I’ve decided to try writing regular updates about what’s changed since the last update for BIS. I’m unsure what the right pace is, whether weekly, monthly, or somewhere in between. I’m also unsure if these will provide value for me or anyone else, so we’ll see.
I had two main goals for BIS this week:
- implement character persistence, and
- add in “multi-clear” mining functionality
This goal is mostly just about shifting BIS from prototype towards proper game. Until this week, progress was lost the moment you closed the app. Boo.
This turned out to be a bit more work than expected, though it’s not surprising. Before now there has been no reason to consider that someone might load a different character, or that all the state scattered around the game might need updating.
I wasn’t planning to include that functionality, but it seems a little bit RPG-critical to me now. Now that it’s in, the game feels much more like a game. Win.
What’s a mining game without some materials taking longer to harvest than others? Nothing, that’s what.
In a “line clear” game like this, “taking longer” seems like it should mean you have to fill the line more than once, so that’s what I’m trying. As those tougher blocks get weaker, there will be a visual indicator of how close they are to breaking.
Each material – including the blocks you hurl unceremoniously at the ground – has two values that determine how a “full line” is processed: Power and Toughness.
Power represents how much energy that tile releases when you fill the line.
Toughness is how much energy a tile takes to actually get it to disappear (and thereby zip its way into your cargo hold).
By default, each material is 1:1. What this means is that each material is neutral, able to clear itself and nothing else.
Currently, copper and stone are 1:2, meaning they take 2 power to clear, but only provide 1. The first time you fill a line with them, all the dirt and all of your blocks will clear as you’d see in any game in the Tetris genre, but the copper and stone tiles will remain, albeit at reduced toughness (1). Clear a line there again and you’ll get them both.
To help offset this, especially as players get to high-density planets, you can upgrade the power of your blocks. Right now, this is just implemented in a “buy +1 power from the shop” way – un-fun.
So how does that help? Well, starter blocks have 1 power and 1 toughness, same as any other material. They produce 1 power each when you fill a line, and consume that 1 power so they disappear.
But suppose you upgrade your T-block to power 3. Now, when the T-block lands, in addition to clearing itself (with 1 of its 3 power), the 2 excess power contributes to clearing other blocks on that line. With 1 copper block and 1 stone block, that 2 excess is just enough to clear the entire line in one go. Nice.
In a future update, I’ll add ways to let skilled players magnify the power of their blocks through clever placement and timing, more on that soon!