Creature Handling

In Outer Colony, some creatures can be tamed and used by your expedition, serving in simple combat and guard duty roles.

A video tutorial showing how to tame a creature and assign it to guard duty.

Summary

  • After trapping a creature, you can use a creature handler to tame the animal.
    • Creature training is a work-shift activity like any other.
    • In order for a creature handler to tame and train a creature, he’ll need a taming prod.
    • Only some creatures can be tamed. Creature species marked as exotic cannot be tamed…by conventional means.
    • Creatures can be tamed whether they’re in cages or roaming free. I recommend taming creatures while they’re caged.
  • Once a creature is tamed and is part of your colony, you can assign it to patrol duty in a patrol area. It will then guard the specified area, attacking any entities it deems to be threatening.

Taming Captured Creatures

wild_durnista

A wild durnista, searching for food in a rain forest. Note that it is not tame.

Once you’ve captured a creature, it becomes eligible for taming. Most creatures that are naturally roaming a world, with a few exceptions, are not tame. Creatures that aren’t tame can be captured and integrated into your colony (as livestock, for example), but they can’t be assigned any work duties, and they will behave like wild animals. This is to say that, if you capture a frostbull and release it into a pen, then send workers into that pen for some reason, the frostbull will probably kill and eat them, if it’s hungry.

In order to tame a creature, click the creature orders button in the main interface.

creature_control

The creature orders button.

Next, select the creature training tool.

creature_taming

The creature taming tool.

With this tool selected, click on the creature you want to tame. The creature can be caged or not, but it’s easier to tame creatures that are still caged. Caged creatures that are in stockpiles cannot be tamed, so you’ll have to deploy the cage somewhere before taming can begin. Also, make sure that a taming prod is available to the creature handler, as this is needed for creature training.

A worker with the appropriate creature handling activity enabled will then acquire a taming prod, proceed to the wild creature, and work on training it until it becomes tame. Once it’s tame, its behavior will be altered, and it will become eligible for certain kinds of work in your colony. It’s important to note that tame creatures can go through doors, while wild ones typically cannot.

Using Creatures for Guard Duty

woodgrunt

A tamed woodgrunt, guarding an assigned location.

To use a tame creature to guard an area, start by creating a patrol area. Once a patrol area is created, click the combat orders button in the main UI.

combat_icon

The combat orders button.

Then select the patrol assignment tool and click the area you want patrolled.

patrol_button

The patrol assignment tool.

Then, view the appropriate Z level for the patrol area and click a tile it contains. This will present you with an entity assignment dialog, from which you can select the creature that you want to patrol the area.

patrol_assignment

The patrol assignment interface.

Once you’ve clicked OK, the creature will be assigned the guard duty. It’s important to note that even the best creatures won’t be able to guard the given location at all times. When the creature becomes sufficiently hungry or tired, it will abandon its post to get food or take a nap. Still, guard creatures can be very useful supplemental defenders, since their maintenance requirements are far lower than humans.

Posted in Game Design, NPCs

Bureaucracy

Bureaucrats are NPCs who do special jobs to help you manage your colony. For large colonies, they can automate tasks that might become tedious, like assigning appropriate shift activities to your workers or making sure that each colonist has access to their favorite foods.

bureaucracy_interface

A view of the bureaucracy management interface, assigning a minster of labor.

Summary

  • You can assign colonists to serve in a variety of bureaucratic positions.
  • Bureaucrats do their jobs in office spaces. Office spaces are like normal area designations, but with a few special requirements.
  • Bureaucrats do all sorts of different things, depending on the position they fill.
  • Bureaucrats will work once per day, if an available work station in an office space is available. When they finish their work shift, whatever their function is will be performed.
  • Be careful when assigning workers to bureaucratic duties! Treacherous bureaucrats can abuse their positions and create undesirable orders.

Assigning Workers to Bureaucratic Posts

bureaucracy_menu_option

The menu item for opening the bureaucracy management interface.

Assigning a worker to a bureaucratic position is a simple process. From the menu bar at the top of the main UI, open the colony configuration menu and click the bureaucracy management option. This will load the bureaucracy management interface. It presents a drop-down box of all the bureaucratic positions at the top, followed by a list of eligible personnel beneath it. Pick the bureaucratic position you want to fill from the drop-down box, select the person you want to fill the position, and click the assign button to make the assignment.  The clear assignment button is used to remove the existing bureaucrat from his position, leaving the post vacant.

Bureaucrat Work Requirements & Office Space

office_space

An ideal office space. Luxurious tables and chairs, opulent furnishing, and many work stations.

