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Acharis

Audience mechanic

15 posts in this topic

For a turn based strategy simulating "emperor" (more focus on the person, the emperor, not only management of the empire).

 

For such a game an imperial audience (people going in and asking/requesting/reporting various thing to the emperor) thing would fit very well. I was thinking of maybe making it the focus or at least major part of the game, so I want to design that one first (so, right now there are no restriction if it would fit with the rest of the game).

 

Note that I aim for a card mechanic feel (things like your personel, events and generally the interface could be presented as cards where possible) also I want it to be not that long or overly complex game (definitely not a full blown 4X). Replayability (smart randomness) would be important too.

 

 

How an audience machanic could work? What it should be about? How important that mechanic should be in a game like that?

 

 

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My primary concern is the frequency. In SimCity the petitions were, very, very rare. But for this game I plan (if possible) to make an audience the core or at least major activity (a thing the player does a lot), like 5 audiences per turn. It means I can't make it too complex or with too much text to read (preferably icons maybe?), it needs to be strightforward or the player's brain will explode. Also, I don't think each audience should involve a decision, or at least not a decision hard to make.

 

I was thinking more like, there are many people that want to have an audience and you can't grant it to them all because you, as an emperor, have only 24h a day (and you need these for other things than audience too). So the first decision would be to whom grant the audience (mechanic like: there are 10 people who want an audience per turn but you can grant only 5).

 

These audience does not even need any decision to make, like an agent wants to give you a report on suspicious activities of some officials (granting this audience makes you immune for X turn to a "coup" event) or some influencial persona wanted just to talk about meaningless stuff (and will become unhappy if you don't find him important enough to meet) or that they ask you to participate in opening of a new starport (increases the planet's loyalty).

 

Another kind of audience could ask you about resources allocation. Like, they suspect an alien activity in sector X and want to send a survey squadron, you are to decide how many ships to send (these ships will be locked for Y turns). Or you could have a pool of funds to give out and there would be coming various people asking for these funds for various things/projects, of course there would be always more people who want the funds than the funds :) Every 12 turns there is a new "fiscal year" or something and you get a new pool of funds.

 

Traditonal "make an important decision that will shape the empire for the years to come" would be there too of course, but much more rare. Like a decision if we want to focus on training pilots or merchants (which is basicly a customisation of your "race"). These would be basicly mutually exclusive choices of permanent effects.

 

 

Note that all/most of these audiences would need to pop up over and over again, because I simply can't write so many unique scripted events (200 turns * 10 audiences = too much to be unique). Plus, it's probably desirable if these follow some pattern or the player would go insane quickly :)

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Hmm, what you wrote sounds a bit similar to my thoughts.

 

Time limit

Originally, I was thinking of making 5 turns limit for trivial audiences, but yours 1 turn is better since it would not hog the queue... Most of them need to be 1 turn OR there needs to be some mechanic to reject unwanted audiences early (which sounds complicated and troublesome).

 

Number of audiences per turn

Instead of a fixed number I was thinking about "focus points" that you can accumulate and manage a bit (resource). You can have max 15 focus points, you get +5 per turn and can use them anytime (this would not force the player to deal with audiences every single turn which might be more convenient/fun). In addition you would be spending these focus points on other things, like imperial editcs (yet the mayor use would be audiences), so you would need to skip some audiences if you plan something bigger (a reform of the empire).

 

When you get an assasination attempt on you, you always survive, but your health deteriorate temporarily and you get half focus points for the next X turns, so an empire might get into trouble because of the emperor "not feeling well" even through the economy and army is in a perfect shape.

Also, if you obtain "court efficiency" upgrade/project/trait you get +1 focus point per turn.

 

Representation of the throne room (audiences interface)

I have a trouble with that one and need advice.

Generally, I want a picture of an imperial throne and siome guards on the audience screen, that's very climatic. Then there needs to be an overview of people/audience requests. I think I can fit 2 rows of 6 each if I make it small (check the first picture, it's for another part of the game, but overall direction of the UI should be the same http://www.gamedev.net/topic/643014-personnel-strategy/ ) but I'm not sure if that's enough size to fit any info. There could be also some icon with "queue" symbol and a number of people that are still waiting (not visible on the screen at the moment because there is no space). These would be sorted more or less by importance (except for reports from previous turns actions, these need to go to the front so the player does not miss them.

The audience petitions would need some quick button to "deny" it, for quick disposal. Or maybe there should be a marker (2 buttons?) "grant/deny" and you click these and then you click "process queue" button and the granted ones pop up one by one (except for pure informational ones which would be ommited).

