Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

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Kyralessa
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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by Kyralessa »

No story.
But the story is what makes the goals interesting!

Not "Automate green science because that's what we think you should learn next."

But "You need to construct a train to retrieve goods from the spaceship across the ravine, because XYZ." Or whatever.

And of course to construct a train you need to automate green science, but that's what the player has the pleasure of figuring out for him/herself. The story presents the problem, and the player invents the solution, and thus learns the game mechanics.

I've said this before, but my favorite level in the original campaign was the one where you get to the wrecked base and discover everyone's dead, and you need to bring all the systems back online. I played it quite a few times, because I kept improving my understanding of how the various systems interacted and how to best arrange the smelting, or the railroad tracks, or other things. I'd love to see more levels like that.

I wonder why the campaign is viewed as just a tutorial in the first place. Why can't it be an end in itself, instead of a stepping stone to free play?

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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by Muche »

I think #2 has some sub-options as well (making it more a hybrid):

1. The previous level could be on another surface, still accessible, with some method of transporting materials from earlier level to the current one. I imagine this method would be cumbersome though, making making the new factory more viable.

2. The need to rebuild the factory in new level could also be helped via using blueprints. That is, although the previous factory is lost, the knowledge how it's setup is preserved. Either just before the transition to the new level Compilatron would unlock blueprints and advise to save parts of factory, or just straight take a blueprint of everything internally and in the next level place the blueprint. The levels design can be then tweaked as to whether this would work right away, or the player would need to fix things.
Compilatron could even act as a slow construction robot, using his special chest (design of which could be the new round chests of the crashed spaceship).

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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by IronCartographer »

TPRJones wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 7:21 pm
It may be possible to do a hybrid between types 1 and 2. Like, when the first part is done and red science is running have a "cutscene" sort of thing that results in the player being pushed away from their base for whatever story reason, there is now water in the way of their going back, and they have to start over for green science ... but just over there beyond where they can go the red science region is still existing and running. Perhaps Compilatron can be used to do something simple to give them a leg up on this new base like connecting a single power line to their old factory so they start with power. This happens again when they finish the green science quests, and maybe this time part of the end of that quest line was loading up a bunch of supplies into a cargo wagon which is how they get their leg up on the next part. Again the old factories exist and keep doing what they are able to do unsupervised and the player restarts a new base but without having to start from scratch. And once all the questing is over the waters recede and they regain access to everything they have built. They get to look at how their bases were different and compare what worked and what didn't. They get to salvage or revitalize their prior bases as they see fit. No work is actually lost in the long run but the player was still forced to restart and iterate, which seems to be a key to really learning this game.
A hybrid approach is certainly interesting, as we've been discussing on Discord--the player could rebuild a couple times, which would allow the map to change up until green science is automated and things get more tedious to rebuild until robots make things easier again.

Your suggestion about having multiple lab setups has a few issues, though. Most notably, each lab requires every pack to actually contribute to the research progress. Even if it didn't, removing access to player structures that might develop issues after the fact (or even just the perception of such)...probably doesn't contribute to a positive player experience.
Kyralessa wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 8:12 pm
I wonder why the campaign is viewed as just a tutorial in the first place. Why can't it be an end in itself, instead of a stepping stone to free play?
I think the best part of the New Hope campaign was how it had so much you could learn from, or not, as you pleased. Design hints, teasers of future items/tech, like poison capsules near worms in a forest you didn't even need to go into.

Those little details and, yes, exploration elements, made it into something you could breeze through or take time and really learn from as you chose.

It felt very organic--perfect for contrasting with the mechanized themes of the factory itself.

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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by MEOWMI »

The old campaign had a good reason for restarting the base in each mission: not only was there a narrative which mandated the change of both scenery and base, but it added new things to take into account during building, which synergized well with the learning process. Now, I can understand that some people are a little apprehensive about having to rebuild - I do have somewhat of a mindset that allowed me to let go more easily, and I think it was beneficial and more fun thanks to this. I also found the designing to be an interesting part of the game so it was a refreshing take to rebuild it.

There is one thing perhaps worth explicitly mentioning: keeping the existing base can be unexpected and undesirable as well. I do believe, that had I been "forced" to keep my existing base between every level in the old campaign, and had it progressed to the rocket launch, my base would've been a huge mess at the end of it. Every iteration, it nudged me in the right direction more, and I would even say that, crucially, the very first iterations would not have fared well towards the end. The old campaign only requires you to build 3 proper bases, which is easy enough, whereas the new campaign would increase that to 5, with the last two being increasingly more complex. At the end of the road, I think I would've be at least a little horrified if my oil processing build from the old campaign had carried over through several more missions, despite my attempt to build a good one at the time (it was fun but there's so much you still don't know even when you try to look forward), and if I had kept it, it would've likely held me back more than I was aware of: even on my first freeplay, I was held back generally by my too small builds, in ways that I didn't even fully realize until 50 or 100 hours later. The worst moment to have to rebuild (at least psychologically) is if the game already expects you to have a base or that you're missing out because you have to rebuild parts. A new level and new design frees you from such expectation while you're still learning the ropes (you could say that in this way it was secretly a blessing that the old campaign didn't progress all the way through the tech tree - that's no longer just learning the ropes).

