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Category: Dev Blog

[Dev] Food & Stamina System

If you follow our social channels you might have already learned about our new “Stamina and Food System”. If not, why not come and follow us on Facebook & Twitter for more info like that in the future.

Even though we covered the basics we want to dive deeper into the matter and give as much details as possible. Where do we start?

The beginning:
When we build a new settlement, we begin with the most basic buildings.

With “What you see is what you get” we learned that we see everything in the world. We see multiple forests, berries, and if we pay close attention even fish near the coast.

We started our outpost by building several woodcutter, gatherer and fisher huts. The last two buildings usually make up our basic food supply.

This will only fulfill their own needs and our woodcutters will get hungry and stop working, because they need cooked meals. It is easily visible for us: The worker sits in front of the building, waiting for food.

We need to place some houses.

Houses:

In the new The settlers the primary use of houses is to make sure to cook and deliver meals to ensure that all of our workers are fed and have full stamina.

By building some houses, we have created a “small” food production chain. The fisher will catch delicious fish and the residents can pick up this fish from the fisher hut directly. The residents will go back to their houses and start cooking a tasty meal. The cooking process is under way if you see white smoke from the chimney.

This whole process takes a bit of time, but once the cooking is done our residents will deliver the meal to different work places.

If the worker has no stamina left, they wait in front of their building. Once the residents delivers the food, they will make their way to their own little designated eating place, consume the meal, regain stamina and go back to work. In case they are still out in the field working hard, they will find the hot meal when they are coming back.

But what happens if the fisher and the gatherer get hungry themselves and do not receive any cooked meals at the moment? The fisher, the gatherer and also the hunter will eat their own collected or caught food (anyone up for sushi or carpaccio?) to ensure that they can keep working. However, since the food has not been turned into a tasty meal by a resident, it only deliver half the stamina.

Market stalls:

As we are always on the lookout to make our economy more efficient. It is time to talk about market stalls.

Market stalls are places where specific food is stored and available for the residents to collect. We will have different market stalls in the game. This will make it easier for us to plan and organize. It would not make any sense to have a fish market stall where no fish is around. Of course, we could still place it, but remember what we have learned in the transportation blog: The distance might be too long for our carriers and it could create traffic jams or bottlenecks.

We placed a market stall for our fish and for our forest products, in this case berries. Our carriers will make sure that the goods from the fisher and gatherer are transported to those stalls. This makes the walking distances for our residents shorter and they can supply food faster for our hard working craftsmen.

Mid / Late game:

How does it look when we advance further in the game?

The more we progress with our settlement the more buildings we unlock. We can also upgrade them and this includes houses. We will explain details about the upgrade system in a later blog post.

The first step would be to provide more and different food to our workers. One classic production chain consists of wheat farm, windmill and bakery. We want to use those wide and nice grasslands to have an efficient bread production, by placing enough farms.

Farms can also harvest corn and since our bread production works perfectly, we will need new market stalls, for bread and corn.

We now can provide our residents with different food, but the real deal would be to provide them with better food. Upgrading the houses will make this possible. Better houses will unlock more advanced recipes to create delicious meals that deliver more stamina, which means the citizens will need to supply each craftsmen less often. As a result, the residents can supply meals to more craftsmen.

Make sure to have houses close to major production chains as residents will not travel endlessly, to either get their ingredients or to deliver the meal to a work place.

If you think that you need food only to provide your workers with meals and keep your stamina up, this is far from it. Food will have other usages too, but we will talk about it in another dev blog.

That was our introduction to the new “Stamina and Food System”. What do you think? Do you like the change? Can you already imagine a nice and bustling marketplace with houses around? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

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[Dev] Transportation – Roads, Vehicles & Traffic Jams

Last week we talked about WYSIWYG – What you see is what you get. We learned many different things. This most important thing however was that you see where every good is in the world. This of course means you will need to transport those goods to different locations.

