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Cart [#51835#] | Copy | Code | 2018-04-21 | Link
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Updated for the 1.1.2 bugfix release

So, here is the final PICO-8 version of SlipWays! As usual, you can support me by taking advantage of the pay-what-you-want option on the game's itch.io page or joining my Patreon.

As is not usual, I'm planning to make a bona-fide PC title out of this PICO-8 game. Here is that game's website where you can follow that effort.

Mouse is kind-of-required for this one. You can drag the map around with the right mouse button, but that doesn't work on the BBS (since the browser's context menu will pop up). You won't have this problem when playing on itch.io or inside PICO-8. Alternatively, you can scroll around with SDFE or arrow keys.

Phew. Oh, wait, so you'd like to know how to actually play the game? There is an animated quickstart guide, but here is the shortest possible text summary:

Drag the map around using the right mouse button or the SDFE keys. Click to drop a wormhole that will become your starting point. Then click and drag to find some planets, which you can colonize with your chosen industry type. Drag from planet to planet to connect them with a slipway. Try to connect planets that make stuff with planets that need it. Buy structures by dragging them from the bottom-right corner. Research technologies from the top-left corner. Click the heart symbol to check your score.

Make the biggest, baddest, most prosperous empire possible! And do post your scores in the thread! :)

P#50626 2018-03-20 13:55 ( Edited 2018-04-21 07:59)

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Nice peaceful gameplay!
Perfect execution (as usual...:)
And a lot to try out...
Thumbs up!!

Minor gotchas:

  • unplayable in web-browser (not your bad), click/drag is conflicting with browser default behavior
  • greyed "ore" and "chip" icons are a bit too similar (imho)
  • unable to delete a slipway
  • not sure text in the menu is adding anything (that is, beside the icons)
  • not always clear why the "fish2food" processor is not happy

note: I see you had to minify the code, you are not totally a pico super hero after all :]

P#50641 2018-03-20 18:16 ( Edited 2018-03-20 18:18)

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@krajzeg

Was your minifier aiming for fewer characters, or fewer tokens?

At a glance I notice at least 16 places where you have negative constants (e.g. -1). This costs two tokens vs. an equivalent one-token hex representation. For instance, -1 is unary minus (token #1) applied to constant 1 (token #2), whereas 0xffff which is a single token that evaluates to -1.

If characters are at a premium and six is too many, you can often use the four-character string "-1", which will count as one token and, in many cases, qualify as the value -1, e.g. -1 + "-1" == -2.

(As an aside, I wouldn't be bothering you with such fiddly stuff, but I've been seeing your tweets and I know you were struggling between polish and the token limit this past week, so I'm hoping to offer you more opportunities to add polish.)

P#50644 2018-03-20 20:34 ( Edited 2018-03-20 20:40)

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Even heroes have to compress! But yeah, the code is minified, and most of the strings are stashed into the map ;).

The right-click thing is only fixable on the web player front - if you prefer to play in-browser, the itch.io version doesn't have this issue.

Not being able to delete a slipway is a deliberate choice - it forces more careful planning of the routes you do want to support (which makes others impossible). That said, the full version might have a tech that'll let you tear down slipways.

As for the ore/chip icons being similar, I tried my best in the 5x5 space alloted. I made an effort make the sillhouetes distinct, but it was pretty hard to do given the restrictions - seems I did not succeed fully.

The text is there for a bit of extra flavor and explanation as to why the planet transforms that specific thing into that specific thing.

The processor needs one unit of "lifeforms" to start making one unit of "food". It shouldn't influence happiness at all, but I'm not sure if that's what you were referring to - if you can elaborate on what the problem is, maybe I can fix it/explain it better.

Thanks for the feedback!

P#50645 2018-03-20 20:39

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@felice
The minifier is mostly to get me under the compressed byte limit.

The hex things is a nice trick, haven't thought of that before! The cart has to be under the token limit before minification so I can actually work on it, so I'd have to do the hex representation manually. I'm usually reluctant to do things that make the code unreadable for me for the sake of just 1-2 tokens, unless I'm really hard-pressed for space.

P#50658 2018-03-21 07:46

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Hey, I don't know if this will work for everyone, but I've found that you can use middle mouse click to drag the map around in browser without the annoying right click dialogue!

P#50686 2018-03-21 21:45

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@krajzeg

Yeah, I was only suggesting it as something your minifier could do for you. Writing 0xffff instead of -1 is just gross. :) Even I, bean-counter that I am by nature, don't do that unless I have no other option. :)

P#50687 2018-03-21 22:00

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At playing this for a couple of days I have come to the conclusion that I am very bad at this game.

I can get two stars on the easiest level if I'm lucky.

One of my problems I think is I can't really judge my progress as I don't have a good enough grasp of the game to know how I'm doing.

The other is I'm going to have to draw out a big table of how much money each planet/goods type makes.

P#50791 2018-03-25 06:43 ( Edited 2018-03-25 06:44)

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I hear it's easy to improve quickly at the game ;)

Every single trade is worth exactly the same (6$ on reasonable, higher/lower depending on difficulty), so no worries on the big table.

