Red Planet Farming - Marsquakes

I am starting to work on implementing in new weather hazards into the game so that we can start playtesting the new regions. The new regions all have different weather patterns, and Valles Marineris is prone to landslides and marsquakes. Another explanation for the formation of Valles Marineris is tectonic plate activity, and with recent data from Martian rovers sensing marsquakes, we thought that it would be nice to include them. Just added it to the game. Now I just need to hook it up to the system that determines whether plants take damage from certain hazards or not.

In addition, I finally got through (I think) all of the setup necessary for saving the player’s data for when they want to switch between regions. This will also make it easier in the future when I want the player’s data to be saved when they quit out of the game as well.

Nina Demirjian
Red Planet Farming - Introducing Valles Marineris

Hey all. We are so excited to finally be getting to a point in the development where we are putting in new levels. Valles Marineris is the first unlockable level in Red Planet Farming. Valles Marineris is a giant canyon on Mars that spans about the size of the United States! It is thought to have been formed by flowing water on ancient mars. It is also a probable landing site for future mars missions. In RPF, crops will need grow lights to survive down in the canyon.

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I’ve also taken the time to add a lot more crops into the game, including crops that are a bit more realistic for a martian mission, ie leafy greens like spinach and lettuce.

Nina Demirjian
An Exciting Blurb From Our Artist, Noah

Hello all. Today we have an exciting guest post written by our fearless artist, Noah. I asked her to describe herself a little bit so that you all could get to know her better. Here’s what she has to say:

“Hey, I'm Noah and I'm working on the visual assets for Red Planet Farming! I guess a little about me, I'm a rising fourth-year at the NYU Game Center and the NYU Film & TV program studying games and animation. Uhh and I guess in these kinds of things people tend to mention that they like games and dogs and stuff and I do like games and dogs and stuff but I'm not sure what to say other than that?? Idk, but if you do wanna reach out about games or dogs or stuff I guess you can DM me on Twitter or something (@phlfp). Anyway I hope y'all are enjoying the game so far, and if you have any feedback on any visuals and UI and anything else related, feel free to reach out!”

Nina Demirjian
Red Planet Farming - Perennial Crops

Today has been a pretty productive day so far. I implemented perennial crops, meaning crops that will stay for multiple years. Basically the loop is as follows: players can plant perennial crops, like peppers, and they will grow over the course of the year. They yield produce at the end. The difference now is that the plants do not disappear after harvest at the end of the year. Instead, they will continue to produce food until they run out of health, which is when they are removed from the farm. Crops can lose health if they are damaged in storms.

The goal of this is to create arcs within the game that take place at different lengths than the main arc, which is just the year cycle. Now, certain crops will last multiple years, giving a multi-year arc for some plants and some setups.

I was also hoping that this would alleviate the issues that come about when the player has expanded their farm vastly, and the amount of time that it takes to replant the entire farm keeps growing and growing until the loop is no longer fun.

Here’s a progression of a farm with peppers from a play-through that I did to make sure everything was working:

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As you can see, the crops that were fully wilted in the second image are gone in the next image, because their health reached below 0.

I must admit, when I first was testing the system, I thought there was a bug, because I was so unused to seeing the grown crop sprites during the planning stages! But I’m actually very happy with how this turned out, especially because I was worried it was going to take a long time.

Nina Demirjian
Red Planet Farming - Expanding Cities

I have been working a lot on integrating the new UI that Noah made into the main game scene, but I have also been getting the cities to expand when the population is flourishing. Right now, The main headquarters will expand when the city reaches certain population milestones. The city will expand into surrounding plots, removing any upgrades or buildings that the plot may have contained.

In addition, little “mansions” start popping up outside of the city once the population starts growing enough. There are also specific milestones that the player must reach for these to start appearing as well.

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I still have a few things left to do for UI integration. But this week I want to focus on a few main things:

  1. Allowing for crop types that live for multiple years

  2. A “news” section for the Almanac that gives players some updates on what’s happening in the world of the game

  3. Preparing a list of crops, upgrades and buildings that we want to put in the game.

Noah and I have a milestone on June 29th that we are working towards. I’m pretty happy with where the game is at right now. There is still a lot of art that needs to get done, but I added a lot of asset requirements since we made the production plan so I don’t know how much of it will end up in the game. Not only that, but there was a lot more UI that needed to get done than a I realized. July is going to be a very exciting month for the world of Red Planet Farming because we are going to start creating the framework for the game to have multiple regions, where players can start new farms. Regions will also have unique sets of crops, upgrades, buildings and weather for the player to juggle. It is going to be a lot of work, and a lot of that work is probably going to have to happen outside of the Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays that I spend at the game center. I am already only able to keep up to date with the production plan by coding nights and weekends, but I’m not really sure what else I would be doing with my free time if I wasn’t working on Red Planet Farming.

