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Need input/brainstorming for economy focused strategy game idea..

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I have this idea or concept that I want to explore.. I've played alot of Settlers, Anno and Victoria style games. They all feature production chains in one way or another. There are also varying degrees of goods transportation and technology advancement in those games.

I want to expand on all of this a bit. My idea is that the player crashes his spaceship on a primitive inhabited planet. There are settlements of greatly varying technological levels, but nothing too great. The inhabitants are quick learners however. The player is obviously technologically advanced, but he lacks manpower and natural resources to reach his goal (get back home? dominate the planet? kill the other crashed players?) so he needs to interact with settlements to create trade arrangements etc. The player would share technology in return for goods perhaps, different goods on different settlements.

Some settlements might view the player as a god while some might think of the technology as witchcraft and try to kill him. The player might form agreements through kindness, through threats of violence or making the settlements dependent on him for goods.. At first, all settlements are selfsustaining with only minor needs and desires. They have their fish and water. When the player introduces wine, it's considered a luxury, but (assuming a stable supply for a while) then turns more and more into something that is expected/needed. If the supply was to be cut off at that point, the settlement would be in great trouble (Die? Stop producing goods? Turn violent?).

The player can also open new settlements but would need to invite or force people to move there somehow.

A large part of the game would be to organize transports. At first you would have people carrying around stuff in backpacks then wheelbarrows then donkeys (or whatever equivalent they have on that planet) then trains etc.

Another part could be battles. While you may come in peace, an allied settlement might get attacked by another and require your help to create better defenses..

So what do you think? What ideas would you like to see in it?

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Can you describe the gameplay in detail? How does the player interact with the game world? The description you gave is so vague it's hard to imagine what the game would be like.

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The setting is awesome, although it's a little too coincidental by itself if multiple players all crash land on this planet at the same time. Did they crash in escape pods from a space cruise ship, perhaps? That would remove (or at least make hypocritical) their fear of technology, but it also lets you explore a different theme: Just how panicky and desperate and ridiculous civilized people can become when they're lost in a strange land.

What if the other settlements are just indigenous groups on this planet? That way you keep their fear of technology and some view that the player is a god, but then why exactly does the player need to leave?

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(appologies for the random order of points in this post, it's a brainstorming thread afterall)

I'm not sure the player needs to leave really, I just need a goal for the game.

Maybe there's a war between several technological planets that resulted in many broken ships which crashed on different areas of the planet? Maybe you're the only ship crashing, that could be a setting. The main reason for having others is to make different 'nations'/'settlements' progress simultaneously so that the player cannot just 'help' one to get superpowerful and then take the rest of the planet with ease.. I think rival technologically advanced players could create some really interesting scenarios. Maybe you need to rush your weapon development and research to be able to defend yourself against the rivals. Maybe you could form alliances and trade agreements.

As for gameplay.. I think I'll go for a style similar to that of Europa Universalis/Victoria/Hearts of Iron, that is pausable realtime with distinct time units.

I want the player to primarily play as a diplomat and to some means an architect. I imagine there are some high-level interface (pretty much a world map). On it, you can see known settlements which can be clicked to bring up a details interface. What you can do here depends on the settlement. For your own settlements, you have full control and can build improvements in the form of factories etc. For settlements that are in your 'sphere of influence' or whatever, you can also build improvements but don't have full control over it. SOI settlements are your dominions. They do as you wish, but might do things on their own as well. Then there neutral settlements on which you can only perform diplomatic actions. Diplomatic actions include signing trade agreements and contracting constructions etc.

The player will have relations to settlements, and settlements can promote from neutral to SOI to fully controlled through diplomatic actions. Ofcourse, you can also take provinces by force, but that will anger the population and destroy your relations, which causes penalties to production and may cause revolts. A happy population will be more understanding and require less to be satisfied.

To construct buildings, you place semi-transparent blueprint-ish versions of the buildings/whatever on the map and then confirm the project by assigning a 'construction team' to it. The team will then work on the project untill it's completed or aborted. The team will use contruction material goods over time, and if a required good is not available in the settlement, the project will halt until the goods are available. Teams can have queued projects and can work on them in round-robin or priority mode in case projects halt for one reason or another.

A team has one or more leaders which together must have all required expertise for the project. The ship crew (or whatever) can act as team leaders with all expertises, but more can be trained somehow (I'm thinking that you can assign existing leaders to train new ones, perhaps with some restrictions). These 'team leaders' can also be used to create prototypes/blueprints through research teams and facilities.

You must also transport goods in the game. You can set up automated trade routes between settlements and assign transportation units to each route. If you have unassigned transportation units, you can assign them individual one-time missions (goto settlement A, pick up 10 units of GOOD, goto settlement B, drop 5 units of GOOD, goto settlement C, empty storage, return home) or control them in an RTS fashion. A transportation unit is something like a ship, a train, a group of peasants with back-packs etc.

