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Captain’s diary #7: Roadmap updates!

Hi everyone! Captain Filip here! This update is going to cover our reflections on current alpha progress and also exciting roadmap updates. So let’s jump right in!


Alpha in progress

First of all, I want to say huge thanks to our supporters for all the nice words! And we are also very grateful for all the feedback and reports. Alpha is being tremendously valuable to improve COI! And not just that, we are also getting tons of feedback on new production chains and features. So much is happening that we had to set up a tool at ideas.captain-of-industry.com to track ideas and all of you can upvote the ones you like!


Picture of oil refinery by LodeRunner. More screenshots at the #alpha-screenshots channel on our Discord server.

This time let's jump right into the roadmap. I will share my changes overview at the end of the post.


Roadmap

Our last version of the roadmap was done during our Kickstarter and we pretty much delivered all the alpha tasks. However, the current feedback and experience helped us to reorganize our priorities for the beta.


Time to go nuclear

We have noticed plenty of players are struggling with coal supply in the mid-game and being generally concerned about scaling limitations in future updates. We observed from our experiments that the jump from coal to solar isn’t quite smooth as solar should be the end-game & costly stuff as it provides free power (excluding maintenance, haha). And as a result of that, we are going to introduce nuclear power into beta! We are excited about this because we always wanted to add nuclear power but we never had such a great opportunity as we have now. And it is the most upvoted feature request, so that’s a no-brainer! So prepare for some radiation in beta!


Priorities management

The other feature people asked for is priorities assignment. We did not have a clear idea of how priorities should work but now we have. So we will introduce a scale of priorities. It will be a single priority that will be used for machines and buildings in general. So if a water pump gets the highest priority, it will be the first one to get maintenance, workers, power, and anything else. Another set of priorities will be used in cargo logistics. And another priority system will be used for power generation so one can prioritize coal power over diesel power. After this lands, we will evaluate what other features we need to control “death spirals”.


Soundtrack

Another thing that we are moving to beta is music. We have heard even in alpha that folks were pretty keen on having music in the game ASAP. But it was not easy to figure out what we wanted and to find the right artist. We have spent quite a substantial time during alpha development on trying to get this moving forward. But this work takes time and we did not want to overpromise. But we hope that we are on a good path to deliver the music for the beta.


Some serious smelting operations and powerplant with cooling towers by Coheed.

Difficulties

We have also noticed that some players currently struggle with the difficulty of the game whilst others would like to increase the difficulty. So it seems that difficulty levels will be a must-have.


Balancing & mechanics

We will be also looking into improving maintenance consumption and how to avoid potential spirals or make them more recoverable. However, maintenance is not going away in normal difficulty. COI is a game about realistic resource management and we would like to keep it that way.


We are also going to revisit the quick build feature. Quickbuild was designed to make the early game more palatable but ended up breaking immersion in several cases and especially in mid-game. Bypassing entire production via quick build was not the goal. So quick build will be changed to “quick delivery”. Meaning that products are no longer cheated just insta delivered. However, that could put the early game at risk, which is why we are going to focus more on trading. E.g. the player will start with a friendly village that is willing to sell things (for obviously rip-off prices). With this we might be able to solve several hardlocks that are just unnecessary. In theory, trading might allow us to fix several bootstrap paradoxes where we just can’t use some materials just because they are too difficult to make in the early game. But that will happen later if beta proves that this was the right move.


Replayability

And the last big thing is replayability. We understand that starting on the same map, with the same set of conditions is not optimal. We would like to address this for beta by providing an extra one or two maps and maybe with some slight randomizations. We do have the ability & tech to auto-generate maps. But it is super hard to make a generator that would be smart enough to build a map the way a human can. Yes, the generator can spread some resources, mountains here and there, and define some shape for the island, but it is not enough. For instance, the idea of multiple platforms where the player has to put some effort and modify the terrain to succeed is not something a generator can come up with. Or an idea that a map could have a limited amount of farmable land. Generators start to be interesting for huge maps where scaling starts to be more interesting. However, we are not there yet and we need to keep the game replayable. So we think that handmade maps + little randomization will, for now, help beta tremendously. We also want to create an editor to enable players to make their own maps, but that is lots of work that could jeopardize our timeline for early access so this will have to happen after we enter early access (second stage).


