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Feedback from a new player


#1

Good afternoon,

I followed the KillRob youtube series and so bought the game. I usually have a rule against buying Early Access, but I decided to move forward anyway; the premise is just so intriguing. At downtime at my work, I found myself scribbling notes about what I would like to accomplish in a game like this vs how the game actually is.

  • Starting a new game, the first thing that jumps out at me is the inability to press ESC to return to the prior screen, to exit out of the options menu, etc. That would be a good UI improvement.
  • The faux-world map; I hope a real world map with America, the UK, and Germany, etc are in the future.
  • Is there any way to change the margin on a vehicle? It defaults at 0% and I can’t find the means to alter that post-production.
  • Neater/clearer way to understand how many rows of production a factory has, how that # of assembly lines comes to be, and a way to assign car projects to them.
  • Removal of the “top speed” and “spacing” options for a transmission. They’re tedious and the most time-consuming/mind-numbing portion of configuring the car

When designing an engine, you can only make very broad choices. Then you must create a “variant”, which defaults to about half the displacement of the “original”.

  • Why does it do this?
  • Engine creation involves going through seven or so tabs with choices. What do these choices do? The game won’t tell you until you’ve made selections on all of them.
  • The new engine is broken with warning boxes pointing out how to fix it, by playing with the sliders.
  • To make any given configuration work, there are obviously “right” choices, but those are buried under the sliders and you must tick-tick-tick away to discover them.
  • The game needs to provide more concrete feedback about how things ought to be so as to make a proper engine, like bell curves.

I have a working knowledge of what these sliders are inferring, however the granularity of the detail is going to be lost on even mechanically-minded players. I want to make a 4 cylinder engine that can put-put a four seater car around town and be really cheap and reliable and live for a million miles. The game really gets in its own way when the player is trying to perform simple tasks.

The business about “signing off on projects”. Two campaigns were lost because on the first one, I spent an hour designing cars with great detail and engines to push them and never approved factory construction.

The second one, I tried to assign two engines to an engine factory and somehow the engine factory disappeared, so the screen displayed two engines that were signed off but had nowhere to be built, and so my cars couldn’t be finished because they didn’t have engines to go in them.

I watched the youtube videos, and I want to like the game, but holy crap it’s really clear just how work-in-progress this is.


#2

Heyya!

This quite sounds like you should adhere to your own rules a bit more, i.e. not buying Early Access games. :wink: But let me address some of your points:

ESC to go back is a trivial thing to add and I don’t see why we would not do that eventually. Yes, the grand campaign will have a ‘our world’ world map.

Yes, you can change the minimum margin of the vehicle before you sign it off. That is done in the forecaster screen. We don’t have a manual price control mode yet, but that will come. The sales AI does increase margin where it can.

Regarding production lines: on the factory setup screen where your trims are listed you can both add and remove trims. Production split is managed automatically depending on demand for the trims that aer being produced.

Regarding the gearbox: I internally laughing hard at that, as there are so many people (hundreds probably) that want us to expand on that and want you to be able to set up all the individual gear ratios, the diff ratios and final drive. You are the first one to ever request that. So I assume you approach this entirely wrong, because no one has ever said this was tedious.

What you ought to do is to do two passes. On the first pass when you design the car and it is not finished yet, you just set the top speed slider to something ballpark correct, depending on the estimated top speed. Don’t touch the spacing (i.e. a matter of 5 seconds). Then once the car is done, you revisit the drivetrain page and decide what gearing top speed and gear spacing you want. That takes another 10 seconds depending on how much you want to optimize and care for 0-100 rating and/or overdrive gears. This stuff affects all kinds of important stats and you need to be decent at it to play the game without having cars generated for you.

I have no clue what you mean with the engine defaulting to half its capacity… do you mean that the default is 86mm x 86mm? The industry standard that produces 0.5L cyclinders? You get that those sliders greatly affect engine size? The broad choices are for the engine family. Engines from the same engine family can be produced in the same engine factory. Engines of different families can not.

The tutorials tell you what the engine choices do, as to the tooltips and the descriptions for the sections which you should click and read in case you wonder.

No, there are not distinct “right choices”, there usually are several viable ways out of any given situation, and no, I strongly disagree that the game ought to tell you what to do. You should become knowledgeable enough to know what to do, and the game should help you in that by teaching you and giving you the relevant information in the situation. If that is not something you like, fair enough, but that means Automation is not a game you’ll enjoy.

however the granularity of the detail is going to be lost on even mechanically-minded players.

Nah mate, that is what people love about the game the most, the massive amount of choices, nuance, and compromises in the decision making. The rest of the paragraph really makes it sound like this is the entirely wrong game for you :frowning: it is NOT a simple task to make that car you’re talking about, that is the game, players can spend hours getting it exactly the way they want it, or put one together in 5min, depending on their skill level and their goals.

You can get around that by letting the AI generate a car for you, and there is an option for that, but that only really makes sense if you are a tycoon game player in the future playing the finished game and don’t care about making your cars the best possible. So with the current state of the bare-bones campaign, there is little point in doing that.

The business about “signing off on projects”. Two campaigns were lost because on the first one, I spent an hour designing cars with great detail and engines to push them and never approved factory construction.

So you didn’t watch the tutorial? You just designed the car and then exited out without completing the project?
Having to sign off is super important as a concept because that is what lets you do all the good stuff that real manufacturers do: run their car lineups in parallel with all the synergies that brings.

