Roadmap to Eco 1.0

Posted on March 3rd, 2024 12:41 PM EST
Good day Eco Citizens!

With our biggest update ever - ‘Eco 10’ - out the door, it’s time to set our eyes on the next big milestone: Eco V1, exiting Early Access!

Early Access has been an amazing way to develop this experimental new genre of a living government/economy/ecosystem mashed together and run by real people, we’ve got so much great feedback from the community, as well as funding to let us build out the extent of our vision. Now, with the bulk of features added (minus a couple big ones coming this year), we plan to spend the year building and then Early Access at the end of the year/beginning of next year.

To achieve this, we have a ton of work to do over the course of the year, and we have set a roadmap based heavily on player feedback. Our goal with V1 is to produce a highly polished, performant, accessible, and long-lasting gameplay experience. This means that we are putting the focus on improving and polishing existing systems rather than introducing new ones. We’ve based this decision on player surveys and stats from reviews, and the results were a clear mandate: make what we have more polished, and smooth it all out.

From that we’ve compiled a roadmap of what we hope to achieve, which can be divided into several main categories:

Bugs and Performance
Top focus is fixing anything and everything that annoys the player and delivering a highly performant build at v1. We’re focusing on user feedback from reviews and surveys and user-study sessions to set our priorities here.

  • More Professions. We intend to flesh out professions with lots more options to choose from and paths to take within those skills, to create a greater spread of possible careers, thus creating more ‘niches’ for players to specialize in and become valuable members of their community. We will scale this with collaboration settings so that small servers can still cover everything needed.

  • Infinite star spend. Right now, there comes a point when you’ve spent all the stars you can, and thus the need for high-tier food and homes dries up. By V1, we will have added many more ways to spend stars, such that there will always be a need for stars no matter how developed your society is, and thus there will always be demand for these core professions. Part of this will be the ability to spend stars on talents (the upgrade choices you get as you level up), with branching paths that you have to choose creating further niches driving more collaboration, as well as spending stars on objects to upgrade them.
  • Maintenance. Everything will wear down and, if not maintained, break over time. This creates a constant need on professions to supply parts and perform repairs on these objects, preventing professions from going obsolete when all the needed objects are produced.
  • More upgrades. One of the best ways to prevent that feeling of grind is to have continuous upgrades in your ability to do things. That means you will only be digging with a shovel/swinging a pickaxe for a short time before you get upgraded tools and vehicles that make this action obsolete and allow collecting much more resources with much less effort. We will be analyzing every profession to ensure that upgrades in abilities become available frequently, which we believe will greatly reduce any feeling of grind. One example we intend to produce is explosives for mining, allowing much greater bulk collection of ore.

Ecosystem Impact
For V1, we want to make interacting with the ecosystem much deeper and more impactful:

  • Garbage. All crafting will create garbage, which must be dealt with by putting into trash containers, which can then be picked up by a trash service run by your settlement, funded perhaps from tax dollars. If garbage is left out, or left in a trash can too long, it will begin to pollute the environment. This creates a mechanic that will both impact ecosystem and economy (trash collection and funding for it).

  • Oil Spills. Connected to the maintenance task above, we will add the possibility of pipes to burst when not maintained, and for vehicle transport of oil or other pollutants to spill when driving on unmaintained roads or with an unmaintained vehicle. This creates a scalable difficulty for major disasters, as oil spills which will have a disastrous impact on the environment and require a lot of work to clean up. We’ll also make tainted water affect any housing systems that rely on it.
  • Challenges Beyond the Meteor. We plan to add more end-game disasters and challenges beyond the meteor, challenges that will arise and face society over time. We’ll be deciding on what to target and designing it out with citizen input over the year.

Accessibility and Learning Curve
This is about making the game easy to jump into, flattening the learning curve so you can interact in rich and interesting ways without having to understand a lot of complex mechanics. It's also about making the game have deeper ‘emotions’: representing the beauty of the natural and man-made worlds, taking care of animals, and general coziness that makes it very comfortable to spend time in. Additions include:

  • Animal Husbandry. This will be our marquee launch feature, which will include raising animals for meat, milk, eggs, and wool, as well as pets, which will give a home bonus. All animals in general will get an upgrade as well, making their pathfinding and behaviors highly polished.

  • New User Experience polish. Making the initial flow for new users through the tutorial and connecting to a community seamless and fun. We’re doing user studies on new players to see the sticking points and address them.
  • Outdoor Housing Decoration. Adding a new scoring category for outdoor land, so that you can decorate your space beautifully and get rewarded for it, making for quaint and pretty villages.

  • Off-grid placement. Some items will be able to be placed on surfaces off-grid, i.e. setting objects on tables and shelves, to decorate your space in greater detail. It will also allow hosting dinner parties with placed food, which can have a cultural reward.

  • Canny-voted items. We’ve integrated a system called Canny that allows citizens to propose and vote on what they believe are the important issues for them here[]. We’ll be tracking this and fixing top-voted items continuously, especially ones that are low effort + high impact. Feel free to hop in and make suggestions and vote on existing ones.
  • Expanded culture system. With Eco 10 we introduced the culture system, which allows you to earn points for creative works. We plan to expand into other systems and deepen its impact on the game, as it serves for a great evergreen goal.

It’s worth noting that once we do exit Early Access, things will not slow down, in fact they will likely speed up, as we have lots more plans we want to do after that. (Trains for example will be a big one post v1, which was neck and neck with Animal Husbandry as the marquee feature, but we decided it’s better to stay focused on just one of the two and so will make Trains in an early update post v1).

So stay tuned, tons more to come and it’s going to be an exciting year!
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