulated material for use in the 3D-Printer.
    • [Generator module] A mobile version of the habitat power modules used to power facilities that may be discovered by the player but don't have prebuilt power supply systems attached. For instance there could be a small mining site somewhere.     

Sidenote: Instead of having the base extension modules to be towed by the rover you could also simply have each habitat have a distinct module attached. Having to locate them is certainly more interesting but will consume more development time. This could also be done in two tiers. First have the modules preinstalled and later if there is time make them mobile so they can be randomly placed and towed with the rover. Having different modules attached to different habitats also gives an incentive to the player to change habitats more frequently.


Misc:

  • Deployable solar charged floodlights to light areas around interesting locations.
  • Allow the player to place custom labeled markers on the tablet map
  • Have radiation storms with a very low probability crash a habitat computer. All habitat systems will stop working immediately until the player rebooted the computer.

Make the maintenance system more sophisticated. Instead of having only components outside the base failing also allow parts of the base itself to malfunction. The player can access the components in- and outside the base by using an electric screwdriver (tool needs to be found) to unmount maintenance panels.Each panel is labeled with an ID. Each panel covers wiring and components for certain systems document this in the PDA (schematics with explanation and panel ID). In case parts of the base fail the player has to consult documentation and then use a circuit tester to identify broken wiring/components and replace it accordingly. Systems that could be maintained this way could amoung others be:

  • Lights
  • Base Computer
  • Waypoint Network
  • Ventilation
  • Heating
  • Depressurization of the airlock
  • ...

Again this list is not complete. If you have any questions ask away. Feel free to modify or build upon ideas.
  

Storms do severely impact power generation. You can, and need to, actively manage power during a storm to keep even just a single system running for any meaningful amount of time. Depending on the speed and direction of the storm, the Weather app usually can be used to get an advance warning of a day or two, and start preparing by limiting your power use to ensure you'll have 100% charge (and possibly charged backup batteries) when power generation gets all but killed off by the storm.


Power cells already exist, there are rechargeable backup batteries which can be used to rechage the suit, the rover and (indirectly) the habitats.


Oxygen canisters already exist which can be filled when you have excess oxygen and used to refill the suit and (indirectly) the habitats.


The wind power generator isn't necessarily a bad idea but it would just negate the biggest negative effect of a storm which you have to deal with, so it doesn't add to gameplay, it actually takes away from it.


I kind of like the solar panel and oxygen generator idea to the rover, but not the rest. The rover is an extremely powerful range extender as it is, I'd say making it even more independent would, again, hurt the gameplay more than it would help it. Even the ability to recharge it on the go and use it as an oxygen source feels too much so likely shouldn't be implemented.


I like the radiation storm having the potential to shut down all hab systems, needing a manual restart.


Some more complex and involving, maybe minigame based, approach to system maintenance, and more things to diagnose/fix also sounds interesting. Implementation could be tricky, tho, requiring coming up with some interesting game mechanisms to begin with, coding them, and then all the UI work and possibly asset creation to visualize all of it.

Nice that you like some of the ideas. According the stroms I do realize that you have the possibility to craft portable batteries both to charge the rover as well as the habitat, however there a a couple of things I dislike about this mechanics:

  • Portable batteries seem like "power banks" they could be used to power portable electronic devices, light sources but seem way too small to charge the rover or habitat. The character would barely be able to carry a single power cell let alone stash it in inventory. This would have several advantages:
    • more realistic - it doesnt seem plausible that the habitat or the rover can be powerd by small pocket size batteries
    • give the player a sense of achievement: The "power wall" (mount for the habitat backup batteries) could be a discoverable blueprint and may require additional materials/parts to be gathered -> more reasons to explore
  • Having a mount for the power cells as habitat subsystem adds possibilities to integrate some manually controlled power management/redistribution system, where the power gained from the external powersupply and the internal
    backupsystem can be balanced.
  • The portable battery works but it doesn't offer much gameplay it's mostly craft (which happens automatically) and than apply. The power cells could require the use of the drill rover or some minig site to obtain lithium.

I know that oxygen canisters can be crafted, but not being able to initially fill them because the base lacks a compressor unit will offer another possibility to improve your situation by either scavenging components from somewhere or build them via blueprint.


Currently the windgenerator would make things easier. However if you consider above mentioned power management system and the portable batteries being to small to power the base this could make sense. I'd expect powercells to be hard to produce and to not be available from the start of the game. The wind generator could help to make up for the initial lack of backup power. Also it will be pretty useless once the storm is over so the player might initially have to change to a wind powered habitat during storms.


One general inted I have with this different power generation methods is to lay a foundation for more interactive base management. For instance take a look at this (you can skip forward to about 2:40):


While this is a spaceship simulator, so the systems are not appliciable exactly the same way to Lacuna Passage I like the way you have more fine grained control over single components and have to manage them correctly. I.e. have a primary and secondary power bus. If one fails the player has to do the "repair minigame" but this will take time so 1st thing is to redistribute power over the backup bus and maybe resolve an overload situation. Also the RTGs could be involved here. Rather than plugging them into a single subsystem have one or two RTG slots per habitat and distribute power using the habitat control panel. There could be pump controls, and heating elements (to prevent the water freezing) for the water reclaimer. This would make emergency situations more interactive. Rather than hoping you have enough batteries in your pocekt once a storm hits you'd have possibilities to adapt and manage your systems. I.e. shut down the water reclaimer heating elements and have the water freeze. Once the player has to turn down the waterpipe heating (i.e. to save power during a storm the water pipes under the maintaince panels could burst with varying severity)


According the minigame implementation. I imagine this to look similar to the switch cabinates on the external hab supply systems. There are maintenance panels outside and inside the base (plain metal cover, 4 screws). Unmounting them will reveal a box of wiring and/or circuitry, also there could be oxygen, and water pipes. Rather than having a diagnostics screen that exactly locates the fault, repairing these will require the use of a circuit checker (attach it to two points to identify if a lane/wire is conductive or not), or in case of pipes visual inspection. Rather than always completely disabling the water reclaimer there could be smaller fractures that cause pressure drops and reduce the effciency. Such things like the water pressure could be read at the habitat control panel that is also used for power management. The design of the control panel could be inspired by the video above.


The general inted behind most of this is to reduce the time the player has to sit and twist thumbs (i.e. wait out storms) and to give more opportunities to actively deal with all these dangerous situations - and to leave room for human error in the process.

Under review

I've been reading this feedback and I am definitely taking everything under consideration. Your comments are much appreciated.

Thank you. While I tried to present some general ideas here i did not provide detailed implementation concepts. In case this helps and you decide that you like to follow up on one or more of the ideas I presented here I'll gladly try to provide more input or help in playtesting.


I.e. if you decide to go for the advanced repair mini games instead of putting a fully fletched new mechanic in the game - you could build a rapid stand-alone prototype, game jam style (no textures lighting etc.) and let users here test it and provide early feedback. Just implement sth. with bare minimum effort and let's figure out together if it works out and where tweaks are required before putting serious dev time into it.