I'm not sure...

 

Misc

"Important audiences block". When there is an important unressolved audience (like a war declaration) the next turn button would be blocked (althrough I'm not sure what to do if the player has no focus points at that point...) OR make the button blocked until a player visits a throne room (this turn, therefore assuring the player sees the audience/event)?

 

"Free audiences". I think there need to be some free audiences (no focus points used) for pure information audiences (like a report that a fleet arrived somewhere). These could be drawn in grey (others could have different colours depending on severity or category).
 

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it would be nice if some events/audiences gave you the option to send one of your advisors to solve the problem, removing his/her advice(/options) from audiences for X turns.
(aka you can send your general to solve a rebellion, but then you wouldn't be getting his/her (good) advice on combat-related activities for say 3-5 turns

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i recommend against taking focus-points to the next turn, btw, since focus-points feel like available time, and bringing time to your next turn would break immersion.
if you want a resource you can "gather" i 'd use favours, important people, usually independent, owing you a favour for granting them this or that,

apart from having some "buffer" in times of crisis, this could also make the player think about how getting the most out of these favours, aka when to collect them.

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Instead of a fixed number I was thinking about "focus points" that you can accumulate and manage a bit (resource). You can have max 15 focus points, you get +5 per turn and can use them anytime (this would not force the player to deal with audiences every single turn which might be more convenient/fun).

That does seem like it'd make better gameplay, as long as there is an upper cap of focus points (the suggested 15 max sounds good).
You could then even have certain audiences take 2 focus points on rare occasions.
 

Representation of the throne room (audiences interface)
I have a trouble with that one and need advice.
Generally, I want a picture of an imperial throne and siome guards on the audience screen, that's very climatic. Then there needs to be an overview of people/audience requests. I think I can fit 2 rows of 6 each if I make it small (check the first picture, it's for another part of the game, but overall direction of the UI should be the same http://www.gamedev.net/topic/643014-personnel-strategy/ ) but I'm not sure if that's enough size to fit any info.
...
The audience petitions would need some quick button to "deny" it, for quick disposal.

Here's a possible layout:
audiences.png

(Note: the thrones I just stole from Google Images as placeholders - they are almost certainly copyrighted)

 

You could even color-code each audience box based off of department category (blue = civil service, green = military, white = science, etc...).

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Hmmm, indeed horizontal audience cards can fit reasonable amount of text.

 

About grant audience button, maybe fit there a list of possible choices as well? It's kind of repetitive to first click grant audience and then a new screen/window pop up and asks which option you choose...

 

I wonder about the throne picture, somehow I find it annoying... Maybe it's because of the black background and it should be inside a border+background (as a big picture at the top?) Or maybe drazw this throne as a screen background and it will become fully visible after you get rid (deny or grant) of the audiences for the turn? Or maybe make the throne picture part of the interface (some buttons representing guards that you can click and change your preferences to security or icons of your advisors?) I'm not sure, maybe that's just my personal feeling only...

 

i recommend against taking focus-points to the next turn, btw, since focus-points feel like available time, and bringing time to your next turn would break immersion.

I don't know... I like the mechanic that does not force the player to grant audiences every single turn (with +5/15 max it's one big audience per 3 turns if you want). Favours sound complicated and, well, I want it to feel like the personal time of the emperor.
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Quote

I wonder about the throne picture, somehow I find it annoying... Maybe it's because of the black background and it should be inside a border+background (as a big picture at the top?) Or maybe drazw this throne as a screen background and it will become fully visible after you get rid (deny or grant) of the audiences for the turn?

It was just a mockup for showing the concept. Your sci-fi game certainly shouldn't use a 1700 AD throne, and you previously mentioned you'd like guards visible around the throne. The scene background is a great idea, uncovering the picture more, and might look good with a gathered crowd of courtiers in semi-silhouette looking towards the throne from the bottom, with the audience panels partially covering them.

Yes, I know. I just think than no matter how polished the front view throne image would still look odd...

I think 2 solutions are possible here:

1) top down full screen background with the throne room picture, as explained before

2) Small/medium interactive icons at the top, the biggest one would be the throne (with stars as indicator of focus points left), smaller icons of guards (when you mouse over it shows the chance of surviving assassination attempt), a chancellor with a number on it which shows how many people are waiting for audience (if they don't fit on the screen), maybe portraits of ministers (you get a report after clicking) or some advisors (with advices).

