Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Chrome paint effect: Production Line

I now have a new shader in Production Line that gives a pure-metal chrome-style effect to cars in the game. Here is a car in the factory:

And here is one in the car design screen:

I like the look of these cars, and definitely will be including this in the game. Because the shader is different, it cannot combine with the ‘polished paintwork’ feature (or rather… the feature has no further visual effect), and for various reasons it simplifies things if this becomes an all-or-nothing option (so you can have a car model entirely in chrome, but not red or yellow or chrome at random). I am currently musing on the best way to slot this into the game./

Right now we have car colors as a purely aesthetic choice. they make no impact on the car price or attractiveness, or the time to paint, or anything like that. In practice, car colors can be set per-model (if the player chooses to), in order to make it clearer which are which on the production line. This is very helpful. Because I like this feature, I don’t think I want to start introducing different prices or demands for colors.

The only exception to this system is ‘polished paintwork’, which sticks the car through an extra slot, makes the car more attractive to buyers, and also changes the rendering effect so the cars paint looks much brighter, which is pretty cool.  To add to everyone’s confusion, I also have a mechanic where certain car colors are LOCKED and unselect-able until the relevant achievement is beaten and unlocked, which I thought was a nice way to incentivise aiming to beat the achievements in the game.

So now I suddenly have a new thing: Chrome color! How best to incorporate this into the game? I can see a number of options:

1) Leave it as shown above. it has a special button which enables Chrome, and selecting any other color will disable it. Selecting chrome means all other colors get removed, and now your car is chrome. Yay! Simple(ish) to understand surely?

2) Make chrome paint a feature, that has to be researched (yay! more design research!) in the design studio. Its then something that gets selected like ‘Polished Paintwork’ (probably make a new paint category for this), and can be a premium feature. I could have a new upgrade for the paint shops that does this, making those cars take longer.

3) Make it just another color (like 1) but also require an achievement to unlock it anyway. We already have a UI to show color options as locked/unlocked so I can re-use that.

As I type this out I am aware that I am leaning towards 2). I want more reasons to keep the design studios around, and to be honest this would be a good point to move that ‘polished paintwork’ stuff into the design studio anyway? I can see a new design category on the design screen like I have for wheels, and power-train, that has ‘Standard paint / Polished paint / chrome’ as 3 different options. This keeps things working within existing game mechanics and should be easy to understand right?

I’m still recovering from showing the game at EGX. It was fun, and beneficial but also pretty hard on my elderly aching feet…

Showing Production Line at EGX Rezzed

Hi all. This is a reminder that on Thursday-Sunday this week, Positech Games will be at the EGX games show in Birmingham, England. I will only be there Friday-Sunday, but the booth will be manned by suitable experts :D Come say hi!

Youtubers most welcome, I am always happy to give thrilling interviews for anybodies channel. I even have a silly hat to wear while I do it.

We will have a nice happy booth with 2 PCs running the latest build of Production Line, comfy leather cube seating, a whole pile of leaflets, stickers and badges, maybe some silly little toy robots to decorate it with. Come tell me all the design decisions I have made wrong. Oh and obviously if you are from the games media, email me at cliff AT positech dot co dot uk if you want to arrange a specific time and place for an interview. We love that sort of thing.

If I look grumpy, have sympathy. Its not my natural environment. I’m more scared of you than you are of me :D


Announcing Democracy 4

Development has started on Democracy 4, the latest iteration of the political strategy game by Positech Games. Democracy 3 was released in 2013 and…quite a lot has happened in global politics since then, which we hope to reflect in the new version. We are still very early in the development of the game, so are not ready to show anything yet, but here are the answers to some expected questions:

Lead programmer and Lead Designer on Democracy 4 will be Jeff Sheen from Stargazy Studios, who also designed Democracy 3:Africa and worked on the Unicode port of Democracy 3 recently to allow support for Russian & Chinese translations. Cliff will help with design & testing and will be producer.

Democracy 4 will incorporate the extra features introduced in Democracy 3 Africa, which simulated corruption, limits to press freedom and other political phenomena from the extremes which are starting to become more common in western politics since the release of Democracy 3.

The game will be completely updated to reflect modern issues, so no more worrying about the ‘V’ chip and other long forgotten issues, and more worrying about fake-news, social media, and other social phenomena driving politics in 2018 onwards.

The release date is ‘some time in 2019’ and we expect to offer an early-access / playable alpha version to players before the games final release. Target platforms are PC, OSX and Linux.

The plan is to roll content from the existing 4 expansion packs (Extremism, Social Engineering, Clones & Drones and Electioneering) into Democracy 4 where appropriate and relevant to provide a single version of the game.

More details coming over the next few months :D

Glossy and not glossy car paint in Production Line

I was never convinced that the cars in Production line looked shiny enough. The average car on the average street looks…ok, but when a car is BRAND NEW, they look insanely polished and shiny, and I think that we were not achieving that in the game until recently.

Some messing around with re-rendering off images, and some adjustment of shaders and some code has allowed me to produce the following images, which I’m happy with, although I may end up toning them down ‘a bit’. (its a shader where I can easily adjust the strength downwards a bit).

Exhibit A is a car that is still being assembled. Structural bits are matte, and the final external panels are a bit shiny, because they are brand new shiny steel/aluminium:

Exhibit B is a car that has received an undercoat. Currently this is way too dark, so I’ll be adjusting that to be much lighter:

Exhibit C is a car with its final coat of colored paint. This is a standard car:

Exhibit D is a car that has had the ‘polished paintwork’ feature researched and applied to it, so it looks extra shiny:

I may adjust these a bit, depending on feedback. Interestingly I asked a lot of people for their opinions and although a lot of people on twitter preferred an unglossy look, the players of the game on my facebook page tended to prefer a more glossy look, so obviously those people are my priority. I also still intend to maintain the ‘glossy cars’ option so players can just toggle off the shader entirely if they dont like it. The cars will still look a bit glossy, because its baked into the textures, but it wwill tend towards the look of the undecorated cars (matte) rather than the glossy or super glossy.

Open top sports cars with gold plated wheels are going to look super over the top :D. (and they should be for the price).