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Captain’s diary #22: Release date, rocket construction, and improved UI

Welcome everyone, this time to a joint update from me (Filip) and Marek! I know that this blog post may be anticipated more than usual, given that we will announce the release date of Early Access of Captain of Industry. So let’s jump right into it.


Release date

After a thorough assessment of our progress, and after considering external factors such as Steam events and releases of other games, I am excited to announce that the release date of Captain of Industry is set for May 31st, 2022! That’s 26 days from today! It will be released on Steam under the Early Access program. And we have already placed a countdown widget on our website.


We were initially planning for a mid-May release date, but given the amount of work we still need to finish, we could use an extra week. We apologize for the delay, but I promise it’s gonna be worth it! I hope that just the size of today’s update provides at least some insight into how large is the scope of the work being done for EA.


We would like to thank everyone for being part of our journey so far! A very special thanks also goes to our backers who generously supported us and gave us valuable feedback – the game would not have come this far without you!


A newly made rocket is being raised onto a transporter, waiting to be released on May 31st!

Pricing

We have also decided on the final pricing. Captain of Industry will sell for 29.99 USD. We will participate in a regional pricing program on Steam. For example, in Europe, the game will sell for 27.99 EUR and in the UK for 23.99 GBP. We have carefully set prices in each of the 41 regions based on the local economy, purchasing power, and our best judgment.


Translations

The new build will have a lot of new strings to translate, and we will be releasing them 2-3 weeks before the release date, so hopefully in a few days. We hope that’s enough time for our volunteers to translate most of them. We are very grateful for your help with this!


Help us spread the word

According to Steam Spy, Captain of Industry is currently #152 most wished game on Steam! That is very exciting already, but can we do better? Can we reach top #100 by May 31st? I am not sure but maybe you could help us a little with this. It’s as simple as wishlisting the game on Steam (if you haven’t already!), telling your friends, or posting about it in your favorite forum/Discord/socials. Feel free to share your favorite screenshots from our press kit / blog or a video from YouTube or Twitch. We appreciate your help!


Fortunately, we haven’t spent the last two weeks only thinking about the release date and pricing. We have made some serious progress on the game, so here are some updates! Please note that all these updates are not live yet and will be part of the EA version.


Rocket assembly building

As you may have seen from the screenshots above, we have a brand new model for rocket assembly building! The difficulty with this model is that it has to interact with rockets and transporters. Initially, we planned to make it a tall building from which a rocket just drives out on a transporter (like a big vehicle depot). However, the resulting structure was way too high and did not fit the game very well.


To solve this problem, the rocket is manufactured in a horizontal position and then carefully raised onto the transporter. Some of you might get C&C Generals vibes here :)


Rocket manufacturing and raising on a transporter.

Another issue was the transportation of the rocket itself. We had to prevent the transporter from going on ramps – it’s too tall with the rocket attached! We ended up extending our pathfinding data structures to also mark flat terrain and allow the transporter to drive on flat terrain only. This also means that rocket manufacturing and launch pad must be at the same terrain height (keep that in mind once you decide to build a one-rocket-per-minute base!).


Unified loose material pile models and textures

Initially, we had loose material pile models on just transports and trucks. Each had its own model and texture made by hand as an asset. However, as the game grew, we added more loose material textures and pile models to trucks, excavators, ships, and storages. As you can imagine, the number of needed assets was growing and this approach was no longer scalable.


We have decided to generalize the way this is handled and have just one texture per material, and independently have a set of universal pile models that use these textures. The advantage is that now we don’t need to have an asset for each material-pile model pair. The disadvantage is that all materials are using the same pile models (we used to have like 12 different pile models just for conveyors). We actually decided to keep two different pile model variants for each use case, one for rough materials (like rocks) and one for smooth ones (like sand).


Example of unified pile models and textures.

Another improvement related to pile models is the visualization of quantities transported by U-shape conveyors. Not many players noticed that the T2 conveyor transports two units of material per pile on the belt. Similarly, new T3 conveyors that are coming will transport three units per pile. To help visualize this, pile models are scaled based on the number of units they carry.


Example of differently sized piles on different Ushape conveyor tiers.

