I “completed” my first real game (from start to 100% tech complete and beyond any concerns about money). The approach I took was:
- Build a large but compact production chain based on the initial assembly units.
- Rush research to factory expansion, research centers, and body design.
- Rush all the body designs.
- Then research all the remaining production techniques.
- Don’t research ANY features at all until the very late game.
- Replace all body designs with marketing centers.
- Build a complete final factory layout for all techs skipping the intermediate assemblers.
From my experience this is the “best” way to play, but it takes a lot of the enjoyment out of it. Part of the challenge should be trying to fit a new production chain into the existing layout, but its easier to just skip that entirely.
- Everything is too fast. Tech comes too fast, market changes come too fast… Overall the entire game experience is compressed into a frantic 4 hours. Slowing down tech and market changes would help the experience a lot, and encourage development of the mid-game.
- For tech it is probably sufficient to introduce diminishing returns from having multiple research facilities.
- For market changes, you need to ensure that the market is stable enough so that a change introduced at the beginning of the production line has time to reach the end and benefit the player. With the original combined assemblers it is almost 2 hours of in game time to build a car (more if there are any backups on the line), yet the market seems to change every hour or to. There is just no point in trying to respond to the market by making cars in different ratios. Just change your price if you get backed up.
- Tech is out of order, and awkward for the opening game. You get notices that the AI has researched feature X within 10 minutes of starting, but there is no way that anyone could be producing cars with feature X because that would require also researching all the tech to break down the production chain associated with that feature as well as the factory expansion you would need to house the extended production line. Things like factory expansion and body design should be automatically included for everyone, or at least be very low cost.
- There is no incentive to keep body design around after the initial use. Perhaps a repeatable tech that “refreshes” your designs and makes them more competitive. So market competitiveness constantly ticks upwards but you can refresh your designs and reduce it slightly.
- It gets really awkward in the late game trying to handle the multiple variations of a single car. I would suggest a tablular gui as in the attached image. You would select the features that go into each model, and be presented with the import price of that item. You could then select a markup percentage to apply to that item, and it would generate the final price. You would also select the percent of cars you attempt to make of each type (I want X% of my cars to be high luxury sports cars). Not only would this combine a lot of useful information in one place, but it would also make the car prices dynamic based on the import prices. As import prices go up, your car price also naturally rises in proportion.
- It would be nice to be able to slowly break down the production chain. I don’t know how feasible it would be, but perhaps the gui for the combined assemblers could have check boxes for their sub-functions. So for instance I might keep the original chassis assembler, but uncheck the final “fuel tank” function, and then put a few 4-minute fuel tank install stations after it. The time of the chassis assembler might go from 13 minutes to 10 minutes leaving it a bit less efficient than fully breaking up the chassis process into its 6 stations, but still an improvement.
- I would like to have gates and signals that prevent cars from backing up on sections of the belt. So it would be something like a smart junction, but would be tied to another section of belt and wouldn’t allow a car to advance until that belt was empty.
- For things like drying paint it would be nice to combine multiple units into one. Currently you have to build an array of parallel lines of paint drying stations, which involves a lot of belts and space. It would be interesting if you could build them in series. Imagine 12 paint drying stations set end to end (exit from the first one directly goes into the entrance of the second). 12 cars could enter that at once, and they would then take the 12 minutes that they normally to complete, and then all 12 exit simultaneously. That would increase the throughput to the equivalent of 1 per minute, but without requiring a big array of 12 paint drying stations side by side with separate entrance and exit belts.
- Finally it would be nice if the time requirements for everything fit together better. With some processes taking 1:58 and others taking 2:03 there are some inefficiencies that are impossible to correct (the GCD of these times is 1, so the optimal ratio is 123:118 which would require an impossibly large map to build). So in practice one has to treat these as 2 minute tasks and just accept that there will be some idle stations. If that is what the player is going to do anyways, then perhaps the game should just set that as the value itself. Every station should be in units of 30 seconds. Robots might subtract 10 or 15 seconds from a task. More complex optional installations might add some fixed number of seconds. Get away from percentages, and make it all clear. Installing the cabin takes 30 seconds, unless you have the interior wood paneling which adds 30 seconds. Robots can reduce the time this takes by 5 seconds for each level of robots. That gives me something I can plan around: 15 seconds for the base cabin install, 45 seconds for the wood cabin install. I can actually compute the ratios I would need with other stations to keep my factory humming.