Proposed change to research pre-requisites

A few players have pointed out that there is little incentive to spend much time producing cars with the default slots from the start of the game, with some experienced players deciding to skip that tier entirely and just pre-research them before making any capital investment at all. This feel a bit like cheating, and isn’t really in the spirit of the game, and there have been calls to find a way to defeat this as a strategy. I think there is a lot of merit to this argument.

One suggestion I have (and its implemented pending feedback before the 1.46 patch) is to add a new pre-requisite for the initial research items (such as body, chassis, paint and accessories specialization) which prevents them being researched until a certain number of cars have been sold. I have an example of the GUI below:

and also when you have sold 10 or more cars and its enabled:

I just tried it, and 10 cars does take a little bit of time, but its enough to make you ‘commit’ to making the current layout work, and encourages you to add some supply stockpiles to keep the body shop working efficiently, and so on. I think this would be a gameplay improvement. I also feel it can be argued that this is definitely justified in real world terms too, as presumably you have to assembly a few cars fairly manually before your team of technicians can know enough about what works and does not work in order to split out the tasks between multiple slots.

My main concern here is whether or not players feel that this would make the game more playable, and more of a challenge. I’m also interested to know if people think that the GUI change I’ve made above is self-explanatory, or whether I would need to explain things more?

Fantastic idea and certainly a good idea.

It will make the Small Factory, Medium Factory and Tight Budget scenarios quite the challenge. It is already a significant challenge to play these as the funds are not as abundant as with the Giant Factory and Mega Factory, where you could easily spend a million on research.

My suggestion is that yes its a good idea to drive game play as many games have levels to unlock. Selling 10 cars would be one of them, with research being the others.

I would however balance this with a slightly easier beginner scenario so as to not dissuade new (possibly lesser experienced) players from playing.

All I wanna do now is play a scenario with a self imposed 10 car restriction to see how it will play.

What about linking the research to car sales, i.e. for every car you sell you get xxx amount of research points which will then need to be allocated in the research tree to unlock?

I think the problem with that mechanic is that suddenly there would be TWO ways to get research, unless you mean replace research facilities entirely? which might be an idea, but some people like to prioritize research, others prefer output, so that would force both play styles into one.

With initial research coming from production, and the majority coming elsewhere, I can see the first time player getting really confused. Or am I panicking too much about that?

I think I prefer the original idea of min requirements of cars built. However, as a feature, it does force the player to play a certain way which might not be appreciated by all.

But if you take the second ideal, I think there might be two type of research point, tech and process. More cars gets more process, (like experience points of efficiency, more cars you build the more experience you and your workers have of what slow down the production line) and then the research team can look into different technologies. Tech points are irrelevant of build processes, but more related to customer desires and market.

The more tech you build with your production line, the more experience points you have. so if you research lots of different tech, and put them into lots of cars, the quicker you will be able to research efficiency (or car building) improvements because your factory workers etc get more experience building the different and more complicated cars.
Alternatively, if you stick to basic models for ages, it’ll take you longer to “learn” about process efficiencies.

This might help grow your variety of cars, and the abilities of your factory more organically.

I guess this also brings up a second question, which would be how far to go in terms of implementing this. For example, setting a 10 cars sold limit seems reasonable for the first ‘tier 1’ unlocks such as chassis specialization, but should there be any other limits? Do we need 100 cars built before allowing the player to manufacture components? 200 cars built before extra robots?

I can see an argument that the extra efficiency of having the final robots upgrade could only really make sense if your factory already has the experience of producing say 100 cars, or 200 cars? Or does this all get a bit arbitrary and confusing?

Interesting idea. I say do it as I am curious to see how it will impact gameplay. And because I just bought a 49inch monitor to play it on.

So I had a quick play through on the Small Factory scenario and calculated that it takes approx 2 hours of game time (give or take a few seconds), to produce a car on a single line without any researched upgrades.

