Interesting Times - Thanks, Postmortem and Future Plans

Thanks for all the good ratings given to Interesting Times. It did better than I expected, given that I only had time to implement about half the ideas I had for it.

Instead of just the boring stars, I was going to have randomly-generated newspaper headlines popping up as overlays, hopefully with enough amusing combinations to keep the player entertained. I think that would have helped to raise it above the level of being just about running around collecting tokens. Instead of stars with numbers in them, you'd be going after something with meaning.

There are also a few issues with the mechanics. The reporters need to be made a bit more self-sufficient so that they don't need so much micro-management. A particular problem is that there's no coordination between them, so they tend to go after the same news items and bunch together. Eventually they're all on top of each other and travelling around together, so you have to keep manually spreading them out. Making them slightly more intelligent would fix that.

Another thing is that once one side has all the houses around a newsstand subscribed, it's very hard for the other side to fight back. You can be publishing lots of great news, but it doesn't do any good because nobody is taking any notice of it. The only thing you can do is try to starve the opposition of news and wait for them to lose subscribers, which can take a long time, and if you don't have any subscribers yourself you may not have enough cash to last that long.

Probably subscribed houses should take newsstands into account in their neighbourly influence the same as other houses, something they don't currently do. That would give you a toehold to try to win back subscribers by publishing superior news.

Another thing I've been considering is making it possible to buy newsstands, and perhaps build new ones, so that they only sell your newspaper. This would obviously have to be fairly expensive, otherwise you could win just by buying up all the newsstands. But if it's too expensive, it wouldn't be available as a way of fighting back when you're in a tight corner. Some more thought may be required on that one.

Some other ideas that didn't make it:
Anyhow, I've certainly got enough ideas to be able to make an improved Pyggy version, although I haven't decided whether to do that yet. What do you think? Would anyone be interested?

Responses to Feedback

never seemed to be able to make much of a profit

Yes, you probably won't end up rolling in dough, but that's not really the object, gaining subscribers is. Money is only useful insofar as it enables you to avoid going bankrupt. If you can keep printing papers and paying your staff, you're doing all right.

For some reason I keep wanting to work Clarke Kent and Superman into the game somehow. :)

Ha! Something to keep in mind when writing the headline generator, perhaps. :-)

My money never seemed to go up or down, and I didn't get the feeling that I was winning OR losing.

As mentioned above, if your money isn't going down then you're doing okay. As for winning/losing, if the playing field is turning blue, you're winning; if it's turning red, you're losing!

I think this game needed a few tutorial levels with dumbed-down rules so that players can get the hang of it one step at a time.

Yeah, a tutorial is another thing I didn't get time for. Not sure how to dumb things down, but the first level is probably small enough that you don't need to worry too much about hiring extra staff or setting runner routes, so those things could be left for later levels.

I couldn't find how to exit the level designer.

Hmmm, this is embarrassing. I just tried it, and found that the level editor menu is being displayed as black on black. :-( It seems that I never used the level editor after I changed the menu text colour from white to black as part of adding a background to the title screen, or I would have noticed that.

If you turn on your Clarke Kent X-ray vision you'll see that there's an "Exit Level Editor" menu option near the bottom of that black screen. Or you can press Ctrl-Q to get back to the main menu.

Very nice graphics

Thanks, but most of the credit for that is due to Danc, who designed the unbearably cute characters in the PlanetCute tile set. I admit responsibility for the cruddy-looking houses, though. :-)

Hope to see you next time :)

Thanks, I'll do my best to be there!