Oh hi there!
It feels aa bit overwhelming as we're writing these lines, since this week marks the
completion of Stage 1 of Learning Factory's Early Access!
(pause for applause and fanfare)
Thanks to your love and support, we have really pushed our game forward in the past 8 months! The game has changed drastically, and not only in terms of content: we're talking about more stable, more optimized, more user friendly version of Learning Factory, which lets you spend dozens of hours, chilling and building the KOTOVOD of your (cats') dreams.
But hey, we've added tons of content as well! This iteration of our Dev Diaries is dedicated to the most important changes of the past 3 months.
Cats used to simply roam to your Factory in an endless stream of happy customers. Well, we decided to make it closer to what's happening on actual markets (despite the fact that we're talking about a game where you build cat factory on Mars).
You see, your cats are not alone now. They have friends and they are very eager to share experience from visiting your Factory with those friends.
Upon trying to purchase something, a cat has a chance of recommending your Stores to a friend. Or, in case they haven't found what their hearts desire, they can talk a friend out of visiting your Factory!
Word of meow is one powerful thing, and it influences your flow of catstomers now! Of course, you can always build another Cat Gate which will bring more cats to your campus, but if you want a steady cash flow, you better make sure those cats find what they come for.
This system was inspired by startup management mechanics from our previous game,
while True: learn(), but this time hype levels actually depend on your skills of handling cat requests. In short, that means: get to work!
Additionally, keep track on 'Shopaholic Invasion' events, which happen randomly from time to time and bring oodles of cats to your Factory at once! Used to be, only Grandma Cats were arriving during this event, but we honestly, it just didn't feel right: why only grandmas would come off as shopaholics? So another (random) type of cats will be joining the swarm every time. And, of course, these events might change your Hype levels dramatically, and fast.
Pyramid of requests
Another brand new mechanics from version 0.10 is called ‘Satisfaction Pyramid’, and is inspired by Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. In the world of Learning Factory it actually shows your impact to improving the feline society!
You can find it in the ‘Cats’ tab in the Wiki (‘H’). Here’s how it works.
Different kinds of cats want certain kinds of items. These items are sorted in the Pyramid by their priority to respective types of cats.
The more satisfied requests on a lower level of the pyramid, the higher the chances of a cat to request an item from higher levels. (figure A)
On the left you can see how many requests for respective items were recently satisfied and the total amount of recent requests of this type (figure B)
If all levels are unlocked, there's a chance for a cat to upgrade into a more advanced and demanding upon appearing from the Cat Gate, given that requests on lower levels are being met (figure C). You can also see how many cats recently advanced (figure D)
If a level of the pyramid is not yet unlocked, that means these cats are buying stuff they need someplace else (for now, at least), and it’s your job to find out what they want and provide!
Buildings and other research project are now subject of improvement! This long-waited feature will help you boost your Factory's performance and/or unlock various gameplay features. See the image above:
Those blue-turning-gray icons (figure A) represent upgrades, available for your research projects. You can hover your mouse cursor over an Upgrade's icon to see exactly what it does (figure B), and you can see requirements for unlocking it in the lower right corner (figure C).
But that's not it. Upon unlocking, the Upgrade must be researched, just like any other object on the Tree (figure D). Mind that certain buildings might have more than just one Upgrade for unlocking.
Sounds like a lot of hoops to jump through, but the result is definitely worth it, as it can unlock alternative recipes for crafting, and even new buildings. Look at this handsome T-shaped Splitter that is now yours to unlock:
Business Requests and Specialized Stores
You fellas would love more Cat Stores at your Factory, wouldn't you? Don't be shy: we know that setting the appropriate number of Stores for each cat type is one of the strategies for maximizing your profits.
And this mechanics has just become deeper! You see, there are now cats who don't even care about their Pyramid of requests: all they want is to buy a bunch of goods from one of 5 goods categories: they might be craving for Food, Materials, Essential, Luxury or Tech stuff. Now, cats are well known to be mysterious creatures, so we're still trying to figure out why these cats behave this way. We're suggesting that they're buying those things for their business needs (what business can be run by cats? Send us your thoughts!)