In order for a bureaucrat to perform his duties, he needs an open work station in an office space area. An office space area is a normal area designation, just like any other. A bureaucrat needs more than just an office space, though. The office space must be contained within a room, and that room needs to contain an open work station. A work station is an open chair that’s adjacent to a table. You’ll want to position a bunch of table / chair work stations in your office space in order to accommodate all the bureaucrats you appoint.

So long as these criteria are met, bureaucrats will prioritize their bureaucratic duties above all other orders, and will perform their jobs at the start of their work shifts. They’ll usually occupy a work station for several hours, and at the end of this process, their specific function (described below) will be served.

Bureaucratic Positions

Each bureaucratic position is responsible for something different. In my experience, some positions are much more valuable than others for player expeditions. Some positions are intended mostly for non-player expeditions, but I make them available to players in case they’d be considered useful.

Minister of Agriculture

The minister of agriculture automatically issues orders to plant crops in agriculture zones. I very rarely use this position, because he’ll almost invariably choose to plant the easiest-to-grow, lowest-risk crops. It’s also pretty easy to issue crop planting orders, even for huge colonies. He’s more useful for non-player expeditions, where he governs much of Quar’thanid bee shamanism and is needed to keep these colonies fed.

Minister of Diplomacy

Currently, the minister of diplomacy does nothing for a player colony. For non-player colonies, he issues orders to teach secret skills and abilities to friendly player colonies.

Minister of Labor

The minister of labor is the greatest minister of all. He automatically prioritizes work shift activities for your population, based on their calculated aptitudes. He’ll make sure that your smart, compassionate people are working as doctors, while your strong, high-endurance people are mining and cutting down trees. For very large colonies, I’ve found him to be borderline essential. Admittedly, it’s very time consuming to try to set up activity configurations on 100+ people, but once a day, this guy will rebalance everyone’s settings for you.

Minister of Leisure

The minister of leisure tries to supply people with items that they really like. If you’ve got an NPC with a strong preference for slick audio systems, and you have one such item available and unused in a stockpile, the minister of leisure will create an order to place that item in the NPC’s room. Once your colony becomes large, he’s a big help in outfitting people’s rooms according to their particular tastes.

Keep an eye on him and his personal dwelling, though, as his position is extremely tempting to abuse. You’ll want to make sure that you only entrust this position to a loyal NPC.

Minister of Sustenance

The minister of sustenance is another big help. This minister issues food manufacturing orders according to your population’s preferences. It’s this minster’s goal to make sure that everyone has access to some sort of food and drink that they’ll find agreeable.

Minister of War

The minister of war automatically fills military units that are operating under full strength. If you’ve got a fire team that recently lost a grenadier, this minister will automatically draft someone new into the role. This minister performs a variety of other duties for non-player colonies, but I find that I rarely use this post with colonies of my own.

Warden

This warden is basically an essential bureaucrat if you have any kind of prison population. He’s runs the logic to figure out which prisoners are eligible for release and releasing them from custody. Without a warden, anyone who goes to prison will remain a prisoner forever, even if their sentence was served and they’ve met all the release criteria.

Minister of Culture, Minister of Education, Minister of Housing, Minister of Propaganda

These positions used to serve various functions, but I’ve disabled them for now, as they were getting in the way more than anything. Culture policy, propaganda policy, and education policy used to only have meaning if these bureaucrats had recently performed a work shift. The minister of housing used to auto-create and auto-assign rooms within new structures, but I never got him to quite perform the way I wanted. These positions might come back at some point, so they’re still in the game as place holders.

Final Note

Bureaucrats have been one of my favorite aspects of Outer Colony to develop. They constitute an interesting sort of meta-AI that helps you manage the rest of your NPCs’ AI, while running on that same sort of AI themselves. I sorta’ love these guys, and I’m always proud of them when they do a good job. If time would allow for it, I’d like to push their capabilities even further to help players focus on the strategic aspects of Outer Colony as much as possible.

Posted in Game Design, NPCs

Medical Treatments, Hospitals, and Medical Professions

When humans contract diseases or sustain serious wounds, they need medical attention to heal properly.

A demo video of a doctor setting a broken bone. The patient automatically proceeds to a hospital and occupies a bed. The order for setting the bone is automatically created, the doctor gets a splint, and performs the necessary actions.

