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Replacing Micromanagement with Narrative and Questing?

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I'd like to provide the feeling of running a city or colony without the bean couting. Since my game idea is character and adventuring driven empire building, I'd prefer to emphasize stages of progress, much like leveling in an RPG. I'm considering a fuzzy presentation of resources mixed with narrative based modifiers and questing. The main point would be to ease the micro burden, foil the min-maxers and especially to eliminate the need for running a continuous simulation on player territory that could expand geometrically. Here's A Basic Example: Each colony has a variety of ratings. The ratings are linked in a sort of Advancement Tree. Advancing up the tree in a category unlocks abilities, internal events and missions, while falling down it loses them. To capture the spirit of processes and building, each rating has a timeline. Acquiring specific resources raises a rating, as does performing missions. Failing may lower the rating, depending on whether or not it is naturally stable. More Detailed Example: You have a colony of three thousand people. It's rated as:
  • Level: Struggling Frontier Colony
  • Supplies: 30 days remaining (Medicine Short)
  • Economy: Ailing / Increasingly Unstable
  • Chief Industry: Mining, Sporadic Exports
  • Resources: Scarce (Heavy Metal strikes needed)
  • Crime: Rampant (Syndicate takeover within a year)
etc. etc. As your mouse hovers over each element, you get a popup telling you what you need to do to fix it. To fix the economy, for example, you need Resources to be Plentiful, which might require searching for them, stealing them, trading or spending money on a survey team. Fixing Crime might require implementing a Crackdown policy, which makes people increasingly unhappy but reduces crime. At various rating levels, narrative kicks in. For instance, based on past action you might get: "The Syndicate is offering a truce. Stop the Crackdown and they'll limit operations to the asteroid mines. We will likley become a Corrupt Frontier Colony, but the economy will grow." Thoughts?

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Sounds interesting... but Im unsure exactly how you propose to include the "substance" of the idea.

How are you thinking of including the questing element? So far, youve only really detailed something which as already accomplished in some games by "flavour" text added to randomised gameplay events.

I think the key differentiating between narrative and simply a well-written backstory for the same old gameplay is the questing you mentioned. But you havent actually described what would be involved in the questing... Your syndicate scenario at the end, for example, although it is nice flavour text, so far only sounds like a popup: "Syndicate is offering a truce. Corruption rating -1, Economy rating +1. Accept truce Yes/No?"... What do you propose would be the actual player activity in response to the event that differentiates it from a simple checkbox yes/no answer?


Youve described the levelling system of an RPG without the pro-active story part... I get the feeling its there, but its not detailed in your description.

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I concur: where's the gameplay? Micromanagement is popular with developers because it's an effective way to add a lot of active user participation. Going with the definition of games as a series of interesting choices, what you've described so far presents the choices only every few minutes (unless the simulation runs at breakneck speed). What does the user do while waiting for the next cultural advancement choice point?

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Quote:
Original post by Oluseyi
What does the user do while waiting for the next cultural advancement choice point?


Press "Next Turn"?

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Quote:
Original post by Talroth
Quote:
Original post by Oluseyi
What does the user do while waiting for the next cultural advancement choice point?


Press "Next Turn"?


lol that reminds me of outpost (The first one).

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In simulations, a simple button of "Skip to point X from here, or the next point of interest if less than X" can work wonders for speeding things up, and can even work in real time, and on multiplayer if done well.

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I agree with the other posters not sure you want this to play out.

Do I select a number of leaders and then have a round table discussions concerning a particular topic, where they offer ideas, debate the issue and then I choose an action plan.

So, if it was the need for new rich mineral veins.
I might invite the two leaders from the miner’s guild, the federation ambassador, and the head the science division. They debate the issue and in the end offer the following suggestions.

The more conservative miner suggest sending survey teams to explore around the current mining camps in the northern mountains, as well increasing the labour allocation in the mines.

The more adventurous miner suggest that the conditions in the southern basin look most promising for new mineral veins and that we should send survey teams there.

The federation ambassador offers to arrange for a survey ship to run a scan of planet but says the federation will require 50% of any ore extracted from mines resulting from the survey.

The science advisor agrees with both miners and suggests trialling the new prototype mineral scanner that they science division has been researching.