I predict that my next entry will be about the news section of the Almanac. I also suspect that by then, Noah will have some assets for the Almanac that we can show here. I’m excited to see how it looks!

Nina Demirjian
Red Planet Farming - Cities

Red Planet Farming has welcomed the addition of cities this week. Instead of forcing players to reach a certain profit, they now must feed a population of people. This is all very exciting because RPF felt a bit empty and emotionless before, but when players watch the population of their city rise and fall in accordance to how many plants they grow, I think it will give the game a but more weight. Here are some images of what it looks like with the city now:

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Basically the way it works is that if the player is able to feed their population, then the population grows the next year. If they don’t feed everyone, the population falls. If the player fails to feed the population for consecutive years, then the population decreases exponentially. If the player reaches a tbd low population rate, their city dies, and they lose.

In addition, if the player’s population is doing well and growing fast, the city will start expanding into the surrounding plots, destroying anything the player has made along the way.

Nina Demirjian
Red Planet Farming - Quests, UI, and a Farewell to the Catalog

It’s been a week since my last post but a lot has happened in the world of Red Planet Farming. For one, we said good-bye to the Catalog system that we were trying out, because it turned out to be creating more problems than it was solving. I was sad to see what seemed like a good idea turn out to be not so good, but we’ve moved past it and are on to bigger and better things….

Like the UI! Noah has made some great assets, including some buttons that have a nice little animation attached to them. Its not completely done yet, but here’s how its looking so far:

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Here is a gif of the buttons. Gifs are kind of slow so it doesn’t quite do the animation justice. It looks a lot smoother than this in real life!

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In addition to all this, I also have implemented a quest system, which we are calling the “job board” in the game. Basically, players can choose to accept any of the job listings in the almanac, and then on completion, will be given a reward.

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The visuals are looking a little rough but it’s a working prototype so there’s that. I can’t wait to see how it looks when it has art + ui done!

Nina Demirjian
Red Planet Farming - NYU Playtest Thursdays

The NYU Game Center runs an event every Thursday called Playtest Thursdays, where people can bring their games to have people play and get feedback.

My favorite part was watching people get really immersed in the experience. We also received a lot of interesting feedback about the game and we have a long way to come.

In addition, I’m struggling with what to do about the Catalog. I played through with the catalog and I felt like I was overwhelmed and not in a good position to decide what to plant (even though I’ve played the game more than anyone!) I think it might be because the catalog takes up the whole screen and maybe isn’t organized? Below I have an image to show what I’m talking about:

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I really just need some people to play it the way it is now. I had people at Playtest Thursday play an old version of the game because the catalog version wasn’t ready yet.


Nina Demirjian
Red Planet Farming - Glossary

People asked for a large list of all the crops and their stats, and they shall receive. The “catalog” that I discussed in my last post is turning into more of an Almanac. We now have added a Glossary section, where players can finally view all the different things they can buy simultaneously to compare stats with ease.

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It doesn’t look great but everything has to start somewhere. I’m really looking forward to getting the catalog all polished and getting to a point where we can show it off. We are also considering putting in another section into the almanac, which is sort of like a “job posting” board, which would be the narrative explanation for giving the player quests. But, quests are the task for next week.

We have so many new ideas that I’m sure I will write about in the next few days as they become more and more fleshed out.

Nina Demirjian
Red Planet Farming - Gameplay

Now that we have time to really focus on RPF full-time, Noah and I are thinking a lot about the design of the game itself. We have a lot of ideas about how we want the gameplay to change, and I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by the possibilities but I think that’s a good thing.

Over the past day or two, I have been quickly making a prototype of a slightly different iteration of the game. In this version, players must choose all of the plants and upgrades and buildings that they want to use for that year, and then those items are added to their inventory. Basically, there is a catalog at the beginning of each year where the player must select what they want to use for that year. It doesn’t look pretty but here’s an image:

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The idea is that maybe players could buy items in “packs” or “bulk” and there are things that go out of stock. So, its not just a free-for-all type of situation anymore. I think this could give rise to specific strategies that the player could go for, but that’s kind of a vague idea floating around in my head at the moment and I need to spend more time thinking about it.

