Hello all, it’s Cassel, developer of <Ratopia>. Before we knew it, 2023 has passed and the New Year has arrived. In 2023, we achieved goals set at the beginning of the year, such as the early access release of <Ratopia>, and it was a year where we recorded many unexpected achievements, including winning awards at various exhibitions. It seems that all of this was thanks to everyone's warm support for us.
Thank you for making 2023 such a meaningful and happy year.
In December, a month after the launch, while participating in various year-end events, we focused on developing user-customizable difficulty levels, various convenience features, and feature guides. However, I felt that just adding these would not leave a deep impression in the update. As the December update date approached, I was filled with anxiety.
The focus on minor convenience features was to reduce the risks associated with the update. To make updates that would leave a deep impression, major modifications to the game system were required, and these tasks needed a lot of research and testing time. Even after devoting time, there was a risk that they might not work as intended, making it difficult to hastily add such items.
This made us think that players waiting for new content would be greatly disappointed, so we started looking for items we had noted down that could be added content-wise. Soon, we found lighter tasks like adding dining tables for the Ratizens and variations in the starting terrain, and as expected, these could be quickly implemented and tested before being added to the game. However, among them, the winter festival event to create a year-end atmosphere took much longer than expected.
Winter Festival Event
The initial intent of the winter festival was simple. Like many games that update with winter festival content temporarily to celebrate the end of the year, we also wanted to add simple decorations in <Ratopia> to match the winter festival atmosphere and enhance the festive feeling in the game. I thought it would be nice if the trees, Ratizens, and some buildings appearing in the game were decorated in a winter festival theme, and since it involved replacing image resources, I believed it would be simple to implement and also save time.
Winter event of <Ratropolis> on early days of service
However, when we tried to implement this, several concerns arose. Since <Ratopia> has four seasons, it wasn’t really fit to apply the winter festival feel to all seasons. In addition, we were worried whether new players could easily understand the replaced images and if there would be any issues with visibility. Even though it could be added quickly, since this system could end up being a one-time addition just for this winter, we were also concerned whether it was the right decision to prioritize this work over other minor improvements.
So, if we were going to work on it, I thought it would be better to add it as a seasonal event in <Ratopia> that appears every winter, rather than just for this winter. We had planned to add several seasonal events at some point since there aren't many yet, and I thought that new players would have less difficulty understanding the replaced resources since it takes at least three hours of gameplay to reach winter.
Therefore, to add the winter festival as a seasonal event, more detailed planning was needed. We had to redefine when and under what conditions the winter festival event would appear, plan how the event would change things, how it would proceed, and when it would end. Additionally, we needed to ensure that there were no issues with the update when loading saved games that were already in winter or had passed winter. What started as a simple idea required a lot of scrutiny and ended up with many things to organize.
There’s no tree to decorate!
We thought it would be nice if the trees in the game were decorated in a festive atmosphere as soon as the winter festival event began. However, in <Ratopia>, the trees already change to leafless trees when winter comes. Even more so, since plants do not grow in winter, if a woodcutter were to cut down a tree, only the stump would remain until spring. Given this situation, changing the trees to festive decorations in winter seemed too unnatural.
How irony is that you can only find decorations where no one reached..
So, we started to think about building winter festival trees as a new decorative structure. Although there was the downside of having to construct festival trees to experience the winter festival, the significant advantage was being able to enjoy the festive atmosphere and photo time wherever you wanted.
With the addition of the festival tree as a structure, we then had to decide when it could start being built. We solved this by adding a precursor event where players could receive the blueprint for the festival tree as a reward when winter arrives, applying the system used in existing victory goal events to provide blueprints as rewards.
If there are none then we can make one!
Try this! Try try!
In <Ratopia>, most events, except for tutorials and victory goal events, did not have a specific objective. Most events were simply about making choices from the options presented during the event, deciding which direction would be beneficial for the player. Such events didn't significantly divert from the intended gameplay, and if they appeared repeatedly, it seemed that the curiosity and anticipation for the events significantly diminished.
Therefore, for this winter festival event, we wanted to provide a unique objective to refresh the atmosphere. Ideas like finding a hidden Rudolph with the player character or collecting special resources falling from the sky were fun to think about as event objectives. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough time left to add these new systems. Alas.
As a result, unfortunately, we could only set the event objectives to gathering resources or building the winter festival tree. In the latter part of the event, building certain structures was mainly a role for the citizens rather than the player character, and producing resources was also an action that only the citizens could perform, leaving the player character with nothing to do.
So, to create tasks for the player, we set the resources needed for the event as rare resources. If the player did not have the necessary rare resources, they would be encouraged to explore other territories to find them or to try using new structures.
However, the problem was the amount of required resources and the time limit. We hoped the event would take place within the winter, so we set a time limit of 5 days. Within this time limit, it became very difficult to collect the set goals of 20 silk, 20 jewels, and 10 luminators, depending on the city's situation. Depending on the randomly generated terrain, it was possible not to find the necessary resources, and with various issues like food, invasions, injuries, and crime to deal with, there was no room to pay attention to the event.
Early goal of the event - Silk, Jewel, and Luminator… Preparing for these sure will break the spine.
As it was the first time-limited event, there was certainly a sense of refreshment and fun in the gameplay, but that was the experience when the objectives were achieved under pressure; if failed, the frustration was immense. For resources like silk and jewels, Ratizens had to process them for a long time in production facilities. Considering the time Ratizens spent producing and the time to research related structure, it was nearly impossible to achieve the event unless it was prepared in advance. The initial intention of adding something for everyone to enjoy the year-end atmosphere had become quite distant.
However, replacing the required resources with ordinary ones like grass and woods wasn’t an easy decision either. Setting the goal with resources that could be stacked in the storage would hardly induce new actions from the player. It was difficult to designate appropriate resources due to the unpredictability of the player's progress. However, determining that it was only necessary to encourage players to explore new territories and research new buildings, we significantly adjusted the required amount of resources.
Since the winter festival had become an event with high difficulty objectives, we wanted to give a corresponding sense of achievement when they were accomplished. In addition to numerical rewards like happiness buff, this time, we wanted to give visual rewards such as fireworks, festival costumes, and decorations.
If the event is successful, winter festival decorations appear in the city for two days along with fireworks, and the leader wears a Rudolph outfit, while citizens without jobs dress up as Santa. Initially, we wanted all citizens to wear Rudolph outfits, but with many similar outfits already appearing in the game, we thought it might interfere with gameplay.
We all know the leader is Rudolph, the one who works… Right?
Thanks to the serv…. Leader, who prepared everything for the festival!
We haven't worked on the sound effects yet, but if we include auditory elements in the future, it will likely be even more satisfying. Although the event, which was initially intended to be a light addition, ended up being more time-consuming due to its increased scale, I am happy to learn how players can find fun and satisfaction through in-game events from this experience. By applying these kinds of presentations to other events, I believe that by the end of this year, the game will have become even more complete.
This time in DevDiary, I took a short subject or winter event.
For the next DevDiary, I’d like to talk about power-generating system and Ratron.
I Hope you all stay health on 2024, and have the best year full of happy moments!