Thoughts after 30 hours

Just beat the game on normal difficulty after a few attempts. I’m liking it so far and I can’t wait to see how it changes in the future.

Games that this reminds me of:
Frostpunk - Building a colony in an inhospitable environment where you need to supply power and fuel for your people. Also both games have that little ‘oppressive society’ touch to them, Frostpunk had the old victorian steampunk aesthetic and Industries of Titan has a cyberpunk megacorp in space.

Defense Grid - Currently, the combat is a very simple tower defense sort of setup and Defense Grid is TD game I’m most familiar with. The existence of a clear timer telling when the next attack is coming really gives me the tower defense vibes. In it’s current early access state with the enemies consisting of big slow moving ships and the inherent difficulties of getting defense towers built and powered, the combat isn’t all that fun. But it’s passable and I can’t wait to see how it improves.

Grey Goo/Starcraft - Both Grey Goo and Starcraft are RTS games where one of the big differences between the factions are how they build their structures. The need for Control and Energy Pylons to place your buildings reminds me of that sort of gimmick. Particularly how Protoss need their structures placed near pylons to operate and the human faction of Grey Goo need to have power conduits connecting everything.

Subnautica - Namely the fabricators and base construction. I will say it’s pretty cool seeing your employees 3D printing up structures inside the building and the ability to deconstruct those same buildings for all the resources back is nice too. Seeing them dismantle the various ruined buildings using that same fabricator technology is cool as well.

Startopia - A classic Muckyfoot game about running a space station, getting money, ordering employees around, etc. There’s actually a sequel announced called Spacebase Startopia in the works which I’m hyped for. If similar gameplay gets added to Industries of Titan, then count me interested.

Thoughts and Suggestions:

  1. Mutually exclusive harvestables - I will say that going through the ruins and having to choose between salvaging minerals and isotopes or extracting artifacts is an interesting game mechanic. Though I’m not sure if it makes sense in-universe. Salvaging obviously results in a pile of resources and waste, but I’m not sure why extracting the artifacts wouldn’t result resources as well.

    Two possible solutions spring to mind. The first would be that extracting the artifacts still gives you resources like minerals and isotopes, only fewer. The second would be where instead of extracting the artifacts, you… I dunno… sell the ruins? Like instead of dismantling the ruins for raw materials, you are instead selling the un-recycled parts to collectors and keeping the precious artifacts. So, you’d get a combination of artifacts and credits instead of minerals and isotopes.

  2. What are artifacts? - Right now I’m not sure what these red artifacts we’re extracting from buildings are supposed to be. All I know is that they are valuable to the council people and they are somehow used in converting citizens into cybernetic employee/slaves. Also, as mentioned before, they are apparently found in old buildings and difficult to extract if you want to salvage the building for materials. The whole “you can’t salvage the building without destroying the artifacts” thing makes me think the artifacts are built into the building itself, like we’re extracting an ancient alien waterheater from the building or superconductive wiring from the walls. But I can’t imagine why you’d use that stuff in cybernetically converting employees. If the artifacts are something like ancient art pieces then that just raises more questions.

  3. Employees, conversion, and credits - As mentioned before, the idea of us using artifacts in the cybernetic conversion process raises alot of questions for me. While I understand right now it’s mainly a game mechanic (and kind of the only use for artifacts in the game as it is), I think it would make more sense in-universe for the conversion process to cost us credits instead of artifacts. Or, maybe even we have to make regular payments of credits to our employees for their paychecks.

    Considering this setting has a dystopian megacorp that turns it’s employees into tireless cyborgs, it’s kind of weird that they need these alien artifacts to do it (unless the artifacts are indeed some kind of special material the megacorp covets for it’s cyborg slave making properties). If the conversion process consists mainly of normal human dystopian technology, I imagine a megacorp would just pay for the process in credits.

    Paying credits for the conversion, I imagine, would have the added bonus that I wouldn’t feel so bad if employees die. The game as is makes it look like artifacts are valuable and rare (having to choose between harvesting either minerals or artifacts means that artifacts can effectively be “worth” 20 to 30 minerals and however many isotopes simply through opportunity cost). If conversion merely costs credits which you can regenerate easily over time, then suddenly employees are only as “valuable” as however many seconds it takes to earn the conversion cost. Then you can happily sell the artifacts to the council since you don’t have to worry about using them to make your worker units.

    Anyway, just a thought.

  4. Add a survey and salvage option for rock piles - At the start, the player is more or less trained to survey buildings and then claim and harvest them to clear space and get resources. The rock piles seem to do the same thing, but instead of the normal salvaging they have to choose ‘dismantle’. This seems like an unnecessary change and it would be an improvement to just have the rocks act like the ruins. The player sees rock piles, has workers survey them, and then claims and salvages them as needed.

    A similar thing could probably work with the Rebel HQs and slums.

  5. Getting citizens by claiming slums - It would be neat if the survey, claim, and salvage mechanic could be extended to work on inhabited tiles and used to gain citizens. For example, you might start a game and find some of the ruins nearby have lights on or feature modifications. You then survey them and find that some people down on their luck have make their homes in the old ruins, and you can casually claim their ruin for yourself, dismantle it, and have some new citizens show up inside your residential areas or the habitat pods you crammed into your factories. Or maybe find some slums, farmsteads, or habitat pods scattered around the map which you can claim and ‘salvage’ to gain new citizens.

  6. Get influence by burning trash - I do think the game treating waste as an unwatned ‘resource’ is pretty neat. It would be nice if one of the influence gaining options in the council was, instead of gifting them a bunch of credits or resource, instead to just accept a large amount of waste to dispose of. Or, you could spend influence to have them carry waste away to some other city to deal with.

  7. Remove energy relays - While I can see the need for energy pylons transmitting energy across the map, the energy relays inside the buildings seem kind of silly. These structures are all indoors. Shouldn’t there be energy relays already kind of built into the floors or ceiling, or they can just hook everything together using cables? The need to install energy relays makes it awkward when I’m trying to pack rows of habitat pods or cubicles into a factory. It would be nice if energy relays were removed, or maybe have one that can be placed and just covers the entire floor.

  8. Remove the scaling credits cost for buildings - I’m not fond of the choice to make the cost for purchasing new building types suddenly increase for each new purchase. I think I can understand the reasoning behind it (so you can afford a building type at the start and gradually the prices scale as the player gets a bigger credit income), but the way it’s implemented just breaks my immersion and can result in things like trying to research and build all the different fuel and power buildings first, then see an alert about incoming rebels and your defense towers suddenly cost 900 credits to unlock. I think I would prefer if the prices were just static with some of the earlier game buildings costing less and the later game buildings costing more so it’s easier to plan ahead instead of worrying about what the optimal order for unlocking things should be.