I found it refreshing that the old campaign provided a new blueprint, a suggestion, for how to build with the pre-designed simple starter bases for each level, on top of its contribution to storytelling and world building. It allowed me to explore existing builds with excitement and to compare my own findings to them, while giving a chance to reiterate my planning skills and learning about new components to add to the factory. From a learning perspective, allowing the user to retry at a faster pace (the principle of rapid prototyping) allows the user to learn faster as well, which adds more value to the approach of starting fresh in between. It's also interesting, because freeplay will never offer this kind of "start fresh" experience, it's only ever what you build yourself, and that's why it was so easy for me to move on to free play from playing the old campaign: the game flowed so differently, keeping the game fresh.

In the end I'm not quite sure what to say, but I think I would lean towards starting fresh between levels. Either way, I will say, I think the old campaign did this well.

I'm sure you also have some stories from people who only played freeplay, to contrast with.

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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by Chaoseed »

Por que no los dos?

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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by astroshak »

I know that Factorio is not a RTS game. I also know that it is basically presented in that style. Multiplayer (and AAI) aside, you’re an Army of One.

One thing I like about RTS games, such as Starcraft, Warcraft, Age of Empires, and the like, was that you did have to build a new base each map. One thing I did NOT like was having to re-develop the same technologies each time. I learned how to give my soldiers Stim-Paks each of the last three maps, why do I need to spend resources doing it again? I learned to make Military Science last map, I should be able to, once I get the materials, create them without researching them again.

For the NPE/tutorial, I would suggest the new map route, while maintaining all the previously learned techs, and on each new map, both enough machines in inventory to get started, and a reason for having brought the machines that you have, and for leaving behind the ones you didn’t. Perhaps a few machines in need of repair/replacement, but don’t overuse that particular scenario, most of the time the player should be building a new base to continue the research that was left off on the last map.

That also calls for some kind of story being part of it, which can only be a good thing, I think.

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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by Jap2.0 »

Both? :P


On another note: campaign to me says story, not tutorial. I think all your work on the tutorials recently has warped your view such that you're thinking of this like a tutorial.

On the same note, I'd appreciate having some more challenging campaigns.
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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by BlueTemplar »

Heh, weren't you challenged, as a first-time player, by the last campaign mission, where you don't have a base and have to attack those nests ?

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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by Philip017 »

oh my no story at all, well even a simple story, like the one you currently have, would be better than no story at all. that is man crashes on planet, and has to build a rocket to get off, though having an end animation bit where he get on the rocket and flys away to end would be nice to have.

i know you have put a lot of thought into these changes, and i would still like to see the previous works of campaign/tutorials be available for those that want to enjoy them.

imo a campaign should have good story, maybe a little in the way of tutorial hints and encouragement, a challenging map with a real goal.

a straight tutorial could be the separate maps, learning the steps one section at a time. once you have the basic mechanics down for one area you move to the next. each area could teach you how different entities work, for example how the different signals for rails function.

best wishes on whatever you come up with and i look forward to trying it out when you do.

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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by Rebmes »

My question is, would this new campaign offer anything to a veteran of the game? We already have a challenge mode (limited space buying tiles one) with multiple levels; revealing the map as the player progresses through the game doesn't sound like it really adds much compared to freeplay.

What might be fun is a timed "endless" survival mode where the players can compete for a high score. There could even be tech restrictions, and various map settings to spice things up, perhaps even easy medium hard etc. The tower defense elements in the game are often overshadowed by the massive factories; a game mode that brings TD to the forefront might be a fun change of pace.

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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by The Phoenixian »

When it comes to campaign design, I think it may be worth considering whether science packs --- or rather, whether every set of science packs --- are actually the most natural divide here.

You mention that new players have a tendency to restart on their own a few times and recollection of my own long ago introduction to the game play and talk of others agrees with this. In particular, I think it may be worth looking at when and why new players restart. Assuming what I've seen isn't outliers, I suspect that such restarts may happen when the factory becomes unmanageable, and that new logistical systems like oil/chemical piping may mark, and even incite, the points where that happens.

Rather than a technology and science pack progression splitting the campaign into five areas across one map, or five levels across five maps, it might work better to instead have those divisions split between areas where the player is naturally inclined to restart, with two or three sets of maps and each set lasting just long enough, and changing the game just enough, for the factory to become unwieldy before moving on.

