Hand Tools

Hey Folks! Hope everyone had a good weekend. Ours included a kids' birthday party, karaoke, and furniture shopping. And lots and lots of rain.

Back at the office, I wrapped-up the save/load bugs I found last week by delving into the room generation code. It turns out it was a simple bit of code I hadn't updated after rejiggering the save system.

The old way of doing things was to fully-load everything in the save file into memory, then grab them as they become needed for on-screen use. Not optimal as save files grow and more ships are visited. So the new code just creates a temporary list of everything the save file has available, and loads the item fully only when requested. And the room generation code just needed to stop using the old way of checking if an item was loaded yet.

Once that was done, I decided to switch gears a bit, and add some new content. Now that I'm flying around with my crew, we need more things to do. And I setup all these lovely derelicts to be visited. Yet, when I arrive at one, what happens? Currently, I can grab its food packets and hull patches, but that's about it.

To make things more interesting, I'm going to add a few hand-tools for use in salvage and repair. And I think this'll do two things to help.

First, it gives me the means to disassemble or uninstall larger equipment from a derelict for transport back to the ship and eventual trade. This means I'll probably also need to create some subcomponents to be gained from working on larger ship pieces, such as circuit boards, power supplies, and even raw materials like bulkheads and panels.

Second, the tools themselves become a type of loot to be gathered from ships. "Loot with a purpose," similar to the stuff one finds in NEO Scavenger.

My first tool is in today's screenshot: the variable power laser torch. They're the two white boxes with yellow/orange racing stripes and handles. These are the equivalent of an industrial welding/cutting torch combined with fine-tuning controls for delicate work. It's based on a current NASA tool by the same name, except a bit smaller and lighter. It's a bit bigger than a mid-to-large PC tower, with a fiber hose and laser pen at the end, and if it involves cutting, welding, soldering, or heating, this'll pretty much do the trick.

I may end up adding more variety to the game later, such as an angle grinder, saw, or traditional acetylene torch, since they can each provide cutting/welding with pros/cons to make things interesting. But for now, one of each major tool type seems like a good start.

This is also my first item with an official price tag, as all previous items had their price set equal to their mass. I'm going to start assigning base prices to items now, to make trade more viable. And this baby goes for ~$65k dollars. Not a bad haul if you find one, but a tough pill to swallow if you need to buy one. (Probably a common situation in this game.)

Anyway, I'll also need to setup some sort of interaction for salvaging/breaking-down items using this as a tool. My interaction system can do a lot, but I haven't tested this sort of "using" a tool yet. Ditto for the concept of charges/fuel on a handheld item. The ship does a bit of that with air pumps and reactors, but they're bespoke systems.

Some thoughts on other tools to add: a handheld power drill (comparable to NASA's "pistol grip tool"), a pry bar, pliers/grips...not to mention exploration tools like flashlights, EVA suits, etc. Should be some fun stuff, if I can get them to work!

Tags: Ostranauts


matsy's picture

How do you envisage using these these tools? Some items need to be dismantled/fixed y X tool or even by X then Y? Or simply X provides a greater chance than Y of producing an intact item?

ra1's picture

Have you thought about adding a dash of crafting operations to the ship? During those long treks between ports, players could manage some type of fabrication/crafting/logistics with their tools/machines throughout the ship.

The player would have to balance time spent on ship maintenance vs construction. Crew would gain proficiency in what they do. Eventually, little robots would be seen ferrying goods across the ship. Orders might come from a client asking for 10 widgets - and the player would have to decide if its worth it to purchase them at a steep price, or retool ship operations to fabricate them there.

dcfedor's picture

@matsy, I was picturing it working similarly to crafting in NEO Scavenger, where possession of the tool is required to do recipe X. E.g. if crew has laser torch, they gain the "cut apart" interaction in the bulkhead's context menu, which yields scrap metal (or interior wall panels, insulation, etc.)

I think there's room for it to work like skinning an animal in NEO Scavenger, where the trapping skill (or maybe better tools) yields better results.

@ra1, I'd like the player to be able to customize the ship, such as tweaking the performance of on-board equipment, or crafting handheld tools/modifications/consumables.

I wasn't planning on Factorio/Production Line complexity, though. Probably more akin to Rimworld's small-scale, queued task system.

I suppose that could turn into a Breaking Bad type scenario, where the crew's doc is cooking designer drugs just out of local authority sensor range for smuggling into Tharsis. But my initial plans are small-scale stuff, mainly aimed at fulfilling crew needs.

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games