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MatthewMorigeau

The Zeitgeist Movement Game - Feedback


13 posts in this topic

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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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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The problem that I have is that you've basically outlined a storyline, but not a game.

 

I lay out the character's focus (win condition), the description of the world and characters (level design and NPC), character communication (gameplay), the games challenges and rules (gameplay) then I reiterate the win condition. I did do it rough as to not commit to any one gameplay system this early on in case someone had some fun ideas to share but I'm not sure I follow when you say I just outlined a storyline. 

 

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 first line of my post should have made this part of your post stay in your head. This isn't really the right place for this discussion but your blatantly prejudice views towards the movement's members sure doesn't legitimize your arguments about the game design (or the movement). Maybe we should stay on topic. I clearly stated why I posted this as a "Zeitgeist game", so any opinion you have of the movement is less like litter in another topic. 

 

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).

 

 

RBE can only function as a global concept if you're only accounting for one city it isn't a RBE it's a Venus Project City builder, which Jacque feels he's done. One city isn't a solution to transition, it's an exclusive place to live that the rest of the world won't understand and quickly turn its back on. Regional governing of a technocracy isn't a game exploring a RBE. My design's focus is to play at creating transition on a global scale so I'm not sure why you feel that "that transition part" is missing in the design. 

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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. 

 

I was hesitant about the idea of a symbol based communication system for this reason as well. But writing the script for the thousands of NPCs, where each one has to be just as useful and applicable as the next seemed pointlessly daunting. The symbol system allows the design to simplify the interaction and communication of ideas and enable the design to incorperate emotional elements that alter the dynamics of communication instead of just exploring the topics. Like this we can understand the character's feeling about the topics while having a loose sense of what the subject is. I wasn't planning on wasting the player's time with tutorial or documentation for aspects that require more concise explanation however. I was thinking that vital ideas that need clear communication to show all sides, could be done through the character's digital correspondence with specific characters. It could include Baraka inspired images and music that align with the point they're making to quickly and clearly drive the point as well as put the player in the know.

 

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. 

 

I do plan on having leaders, and representatives to as many major driving forces that exist in the world but I don't want to miss the fact that the other major driving force in this world are just people as well. Ideally I'd like to make a scaled up version of the 100 person planet. Representing our world as honestly as I can in a way that players still feel is manageable and not too redundant. And the opposing side will be loud and clear and very reasonably argued. We wouldn't have been using the same system for this long for no reason. Besides I don't want flat character's for my boss battles ;)

 

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.

 

I imagine you're referring to the character's hunger, comfurt, etc. I think these elements are the only way to convey the basic challenges that the world faces. Its easy to imagine north american cities in this game, but the African, Asian, Antarctic, South American continents will be a different story with very unique challenges and much more deeply rooted and dangerous challenges to overcome.

 

Much of the concrete arguments will exist through the short video correspondence between the player's character and the characters that they connect with. Along with the social interaction is the resources, goods and services structure. I was thinking of exploring a very basic resource system (Influence, mass, renewable mass, energy, money, region specific iconic resource, etc) These would exist for the player to learn how to track (the first step to building an RBE), for the player to find ways to collect and build the technologies the city, region or world needs as well as a simplification of the driving forces that truly rule our societies. Since the player will be finding ways of collecting these they will also get to see the impact the collection of these things has on the planet, like excessive extraction of renewable mass and the destructive ways we extract certain mass from the planet (mass representing most any solid or liquid we extract to build goods), the use of money to decide ownership of resources and tracking systems that drive the movement of those resources, good and services should help players to understand not only whats going on and why but also make the ideas of a RBE clearer (and hopefully clearer as to how to achieve them).  On top of the resources will be a layer of basic products to convey the types of products accessible to the world and on top of the products will be transportation systems and buildings meant to properly represent the different cities in each of the continents. 

 

To try and steer clear of the authoritative sandbox I'd like to make the characters that populate the cities exist as fairly complex individuals, I can't test the idea until the communication and symbols system is at least roughed out but I was thinking each one would have a profile of up to 30 symbols that define that character(unseen), as the player interacts with that character they profile them (seen) getting to understand the symbols that define them. Using up to three + symbols or - symbols beside it to represent that character's opinion and experience with that subject. As the game's world events take place, affect different regions and are expressed in different media (newspaper, the web, TV, radio, etc) the city's characters would react to the news based on how it's conveyed and how the event reflects on that character's personal opinion of those topics. These new events could perhaps bridge the gap between scripted audio/text along with symbols for the character's to react to. 

 

By the way, thanks for the concise feedback. This is useful and really helped me to honestly question if these elements should be reconsidered. Does the extra details help/interest you or do you feel I am still overlooking something with this design choice?

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When I read your first description I didn't like the idea and no immediate reason that came to mind sounded right. I took a nap before I thought of a good explanation, so instead of going back to sleep I tell you, here it is:

 

Despite my great interest in creating a real world RBE, and my own view of making the world ready for the very first Starfleet utopian society with a class-free society, my first interpretation of a highly complicated system of persuasion in game format that does not focus on combat is actually Pandemic II and Mastermind: World Conquerer.

 

I didn't want to sound insulting so I closed the browser, bear with me, I understood there are infinite ways to portray your idea so I knew I wasn't going to explain myself like that.

 

Ah, now I've figured out the problem, what's really gone wrong is your game could be anything. Yet on the other hand it has a basis on recent events which I hadn't really considered at face value. Any future event could change how people view your work, which puts it into an unbelievably cut-throat catagory "current events."

 

Maybe that relevation wasn't ground breaking, but to me it changes everything. If this game was made simply to illustrate current events it'd live and die by the current events it is based on, and I'm sure you'd like to see it live. If you wrote something today to represent a real solution in 1 - 100 years, well... old sci-fi movies told us we'd have faster-than-light travel and jet-packs years ago.

 

Perhaps if you focused more about how the game is meant to captivate the audience and tell the story it can tell there is a chance to make it last. A parody can survive if it's done really well, when it forms its own niche; but current events can become dated quickly, just like media based on one day loses all but its hitorical value before that day ends.

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But writing the script for the thousands of NPCs, where each one has to be just as useful and applicable as the next seemed pointlessly daunting

 

Thanks Mratthew I have a better idea now of what you're aiming for. One question about this element, though: Do you really need that many NPCs? It sounds like you're already abstracting the number of cities per territory. I wonder if fewer, more unique NPC as an abstraction wouldn't help bring out the ideas you're trying to convey better.

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