In early stages, carriers will transport the goods from one location to another, but they can only carry one good at the time.

In the beginning, it is important to make sure that your economy is efficient. This means, that you place buildings, which belong together in close proximity. This will make it easier for your carriers to transport the goods from one place to another. As you only have a limited amount of carriers and you want to be sure they use their time efficiently, as this enables you to train carriers you don’t need to become soldiers or craftsmen.

Below you see an early production chain. We found copper, placed a couple of copper mines around the deposit, the toolmaker and the guildhouse, to train new craftsman right next to it.

This keeps the distance for the carrier very short. They only need to pick up the copper from the mine and transport it a few meters to the toolmaker. The toolmaker will use the copper to produce tools. Which will be picked up the finished product and bring it to the guild house where we can train new craftsmen.

As you can see in the screenshots, the carriers find their way to all the production buildings without placing any roads. By simply watching them, you will know where they are going and you will find out their favorite route. If you now want to build roads, we offer three different types in our game.

As we have not found any advanced materials yet, we can only build a broad path. Roads have the advantage that our settlers will move faster. The better the road, the faster our settlers will carry their goods. Vehicles have the same speed as carriers, but they are able to carry multiple goods, which has two advantages: The first one is obvious, as you need less Settlers to transport your goods. The second advantage is an increased throughput, which means the amount of goods that can pass a location within a certain time is higher. This might be important if there is a bottleneck in your transportation route like a tight mountain pass, which limits the amount of goods you can get from one side to the other.

There will be three different kind of carts: Pull carts, donkey carts and ox carts. The donkey carts require gravel roads but they will carry up to five goods at the same time and ox carts will require paved roads but can carry up to even eight goods. In order to construct those vehicles you will need a wainwright’s and a wheelmaker.
Remember: The more carriers and vehicles you have on the road the higher the likelihood that you will have a traffic jam.
Traffic jams happen if you need to move many goods from one location to another. If there is a bottleneck on the way, people might have difficulties moving along.

This mountain path makes it difficult for our settlers to transport their goods or even to get to their destination. We could build some woodcutters to chop down the trees and build an alternatively road or we could try to upgrade the road to use ox-carts, or we could try to produce more of those missing goods on the other side of the mountain pass to avoid the need for that many transports. There are always ways to make your economy more efficient.

In order to better organize your settlement you have the option to build different resting points. Resting points will help you to manage your economy more efficiently. Rather than having all your little helpers everywhere separated on the island, make sure that your main spots – the busiest places – have enough help when you need it.

Resting points for your carriers will be a place where they meet and wait for a task in that area. Same goes for the donkey cart meeting point. They will have a place to idle and wait for the next goods to be transported. And this can happen anytime. E.g. Simply recruit multiple military units and goods will need to get moved fast.

Iron ore & coal needs to be transported to the iron smelter. The finished iron needs to be moved to the weapon smith to produce weapons and those weapons need to find their way to the casern to recruit new units.

If you have a resting point close by, your carriers have a short way to pick up those goods. Otherwise, they might come from far away and cause a delay or even add up to a traffic jam, which might already seal your fate.

There is one more interesting topic about logistics. The location of buildings also matters since some buildings have 2 input and 1 output good or the other way round. E.g. a smelter gets coal + ore to produce iron. Depending on the location, the player can influence how long those goods need to be carried and use it to reduce traffic at bottlenecks, e.g. if you produce the iron on the side where you mine the coal and ore, only the final iron (half the transports ) needs to go through the bottleneck location.

To sum it up in The Settlers you can build three different types of roads, use vehicles or set up resting points for your carriers. All three options will make your economy more efficient. Even though it seems like a small thing, once you combine everything, it will make a huge difference.

Let us know what you think in the comments. Do you prefer building roads? Do you like planning things before hand? Maybe even pause the game, look around and then start placing buildings? Or do you prefer the freedom and a more “chaotic” playstyle? Let us know. We want to hear from you.

