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Major Work/Entertainment/Housing/School/Medical Changes for v1.0.0

The list of complete changes coming to My Colony v1.0.0 just keeps growing. So far Regional map generation and Power/Bandwidth utility grids have been completely rewritten, and now I am adding another major change to the list. Currently in testing, the way the engine handles colonists is now also being completely rewritten, as it applies to their jobs, entertainment, housing, education, and medical. Basically, the entire colonist simulation engine is being rewritten, which, along with the other changes already mentioned, is making v1.0.0, at least under the hood, almost a completely different game....

Before discussing the new changes in detail, I should explain how/why the existing system came to be. Colonists were first introduced to the game in v0.3.0 (July 30, 2016) at a time when the biggest housing unit was the actual Lander that you started out in. The game was designed as the Colonist being one of the central features of the simulation. Each colonist had a name, a job, his own stats, and went about his life in the colony. He had an energy level, a happiness level, a day/night sleep cycle, and so on. The intention was for each colonist to be a unique entity with it's own relationships, feelings, etc, sort of like in the Sims.

As time went on and the game grew though, it started morphing into more of a city-builder type game VS an individual colonist simulator. So as more (and bigger) buildings and features got added to the game, the original system based on the individual colonist was simply expanded and adapted in order to keep pace. Eventually the game got to where colonies with populations in the hundreds of thousands and even millions were possible, but the core colonist simulation engine remained as it always had been.

Simulating that many individual colonists brought along major performance and memory issues, especially on mobile. I tried to work around it by implementing a "virtual avatar" system, whereby after a certain population, the game just extrapolated out statistics based on a virtual avatar, where by one "real" colonist would represent 5,000 or more "virtual" colonists. This worked OK for performance, but it always caused strange statistical problems for things like Entertainment, Schooling, Medical, and Work. For example, if one colonist would get sick or unhappy for some reason, all 5,000 of the "virtual" colonists he represented would also take on his sickness/anger, which would lead to situations where 500 virtual colonists are not working.

For the last few years, each update is a constant battle against the old colonist system, with performance issues and complaints about certain stats not lining up as expected. Game functions like Entertainment/Medical,Education barely work in a consistent manner. Moreover, the colonist day/night cycle, which I thought was somewhat neat/unique/realistic to the game, was often confusing for new players who couldn't understand why nobody was at work in their buildings.

Anyway, I think it's long been time for a change, so with v1.0.0 I am stripping out pretty much all colonist-level individuality and data, and moving to a pure statistical model, more in line with a traditional city-simulator type game. After this update, the colonists you see walking around are pretty much for show only, and will no longer have their own individual stats. You will not be able to click on a colonist to see his name, where he lives, what is job is, etc. You will not be able to assign a colonist to a specific job. The individual colonist no longer matters.

So that's the sad part. It's sort of sad because I liked all that stuff about the game, but the reality is that those kinds of things are for a different type of game that My Colony no longer represents, and keeping them in the game has only caused performance issues and forced strange workarounds in the code.

So let's discuss the new system that is currently being tested. Starting with My Colony v1.0.0, all colony stats, including productivity, health, happiness, IQ, etc, are based on (roughly) on the overall land value/approval rating of the specific areas of your colony. It sounds more confusing, but I will explain more.

Housing structures are now the basic unit responsible for generating statistics in the game, taking place of the individual colonist. Housing structures now have internal statistics based on the availability of Schools, Entertainment, and Medical facilities in their proximity. While not yet implemented, there are also internal stats for Crime, which I plan on adding (along with Police Stations/Prisons) in v1.0.1 or v1.0.2.

While these numbers might be tweaked before the final release, you basically need enough Medical to accommodate 5% of your population, enough Schools for 20% of the population, and enough Entertainment for 15% of the population. These facilities must also be within range of the housing units. Medical facilities need to be within a 50 tile radius, schools 35 tile, and entertainment 25 tile. So basically, on a small sized map, an entertainment facility in the center of the map can theoretically service the entire map.

For work, job sites have to be within a 50 tile range of available housing. Jobs are prioritized by distance to house, IQ requirements, and pay. IQ level is impacted by the School rating of the housing unit. Each housing unit keeps track of the average travel distance it's residents must take to get to work, which impacts it's land value/approval rating.

The approval/land value rating of a structure is based on how fully it's needs are met in those categories, with Crime soon to be added as well. When colonists look for new places to live, they will place priority on high value dwellings first, and only reluctantly fill in the slums if necessary. When crime is implemented, criminals will originate from slum areas of town, so the more low-value areas your colony has, the more crime will be generated. Crime in turn will further lower the value of the area.

With this new system, the colonist day/night cycle is gone. As long as approval/land value conditions are good, buildings will be operating at full capacity at all times, so there is no more sitting there waiting for workers to come back on duty.

Some people will not like this new system as the change is large and will probably render many existing city layouts ineffective. You now have to think about the macro-conditions of each area of your city, making sure that there is sufficient medical, education, and entertainment for all residential areas. Since these stats were largely underutilized before, most existing cities will probably have shortages right off the bat. I plan on introducing new education and medical facilities as I get further along on the v1.0.0 update, as they will probably be needed.

