So this past week was the last week of development of Loot Nubs. It was quite a hectic week since a lot of stuff had to get done; a lot of bug fixes and systems that should have been introduced a long time ago.
The major part of this weeks tasks for me was introducing serialization into the game. This means that we wanted to have a complete save state of the game so that the players can quit and continue when they start it up again. This task was a very tedious one, but also a great learning experience. I discovered a lot about how Unity handles classes, object types and files. It took me most of the week to make this sysem work as I had to get a reference to everything in the scene aside from the procedurally geenrated things like terrain and enemies. I also had to get all the information about those objects; for example I had to know when each building started training units so that when the player came back from a break the units could be trained already, or at least be further in training.
This of course ties in heavily into the next topic I want to talk about: economics. The economics in Loot Nubs is something we should have discussed more as a team and planned more for. I was tasked with overseeing balancing, so the lack of team coordination in reagrds to this can be blamed on me for the most part. It turned into a job for the last week where I went through everything that had timers and costs on it and changed the values to reflect an overarching plan of how much time is worth.
For this I looked at similar games, expecially games with similar monetization structures like Clash of Clans. In Clash of Clans the buildings and units take a very long time to build, especially the high level ones, which is done so that the player starts their training, then leaves and comes back later to play. This encourages multiple logins over a longer time span, which in turn increases revenue. And when the player has money to spend they might think "It only costs $2.00 to build these two building instamtly, while I'd have to wait a full day if I don't pay."
With this in mind I went about making the building take much longer than a few seconds to build, and adding timers to show the player how much longer they have to wait.
The timers in the above gif or shortened considerably for testing purposes. The time it takes to train units is also increased significantly, reflecting thier power level as well.
There is a lot more I could and should have done if it weren't for time constraints. I read up on the subject on Gamasutra, a great place ot read about industry insights and learn about the trade. I discovered that in Rise of Nations, an RTS from 2003, the costs of each individual unit goes up each time the player trains one. At the time when I was playing it this didn't seem like much to me but now I realize that the developers were pushing the players to diversify their unit roster. This is quite a unique approach to strategy game balance as usually the sosts of units are set in stone (like in Age of Empires and Star Craft).
An adaptation of this system would have been a great addition to the building system in Loot Nubs. I think less regarding the costs of the buildings, but rather the building time. Right now the times are locked, which is terrible for the early game, as the only options for the player are to start building and then wait until the buildings are finished. During this time they can use the base nubs, but once those die there isn't much left to do other than quit and come back. If they are enjoying the game at this point we are likely to just lose customers.
All of these things are things that we have to think about in the future to improve our products and increase their market value.