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Acharis

Mechanic for internal struggle of an empire (strategy)

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Acharis    5979

It just occured to me, all strategy games are about some map on which you move units and fight other units (I know, I would not get a nobel prize for this discovery :D). I could't find even ONE counterexample (if we exclude various tycoon games and city builders games), which was quite surprising to me.

 

So, I wonder, how to make a game (or find an appropriate mechanic) which is about an internal issues of an empire (or other things that are not just war and moving units around). Generally, something where you feel like an emperor that is running an empire but it's not about a map and units moving on it.

 

Is there a way to get rid of the overdone map+units mechanic yet still get the feel of an empire building game?

 

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Shane C    1368
That's a hard question. Personally I would keep what makes this type of game this type of game and try to focus on innovating through story.

Maybe others can offer more insight.

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Dodopod    700

I've been following the topics about the game you're making, but I'm still not sure -- other than the empire that the player is supposed to rule, are there other countries? And if so, how powerful are they?

 

But my general advice is to consider what you expect your fictional emperor to do/have to do with their time. You know, set taxes, send troops collect taxes, squander taxes on pointless luxuries -- that sort of thing.

 

A map is... probably mandatory, since the player is supposed to rule massive amounts of territory, and the best way to prove it to them is just to show them a map. Instead of controlling troops though, you could just have them give orders to their generals, and if they've given the military enough funding, the right research, and good recruitment campaigns (or just conscript all of the poor people, like a real emperor), the general will come back in a few months to a few years with good or bad news. Maybe with some messages in between just to keep them up to date. And if the player is really, really lucky, the general won't start a coup. Actually, maybe you could keep a smaller, elite army under your own personal control just in case the real army tries something (like the SS in Nazi Germany... if I remember my history, that is).

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kseh    3838

Did you find the Romance of the Three Kingdoms games or others by Koei? It's been awhile since I've played (I think) the 3rd one but I seem to remember a great deal of the game is done through menus and report screens where you manage your kingdom, generals, advisers, and successors. There is a map that shows the various empires but it probably could be thought of as just another report (not much happens on it). War and your military are of course prominent elements but you only really worried about positioning of your units while battles were taking place.
 

Otherwise you'd be looking at a game that is even more of a "spreadsheet" manager game. Not that it can't be fun but you need to have something that the player can relate to and visualize success. Which leads to the question, if your empire management game isn't about war then what sort of successes are the player is aiming for?

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AngleWyrm    554

So, I wonder, how to make a game (or find an appropriate mechanic) which is about an internal issues of an empire (or other things that are not just war and moving units around).

With one player I see discovery, exploration and construction. With two players there's competition, cooperation, trade. With three, there's the ability to team up against the other guy, political games and confidence games. Four players introduces team vs team sports.

Edited by AngleWyrm

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Acharis    5979

That's a hard question.

Yep :) I can find answers to easy questions on my own, only the hard ones are, well, hard to aswer :) And I agree that hard question sux :)

 


I've been following the topics about the game you're making
Well, I usually make post about similar kind of game, but here I'm asking generally. I'm just curious how such mechanic can be made. Don't tie it to my other posts. Here I'm just curious why all strategies are about map+combat units and if there is way (even if only theorethical) to break from this pattern.

 


A map is... probably mandatory, since the player is supposed to rule massive amounts of territory, and the best way to prove it to them is just to show them a map.
Map is OK, just no military units fighting each other.

 

Did you find the Romance of the Three Kingdoms games or others by Koei?

I played ancient Genghis Khan (I guess they all follow the same pattern). It was still a map with units fighting each other (albait, it was done in a very way). Still, it wasn't what I'm looking for, in its core it was map+units.

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cronocr    756


Is there a way to get rid of the overdone map+units mechanic yet still get the feel of an empire building game?

 

Well, if the problem is the map (2D/3D), you could make the game dimensionless. For example it could be like a trading card game. If your empire is attacked by another, you could choose an action from your hand, like sending another army to fight, resist from a city, exchange a beautiful princess for peace. Each win could give you points to build cities or armies, learn technologies, do diplomacy, etc.