For an example, a level might move through two or three science packs of progression before asking the player to integrate some amount of oil processing, with the expectation that it will be clunky, then have that point where they final production goal there to move onto the next map. The goal being that the player would have just enough time working with a clunky mess that is integrating their first dive into chemical processing into their preexisting factory to feel limited by it and want to start redesigning with what they've learned since then right at the same point they're given a chance to do so.

A more artificial example here is the way the new campaign introduced long-handed insertions and underground belts right at the end. If the map's last hurrah was having players deal with adding onto their clunky old infrastructure in light of new logistical possibilities (and thus giving them the opportunity to see what those could do for them) while also, say, integrating their first rail line into the factory, that might likewise make for a similar natural restart point.

So, rather than going all in one way or another with the kinds of campaign here, it might be worth splitting the difference between science packs that naturally flow into one another and those which tend to break the unprepared factory with their additions.
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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by AndrewIRL »

Raiguard wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 4:51 pm
But no story?
BlueTemplar wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 5:41 pm
- No story.
- No exploration gameplay.
This makes me sad
Makes me sad too. A story is about the only thing I thought was missing. Well, a campaign too, but mostly a story.

One thing I tend to explore for is natural choke points created from water or cliffs so I can avoid building a giant wall and instead defend a smaller area. Careful campaign mode design could yield nice little choke points which, if controlled, can prevent biters from accessing islands or various parts of the map. Maybe the resources in my given starting location are OK but a little exploration might reveal better resources in a more defensible spot. Maybe an area with unusually dense (pollution eating) forest.

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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by Abarel »

About the ideas behind the two prototypes for a full featured Campaign, I think the main difference is the way you can connect each "chapter" on these 2 models: if what the player build in a chapter is preserved for next chapter, this itself can represent a connection between chapters; if you start each chapter with some generic pre-built layout, some kind of story would be more "needed" to connect the chapters.
Maybe the question can be viewed as if you want more a full tutorial for these players already convinced (bought the game) so the important thing is to teach mechanics, or a demo to attract new players so the thing is to tease features.

If there would be two or more campaigns, being one of them a tutorial (that doesn't need story, or not much) and other/s campaign/s that fulfill the love for RPG elements in a game (so a story is a good addition), a demo could be the first chapter of some story-driven campaign, or maybe the complete tutorial, or even a composition of both.

For me, the first thing to define should be if I want a lone campaign decent for all, or better for some option; so I would first define what I understand for each of these terms.

1. Freeplay: procedurally generated map with or without any built structures, presenting a generic objective.
2. Sandbox: a variant for freeplay mode that allows "cheating" to kill enemies, get items, edit the terrain, etc.
3. Scenario: hand-designed map with some already built structures, presenting some challenge as a serie of objectives.
4. Campaign: collection of scenarios, connected through some kind of story.
5. Tutorial: a mini-campaign focused into teaching the basics of the game to new players.
6. Demo: a complete or limited way to experience the game, usually through a chapter of a campaign, or a scenario...

So the tutorial does not fit (for me) as a demo; to serve as demo as well as tutorial, the campaign will meet more issues, and could be more difficult to get a good product to fulfill both roles.


EDIT:
Thinking about the possibilities for campaigns and scenarios and to help everybody to understand what I tried to say, I will add here some ideas I collected through time with no clear determination to use myself (feel free to use it).


