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MatthewMorigeau

The Zeitgeist Movement Game - Feedback

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This post is to assess interest in the below game idea and not debate the validity of the movement that inspired it. This is a design brief and isn't mean to layout all the detail of gameplay but give a loose structure in which gameplay mechanics could be built on. For anyone in the know about the movement they focus on an idea called a resource based economy which is a major focus for the game. I won't go into any length about the movement specifically because I'm sure if you're reading this you must know something about it already but if you don't please read on anyways as your opinion of the game design matters just as much. To put it in a nutshell however I'd best describe the ZM as an inclusive movement aiming to achieve a society less driven by unsustainable thinking that is normalized by our money driven frame of reference for survival.

 

The whole concept of a RBE or resource based economy can be found online (or hopefully in the game) however a few of the main ideals it focuses on are a moneyless society, less access restriction (ownership) with more of a library book mentality about products (everyone’s responsibility) using sustainable centralized production and distribution and recycling of goods and the most refined global resource tracking possible. To be clear, I'm not here to debate the validity of this theoretical societal structure, I'm here to know if the below game sounds fun and worth making. This information is to help facilitate the explanation of the game design. Clearly if you don’t agree with the ideals you might find the game hard to swallow but I would appreciate you giving it a chance before you make your choice.

 

The game: Players take the role of an ambitious career activist, aiming to see a RBE come true. Since the idea of a RBE is a global endeavour the game would span a simplified version of our planet and turn it into a toy to play at being an activist in. Set in the modern day, I would simplify the world with up to three cities on each continent, populated by no more than 100 characters in each city meant to represent the region's people, culture and potential. Like the world, the character communication would be simplified as well, using symbols (like Simglish in The Sims) allowing the player's character to interact personally with NPCs of the cities as well as digitally as player's attempt to tie NPC members to their own movement (much like the ZM).

The player is challenged with connecting with their city, to discover technical projects and attempt to actually build them to gain attention for their movement. The game would explore known monetary and political traps but most of all players will be challenged with spreading the word and achieving the amount of involvement required to even start any of these projects. The goal is to persuade, entice and inspire the right people to move towards creating each technical project, achieving the needed resources and the right individuals to make it happen. Then lastly the ultimate step, informing and involving the world and taking the technical steps the world needs to achieve an RBE all the while standing up to the historical conflicts, the obvious backlash of the money in power as well as the dynamic events that shape the planet and its people. The win condition will be the removal of money from the world's social structure and the implementation of a technically realized RBE actively achieving access abundance.

 

To be clear, the title of the post indicates that this is a ZM game when in reality it’s at best a RBE game but mostly just a game about an activist for a technical society over a money society. However given the inclusive nature of the ZM and its inspiration to actively inform about this sort of an idea I felt it only fair to affiliate it to the movement.

 

If you chose "I want more info." Please post which areas of the game you're curious about or can't envision or PM me. Thanks for reading!

 

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The crux of it is that it is just another Tycoon game.  There is nothing really unique from your description of it.
Could it be popular?
Probably. Tycoon games are fairly popular.  It just depends on the execution.

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an inclusive movement aiming to achieve a society less driven by unsustainable thinking that is normalized by our money driven frame of reference for survival

You using complex words, me is inferior brained being, me not understand :D

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an inclusive movement aiming to achieve a society less driven by unsustainable thinking that is normalized by our money driven frame of reference for survival

You using complex words, me is inferior brained being, me not understand biggrin.png

I guess I was just saying that the group doesn't exclude anyone or any other organization that takes an interest in it. The aim is to create a sustainable society that isn't driven by profit, ownership and the delusions of wealth. 

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I'd like to see a culture like this as one of the places you visit in an RPG.  Not really interested in a game where the player's main task is promoting a political agenda, though.

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The crux of it is that it is just another Tycoon game.  There is nothing really unique from your description of it.
Could it be popular?

Probably. Tycoon games are fairly popular.  It just depends on the execution.

 

I'm curious what about the description inspires the idea of a tycoon game? Not to say that it wouldn't or couldn't be, but the meaning of the actual word tycoon might not fit. 
 

