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Morale, Skills, and Studying


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Morale has one major game play uses in ONI: enabling your dupes to have more skills and therefore work better. The problem is after your dupes have a dozen skills or so, there's very little incentive to get more. A good colony has a decent amount of work specialisation due to the way training works, so even if I make my combo builder/digger/mechanic dupe learn doctoring, chances are he will never actually use it because I have highly trained doctors already. Very quickly, your ability to produce very high morale dupes outstrips the uses of that morale. The "Overjoyed" reactions attempt to change that, but the effect stops after +20 morale with a measly 5% chance of triggering. Meh.

 

I think this could be solved by creating a new skill that can be learnt repeatedly. Call it "Seniority": it gives +1 to a random stat at the cost of 1 morale. The stat that gets boosted could be biased towards the ones the dupe is already good at to make it more enticing. This repeated skill would get refunded normally by the skill scrubber, but the time/energy cost of that makes the potential hack of rerolling the seniority boost impactical. This would give a player a sink for the experienced gained for high morale dupes that at least has some chance of being useful, but would never be the first choice for new dupes. New hats (or maybe beards?) could be unlocked as an aesthetic reward for some multiples of seniority (say: 1, 5, 10, 20).

 

If there's now a limitless sink for experience, it would be good to have new ways of gaining experience because at the moment it's very passive and lacking player engagement. I would do this with a new room called "Study" and a new scheduling block of the same name. The core idea is to introduce two dilemmas for the player. Firstly, do dupes spend time in a recreation room (gaining morale) or studying (to gain experience faster to use that morale)? Secondly, do my dupes work as much as possible, or do I sacrifice some work time to level them up much faster? Both interesting and immersing decisions IMO. It would also create a new room that we could decor bomb and add some flavour to, which is also nice, and make scheduling activities for dupes more interactive than the current set-once-and-forget.

The way the study would work is simple. It has two requisite buildings, "Desk" and "Library". A dupe working at the library produces (relatively slowly) a resource called "Book", science skill would help with this. Libraries can store up to 10 books each, and each book has a lifetime of 10 cycles before it decays into nothing. During the corresponding scheduled time, a dupe can study at a library. For each schedule block (aka, 25sec) they spend at a library they get a +10% experience boost per book in the library for the next cycle, and up to 4 dupes can study at the same library simultaneously. For extra flavour I would also make the research buildings fit into the study and accept books for some small speed boost. Making research require a bit thought from the player and giving a home to those important buildings is only a good thing IMO. For balance, this would require shuffling some things around: probably reducing the current experience gain substantially, and making the base research speed slower.

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