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Acharis

Mechanic for internal struggle of an empire (strategy)

39 posts in this topic

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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