Here are a few tips to get going quickly:

  • try to start with a triangle of three planets that serve each other in a cycle - if you can get a back-and-forth trade with one of the slipways, even better!
  • build up until you have a soild income, about 30-40$/yr
  • once you get there, pick a place that has two free copies of a resource and start a lab

This should get you through the early stages in a good shape to rack up a nice score :)

P#50816 2018-03-25 18:47

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3 stars on Reasonable I'm getting better!

A couple of times now I've had what I swear is a mis-colinisation. I 'think' I've clicked on the final item but got the second last item in the menu instead. Both times this was when the menu was partially off the right hand side of the screen.

I'm putting it down to me not paying enough attention when I clicked but I thought you'd appreciate a vague non reproducible bug report ;)

Thanks for the starting out tips.

P#50831 2018-03-26 03:51 ( Edited 2018-03-26 05:04)

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5 stars on Reasonable!

A starting quad of planets that was earth-like, forge, remnant, xeno was absurdly good for money generation

P#50851 2018-03-26 13:24

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Aaaaah, I know what I'm doing with the mis-clicks/colonisations.

Mentally I'm thinking "I need a planet that PRODUCES X" . but the plant I am selecting for colonisation not only has the option to produce X, it also has the option to CONSUME X as well.

So I'm reading left-to-right and my brain latches onto the first instance of the Resource it seem, regardless of whether it is produce and consume and my stupid brain clicks on that and makes me sad and confused.

Explains why it happens particularly when the menu is partially off the screen as well.

User Error.

P#50887 2018-03-27 03:28 ( Edited 2018-03-27 03:29)

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My first five-star game. I made a lot of stars and ascension gates to pull it off. In the early game I abused the food processors to give my labs the 3x supply bonus.

P#50890 2018-03-27 04:22

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The planet report is a (surprisingly) huge improvement. Great stuff.

P#50900 2018-03-27 10:54

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@triplefox: That's not really abuse, your scientists are just really good at studying the properties of food made from alien lifeforms ;)

@mole5000: Glad to hear you're improving (and still having fun!). The planet report was the best thing I could think of that would both fit token-wise and help see what's going on - so I'm glad it worked :)

P#50903 2018-03-27 16:53

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Got two stars on Tough mode. Game is very good.

P#50912 2018-03-27 22:09

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I have been trying for higher scores on Tough but I keep running into early difficulty that feels unfair because of the game's limited-information map. The game effectively punishes you for trying to engage in gradual expansion at this difficulty by giving a really low profit on the majority of routes, but if you try to be choosy and build very little to hold out for the "good routes," the costs are too high to make it work. You have to spend a lot, both in game time and money, just to have the chance of a possibly good position, and the first tier techs are very limited in how well you can react to different setups. So you just have to have the luck of a perfect early-game setup close to your starting point or there's no way of catching up, and that risk continues until you have enough technology to force the map into your desired strategy.

I suggest making it so that each new settlement automatically reveals some more map information - one nearby planet or perhaps a small radius. This will help with the information shortage and make probes more of a "use sometimes" decision when you aren't satisfied with the options you get automatically or have leftover time in the year.

Alternately if there were space to do it, I recall the Master of Orion series had a mechanic to let you guess at planet types based on the color of the star, before visiting the system. This would help with strategy in a broader sense by setting expectations about roughly what kind of economy an area would suppprt.

P#50941 2018-03-28 18:05

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Random gameplay thought.

Slipgates raise the level of fun I have so much when I unlock them that I feel they should be a tech you have right at the start of the game.

Maybe make the 3-way connection the tech unlock.

P#50968 2018-03-29 09:48

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This is a cool game. I found the learning curve somewhat steep even with the instructions, as I have not played very many simulation games at all in the past. But I loved Dank Tomb so much I am continuing to try my hand at this game, and after a few days have gone by I'm finally beginning to grow the network of planets.

P#50995 2018-03-29 13:32

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Strategy guide

  1. The early game is primarily about building up a profit center. On the easier modes this can be accomplished just by focusing on making every planet go from red(unhappy) to green(content). However, it is more important to find a single planet that will be the hub, the focus of economic activity, and to pump it up by pushing a lot of trade into and out of it so that it reaches Rich status - even if you have some red planets left over, you will be ahead on money overall by focusing on hubs. A common example scenario is to build up a hiveworld population center with both food and goods, taking low profits on the food and a loss on the goods, but making it up with the hiveworld being prosperous. When doing this make sure you build in a way that lets your hub export a lot too: if your designated hub has robots, try to use robots to supply it; if it has ores, try to build nearby planets that use ores.

  2. Once you have profits, you can focus on research. Research is often limited by how well you can organize your routes to not overlap. The 3x research bonus is very hard to achieve in the early game, unless you go the route of spending extra cash and time to carefully arrange food processors. You will have to weigh this strategy, or other "additional development" efforts like adding a very long extra route, against further expansion: expansion comes with a bigger risk of seriously lowering profitability and happiness in the intermediate phases, before all your routes are working.