I'd like to see a culture like this as one of the places you visit in an RPG.  Not really interested in a game where the player's main task is promoting a political agenda, though.

 

Do you find the idea of the social gameplay uninteresting or is it another aspect? Because an RBE isn't meant to shift politics, its meant to shift society.  The aim of the player's character is to socially connect with characters to physically achieve technical projects, so in many ways it would play much like an RBE but instead of grinding combat you are fighting the social walls that people naturally put up when faced with an alternative to society organized with money. Grinding would be finding and keeping in touch with individuals that helped in previous successful projects, boss battles would be powerful corporate, banking and political figure heads. So instead of just stumbling upon an interesting place with a strange way of life. You get to physically alter this world, seeing the people, cities and planet change because of you're actions. The aim is to go beyond the existing power structure of the world (politics and money) and build answers to the problems we face as a planet. 

 

 

Thanks for the great feedback so far, please keep it coming!

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The problem that I have is that you've basically outlined a storyline, but not a game. Having an interesting story is important if that's the selling point of your game, but in order for it to be a game, it also needs to have solid mechanics that stand on their own even if the entire story is removed. From the description of "the game", this could be a final-fantasy-style JRPG, or an FPS adventure, or an art-house conversation game like facade, etc... Persuading people could involve acting out Fight-Club's middle class terrorism in the form of an FPS, or it could be some bejewelled-esque minigame with political iconography instead of gems. 

So yeah I think it's an interesting story/theme to use in a game, but a story/setting isn't a game.

 

IMHO, the Zeitgeist Movement is nice for popularising the idea of a RBE, but basically they're just latching onto the Venus Project and creating their own activist culture around that existing work. They're also dangerous because they've unintentionally created an association between RBE's and the tin-foil-hat brigade (NWO theorists, etc, thanks to them regurgitating one of the Amero conspiracies without checking their sources)...

The venus project is interesting background material for a game, because they've already got concepts for everything biggrin.png I'd love to see a venus-project sim-city game.

What annoys me with the ZM is that they point at the current social structure and observe how perverted it is, which everyone knows to be true, and then the point at the venus project and observe that this is how things ideally should work, which is great... but the most important bit is missing: a concrete plan to transition from one to the other.

 

If I was going to make a game in this setting, I'd like to make one that actually forces the player to come up with some solutions to that transition part. For example, it could be a city-builder game like Settlers or Sim-City or Ceasar, where you build a little capitalist economy, with all the different parts of your city working together... except with the challenge that eventually you're doomed to fail by not being able to sustain growth for whatever reason (depletion of resources).

So you have to get your city up to a level of modern technology where they can start building Venus-project-esque facilities, and then put policies in place that encourage people to do so, which is hard, because capitalism makes it not make sense to help people like this... The game would have to be detailed enough for real-life reasons to oppose this development to present themselves in the game -- e.g. greedy investors see a bad ROI on building self-sufficient housing, so they don't want to. "The 1%" will run advertising campaigns against you when you threaten their investments, etc, which could result in game over if you get booted out of office, etc... You'd have to introduce policies of government subsidies, tax-breaks, or force (stalin-esque communist intervention, etc) to persuade people to build their techno-utopia before it's too late. The core of that game would be an economic simulator and the UI/gameplay would be that of a city builder / management game.

Edited by Hodgman

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I'd like to see a culture like this as one of the places you visit in an RPG.  Not really interested in a game where the player's main task is promoting a political agenda, though.

 

Do you find the idea of the social gameplay uninteresting or is it another aspect? Because an RBE isn't meant to shift politics, its meant to shift society.  The aim of the player's character is to socially connect with characters to physically achieve technical projects, so in many ways it would play much like an RBE but instead of grinding combat you are fighting the social walls that people naturally put up when faced with an alternative to society organized with money. Grinding would be finding and keeping in touch with individuals that helped in previous successful projects, boss battles would be powerful corporate, banking and political figure heads. So instead of just stumbling upon an interesting place with a strange way of life. You get to physically alter this world, seeing the people, cities and planet change because of you're actions. The aim is to go beyond the existing power structure of the world (politics and money) and build answers to the problems we face as a planet.

