Devlog – Fine by Design

Coordinate the chaos of flower farming during boom times. Become the ultimate Flower Plower

The Limitations of the Design

The initial plan for the game was something similar to Pac Man where you plant seeds and grow flowers.

As development progressed important questions such as ‘What should the player do?’ and ‘What makes the game fun?’ were mostly answered by hand waving.

The rough idea is that the player would plant flowers in the paths between fields. The fields would be filled with sheep who would periodically move from one field to another blocking the paths. As the game progressed the player would expand their network of fields and paths so the strategy would be to create paths that would be good for farming big combos from the flowers while still having enough branches to avoid the sheep.

On the surface it sounds great but when trying to make the ideas more concrete it becomes more difficult to find the fun. Flocks of sheep that block the maze as the main obstacle isn’t great and while the idea that the player creates their own maze is cool the mazes would ultimately be a little dull. After creating your own 4 directional maze you will still end up with a simple maze – it’s hard to see where there’s much room for excitement.

Simulation Puzzle

So the new idea is something of a Simulation Puzzle.

The player places signals on the farm that control the movement of tractors. The tractors pull trailers that will perform actions such as planting seeds and harvesting flowers. The game will reward getting things done as fast as possible and their will be an emphasis on timing actions so that they occur simultaneously.

The main influences on the design currently would be the Dreamcast classic Chu Chu Rocket and a great construction sim called Factorio. There should be plenty of potential fun to be found from setting a farm up, watching it run and trying to improve the amount of flowers you can produce.

Implementation Progress

A focus of the implementation strategy is to reduce coupling between components so that the game objects can be repurposed without throwing out all the code. Happily the plan is working and good progress is being made.

The new design does have the requirement that objects should move across the grid in a predictable fashion.

Objects move continuously through the grid using floating point numbers to represent their current position. The downside to this is that if you move two objects the same distance at the same speed they may arrive on different frames.

This indeterminism is caused by inaccuracies that can result from rounding floating point numbers. Long numbers can’t be represented exactly by a 32-bit number so over time mistakes will creep in.

I have dealt with this problem before when trying to make an action replay system for Jet The Pack and my solution then was to just scrap the replay system. It’s very hard to get the Unity physics engine to do the same thing twice.

For this game I plan to update the objects that move on the grid so that logically they are only ever in the center of a tile. They can move periodically using a tick sent through the event system and the meshes that provide their graphics on-screen can be moved over time using linear interpolation.