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[Dev] WYSIWYG – What you see is what you get

After summarizing gamescom 2018 in Cologne and answering some of your most pressing questions, it is time to dive deeper. Let us jump into The Settlers universe, talk about various features or what makes a The Settlers game unique.

The Settlers have a unique DNA, which defines our game and how it plays and feels. Today we want to talk about one of the key elements of this DNA, the “WYSIWYG”-approach and how this translates into our game.

What does this actually means?

WYSIWYG stands for “What you see is what you get”.

Everything that happens in the game systems is visualized. Lets take a look at the life cycle of a tree. As a player, you see a tree grow and the tree is an object in the world. If you build a woodcutter to chop down this particular tree you can follow him. The woodcutter will go to the tree, cut it down and transport the log back to his building. The tree is gone and you have a log instead. This log will then be transported to a sawmill to produce wooden planks, or to other buildings as construction material.

You can just watch and see what happens. With this knowledge, you as a player, are able to learn and to understand the game system directly. You technically do not need any statistics and graphics to visualize anything. You could zoom in and count the logs in front of a woodcutter building. You will know, if you just have one woodcutter and no one transporting any logs, how many logs your whole settlement has.

Talking about wood all the time, does it work for other things as well? Yes. It works for everything in game. It does not matter if it is fish, grain, stone, swords or even your settlers. Every good or person is there where you currently see it, him or her.

We sat down with Lead Game Designer Christian Hagedorn. He told us, he brings WYSIWYG to the next level, but sometimes it gets hard!

Christian “Bakyra” Hagedorn: “WYSIWYG brings a very interesting challenge to the table. In modern games we have grown accustomed to the game telling us what do to. That’s why we challenge ourselves to let you play without telling you how to do it.

Christian continues: “The goal of WYSIWYG is for players to be able to understand, without indicators, what the game is about. The premise is simple, but to bring it to the game, we have to do various checks. You cannot allow interactions without explanation. For example: When the enemy army attacks, for civilians to flee, they must see the army. There is no magic happening here. They are not afraid because the keep is under attack; they are afraid and flee because they see the enemy.

This translates to everything in-game. If coal is available, you will see it in the landscape. You will see the processes of producing different goods and this presents a great challenge. How far do we go?

“You will need to find a balance between what is entertaining gameplay and what is strictly simulation.”

WYSISWYG makes it easier for a player to understand the world and everything in it. For a designer or for the art team it will increase the complexity of every design to fit this rule.

It is important to remember that we do not replicate reality. If there is no need to show the transformation, we will not show it. For example: The sawmill cutting the log into two board sets with one process. There is no need to show the removal of excess wood nor the sanding process.

This  would just grow in complexity without any real value for the player.

“We aim for the player to be able to understand everything about the game by just watching it.”

We define the information the player can access as information layers. On the first layer, you have the world you play in – WYSIWYG. You see where you can place what building, farm resources, fish, hunt, gather etc. In the other layers you find everything else, you might want to know. The second layer is the building information. You see what goods can be produced, how many of those goods are waiting to be used / transported or how many workers are working. Again: You can simply zoom in and see if the workers are waiting around or maybe in the forest cutting down wood. You can even count the logs if you want, but this second layer will give you the information as well. The third layer is a filter in a menu. Statistics how many goods you have overall, how many workers of this type etc.

There are other great things about it too. Because of WYSIWYG every resource has to be moved; because you see it in the world. This leads to lots of people living and going somewhere. This sometimes can lead to traffic jams. Organic gameplay and city livelihood are the result of our efforts, and it’s very rewarding!

Thank you very much Christian for your time and insights about “What you see is what you get”.

As Christian already teased, next week we will talk about traffics jams, road systems and vehicles, but before we do that. We want to know what you think about WYSIWYG. Do you like the level of detail? Which statistics would you like to have about your economy? Let us know in the comments down below.

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