One engine family per factory. If you want engines to be produced for cars, then they need to be signed off as part of the car project, they have their own overview tab therein.

It sounds like I’m way too good a salesman if I got you to buy the game, because it really doesn’t seem like something you’d enjoy from what you wrote - and that is disregarding the limitations that come from it being unfinished. So sorry if I got you into this, you must have gotten the wrong impression.


#3

Thank you so much for the reply! I’ve never received this sort of feedback from a developer.

Three things popped back into my mind from reading your response:

  • I designed a 4L inline 6 engine, based on the engine my 1994 Jeep Cherokee had, and that the default variant doesn’t match the parent’s maximum displacement threw me. I would assume any variant initially copies the stats of its progenitor, and not to conform to a 0.5L per cylinder rule.
  • I was getting bottlenecked by my engine production, and found I could double it from a factory by making a varient with no changes and then producing it from the same factory.

Factories have two lines for different products, but if you make a variant with no change in stats, it effectively doubles the output from that factory, correct?

  • I am copying the tech and designs of modern cars and failing to match the target demographics, and generally failing to make any car of any appeal except to the muscle car demographic.

I get that leaf springs are the worst, but cars had them for a long time and those cars sold. I’m struggling to find the feature combinations that I would have expected to work.

And in addition, at times I’m blindly guessing what features will set my car apart:

  • Is the premium am radio even premium anymore, or is it something the market expects? If all the competition offers it, then to hold parity it then becomes the standard. But how do I find when extras become mandatory to keep that parity? Could you do a car company that just NEVER offers radio?
  • Expectations for a minimum performance level. I’m watching your Archana shit box series where a 3 cylinder engine is appealing to the performance crowd. How far apart is your development build from whats on Steam?

And how do you justify calling a car with coil springs in the rear and IFS a shitbox?!

And lastly, when it comes to what to expect from lot sizes and factory sizes, do you offer a matrix showing a min/max breakdown? Like, what is the difference between a tiny 1 factory and a huge 3 factory?

EDIT: I want to know so if I set up a tiny engine factory to feed truck engines to my car factory, is it a wast to build a large truck factory? How do I match one factory’s output to another to reduce bottlenecks?


#4

Some more feedback and thoughts.

The default screen for the player to monitor their company shows a left-to-right timeline for the sales of cars, and a single box to show the total profit for the last month of sales. There’s a stock ticker at the top and at top right, a countdown of new tech coming in.

I think the stick ticker is a fine thing, however it is missing depth. Specifically, I would drill down into the commodities needed to manufacture a car and have the stock market follow the ups-and-downs of commodity pricing. An “up” economy doesn’t just mean you have more buyers available in the market, as fortunes rise, but also the cost of making each car increases, because steel/aluminum/petroleum products also become more expensive.

So I would have the stock chart replaced to show the ups-and-downs of commodity prices, and the full stock chart hidden behind a click.

Below that, you’ve got top-to-bottom all the trims of every car you’ve got. This portion of the screen quickly fills and there’s so much information, it becomes unreadable. Per things I’ve read and heard, the game will auto-produce the most desirable trims of a car so as to best leverage sales across the model. So there’s no “make 60% the base model, 30% the premium, and the last 10% for the executive.”

I would propose the ‘dashboard’ screen be a visual supply/production chain showing, from left to right, the engine/parts factories, arrows pointing then to the assembly plants the engine/parts factories are feeding, pointing then to the cars produced from those assembly plants.

Information above and to the left of each of the three columns of icons (factory - assembly - finished car) show the following:

For Factories:

  • size / tech level of the factory
  • quality of the staff (a function of training, satisfaction level, and funding for equipment)
  • the # of production lines in use / max # of production lines
  • type and number (per month) of the parts manufactured
  • icons and count of the commodities needed to manufacture the above items
  • last month’s expenses

Clicking on a factory’s icon opens a box showing what that factory is producing and then to the right of that, the cars those parts go into.

For Assembly Plants:

  • size / tech level of the assembly plant
  • quality of the staff (a function of training, satisfaction level, and funding for equipment)
  • the # of assembly lines in use / max # of assembly lines
  • an icon showing how many “production points” towards a vehicle type (small car, large car, truck, SUV, sports car, etc) the Assembly Plant is capable of handling
  • a row of icons displaying the addons / support services for that assembly plant, like a premium upholstery center, crash-test, QA, race tuning center, etc
  • last month’s expenses

Clicking on an Assembly Plant’s icon opens a box showing the layout of the plant and the pre-existing choices to add-on to the plant with bonuses.

For the cars:

  • quality of the car (1 to 5 stars showing market appeal in average of the car’s 3 most popular market segments)
  • what type of car this car is, and how many production points is needed per unit
  • total number of cars produced in last month (sum from all Assembly Plants producing that car) / number of cars sold in last month
  • revenue per unit in last month
  • gross amount of either profit or loss for the lifetime of the car

Clicking on the car opens a box showing the same breakdown for each trim, and if implemented, the distribution.

You’ve heard the phrase, ‘out of sight, out of mind’. My issue with the current UI is that because the engine factories and the assembly plants are not part of the default view of the player, their importance quickly leaves the player’s narrow focus of attention. The presentation of information and placement of tools is very important in a data-rich game like this one.