Summary

  • Humans in Outer Colony can suffer from two main sorts of medical conditions.
  • Humans with diseases need to have a cure administered by a doctor in order to be healed.
  • Humans that have suffered wounds need treatment from a doctor.
    • Some wounds, like muscle tears, require no-invasive wound treatments.
    • Some wounds, like abdominal evisceration, require surgical treatments.
  • All treatments must be administered by doctors to patients who are occupying hospital beds.
    • Hospitals are an area type, like any other.
  • Any human suffering from an ailment that requires medical attention will automatically go to a hospital bed (if it can walk) or request that he be carried to a hospital bed by someone who’s able.
  • Medical care orders will automatically be created for any patients occupying hospital beds. So long as you have the necessary medical items (covered below) and a person with doctor activities enabled on their work shift, the order will be addressed.

Medical Conditions

durop_ensten_broken_bone

Durop Ensten, suffering from a broken arm (highlighted).

Humans can suffer from two primary sorts of medical conditions: diseases and wounds. For more details on these conditions, see their respective articles. Diseases and wounds can vary greatly in severity, from conditions that mildly impair physical properties to life threatening problems. If a human deems its medical condition sufficiently serious, it will automatically go to a hospital and wait for care. If no care is given, the person will wait there until the condition heals naturally. If no hospital is available, the NPC will stumble about its daily routine, trying to tough its way through the problem. In the case of serious conditions, this will end in death.

Hospital Areas

example_hospital

An example hospital area, visible in green.

Hospital areas are easy to construct. They work like any other sort of area designation. I’d recommend the following steps for making a hospital area (these apply to most any sort of room):

  • Create a room in some interior space.
  • Make sure it has plenty of beds / sleeping items. Cots and futons can suffice.
  • Give it a lamp or light source to ensure that the room can achieve an adequate grade. People will likely sleep in there at some point.
  • Furnish it as necessary to increase the room’s desirability. Make the hospital stay as pleasant as possible.
  • Use the area designation tool to specify the room’s interior as a hospital rea.

Medical Items and Treatments

Medical treatments require medical supplies. Without the requisite items, a doctor can’t apply a cure. As such, either trade or medical equipment manufacturing is a prerequisite to healing NPCs. The activity for medical equipment manufacturing and the associated skill are both under the doctor profession.

To treat a disease, you’ll need the specific cure for the disease of the patient. For example, a person suffering from corpse rot needs corpse rot cure, and a person suffering from the plague requires plague cure.

corpserotcure_day

Corpse rot cure.

plaguecure_day

Plague cure.

Disease cures have very specific material requirements, which can make them difficult to manufacture and highly valuable. This makes them prime targets for off-world trade exchanges. The disease treatment skill type increases the likelihood of successful cure application, so doctors with this specific expertise are useful during disease outbreaks.

To treat a wound, you’ll need the right sort of item to repair the body part component that sustained the wound. Each sort of wound treatment These are described below.

bandage_day

Bandages are needed for certain types of non-invasive wound treatment. Generic tissue and muscle injuries require bandages.

splint_day

Splints are needed for bone and ligament injuries.

surgicalkit_day

Disposable surgical kits are needed for all other sorts of injuries. Wounds to guts, hearts, lungs, or brains call for treatment that requires a surgical kit.

The surgical wound treatment skill is used whenever surgical kits are needed. The non-invasive wound treatment skill is used for all other sorts of healing.

Alternate Outbreak Control Strategies

This video shows a difficult scenario in Outer Colony, forcing the player to make a hard decision.

Sometimes, Outer Colony forces the player to make difficult, moral choices.  In the case shown in this video, Kent Harland, a resident of this colony, has contracted the plague. No plague cure is on hand, and the colony lacks the resources needed to manufacture cure.

What can you do in this case? Plague is almost always fatal, and if you leave Kent alive, you run the risk the other NPCs will enter the hospital and contract the infection, potentially spreading it to everyone. He’ll be dead long before you could trade for any medical supplies, and if he dies of the disease, you’ll have to deal with disposal of his corpse.

The decision made in the video is to set the hospital on fire. Fire will purge corpses of any diseases, thereby containing the plague and avoiding a potentially serious outbreak.

But what are the costs of this decision? Kent Harland isn’t just some nameless, faceless NPC to be mowed down in an FPS. He’s got a rich social network, and all the people in it will be affected to varying degrees.

kent_sn

Partial readout of Kent’s social network.

He’s got a lifetime of memories and experiences that will all be lost forever.

kent_memories

Kent has his own personality and a myraid of other properties that make up his tiny, virtual life.

kent_personality

Kent’s personality readout.