If the proposed update of 10 cars production limit before research is enabled does feature in the game play, then it will undoubtedly cause a lot of frustration for a new player (and some for an experienced player). This is mainly due to waiting for a whole production day before being able to research, and having paid rent and power bills, the player is ultimately left to vacate the office or alternatively to opt into the loan system which again, will increase costs with production effectiveness only improving gradually as the learning curve as to what research is best early on is a bit steep.

A new player will ultimately be left clicking through menus wanting to save their fledgling production company whilst the clock ticks away.

I would still say that it is a very viable option to try and focus early game on production and not research. I feel however that this can only be obtained if a bit of balancing takes place in the slot production times or the cost of rent and power. I suggest reducing the slot production times.

If you are going to implement this kind of feature, I would personally steer clear of dictating the exact route a player can earn a given upgrade. if someone wants to focus on more robots first, or the resource import stuff, or the breakdown of tech, I feel it would be nice to allow them to choose what priorities to set on whatever upgrades? and if you did implement a separate way to research process enhancements, then the research would need less output otherwise a player goes through the tech tree too fast.

This is the problem your getting with research “points”. Research should cost money. And of course time

JSD you are onto something here. Research ( in real world) does does cost both time and money. The question is. Should the Research slots be more expensive? Should the actual tech tree have a cost per research item?
I would rather say make the Research slots more expensive to build and run, while also increasing the time needed to research tier 2 and 3 tech.

I would leave tier 1 tech at the 750 points requirement that it now has, as the initial research should go quick.

Yes, I feel the research should cost a lot more, especially the research facilities… It’s too easy to plonk down 8+ research facilities, and research everything you need without costing too much.

I am enjoying the update, and must say that it has changed the gameplay dynamic somewhat from the traditional research first and build later option that some of us were following.

Well done cliffski

Thats good to hear. I did tweak some other numbers to ensure the early tier was more profitable. I’m also interested to hear that people think research stations should cost more. there is also the issue of researchers wages. Right now they earn $78 vs $48 for someone in production. (Those figures can rise if AI competition rises). I wonder if I should nudge that wage cost higher for researchers?

Its reasonable considering the game play dynamic. A more real world view of research in that innovation is inspired by expertise. Likewise more cutting edge research will be done by higher skilled and costlier labour.

I think this makes the ‘Tight Budget’ map unbalanced for not very experienced players, because at the beginning if you dont separate certain tasks (like paint and body assembly) you may start loosing money. It is a good idea, just needs soma balance change on that map I think.

Just thinking that either the research points are reduced per station which will increase the cost of research, however, any additional costs to research you need to slow down the AI on what they are researching. As you can get a couple of weeks into the game everything is researched and the AI has researched everything.

Also thinking about rebalancing the design stations have two many points per hour for designing a new car that could be halved without noticing it to much but will also take time for it to research all the car model types.

I really like the idea of research points being tied at least in part to cars sold.

I’m still very much NOT a fan of arbitrary chunks of industrial units being reserved for office units only so if this feature gets rid of it, that would be even better.

Had another thought on the matter.

What if all research points came from cars sold, but individual research projects required a certain number of research offices?

To clarify:

  • You accrue research points as cars are sold.
  • A research project such as “chassis specialisation” requires you spend some of these points to start the project.
  • Research projects also require a minimum number of research offices (replacing the need for X cars sold as is current).
  • Research projects have a base research time that can be decreased for each additional research office you have above the minimum (eg ResearchTime = BaseResearchTime * RequiredResearchOffices / TotalResearchOffices)

This makes research offices desirable, but not to the point where you’d want to spam 50 of them across the map. Thus, you eliminate the need for office spaces.

I would be worried about implementing anything that seems complicated to explain to the player. Generally in games of this time, people expect to generate points, ad then spend them, without complication.
I do agree that this would neatly solve the issue of research-spamming without zones.
The current system definitely lacks an explanatory popup to say “yay! you shipped 10 cars, you can unlokc X now…”