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Testbed elements

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Ok, the other thread (political stuff) is good for general discussion, theory, and all that. In this thread, I suggest that people propose actual elements - concrete things that the game is composed of. Stuff like assasinations, farms, communication forums, etc. I believe mention of them in the other thread will just cause them to get drowned in all the other discussion. Suggest stuff here. It needn''t be perfect to warrant being suggested.

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  • Land/Production Resources This includes water sources, natural resources (for energy, construction, etc) and so forth.


  • Infrastructure It was determined that a base level of government and infrastructure (transportation by land, air, water; communications electronically and via post; power sufficient for medium-to-large size factories, and guidelines for supplement; urban development guidelines for cities and industrial sectors; etc) already be in place so players can start being productive and acquiring wealth and power rather than nursing the game world to a self-sustaining state.


  • Financial Institutions While every player starts the game with a certain level of liquid cash, credit (and thus credit facilities) are essential for large economic developments. The game must provide banks, cooperatives, insurance firms and other lending institutions upon inception. Players may later take them over, buy them out or drive them out of production, but they must exist from the get-go.


  • Government, Laws, Judiciary and Law Enforcement The player should be able to choose from a variety of countries/states to establish residence and begin operation; each of these will have their own laws and customs and methods of punishment.



That''s all I can think of right now.

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I''ll throw out some keywords, and these can be fleshed out, ruled out, etc. Please note that each keyword doesn''t necessarily represent a game mechanic, but might simply represent a possible thing that can be done given the game environment.

Assasination, media, spying, double agent, news, campaign, broadcast, advertise, one on one discussion, one to many broadcast, forum like a roundtable discussion, trial, jury, satelite manufacture, rental, buying and selling, investing, trading, land, food, troops, taxes, travel, governing documents, military movement, weapons manufacture, weapons use, coup, farming, manufacturing, service providing. leasing, messengers...

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quote:
Original post by Oluseyi
  • Financial Institutions While every player starts the game with a certain level of liquid cash, credit (and thus credit facilities) are essential for large economic developments. The game must provide banks, cooperatives, insurance firms and other lending institutions upon inception. Players may later take them over, buy them out or drive them out of production, but they must exist from the get-go

  • Lending and insurance are definitely things players can provide as a service. I like that.

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    It''s interesting to note that the game doesn''t actually need to provide mechanisms for leasing, renting, insurance, lending, borrowing, etc. Rather, the players merely agree to terms they create, and it''s up to the players to provide the infrastructure to enforce it. What the game needs to provide is a mechanical way for the transfer of goods and money to happen.

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    My earlier post detailed services that must be inherent to the game world, though mutable, independent of players. Here I consider player-specific elements.
    • Descriptive Procedures I''m not referring to means of announcing developments, existence or availability: that''s media (and should have been in my previous list). Descriptive procedures are means for players to extend the game world by adding new objects which other players can obtain and manipulate independently of the originator, and which operate autonomously (our classic example so far has been the satellite). Considering that a new player item can have huge impact on the game world (imagine if a player invents the virtual equivalent of email or the internet), these need to be fairly robust, yet simple enough not to require programming skill (though a simplified scripting interface is the most likely candidate).

    • Query/Discovery Services Media allows a player to be informed of what is going on. How does a player find out about what has gone on? About who has done or currently does what? In essence, certain media need to be archived and searchable/retrievable, certain standard locations need to exist for the perusal of indexes (sorta like the classifieds) and so on.



    Media is proving to be such an interesting issue that I''ll discuss it here rather than leaving it as an implicit addition to my earlier list.
    • Media One of the most interesting things about media is the diversity of presentation forms and formats, as well as the immense range in scope. For example, there will undoubtedly be general news outlets in print (newspaper), audio (radio news channels/broadcasts) and audiovisual (TV). There will also be archives for each of these channels. There will also, as time goes by and industries rise and become important, be a need for industry-specific media (the virtual equivalents of Forbes and Money and Fortune magazines; of The Economist and the Wall Street Journal; maybe even of Sports Illustrated and Low Rider and High Times).

