"Survive & thrive in a fantastical future and change the destiny of the human race."
That's the game goal. Building and relationships modification are going to be the primary ways to accomplish this.
I see three environments for this:
- In a civilized habitat
- In the wastelands of Earth and frontiers of alien planets
- Inside something mobile, like a landship or starship
The goal is to make money and/or influence others. The money making part can be accomplished through building structures. In concept, this happens on a gridded environment, like Startopia, but with the ability to enter structures and interact with NPCs.
You'd influence NPCs by helping them achieve their goals. This is standard quest gameplay, except I think I'll be able to make the relationships between NPCs dynamic. Maybe Joe hates Fred and wants to see his business drop. Normally, a game makes you do a specific thing to make that happen, and then you get a reward.
But what if you could make Fred's biz drop by threatening customers? Or hacking into his shop's power regulator? Or by infesting his shop with nanite cockroaches?
Basically, Fred's shop would be an effect generator (business) with stats attached (attractiveness, defense, hack security, etc.) Fred himself would have stats, which in turn generate effects (ownership of the shop, advertising, etc.)
Scare off Fred, his customers, or sabotage his shop... in most cases, Joe doesn't care, as long as it gets done (he may care in some cases, and might tell you not to do certain things, but that just makes missions more varied)
As a young immigrant to the towers, you need cash to build up your enterprise. Your enterprise can be anything from "monster hunting" (nanite neurozombies & constructs in the wastes); policing; racketeering; space expansion and exploration; or running an operation.
The operation basically consists of people who perform some service or control some machinery, and the machinery itself.
If you want to create a waterpark, for instance, and make money attracting tourists, you would find a district in the tower to ally with, negotiate with NPCs for terms, buy the templates, rent some workers and building tools, and lay down structures RTS style. I'm seeing raising and lowering of interior terrain possible as well.
Or say your operation is a mining town. If it's in the wastes of Earth, you don't get permission, but you do need to bring in either expensive automated help or cheaper human labor. Or if you're really nasty about it, you use a nano-sequestration virus and bodyjack people into service (do this far from the law if you know what's good for you).
Then you start laying down structures. The structures create an effect, such as improving productivity, defense of the town against bandits and monsters, possibly even attracting in cheap
Autonomous Agents Behaving Badly
I'll post more on this in the coming days, but I think I've got some improvements on Oblivion's proposed autonomous agents that make up a village.
Here's what I see as possible: You divide NPCs into "people units." The people units then use basic A* pathfinding to find attractors based on needs (Sims stuff here).
This covers the basic behavior that you see. But behind the scenes, you use an influence map or some nodal structure to create NPC interactions. The interactions are events that get generated and solved by rules you've devised that say how plots get solved.
This is then journaled, made available to you as a town foreman / interloper / bandit / citizen. You can then interact with the NPCs so that the radiate the events you desire.
The events they radiate can be very complex because they'll happen abstractly. If Joe is sleeping with Fred's wife, it's too expensive to animate that. But if Fred beats the crap out of Joe in the middle of town, that becomes a resolved effect using standard combat anims.
I've got a lot more to say about this, but I'll do so in the next post.