new idea, access gateway for DLC + modding

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new idea, access gateway for DLC + modding

Postby akkamaddi » Sat Jul 29, 2017 7:13 pm

OK, first, I have to dole out some fawning flattery. This is a really cute and charming game that is always easy to pick up. There are so many hidden nooks and crannies, and it creates a relaxing environment. I would love to see much more growth.

This is something I wanted to post a couple weeks ago, and it seems that something similar may be coming with the “daily tasks” in mini-maps. I would still like to post it.

In line with looking forward to new stuff, I’d like to propose a way to attach official DLC and perhaps even player made mods in a way that has some degree of sandboxing. To that end, the GOOP Gate and PASS Keys. I’m afraid there is a lot to juggle here, so thank you ahead for your time reading this. If you quote something for a question or comment, please trim the quote! I will be breaking this post into parts.

All in-game ideas are presented as purely speculative “for example...” ideas to give an idea of how this would work.

The short version is, there is a gate, the Gateway Of Other Places Gate on the ranch that is activated. Stepping in it opens a menu of Probably A Safe Spot Keys made by the player, along with “Cancel/Exit”. Selecting a key activates the teleporter and sends the player to a teleporter pad on the area that is either a free/paid DLC map, or even a player made map. All maps *must* have the initial teleporter, and this always leads back to the ranch’s GOOP Gate. Each map in add-on packs will have its own unique PASS Key, which is manufactured in the lab or purchased with plorts through the upgrades machine.

Unlocking the Gate should be cheap and easy. The Lab could also be completely circumvented to allow even easier access if the Keys are purchased on a menu of the upgrade machine (by the front of the house) for plorts. I will refer to the Lab here, but one could easily substitute “upgrade purchase”. The Keys should be made with or purchased for plorts, not just cash, to be discussed later.

The main menu of the game would have a new menu listing available official and player-made DLC copied locally, each of which would be turned off by default. The player turns each on to activate the content. (If a mod is removed or turned off, it’s content is purged from the save game.)

<In Game>
Beatrix will have a new extension to the farm near the main area. It could be a stairway on the back cliff leading down to a cave. It could be an excavation off the short path to the front entrance, or an extension off the Lab area.

Entering the area, the player sees an inert teleporter platform, surrounded by (again, just “what if” stuff) eight plort sockets, four pink and four phosphor. There is also a holo-note station from Hobson:

“I’m rather proud of this, which I call my GOOP Gate, even though it’s not always useful. I was able to hook an old teleporter pad up to some of the old nanotech plort generators I dislodged from some ruins, along with an old quantum sensor and a computer I only used for some cool retro games, and, well, I don’t want to bore you too much.

“This device carefully scans for teleporter pad signals that have gone into inert mode, compares them to ownership licenses, and basically finds and activates old pads that are no longer “owned”. It should have an impressive range, and may even take you to other ends of the planet. The address of each new spot is encoded in a PASS Key. -H”

(Slimepedia entry is created for the GOOP Gate, saying it scours for flux wiggles in the sub-atomic quantum fluff that are emitted by teleportation gateways which have reverted to low power mode. A background process checks the gateway’s address to see if it has fallen out of ownership, and if so, can activate the gateway. This allows access to new parts of the world once explored by other ranchers.)

Beatrix can then fill the plort sockets, and the pad lights up. When Beatrix steps on the pad, the player gets the GOOP pop-up window showing all owned PASS Keys (the Key menu), which is currently none. There is also a cancel or exit button, which lets the player leave the Gate.

A few seconds later, a new tech notification window appears for “PASS Key: Pink Island”. This is a PASS Key that is made in the lab, for, say, 20 pink plorts, 10 phosphor plorts, and 5 tabby plorts. PASS Keys can either go under the engineering tech, or get their own menu entry. (Or, purchased at the upgrade machine for that price.)

(Slimepedia entry appears, for the PASS Key, saying it it a small data storage matrix encoding the location and activation code of a far distant teleportation pad which has fallen into disuse. The GOOP Gate reads a PASS Key and opens a stable teleporter gate to that distant pad, powered by harmonized jiggles in the quantum fluff.)

