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2014-05-08 The End of the World

A game idea about the First World War. We start with a simple variant without diplomacy. Every country produces a number of soldiers, and a number of guns. Every year you give orders, sending troops here or there. When armies meet, the weaker one falls back automatically until it reaches mountains, woods or a river. There it digs in, increasing its defense significantly.

Instead of moving, armies can dig in, further increasing their defensive advantage.

Losses are computed every year depending on the ratio of attacking and defensive power. Additionally, in winter, losses happen everywhere. Winter losses are grave for any army in foreign territory or any army that has recently moved.

I envision the game being about the decision to send millions to their grave. At the beginning there will e nice and colorful pictures of cavalry and breastplates and sabers. At end, there will be pictures of corpses and trenches and victims of poison gas.

The game will also be about making it hard to quit and about the hope of finding a breakthrough. As defense is always better than offense in these times, it will be an atrocious grind.

Once the basic game play stands, I would like to add details such as “taking Istanbul” (and the Dardanelles and Gallipoli) and theaters outside of Europe and add fleet combat.

More importantly I would like to write a “story generator” that takes these events and archive material and generates news reports and letters home and a rotation of generals and politicians to make it more immersive. There will be joy in reading about Armageddon.

Ideally every year will consist of one or two turns by the player and the game will end after six to ten turns. An ever increasing weariness of war will result in countries giving up and signing a separate peace.

The question will be—and I’d like the story generator to support this: what if? And then you try again and again. Go for Africa, first. Next time, use the fleet. Next time, push the Western Front.

Perhaps long term it will be possible to add technology like early tanks and bombers and we can release more and more upgrades to push the question. Would you have won the war if you had fire bombs? What about poison gas?

It’s terrible, I agree. I wonder whether there’s a little market for the morbid obsession about war. I think tapping into the alternate history via the story generator is important to differentiate the game from a strategy game.

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