Custom trucks are central to Truck the System. Giving players the opportunity to create their own trucks to get through races and obstacle courses in their own unique way is the most important design goal of the game. The focus is specifically on creating a builder which is quick and easy to use, since players will be able to modify their trucks mid-race without losing precious lap time or falling behind in multiplayer.
In this feature breakdown, I'll present the design decisions that support my goal of creating a vehicle builder in which players can make a truck in under a minute.
Customisation in games is often limiting, and players are typically restrained to selecting one of each part from a list, e.g. an engine, a wheel type, a hull type. Weapons are often limited to certain hard-points, which makes it easier to balance a game.
In Truck the System, however, I wanted to give players the ability to use their full creativity. That's why the vehicle builder allows players to place parts at any point directly onto the geometry of other parts. This unlocks a huge set of potential truck designs, with any number of wheels, weapons, and creative decoration.
In order to address the issues around balancing the game it uses a value-based system, in which every part has a (fake) monetary value. The total value of parts used in the truck can then be limited either by server settings or map makers to ensure balance in multiplayer. Weight also plays a part in this, with each part having its own weight which contributes to the handling of the truck.
Truck Size Guide
Another potential issue with allowing players to use their full creativity is that it means that map makers have no assurances on the sizes of trucks that players might use on their maps. This makes it difficult to add loops, tunnels, and jumps. To get around this issue, the game gives map makers an opportunity to communicate the size requirements for their map through the truck size guide.
This appears in the vehicle builder as a red hologram when the player exceeds the limit. A player can still attempt a level with an over-sized truck, but they are warned that they may not be able to complete it. In the worst case, a player can simply edit their truck mid-race if they encounter an obstacle they can't get through.
Modifying the colour of the truck is personally my favourite part, since there is a lot of variation in the look of the final truck just by changing colours. Truck the System supports full RGB definition of colours on parts, with colours for the main paint, trim, and windows. Players will also be able to choose paint styles, such as matte, gloss, and metallic.
Each part will be individually colourable, but a paint job can also be applied to the truck as a whole. This is great for pulling together the truck and making it look like a cohesive vehicle, and can be used for informally identifying players in multiplayer.
Quality of Life Features
There are a number of features intended to ease the construction of trucks (construcktion?), which are vital to the goal of being able to build a truck in under a minute. One of these is symmetry, which allows for parts to be placed on both sides of the truck at once. This is especially useful for wheels. Another feature is positional snapping, which aligns parts to a grid. This massively reduces the time taken to place a part in a specific position such as the exact centre line of the truck, especially for perfectionist players. Rotation snapping is also available for the same reason.
Further to this, each part has a number of snap-points which other parts can snap onto. This is optional, but speeds up common processes for some parts, such as adding wheels to the axles of a structural part. Finally, part duplication will make it easier to create repeated parts, such as axles with wheels attached, or composite weapons systems.
Thanks for reading! More feature breakdowns are on the way, so stay tuned if you're interested in the game design process. There will also be more dev log-style content released more regularly, so do give the game a watch if you're interested.