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A Game of Political Intrigue

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Almost 2 years ago, bishop_pass started some great threads about a multiplayer game about political machinations. Was anything implemented? There were tons of great ideas but seemed like the fatal flaws were: 1) Too complicated. 2) Too much desire to stick to real-life metaphors. 3) Required some significant technical implementation. So I''d like to throw the concept out there again. Keep in mind the ultimate goal: to create an open-ended multiplayer game involving a deep political system. To keep it practical, here are some possible constraints. 1) Solely played through email. This ensures no required programming or implementation. 2) Keep it simple. Ideally, the ruleset would be less than a couple paragraphs. The players create their own mechanics. 3) Very few "actions." You don''t control units, manage empires, or kill players. What you mostly "do" is talk, persuade, plot, scheme. It might sound odd but the inspiration for this game should really be Survivor. Simple in concept and rules, but deep in its open-ended complexity. Any ideas?

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No, Republic isn't it. That game isn't even multiplayer, how could it match the thread linked to by the OP? What made me laugh was how one review complained about the bad camera control in Republic. Why on Earth would a political simulation strategy game need camera control of all things?

The political game we wanted had been done years ago, and interestingly, the rules of the game were extremely simple and abstract (though they still required a lot of tactical expertise to play right).

[edited by - Diodor on June 7, 2004 1:28:46 AM]

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Genghis Khan I & II for SNES...
SimCity series...

There's a lot of political games.

Multiplayer political games? Sure. It's called real-world government.

[edited by - Onikan on June 7, 2004 5:01:22 AM]

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Yeah, Republic is inherently different because it isn''t multiplayer. The key is multiplayer. The idea is that the game involves strategies that grow from the interaction between real people.

And preferably involving a larger scale. Diplomacy is also a great point of inspiration but the number of players is capped at 7. I was thinking more like 30-100. Political Machine also involves a smaller scale, since it just involves a presidential campaign. Yeah Onikan...I guess a better question would be, "How do you create a multiplayer game which portrays the political mechanics of real-world government?"

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Play the board game Diplomacy. At first glance it appears to be a 7 player war game but it isn''t because players don''t actually have the power to wage (and win) a war. Instead the vast bulk of the game is diplomatic negotiation, forging alliances and breaking alliances. The game is played in two-part turns. 1. Negotiate, 2. Write orders, 3. Process all 7 players'' orders at once.

The game was designed to be played face to face but many people play it over the net. In fact their are some automated computer "judges" running games. You can find a Dip focused web site at http://www.diplom.org/ which explain the games and links to the judges.

The higlight of my "diplomatic career" was in a game that was down to three players. I was the largest single player but I was fighting two players who were allied (and combined they were in a better position). I sent one of them a carefully worded email congratulating them on an eventual victory and offering some insights into how to handle the stage of the war where the allies attack each other to decide the eventual winner. He fell into my trap and almost immediately launched a pre-emptive strike on his ally. That combined with my attacks crippled the third player, leaving just me and the smaller remaining player (plus the third guy doing his best to hamper his former ally). The eventual victory may have been military but it was the diplomacy that made it possible.

Dan Marchant
Obscure Productions (www.obscure.co.uk)
Game Development & Design consultant

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