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Acharis    5979

Well, primarily I wanted something that is different from 4X games in the overall mood and premise. By internal struggle of an empire I meant rebels, uprising of your population, problems with powerful factions, part of your population fighting with other part of your population, maybe some usurper that has a claim to your imperial throne.

 

I don't mind map (alone) nor combat units (alone), but I don't want these both at the same time, I don't want the overdone pattern of map+units that fight each other.

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cronocr    756

I think internal struggle is something that is hidden for a king, until bad things happen. The way to discover it on time is through the eyes of his spies. So you could use queues of spies (thinking on Master of Orion) for the cities of your own reign and foreign cities. These spies will reduce or increase problems in a city. The actions could be controlled with slides or could be a mini-game like trading cards. This will depend on how complex you want the interaction to be.

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ActiveUnique    867


So, I wonder, how to make a game (or find an appropriate mechanic) which is about an internal issues of an empire (or other things that are not just war and moving units around). Generally, something where you feel like an emperor that is running an empire but it's not about a map and units moving on it.

 

Were you looking for something other than the current understanding of how strategy games work? If not, your best bet is to avoid representing the map, granted it's an empire, and stick to tactical decisions based on any other type of knowledge. Turn based tactics is what I'm told it's called here:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_game_genres#Strategy

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turn-based_tactics

 

Maybe avoid the cliche where you have a group of soldiers you dictate commands to and focus on a single perspective, a microscopic look into the grand scheme that takes place.

 

http://www.examiner.com/article/the-definition-and-meaning-of-the-strategy-game-genre

http://psp.about.com/od/pspglossary/g/strategydef.htm

 

If you want to define a new type of strategy game you may have to call it an adventure game, and let other people mull over whether it was really strategy or not. I'm not sure, but when I see "adventure" as the genre it seems to imply the game's about trying new things. You could even delve into visual novels like Phoenix Wright, and focus primarily on supplying dialogue for which outcomes you want your game to have.

 

Did you want more ideas about how the empire can be influenced? Is any of this helpful?

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Acharis    5979


Did you want more ideas about how the empire can be influenced? Is any of this helpful?
I don't want to make it tactical, I also don't want to do adventure-something either. I want a pure turn based strategy (grand strategy preferably), that feels like running/building an empire. But without the overdone map + units fighting on the map.

 

I just want another core mechanic. Maybe some sort of cards? I don't know. I'm looking for anything that isn't map+units.

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ActiveUnique    867

I've already commented about cards here: http://www.gamedev.net/topic/643362-why-cards-in-a-game-design/?view=findpost&p=5064318

 

Without land or units there's still plenty of potential for a game. The problem is we see in a finished game measurements like land, resources, units; we have to depart from the notion that these scores are built in. Goals after we've taken those out, whatever goal you or the player will have, that is what the game is about.

 

You said you wanted a mechanic, so this is it.  You give your goal a name, a description, and then think of how the game opens up the possibility of achieving it.

 

Now I'm backtracking: You said you wanted to feel like you were an emperor. Technically you could be an emperor who does nothing to help the empire. The empire could still be building up around you based on the actions of your loyal servants. Maybe the game mechanics would allow you to stuff your face all day, and choose concubines, for years on end until your family is assassinated. Then you can build in a score for how much weight you put on, how many kids you had, how likely it was one of your kids that assassinated you, etc.

 

You just need a goal, a well-defined goal.

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Acharis    5979

I found an example mechanic.

 

In Victoria 2 there is map and you move units and these fight, standard so far. But, it's not the core activity, actually, those military units are not that important most of the time. Majority of the "action" is in the "influence" mechanic. You have influence points, you can spend these on various minor nations. Then, when you accumulate enough points in a nation you have one of 4 actions available:

* increase your relations with that country

* "take over", to be more precise "include in your sphere of influence", you can do it only if you have the highest relation level

* reset all influence points of another major power (so they can't increase relation or put that country into their sphere)

* "poison" target major power's status (temporarily) reducing the speed of acquiring influence points in that nation

 

In practice the player spends most of the time watching these parmaterers and making diplomatic actions while military actions are rare.