  3. The primary use of most technologies is to "patch up" routes that are weak by giving you an additional option. Although the late-game technologies are sexy, unless you have gotten extremely far ahead on tech, it will be too late to use most of them. As well, all the techs that allow for major rerouting or changes to planets(e.g. infraways, biome hacking) are hugely expensive in both time and money to deploy - long routes with many intermediate nodes and planet terraforms cost a pretty penny to get running and are prone to misclicks and positioning errors. Hence if you are already progressing well, it is better to choose cheap techs and just focus on reaching the endgame tier faster to boost your score.
P#51025 2018-03-30 04:55

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Enjoyed reading the strategy guide. Even if I don't agree with some of your points, it gives me some very useful insights into how the game is perceived.

I'm also reading all the suggestions and taking some notes for the PC version, so thanks for these as well :)

P#51190 2018-04-02 12:25 ( Edited 2018-04-02 12:25)

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Good lord, is this thing adictive or what?

I've not encontered much problems with the Tech/Chip icon vs. the Ore/Stone one. Maybe this was already fixed in an update. But I seem to confuse te Ore icon with the Organics one. They have very different colors, but the mixup happens when they are in black and white. This happens when a colonized planet requires a resource but is not receiving it, then that icon is greyed out. It happened more than once that I colonized a plannet so it would produce Organics to feed another one, just to thiscover this other one needed Stone, or vice-versa.
A possible remedy to that situation would be to have they grayed out icons blink from gray to color (or from invisible to visible and in color, or some other animation) instead of being permanently gray.

A blink or some other animation would also be very helpful to highlight free unused export resources too. It's very typical that I'm going through the map looking for unused exports (particularly humans) to build science bases. It can be hard to parse what is an inport icon from a export one on a quick glance once the map is quite full. So a special animation for unused exports would be very useful. I imagined maybe having them jump up and down...

P#51501 2018-04-10 17:56

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I'm gunna have to plus 1 on gates being a starting tech. Though more so that they should be one of the earlier researchable techs even tier 2 would be so much better.

Edit: Also a little sad that they didn't work like I'd hope, in that you'd be able to use them to push two types of the same resource from the same planet to another single planet. I'm always filled with immense sadness when my planets line up with each other so perfectly, yet for some reason don't want to give each other their extra resources when they are both wanted and had. It just doesn't make much sense from a logical standpoint. If a planet has a resource and it does trade with another planet that needs that resource. Why wouldn't the planet in need continue getting it from the source they already have, especially if that source has excess?

P#51503 2018-04-10 19:45 ( Edited 2018-04-10 19:48)

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after I sank countless hours into The Lair , you now have made an even more addictive which I have lost even more hours into, and it's in a completely different genre too.

Looking forward to seeing the p.c release, I think I can stop playing this until then (also because I finally got 5 stars in tough)

(if that image doen't work screenshot here http://sassyliaison.tumblr.com/post/172996995472 )

P#51689 2018-04-16 11:24 ( Edited 2018-04-16 11:25)

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@milker:
I tried a lot of stuff to make the labels as useful as possible, but it's always a trade-off. You can always click the planet to get a report if you're unsure what's being shown.
Blinking is a weapon of last resort in UI - it pulls a lot of attention to itself, so it should probably be reserved only for "this is critical" kind of messages, and a free export is a common occurence.
I will experiment more with the labels in the PC version though, where the resolution and the lack of token constraints will make more approaches possible.

@Cabledragon: There are two answers: the game-design one and the game-world one.
From a design point of view, the game plays much better if planets can trade only one unit per slipway. While being able to trade multiples would be easier for the player, I don't think it would be more enjoyable. You would lose many of the interesting decisions that go into networking the planets properly, and the UI would be more cumbersome to use (each slipway would have to be "configurable" depending on how much throughput you want, increase the number of clicks and micromanagement).
From the game world point of view - the resource icons are simplified, broad categories. Two planets providing minerals are actually making different kinds of minerals, and there is only limited demand for each. So a planet will pay for three units if they come from three different sources, but not if they come from the same place.

@scrap princess: Nice score! The highest I've seen done on tough was 15k+, so there is some room for practice still before the PC version comes out ;)

P#51694 2018-04-16 16:04

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I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one. I should also note I didn't mean trading multiple resources through one slipway, I meant being able to connect multiple slipways between two planets to enable the trade of multiple resources. You still have to create the extra slip ways, you just get to target an existing planet with the correct existing needs, you just happen to have also already shared a slipway with that planet. Even an abstraction like a "market gate" or a researchable tech that enabled the ability would be acceptable. But I strong disagree that it wouldn't be more enjoyable nor that it would would increase UI or cause decision making to degrade. But that's the glory of designing our own games, hahah. We get to pick and choose what we want!

P#51701 2018-04-16 18:37

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> But that's the glory of designing our own games, hahah. We get to pick and choose what we want!

Yup! One thing that we can definitely agree on, the game would be different with a change like that. Deciding what's better or worse and which things to value more from a design standpoint is a big part of the job :)

P#51720 2018-04-17 08:09

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