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Mechanic for internal struggle of an empire (strategy)

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One game I play every now and again is Don't starve a game in which the designers release a free content update about once a month, you could do the same for your game.

 

Do you have an end game in mind for this?  Or is is build for ever? 

 

If the game is more about short to mid length sessions (1-4 hours) then you could have 1 main plot and several sub plots that play out with the board setup with different parts each time the player then wins by completing the main plot.  You could then start with say a dozen plots and say dozen sub plots and then add more over time.

 

Short repayable games that are different each time open up are whole lot of possibilities for an empire strategy game.

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The problem I always saw with those kinds of systems, the ones where you're preventing bad things in stead of working towards good things, is that players tend to have goals that involve growth. To be clear, I mean the player themselves will usually have those, whether or not the systems involve it.

Whether it's power, strength, resources, there's something you want to acquire, to add to yourself, and when you're trying to organize or manage discontent, it's more an obstacle on your way towards that goal. So successfully getting your ducks in a row and getting your country/party/whatever on side just feels like getting back to the status quo.

It's not impossible, but making that fun inherently is an uphill battle.

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The game could be about gaining wealth and power for your family, the imperial family grows over time

(well, if you piss off the population assasinations and/or riots might change that)

and as player/emperor you try to put its members into places of power in the empire.

Usually this will gain you a slightly more loyal servant, yet much more incompetent compared to the "right man for the job,"

who was also available(choosable for the player) to take on the job.

 

The purpose of this may be so that the next emperor, after a long and bloody powerstruggle, will come from the old emperor's family as well.

This would be quite realistic but make it a "survival-game" which most players don't like.(as the Moldy Cow pointed out)
Make it too easy and it is a sim-game.

Another purpose might be that the imperial family has the ability to recognize "the enemy infiltrators" and destroy them,
and the goal would be to destroy "the enemy infiltrators" or remove them from power.
These "enemy infiltrators" may be anything ranging from spies from another empire to vampires spreading over the population to another rival family.

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I don't know don't starve has sold around over 300,000 pre-orders and it is essentially a game about how long can you survive. 

Another indie game I have is Reus which lets the player play 30 minute, 1 hour, or 2 hour games and you control 4 giants trying to develop a barren world and create prosperous town by placing resources on the map and help them develop.  But at the same time if they develop too quickly they turn greedy and start attacking other towns and even your giants.  Its all about balance between the towns and trying to help them develop and deciding which abilies your giants will gain based on the towns your choose too develop.  In a single game you can only get as subset of powers.  If you want to build diamond mines then your can't fill your oceans with wales.  If you want wild boar then maybe you don't get peach trees.

 

That said empowering the player to choose how they develop their empire and stack the deck against themselves can't be a bad thing. 

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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?

 

The game could be about gaining wealth and power for your family, the imperial family grows over time

(well, if you piss off the population assasinations and/or riots might change that)

 

So, you realise you are basically describing Crusader Kings 2, right? (Ok, it doesn't have admirals per se, but it does have disloyal generals.) I feel like I must be missing something everyone else saw, because it seems like "CK2" should have been the first post in the thread. 

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Sorry, didn't read through the whole thread so perhaps it was already mentioned - but what about games like Age of Castles or Ant War?

 

It's a turn-based game, where you have to hit a given population goal to reach the next level. The trick is that you have to keep an eye on resoures - to get more people you need a bigger castle, which will cost you more gold. So you kinda have to grow all 3(people, castle, gold) at the same time and keep them in sync or else people will start leaving. You can direct the effort of your people by assigning them jobs(I think gold miner for gold, cleric for people, soldier for attack/defense and builder for castle), so if you are for example low on gold and people start leaving you can get a lot of gold in expense of slower build time or if you have a big castle and much of it isn't populated you can recruit a lot of people.

 

It makes me feel like I'm in control of a vast army(especially when the castle grows in front of my eyes) and though there's not as much strategy involved as traditional RTS games, you still have to use your brain :)

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So, you realise you are basically describing Crusader Kings 2, right? (Ok, it doesn't have admirals per se, but it does have disloyal generals.) I feel like I must be missing something everyone else saw, because it seems like "CK2" should have been the first post in the thread.
A good question. My answer is, I don't want it like CK2 at all, not even remotely similar :)

 

CK2 was about conquest of other kingdoms while maintaining some internal stability by "divide and rule" and fighting against backstabbing of your nobles. Also it was about succession, dynasty and heirs.

 

While I don't mind these aspects I want focus on something else and a different mood. You start as an emperor. Not as just one of the nobles, but THE EMPEROR :) And I want it to be felt. You can't lost your throne, it's an instant game over (and when you are disposed the empire crumbles to dust, since YOU are destined to rule and YOU are the only one that can do it :)). You know, the typical megalomania :) It's strictly about playing as an emperor, not as a noble. Also I want more vivid internal struggle. Not just a bunch of nobles that you can deal with. I want rebelious population, guilds, various factions, usurpers, aliens invasion, spread of dangerous ideas, fight among fellow citizens of the empire (you rule various races), space pandemics, lost colonies, ancient artifacts, internal diplomacy, stability of the empire.

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but what about games like Age of Castles or Ant War?
Yes, a mapless strategy game. Yes, the mechanic definitely fits it. The main problem with these is short play time and low replayability... It's pure mechanic, and such games are easy to master for each play since the conditions are identical every time.  If there was some way to add different starting conditions (in "normal" games the map is mostly used for this) or some other "randomizer"...

 

BTW, here is a my minigame in that style: http://silverlemur.com/minigames/wiztowersim.php (no download needed)

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The main problem with these is short play time and low replayability...