Upon Beatrix making the PASS Key and returning to the GOOP Gate pad, the Key menu opens and the PASS Key: Pink Island is there. Beatrix selects that, and teleports away with a most spectacular wooshing.

Beatrix lands on a small island somewhere apparently far out in the slime sea. There are a few small nearby rocks, but no land mass visible on the horizon. The island, Pink Island as Hobson named it, is small and unremarkable. On the island are a pink slime spawn point or two, a small phosphor slime spawn point (only 2-3 slimes, at night), two carrot patches, a pogo tree, a few rocks, a sponge tree or two and a glow cone, and perhaps an engineering spot. There is also a holo-note from Hobson.

“Isn’t this amazing?

“Well, perhaps not amazing… This is the first abandoned teleport pad I found. I call this place “Pink Island”. I’m not really sure who built a teleport pad here or why, but I’m struck that I’m following in someone else’s footprints, as are you, as will your successor.

“Someone once had a dream here. I’m not sure we will ever know what that was. -H”

If an engineering spot is present, extractors will produce the common, non-area-linked resources.

After taking in the sparse sights and perhaps gathering a few resources, Beatrix steps on the teleporter pad to return to the ranch and step off the GOOP Gate.

Upon returning from Pink Island, the player gets tech notification pop-ups for the PASS Key schematics for any additional areas available from either official DLC content or player-made content. If content is later added, the player gets the pop-up for new PASS Keys when starting the game. The player has to go through the Pink Island “tutorial” before the GOOP Gate is fully implemented for new content. After Pink Island, all DLC Keys are unlocked immediately; they are not story linked (unless designed so by Monomi Park). The Key blueprint/price determines when the area is accessible.

(continued below)
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Re: new idea, access gateway for DLC + modding

Postby akkamaddi » Sat Jul 29, 2017 7:13 pm

(continuation)

<Mechanics>

New content will not connect to the main areas of the game, unless Monomi Park expands the game itself. This is for DLC and optional content. It also gives a mechanism for sandboxing content. Any new slimes, fruit & veggies, techs and decorations, etc., will only spawn on the DLC map, except when raised or planted by the player. This alleviates having things fit in well to the main story, as they are presented as “found” parts of another rancher’s story.

New DLC maps are always completely isolated. The most obvious way to do this is to use islands. It is also possible to have small maps that are dangerously high plateaus, deep chasms, caves, a few connected clearings in literally-impenetrable forest, a small section of ruins contained by collapsed paths and damaged slime portals, and so on.

With everything being isolated, Monomi Park could use ideas or maps that didn’t pan out well for the main game. They could be fleshed out just enough to be their own little mini area. A free DLC pack could have one or two small maps. The free maps could contain a Green treasure pod, possibly containing a new decoration blueprint, otherwise some credits or perhaps a gold plort.

DLC maps could have engineering locations, and custom defined resources for drills, pumps, and apiaries. A map may have a new extracted resource used to make a new decoration (Featherbee Honey extracted with an apiary only on Featherfern Island, used to make the Featherfan Tree decoration).

Paid official DLC would have larger maps. The paid DLC could also be used to introduce slimes and farming food that didn’t quite fit into the main game. There could even be holo-notes left for other people, hinting at stories the player could only guess at.

As for largos, an easy way to handle that is “the foreign slimes smell weird to the slimes of the main ranch area, and they will not eat the plorts of the new slimes”. For official DLC, this frees Monomi Park from having to create all the needed largos, or any at all. It would be possible for largos to be created from core slimes eating new plorts, or only new slimes eating core plorts. If you start with “they smell weird”, new slimes could have all the largos, only a few select largos, or none at all. This also easily explains away any largos with new slimes added as new core content; DLC packs could be updated or not. (If Monomi Park ads Slimy Slime DLC and Metal Slime in a future core game upgrade, there is no pressing reason to retroactively add Slimy Metal largos.) As to food, I’m assuming there is a value of fruit/veggie/meat on existing food, so everyone should eat anyone’s food as appropriate.