      My suggestion to simplify the variety of forms for those players who may choose to become media entrepreneurs is for us to adopt some sort of "futuristic" media where an interactive multimedia presentation is given. Broadcasts can be paused, sought through, reviewed etc (CNN on TiVo); text can be searched; text archives can be accessed for a fee (digitally charged to the player''s credit account in appropriate local currency), etc. This allows both the producing and consuming players to focus on content and eliminates form as an issue.



    One more interesting issue is how fiscal transactions will be handled. I''m advocating a "cashless society" (since we abstract away subsistence purchases and issues, and deal in large business terms) where all that is needed is for two parties to (independently) provide account access to a financial arbiter such as a bank (yes, a bank may arbitrate a transaction in which it is involved, unless the transcation is between two banks, in which case a third, unrelated bank must arbitrate).

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    bishop_pass, I'll group your suggestions together logically and then treat them collectively. Fundamentally, I think that all forms of actions should be "described" (in the sense of a Descriptive Procedure as detailed earlier), which makes them inherently extensible by players. All objects should then be described and based on their description be capable of causing certain actions.

    The classifications:

    • Aggression (Includes assasination, weapons use, coup, etc). Every player has a representative agent (a physical embodiment in the virtual world) which is susceptible to bodily harm. If a violent event such as an explosion occurs in the vicinity of the player's avatar, damage is sustained - up to and including death. If a violent act is performed directly on the player's avatar, damage is sustained. It therefore emerges that violent actions/events have magnitude, target (a building, a person, etc), noticeability (one person punching another has low notice; a building blowing up has high notice), etc.


    • Public Communication (Media, news, broadcast, advertise, campaign, etc) Text, audio and/or video must be placed in circulation using a public communication channel - one of the media feeds/subscription services described in an earlier post. The only restrictions on access are those imposed by the media conduit itself - sign up for subscription feeds, etc.


    • Restricted Communication (One on one discussion, one to many broadcast, forum like a roundtable discussion, etc) A set number of individuals are privy to information, restricted by either physical location or access to a communications device.


    • Production (Includes satelite manufacture, weapons manufacture, farming, manufacturing, etc) A player either creates or obtains a product description script, and then establishes a flow of resources necessary to assemble the specified product (ie, a product description script consists of an aggregation of other product description scripts and fundamental quantities - a recipe for putting the product together). So the production of tomatoes may require land, tomato seeds, water and optional fertilizer, while pests may be listed as detrimental to product yield. A gun, OTOH, will require a propulsion mechanism, a projectile payload, a projectile storage chamber...


    • Economic Interaction (Rental, buying, and selling, investing, trading, leasing, service providing, etc). An entity provides one quantity to another entity in exchange for another quantity, where both entities have agreed upon the terms as fair. The quantity may be as nebulous as permission to use a possession for a set period (rental) or performance of a certain action at regular intervals for a set period (service provision). The game really doesn't care; all the game cares about is the creation of agreements and facilitating the exchange of quantities.


    • Binding Agreement Creation (Governing documents, contracts, etc) Two or more parties collectively author and approve a document. The document is available for inspection by any of these parties (if private) or any member of the population at large (if public), but can only be modified by ratification of all (surviving) original parties, or a quorom if so determined in the original document.



    Spying, double agent and messenger are service provisions - Economic Interactions. Two require surveillance possibilities, so mechanics for Observation (physical location, obtaining a recording device) are also needed. Land, food and troops are resources. They can be bought and sold, and in some cases traded as well - more Economic Interactions. Troops can also be commanded, and food can also be consumed, so we'll need mechanics for simulating those as well. Taxes are an Economic Interaction between player entities and governing entities. Travel involves the relocation of the player avatar, which requires transportation means and involves time delays, etc. Transportation means may or may not have or support communication facilities onboard, meaning the player might be temporarily disconnected from updates while in transit.

    Military movement is the application of travel to troops.

    I can't think of how to handle trial and jury right now, except as simulations (though a player who was a lawyer could want/need to be involved in a trial...)

    [Edit: Formatting on the last few paragraphs.]

