Comments on 2020-09-12 Play by click

OK, third iteration. Looking at a random map, I remember that all the villages are placed in forest hexes because I felt that this is where villages here in Switzerland were typically built: the giant forests of central Europe. You need water to run the mills, but you need to avoid the flooding of the big rivers in spring, and you need to avoid the swamps and the Malaria they brought. I remember the Swiss valleys being locked in: they had cheese and desperately poor men that were willing to fight in other people’s wars, and they needed salt… Perhaps lumber only shows up in countries where you need to build a fleet, that is in a time of intercontinental trade (and war), which would be boring.

The longer I’m thinking about this, the more it all breaks down. Most villages didn’t need all that long distance trade, I’m sure. So... where does the need to cooperate come from? Or make it all fantastic? I’d like to keep it non-fantastic for as long as possible, though.

So... how about players getting to say where they focus their surplus production, and they all have the same options. Let’s start small.

Later, we can add more resources to locations at random. Perhaps people “learn” about a local secret: copper, tin, iron, coal, dyes, tulips. Or perhaps “switching” your resource focus actually means moving your village: up into the valley if you want to focus on dairy but your grain production is going to be bad; to the lake if you want to focus on fish but your stone production is going to be bad; or to a particular mine. The point is that the game isn’t about map exploration but about building resilient networks of resource sharing.

By default, about twenty people can live in an area as hunter-gatherers.

With each food connection, you can add another twenty people:

Non-food connections offer other benefits:

I need to experiment with the numbers. Perhaps each village can offer two outgoing connections at most? We’d get this long term situation:

But with random events, things get more interesting: when the marauders come, all the mills are burnt down and all the grain is stolen and all three villages are reduced to 20 hunter-gatherers again.

So now village 1 decides they need a palisade. That means no mill, and thus it only has 40 people. The trio of villages is now better prepared to resist marauders. Perhaps we can start modelling how people from the “safe” village marry into the surrounding clans after the pillaging to replenish those other clans?

I still think that with just two outgoing economic ties, we’re often going to end up in trios? So perhaps we need to have a model that says what people are doing. If we have 20 people they just feed themselves. If we have 40 people, we can have one outgoing connection. If we have 60 people, we can have two outgoing connections, and so on? Perhaps more than four outgoing connections needs some sort of infrastructure investment, again: building bridges requiring lumber or stone connections.

I’m going to try and not model “be rich” but I guess we could: seven lumber connections allows you to maintain a ship which gives you a luxury level; five fibre connections allows your clan leaders to dress in fancy silks and gives you another luxury level. Luxury levels are essentially useless but could be a player goal? I don’t know. Maybe I don’t want to make a game about amassing wealth.

– Alex 2020-09-12 21:25 UTC

L-0: food, clothing, shelter. L-1:defense, education, industry, L-2: bond with other communities, L-3:fiefdoms - require nominating a player as chief

– Kevin 2020-09-12 22:16 UTC

I’ve thought about it some more. I think the problem is that I have a lot of ideas for programming. We could make the number of outgoing connections proportional to the population size and so the reactions to calamities would have to be a prioritisation of which connections to maintain; we could have invading troops on the map, and clans could move to different villages, fleeing from the troops, or hand over part of their produce, diminishing their resources… We could have colonisers arrive, and regimes collapse, and through it all the villages would try to survive, children are born, move away if there are no opportunities, or build the settlement; we could go all dwarf fortress here and simulate how people that are too closely related are not allowed to have children; and on and on.

But the question is, I think: would I want to program the game, or would I want to play the game? I’m starting to suspect that I wouldn’t actually play the game for long. I’m too interested in programming. And that in turn makes me think I should postpone the programming: let the enthusiasm run its course, and then do nothing. Why work on a game that I wouldn’t want to play.

– Alex 2020-09-13

I just can’t drop it... Got started with a little “orc village simulator browser game” that I’m planning on integrating with my Gemini wiki, Phoebe. I’m calling the game Anthe (another of Saturn’s moon, and one of the daughters of the giant Alcyoneus that got turned into a kingfisher).

– Alex 2020-09-14 21:03 UTC

OK, Anthe has basic population growth! Orcs procreate and reports are written to a Phoebe wiki! ♥

– Alex 2020-09-18 22:27 UTC

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