From the above screenshot, you might also notice that the individual piles are not looking completely identical, as suggested by the new optimization explained above. That’s because we randomize texture offset for each pile! They are all the same 3D model with the same texture, but each pile has a slight shift applied to the texture. Both scaling and texture offsetting is done directly on the GPU, making it virtually free performance-wise.


Tier 3 transports

I have already mentioned tier 3 transports in the previous section, but we haven’t properly introduced them to you yet, so here is a quick look.


The tier 3 transports have roughly twice the throughput compared to tier 2 and they transport products faster. To be precise tier 1 transports have a throughput of 1 unit per second, tier 2 clocks at 3.333 / sec, and tier 3 transports have a rate of 7.5 / sec. I won’t go into details of why exactly these numbers, but it has to do with discretization and optimizations.


From front to back: tiers 1 through 3 of flat conveyors, u-shape conveyors, and pipes.

Retaining walls

A while back in the Captain’s diary #16 we have shown you a new collapse mechanic – buildings will collapse when the terrain underneath them is dug out. But we have forgotten to update you on the status of retaining walls that help tame collapsing terrain (we have actually posted a work-in-progress to our Discord's dev-updates channel as some of you may recall).


The status is that walls are working and can hold up to 5 units of height before they collapse. You can build them under the ground and start digging around them or above the ground to contain dumping operations. But be careful, when they collapse, you're gonna have to deal with an avalanche!


Retaining walls holding sand mine as well as dumped dirt pile.

Food chains

This is our third update on food chain changes during the Beta. And since we have finalized work on food for EA, we can now fully present it. As mentioned earlier, there are four food types categories. You can provide any food you like to keep your pops alive. But if you provide at least one from each category (except treats), you are getting health bonuses. Also, you are getting unity for each food provided, and yes, they add up. So if you want, you can generate quite some unity on that.


New food products and their stats

And to support all these new food products we also added more machines. The first one is a baking unit which bakes bread and cakes. The machine lives on its own - when we tested it, we heard this music coming out of it, and the bread tastes excellent.


Baking units in the action … bread, cakes we have it all!

The other machine is a general food processing unit. It’s basically an equivalent of an assembler but for food. It performs a variety of recipes and nicely fills the shoes of a universal food processing machine.


New food processing machine

Above is the machine captured in the process of sugar refining. Speaking of sugar, look how good it looks.


Sugar in its full glory

And below, you can find the new recipes.

Baking unit recipes
Food processor recipes

Health care

Work on healthcare has been finished as well. Health is changing the game in several aspects. You now start with population health which is something like a “health bar” for your population. When it goes below zero, you start losing pops. When it is above zero, you have unity bonus and a slight increase in population (increase can be disabled via edict).


UI with an overview of the new health system.

From time to time, some diseases can appear on your island. Diseases give a health penalty, but more severe ones also give a mortality penalty. There are two categories of diseases. The first category is just like flu, it comes and goes, and there is nothing you can do to prevent it. And the second category represents diseases that appear due to bad conditions in your settlement - lack of clean water or trash pickup.


There are several ways to fight diseases. You can deploy edicts, but the most effective is your new island clinic! The clinic needs to be provided with medical supplies, and when it gets them, it reduces the negative effects of diseases. And there are two tiers of medical supplies, the better tier you provide, the better care your hospital can provide. Also, healthcare generates unity!


The new island clinic

The healthcare changes allowed us to make pollution penalties more transparent. We no longer have some fixed thresholds that define when we should start “removing” your pops. Now it is all very natural. Every pollutant directly transforms into negative health points, and it is on you to decide how to balance it. Raise the health or reduce the pollution?


Settlement waste

In the EA, your pops will become a little annoying and waste-producing species. As explained in one of our previous updates on recyclig. They convert all the products supplied into waste + some baseline waste. To get rid of all that waste, you can build a settlement waste module. Thanks to that, pops will throw their waste in the nearby waste bins instead of just throwing them out of their windows. Later on, you research recycling and build two more modules - a module for recyclables and a module for biomass) because, as they say, “one man's trash is another man's treasure “.


New modules for waste collection, from the left: general waste, recyclables, and biomass. Piles are still pending to be added.