 

From my prespective, the military units could be removed from that game (and replaced with some more abstract "army" thing that simply reacts to orders like "conquer country X").

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TechnoGoth    2937

What about taking some of the city building and province mechanics from a game like ceaser and move them up to the empire level. 

 

Or you could a have a tile system and each turn you place improvement, tech, or event tiles.    What I'm thinking is you could place a mining tile down on a mountain and it might evolve after a number of turns to a gold mine.  You can further improve it by placing a village tile or industrial technology which might unlock jewelry at that location as a trade resource.  

 

Where this could be interesting is that you each turn you might have to play 3 improvement tiles and 1 problem tile.  In this way the player is balancing between growth and expansions but also seeding the problems they will have to deal with.  Do I place an enemy agent? A famine? or increase the power of the thieves guild?

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Acharis    5979


What about taking some of the city building and province mechanics from a game like ceaser and move them up to the empire level.
Well, I have doubts. I mean I want to get rid of the map+units mechanic, not of the cruel, bloody, risky stuff. City building is fun and everything but... where is crushing the rebellion of your ungrateful subjects? Where is the coup of your treacherous admirals? And where is the posion in your food put in by your supposed to be loyal courtiers? Not to meantion an alien invasion on top of it all (OK, that one is not internall struggle, but still).

 

I want the bloody meat preserved :D Just peacefully putting tiles together is just not the same. It does not feel like being an emperor.

 

Maybe more into direction of boardgames/cardgames? Like you get "crisis cards" each turn and you should deal with these or the stability of the empire falls (like in Battlestar Galactica Boargame for example). Or spreading of "trouble" like cubes in Pandemic.

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cronocr    756

I found an old post that I contributed in another thread, it could be give you ideas:

 

 

 

I think the few people that have power in their hands must keep the population happy to avoid rebellions, for example keeping monsters outside the land, maintaining a healthy economy, etc. As a player earns more and more territory, he will also be required to do more micro-management tasks. At some point the player will be forced to ally with other players to take care of these tasks so he can continue with conquest campaigns. But if the player doesn't care about his land and his people, individual players could find chances to sabotage his power. For example under a good government the "burn this farm" action will be grayed out, and farms will randomly enable this action as rating goes down. With supplies reduced the player's army will lose its combat performance and soldiers will defect. This will become a snowball effect that could quickly remove all of the player's control of his territory, allowing other players to take advantage and become new rulers.

 

 

 

http://www.gamedev.net/topic/631601-theoretical-multiplayer-game/#entry4982198

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MatthewMorigeau    1672

Instead of getting rid of map and units system, make it "in fiction". Almost every sovereign uses a table, map and pieces to represent generals/captains/etc. You could try playing out a kingdom game from the place a ruler used to do it. From his throne, council room and war room. The delegation of tax money and labor kept the nobles in line and in return they would offer knights and soldiers when the kingdom required it. The most intriguing part of all this would be in the use of spies and council meetings. 

 

It's easy to assume this structure only applied in the medieval times but honestly current day capitalism enables a lot of the same imperial structure that existed then. 

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ActiveUnique    867


It's easy to assume this structure only applied in the medieval times but honestly current day capitalism enables a lot of the same imperial structure that existed then.

Please don't be confusing economics with the social contract theory. If someone makes a game they should have their facts straight.

 

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/social+contract

http://works.bepress.com/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1009&context=dmnyamaka

 

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/capitalism

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wodinoneeye    1689

Empires are about factions vying for power.  Its about degree of influence to achieve that power. These factions can be geographic in their concentrations of power but also the influence can be trhu individual/groups inside institutions which arent strictly geographical.   Power is also about coalitions of factions who combine their influence to make things happen to their benefit (and conversely to take the benefits away from rivals).