Taking a step back from development to really think about what we want the game to be has been very difficult for me. I like to always keep moving forward with development and get some programming done every single day, so I have had to fight the urge to start coding the past week or so. Of course, I am making this small prototype, so that’s something. I have to say though that I am looking forward to getting back into development, and to be in a place when I know concretely what the goals for the game are. I thought I knew what our goals were, but after talking to advisors, I realized that it would be beneficial to take a step back and try to think more about what I actually want for the future of RPF.

Nina Demirjian
Red Planet Farming - Updates

It has been two or so weeks since I last posted an update on Red Planet Farming. Noah and I are currently dealing with finals, and I am dealing with graduation, so we have not had time to sit down and focus on the game.

Thankfully, all of that is coming to a close. It looks like we are going to be able to devote a lot more time to the game starting in the next few weeks, now that we are officially being supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation! I am so excited that this grant is going to allow us to continue working on the game and allow it to realize its full potential. I have so many ideas already!

I have also been in contact with Dr. Jacob Cohen and his team at NASA, who have been guiding us with the development of the game and helping us to make it as scientifically accurate as possible. I am so glad that they are on board to continue aiding us throughout the next few months!

Until then, I think I may try to get some of my friends to playtest the game in its current state. I have a lot of ideas on how I want to expand gameplay, but would like to get second opinions on those ideas, as well as try to gather any feedback or new ideas from others as well. Noah and I have so much work to do in the next few months, but it should all be really fun and exciting. I cannot believe that this small game that I made for a solo game jam back in September (!!!) is going to turn into such an expansive project. Overall I feel really proud of Red Planet Farming and I also feel so lucky and grateful for everyone that has helped me get this far and has given me this opportunity to keep working on the game.

Nina Demirjian
Red Planet Farming - Progress

I make a lot of before/after posts on this devlog to show how far Red Planet Farming has come, but here’s really the ultimate before and after:

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The first image is from January, a month after I really started development. The second image is from about an hour ago, after adding in a bunch of new plots of land.

It’s crazy to see how much progress has been made on the game in just the past few months, especially since I was working at the museum and had school to juggle. I am very eager to see what the game looks like in a few months from now!

Nina Demirjian
Red Planet Farming - Trailer!

Check out this cool trailer for Red Planet Farming! My roommate, McKay, is a video editor at Vice and kindly offered to make this short sort of teaser-trailer for the demo of the game.

Nina Demirjian
Red Planet Farming - Building Buttons

Over the weekend, we also got in the art for the buildings and the building buttons.

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Anyways, I’m probably going to post another gameplay video tomorrow or Tuesday to show off some of the new art and features. I’m also having my roommate McKay make a trailer for the game. He works at Vice to I trust him haha.

Nina Demirjian
Red Planet Farming - Forecast

I wasn’t expecting to really get any art or animations in for the forecast by the deadline for the game, but with sprite masks, it turned out to be a lot easier than I had anticipated. We want the forecast blocks to be animated, but are struggling to make them not too distracting, so for now they are just static images.

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Nina Demirjian
Red Planet Farming - Title Screen UI

Finally! I got around to dealing with the title screen UI. I don’t think it’s perfect yet. But I made it a lot more interesting than it was before. Basically, the title screen is in the “sky”, and when you hit start, the camera flies down to the martian surface where the farm is.

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The gif unfortunately makes it look a lot slower than it actually is. In the game it looks so much smoother! Oh well.

We are also working on building sprite animations, so my next post will probably be about that.

Nina Demirjian
Red Planet Farming - Double Upgrades
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I just finished implementing the ability for players to have two upgrades on each plot. Its a feature that a lot of people have been asking for, and I was reluctant to do it because I thought it was going to take a lot longer than it actually did. But I’m happy because I think it will give people a much better game play experience. I was worried that the visuals would get too crowded, but I actually think it looks fine!

Nina Demirjian
Red Planet Farming - Plant Animations

Today Noah and I finally got the plant animations into the game. It makes the simulation so much more fun to watch.

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This is a gif from a playthrough I did a bit earlier. As you can see, some of the crops look more wilted than others, depending on how much damage they’ve taken throughout the year. You can even see the plantains in the bottom right completely wilt from the Cold Snap at the very end of the gif.

I’m so happy that each individual crop has gotten its own set of animations. It adds so much to the game, I can’t stop watching! Here are some more images I’ve taken of the new art:

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This upcoming week I need to work on some bug fixes and the forecast at the bottom a bit more. Next weekend we’re going to finish up the art for the buildings. Its all coming together so fast!

Nina Demirjian