There are consequences to snuffing out a life like Kent’s, or any life, in Outer Colony. It’s my hope that making decisions like this are a bit more thought provoking here than in the average game. Knowing the right thing isn’t always easy, and difficult scenarios in Outer Colony might force you to weight the safety of a colony against the life of an individual.

What’s the right choice, here? I can’t give any authoritative answers. As a player, it’s up to you to decide.

Posted in Game Design, NPCs

Disease

Diseases are some of the most serious medical problems that NPCs can face in Outer Colony.

plague_disease_info

Disease information on the plague, from the encyclopedia interface.

Summary

  • Humans can contract diseases from a variety of sources. Diseases can spread through proximity to other diseased people, or from exposure to unburied, rotting corpses.
  • Diseases sap the physical and mental strength of afflicted people.
  • When untreated, particularly severe diseases can kill people.
  • Diseases affect people of different age states differently. The very young and very old are much more likely to die from infections.
  • Diseases progress through stages, with their effects waxing and waning throughout their lifecycles.
    • When a person first contracts a diseases, it begins an incubation period. The person exhibits no symptoms, but the disease can spread to others during this phase. This makes the incubation extremely dangerous to the health of your colony, as an affected person who enters a densely packed socialization area could cause serious problems.
    • After the incubation period, symptoms will begin, damaging the infected person’s physical and personality values.
    • If the disease doesn’t kill the person, it will eventually dissipate on its own.
  • After a person has survived a disease, they will develop an immunity to it.
  • When a human realizes that it’s diseased, the human will go to an open hospital bed, if one is available, and will wait for treatment.
  • If a disease cure is available, a doctor on his work shift will treat the patient.

Viewing Disease Information

kent_harland_plague

Kent Harland, occupying a hospital bed, carrying the plague.

To view the diseases that a person currently has, use the tile inspection tool, and click the location of a person. Load the state data in the human’s detailed information interface, and diseases will be reported at the bottom of the readout.

Understanding Disease Information

Diseases in Outer Colony have many properties, and different NPCs are affected in different ways. When considering the effects of a particular disease, keep the following factors in mind:

  • Each disease type has a set of physical traits and personality traits that it affects. Normal effect values for these traits are reported in the disease’s entry in the encyclopedia dialog.
  • Each disease type has a lethality rating. This describes how likely it is to kill a normal, healthy adult at the peak of the infection’s lifecycle. A higher rating means more likelihood to cause death.
  • A disease type has an “Onset of Symptoms” rating. This describes the length of the disease’s incubation period. The higher the rating here, the longer the incubation period.
  • Disease can have cures. The item needed to cure a disease is reported in the encyclopedia dialog.
  • Diseases also have standard durations. This is a measurement of how long the disease typically lasts, if allowed to run its course naturally.

Bear in mind that the young and old are usually impacted more severely by diseases than normal adults.

If your colony has a strong medical infrastructure with many hospital beds, well trained doctors, and large numbers of disease cure items, it can weather a disease outbreak well. If you have none of these things, it’s likely that an outbreak of plague will doom your settlement.

Posted in NPCs, Simulation

Light Structures

Light structures are an easy to build, man portable alternative to free-form construction.  You can think of them like yurts or temper tents in the real world. If you need a single-room, small structure in a hurry, light structures are an excellent choice.

A tutorial showing how to manufacture, deploy, and furnish a light structure.

Summary

  • Light structures have a number of advantages over conventional building materials.
    • They’re very easy to set up, for new players.
    • They’re fast to deploy.
    • They’re fast to manufacture.
    • The entire structure can be carried much more easily than all the construction materials needed to build a comparable, conventional structure.
  • Light structures do come several drawbacks.
    • They come in a prefabricated form, so it’s not possible to customize the structures themselves.
    • They can only occupy a single Z level and can’t be stacked on top of each other.
    • Light structures can only contain a single room.
    • Light structures can be entered or exited from any location on their periphery.  All its bounds are essentially doors, so it’s not possible to regulate access through single points.
  • When building structures for a colony, some situations are better suited to one option or the other. It’s up to you to decide when to build which sort of structure.

Building Light Structures

Manufacturing light structures works just like conventional manufacturing, as shown in the tutorial video. Before being deployed, a light structure exists as a single item. To manufacture a light structure, you’ll need a construction material manufacturing station. Light structures themselves are found under the “Light Structure” category.

Deploying Light Structures

To deploy a light a structure, first select the construction tool from the main interface.

construction_icon

The construction tool icon.

After clicking the construction tool, the light structure deployment tool will become visible in the order details section.

ls_icon

The light structure deployment tool.

