DEV DIARY #18 - Mechanics on the Global Map, Updated Interface, and Logistics Innovations

29 Dec 2022
by Oleg Simukov

Good afternoon everyone, here with you again is The Crust project!

The New Year is just around the corner, and we'd love to share with you what we've been working over, how the new interface looks like, which will be the primary role of the storyline, and why digging has become even more convenient. Let's go!

Small things about Big picture

In The Crust you will have to use the Moon in three different planes - underground, digging out regolith and mining resources, on the ground level - to build supply chains and build particularly large modules, as well as on the Lunar global map, where you will be able to get acquainted with the Moon at the end of XXI century and the with the narrative in general. 

The Lunar Global map in the project is given an important role in both gameplay and story elements. On the global map, the player will find a plethora of different activities: there will be numerous points of interest offering both simple "pick up resources" and full-fledged story branches, which stage by stage will tell the story of The Crust world and allow you to dive even deeper into the realities of the XXII century.

In addition to the main story, which will tell about the biggest catastrophe in the history of lunar exploration, you will find a variety of alarms, technological artifacts, abandoned and not so abandoned research complexes, lunar rovers that have lost connection and other points of interest. To interact with them, you may need both a simple rover scout and an entire expedition staffed with scientists, engineers, robots and special equipment.

After growing his lunar base with production chains lined up, the player will have to build giant machines extracting valuable resources, water, and Helium-3 on the global map of the Moon. This will require scouts, outposts that increase the autonomous range of the harvesters, and serious infrastructure at the player's base. All of this comes with an immersive experience in the world of The Crust, exploring points of obscurity. Indeed, who knows what you'll find there?


The new face of the interface

Working on the Global Moon Map has led us to a very sad but important thought - we need to reconsider the entire visuals of the interface and heavily redesign its functionality. In games like The Crust, interaction with the interface takes up a large part of the player's activities, so making it pleasing to the eye and comfortable to use is very important to us. Once again taking on Ui/Ux, we redesigned the taskbar, the expedition and exploration window, the module and construction panels. As a result of long and painstaking work, the interface became tidier, less cluttered, more science fictional and pleasant to use.

We've made a new interface for interacting with points of interest on the global map from scratch: now you can select the point of interest, choose the vehicles to explore it, and select the necessary resources and equipment (robots of different types or even take people with you) in one menu. Want to take or pick up just a part of the resources from the point? No problem! Keeping track of what your machinery is doing now? It's all there, on the same screen. Pretty handy, isn't it? 

Conveyors and Filters: Why It's a good thing and how we made it

This year, we introduced conveyor belt mechanics. At first, it was just a simple way to deliver resources from point A to point B, but we decided to go further and introduced a system of filters that allows you to automatically allocate resources to the branches of the conveyor belt and create a so-called “sushi belt” of any complexity. As an example, this tool makes it possible to transport several types of resources on one conveyor line, distributing resources to target consumers and warehouses.

By default, this system works automatically. A clever algorithm understands which resource should be allocated from the belt if there is a consumer of only one type of resource on the exit. The player can also manually adjust his filters, creating his own logistics systems of any complexity. 

We do agree, it looks a bit complicated at first, but once you start using it, you get a feel for its capabilities. We hope you enjoy it too!

Make mining great again, or digging innovation in The Crust.

Mining the lunar regolith in The Crust will play an essential role in expanding the player's base and extracting useful resources. The previous version of the "selecting area to mined" system only allowed you to set squares for digging, and the regolith itself was whole at once material. Now, the regolith contains more solid layers, which you will not be able to excavate at the beginning of the game. On the one hand, it creates an obstacle for the player at the start, but on the other hand, once the necessary technologies are obtained, the player will be able to get valuable resources from previously inaccessible places. And the Ore Scanner will help to figure out in which direction it is worth (or not worth) to drill.

Thus, for the systematic development of the player's base, you must conduct a geological survey of the surrounding regolith in advance, understanding where the deposits of useful resources are and where you can and cannot dig. Over time, you will have more tools for expansion, but you still need to reach that point. We work hard to create an appropriate "challenge" for the player, so that gameplay forces you to create resource-intensive and efficient production and rewards you with more modules available for building, tools for interacting with the surrounding worlds, research, etc.

Brushes are everyone's favorite.

And what is sure to make the player's life easier and more pleasant, is our new tool for highlighting regolith for excavation! We took the well-known Brush tool from the graphic editors as a reference and, as a result, the player got a simple, intuitive and convenient excavation management tool, as well as a mechanism for prioritizing the zones allocated for excavation with the option to select a priority zone. 

You can never have too many icons.

 Our favorite tech-artist has replaced all module icons to make the new interface even more attractive - the new system of automatic generation of icons was finally implemented, which allows us to make manual adjustments to the lighting, material and camera. The time needed to add a new icon is reduced by several times. And the right approach to icon implementation will not affect performance, even with a larger number of modules. The construction panels now look times better due to the color variety, which in the realities of the faded color scheme of the Moon is very relevant. 

 From a player's point of view, this may not matter, but that's because you will see the final results only. It is difficult to imagine how much the overall perception of the game is affected by such an insignificant change as the saturation of color and adding more details to icons in the interface panel, but it is huge. However, you'll see the best iteration right away, so you'll just have to take our word for it 

Plans for the coming quarter

Currently, we are still working on global map mechanics and filling points of interest with content. At the same time, another part of the team is working on adjusting the system of saving and loading the game session and filling the game with background sounds and music. Our plan is to finish working on the current mechanics and get down to testing and balancing the economy, where your feedback will be very helpful. 

We're also really getting serious about the narrative, revising some conceptual aspects of The Crust's world and tweaking the storyline skeleton to make it more epic. 

All in all, it's a pleasure to say that the work on the project is more intense than ever, and we're getting closer and closer to the stage of closed play tests. We will announce them later. 

 Last but not least, from the whole team, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. And we're looking forward to next year, because The Crust will be released on Steam in 2023!

Questions and comments on Discord: 


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