In each post of Unearthed we expose and closely examine a single aspect of Project Automata. Not everything mentioned in this series will necessarily show up in the final game, but we wanted to share our development process with you as we ramp up to Alpha and the eventual release of Project Automata. Feel free to share any of your ideas or concern with us in the comments!
Our first topic is a staple mechanic of the genre: transportation. In Project Automata the networks types fall into six major groups: Road, Rail, Ship, Pipeline, Conveyor Belt, and even Zeppelin.
Directly connecting towns and buildings together, roads will be the primary method used to move raw materials and finished goods around the world. The network will be flexible and easily expanded upon by adding depots to house additional trucks or constructors. Each truck won’t need to be individually routed, simply set up a route and assign a number of trucks to run it.
Local residents also utilize the road network and these personal vehicles might slow down your otherwise efficient shipping routes. Larger cities will be particularly difficult places to avoid traffic. If you want to ensure your loads are always moving uninterrupted, you might want to upgrade to the next level of network…
The rail network will work fundamentally different than the road vehicle network. When you set up routes, you’ll need to pay more attention to where trains might cross each other’s paths and cause delays. Laying rail lines will cost more than roads and the network won’t be as easily altered, but you gain the benefit of a much higher capacity and speed.
If you’re lucky enough to be moving product near a river or lake, ships are a great option if you want to move massive amounts of stuff. They’re easy to set up and carry a lot, but ships will move quite a bit slower than either the road or rail options.
Zeppelins act a bit like ships, but aren’t limited to the waterways. They can quickly cross over hills and towns while still keeping a fair pace and carrying a reasonable amount too. The difficulty in setting up a zeppelin line is the amount of resources needed for their construction.
We’re still debating exactly how pipes will be used in the game, but one sure thing is they will be the main method of moving the “externalities” of your production. Every factory will produce pollution. Some will disperse into the air and some will be expelled in liquid form. Without pipelines this waste will pour on to the ground creating a unsightly mess. With pipes, you can direct that flow away from towns and… well, create unsightly mess. But it will be somewhere people won’t see it!
If your factories are just next door to each other, it doesn’t make sense to load up a truck for a 5 minute drive, does it? That’s where conveyor belts can do their thing. Not only are they efficient over short distances, but you can also set them up to move multiple types of resource on the same belt.
The conveyor belt system can get quite complex when you start adding intersections and filters, so our next Unearthed post will go into more detail about exactly what this transportation option is capable of.
Until next time!