Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Medieval Misstep

A while back I tried to write about Medieval Engineers, and I don't think I quite managed it. I put it off for later.

Well, there is no later, they just ruined it. So let's talk about what was.

Medieval Engineers had no inventory system.

A construction game with no inventory system!

It felt like a good match. The medieval setting combines well with every component having a physical presence. The weight of all the stone and lumber exists in the real world, and it felt real, it felt right. Building a house requires a houseload of lumber!

You would have to hew the lumber, then put it in a cart, then drag the cart - perhaps along a road. Then unload the lumber. It was a chore, but one that felt real, and could probably have been mitigated using NPC workers (which already exist).

Moreover, staging the construction became a major, interesting challenge. Those logs and stones have to be within a few meters of the thing you're building. So if you're building a five-story-high stone wall, you need to create a scaffold, haul the stones up, and put them near the next floor.

It really felt like medieval engineering. It was a hint of a powerful idea that could have been absolutely unique.

Well, I don't know if people complained or what, but they removed that idea. Now you have an inventory.

Even at its smallest, in the demo, it shows you being able to carry around 20 sledgehammers. So, yeah, stuff your pockets full of boulders and logs, who needs staging? Who needs carts? Who needs cranes or roads or quarries?


In any engineering game, the question is: what are you engineering around? What challenges are you trying to solve?

For two weeks, Medieval Engineers had a new challenge. One I've never seen before. You were trying to engineer around your own engineering. It was a wonderful seed of an idea, and it felt so promising, matched the setting so well.

But it is important to be generic. If you're unique, some players might complain that you're not exactly like the last game they played, and you wouldn't want that. It's got to be exactly the same, down to the exact flat-slot inventory model.

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