Within the game, each map will have a teleporter pad that connects to the GOOP Gate, and a PASS Key blueprint (if made in lab) or plort purchase price (if purchased through upgrades). Each map has one, and must have one, entry gate. This gate is how the map connects to the main world. The Keys should be made or purchased with plorts, not credits. (Credits could be added to the plort price, if they are acquired through the upgrade machine.) This is a built-in way to restrict access to areas based on progress within the game. If an add-on map contains phase lemons and quantum slimes, the key would have a blueprint or purchase price that includes quantum plorts. This can be used to prevent DLC from “leaking” resources too early in the game, and keeping DLC somewhat connected to the flow of the game.

To state once again, for clarity, the DLC is somewhat sandboxed. If new slimes, produce, or chickens (or fish?) are included in a DLC map, they DO NOT appear “in the wild” in the main game. They DO continue to propagate on the ranch if the player puts them in a corral, coop, or garden. If Monomi Park adds Slimy Slimes and Extra Carroty Carrots in a DLC map, the player could have a corral of Slimy Slimes on the ranch, harvest Slimy Plorts, and grow a garden of Extra Carroty Carrots. The player would not have to return to that special map to harvest the new food or plorts. However, the player would never encounter Slimy Slimes or Extra Carroty Carrots in the main world map. Similarly, a DLC treasure pod with the Ashen Lava Lamp or Tiki Torch decoration could be fabricated and placed in the main world, but they would not appear “in the wild”.

<Offical Map Maker, and Player Mods>

I have to say up front that the extent of my modding is some simple Minecraft modding years ago. I understand that there is a lightyear or two of difference between Java and PNG files, and creating 3D assets. I know that this part relies somewhat on the Monomi Park team finding a way to shim an extra 300 hours dev time into the future.

The first thing I would love to see is an official map maker. This would probably be a for-pay addition. I know there is currently a world editor, but I am talking about creating new maps.

At its most basic, and possibly the free or cheap version, the player would have access to the resources of the game. The Map Maker would come with the file for Pink Island, which could be edited and exported under a new name. The Map Maker could also create a new file, which would start with a small island with a teleport pad. A built-in integrity check forces the teleport pad to remain. The pad can be moved but not deleted, and a file cannot be saved if it is somehow deleted. This is the new area’s connection to the main world. Similarly, a PASS Key name and price/blueprint must be defined, or the file will not export. (Possible exception discussed much later.)

The player would then go about making the new area. Slime spanwers, fruit trees, and veggie patches could be added. Holo-notes could be added. Engineering spots could be defined, and the resources gathered from extractors defined. If the Map Maker has a free and paid version, the later items may only be included in the paid version.

Another paid version feature would be the importing and bundling into a map export pack of new official or player made resources. Players could make new trees, walls, shrubbery, etc of their own. Someone with design skill could even sell resource asset packs that players could buy and use in their own map. The obvious thing to point out is the Monomi Park devs could make a $5 “resource pack extension” for Map Maker of things partially designed for the game but never used. A sales model could be making the Map Maker $10, and then periodic asset packs like “Ruined Ruins”, “Ice and Tundra”, and “Strange Forests” come out every other month or so for $5. It would also be possible for actual players to make assets, which would give incredible diversity to the game, with the obvious caveat that content creators would not own intellectual property to Slime Rancher, could not resell the game, and tech support only extends to official products.

The last addition to the Map Maker, which I’m sure would be a technical nightmare and would be a long time off at very best, would be the ability to design active assets like fruit trees, ground vegetables, engineering decorations, and of course, slimes and plorts. I will not get far into this, but there are a few things to bring up. As said above, fruits and veggies should have a data bit marking them as such, so if I add Green Carrots to a map pack, they would be consumed as a vegetable. New fruits and vegetables could not be added as a “favorite” of any core slimes, but the new food would be eaten.