Clicking this tool will present you with a list of light structures you can deploy. Make your selection from the list, and click OK.

ls_dialog

Selecting a light structure to deploy.

The tile view will then highlight the footprint of the light structure. Click on an area of level terrain to issue the deployment order, and a worker with the appropriate activity enabled on its work shift will build the structure.

To create a room inside the light structure, select “View Interiors” from the view controls, and use the room designation tool inside the structure. Viewing the interior of the structure on the right Z level or from the top-down view can also be used to deploy items and furnish the structure.

Posted in Game Design

Death and Burial

When NPCs die in Outer Colony, they leave behind a corpse. In the case of humans, corpses must be attended to, for both cultural and hygienic reasons.

Tutorial video, showing the steps to bury a corpse.

Summary

  • When a human dies in Outer Colony, it’s generally wise to attend to its corpse.
    • If a corpse is left out for too long, it will rot and become a source of disease. Corpse rot, in particular, originates from decaying, human corpses.
    • The different archetype cultures have different burial customs, and these can yield benefits for people in the deceased human’s social network.
  • In most cultures, including Core World culture, the dead are buried underground.
  • To give a corpse a proper burial, a burial vessel (like a coffin) and a gravesite marker (like a tombstone) are required.
  • To issue burial orders, first retrieve a corpse that’s lying on the ground. Once it’s been moved to a stockpile, you can issue an order to bury it. Make sure you have an open spot in a cemetery area for burial.

Burial Vessels & Gravesite Markers

To give a person a proper burial in most cultures, a burial vessel and gravesite marker are both required. These items can be manufactured at a furniture and consumer goods manufacturing station and vary by extravagance. You’ll want to make sure that your colony has plenty of these on hands, as all sorts of incidents can occur that will leave corpses in their wake.

Some burial vessels and gravesite markers are shown here. These are the specific items you’ll need.

tombstone_day

A tombstone is a simple gravesite marker.

obelisk_day

An obelisk is a large, ornate gravesite marker.

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A coffin is a simple burial vessel.

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A sarcophagus is a larger, more ornate burial vessel.

Retrieving Corpses

The first step in disposing of a corpse is retrieving it from its location in the world. Use the tile demolition tool, pictured below, to issue an order to retrieve a corpse.

demolition_tool

Make sure you have a stockpile that will accept corpse items and has room available in it. Corpse retrieval is demonstrated in the tutorial video at the top of this article.

Issuing Burial Orders

Once the corpse has been transported to a stockpile, open the burial orders interface. This is done by selecting it from the top menu bar, as shown below.

burial_menu_item

Location of the burial orders menu item.

The burial orders interface will then appear. It will present a list of corpses you can bury. To bury a corpse, simply select the one you want and click the “OK” button. You can issue orders to bury many corpses by multi-selecting them, using CTRL+click to highlight many options at once.

burial_interface

The burial orders interface.

Once the order is issued, your undertaker will handle the rest. Make sure you have an NPC on a work shift, with the bury corpses activity enabled. Also make sure that you have a cemetery area designated with open space to receive the corpse.

Once the burial is complete, you can view the gravesite using the tile inspection tool. The gravesite marker will usually be given some kind of inscription, like the one shown in the screenshot below.

inscription

Inscription on the obelisk, where Trajan Non is buried.

If you switch to a Z level view and look underground directly beneath the marker, you can see the burial vessel.

sarcophagus_underground

Viewing Trajan’s sarcophagus, now buried underground on Z level 51.

Posted in Game Design, NPCs

The Old Corsair

An ancient Dagoroth legend tells of a murderous android called the Old Corsair. An ancient relic from before the Extermination Wars, the Old Corsair is a highly independent combat automaton, hired as a privateer to raid settlements and shipping lanes in some long forgotten war. The Old Corsair continues his mission, a strange, timeless fixture of deep space. Fueled by an insatiable bloodlust, and on Hallow’s Eve, in the dead of autumn, he still rides, slaughtering, pillaging, and burning as he has since ages past.

A video showing the arrival of the Old Corsair, carrying out his unending mission of destruction.

Summary

  • The arrival of the Old Corsair is a seasonal occurrence on worlds of Outer Colony. He will only come in the dead of autumn, on Hallow’s Eve.
  • The Old Corsair is an ancient, pirate robot of uncertain make and origins. Legends say that it’s a product of primordial Dagoroth society, from before the Extermination Wars.
  • The Old Corsair travels the galaxy in his ship, Vengeance One, senselessly destroying settlements on the galaxy’s edge.
  • The Old Corsair can’t be bargained or reasoned with. He can’t be bought be off, and he won’t stop until his lust for blood is sated.
  • Being a robot, the Old Corsair’s body is comprised of advanced, amorphous metals and shape memory alloys that are extremely durable. Destroying him is an immensely difficult task.