 

 

How about ressolving audiences after the turn? During a turn you can only select "grant audience" or "reject" (if non of these selected the audience rquest simply carry over next turn or expire waits too long). When you click the end turn you are presented the decisions for each audience one by one (you can't come back, just a seriest of decisions), audiences that do not require decision are not presented after the turn, just carried over.

Does it make sense? Should I go for this mechanic or is there a better one?

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It'd be very irritating, which would be semi-acceptable if it had a good gameplay reason why it should be that way. But I can't think of any way it benefits the gameplay.
My thinking is like this: you have 3 focus points, you decide to grant audience to the general (click), to the banker (click), then to your researcher (click), then to the diplomat because there is a war (click - BEEP, action impossible, no focus points left), you stop and think, OK, the banker can be dealt with later (you unclick the grant audience button or reject audience). Then, after end turn all audiences that require a decision are ressolved (alternatively there could be "make decision" button that appears after audience is granted (if it requires it) which would allow you to make a decision instantly (but you still can ignore/change it later by ungranting/rejecting audience, the actual effect is always carried on after the turn)).

 

Two step audience is bad for details/outcome of the audience but good for managing whom you wish to grant the audience. It would work best if most audiences were just bonuses (like: grant audience to a governor and the morale on planet X improves by +2 and overall empire corruption falls by -1) or an instant decision (the survey ship encountered a planet with an ancient relic machinery, by granting the audience you tell them to investigate it further - also granting the audience locks 5 scout ships for X turns).

 

As for granting audience to get a report... well, I think (or rather, I'm quite sure) it should not use any focus points and therefore would not need any button at all (just "more details" button). Generally, I hesitate if I should put reports in audience mechanic in the first place... Maybe it should be done some other way?

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Two step audience is bad for details/outcome of the audience but good for managing whom you wish to grant the audience. It would work best if most audiences were just bonuses (like: grant audience to a governor and the morale on planet X improves by +2 and overall empire corruption falls by -1) or an instant decision (the survey ship encountered a planet with an ancient relic machinery, by granting the audience you tell them to investigate it further - also granting the audience locks 5 scout ships for X turns).

It sounds reasonable. It would depend on the presentation though. You'd have to present enough information in the "audience requesting" phase for playings to make an informed decision. It can't just say, "General Grahm is requesting an audience", or you won't know what makes Grahm's audience of more worth to you than Grand Minister Sam's audience request. It has to say, "General Grahm is requesting more resources for the war effort in the Alpha Centauri system."

Then, in the "audience granting" phase, it'd have to remind you (using the exact same text snippet) why you granted the audience.
[General Grahm is requesting more resources for the war effort in the Alpha Centauri system.] [Grant Audience]
[Another person you already agreed to give an audience to] [Grant Audience]
[The third person you agreed to give an audience to] [Grant Audience]

 

As for granting audience to get a report... well, I think (or rather, I'm quite sure) it should not use any focus points and therefore would not need any button at all (just "more details" button). Generally, I hesitate if I should put reports in audience mechanic in the first place... Maybe it should be done some other way?

That makes sense. Maybe you can show all the reports first, before accepting audiences, breaking it into two distinct phases.

Edited by Servant of the Lord
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Have you tried the game Long Live the Queen? In it you play through the first year of the reign of a new queen and have to deal political conspiracies, rebel forces, war, and a cult of evil wizards.
An interesting take on Princess Maker mechanic. The thing is it's meant for different audience. Princess Maker clones are played more by jRPG lovers, what I try to make is turn based strategy, for people who play Civilization, Master of Orion, etc. Also I strive for higher replayability. Also, as you said, this is great for a game where you can only do 2 or 3 actions a turn and I'm not trying to make that kind of game (althrough, maybe I should :D).

 

But.. .the scripted thematic audience there indeed is appealing... How about exactly one audience (after you click end turn)? It would be a full screen with only just this one petition, so you can have all choices with explanation of consequences and even advisors. These audience could be based on semi random chain of events (like at the start of the game there are randomy decided what kind of scenarios will be played "ancient ruins", "lost brother wants to usurp the throne", "plague", "military coup", "mad researcher causes the sun to blow up" and then these events will be presented as audiences with following events/audiences depending how you handled the previous ones) also there could be regular standard events (like imperial senate gathering once per 10 turns, tax collector's problems, corruption of planetary governors).

There would be exactly one such audience per turn.

 

Now, about the previously discussed "spend focus points to decide which audience to grant". Should I:

a) choose the "spend focus points to decide which audience to grant"

b) choose the "one audience per turn" (a bit like in the Long Live the Queen)

c) do both

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