This game is great so far! It's a little "stuttery" on Ultra graphics settings but that's still amazing considering the game is only in it's first release! The only real problem I've encountered so far is when registering your workshop with the mayor, the confirm button is still in whatever language this is originally. I'm looking forward to the next update!
Farming - To be or not to be?
A lot of players have asked about farming in the last couple of weeks. Are we going to have it or not? Some have even suggested that if the player marries Emily, he/she will inherit the entire farm next door. While that's wishful thinking, we can tell some players are very passionate about this subject. So, we'll talk about it today. First take a look at the screenshots.
Yes, the screenshots are from the game. Yes, we actually had most of the farming code done. Yes, it actually worked! But then we took it out. Before you start throwing things at the monitor, let me explain why. Over the past year, we've been tweaking the gameplay constantly. Sometimes we added in too much story and it felt like being dragged around by the nose, then we let loose too much and the player became directionless. We also saw a conflict between workshop gameplay and farming gameplay. On one hand, players had to spend a fair amount of time and energy to attend to their crops every morning, on the other hand, we were encouraging players to go outside and explore new things by having a very rich map. The balance and the rhythm just wasn't there, and it was causing the game to be not fun.
We had a bunch of meetings this spring in which we decided to have a workshop over a farm, the main reason was by that time the world and backstory that we were setting up with the Abandoned and Hazardous Ruins and all the various areas was a better fit for a workshop, you just didn't need all the area and all the resources if you're just making a farm. We put farming on the back-burner and concentrated on the core of the game.
Which brings us back to now. We know we'll need to bring back farming, there's just way too much demand, but we need to figure out a better way to implement it in our game. We're going to try something different with farming this time, unlike most of the farming games where you have to take care of your crops everyday, consuming lots of time and energy, we'll try to make the farming more industrialized, more modern, such as using a planting box or semi-automatic irrigation systems. We want to keep the essential part of farming, such as planting your own crops and watching it grow, while taking out much of the daily routine associated with it. We're aiming to have this function in game in the next few builds. So, what do you think? Are we going in the right direction, at least on paper?
Get My Time At Portia
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I think building a robot or robots with the materials gathered to do tasks to upkeep the farm, plant and collect crops would not expend so much time or energy and it would be a fun way to incorporate farming.
I also think it would be great to have some type of automated system for farming. Or the ability to hire help from someone like a gardener or a character already in the game that tends to your garden for you.
I really think this is a great idea. Intensive farming is its game on its own, but without it, I don't think this would be as immersive. A balance can be struck for sure. Possibly even have those options as an upgrade? So people have a reason to build those upgraded farming tools to make farming 1000% better as they grow their workshop and add more things to it. Will people be able to marry in the game? This is fantastic so far!
I like the ideas everyone had of an automated system, preferably that is designed and built in your workshop. The option can be added to upgrade other NPC farms to your groundbreaking automated farming design, for a price, of course.
What if you pay Emily and her grandmother to plant things for you, and they pick them and deliver them to you after they have grown. I like the idea of paying townsfolk to do tasks.
I really like the idea of farming, but I also understand how you wouldn't want it to take up a lot of time and energy. I've played through the current content, and I like how you have a sort of "set it and forget it" method of making the ores and such. It allows you to set up for the day, then go off and adventure or gather. Farming should be the same.
I agree with modernising/automating it. Perhaps set it up to where crops don't have to be replanted after every harvest? Spending one day's energy planting is totally fine, it only becomes too much when you have to replant constantly, leading to more energy (and time) spent. It's also fine to require energy to harvest, but perhaps have different plants take different grow times, so you're not spending a ton of energy harvesting all in one day. Space it out, basically.
Watering should be automated, as I can't think of any game where it's fun to go around and water each individual crop every single time it's needed. That may be fine for small starter farms, but it does become tedious after awhile, and I don't think it would fit this game in particular.
While we're on the subject of planting things...are you going to allow players to replant trees? For materials or decorative purposes, I think it would be nice. I don't want to chop everything down and have my area end up completely barren of greenery. If not, perhaps a regrow mechanic? This request isn't a necessity, just an idea.