Dealing with the Old Corsair

Bullets. A huge volume of bullets. This is the most straightforward way I’ve found to stop him, but he will wade into your ranks and spill a great deal of blood before he’s brought down. I recommend using machine gunners that can put large volumes of rounds on target, as they’ll eventually wear the Old Corsair down.

One fire team, in my experience, will not be enough, unless someone lands an extremely lucky shot. I’ve fought him a few dozen times in tests, and while I have managed to kill him, the combat logs usually reveal several barrages of .31 rifle rounds directly to its head, eventually disintegrating its outer materials and crippling its processing module (one of its head’s body part components), which it needs to live.

Once I managed to destroy both of his legs, leaving him unable to walk. This is almost worse than having him kill his victims and leave, because he just became a permanent fixture on the ground. He doesn’t need to eat or sleep, so he just stayed in one spot, periodically drawing the ire of passersby, who would decide to attack him and promptly die.

Even though the Old Corsair is extremely disruptive and hard to stop, I think this is one of the most fun events I’ve built so far. Trying to stop him with a wall of bodies feels a bit like the “Defend the Temple” co-op scenario in StarCraft 64, at least to me. That kind of challenge to stop a seemingly unstoppable adversary is something I really enjoy.

Posted in Game Design, NPCs

Creature Trapping

In Outer Colony, wild animals can be captured in traps. A captured animal remains alive, but can then be safely transported for various uses within the confines of its trap.

A video demonstration that shows the basics of creature trapping.

Summary

  • Creature traps are special items that are used to lure and capture wild animals.
    • Most trap components, like their walls, can be made from any solid material. However, the strength of the materials used is extremely important.
    • If you make a trap from a material with insufficient hardness, a strong creature may break out of it, destroying the trap. This is demonstrated in the video above. Note that the trap made from solid nickel can hold a short snouted woodgrunt, while the trap made from wood cannot. This illustrates the importance of material selection in manufacturing.
  • Once a creature has been caught in a trap, its appearance will change. At this point, the trap can be retrieved and transported with the captured animal inside.
  • You can open full traps at any time, releasing the creature inside.
    • This is useful in a variety of circumstances. In the video above, I deposit a full trap in a fenced area I built to contain the creature. Since creatures can’t open doors, building and maintaining pens for them is easy.
    • Once the creatures are deposited in pens, they live normal lives. So long as food is available and they’re kept in the right temperature range, they’ll remain alive.
    • If you can capture a male and female of the same species, they can breed. This can be exploited to build and manage a supply of livestock, providing your colony with meat.
    • Be careful! Just because you’ve captured a creature does not mean it’s domesticated. If you manage to catch a frostbull and simply release it in close proximity to people, it will kill them.

Trap Construction

trap_construction

Building a trap from nickel, a high hardness metal.

Creature traps can be manufactured like any other item in Outer Colony. When manufacturing, though, pay close attention to the materials from which you’re building the components. The trap is only as strong as its weakest point, and using insufficiently hard materials will make for a useless trap. If you’re using the trap in a biome inhabited by particularly strong creatures, build its structure from sturdy metals. A frostbull or ice drake will not be contained by a flimsy, wooden trap.

Trap Deployment

Trap deployment works like setting up any other sort of item. Simply use the item placement tool and pick a desirable location for the trap. When you want to capture something in your trap, deploy it to an environment that contains the target species. In the demonstration video, I was aiming to catch a woodgrunt or firncow. Both of these are large species with desirable, savory meat, and they live in cold biomes. I set up the traps near taiga that’s rising into tundra on the adjacent mountainside, and I managed to catch a woodgrunt in short order.

Trap Retrieval

To retrieve a trap that’s full, issue an item retrieval order using the tile demolition tool, just like you would for any other item. A worker will then retrieve the full trap and deposit it in a stockpile that can hold items of the traps category. Once the full trap has been deposited in a stockpile, you can redeploy it wherever you’d like using the method described in the trap deployment section.

