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How I'd approach automation: beavercrats


octothorp
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I'm really enjoying the game, but one of the things that would really add a missing type of gameplay is automation. I know others have suggested it before, so I'm just going to share my thoughts on what I think would be a great system of automation that would fit the game. It needs something similar to the redstone system in minecraft, but something that belongs in Timberborn. The reason redstone is awesome is because it doesn't just work: it's something that fits thematically in the game and is creatively unlimited, but not necessarily easy to master. To use the M:TG terminology for player archetypes, this is what the 'Johnny' archetype needs (I think Timmy's already satisfied by building awesome structures, and Spike's satisfied by optimizing to survive droughts). 

The hub of this system would be some sort of administration post, where a variable number of beavers are employed. Beavercrats, if you will. 

Every building has a button where you can turn the building into a unique variable, and then access its sub-variables through the administration building. So as a simple example, define a bakery with a specific name, define a warehouse with a specific name, and then in your administration building, create an order whereby when the level of bread reaches a certain threshold in the warehouse, the recipe switches to crackers. But it doesn't happen instantaneously; it requires one of the beavercrats checking the warehouse (which they do throughout the day), returning to the administration building to report the change, and then a beavercrat going to the bakery to change the menu. In this way, it becomes a chaotic, imperfect system befitting of a colony of rodents--but so satisfying when it works correctly. The larger and more spread out your district is, the longer it'll take an order to get processed. As well, I imagine books as a consumable for the administration building. If there are no books in stock, the order doesn't get processed. Some variables (time of day, time until drought begins/ends, district inventory) would be accessible via the administration building directly. Administration could have its own set of science-unlockable things, so you start out with a few types of inputs and outputs, and then acquire more. Orders could even be sent (via beavercrat) between administration buildings in different districts. 

A lot of the things that I see asked for on the forum could all be achieved with this system:

  • Opening and closing floodgates based on water level: set up an input watching a depth gauge and an output to change a levee. 
  • Time of day floodgates: similar to above: 
  • Better inventory control: change your production, or your distribution orders based on inventory in a warehouse or district. 
  • mass enabling/disabling buildings: create several orders watching for a specific input, and different building outputs, so you can turn off all pumps in a district 0.3 days before a drought starts, for example. 
  • Recipe control: change a building's recipe based on inventory.

But they happen in a chaotic way. Imagine the satisfaction when you see a beaver check to see a depth gauge has reached a certain threshold, return to the administration post, and then five beavers rush out to open a series of floodgates. Imagine the frustration (in a good way, I think!) when a well-laid plan fails because you let your administration building run out of books, or because a few of your beavercrats were going across town to eat and your building was understaffed when an important order came in. 

Anyway, just my thoughts. Loving the game, but would definitely love something that fills in that automation role in the game in a fun and flexible way. 

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