After considering there suggestions I build an action plan to:
Spend 3 months surveying the southern basin.
Increase labour in the mines but 20%
Have the ambassador speak to the federation about getting a lower rate.
And trailing the new sensors.


Or is it something else completely

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Doh! I should have done a much better job detailing gameplay here. It's what I get for trying to be brief!

Quote:
Original post by caffiene
How are you thinking of including the questing element?


The main element is that your colony, rather than some patron, generates the missions. I see the structure being not too different from that of RPGs or space trading games, except that it's all driven by the fuzzy resources, people and factions present.

Your avatar would be an upgradable super ship. I'm also thinking at the moment that you could use other ships and characters to help carry out the missions, and that complex missions would require multiple actions in different places to succeed.

Some of the missions would be straightforward acquiring basic resources (buying, stealthfully stealing them, pirating, mining, etc.). You'd use your super ship or hirees to bootstrap your colony until it took care of itself. As the population grew, the missions would become more complex, shifting from resources to social / political faction and character conflicts.

As you succeed in missions, the reward is that the colony bothers you less, allowing you to focus your efforts outward: Exploring space, acquiring alien artifacts, interacting with other civs and (most importantly) founding new colonies.

Quote:

Your syndicate scenario at the end, for example, although it is nice flavour text, so far only sounds like a popup: "Syndicate is offering a truce. Corruption rating -1, Economy rating +1. Accept truce Yes/No?"... What do you propose would be the actual player activity in response to the event that differentiates it from a simple checkbox yes/no answer?


I really should have stated this one better.

I see your colonies as state machines, and the factions / entities within as event generators (for good or ill). The Syndicate, for example, generates increasingly disrupting events the stronger they get. You go from incidents of thefts and muggings (economy and unhappiness) to increase in the illegal sim trade (labor and medical costs) to kidnappings, thefts of ships you've built and corruption of your leader characters.

If you imagine in the example above that you've ignored or failed missions, the faction at this point would now have hardened assets in the system: Secret bases, smugglers, gangs of thugs. even special characters of their own. All of them feed the event generators, and shorten the previously mentioned timeline.

Your options:
Use your ship (maybe with a special stealth loadout) to hunt down the bases and go after the smugglers.

Set your colony policies to restrict immigration, inspect more ships, beef up police patrols (you specify where they go, allowing you say to pull them off patroling mines to watching trade routes)

Use items you've acquired, like tracking devices or truth serums (diplomatic costs); or characters you've hired or made deals to get like mercs (costing you money), or Feds (costing you independence)

Act on critical missions that arise based on how you've deployed resources, characters or items. For instance, spying on comms might reveal the location of a secret Syndicate meeting; if you capture the participants, it opens up even more opportunities.

The main point is that I'm hoping to make the whole leveling / questing process more dramatic without the micromanagement that, to me, would really drag down adventurous gameplay. I want players thinking less about numbers, and more about accomplishing critical tasks.

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Quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
So, if it was the need for new rich mineral veins.
I might invite the two leaders from the miner’s guild, the federation ambassador, and the head the science division. They debate the issue and in the end offer the following suggestions.

...


Okay, this to me is also interesting. I'd imagined that you equip your ship and go out and find what you need, or build ships suitably equipped. But I like the idea that there would be more commander-like options as well.

What's cool about your example is thinking about a conversation module where there is n-way communication among characters with their own traits and quirks. What if these options are based in part of previous choices you've made?

For instance, you've got the two mine managers and the science advisor. What if their skills, training and even personality were things you had some control over because you selected them from a pool of applicants?

Maybe you selected the conservative mine manager because he was the most skilled and best with labor. This you knew drastically reduced mine accident and labor events, but made yeilds pretty average.

The adventurous mine manger you chose maybe because although his mines would be prone to more events, he would have a much higher chance of discovering new materials or increases to mining techniques.

And maybe the science advisor like toys, and so is always suggesting spending money on high tech gadgetry.

The fed ambassador could also be a function of your diplomatic relations back home.

I think if I allow you to sit back and make these kinds of interactions, though, I'd need to be careful (as others have alluded to) to keep things happening regularly. With a large enough palette of events and a way to fast forward, that probably will take care of itself.

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