I think this is an awesome start! Even without any defined challenges, I found the gameplay surprisingly compelling. I kept track of my thoughts during my first play-through and wanted to share what I was thinking:
So I’ve played one game to the full research level on the small factory, and here’s my feedback:
- I’d like to do less clicking - more buttons on the main screen, fewer options hidden behind windows. For instance, I’d like to be able to upgrade slots from their details window, and not have to go to a sub “upgrades” window. The
“configure imports” window the same thing - can you collapse those checkboxes into the slot details window instead of a separate popup?
- I had trouble getting my importers to balance - I found that if I connected two of them to one network, they didn’t balance well and one of them was usually overloaded - so I split my conveyors into separate networks
- Which leads to this next feedback: the green overlay for resource conveyors is only active during building. I myself ‘building’ on top of an existing resource conveyor and holding it down just to see the green overlay so I could check that my networks didn’t connect
- Build price is displayed and charged even if building over an existing conveyor. Resource conveyors are not charged again if building over an existing one.
- I liked the efficiency window, and I referred to it to figure out if my changes improved things as a whole but it wasn’t great as a diagnostic tool - I couldn’t for instance find all of the slots that were reporting ‘no export room’ or ‘waiting for next slot’ so I could easily identify bottlenecks - I found those by letting the system run and stabilize and then looking for where the cars were backed up.
- When placing new slots that I had never used before, it was often hard to tell where the stockpile for that slot was - it’s the only empty square, but that’s not very visually distinct - I found I had to zoom in a lot to find it. And when a slot has an import and export (the ones that create resources from raw materials) it was impossible to tell which was which before placing it. At the moment, money is easy enough to make that creating and deleting is not a problem, but it’s still not ideal.
- As a first time player, I didn’t know how things fit together, and I lost several games because my slots were ‘backwards’ or too far away /close to each other. And deleting a slot even when paused only returns a fraction of the purchase price. Maybe selling should return full price if the game is paused and the slot has never been active?
- The slots list on the left and the slot windows feel very clunky for 2017. This game may be a strategy game, but it plays more like Sim City when building. RTS games also manage large lists of buildings/units - maybe look to those for GUI inspiration? I guess I expect both a top and bottom bar with information, and either a left or a right bar too.
- When removing resource conveyors I often right-clicked on the wrong spot - and the demolish tool doesn’t help either. Maybe have the square highlighted when demolish is active?
- To cancel my currently selected slot (for instance to stop building conveyors) I found myself using right-click, which sometimes had the side effect of removing something important! Is there a hotkey for going back to the select tool (I tried esc and space)?
- Need undo or some other way to fix the “Oops, I just deleted an important slot” or “Oops, I just right clicked somewhere and deleted something, but I lost my mouse and don’t know what I deleted” problem.
- There’s an issue with the “Make Windows” slot - it keeps telling me “Insufficient resources” even though it says it has 14 Glass in stock - I can provide a savefile if that would help debug.
In case this comes across as critical, let me say it again: This game is Awesome!