As for slimes, the “they smell weird” rule could be used to completely eliminate largos with core slimes. Alternately, there could be API’s for whenPinkEats, whenTabbyEats, whenDervishEats, and so on to indicate what happens when a core slime eats a player made plort. Otherwise, it would be up to the player to make a new slime become a largo with various plorts, and design the largo. By having the player do this, slimes may only produce largos from specific plorts, and none others. Another possible mechanic (that would be interesting in the main game) would be to have some plorts cause an “evolution” into a new slime, not a growth into a largo. Plorts could even “transform” one slime into another, such as a plort that “evolves” a rock slime into a crystal slime, or a rad slime into a pink slime.

As an example, say I magically acquire useful talent and make a DLC map with the Cheese Slime (because there has been such player demand for more cheese in the game) with Cheese Plorts, and the vegetable Chylly Popper. I could make the Cheese Slime eat veggies and meat, with the Chylly Popper as the favorite food. For largos, I could design the Cheesy Pink and Cheesy Tabby largos. If I properly define these, the Cheese Slimes would eat pink plorts and tabby plorts to make these two largos. If whenPinkEats and whenTabbyEats are available, I could make Pink and Tabby slimes eat Cheese Plorts to make the same largos, while the rest would ignore Cheese Plorts. Because I would control the programming, I could add in a few surprises. For example, a Cheese Slime eating a Water Plort or a Fire Plort would create a Cottage Cheese Slime or Baked Brie Slime, respectively. These new slimes would produce their own plorts, and I could have them not further evolve into other slimes or largos. Further, I could make quantum slimes lactose intolerant, and code whenQuantumEats to produce a Tarr automatically.

The “they smell weird” would also work across DLC, so different player-made slimes and plorts would not interact. This could be circumvented by DLC sub-packs, which would be map-less and Key-less asset-only packs. Take my wildly successful Cheese Canyon mod. Say Rancher Fatima has a mod with Soot Slimes, and Rancher Hanako has a mod with Broccoli Slimes. (Monomi Park, why do we not yet have broccoli slimes?) If the Map Maker could make a map-less and key-less asset pack, Rancher Hanako could get my permission and work with me to make a mini-DLC extension with a dependency on my Cheese Canyon and her Broccoli Groves, with appropriate whenCheeseEats and whenBroccoliEats code and the asset for a Cheesy Broccoli largo. Further, I could get Rancher Fatima’s permission for a similar asset-only sub-pack with dependence on her Soot Cave and my Cheese Canyon that lets the Cheese Slime eat Soot Plorts to make the non-evolving Smoked Raclette Slime, which eats vegetables to produce Smoked Raclette Plorts.

Lastly, for game balance for player made packs, that all comes down to the player. A player could make a maze map pack that contains a dozen or so gold plorts, but require rock and crytal plorts to access the PASS Key. If a player wants to make a “game helper”, he could make a map with engineering spots and ranch plots to make a ranch extension. If a player wants to make an easy money maker, an island with quantum and dervish slimes made with pink plorts. It all comes down to what the individual player sees as desirable and acceptable in the game.

Thank you for your time and patience. I know that was a big mess of stuff. I know I’m just dropping it in the wishing well, but I think it would be great to see.
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Re: new idea, access gateway for DLC + modding

Postby EmeraldPlay » Sun Jul 30, 2017 5:56 am

Ew, DLCs...
This would very likely be very difficult to code with allowing the players to make slimes, food and maps, and you can already have something similar to the map maker with the BetterBuild Mod, so I don't see why this should be a thing.
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Re: new idea, access gateway for DLC + modding

Postby TheGreciansHousehold » Sun Jul 30, 2017 2:41 pm

Look, I'm all for paying more money for more stuff, but I personally only really find DLCs appropriate when games where the plot ends but not the game (for example, Fallout 4). Why? Because when I pay £15, I am paying for the full game. No more, no less. Not a base framework, not an overdone mess.

I very much agree with EmeraldPlay on this one. Besides, mods can subtract from the story of games like these quite easily.
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