With its sights set on alpha in 2024, Clockwork Labs’ sandbox BitCraft is continuing to peel back its layers for potential players in another dev blog this week, this one about “longevity, permanence, and the economy” of the game. You know, a little light reading. And you might think these topics have nothing to do with each other, but in fact, in a proper simulation, they’re all tied together.
The devs begin by reiterating the game’s skill progression, noting that getting to the level 100 soft-cap for a given skill is meant to take hundreds of hours and truly mean something in the game. “In contrast to some games, where the max level is the ‘start’ of the end game loop, in BitCraft reaching the level cap is a ceremonious capping off of the unlock progression of a skill, before entering a purely status symbol post-soft-cap progression,” they write.
Clockwork also discusses how it hopes to make new content and seasonal events contribute meaningfully to character growth without invalidating the content and experiences that came before it – something testers haven’t quite seen yet given the nature of testing wipes.
Finally, the studio nods to economic development by mentioning “sponges” – that is, sinks that slowly absorb gold going out of the economy rather than drain it instantly.
“While balancing taps and sinks is key for keeping a game economy balanced in an instant, understanding which sinks are actually sponges and how long it will take to saturate them is key for long term viability of both minimizing inflation and keeping room for long term player motivation. […] In order to design BitCraft as a true sandbox game that won’t exhaust its content we take care to consider which aspects of the game are true sinks and which are sponges. This concept can extend even beyond the game’s economy to the balancing of how a player can spend time playing. For example in most MMORPGs, leveling up your character or gaining more powerful equipment is a sponge for your time in the game. Eventually you can reach maximum level or gain the ‘best in slot’ equipment and this sponge will be completely saturated, with the player losing motivation to play. This is why you’ll often find games design these sponges to saturate with diminishing returns to try to make sure they never fully saturate or wring out the sponges periodically with a soft reset (level cap increase, item power creep, etc).”