As you progress through Galacticare’s riveting campaign you’ll raise a crew of unique, hero-like doctors - these are your consultants. Once a consultant has joined you they’re in for the long haul, and you’re able to bring them into any of your hospitals - even previously completed campaign levels.
What’s a consultant?
Consultants are one of the most meaningful evolutions we’re bringing to the hospital management genre, and they touch upon all of our key goals for Galacticare: interesting gameplay choices and moment-to-moment decision making, abundant characterfulness, and a rich layer of connective tissue between the individual levels.
Each consultant has their own special mechanic or minigame which all of their abilities revolve around, themed around the personality and background of that character. For example, Twiggy Pop has a large buffing aura which improves the effectiveness of all nearby doctors; you can choose to place her in an already-built area to boost its general effectiveness in a time of need, or you could specifically design an area of your hospital around maximising the benefit from her aura.
Ultra, our Tenki consultant, has a range of abilities which all focus around one thing: speed. Along with performing treatments incredibly quickly herself, she distributes little drones known as Warp Buddies to her patients, which instantly teleports them to their next treatment room and significantly increases the speed of their treatment in that room. And, as you may expect, Ultra can also teleport herself around the hospital.
This encourages you to place Ultra early on in a treatment pipeline in order to maximise the benefit of her chrono gadgets. By making use of the condition priority system (which allows you to assign individual rooms to only deal with specific conditions) you can then ensure that Ultra is specifically treating and speeding up all patients suffering from a particularly problematic ailment.
Consultants are able to rank up all the way to level 10 (unlike normal staff which max out at level 5), retain their rank between levels, and each have a skill tree full of perks and enhancements revolving around their special mechanic.
In order to aid with this lengthy levelling process, you’re able to help your consultants gain bounties of experience points by completing their personal goals. For example, Ultra could be assigned the goal to treat 20 patients in Projectile Medicine - so you choose to assign her to that room in order to eventually hit that goal and speed up her levelling process. Every time you fulfil a personal goal, a new one will appear.
The game will feature 6 consultants in total - one for each non-human species. In most levels you’ll have access to three consultant slots, and you’ll be able to mix, match and swap out any of your unlocked consultants at any point - for a nominal fee, of course!
Consultants present you with tons of options, and you can choose to engage with them on many different levels. Our ethos for this system - as with many systems in the game - is to provide multiple levels of opt-in depth and optimization which you can choose to engage in if you’re after a more hardcore management experience.
Players keen on optimising (or even speedrunning) may find themselves juggling consultants several times throughout a particularly tricky level in order to make the most of their different abilities… or you can just take Ultra with you everywhere because you think a terminator monkey is too cool to pass up.
Where did they come from?
Throughout Galacticare’s lengthy development we’ve been through numerous iterations of how we wanted to handle staff progression. We knew from the outset that this was one area we wanted to push the boundaries of the genre, but it took a few rounds of development to get it quite right.
Initially we wanted to make every doctor a procedurally generated, unique individual. While this was a fine goal, there was one key problem.
There was simply too much going on with each doctor, to an overwhelming degree, and the end result was none of them feeling special or unique. We liked all of the individual components we’d built, we just needed to narrow the focus to a smaller group of doctors - and thus, consultants were born.
In the original iteration of the consultant system, they were simply an evolution of normal doctors. You were able to simply choose any doctor and promote them into a consultant. They’d then gain increased caps on all of their stats as well as equipment slots which you could use to give them unique abilities.
This version came with a host of new problems. First of all, because consultants evolved from regular doctors, they were constrained by everything that a doctor could do. We had a constant tug-of-war between making doctors more complicated (to support them potentially becoming complex consultants), and making consultants simpler (in order to not over-complexify regular doctors). There was no happy medium to be found.
The other issue was a lack of incentive for you to maintain and swap between a whole roster of consultants, because their special abilities were mostly driven by player choice (and not locked to an individual consultant) through their equipment. You’d just swap equipment in and out of your best consultants as the situation demanded it, and never bother growing your roster.
And, lastly, they had very little room to play with when it came to narrative, voice work, and art - things we enjoy greatly at Brightrock.
We then arrived at the next (and final) iteration of consultants…
Instead of buffed up versions of our regular randomly generated doctors, consultants evolved into hand-crafted characters.
This solved all of our previous problems. We suddenly had room to give each consultant their own mechanic which their abilities could revolve around, so they all had their own different place in the game. We were able to dial up their characterization to 11 with bespoke art, abilities, narrative and voicework; we were finally able to clean up and distil the progression systems for normal doctors as they were no longer tied up in the consultant system.
All of this freedom allowed us to combine the art, gameplay and narrative for these characters together into one cohesive package. Looking again at Twiggy Pop (who you meet at the Burning Moon festival in level 2 of the campaign), every aspect of her character is tied together in a way that simply wouldn’t have been possible with randomly generated consultants - something we are personally very pleased with.
Last but not least… this also meant we were able to create a variety of unlockable skins for each consultant. We’re not ready to show off most of these yet, but a quick example is the ability to swap Twiggy Pop back into her original outfit that she’s wearing before joining up with Galacticare.
You’ll be able to unlock these skins through level completion, the influence system, and from in-game merchants. We couldn’t resist extending the skins system to Medibots too…
In wider news, Brightrock and CULT have revitalised the volunteer QA team. We have begun regular workshops wherein the developers and volunteers playtest Galacticare together, along with plans to upsize the volunteer QA team too. If you’re interested in joining, keep your eyes peeled on the Brightrock Discord for information to come in the near future.
That’s all from us for today. We hope you enjoyed our deep dive on the consultants and their unique abilities, and also how their introduction to the gameplay both solved balancing staff progression and sparked more creative expression through narrative, voice work, and art. We will be publishing a new blog post once a month, and more content weekly across our TikTok, Twitter, and Discord. Hope to see you in the next one!
Until next time Director,
Brightrock & CULT
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