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Acharis    5979

Instead of getting rid of map and units system, make it "in fiction". Almost every sovereign uses a table, map and pieces to represent generals/captains/etc. You could try playing out a kingdom game from the place a ruler used to do it. From his throne, council room and war room. The delegation of tax money and labor kept the nobles in line and in return they would offer knights and soldiers when the kingdom required it. The most intriguing part of all this would be in the use of spies and council meetings.

Yes... that sounds nice. Question, how exactly such mechanic should work.

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powerneg    2010

When you say strategic, the first thing i hear is "move units over a map to pew-pew other units." so likely you'll end up in another genre if you don't want that.

 

How about every planet in your empire has it's own characteristics, that you have to balance out?
- the species living on it can give bonus to internal security and reaction-speed to your orders

  also the loyalty-changes are bigger/faster for some species.

- the type of planet enables mining of certain materials

- the atmosphere will determine which species can potentially live there

- the governor will gives speed to development of new....umm, let 's say factories for now
 

planets have certain needs to keep functioning properly(usually this is called happiness or morale, but it should be something more then just the sum of satisfied needs vs. unsatisfied needs; for example a present army would give more internal security, better chance on stopping a revolt if it happens, but not pre-emptively stopping a revolt,
they will also decrease morale on the planet if there are not enough brothels available, and off course they'll have some (other) kind of upkeep-cost)

and they need resources for that that need to be transported and consumed.

 

Now let's say there are space-pirates that you have to deal with, but they're too strong to just wipe out.

A player needs to get resources past them without being intercepted(cloaked freighter, pay the pirates off, take a different route, just let a planet perform less for a while?)

and sometimes the pirates will bond together making a big fleet and attempt to pillage a planet.
(I recommend against a success/fail approach and just assume that pirates will always deal some damage to the sociological structures of a planet,
but how much would depend on defenses and such)

 

Notice how there are still fighting units moving around(pirates) but the player controls the counters(resources, governors, certain laws) to them.

 

As a side-note, in MOO2, i often had my fleet protecting whichever star-system was still under development, since the other star-systems were usually capable of defending themselves, it was actually not very strategic that way imo, but for the game you want such a strategy might be what you want with your fleet
(aka they're just at one place defending/building there so you can expand in the long-term, while the actual fighting/interacting/strategy happens in the rest of the empire)

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Acharis    5979

I was thinking, maybe I should approach it from a different angle. Instead of a full mechanic, let's start with the "game space", a kind of "board" that represents the world we are changing/affecting.

 

Types of "game space" in strategies (that I know of):

- the most popular (4x games) is map and units moving over it and fighting smile.png

- city builders have an empty landscape where you build a city

- old Dictator (ZX-Spectrum) had factions, these had two stats: power and loyalty to you; and all you were doing was affecting these factions (so the ones that hate you stay weak and the strong one are happy and unlike to rebel). Yes, no map of any kind

- slots for buildings (or to be more precise you have all buildigns from the start and you upgrade these/build more, but without the constrain of a map) are sometimes used in simpler flash games

 

So, the question, what game space should a game that have "internal struggle of an empire" should have? At the moment I can see two, one more or less traditional planets, second some cards with factions and you shaping these. I think maybe even both can be used at the same time...

Anyway, I don't want to impose (at this moment), so what *you* think?

 

 

 


When you say strategic, the first thing i hear is "move units over a map to pew-pew other units." so likely you'll end up in another genre if you don't want that.

smile.png

 

BTW, watch this, it's interesting (I vote that's a strategy game):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjF1M1zDJf4

and if you like it there is more

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkO0dQ4KQ08

Edited by Acharis

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TechnoGoth    2937

Having watched episodes of table top games on geek and sundry for dark ages of Camelot and pandemic.  It sounds like you might be after the kind of game where its more about trying not to lose then winning.  To that end I'm imaging a sort representational map board that has the different power bases on it.  There would be an area marked as the border, circle in the center that represents a the senate another that represents known space and uncharted sectors another for the capital, etc..

