It is time for a new dev diary exploring the new features added to Surviving mars.
Curiosity introduces five new Dome types to the game. These are not skins or variants of the old Domes, but entirely new models with new shapes, functionality and costs. With one exception, they do not require new techs to be researched. Each of them is unlocked together with one of the old Domes, potentially by an existing tech. This means that many of them may be directly available even when you load a savegame created before the Curiosity update.
- Micro Dome – a very cheap triangular Dome available at the start. No capability to host a Spire. Can be very useful when space or resources are limited or as an extension to an existing Dome when connected with passages.
- Barrel Dome – an alternative to the Small Dome, available at the start. It provides more usable space but has no capability to host a Spire.
- Trigon Dome – similar to the Medium Dome and made available at the same time. Cheaper to build, but provides less habitable space.
- Mega Trigon Dome – similar to the Large Dome and made available at the same time. Cheaper to build, but provides less habitable space. The triangular shape can be kinda tricky to position on some places of the map with a Dome that big.
- Diamond Dome – this is the only new design that requires a new tech, more specifically a breakthrough, so it will not be available in every playthrough. It is a rhombus-shaped Dome that has the capability to host two spires. We want to keep the “two spire” Dome configurations special and somewhat exclusive but with the new design, we are increasing the chance that you get at least one of the two available configurations during any of your games.
The Command Center is a handy new toolset that provides historical data for the colony and the ability to inspect and manage multiple buildings, colonists or vehicles without selecting them individually. It has been developed as part of our effort to reduce the micromanagement and to provide a more informative overview interface for certain gameplay aspects. The Command Center currently offers five different tools:
- Graphs – view historical data for various colony metrics for the last 50 Sols
- Buildings – inspect and manage buildings, work shifts, workers and upgrades
- Domes – inspect and manage Domes and Dome Policies. Check average dome stats, as well as homes and jobs at a glance.
- Colonists – inspect Colonists and compare their stats, traits and interests. Locate problematic colonists quickly.
- Transportation – inspect and manage Drones, Shuttles and Transporters. Check Drone/Shuttle load at a glance and reassign Drones without hunting individual controllers in the normal view
Buildings and Colonists can be filtered by various criteria. If you want to upgrade only some of the extractors in the colony, you can filter out all extractors, quickly check them out in the view on the left side of the screen and upgrade only the ones that you want, all without closing the Command Center. You can use combinations of filters as well – for example, to hunt down all problematic colonists that live in a particular Dome.
The Command Center has been integrated with other existing game interfaces such as the Colony Overview and the Dome Filter – double-clicking a trait in the Dome Filter will open the Center filtering Colonists with this trait in the specified Dome. We plan to keep improving the Command Center and adding new options to it in the future, so any suggestions are welcome. Once the update goes live, please share what kind of information or management tools would you like to see added down the road!
I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating – I love mods! Not only they empower the players to expand the game and make it cooler, but we can also cherry pick the ideas that we like best and shamelessly add them to the official game.
One such mod that has been particularly popular both with the community and here, at Haemimont Games, is the Info Bar mod, created by Waywocket. We liked Waywockets’ info bar so much that we decided to add an Info Bar of our own to the game. As you can see in the screenshot, our Info Bar shows research progress but is otherwise very similar to the mod that inspired it. Thanks for the great idea, Waywocket, may your nickname live forever in our credits!
Until now I talked about the stuff I love – Domes, Mods and cool management interfaces. Let me tell you about the feature that almost every developer hates – the tutorial. Tutorials are notoriously hard to develop and maintain, and even a very good tutorial is often perceived as some kind of obstacle before the actual game experience. Still, tutorials may be necessary, as we learned the hard way with the launch of Surviving Mars. The feedback of many new players can be summed up by one simple sentence – “How do I play this game?”
Creating a tutorial after release may seem like a waste of effort, but we really want to make our game more welcoming to newcomers and we see this tutorial as very important for the future health of Surviving Mars. So we drew straws and my unlucky colleague Boyan was chosen to design and produce a comprehensive tutorial to be created by a pack of grumpy programmers (like wizards, programmers tend to be grumpy, but the ones working on tutorials are particularly so). Turns out Boyan took “comprehensive” a little too literally, so we now have a huge five-part monster of a tutorial on our hands. He is still recovering from the development of the damn thing, but we are quite happy with the result! It will certainly be helpful to newcomers, even if most of the existing players would never need it.
The original publication here