Surprises

We are also going to introduce a few surprises. That might include features, content, whatever. So just because you don’t see something on the roadmap it might not mean it is not happening. We just don’t like to overpromise.


Shifting our priorities

However, adding more tasks to our already ambitious roadmap means we need to make some trade-offs and postpone other ones. We think it is reasonable to postpone diseases because there are already enough concepts in the game for now. So diseases are punted to early access (second stage). We are also postponing concrete on the ground to early access (first stage) as that is not a life-critical feature. We also know how much folks want to see trees replanting but we are moving this to early access (first stage) as well, but don’t worry this is going to be the biggest priority for early access release so it will happen for sure.


How does this affect early access? We were hoping early access could have a space program with a working space station. But due to all the changes piling up we think we might just let you send the rocket to space and consider it as the temporary meta end goal. And once we will be in early access we will work on the space program. We believe we have HUGE and I mean really HUGE potential for an amazing and realistic space program. And rushing it wouldn’t work well. Also the more we invest into mid-game (if we consider space end-game) the more interesting the end-game can be. Because we will have a wider variety of options and products to leverage and interconnect.


However early access gets one extra item that previously was just in our backlog and that is recycling! We have cool ideas on how to make it all work and we think it will make end-game super interesting and enable our players to scale factories even more while reducing the constantly increasing pressure on mining.


You can see our new updated roadmap right here. The old one is still accessible from there as well so you can compare :)


Also, don’t be a stranger. Feel free to join our discord channel #ideas-discussion to share your take on the things or check out our ideas tool and upvote stuff you like!


This screenshot from inside of greenhouse looking at settlement buildings was shared by jacklockwood with the comment: “That feeling when you’re stuck on a never-ending day shift and you just wanna go home and play CoI Ahhh”

Key changes

And now the promised list of changes. Based on the feedback from our community we have made the following key changes and improvements (for full changelog see patch notes here):

  • Extended pause, destroy, and clone tools for range selection so you can just click & drag to pause/destroy/clone a larger area of your factory.

  • Added more controls for logistics where trucks delivery/pickup for machines and storages can be now explicitly controlled in UI (off/auto/on).

  • Added mining prioritization for excavators. You are now able to specify the preferred material to mine for each excavator.

  • Added research queue so players can schedule multiple nodes to be researched. This was one of the top-requested features in our ideas tracker.

  • Added cooling tower that condenses steam from turbines and recovers some of the water used to make steam.

  • Added shifts mechanic to oil rigs which allows scaling output of oil rigs in ⅓ increments.

  • Added tier 2 cargo depot that allows 2x faster transportation of materials from the world map.

  • Added unity and power warning icons for machines, a beacon, and research labs.

  • Increased coal yield during mining by 30% to balance mid-game coal consumption.

  • Improved resource visualization now shows the type of resource and its real depth. Additionally, if resources are covered by overburden (dirt/rock), this is now visualized too.

  • Clicking on notifications or assigned trucks will center the camera on the subject.

  • Lots of bug fixes and other improvements.


We have also registered an increased demand in alpha access so we have extended the window. We are going to probably keep it open for extra 2 weeks before closing it.


Two fully upgraded tankers supplying huge amounts of crude oil to the refinery made by player zytukin.

What’s next?

We are still going to work on improvements for the alpha branch. We believe that investments into QoL features, performance, and intuitive design will pay off in the long term even though it might make us a bit slower on delivering more content at this stage. However, in a few weeks, we will have to make the cut and move to beta at which point alpha will stop receiving updates.