 

I see your point. In AoC for example, you have different classes and each excels in a different stat, so that allows for several different playstyles. Also, like the game you posted, there are random event that happen every day. I would extend that further, so you have for example a map and you get to chose which nation you want to command. Each will have it's traits based on size, history, culture, etc. You will be surrounded by neighboring nations, so you will need to either be in good relations or direct the effort of your people to war. Another option is long-term events that last more than one day - so if some nation suddenly refuses to trade with you, you run the risk of running out of a certain resource or an economic crisis. You can add the option to be a good leader and do good to your people, or you can be a dictator and rely heavily on propaganda.

 

Basically see what aspects of being a ruler you want to capture, and try to work your way from there by implementing systems that represent those aspects.

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In AoC for example, you have different classes and each excels in a different stat, so that allows for several different playstyles. Also, like the game you posted, there are random event that happen every day.
That's not enough.

 

Classes are made by the designer, this a limit how many you can make. Random events are a bit better (since you can reuse the same event several times in one game), but each event still has to be crafted by the designer.

 

On the other hand a province on a map is a building block. You can (actually have to) have more than one province on a map. These provinces can be identical, the whole idea is that the RELATION between provinces (position on the map) produces unique gameplay (not the provinces themselves). Now, compare coding events or classes to making a map. Plus, it's not that hard to make a procedurally generated map! It's simply a self propelled machine.

 

Classes and events are mechanic. Map with provinces is content.

Mechanics are expensive to make and hard to balance. Content is cheap, easy to balance and produces emergent behaviour.

 

 

Try that one (another my minigame), it will be even more visible. It's purely mechanic based, very fun, original, thematic and everything but... not replayable.

http://silverlemur.com/minigames/radioactiveshelter/

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So basically what you're saying is that if we go for an event-based approach, gameplay is gonna be roughly similar every time you play the game so it gets boring quickly.

 

If that's the case, I don't know what to add. Maybe I will come up with something later.

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So basically what you're saying is that if we go for an event-based approach, gameplay is gonna be roughly similar every time you play the game so it gets boring quickly.

Yes, but not only that.

 

Map with provinces provides a synergy, the final effect is better than the sum of its parts. If you have provinces on an island it results in a completrely different strategy than if you have then on a continent and you are surrounded by two big enemies (set of provinces shared by same owner) and than if you are on the same big continent but surrounded by dozens of small enemies (few neighbour provinces per owner). And this all has emerged on its own, it was not really scripted or anything.

 

Another thing is that events makes the player only RESPOND. If you have a map you can PLAN your strategy and predict what you will do, you can ACT. In case of events you don't know what will hapen and when and you can't make much of a plan. Actually, very varied and random events are worse, because it results in a total unpredictability and chaos...

 

 

But what if there were no random events (or not only them) but random OPPORTUNITIES? Like you get a random opportunity and you can decide if you want to pursue it, also the random opportunity lasts for at least several turns so you can plan. Maybe something like that could work?

 

 

BTW, here is an interesting flashgame, a mix of card game and a minimalistic map (but you don't move any units on the map and geenrally there are no units to fight):

http://www.kongregate.com/games/africacrossgames/the-liberation-of-north-korea

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Oh, you can have the player manage the nobles.
Some french king had decided every nobleman should be with him 9 months a year, making them spend money on parties and all and then loaned them money, making them more dependent on him.(because nobles can rebel)

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So basically what you're saying is that if we go for an event-based approach, gameplay is gonna be roughly similar every time you play the game so it gets boring quickly.
After playing Twillight Struggle Nth time, I have changed my opinion a bit. I don't think the replayability of a map does not come from different maps. I single static map that you play on over and over is still surprisingly replayable (if compared to pure event based games)! I wonder why...

 

I start to think that maybe a map + events that affect the map are the way to go?

 


Oh, you can have the player manage the nobles.
Some french king had decided every nobleman should be with him 9 months a year, making them spend money on parties and all and then loaned them money, making them more dependent on him.(because nobles can rebel)
Oh, no. I'm not gonna portrait Versailles of Luis the Sun, no way! There is a limit how degenerated, depraved and sick a game can be :)

 

On a more serious note, just managing nobles seems meh to me. As King of Men said, if you want to manage nobles go and play CK2, it portrayed it very good. I don't think I woulod be able to do it much better than they. Plus, I lean more towards a bureaucratic empire, like there is this emperor and organizations, guilds, corporations, social struggle, spreaders of dangerous ideas. Less feudal and more modern (not that they can't be nobles there, I don't have anything agains them, but just limiting it to nobles seems not so great to me).

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On a more serious note, just managing nobles seems meh to me. As King of Men said, if you want to manage nobles go and play CK2, it portrayed it very good. I don't think I woulod be able to do it much better than they. Plus, I lean more towards a bureaucratic empire, like there is this emperor and organizations, guilds, corporations, social struggle, spreaders of dangerous ideas. Less feudal and more modern (not that they can't be nobles there, I don't have anything agains them, but just limiting it to nobles seems not so great to me).

You imply that managing nobles in a bureaucratic empire is inappropriate, but you can focus gameplay on handling specific important people (as opposed to giving abstract orders to faceless organizations) in any social structure.
If nobles have a limited importance for the Empire and the Emperor (e.g. as sources of succession by assassination plots, as marriage fodder and as trusted diplomats), the game can bring to the forefront other types of important people: generals and heads of bureaucracies, political or religious leaders, scientists and artists, entrepreneurs and managers, and all other relevant types of powerful or influential special persons (e.g. fairies or alien visitors, artificial intelligences, superheroes of all sorts, wizards...).

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