Synthetic or Naturalistic?
So, seeing as everyone loves features, this time I’ll cover our current plans for one of the bigger and more unique features of One Lonely Outpost: the choice between Synthetics and Naturalistic paths.
In many games, the player is offered a pivotal decision that will set them down a course which is exclusive of other options. Stardew Valley had this in the form of supporting the Supermarket Corp vs the Community Center/supporting the locally owned store. Once you pick one, you can’t have the other. While I like the idea of the choice, personally I didn’t much like the way it handled the decision; everything in the game just screams at you that the Supermarket Corp is the soulless evil corporation and the little sprites who inhabit the run down community center were the good guys. To me, it’s a fake decision; I’ll bet less than 1 in 10 players go with the Supermarket. These kind of tricks have their place, but for our game, I want to offer more.
That’s why in our game, the question is a lot more complicated. In the world of One Lonely Outpost, The crops and food from the Synthetics is accused of creating generally safe but less healthy food. Conversely, the Naturalistic group opposes all splicing and artificial products, but a legitimate criticism is that Naturalistic methods simply cannot make enough food to feed everyone. People in the colony will have differing opinions on the matter, too; many won’t care much, but some will, and a few will base their decision to join your colony or not on which of the two parties you sign up with. This lends weight to the decision of which path you will take. And that’s not even to mention the tangible game play changes that the two will introduce!
If you choose to go with the Synthetics route, you will be able to pay for genetic modifications to be made to your crops. This could improve hardiness, yield, let you plant them without fertilizer, and much more. But the process isn’t without risk: the plants might result in strange colored produce, or it might even have fur or thorns! Such crops would sell for less, but generally the benefits will definitely out-weight the risks.
In addition to the plants, Synthetics opens up the opportunity to buy (or possibly even build) robo cows, robo pigs, robo sheep, robo turkeys, and more! These cute robots produce synthetic products, like synthetic meat, which is collected and sold. These robo animals require a nutrient paste or pasture for grazing, and the quality of this will determine the quality of the produced meat. If we can manage it, maybe you will even be able to tinker with them!
On the other hand, if you go with the Naturalistic route, you will gain access to plant breeding, structures to protect your plants from the elements like greenhouses, and everything you sell will net a higher profit margin. You’ll also get the ability to make composts out of old plants for more fertilizer (which is the main limiting factor in how many crops you can sprout at a time).
In place of the Synthetics robo animals, you will get access to live cows, chickens, alpacas, sheep, and more! They will need more tending and care, but not only will their produce sell for more, but you will be able to use their produce to process into other results. In addition, you’ll be able to raise bees (beekeeping or apiculture as the technical term goes) which not only produce honey but will improve your crop yields. Some plants won’t produce at all without the helpful little guys! And there’s still lots more in store like cheese, wine, beer making, and if I have my way, silk moths (sericulture) will be included too! We’re still playing around with the exact mechanics; we want to offer fun mechanics that are simple enough to pick up and go, but a little more interesting than just sticking some milk in a machine and coming back a few in-game hours later to cheese.
As you can see, each path has its own mechanics and concerns; neither is obviously right or wrong, and there are tangible results and options that arise from the decision. We are also considering a way to allow access to both gameplay options in the very end game, but there are many complications to this; would it cheapen the choice earlier? What about colonist storyline and interactions conflicting? Both technical and conceptual there are things to overcome here, but if we can, we’ll let you (very eventually and with much effort) attain both these options.
Hope you enjoyed this sneak peak into just a few of the more unique, defining elements of One Lonely Outpost over other games in the same genre!