Learning Factory Dev Diaries, Mar 2022: Seasons' Greetings
Last month was marked with the final arrival of two important major features! One of them was planned long-time ago, the other one emerged out of a rather heated discussion and with a lot of help from our community! Here's how it all unraveled…
Biomes have been on our roadmap since the very early stages of development. It only made sense, since in Learning Factory, you're operating on Mars, terraformed by joined forces of humans and cats, and empowered by cutting edge technology of the I.L.L.U.M.I.N.A.T.I. (Interstellar Lazy Labor Union for Mars Integration and Never-ending Aspiration for Technological Innovations). That said, it was only a matter of time before Tundra, Jungle and Desert would appear on Mars again. And this time has come!
The game has changed a great deal in terms of visuals, but those exciting biome-specific gameplay changes are still on the way (see below). But not entirely so! For example, Fir Trees now only spawn in the cold Tundra biome. Tundra is also spawning Icebergs, which is currently used for harvesting some Fish. But this will change in the near future, as we'll be integrating biomes into the game's economy. For starters, we'll introduce a machine for making ice-cold Smoothies in one the next update. Make sure to build them in some cool place!
Jungle and Desert, on the other hand, are a bit more diverse in terms of gameplay already! Jungle is now the perfect place for growing Apple Trees, while warm Oceans have become the perfect place for growing Catnip Algae plants! Additionally, Juicy Cacti can be found in Deserts: currently, they provide you with a can of Catnip Juice, when harvested by hand. Also, you can now extract Concrete from Desert sands (previously Sand was available in the oceans only).
Boy, you can even find some Raw Concrete, scattered here and there in Deserts (yes, Concrete is a natural mineral on our version of Mars, because science!)
Territories: Mars For Sale!
In the most recent update update, we've decided to try something different to motivate the players to explore the map a little bit more. Since the cats in the world of Learning Factory are now active participants in the Solar System's economy, it only makes sense for them to start buying lots of land on the recently terraformed Mars.
Which is why most territories have landlords and ladies (currently available as optional feature in Freeplay Mode only). The thing is, cats can't really do much about their owned territories. Because they have paws and don't have hands. Which is why you, the players, are very welcome to buy this land off them for money or other resources, and expand your Factory there. Since locked territories often contain valuable resources, buildings and Ruins, in our minds this feature would make unlocking those territories a rather exciting process.
But there was, of course, a risk of upsetting players by limiting their exploration possibilities. That's why we've approached our community and asked them about their potential concerns regarding this feature. This resulted in a mutually interesting Q&A dialogue, which helped us shape this feature, but the discussion unraveled further and led to unexpected, yet quite interesting, results.
For example, one member of a community pointed out that “coins use in game is a bit weird at the moment imo. They are used in place of typical "science packs" in other games for researching new technology and unlocking new buildings and resources. Personally i would much rather have a KOTOVOD Store that you can buy all the craftable and harvestable items from”. This thought has crossed our minds as well, so now we're thinking of ways to give the players an opportunity to exchange resources. This feature goes by the code name of “Trade Ports” (inspired by our good friend Kryptonik) and exact mechanics of their work is still deeply in discussion. But the problem itself is definitely on our plates.
Another important issue brought up in that dialogue was that “a bit better or a research/progression system would be nice. 95% of all the researches on my save files come from like 1 researcher and a single store selling items and me just letting it slowly run and complete the tech tree”. We are aware of this issue and we've been discussing it even more vividly since it was brought up by the community.
The biggest dilemma for us is that introducing any kinds of limitations could break the ‘zen’ vibe of the game, which our players value greatly. But that doesn't mean there's no way to work it out! Just a couple of days back, we came up with an idea that could not only resolve this situation, but also tie up together the story, unlocking territories and progressing on the Research Tree. But this thing is so early in discussion, that we are in no way ready to say anything about it — everything can change once we start experimenting with it. One thing is certain: we'll have another round of community discussion when there's something to be discussed!
In the meantime, you're very welcome to join our merry bunch on our Discord server, where we discuss upcoming features with our players and ask them for ideas that often make it into the game later:
Another important outcome: while we were discussing unlockable territories with the players, we all have agreed that Learning Factory would definitely benefit from adding cat zeppelins! The mechanics of their work is also in TBD stage, but we have added them on our public roadmap (available and regularly updated on our Steam page)
Up Next: Customization (Finally!)
The most prominent feature in the next update we're working on, was long-expected both by the community and us, the devs, because it's pure fun! (Especially when we've got such artist as Sergei on board) We've even redesigned the main character model to make it all happen, that's how serious we are about customization!
We've got a lot of slots for custom items planned: you can change hair and facial features, outfit, backpack, cat fir and muzzle, even accessories and hoverboard/jetboard features!
The update next week, of course, will feature only an initial bunch of items. Much more will arrive later on in Early Access. As for now, check out some gifs of work-in-progress custom character looks:
But that's not just that! Here's a random selection of features we're planning to add (please mind that some features might fail to make it into the next week's update, but it's safe to expect them soon in any case):
1-3 new biome-specific buildings
1 new resource for crafting
All in all, we're excited as we are preparing to finalize Stage 2 of our Early Access plan, which means we're somewhere midway to release, and we're so happy to be going through this journey with you by our side! See you in the next version of Learning Factory Dev Diaries!