Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Space Colony Building Is Hard

I've actually been finding time to find one of those games that I acquired in the Xmas sales !!!


Tonight was actually the second attempt after me giving up on it over the weekend due to graphics driver crashes. This is something that's been an ongoing theme with PC gaming. Console people see the crashes as well but the hardware there is tightly controlled, it's just bad programming and overheating that cause problems. PCs are a bit more wild west though, especially with software being unleashed that really wasn't ready for the users.

This is why I switched back to AMD for my graphics, after nVidia were embarassing themselves again. It's not just nVidia though, AMD have the occasional bad driver* too. One reason I stopped allowing Apple to update iTunes was because every time I did that on a Windows PC, the upgrader app would break my audio streaming. I'd have to do geeky things to get iTunes going through the firewall again after the upgrader confused the settings.

*(a driver is a piece of software that goes between Windows/Mac and the hardware, it tells Windows/Mac how to best take advantage of what the hardware can do)

Space Colony ?

This is from Planetbase, which was happily more stable tonight than it was at the weekend.
That's Iceangel Base, with the domes turned on. The colonists have to live inside, as the atmosphere of this particular planet is heavily carbon dioxide. That's not entirely a bad thing though because the carbon dioxide still turns the wind turbines for power and gives some protection against solar flares. There are other planets with no atmosphere and other conditions I haven't seen yet.

It's an intriguing game, simple but offering so much freedom to the player/colony manager. Also pretty hard to start off too.

Picture of what's inside ? Here we go :
As always, click for bigger.

I started off my colony at the top and wanted to try and make sure the colonists could get to where they needed to go quickly. The canteen in the middle of the hexagon acts like a central hub.

Pretty hard ? There are a few things you need your people to have ... and the initial conditions are very tight on the materials given to set them up.

Power for everything - and storage to get through the night. The column with white glowing stuff (bottom right) is a battery. Power can come from solar or wind.
Water for drinking, feeding crops, feeding meat manufacture (yep - artificial chicken) and most important, for cracking into oxygen to breathe.
Basic materials are bioplast and metal. The bioplast comes from starchy plants, the metal comes from the mine. Both need turning into usable materials from what comes out of the plants and the mine.
To heal injuries or radiation from intensely dangerous solar flares, a medbay is needed.

And there's more too. It has my attention at the moment. My first few attempts at founding Iceangel Base floundered because I tried to build domes that were too big, too early. You don't have the materials for that. You can't even fully populate the rooms with beds or machines because you'll run out of materials. I think the way it'll work out is that you have to build very small at first and then expand. The original colony would turn into an Old Town and later be demolished to make way for bigger, better domes.

The colonists seem to be behaving themselves too. They can be odd with prioritising the order that buildings go up, as in they'll try putting up a dome that can't connect yet to the main base because they skipped the dome that would connect to it. But they obey priorities for what you tell them to build first.

I only mention that because certain other games (cough - Banished - cough) tend to make up their own minds for what they choose as priorities and other games (From The Depths!) have AIs that ignore what you tell them. They're probably doing exactly what they were programmed to do, with logic you can't see getting in the way.

But this one seems simple enough to be as predictable as it can be for Pixel People that aren't under your direct control. You just set up the base, put the machinery/plants there and the Pixel People do the rest.

Yep. I was enjoying seeing the colony come together a little more this evening. The secret with games like this is that you watch them unfold in front of you, with you occasionally adding new instructions. What to build, whether to accept new people (I'm at the oxygen limit and need to build more generators). It's a relaxed gameplay style, which suits me just fine.

You deal with disasters too. Iceangel Base is on a planet with occasional meteor strikes ... And one of those just happened to hit the main power collector battery, just as a sandstorm hit. The Pixel People had to endure a cold night without power because my wind turbines weren't up to the job and the solar panels couldn't collect during the sandstorm.

Games like this can drag you in. But don't take my word for it, my attention was drawn to this game by a fella called Enter Elysium who has a couple of series on this game over at his Youtube channel (peek to the right for the channel link, here is a link to one of the Planetbase playlists).

Check him out, he makes good videos. Or at least, I enjoy them.

And if you're thinking that Planetbase seems very Martian-ish, I thought that too ! Except it's not so much one man trying to survive on Mars, it's the start of an organised colonisation with some ease of mechanics orientated towards making it interesting to play.

I may come back a while later with a screenie of Iceangel Base if it expands significantly. Time permitting of course !

He says with Elite open in the background as per usual with me on the crusade towards the big ship. Cya !

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