Economy of scale

Early in the week, we finalised the design that’s been our primary concern recently – the negotiation screen, which is the key new feature we’re adding to the sequel. It’s a really important function, designed to quickly resolve complex negotiations with multiple agenda points and multiple participants.

For us, it’s an essential addition: recent news has amply demonstrated the impact politics has on environmental science and mitigation, and we want to be able to demonstrate the tensions that are likely to arise in future international diplomacy.

With the negotiation wireframes agreed and briefed into the artist, we moved onto reviewing our designs for what we call “Visualisers” – user interfaces whose primary purpose is to explain clearly the complex systems that together make our global simulation.

We’ve already done a substantial amount of work on the subject, but a lot of our previous work has been “blue sky”: we recalled what had been done in the first game, and proposed how we would make improved versions of them in an ideal world. The result was a document with numerous different interface screen designs, each tailored to clearly explaining one aspect of the game.

What we hadn’t considered while doing this work, though, was how expensive they might be. Many of the new designs require considerable art assets to be made, which is a lengthy and expensive process – and this raised some problems.

As we mentioned last week, our primary focus right now is the Minimum Viable Product – the most cost-efficient version of the game we can possibly make, thus giving us the best chance of successfully raising the funds we need to begin full development.

A lot of these designs are just not implementable at the MVP level, primarily due to the art costs. We’ll have no more than 12 months of art labour (possibly less) to build the entire game, and this means we need to be very canny about the features we include.

The upshot is that we’ve cherry-picked only the most essential and important aspects of our various designs, and are now reworking them into new, syncretic forms.

Although we’ve had to say goodbye to some cherished ideas until finances permit, it’s also been a rather liberating process. The design that’s emerging is elegant and refined, and has made us question many of the assumptions we’ve made so far. We look forward to picking discussion up again on Monday.

As always, thanks for reading, and we’ll be back next Friday to let you know our progress.

The Fate team