HotM:Skipping Turns

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In Civilization and similar, using the spacebar while all your units are sleeping/standby will just go straight to the next turn. Why is Heart of the Machine different?

How Heart of the Machine Does It

Before answering the why, let's answer what it actually does.

  • You can use the spacebar key to cycle through all units that are not in Standby mode.
    • If you have no units that can act, and you have 1 or fewer mental energy left, then it will go to the next turn.
  • If all of your units are busy or in Standby, then it will instead cycle your Standby units if you still have 1+ mental energy.
    • The assumption here is that you might want to wake one of them up to respond to a threat.
  • If all of your units are busy with actions-over-time, then it will cycle through those units doing action-over-time if you still have 1+ mental energy.
    • The assumption here is that you might want to stop one of them from doing an action-over-time, again to respond to a threat.

Things mental energy can be used for

When all of your non-standby units are out of AP, you can still use mental energy for:

  • Constructing buildings (no equivalent in Civ)
  • Recharging an AP into a unit, so long as you have at least two mental energy (no equivalent in Civ)

The purpose of Standby

  • Making units be out of your normal focused rotation, when you have an "away team" actually focusing on something on the map.
    • In other words, in general preventing excessive need to cycle through units when you have a smaller group of units you want to focus on.
  • Standby is NOT meant for when you have many units who are active, and you just want to get to the next turn.
    • Having to manually say "hey you're done for this turn" to all of your active units would be really kind of a pain in general, especially if your active/away team is large.

Other key controls

  • If you want to cycle through all of your units regardless of status, then use the P key.
  • If you want to go straight to the next turn, regardless of remaining mental energy or unit status, then use the zero key.

Why Is This Different From Civ?

The short answer is so that the spacebar never betrays you. And in turn, in general, so that your own muscle memory never betrays you.

The longer answer

Civ has a state of war that is very very clear. If a state of war is declared, then all of your units auto-awake that are nearby.

In HotM, if we did that, your units would be auto-awakening for a lot of reasons that would be very annoying, because this game does not have borders or a clear state of war. Or your units would NOT auto-awaken, and you would try to switch over to the unit, but because all of your units are asleep, you wind up ending-turn instead, and get shot.

The second version is how it used to work, and testers were getting shot. So, after a really long discussion with dozens of people trying to figure out what would work best in terms of expectations and safety, this was the consensus. Seriously, we had testers taking bullet-pointed notes, and everyone was working on like pros-and-cons lists of all of the many different alternatives.

The current system is the only one where there was not some major or minor downside in terms of gameplay. We had a lot of testers who wound up manually clicking their units, because the game had accidentally trained them to be afraid of using the spacebar in case it ended the turn too early, which is obviously the opposite of what you want. So one of the overriding concerns became "spacebar needs to feel safe to use, no matter what."

The big concern was if muscle memory would ever betray a player, where they were trying to select something, but then accidentally ended the turn. Civ doesn't do this simply because it auto-awakens units. But Civ has much more orderly and infrequent combat. When you're in combat in Civ, it's going to be happening, possibly relentlessly for a long time. But then when you're not in combat, there's a clear start to when you are going to be. Heart of the Machine just blends in bits of combat here and there, with no clear start or stop, but not so relentless about it, so it's a completely different flow from Civ.