Alpha and beyond

Alpha has been rolled out for testing. In addition to having added the Compsostmaster 2K17 and the Bio Diesel plant this release sees the enabling of the mission system on most of the fields. Truth be told I’m not a big fan of the mission system in FS17 seeing it as more of a necessary evil than an engaging game element. While I liked the concept of the mission system I feel that the implementation falls flat for the following reason. The missions are simply too one dimensional. Harvesting my own fields requires a coordinated effort of running the harvesters, offloading their harvest, and moving the crop to sale or silo. Harvesting missions however entail nothing more than running the harvester from one end of the field to the other, not very challenging.

So why include missions then? Early on the game is dominated by the need to generate capital to buy equipment, livestock and land and missions are a means to meeting that end. Fortunately they are not the only means. One of the alternatives that I’m considering is to stack the starting fields and equipment in favor of running grass heavy operations meaning that the player can generate early profits through silage rather than missions. The second reason I’m including missions is that the dynamic state of the surrounding fields does add to the impressiveness of the game. Even if I choose not to run any missions the fact that the NPC fields progress through the growth cycle as the game progresses does add to the immersion that you are in a dynamic environment.

Another issue with missions that work against this map is that they do not scale very well as field size increases. Knocking out a couple of 10 – 20 minute missions may get repetitive but most players would still consider the time investment to be reasonable, up that time to 60 to 90 minutes or more though and the time requirement becomes harder to justify. To mitigate this issue somewhat the smaller fields on the Nagce valley map are all NPC owned and available for missions. Consider that the average field size on GCV is 2.8ha while the average field size of Nagce Valleys 18ha or more than six times that of GCV and it’s easy to see how mission time will quickly scale up on NV.

With out the door to be tested it’s time to look at what still needs to be done prior to beta testing. Here is my working list of what I’m still planning on incorporating

  • Update the AdditionalMapTypes script to
  • Add some additional crop types (sorghum and mustard are likely).
  • Add forest near the BGA
  • Incorporate an accurate PDA
  • Clear all errors and warnings from the log (the log is currently error free but I do have a few warnings to deal with).
  • Add foliage detail (bushes, grasses, etc.)
  • Add object details (barrels, crates, equipment, etc.)

Once those tasks are checked off I’ll consider the map feature complete and pass it off for beta testing.