Hey Cliff et al,
I’ve been thinking how I would like to see the game develop, mainly around the car sales side of things and whilst I’m sure a lot of this has already been considered, I thought I’d put my two pence in.
At the moment the aim of the game seems to be to push out as many cars as efficiently as possible, with the most upgrades as this will give you the most cash. This doesn’t feel like the right end goal as there is only ever one right outcome for a factory and reduces the replayability. Instead, I’d be interested in building different lines to serve different needs in a complex market place and being more demand-led.
- The market can be made up of a number of different purchaser profiles (student, golfer, school-run etc) who demand different parts more than others, but are not willing to pay for other parts (students/young drivers are pro Music player but not arsed about aluminium bodies) and the marketplace will only have so many of each profile (ie 20% students, 5% Gearheads).
- Marketing can be used to push a car towards a particular buying group
- Introduce different basic car shells which better target a particular group.
- Introduction of more variation in engine parts for different market profiles Gearheads, boy racers etc. (I’m sure you can come up with better names!)
- Market research can be a tech tree to better understand the needs of customers, and be a refreshing tech to keep the research team occupied ad infinitum.
- Have car colour as a defining characteristic?
- Other companies in the market could make cars that alter the demand in the market, even mimicking very popular player designs to undercut or divide demand, which might be a more natural way to manage car values than the current fix of reducing the value of the basic car over time.
The market profiles could be modelled so that it changes either by each playthrough to increase replayability (or during each game but this may annoy players who like to play in a straight efficiency mindset as the goalposts may change too much for their liking). I could flesh this out more but I think if this was in place, my factory would have to be built to either focus on one market segment (with a risk of saturating said market if throughtput or cost was too high) or have lots of lines to target many segments.
I’ve worked in an FMCG factory, and in established factories the issues (relevant in part to the game) are:
- Introduction of machinery usually leads to a decrease in people requirements, and lost heads means redundancy packages which should mean there is a payback period on implementation. Not sure if adding machines reduces headcounts currently, but as they aren’t for cost-saving but instead for improved efficiency they currently operate in a different manner. However it would be good to manage the labour force in some small way.
- People join unions who negotiate salary increase and protect jobs, so this could be a new interesting annual negotiation mechanic (we’ll take a lower payrise but want to ensure at least x manufacturing jobs in the factory this year, or strike action). I enjoyed moving the big hand in negotiations in Theme Park but maybe that was just me! Unionisation could be a start state or an outcome of too many robot upgrades being put into the factory.
- Improvements on machine operations usually comes from the workforce, especially a motivated one. This could be as simple a mechanic as each employee in the factory gives a 0.001% chance of finding a throughput or cost improvement on a particular machine each day, but the link would need telegraphing so that it becomes a conscious decision by players. More training would boost this.
- Inefficient lines are not always upgraded, even when there is money available. Usually this is driven by market demand forecasts whereby the line is “efficient enough” for forecast demand. The Marketplace suggestions in the above section should make this happen.
- Breakdowns and missed deliveries drive production schedules. This is probably too granular for Production Line, as whilst it would be easy to implement breakdowns or a period of non-delivery of an item, unless the player is having to hit an order objective then it’ll just be a nuisance and currently I can’t see good solutions to the problem in game other than “build a new one” or “make it out of raw materials” or “wait”. A lot of design decisions would probably be needed before you would look at this. I’ve known high absence levels to alter production schedules too, which might be an easier way to implement. Someone else might see a good way to implement this sort of idea though.
- Selling off by-products - Okay, no bi-products or waste in Production Line, but we do have WIP and components. It would make sense to sell components into the marketplace, especially as they have price fluctuations. You could even implement a “sell stock when market price hits £x” option.
- Waste reuse in production. It would be interesting if certain processes created steel waste which we could then funnel into a reworker that then creates steel. It would create a new interesting problem to solve. Not sure if they do this with cars but other FMCG do it regularly.
A couple of quality of life changes:
- Make it so that clicking an upgrade doesn’t close the upgrade window, reduces the clicking required by the player
- Visual cues that upgrades have been applied.
- Ability to move existing machinery around the factory.
Anyway, those are my major thoughts on the development, feel free to build on or disagree with anything in there.