Dev Blog: Part Refinements and Emergent Design 2

Last time I talked about what Emergent Mechanics are.  Now I’m going to talk about an example of why you should care.

In Mech Retriever, there are 5 part types–Weapons, Armor, Engines, Mobility Gear, and Special.  Engines and Mobility Gear are the only ones that increase Energy and Lift, which are needed to equip the other parts.

Ben and I rebalanced the parts with a spreadsheet to do mathematical analysis of their power level.  We reduced reduced purchase and equip costs across the board.  Average part quality went up.  Great overall.

But there were some surprising effects or “emergent order.”  You find emergent mechanics come from a lot of relationships to other mechanics.  In Mech Retriever, everything is generally connected.

Buying power means equip power means Battle Phase effectiveness.  Battle phase performance means more money means more buying power…

The hitch is you need engines and mobility parts to equip more stuff.  This deters landslide wins, e.g. when the lead player is trying to find an engine, the other players can catch up.  Thus mechs go through plateauing phases of overall power.  There’s the emergent order.

But by improving underperforming engines and mobility parts, we smoothed the plateaus.  Suddenly it was easier for players to get left behind.

The solution?  Improve the money yield of some Missions, and refine the way they are given to players.

Surprised?  Emergent order!  Like I said, everything is interconnected.  If players that are behind can get a decent chunk of gold missions, they can adapt and improve their mech and catch up.  We’ve seen tons of surprise underdog victories.

We may need to decrease the Energy yield of Engines, and the Lift yield of Mobility parts, a bit.  But as I mentioned before, the key is to testplay like crazy!

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