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Space age 'gentleman's' wargame.

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I’m looking for people’s thoughts on a game design idea. The quick version of the back story: About 80,000 years in the future, humans have developed, and devolved in some areas. They have developed a sort of FTL “fold-jump” which requires someone with a very rare and special mind to navigate. The world is mostly inspired by Frank Herbert’s books Dune, only there isn’t spice, and the difference from the lowest human to the highest rankings are a lot greater. The nobles have set up many rules by convention. Much of them are for rule, power, and how wars are to be fought. Going against convention usually means all other nobles will totally destroy you. Lovely balance of power, used to keep empires from forming. All of them want to be the sole ruler, but none of them want to bend knee. Should anyone try to rise up, the rest knock them down. Some things that are banned are: Use of atomic weapons, biological weapons, computer guided weapons, bombing planets, and other ‘dishonourable’ conduct. On to the actual game play. (This is suitable to a MMO style, or single player game) Players start off as a low prince of one of the great or minor houses, and for the most part move their fleet across known space, mostly using preset space lanes. Later if they can afford it, they can buy a better seer/seeker/navigator, and find shorter better routes to move around, possibly finding new planets to settle and use as a source of income/production. Players fleet includes their flagship, their only ship with FTL drives, and no weapons. Attacking a flagship is a good way to bring every noble down on you, it just isn’t done, part of the reason why they have no weapons. Inside your flagship is where the rest of your fleet is carried on jumps. Larger ships akin to modern warships, destroyers and carries, as well as smaller ships including single man ‘fighters’ that are mostly there as something for clones to pilot, and as part of the numbers game. There will be several levels of battles, ranging from all out warfare, where the loser will have nothing but a Royal Shuttle for them and their highest ranking people to leave on, down to simple mock challenges, where no real shots are fire, and each side wages part of their fleet. Now, the kickers to fights in this game is that everything is highly formalized. Battles are played out turn based, one side issues ordered to one battle group, while the other waits for their turn, this is after all, a gentleman’s game. Battles can be ended in several ways, usually by one side surrendering, or by the other side ‘capturing’ the other’s flag ship. At any time during a battle, one side can launch a special ship, which is a hand to hand combat arena, where the commanders of the flagships, or their second’s will fight a stylized hand to hand combat, which is slow and dance like, using a long sword (similar is form to a Japanese Katana), and a short dagger. These fights can be either till first blood, yield, or death. Once this fight starts, the rest of the battle stops. So someone really good at fighting is going to want to use the rules of honour to start this as soon as they can, however this is where what you have in your fleet comes into play. The winner will pick what ships they want after the battle starting with the SMALLEST ships, where as the loser starts with the largest. This means hand to hand at the start of the battle when all ships are intact wouldn’t bring you as great of a victory as one where you win after destroying many smaller ships which are easy to build. I haven’t finished the full rules of combat, but after the loser’s fleets are divided up, depending on the style of battle, based on the ships tonnage and firepower. The higher stakes the battle, the more the winner takes, sort of like school yard team picking. One side takes turns picking, then the other side. How many you get to pick on each turn depends on the battle type you won/lost, but still you must pick in a sort of preset order. The winner doesn’t have to finish picking ALL of the small ships before they can take a larger ship, but the loser also doesn’t want to lose all of their small ships, or their next battle could be a major disaster and cost them even more capital ships. Oh, forget if I mentioned it or not, but the majority of humans are used to support the nobles habits, like using cloned hummans as cannon fodder in 'sport'. A human is cheaper to build and repair/replace than a complex robot, and if the nobles didn't put them to work, they would just get unruly.

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Dune's awesome and all, but I think you should move away from some of the more specific "inspirations" (how do you have Guild Steersman without Melange, anyway?)

The game seems like it would be very complex, if you're really into the
production/ economy type stuff I'd look up Master of Orion for a good, reasonably simple system (or Homeworld, which I haven't played)

We ourselves are making a Turn Based Space game(TBSSG) but our dynamic is different, the player moves all his ships in one turn, then the other guy(or AI) goes. It just seems to me that a Chess-like system is a little slow. Also the battle preparation system sounds tedious.

Simplification overall would probably be a good idea, it's better to have a few things done well than a ton of things done mediocrely(is that a word?)
After saying that let me say that a viewable Diplomacy/honor gauge would be a good idea, that way the player can view how close they are to being shanked by a rival 's assasin, or what have you.

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note to self, do not stay up all night then decide to write out great ideas and post them online. Only bad things can happen.

As for the Dune part, the only things I'm really taking from them is some of the culture, the honour, outlandish 'fashion', and the massive disparity between the low and high class. As for the steersmen without spice, the mind effects spice gives in Dune are somewhat similar to what happens to the seers and seekers in my book/game naturaly. only they are very rare. The tech is a little different.


As for the gameplay, time to add some clairty.

The game is mainly politics. The real goal is to gain power in the universe. This is something very hard. You try to use the laws there to have all the houses declare total war on the houses against you, while boosting the power of your own house, and try to become high prince of your house. (Or King if you wish to give up your fleet to someone else, and do only politics)
You can challenge and bet with other nobles and their fleets. Battles play out almost turn based, move different parts of your fleet around the battle space (think Homeworld style interface, with a few refinements) but the kicker to the battles is forcing your oppenet into one on one combat, which means fewer ships destroyed and more for you to take after the battle.
Plantets and resources are a minor thing in the over all scheme of things really, a source of new ships and luxery items for you and your highclass crews to enjoy. However, players that wanted to could go in a try to micromanage their planets and help their houses win with economics. (in other words, I plan to do planets as best as I can, but in such a way players can bascially ignore them if they wish)

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(hey, at least I read it)

Sorry, but in your post you planned out the combat with much more detail than you did with politics.

In retrospect, I think linking the space and hand to hand combat is kind of wierd, or at least the way you have it planned. Separating duels and fleet battles sounds more appealing to me, like this:

[in game message): Prince A wants to challenge you to a duel over X,Y, and Z

The variables being planets, money, company stock rights(remember CHOAM?)
Turning down a duel would result in 'dishonour', but it's better than losing a planet with a special product, like gold or luxury products(trying to move away from Dune..)
You can also challenge people for stuff that you want

If worse comes to worse or you really want something, then you can go out and start a real war, with penatlies to trade with other barons. The more dishonourable your conduct (assasination, using 'dirty' tactics), the more likely the other kingdoms will team up and kick your ass.

If you want a higher focus on politics, then you also need to consider money as a major gameplay mechanic, and trade with other systems/kingdoms as important.

I'm not trying to tear your idea apart, I'm just saying how I would do things.

Something random you might want to look at that I found for our project: Peerage Very complicated stuff, actually. Earl vs. Viscount? It's there.

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