For those who don’t know, Offworld Trading Company came to Early Access on Steam back in February 2015. Immediately developers and community started working together to make the game the best it could be. Part of this process was making sure the community always had a good idea of what was coming next to OTC. Ever since release almost 6 months ago, finding information about what’s on the horizon has become more difficult for our players. The primary goal of this diary will be to make sure players know what we have to tell them about what’s coming next to Offworld.
For today though, we’re going to start taking a look back at how we got where we are today. There are plenty of features that are now core to OTC that have either changed significantly since the Early Access launch, or simply didn’t exist at the time.
Likely the most impactful change to Offworld since its EA launch was to how stock itself was handled. This won’t be a comprehensive overview of how stock has evolved, but we’ll hit a few of the key moments in the process.
Players today will be quite familiar with how stock works, as you can’t finish a game without acquiring all your opponents shares. But for a basic recap, someone is purchased if all other players together acquire a majority of their stock, but the defending player may purchase their own stock, and if they have five the player can no longer be acquired by a majority. They must be completely purchased (and each stock owned at a doubled price). If the player is purchased with either of these methods, they become a “subsidiary” (an AI takes over for them and starts feeding money to the company’s owners based on number of stocks owned.
That doesn’t even cover everything that’s going on, and it’s already pretty complicated.
Things used to be a lot simpler. In fact, at the start of early access stock was very straightforward. Open stock on any player could be bought at market value. If no open stock was available on any given player, that player’s shares could be purchased in one block at double the cost, refunding anyone who owned stock in that player that stock’s value. This granted direct control of the HQ to the purchasing player, normally doubling a player’s potential the moment the first purchase was made.
As might be expected, this led to a combination of issues involving snowballing if someone got an easy purchase (or just got lucky in picking up that one last share), and standoffs in the late game where no one would buy anyone else out, knowing that granting their opponents a large pile of cash for their shares wasn’t worth the extra production.
So stock changed. There were a few iterations on stock through EA, with likely the biggest shifts being the arrival of the Destroy Buyout and Majority Buyout options.
Destroy Buyout changed the rules so that a purchased player was effectively deleted from the map and their purchaser was awarded additional claims, as well as priority on any tiles owned by the player they acquired.
Majority Buyout is likely pretty obvious, with this mode enabled only six shares were needed to knock someone out, rather than the ten required up to this point.
Together these were very drastic changes to how a game of OTC was won, but it turned out that both the middle and late stages of the game were improved by changing the formula. Suddenly in the mid game there was a severe risk of losing if you didn’t play with a bit of caution, and toward the end players wouldn’t snowball ahead of the competition with a purchase. It turns out it’s also a lot easier to simply expand your own empire by a few tiles rather than trying to manage multiple headquarters at once as you make acquisitions in the late game.
Together, Majority and Destroy Buyout evolved into the stock system as it exists today, a bit complicated, but certainly much improved from where we were a year and a half ago.