Releasing Trapped Creatures

Once you’ve redeployed the trap to a desirable location, you can use the Open Traps tool to release the creature contained inside. First, select the combat icon, shown below, from the toolbar to open the combat tools.

combat_icon

Next, select the open traps tool, shown below, and click on the trap you’d like to open.

open_traps_tool

The creature it contains will be released immediately, so if it is dangerous and untamed, make sure you don’t have any colonists nearby. Note that wild creatures will do whatever they feel like as soon as they’re released. Generally, this means looking for food, looking for a mate, or loafing about. If they’re in a penned in area from which they can’t escape, make sure that food is available. Ideally, the area should provide the sort of food they eat naturally. For example, if you’re dealing with a grazing species, try to put them in an area with plenty of grass.

captured_woodgrunt

My captured woodgrunt, enjoying its new home.

In the demonstration video, my colony is located in badlands, where very little grass grows. I’ve captured a short snouted woodgrunt, which is a grazing species, so I’ve got to come up with another way to provide it with food. If you place a stockpile in the animal’s pen and keep it stocked with human food, it will eat that to stay alive. Providing your livestock with human food is a fine alternative to its natural diet, in most cases.

Posted in Game Design

Military Unit Configuration

Military forces in Outer Colony are organized by units. Units are ultimately comprised of individuals, but the unit to which an individual belongs defines much of his combat behavior. This tutorial explains the basics of military units and how to set them up.

unit_configuration_dialog

Fire team configuration in the military unit configuration interface.

Summary

  • To form a military that can defend your colony, you must start by creating military units.
  • For a person to be part of your military, you must assign them to a role within a unit.
  • Once a person has been assigned to a unit, they’ll perform their assigned function with respect to military orders, so long as they’ve been sufficiently trained and know how to do so.
  • Only personnel assigned to units will engage in military training.
  • The fire team is the smallest and most basic military unit. It’s also the most important with respect to infantry tactics in Outer Colony. Its function and how to set one up are described below.

Using the Interface to Create and Staff a Fire Team

The video above gives brief demonstration of how to use the military unit manager. It’s opened from the colony configuration menu. Once in the interface, its use should be fairly straightforward. To configure different types of units, make the appropriate selection from the Unit Type drop down box at the top left of the screen. Right now, only fire teams are configurable (see the note at the bottom of this article for details).

To create a new fire team, click the “New Fire Team” button. Then, select the fire team you’d like to manipulate from the list of fire teams at the left of the interface. Now, you can select colonists to serve in each of the fire team’s four roles, which are discussed below. A set of filters is also applied to help you assign the right people to the right roles. These decisions will depend largely on your colony’s local culture and what sort of society you’re trying to build.

For example, if you uncheck “Adults Only”, children will be made visible in the personnel configuration lists. Children can pick up firearms and use them. They’re big enough to, and it would take some sort of artificial mechanic or rule in the simulation system to fully prevent this. But do you really want child soldiers to be a part of how you run your colony? They’re smaller, weaker, and generally less capable than adults, and you run the risk of exposing them to awful experiences at a very early age. Unless you’re a monster or are absolutely desperate, I’d advise avoiding this.

Fire Teams and Fire Team Roles

A fire team is a four person unit that’s capable of executing fire and movement maneuvers. Remember that combat in Outer Colony lacks traditional game mechanics, like health bars and special moves, and instead works from the universe’s simplistic physics and material model. This means that, like in the real world, a single bullet to the abdomen will likely kill a person. As such, NPCs can’t behave like they do in RTS games. Simply walking toward each other and shooting would work as well as it would in real life.

Adequately trained fire teams achieve a much higher degree of effectiveness by employing basic tactics of fire and movement. When engaging an entrenched enemy, the team’s automatic rifleman and leader will take up a position where they’ll fire rounds near the enemy. This suppressing fire will decrease the enemy’s capacity to respond (no one wants to get shot, and bullets whizzing nearby forces an enemy to inactivity) and decreases their environmental awareness. The fire team’s grenadier and rifleman will move to a flanking position, attacking the enemy position from its side. This exploits humans’ decreased peripheral vision and lowered environmental awareness from their suppressed state, making it easier for the flankers to surprise and kill the defenders.

Staggering multiple defensive fire positions and setting them up to support one another can make flanking more difficult, but these basics comprise the low-level tactics of infantry combat in Outer Colony.

As a general rule, you’ll want to assign your strongest, fastest, toughest people to these infantry roles. Personality traits like aggression and emotional stability help your NPCs overcome fear and function in the face of possible death, and existing combat experience helps your personnel handle battle situations more coolly. All this information can be seen by viewing human metrics, and this should help you make your decisions. Try to keep these factors in mind when assigning colonists to military roles.

A more detailed description and demonstration of fire and movement maneuvers can be found in the human combat overview tutorial. Instructions on how to command military units can be found in other tutorials, too.

