I’m more of a casual management / sim player and thought I would share what I think is really missing from the core gameplay of the tycoon part of the game.
I’ve been loving the lite campaign and the way the vehicle / engine designer works. Of course there are always more things you could add like diesels, hybrids etc. but they can be done later as DLC or updates, and there are already more than enough strategies to develop and choices to make that I would call the job a good-un.
The number one problem I have is the sense of place within the game, and the loneliness of the gameplay. The gameplay loop also does not quite reinforce the feeling of progress, when there is such great potential to exploit this satisfaction in such a technical game. So here we go!
- I Want to See the Cars / Sense of Place
The main “Production” screen, has models listed as
“Designing”, “Engineering”, “In Production” and “Cancelled”
should be replaced respectively by
“Design Studio”, “Engineering”, “Showroom” and “Museum”.
The “Engineering” room could look just like the one in the UE4 menu screen.
these should all be 3D, perhaps the neutral state looks something like this and have some basic sales info when you hold the mouse over each one. Each car in the showroom represents a whole family of cars.
Then when you click on a particular model, it looks like this (below) and gives you more information - maybe a graph of the sales performance of that model over time, and some subtle arrows to the left and right of the car (like when you full screen a photo in windows explorer).
This will cycle the car shown through each variant to see how they are doing relative to each other. You could also just cycle them in case you get bored of looking at the same car in the previous screen, or the game could do it for you periodically - changing colours as well.
Clicking on the little “sticker price” information plaque by the car would let you change the production figures, the markup, the number of cars being made etc. just like you currently do when you click Revise Model
Instead of the “Cancelled” models as they are now, a side door takes you to the company museum, which works the same way (with zooming in on particular cars / changing variants) but has an example of all your previous models that are now out of production, with a slightly different set of information on the plaque (total number made / sold, overall effect on reputation and prestige of the brand, etc).
I think these changes, or at least these kinds of changes, will improve the sense of legacy and satisfaction of the gameplay loop.
It also provides lots of opportunity to show stuff like the company name and badge, which will invest the player in the game. The Museum could look like Jay Leno’s Garage, with all the old posters on the walls and TV commercials for each car playing on TVs from the era!
- I Want To See People!
I feel like the biggest problem with the feel of the game as it stands is how lonely it feels. But I also think it’s a huge opportunity.
You are going to think I’m silly for saying this, but the first game that got me into management and sim games was the original Sim City on the SNES. And one of the things I loved about the game was when it showed the animation of the little green haired advisor running into your office and waving his hands when there was an earthquake, or when you unlocked a zoo, or reached population milestones.
It really helped with the core gameplay loop. I wanted to get to that “Town” or “City” milestone, and for the guy to run into my office and tell me I was doing a good job!
I don’t think there needs to be a big, complicated database and sub-game of hiring different mechanics, project leaders etc. But what I would like to see are just a few core characters who head up each department when you walk into the different rooms from the “showroom” home screen.
So when you walk into your design / styling studio to see what new designs are available, there’s some hip looking young guy with large framed glasses and a ponytail. When you go into the engineering department, there’s a no-nonsense bloke with a tie clip, grey hair, combover and moustache. When you go into marketing, there’s a smart woman in a power suit like that blonde Simpsons character.
The reason I say it’s also an opportunity, is that each decade the way they dress could gradually change to reflect the style of the times! But they would stay perennially the same age.
The doors to different departments could unlock as you go - for instance, the starting “tutorial” (first model design) could all take place within design and engineering, and the door to the showroom shows the “skip time until model enters production?” prompt.
Likewise, the door to marketing could be a simple “Authorised Personell Only” door, and when you click on it it says “would you like to start an ad campaign?” which would then say “Marketing Department” on it after you do this, or otherwise unlock it.
A lightbulb could show above each door when there is new information for the character to give you - perhaps when a new body design has become available, or a new technology has unlocked. reminders could come up in your emails (a staple of management game homescreens, for better or worse).
Further on the subject of people being in the game, instead of a big grid that shows all the markets and their scores for a car, I would like each to be replaced with a stereotype character from a focus group. For instance, there would be boy racers for the Sport Budget category, rednecks for the Utility category, truckers for the Delivery category, A family with 2 or 3 kids for the Family category, etc.
I don’t think these character models would need to be too realistic - I would aim for something like the guests in Planet Coaster. That goes for the focus groups and the various advisors and heads of department. They’re kind of cartoony, but have lots of character.
You would also get some indication of the different customer groups and their various numbers by keeping an eye on the showroom. Customers could come in, in proportion to your market reach and the relative size of each market, and either get in a car and drive away or else shrug their shoulders and say why they didn’t buy it. “I need more practicality” for instance, or “this car looks too slow for me - I want to have fun!”
These captions could be a way of showing advisory notices when designing a car. You could go and pick two or three of them from a focus group (maybe before even choosing a body style) and they could show just by smiling or frowning, whether they like the changes you’re making (just like when fine-tuning a car for specific markets, by pinning the relevant categories).
Anyway, sorry that was a bit of a rant! I don’t mean to disparage all the excellent work that has already gone into the game, and I want to say that I am really enjoying it so far and am very excited to see it all coming together.