    [edited by - oluseyi on November 4, 2002 4:20:47 AM]

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    Here are some of my thoughts:

    Gameworld:

    -Inhabitable planets:

    • Controlled by AI: simple like/dislike based on player actions.

    • Buy and sell basic services on every field: mercenaries, low-tech ships, small amounts of resources etc.

    • Very hard to invade, if not impossible. No warfare in the surface unless player has succesfuly invaded the planet.

    • House player's headquarters, many players per planet.

    • Players can't build anything else than administrative buildings on planets.

    • Communications between planets instant (and threfore also between players), for technical reasons.


    -Asteroids, uninhabitable planets, space:

    • Have almost all resources.

    • Players build everything here: mines, factories, research labs, communication satellites..

    • Communications slow and unreliable, can be improved with technology.

    • No AI controlled entities



    Players:

    -Megacorps / noble houses with the exclusive right to interplanetary trade, industry and warfare, not a single person. What's the point if you can't restrict communications?
    -Can change home planet but it's expensive(time, skills and money).
    -No assasination.

    • Doesn't provide intresting gameplay.

    • "if (me.moneySpentOnBodyguards < attacker.moneySpentOnAssasins) me.die();" is not fun.


    -Very hard to eleminate player completely from the game.

    Resources:

    -Money:

    • Game provides basic "money storage" service and stable international currency.

    • Needs to be transferred to factories, mines, ships etc. to pay for maitenance, either by "wire" or ship, both are unreliable.

    • Can be traded between players instantly and reliably.


    -Materials:

    • uranium, titanium, food, fuel, air, concrete, researchers, miners, soldiers, etc.

    • Can be traded with transport units.


    -Technology:

    • Can be traded between players with no loss to the original owner.

    • Not useful without the skill to use it. Military organization can't become a industrial organization overnight.


    -Skills:

    • Organization skills:

      • Repersent the knowhow of players organization on the inhabitable planets.

      • Can't be traded.

      • Very important for the diversification of players, as pointed out by Diodor. Concentrating on a few or even one general skill should be the best strategy.


    • Unit skills: traded with the unit.

    -Units:

    • Ships, factories, satellites, storage facilities, etc.

    • Can be traded instantly & reliably.


    -Information:

    • Game objects:

      • Where are my/enemy ships? What's happening at my factory? Where can I find a Uranium?

      • Provided by players that invest on communication or surveillance technology.


    • Player interaction:

      • Who are allied at the moment?

      • Provided by "media" players who monitor closely the public forums and bribe other players to reveal secrets. Media occupation is not supported directly by the game mechanics and therefore will likely be side occupation.



    Offensive actions:

    -It should be much easier to destroy other players units than to steal them. That way military power alone can't win the game.
    -Spying, sabotage and information warfare shouldn't be abstract but concrete game objects:

    • "Player sends a spy ship near the enemy factory" as opposed to "Player bribes an employee of the enemy factory"

    • "Player sends a information warfare ship to attach a listener to a enemy satellite" as opposed to "Player pays 42.000.000$ to crackers"

    • See assasination for reasons.



    Ownership and cooperation:

    -All things are controlled by a single player. This makes the game world much more unreliable and intresting. There should be no collective authoring of documents, rather players discuss on the chat what they want on the document and one player writes it.
    -Game shouldn't provide almost any reliable way for cooperation, though a simple and reliable trade screen for units, money and technology might be necessary.


    Does anyone know how to create lists without such huge amounts of whitespace?

    [edited by - Ecthelion on November 4, 2002 7:44:26 AM]

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    quote:
    Original post by Ecthelion
    Here are some of my thoughts:

    Gameworld:


    • Very hard to invade, if not impossible. No warfare in the surface unless player has succesfuly invaded the planet.

    • House player''s headquarters, many players per planet.

    • Players can''t build anything else than administrative buildings on planets.

    • Communications between planets instant (and threfore also between players), for technical reasons.



    Players:

    -No assasination.

    • Doesn''t provide intresting gameplay.

    • "if (me.moneySpentOnBodyguards < attacker.moneySpentOnAssasins) me.die();" is not fun.


    -Very hard to eleminate player completely from the game.