How do you make these cats happy? First, you better separate them from the rest of the bunch. There's a Business Request Splitter on the Research Tree, tailored exactly for that task.
Then, research and build our new Specialized Smart Store (seen on the picture above), select the category it will be selling items from, and make sure to provide! Huge profits can be generated by using these Stores, but some serious production optimization will most likely be required. Can you figure it out?
With this feature, we were trying to add another layer to the gameplay: adding yet another type of cat to go to another Smart Store seemed like doing more of the same thing (we already have 7 of those!), so instead, we've come up with a whole new type of request. Dividing cats only by their type is not always enough anymore: cats of all kinds can spawn with business requests for any category.
It might not sound like a big deal, but in reality they provide a great deal of a challenge since these Stores become available at late stages of the game, when your Factory is supposedly huge and production chains get weird. Give it a shot and let us know how you like it!
This one is simple, but might come in handy! If you need just a couple of those Cotton plants or some Wood from them Trees, there's no need to chop down the poor thingies! Instead, press your Left Mouse Button on a plant to simply harvest smaller amount of respective resource. Don't worry, it'll grow back soon enough!
The boring explanation of these mechanics is that we wanted to give the players another option of handling resources and increase their sense of control. But most importantly, clicking and harvesting stuff just feels so good!
Speaking of left mouse button: we've added a rather cool feature that turn Transporter drawing placement mode on by default. Simple press and hold LMB and get creative! Like: I did not pet her, I DID NOT!..
New Story chapter
A handful of pick for our artist, a huge leap for Learning Factory! This new set of comic strips completes our list of features planned for Stage 1 of Early Access. But look, we're already halfway through Stage 2:
This roughly concludes the list of new mechanics in the game, but that's just the top of the iceberg! Listing all the changes made within these 8 months would probably blow up Steam, so let's just highlight the most interesting stuff:
Researchers for hire
Earlier this year, we've reveal the truly unique nature of our cat researchers. With version 0.10, we've added even more individual traits and expanded the Tavern and Dormitory mechanics in general.
They got new looks! They got new perks! They now upgrade their parameters while they research! Alternatively, if you feel particularly rich, you can upgrade the Tavern itself and get more competent (and expensive) candidates for your Research Labs.
Of course, as it is with harvesting mechanics, the true purpose of these improvements is to let you to check out more goofy cats. That's what we use it for, at least:
New Cat Types
If you've read this far, you must be tired by now. Or maybe you've just wanted more cool pics? In any case, let's watch some cool pics! Check out 2 new types of cats at Learning Factory!
A.k.a. "the babushkas" ("babushka" stands for "grandma" in Russian, if you didn't know that already). They're the cutest cats at any Factory, looking for your typical grandma stuff: apples for making their amazing jam, cotton for their knitting and such!
Their desires are easily readable from their looks! They crave anything high-tech and rumors are, they consist of pure energy!
Tl;dr : there's so much new stuff! The main game changer is the 2 new types of metals (Copper and Gold), which are used for crafting advanced items. And you'll need new machinery for mining and processing it, of course:
And, of course, Learning Factory provides probably one of the easiest way to get a top notch graphic adapter:
Improving user experience is what's on our minds these days. We're now working on a dedicated Tutorial mode, which will contain a set of scenarios, designed to help the new players learn the ropes of Learning Factory. But, of course, that's not the only thing we're working on. Above is the prototype vision of new map layouts. Rivers! Maybe even hills? Let us know if you want a more diverse landscape on Mars!
Bonus: Cute Cat Photos
Life goes on. We're developing Learning Factory, you're enjoying it at your homes (or so we hope). And for cats... everything is going by the plan: lazy passtime and inventing new ways for getting munchies from those bald apes who consider themselves their owners. Check out this selection of our team's cats and see for yourself:
That's it for today, folks! Please let us know how you like this new, text version of our dev diaries! And by all means, play some awesome games this weekend! Just don't forget to share your experience with us: join our merry bunch of players on our Discord server.
P.S. If you want to keep an eye our progress closer, don't forget to follow Learning Factory on our Steam page and never miss an update again!