There are some positives that come along with this change. Firstly, save file size and memory usage is greatly reduced, as the game no longer keeps a reference table of all workers/buildings. The game no longer conducts the expensive job/medical/school/entertainment search routines for individual colonists, which involved expensive operations of sorting all in-game structures by distance from each colonist, and then weeding through destination candidates one by one.

I estimate that most colonies will see improved performance with this change, particularly on the high end. In addition, this new system will allow me to implement probably the most requested feature of the last 3 years - mass transit, which I tentatively plan on introducing in v1.0.3 with either a new subway or monorail system (depending on what I want to draw). Since the engine no longer has to figure out paths for each individual worker, it now only needs to make sure that a mass-transit system is fully connected to itself, and then figure out a building's distance to the overall transit network, making it's implementation much, much simpler and less performance intensive than trying to resolve mass transit paths for each individual colonist.

So I've written a book here, but the reason for the long write up is because this is probably absolutely the single largest engine change to the game since it first came out, and it represents a complete rewrite of one of the core mechanics of the game. I am trying to design it in a way that will not feel overly different to long-time players and will not be overly disruptive to existing games, but with a change on this scale, you know some people will be impacted.

If you have issues/observations with the new system, you can post them in this thread. I will be working on this particular part of the game for a few more days here. Be advised, that if you open a colony on v1.0.0 from this point on, the engine changes are sufficiently large that re-opening your game in a pre-v1.0.0 client may cause issues, as v1.0.0 deletes a lot of depreciated properties from in-game objects.
Owner of Ape Apps, LLC
With this change in how the game calculates entertainment, health etc. will we see the levels of trash and atmosphere finally have an impact in a colony?

I'm just asking as quite a lot of people have into the billions of these resources and will have a major impact in how the colony would work for individuals

I'm loving the effect this update has had on the way immigration. Where I can have multiple adv. cloning facilities with the game set at performance and have no lag
This sounds awesome! I can't wait for it. Are there any plans for infrastructure planning capability such as piping etc..? and also what would happen to my old cities with housing more than 50 blocks away from jobs? will all workers stop working and I have to restart?
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~ Creator of Leaderboard Colony "Bait" A Colony of the [{UNOB}]. ~
Short Version:

0.1 >> 0.99 The Sims (without any real controls, just the bad and boring part)
1.0 >> 1.x SimCity

A little question: when the 1.0.0 will go live (Ape Apps Launcher), for the player with big, insane map, they will need to open all city one by one?
@Westy266 I wasn't planning on activating trash/atmosphere penalties yet, but you never know. As long as I get the update done before Christmas I am fine to keep changing things....

@IzDaBait I don't see why you would need to totally restart, you may have to bulldoze some things and add in some schools and hospitals, move some buildings around, etc.

@Ansom I don't know exactly what you are asking, but it's true that in a Region, city files will not be updated until they are manually opened. Although they will continue to produce/consume resources at their existing rate.
Owner of Ape Apps, LLC
When you say we need 5% for health, 20% for education and 15% for entertainment does that mean for a population of 1000 we would need space for 5, 200 and 150 in each of the three categories for 100% approval?

I've done some basic maths and with those figures currently we'd 8 times the total land area to support those people and 9% of the population to support them.

Could you potentially change the values for the buildings so that they can support more people?
So.. for just one Arcology (16k), we will need:
  • 5% Medical = 800 slot = 8 Adv Medical Research
  • 20% edu = 3200 slot= 11 Transcendent Academy
  • 15% Entertainment = 2400 slot = 3 medium stadium (2,4), or 48 Colonimulation Hup

Seems.. excessive
I don't plan on adjusting the ratios, I plan on adding bigger medical facilities and schools.
Owner of Ape Apps, LLC
bastecklein said:I don't plan on adjusting the ratios, I plan on adding bigger medical facilities and schools.
what about bigger entertainment and housing?
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bastecklein said:I don't plan on adjusting the ratios, I plan on adding bigger medical facilities and schools.

The ratio is good for most of the housing. Only 2 house can be problematic, and only one house can generate big problem (Fantasy Land). For all other housing the ratio should't generate problem using the already present building in game.

If you change the Fantasy land, or adding an upgrade with some medical/edu/entr slot, like the Arcology? Like a "Revenge of Fantasy Land Arcology", 20k pop, 4k inside worker, 16k normal worker, 600 medical slot, 3500 edu, 2500 entertainment? People will need to build some utility, without the need to use half of the map for education, entertainment and medical care..

ps. and the other race? because insect and draconian don't have much to offer..

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My Colony

Ape Apps, LLC is an independent software development company founded in 2010 by Brandon Stecklein. Over the years, Ape Apps has published over 400 apps and games across various platforms. You can get in touch with Brandon on Twitter or by leaving a post on his wall @bastecklein
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