April 12, 2013

Inside Interplanetary: Resources

A concept sketch picturing a mining operation.

We thought it would be interesting for many of our followers to learn a bit more about Interplanetary's inner workings, so here's the first of a series of posts that should shed some light on the content and mechanics of the game. Please do keep in mind that some of these are more than likely to change during the development. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, you don't need to be logged in to do so anymore!

Resources are key elements in many strategy games, and that's also the case with Interplanetary. There are three main resources in the game, each one pretty different from the others. Here's a more detailed breakdown:

The basic function of Power is to determine how many actions player can commit in a single turn.  Available Power is calculated in the beginning of each turn by adding up the output of all active power plants the player has built. Small amount of Power is also generated by cities. Nearly all major actions, such as firing a weapon or building a building, consume some Power. There are also buildings that use a small amount of Power each turn. Any extra Power the player might have at the end of the turn doesn't carry over to the next one.

A strategic decision player has to make concerning Power might be, for an example, whether he or she wants to go all out at the enemy by firing as many shots as possible, or leave some energy in reserve for defensive actions when the enemy projectiles come flying towards the home planet at the end of the turn.

All non-renewable resources on home planet are represented by a single indicator, Material. There is large, but limited, amount of raw material available on the player's home planet when the game starts. Mines need to be built in order to extract the raw material and make it usable. Unlike with Power, unused Material will carry over when a turn ends. After the home planet is eventually depleted, the only way to get more Material is by launching a successful colonization project, which will still provide only a relatively small amount of Material each turn.

Large amounts of Material are generally consumed when the player builds something. Some other actions use smaller amounts of Material. For an example, a nuclear power plant turns a small amount of Material into a relatively large amount of Power each turn, and shooting a railgun requires much smaller amount of Material than building one.

Just like Power, limited material forces the player to make strategic decisions: It's possible to build a powerful, yet primitive, attack force early in the game by aggressive mining and building early power plants in a large scale, all in order to eliminate the enemy as soon as possible through superior firepower. Another viable strategy would be to develop the planet gradually and wait for more efficient late game buildings, gaining access to advanced weapons with some material left still.

One of the Power/Material bar UI designs from a year back.
Population is a bit of a sneak peek here. It's tied to many other mechanics that will be presented (and hopefully discussed!) later, but let's lay out the very basics:

Population is the number of people living inside the cities of the home planet. Most of the population is concentrated in megacities, that work much the same way as cities in Sid Meier's Civilization series of games. The biggest difference is that other buildings are built outside the cities, not in them. City's population (along with some modifiers that will be presented later) will determine it's productivity and scientific output.

Population of cities is restricted by a global population cap, which is essentially the amount of people the home planet can sustain with current level of technology. As the game progresses, the player is able to research technologies that raise the global population cap and allow the cities to grow larger, allowing the player to more with the city.

Thank you for being interested, more to follow!

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