 

 

Each turns is divided into 3 phases.

Phase 1 - spend mega credits

Phase 2 - sow seeds of destruction

Phase 3 - Resolve an event.

 

During phase 2 you sow the seeds of destruction which make the game harder and events more unpredictable.  You could add another ship the alien armada, increase corruption among the senate, sacrifice a a life point from a family member or any of a number of bad things.  Increasing the size of the alien armada doesn't do anything directly but eventually the alien invasion event will occur and when it does you had better be ready for it they will wipe out your empire.  Increasing corruption in the senate gradually makes things harder some events will have nastier consequence and at different levels it triggers a power loss.  When it hits 6 everything goes up in price by 1 when it hits 12 you are removed from power.  If your family all die from life loss or events you also lose.  The player struggles with the bad things going on around them trying to pursue one of a few paths to victory and resolving an array of different events each turn.

 

Events might be:

Alien invasion

New Planet Discovered

An Important Marriage

A new cult emerges

 

you get the idea

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MatthewMorigeau    1672


If someone makes a game they should have their facts straight.

 

Haha because this is something that breaks my immersion in a fictional game world, it's accuracy when considering social contract theory. I remember the last time I played a game and thought why is the governing body of this city letting me just kill this hooker and take this floating money and only sending one blood thirsty cop to drive me off the road and kill me?

 

Property, governing, power and the ruse of authority. Call it all what you will(monarchy, empire, corporations, government, civilization, etc) and feel free to complicate it as much as you like with modern law, but the fact is we're all slaves to the notion of ownership and fooled by the idea of power. It's all just socialization from childhood that helps to keep this broken thing we call civilization going with it's anti-economizing "economic system". When in reality any programmer worth their salt, willing and able could build a better resource tracking, accounting and allocation structure along side automated production and distribution systems better then any capitalism focused governing body, globalized market exchange economy could ever hope to match. Providing more goods and services more economically to everyone on this planet, educating more people, advancing technology faster and more efficiently and offering better health care all the while better sustaining this finite world and its fragile structure. Tangent rant complete! On to more important matters then saving the world from itself.

 


how exactly such mechanic should work

 

Depends on the scope of the game but you could limit the entire game to a single(throne) room or expand as much as to explore a sandbox across multiple kingdoms. Depending on how many visual assets you feel you can get done along side the code and their use in displaying the plight of the kingdom. I was thinking of something like Fable III combined with more social/choose your own adventure gameplay. NPCs(peasants, nobles, military, spies, etc) bringing the issues of the kingdom before the king, using a back end economic system that enables the player to exercise economic foresight and upkeep the kingdom. A conflict map to display the armies and known enemies of the kingdom and a council table to seek insight from "experts". Challenges could include the uprising of most if not all of the kingdom(uprising nobles), a foreign threat, a none human threat(monsters or pests), expanding the kingdom or any combination of those or other plights of a civil population.  Win conditions could include military might, economic prowess(buying allegiance), emotional manipulation (kidnapping, torture, winning the heart, winning the mind, etc), death of a single powerful foe, death of an idea or again a combination of these or any other strategies to win and hold the hearts/minds of the populace. To boot mechanics to keep your character happy, healthy and to protect your legacy could be a nice addition as well. 

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Acharis    5979

I was thinking about throne room centric game as well but... I have one big problem with it. No emergent gameplay. All these events (pertitions you need to deal with in your throne room) need to be scripted. It will most likely turn into a sort of an adventure instead of strategy. No/very low replayability.

 

The similar problem is with Shadows over Camelot kind of mechanic. Few events that will run out quickly (it works for boardgames since these are relatively low number of turns games, I think). But more into direction of Pandemic (spread of generic "chaos cubes" across a map) might work.

 

 

Overall, I'm starting to think that while combat units on a map are not obligatory, some sort of map is.

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