The general waste can be either burned in a burner or dumped on a landfill - in theory you could build an island on your trash, but who would do such a … oh … Hi there, Tokyo.


Microchips

In our EA roadmap, we have promised you microchips. And when we promise something, we deliver it (except release dates :)). Not sure if you knew, but microchips are apparently very complex to make. Maybe that might be why there is a global shortage, and only a few places on earth can make them. Luckily your island will have that capability as well.


In real world, microchips go through hundreds of coating phases. In COI, we felt that might be a bit too much and reduced it to twelve. However, the input products repeat, so there are only three distinct phases, and they repeat. So the are several ways to set this up.


Two independent production lines for microchips. Each performs 12 phases.

If you are familiar with microchip production, you know that I have omitted something. Monosilicon wafer, right? Of course, because until now, your island could only produce good old polysilicon for your electronics. But for microchips, you need monocrystal. And that's where this amazing machine comes in. Please welcome the silicon crystalizer!


Amazing machines, producing monocrystalline silicon

Solar panels

We are also going to provide you with solar panels. You will get two tiers, one is from polysilicon cells, and the other one is from monosilicon cells. Monosilicon gives you 25% more power, but they are super expensive. They both need a little bit of maintenance (just like everything else on your island).


Poly-silicon solar panels on the left, mono-silicon panels on the right

Balancing

We also did lots of balancing. Here are just a few important highlights.


We have reduced the power consumption on arc furnaces by half as we initially made a calculation mistake when comparing their consumption to coal boilers. We have also increased their throughput to make them more attractive.


A nuclear reactor now requires and generates three times less fuel.


All the mines and oil rigs in the world map mines now have limited deposits (except sulfur, water, and wood). The limits should be generous enough and serve more as an immersion anchor. You can change the deposit size multiplier in difficulty settings. And obviously, admiral difficulty comes with reduced deposits.


UX changes

UX or User eXperience was something we were recently focusing on as well. Let me show you some of the new goodies we have for you.


Copy / Cut / Paste

We added a clone tool in the Beta, which was essentially a ”copy & paste” tool. We changed the icon and title to make it clearer. We have also added a new “cut & paste” tool, which reduces the extra steps of having to delete a structure and place it again - in order to just move it.


New cut & paste tool in action

This tooling also provides quick shortcuts. So, for instance, hovering over a structure and pressing “X” will immediately cut it and make it ready for a new placement.


Copy settings

Something our players mentioned several times was to have the capability to copy configuration between entities. And so in the EA you will get it! You will be able to pick an entity to copy from and apply its settings either on either a single machine or drag to apply it on multiple ones simultaneously.


Tool to copy configuration between existing machines.

Unity tool

We have also added a context-aware unity tool. You will be able to drag & select a range of buildings to have their materials quick delivered / removed. But you will also be able to click on individual machines to toggle their boost.


Context-aware unity tool. Used here to quick deliver materials for the construction site.

Quantity bars in products panel

We are always looking into ways of making issues in production chains more visible to the player. One of the improvements we have made for the EA is a new bars panel that visualizes a product’s global supply and is colored based on the overall increase / decrease in the supply.

New bars visualizing global quantities. Each bar represents history for 1 month

Top bar improvements

We have also improved the top bar. On smaller resolutions, it barely fit all the info panels we had. So it can now collapse into multiple rows when there is less space available on the screen. And when we were at it, we added a mute button for the notifications because nothing fixes a warning icon better than a piece of duct tape.


On top is a wide-screen version, and on the bottom is a version for smaller resolutions

Sound effects

We are also working hard on sound effects for various machines, vehicles, etc. For us, sound and music will be a continuous effort. But for EA, we hope to be able to land some decent portion of sound effects. We will share some pictures from the process on our Discord!


Outro

Well, this was a long post :) And it was covering mostly the latests additions. But we hope you find it exciting! We still have one more blog post before EA where we give a few final updates and some info on the logistics of keys for early supporters who made the Captain pledge.


Feel free to come and say hi on our Discord - we have a lovely community there. And please don’t forget to wishlist and share us with your friends. Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks for reading!