Ideas for some scenarios and/or campaigns

Belts.
Belts.1- Fix a burner base to feed coal everywhere, as there is no water nearby so it need to run without electricity. Expand it to include new productions.
Belts.2- Create a complete mall to feed up a few new engineers that will work on neighbour bases (belts, inserters, assemblers, power poles, etc), constrained to the current science: just belts (without bots).
Belts.3- Fix failures on a main bus system (fix bottlenecks, balance where needed, increase production of certain item...). Expand it to include another item type then expand the base to use that item in another section (yellow/purple science, for example).
Combat.
Combat.1- Fight your way to certain area (some existing old buildings, or some ore patches...), then complete some objective (amount of production, or research certain technology...).
Combat.2- Improve your defenses (increase ammo production or delivery, expand perimeter defense...) to survive certain amount of attacking waves.
Combat.3- Recover an existing subterranean base by clearing enemies inside (they invaded our facilities).
Trains.
Trains.1- Connect by trains a few existing blocks/bases, and add enough trains to reach certain rate of deliveries (plates from smelters on base A to assemblers on base B, electronic circuits from base B to assemblers on base C, ...). Create some new blocks (to make some science packs, to use it on labs...) and repeat expanding blocks until you reach certain science production.
Trains.2- Modify an existing rail network to improve throughput. Add or change signals, make some waypoints to reroute some trains alleviating the traffic on certain bottleneck, redesign the system to use a better (faster) fuel...
Bots.
Bots.1- Fix the current bots system to avoid failures: lots of bots waiting to charge batteries on same spot, too long time to deliver certain stuff from point A to point B...
Bots.2- Create a complete mall to feed up a few new engineers that will work on neighbour bases (belts, inserters, assemblers, power poles, etc), including a section for combat (armors, equipment, combat bots...). Use bots to periodically load a train with supplies to send to these bases.
Circuitry.
Circuitry.1- Add circuitry (combinators and wires) as needed to restrain the power consumption of a block on an existing base below certain treshold, while maintaining the production rate of certain item type above certain threshold. Expand the idea to more blocks on the same base, with higher difficulty each time.
Circuitry.2- Design some circuitry to control the loading of trains to supply materials from a base/block to another base/block (neighbour engineer?) per request. The requests will be more complex over time, and will reach you through signals on red wire over power poles. Expand the system by requesting raw materials through signals on green wire.
Layout.
Layout.1- Expand an existing subterranean base to increase the production rate to certain value. The classic repeatable blueprints will not fit, as there are certain extremely hard rocks that you cannot excavate with the current technology. Expand the base to produce more item types. The layout could be carefully hand designed for a campaign, or procedurally generated for a scenario.
Layout.2- Work your way from a point (classic start with almost nothing, or advanced start with some basic already built base) to the rocket launch, by building your stuff on several restricted areas. For example, several areas shaped like capital letters (A, B, C, D...) with approx. the same amount of usable tiles each. What for is best the area shaped "M"? :-D
Economy.
Economy.1- Play a game with certain resource type limited to certain amount. The limitation could be chosen, or set to random (among the possible options). It is very different if you limit iron ore, provided electric power, no smeltery and limited amount of plates, limited total amount of inserters or assemblers...
Economy.2- Play a market game, where certain resource type is available just by market, paid by coins you get by providing the market with a variable demand of different stuff. Electricity could be a good stuff to limite through market, but it could work also for any resource. If you need to sell or buy some fluid, you need to barrel/unbarrel.

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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by Locane »

I am a fan of the Expanding Campaign.

Consider: An "electrical storm" mechanic that overtakes each OLD area as the new area is unlocked.

The "electrical storm" causes everything to run at half rate, and very slow damage over time to the player.

The player will be forced to rebuild, but not totally lose all their progress.

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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by Drury »

The plan makes a lot of sense all things considered, especially the fact that it has to be put together and spit-shined in 8 months and a half. Adding a storytelling dimension can increase dev time exponentially.
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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by Zaflis »

My opinion on the campaign is, have both 1 and 2! Perhaps the 2 could arrive first but the game is very much lacking in campaign/premade scenarios. Both styles would be very welcome. You could learn some things from 1 that you don't from the other and vice versa. That's really not a lot to ask from level design perspective, thinking of how many highly detailed levels many other games have. You could perhaps even ask help from community making them if there's a need to, and there really is a high need for scenarios.

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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by aljo »

Spiff wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 7:48 pm
One way to accommodate both new players and veteran players would be to have Compilatron give you advice that you can just ignore. It could monitor your factory's output and say things like "Your copper production is low. You should build more mining drills.", "You don't need to hand-craft red science. Try to automate its production.", or "If you eliminate that biter nest, you will gain access to lots more iron ore. You'll want more than a pistol for that.". Compilatron could even ask if you want a blueprint to build from.
I think this is an outstanding idea. I never play the campaign, I only ever do freeplay, but I'd also like to see the compilatron just hanging around in freeplay. As my buddy. I'm so alone.

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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by BlueTemplar »

Compilatron was very helpful as a "turret low on ammo, resupply" "rolling programmable speaker" in the "Death World tutorial" !
(Of course it would quickly get annoying as your base scales up, but you should probably at least have ammo boxed by then...)

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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by Henry Loenwind »

You are a bit too fixated on "The One Campaign", I think.

There's no reason to not include a number of campaigns, scenarios, teaching maps, and so on. Just put the one you have right now into the "campaigns and scenarios" main menu folder, give it a nice name and description, and then plan your new "new players should start here"-campaign to be featured in the main menu.

Also, don't put too much teaching into the "main campaign". I think it would make more sense to have the capability to start (and return from) another scenario map from inside a campaign and then have short teaching scenarios (and/or challenge maps) for certain things. Offer them during the campaign, so people who already know how to do stuff can ignore them and continue with the story.

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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by RMJ »

Am i the only one, who feel like the campaign could serve a dual purpose?. Not only teaching the player about how the game works. But it could also be the pre-story, set it on a ruined world, that is destroyed, and the engineer leaves into space and where we crashland in the custom game.

It would also explain why stuff is already there in the campaign? and why stuff might be easier etc.

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