Military units will be controlled much like unassigned transportation units. They can also be given missions such as guard a settlement, blockade a settlement etc for various effects.

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if my ship crash landed on a planet..

possible reasons for the crash:
a) sudden solar flare while i was surveying the planet from orbit.
b) enemy alien ships have found me and shot my ship down but i got them also and we all crash on the planet
c) i couldn't get a clear reading of something on a certain part of the planet then i wanted to fly my ship closer to the planet and then some unknown force pulls me down.

you said a key feature of the game was tranportation of stuff.

d) then maybe there's a rare mineral/metal/energy source on the planet and humans aren't the only ppl in the universe after the thing (or just other "bad" human organizations if you don't want aliens) this gives you more reasons to transport stuff or maybe the stuff you're transporting is the strange source that pulled your ship down
e) maybe i wasn't the pilot and there was a crew of us on the ship and i my primary duty was to serve as the civil engineer

my possible goals:
a) first, if possible, try to salvage parts from the ship to make a communication device to tell the ppl who hired me what happened. and then i get further orders from them
b) survive. get as many inhabitants to follow you before your enemy uses them you kill you
c) while doing b) gather as much of the rare stuff as possible and survive until the rescue ships come to save you/ secure rare stuff/ prepare to battle other factition if they find out about rare stuff
d) are the other crew members on your side? maybe they have their own secret reasons for going to the planet
e) one of the other crew members unleash a hidden evil from the planet and you have to defend/attack that force too

wait.. economy focused, not alien warefare focused. well, basicly i'd just try to survive until rescue ships come. unless i was some excaped prisoner engineer, then i'd wait for the cops to come and steal their ship with the help of the inhabitants and then get off the planet. the end.

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I'm currently thinking that you were cryo-frozen on a large-ish spaceship/ark for some long travel heading someplace, but wake up in a crashed shuttle on a planet together with a group of your friends/whatever and realize that something must've gone wrong. You don't know where you are, how long you were frozen or what went wrong. All you really know is that you are stranded for now and have to make the best of it. Therefore you start building a settlement and begin exploring the planet. Depending on game settings, there might be more crashed shuttles on the same planet, but you don't know where or how many they are (if any) until you encounter them.

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Have you ever played any of the X series games (X, X2, X3)? They're more of a space sim than planetary simulator, but they share a lot of ideas that you've mentioned (station/complex construction, resource chain management, trading, mining, trade route automation/supply ship automation). If you're formulating how you want to handle these it might do you some good to play one of the games and pick up some ideas from it. The series is quite well established (many games evolved over many years), so they likely have a lot of good ideas that you could borrow. They do tend to have a pretty steep learning curve though so you probably wouldn't get much out of it unless you can spend some significant time with it.

I like your idea and its one I've often tossed around in my head, but I never sat on it long enough to come up with a workable game description. I dumped a hundred hours or so into X3: Terran Conflict recently and it gave me a lot of inspiration for it. Maybe it will do the same for you.

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I had a short story idea along similar themes to this.

The protagonist was a damaged ship's AI that had jetissoned itself before the damaged ship broke up in atmosphere. (the ship had been damaged a long time ago in a battle and had been drifting for millenia).

The world contained primitive tribes. One tribe saw the fall of the "God" and went to claim it. Other parts of the ship were scattered all over the planet, including crew weapons. (if desired, you could also have the ship be a Prison ship with prisoners in cryofreeze...some survive)

The protagonist's goal was to virtually 'uplift' his tribe, raising their tech/intelligence over generations, so as to properly repair itself, send out a signal, and if necessary, build a craft to get back to its homeworld. The big problems came from other tribes who eventually figured out how laser pistols/etc. worked.

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hy dvdmandt,
first of all, i like the idea and the mood it puts me in when i think about it. but i recommend a bit of an ease in when introducing your technology to the native species. i do understand that the goal in the end is to transfer all your knowlegde to the natives and to make them your underlings, in a nice or a ruthless way, or to leave the planet. But, imho i would make this process more gradual. think about it like this.
You crash on the planet.No one saw you crash. Your technology is partially functioning, so you are able to survive on your own for some time, e.g. your replicator can generate food/warmth/clothing/tools from energy. so you are able to build a small base at the beginning, but you know very well that your energy will run out eventually. The question is now, how will the player transition? there's an individual choice hes got to make. Either use the energy to build stuff that will help him transfer the knowledge easier, e.g. through the production and usage of precice tools/cranes/heavy duty machines) or build weapons to opress and controll the natives. Of course there are many more ways of using up the energy.
After the energy is used up you will have many players with very different setups for the following trials and tasks.
hope this was helpfull.
cheers and best of luck with this project

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