Motivation Not Included

Friday was utterly consumed by Oxygen Not Included.
I mentioned Craft The World before, and this is basically the same idea in a Sci-Fi setting:
  • The base interactions are standard base management game shtick: you order something done, some minion of yours runs out and does it.  
  • The perspective is a side view; it's like an ant farm with people.  
  • The setting is an ambiguous future that performs space exploration by warping "duplicants" into the middle of alien planets.  It's a one-way trip.
What makes this so fascinating is that you have a lot more things to keep track of this time around.

The needs of your duplicants include:
  • Oxygen - It's in the title for a reason.  Routing of various gasses is a perpetual forethought in playing.
  • Food - Duplicants need to eat.
  • Bathrooms - Duplicants need to resolve the consequences of eating.
  • Water - Duplicants don't drink (yet), but water is used for everything from showers to generating more oxygen.
  • Stress - Duplicants can get stressed out about a lot of things, and currently being high stressed can cause them to throw up or break things. 
  • Electricity - Most of your support structure will go down unless you can generate enough of this.  Current methods include hydrogen, coal, and good ol' manual (putting your duplicants on treadmills).
  • Temperature - It can get too hot or too cold.  (Not yet fully implemented.)
  • Illness - They can get sick.  (Not yet fully implemented.)
There is a lot to think about in this game, and that's what makes it so addictive.  Most of these problems are approachable and it's fun to watch them being approached, so you'll happily watch your duplicants go about survival until the last gasp, literal or figurative.
Oxygen Not Included is far from finished.  It's not even in "Early Access" yet, you have to go a roundabout method to buy into the alpha.  Here's hoping Klei Entertainment is able to see this project through.  For the time being, what you need to know about this game is there is no means to win it.  There's no goal, and finite resources.  Your duplicants will die, the question is how long it will take.

I had watched a few YouTube series on Oxygen Not Included so my first colony had a pretty good idea how to succeed.  I reached the end of the research tree and forced my duplicants to make showers.  This ultimately lead to their deaths.
It took a bit of head scratching to figure out exactly why, but I think what basically happened was this:
  • I had limited myself to 7 duplicants to keep the oxygen utilization down, but I needed 3 of them for power generation and 3 of them tended to need to sit on a massage table to keep stress from maximum, so I had a dreadfully limited number of duplicants available to do anything.
  • I thought maybe I could resolve this by installing showers and lavatories, both of which are supposed to keep stress down.  But showers and lavatories need a powered infrastructure that both puts in clean water and removes/purifies dirty water.
  • The infrastructure required to support the showers and lavatories increased the power demand of the base.  I opted for two pumps for reserviors of dirty and clean water that goes to a filtration system and also a filter that seperated dirty water from clean.
  • Factor in the air pumps for the rest of the base, and three duplicants on treadmills were not sufficient to keep the batteries full.  This meant I needed more generators.  The hydrogen generators didn't run long before the hydrogen made by my oxidizers was used up.  The remaining coal generator option made more carbon dioxide and heat than I could deplete.
  • I needed more labor, so I took duplicants off the massage tables.  Stressed duplicants vomited.  Walking through vomit stressed other duplicants.  This created work (clean the vomit) and increased the demand to book duplicants on massage tables.  Work was not getting done.
  • In the end, more than half the base was covered with carbon dioxide because nobody was able to find time to refresh the algae and water in our carbon dioxide recycling algae terrariums.  The coal generators, intended to get duplicates off treadmills, just added more bad gas to the problem.
  • But the duplicants didn't die of suffocation: they died because of starvation.  I ran them ragged trying to fix their pending suffocation problems, but this meant that making meals fell beneath the threshold of priorities of things to do.  Besides, there was not enough power left to run the meal producing apparatus.
They lasted well past cycle 70, which is not bad for a first attempt.  I think I could have kept the base running a bit longer if I put the meal producing apparatus on a separate circuit that was not being constantly depleted by everything else.  As there is no victory condition, maybe you can consider "winning" in this game as running out of water before everybody dies... I didn't "win" this time.

It is better for me to wait until a major update goes through, as I have wasted enough of one weekend on this excellent game.  I also think the support infrastructure needs more balance, as all those gas filters and such are suicide on a power grid.

Boring Real Life / Development:

My own efforts at making a game have been neatly derailed by that cold I caught last week.  But I'm starting to feel a lot like my old self, and have decided what I am basically trying to do is build a three part game.
  • Part roleplaying game.  
  • Part city-builder.  
  • Part 4X game.  
Put those three elements down on paper, vacuum out the suck, and I don't see how it could go wrong. I just need to do it.

But my earlier whining that I am essentially trying to juggle three full time jobs is not completely wrong.  In a way, my creative life is a bit like those duplicants: I'm trapped in a fish bowl wrought of ideas, and if I don't find a way out then it's inevitable that my creativity will suffocate.


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