Cities in Motion - Developer Diary #8 - Final Touches
About a month before the final release date, we released an open beta for Cities in Motion so as to offer players a sneak peek at the game and for our team to get valuable feedback. Players came up with a lot of issues and excellent suggestions; we fixed all indicated bugs and worked on improvements for the parts that didn't meet expectations.
One significant issue was the ticket prices. There was no way to always show the user what ticket prices were too high and by how much, since the system was tied tomonthly calculations, rather than daily ones. The logic was too deeply integrated into the system to completely change it, so we built a new system on top of the old one that compared ticket prices to the economic situation of the city, thus creating an approximate 'good' price. One of the challenges was that we needed to avoid creating any new text, since new translations would compromise our tight schedule. The system had to be so intuitive that it required no explanation.
Another thing that caused problems was building metro lines on different levels. Connecting ground-level lines to other levels had a bug, making it impossible. All in all, building the elevated metro can be a bit tricky, but we wanted to keep the tool rather versatile. Now, you can build numerous lines on top of each other, over water areas, and rising with the terrain whenever needed. The elevated metro is the most adaptive of all the vehicle types and offers endless possibilities. The construction bug has also been fixed for the final version of the game, so you can now use the metro building tools to their full potential.
Vehicle capacity was one facet that was widely discussed on the forum. We didn't aim for realism, but rather for a balanced game; still, it seemed that some of the capacities were just too small. Buses were too expensive to keep and carried too few passengers to be really profitable. We did a lot of pondering and testing, and finally raised the buses' passenger capacity for the final version. This greatly improved the buses, making them more useful.
Many players also saw their vehicles bunching up, with three vehicles one after another on a line. We looked at the options we had, and decided to work on the vehicle AI. In the final version, the AI commands the vehicles to keep some distance between them, making bunching up less likely. It only happens in special circumstances, such as exceptionally large traffic jams or if other vehicles on the streets force the player vehicles together. On regular lines, the vehicles actively keep their distance, making the vehicle distribution much better.
We were thrilled by the number of downloads for the beta, and all the wonderful suggestions and reports on the forums. Many excellent improvements were implemented solely because of player feedback, and some ideas will be saved until later on. A great big 'thank you' for everyone who participated in the beta testing, because Cities in Motion wouldn't be as good a game without you!