All in all, really nice job with things so far! I love the art style (this game is so vibrant and just gorgeous), the crafting, the characters, just the whole feel of the game. There are quite a few games on the market that are in the same vein as Portia, but you've managed to make me really excited about dumping hours into this one. Keep up the good work, you're really making something special here. :)
We actually have a tree farm that will eventually provide all the wood resources that you need if you pay up., you don't even need to go chop it on your own as someone will do it for you. But trees do regrow and we're probably going to allow players to plant as well.
I think best games are not linear, which mean player do have ability to choose what he want to do in game and how he want to do this.
Which leading us to multiple solution to one problem or goal. In this sense have many variants to live in Portia and earn money - is good! Actually it will be bad if we do not have choice. Maybe in future you will come up with something else (another alternative to workshop and farming) and include it in game too - and this would be awesome!
Plant boxes sound fine. It actually means you can integrate crafting into the farming segments and would look nicer than an open plot of soil just lying out.
Maybe sprinklers can be unlocked later in game to allow the player to farm and it gives the work bench some importance in the farming area. I however personally don't feel farming is a necessity. In fact it doesn't make much sense owning a workshop and farming. There's plenty of farming sims out there, so you shouldn't feel it's mandatory for it to be implemented.
Maybe even using the assembly station to make a greenhouse and having a separate "map" to do the farm work. This would save space for the your work stations, and would avoid complains of farming plots taking up to much space (though the screenshots make it look like if you use to make spots, it's the players own fault haha)
I feel the twigs and stones on the ground shouldn't cost energy at all. It would allow the player to still be productive - even if they have no energy - and if you are implemented a farm system that will take up more stamina, then you may have to make a few work arounds to try balance out stamina more. Once stamina hits 0, there's really no point in doing anything else except sleep which makes people skip days. So adding a no stamina thing to small gather-ables on the ground would help be productive regardless of energy.
Hiring a farmhand to look after them might help as well. Having an off-location for your crops (maybe you can buy a ruined greenhouse and similar to how you repaired your house, you can use glass/metal pipes to restore the building and use it to grow crops) it becomes optional then and doesn't take up work station areas. Paying someone to look after your crops would include an optional management system too, so you can save stamina but it'll cost you a wage essentially. Of course, this can be later content and not available at the start to avoid being OP early in game.
Another option that might work would be to forge a partnership with one of the farms already present near your workshop. You provide the raw materials, decide what to plant, and lay everything out how you want it. Then, the owner of the farm raises the crops and splits the harvest with you. This saves you from using up any of the land you purchase to expand your workshop.
Thinking along the lines of using ruins, maybe you could find a relic in there that could create a helper that would harvest the crops. You could be able to build an irrigation machine from the very beginning, but the helper could come in later. Or the helper itself could have different levels of helpfulness and the best being the relic found in the ruins.
Honestly, i absolutely agree with the reasoning behind the original removal, however your idea to fix the issue is a fantastic work around! The irrigation and regulated farming absolutely goes with the whole building theme of the workshop as well as allows the player to fully explore without all the farm hassle.
I think you made the right choice, adding too much farming into the mix would make it too Harvest Moon-esque, and I like the idea of running a workshop rather than a farm in this instance.
The suggestions I've seen below about having an assistant running a farm while you reap the benefits seem like a good direction to go though.
I think, as has been suggested, the farming be handled by an assistant you can hire and pay a salary to, or for free by your significant other if you have one. Keep up the good work. Its been fun so far.
Edit: A paid assistant could also have the added benefit of lowering the crafting time for raw materials like smelting ore or tanning leather.
Or how about specific crops that could be used in the workshop? Like Cotton or Flax or Rapeseed (for oil)?
I think that if you introduce farming it should be very easy and quick to do, there's already the shop to take care of. Maybe you can build a robot to farm, but automation like you mentioned it's a good thing.
Can we have this automation in the shop too?
I love farming and I hope, you implement it. Would be nice to combine it with the workshop, like crafting stuff that makes it easier to manage your farming. Love the idea of an irrigation system. In other farming games, you also often have helpers that help you water and harvest crops. The most time-consuming is watering, followed by harvesting and planting.
Maybe you can hire an assisstant that does the work for you? You could have a menu sheet with a simplified overview of your farm area and give that assisstant tasks to do for the day?
But a irrigation system could be enough to cut down routine time.
Do you have any plans of adding mod support???
Farming could possibly be added throgh that or what do you think???