    Invasion should not be hard as long as the invading military is significantly stronger than the military of the planet being invaded. The game shouldn''t be biased against players that want to persue military action\careers, that should be as viable as a path as a media guy or a businessman.

    No assasination, why? Assasination is something that happens in the real world to people in powerful positions, it''s something that should happen in the game. You''re thinking too much along that lines that players will want to always assasinate and that it will be an easy way to get ahead, but this is completely wrong. Assasination will be very difficult (just as it is in real life) and become more difficult with time. It wouldn''t be handled as "if (me.moneySpentOnBodyguards < attacker.moneySpentOnAssasins) me.die();", because there''s much more too it. In a relatively stable government with a leader that is pretty well liked, assasination will almost impossible (5% chance at most.) In an unstable government with a hated leader assasination is a lot easier and may be the only way to start a revolution. Remember, there''s more risk in trying to assasinate someone than there is being the target of assasination and if the attempt is traced back to you you will be killed or arrested. There is the possiblity of greif players taking advantage of assasination, but if the system is designed correctly it will be very rare for an assasination to ever get through. Grief players would be the equivalent of crazy men that threaten the president''s life, occasionally they actually assasinate the president, but it''s very, very rare. There are certain positions (like crime boss) where assasination would be a pretty common thing, but most of the time it would be very rare.

    Crime

    Crime is something that hasn''t been discussed. Crime is basically the same as business except you''re trading and selling illegal merchandise (weapons, drugs) and services (assasination, prostitution.) The advantages of crime is that it''s more lucrative than business (at first) and easy to get into. The higher you get in crime the more complex of an infrastructure you need, just to avoid law enforcement\military tracking illegal activities back to you. Because crime bosses already have an infrastructure designed to avoid being caught doing illegal things, assasination between crime bosses is more common than it is in the rest of the galaxy. If there is crime, there also needs to be some kind of law enforcement, similar to the military, but more focused on domestic problems than intergalatic affairs.

    Government\Politics
    Some of this may go against the style of the gameplay, but should there be a set number of government systems (Democracy, Dictatorship, Monarchy, Socialist, etc.), perhaps with certain modifiers and combinations (adding socialist ideas to a democracy, a dictatorship with a puppet president and fake elections to appease the people, etc.) Maybe there should be a set of government elements of policies, military policies, trade policies, elections, etc. that people in power can change\ratify. In a stable goverment with decent checks and balances changes to laws shouldn''t be dramatic, because they rely on multiple people agreeing with them, but in a dictatorship things could change abritarily.

    In governments with elections, there needs to be some way for players to vote. This can be as simple as clicking a poll box. Candidates would also need to campaign, which could be done by sending speeches\text to media outlets.

    The faceless masses need to be represented in some way also. A like\dislike system per district\state\planet, etc. would be a good way to handle this. A good leader will also please these people as well as the top %1 (the players.) If they are allowed to vote then you actually want to campaign for them, because they have more voting power, but you need to keep the players happy, because they have money for campaign contributions and they control the media. You could always set up a player only voting system, and not have to deal with the lower class NPCs, but you start to risk protests, economic boycotts, revolutions, assasinates etc, especially if the people are not happy.

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    Impossible, don''t try to take small parts of my vision and implant them into your''s. It won''t work, trust me

    Wheter or not planets are easy to invade or not is irrelevant to the relevancy of militaristic playing style. In my version of the game all intresting things would happen in space, not on planets, so nobody would really want to invade a planet anyway.
    Why make the planets irrelevant? If players can control entire planets the amount of necessary features to make the game world seem believable will be much larger than in my version. You''d need things like population simulation, ground warfare, maps for the planets, etc. which aren''t really necessary for good gameplay. Also by adding things like population simulation you increase the role of AI controlled entities in the game. What I would like is a game where interaction between players is the centre of the game, not pleasing some NPC population.

    As for assasination, you are assuming that a player plays the role of a single individual in the game world, which is in direct conflict with my previous post. Besides no matter how hard assination is, how fun would it be to build a great alliance over several months and then suddenly get a popup saying: "You have been assasinated. Game Over." ?

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