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Science in gameplay

Updated: Jan 20, 2020

Initial simplicity and generalization

We restricted the first game version to a 12H midnight visibility range, which simplified the gameplay and focused only on the basic principles of observing. Nevertheless, with our new aesthetically enhanced, content spiced and more strategically engaged version, under its present name, we want to push the bar further for even the scientific background simulation in the gameplay. Since we have exceptions to midnight observations, like solar eclipses and planet transits, it might be confusing why evening and morning observations might not be included. For this reason I sat on the drawing board and tried to figure out a more elegant way to represent the heaven mechanics while keeping the gameplay flow.

Midnight invisible range (red) and 'from dusk until dawn' invisible range (yellow) on the star map (Armillary Games)

My first reason to enhance the projections in the game, is because of the orrery. It restricted visibility to half the board to consequently follow the star map. This made matters a bit weird when comparing the visibilities of the Mercury and Venus cards, planets closer to the Sun than Earth, which would never be visible at midnight. Venus is specifically nicknamed 'Evening and Morning Star' for this reason. And since the initial hidden agendas and quests were hard enough, tweaking the visibility rang closer to reality could only be beneficial.

Although, we should remember that scaling of great areas always results in greater error margins for real simulations. A good example is the surface area on the world map to indicate borders of visibility. We all know that real regions on a boarder line in the game is not going to make the difference between seeing Crux or Ursa Major, but the limits of the entire area should be compared to the extreme border ends. The same goes for the entire month period.

It was possible though to squeeze the real unobservable area to a 6H range instead of the 12H. The day lengths were already dictated by position. I am still wondering whether it would be good to keep the previous simplified projection for easy gameplay (without hidden agendas and quests), or use the new advanced projection all together. Maybe I should make a poll on that for our potential backers.

Real observation areas