Note to Attendees of Too Many Games

People who met with us at Too Many Games might remember a slightly different military unit configuration interface that contained groupings above the fire team level. Squads and platoons have been temporarily removed due to some bugs with inter-unit communication and interaction. It’s my goal to add at least squads, platoons, and platoon-level assets back into Outer Colony, but I need more time to get these formations to work properly.

Posted in Combat

Military Training Regimens

Training regimens can be mandated for your military personnel in order to increase their combat abilities. Personnel can learn a variety of skills from military training, and these skills can mean the difference between life and death on the battlefield.

soldier_learning

A soldier learning from an educational assignment during training. This is how new soldiers learn fire and movement actions.

Summary

  • You can define all aspects of training policy via the military training dialog.
  • Military training must occur in a properly configured training area. Setting one of these up is covered below.
  • Military training policy only affects personnel assigned to military units.
  • An important part of your training policy is defining how many hours soldiers train per work shift.
    • The more hours they train, the more proficiency they’ll develop.
    • The more hours they train, the fewer hours they’ll spend on other useful activities.
  • Part of military training involves teaching new soldiers the fundamentals of fire and movement.
    • Personnel who haven’t learned these techniques won’t execute fire and movement maneuvers within their fire teams.
    • The best they can do is charge an enemy position, which is generally ineffective.
    • You can assign cadre to teach these skills. It’s best if the cadre that you’ve assigned are already combat veterans, as they will build the most effective learning assignments.
  • Part of military training involves building weapon proficiency.
    • If you set up marksmanship targets in a military training area, personnel will treat the area as a firing range.
    • They’ll acquire weapons and ammunition, and they’ll fire rounds at the targets to build their skill.
    • Be careful! This will consume a lot of ammo. If you’re low on ammunition and can’t spare it, adjust your training hours accordingly.
  • If you expose recruits to a few hours of training, which can be accomplished easily over the course of a couple work shifts, they should develop the skills needed to function as soldiers.

Military Training Areas

training_area

The southwest of this screenshot shows a fully configured training area. Note the marksmanship targets for firearm training.

A military training area is a prerequisite for any sort of military training. Without one of these, your personnel will ignore your training policy. To create a military training area, you can specify its locations the same way you would for any other area designation. I recommend that you create the area on flattened terrain, as it makes for a better marksmanship range. To make the area usable for weapons training, deploy marksmanship targets within the area’s boundaries. You can set up the marksmanship targets just like you would place any other item.

Once the area is defined and the targets are set up, it’s ready for use! It’s worth noting that trainees can study military learning assignments in an area even without marksmanship targets. The targets are only needed for weapon training.

Military Training Interface

openingmilitarytraining

Select this option to open the military training interface.

The military training interface is used to define your training policy. It’s opened via the colony configuration menu, as shown above. Configuring policy via the interface is simple and fairly self explanatory.

militarytrainingdialog

Assigning cadre and scheduling in the military training interface.

To set the number of hours your personnel will train per work shift, enter a whole number into the text field. Four hours per shift is the default value, and this is pretty good for getting troops into shape within a day or two. You can extend or shorten training per shift by adjusting this value. Remember, though, that if you have too many people spending too much time in military training, your non-combat orders are not going to get done as quickly. Every soldier incurs an opportunity cost as they forego whatever productive, civilian activity they might be doing.

Assigning cadre is also straightforward. You can multi-select in the list to specify many trainers by holding down ctrl + clicking names. Cadre can only be drawn from personnel who are assigned to military units. Make sure your trainers share work shift time with new recruits in need of training in order to reap the full benefits of this system.

Military Learning Assignments

It’s very important that all military personnel receive some basic indoctrination. Simply assigning someone to a fire team won’t make them any more capable a soldier than they were before. So long as you’ve assigned cadre, as described above, one of the first training activities for a newly appointed soldier will be learn the fire and movement actions. This sort of learning assignment works exactly like the ones given to children to increase their skills. When the new recruit finishes learning the assignment, you’ll see an event like the one pictured below:

basic_training

This NPC has learned how to flank enemy positions and how to suppress an entrenched enemy.

Weapons Training

A video showing weapon training during a sandstorm.

Weapons training is also fairly simple. A soldier will equip a weapon for training, grab a bunch of ammo, and head to the firing range. Weapon training itself consists of firing rounds at a target. As the soldier fires rounds, his proficiency with the weapon will increase. This will make him more accurate in the field, which will increase his ability as a marksman.

Posted in NPCs