Politics IS attempting to shift society.  The root word of politics, polis, means people, society.  Politics is about establishing policy, which is what you get when a philosophy is implemented as something detailed and pragmatic. Policy includes laws and plans of actions for what to do in response to problems that affect us as a society (e.g. the planet).  You even said the player is an activist, an explicitly political role.  This is undeniably a political concept.  That's not a bad thing - FF7, for example, was a highly political game, and also artistic, popular, and memorable.

 

As for me personally, I have no objection to the kind of game where the player runs around persuading NPCs.  I like games from Harvest Moon to serious dating sims to adventure games like The Longest Journey, all of which have NPC persuasion as a major gameplay element.  Xenallure, a public game concept that I did a lot of the design work for, was a game where the player's main ability was influencing NPCs, and the player could do this to the extent of triggering or stopping a war, as well as building relationships with individual characters.  But those are interesting because they are personal and emotionally involving (not to mention having some nice fantasy or science fictional world building).  The concept as described in the first post here seems boring by contrast because it is impersonal and doesn't present an interesting challenge.  Your game would have a huge amount of difficulty stirring up the player's motivation for the task of eliminating money from the world.  It's not something many potential players will already care passionately about.

Edited by sunandshadow

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@sunandshadow

Politics is one method of shifting society, mostly focused around the regulation and movement of money. With the aim of keeping the people feeling safe and content. The laws and plans of action generally are in place to protect property and as a society, are not aimed at fixing issues but contenting the people that the issues affect. The player's character is an activist. But an activist isn't a political role, voting is a political role. Activism can aim at political issues, industrial issues, commercial and even domestic issues, none of which require change in legislation or any other political action, only a change in the actions of the people it involves. And politics aren't a bad thing if you believe that money and property are worthwhile things to protect. An example being boycotting. 

 

As for this game, I'm glad you made some comparisons because that helps move the design forward. Xenallure sounds like it could share a lot of elements with this design idea, war is aiming to be stopped, as is poverty, suffering, injustice, slavery, objectification, dehumanization, normalization of corruption, etc and in a very personal and emotionally involving way(and it includes urban science fiction) as these are the things that are worth fighting to stop. As for the design coming off as impersonal I'll need some clarification with, since the game's main challenge is social interaction game play. Lastly is the two final lines about the player's passions. Hopefully the majority of games/gameplay don't rely on the passions of a player otherwise I would say murder and violence rank a little too highly for my taste. However ending conflict is a passion of every gamer in my opinion. Which (like most every title) this game offers in spades. However unlike most games, it aims at actual conflicts and challenges the world faces. It uses a real plausible theory to deal with that conflict, it offers technically viable solutions and viable paths to achieve them. The aim of the title as a whole is to empower concerned players, if a player hasn't the concern for the conflict then yes your right it won't be much of a game. But I think most gamers can see the problems and playing a game that offers toy to play at fixing them could have a lot of potential, with help.

 

Your main concern seems to be the social interaction, do you have any suggestions?

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The biggest weakness with this idea would be the simglish approach. It seems to me that there is a rich landscape of ideas that are begging to be communicated by different characters with different perspectives. It would be a waste to offload that into a tutorial or other documentation, and unless you're preaching to the converted a missed opportunity for those who might not know much about the idea but be attracted to the concept or gameplay. 

 

If I were tackling your concept I might try to represent personalities and leaders of groups who represent all the interests with which the game is dealing. Most importantly it would be crucial to represent opposed sides as closely to their perspective as you can get, much in the same way a good writer gives insight about their antagonist by revealing why they are the way they are. 

 

As you're challenging a fundamental system I'm wondering if part of the game would benefit from a more nuts and bolts life sim angle, as well. Maybe show how heating, transportation, food, medicine and other basic needs would be met by people in the new system, including the player. 

 

I'd be interested in hearing more about how you could convey the ethos of the idea itself through the gameplay. One thing I don't care for with games of this type are the typically polemical approach I've seen. It would be nice to see a game that conveys an unusual set of ideas while still remaining a game rather than becoming an authoritative soapbox.

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