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Acharis

Macroeconomy

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I'm experimenting with the idea of making a "realistic" country simulator. Usually in these games you are a ruler and you construct/buy buildings and own them. What I want is you are a ruler and you own the govrnment buildings & infrastructure (police, hospitals, roads), but the economic buildings (farms, mines, factories) are controlled and owned by the computer (NPC) who pay taxes. Yet, you can still affect and direct the economy by macroeconomic tools (laws, taxes, tariffs, licences, subsidies, etc), so you in practice can decide (to an extend) what kind of industry your country has.

 

 

Additional assumptions:

- it has to be playable & fun, the realism is of low importance (yet, I want it to at least look remotely realistic)

- the player is assumed a high degree of power (not democracy), preferably a dictator of a banana republic

- the scope of the nation/county is very small, a small insignificant cozy island in the middle of nowhere

- the most important is the ownership & control of these industries by the computer, not building a new industries or switching (I think for simplicity this could be done by populating the country by all kinds (fixed type) of computer enterprenuers and then the ones you as a ruler prefers/supports will thrive).

 

 

How to bite this concept?

Edited by Acharis

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Sounds like a good idea. I made a game kind of like this once but on a much, much smaller scale.

 

The good news is that you won't need a ton of art.

 

The bad news is the amount of programming you'll be doing. It becomes worse when you make the computer do stuff instead of the user.

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The easy stuff first :)

 

 

There should be groups (similar to Paradox's Victoria pops). Categories of groups: factory/land/mine owners (produce & sell stuff, require labour), labourers, self employed (services mostly), government employed (administration, army, police). There would be several groups of each category (like owners of factories that produce furniture, owners of factories that produce tools, etc), basicly combined together based on type of business (that would be sufficient accuracy).

These  groups could be used for other ingame purposes as well (social views, politics, education, etc).

 

Each group has money, possibly some assets (resources, goods) and needs (consumption of goods - it might get messy with factory owners?)

 

Labourers are hired by business owners who pay them salary. They can pay any amount they wish as long as they can afford it (unless minimum wages law was passed). Owners sell good and get money from it (I'm thinking of mostly exporting goods abroad, no need to simulate a big selfsustaining economy), they use part of these money on consumption, some on keeping the business running (resources/halfproducts & salaries), some on investments (making the business more efficient - new machines).

 

 

They player (government) can earn money via taxes (personal, business) and tariffs (import, export).

(question, what happens if a group can't afford taxes, like flat estate tax which is not based on income?)

Maybe also allow the player to own business as well (but in such case the efficiency of such business would be lower + it would increase overall bureaucracy). Or maybe do not allow this?

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I like this kind of game too. Have a few ideas for one, but doesn't sound similar to yours - which is more like a "Tropico meets Dwarf Fortress" kind of thing, If I'm reading it right.

 

So my first question is: What's the game? To what end are you trying to influence the economy? What are the benefits when you are doing well? After all, in the "real world" when governments regulate the economy to a successful degree (which we'll define here as: 'the economy is doing well'), the incumbent political party/coalition keeps power. Going back to the Tropico comparison, so long as things don't go to shit you get to keep playing.

 

Assuming you go a similar route, there is only one primary change that needs to take place from the basic recipe of Tropico. In that game, all buildings (except huts, which don't count) are built solely by the player. If in your simulation this is not true - buildings go up when the "entrepreneur" NPC's see an opportunity - you automatically get a few built in playing choices. For instance, environmentalists will want you to curb the building of factories and mines, while factory and mine owners will want you to help them get through red tape. Basically, nudging the interests of all these different groups one way or another will be the game. Can you think of another direction for it to go?

 

Seeing as I've not drawn a bevy of comparison to Tropico, I should also ask you how the vision for your game would differ from it. :)

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Seeing as I've not drawn a bevy of comparison to Tropico, I should also ask you how the vision for your game would differ from it.
I'm not so fond of Tropico (as a designer, as a player I love it :D). They cloned/mimicked Priestley's factions system without understanding what it is about. It ended up with a meaningless factions that want the same thing and can be ignored. The key "mistake" they made is tying factions to people, due to this there is no conflict between social groups (because everyone wants housing, a church, hospital, food, low crime, beauty & low pollution - just with different intensity). In real banan republic there are the rich (land owners, oligarchy) and the poor (labourers, seasoned farmers). And they want *DIFFERENT* things :D There is a conflict inside the society. That's the primary thing I want to "change".

 

Another things is the degenerated importance of economy, I mean, once you are experienced you make a money rush during the very first part of the game and then you are incredibly rich. Instead of worryning who will try to assinate you next you build yet another factory... Completely undictatorish mood :D

 

To sum up: I want a simplier economy (or a bit less important) but run by NPCs. The player would collect taxes/tariffs and build infrastructure (also give the direction to the economy - I mean promote some type of economy). And the most of the time he will deal with non economic stuff (rebels, traitors, assassins, dissidents, coups). Partial reason I want to leave the economy in NPCs hands is the player won't be able to become rich quick (which destroy the game since money is the answer to most of the problems :D)

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I'm trying to understand what your design goals are and how your game play would function.

 

It is almost sounding like you want to include elements from something more like SimCity, but which starts out with an existing development you are forced to maintain and far slower expansion? You would take a more hands off control of things and focus the player's decision making on things like upgrading infrastructure or providing subsidies to build something the player wants, but there would be no guarantee that the project would be completed. (ie, you put up $X for a new apartment complex, multiple entities can potentially bid on the project, user picks one, and the project may or may not be finished or up to standards that you want based on various factors.)?

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I'm trying to understand what your design goals are and how your game play would function.

 

It is almost sounding like you want to include elements from something more like SimCity, but which starts out with an existing development you are forced to maintain and far slower expansion? You would take a more hands off control of things and focus the player's decision making on things like upgrading infrastructure or providing subsidies to build something the player wants, but there would be no guarantee that the project would be completed. (ie, you put up $X for a new apartment complex, multiple entities can potentially bid on the project, user picks one, and the project may or may not be finished or up to standards that you want based on various factors.)?

The most important is scope and technology level of this banana republic. It's a small island, and at the beginning its economy is 95% agriculture, if by the end of the game you converted it to 50% agriculture / 50% industry it means you managed to make a super big industrialization :D It's mostly about land and growing coffee or bananas or cotton.

 

I think the decision what to build (economy) is not that important OR I could even leave it in player's hands (like you cut down a jungle and get new land and you decide who get's the land (coffee tycoon or banana tycoon or maybe some poor farmers who grow corns and other local/non exportable goods; you could also give out concessions/licences for various factories). But once the business is in place the player stays out of it (except for subsidies and such of course), the NPCs have to manage it and try not go bankrupt.

 

Infrastructure is a completely different thing, the player owns and controlls it 100%.

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...And they want *DIFFERENT* things biggrin.png There is a conflict inside the society. That's the primary thing I want to "change".

 

Alright, I think I've got a better handle on your aims now. (I also agree that Tropico tended to be way too easy. One of the newer ones had some sliders you could adjust at the beginning of the game, and I always jacked them way up to make the game as hard as possible).

 

Well, as Shane mentioned you're going to have some serious work to do on the AI front even for a simple self-directed economy. Though to be honest, that sounds like a lot of fun too.

 

I think it will be important for their to be a fairly large amount of detail to your map so that a lot of differentiation happens with regards to choice building locations. That way you won't just have conflicts between rich and poor, but even competing rich factions. Take the following situation: A factory baron and a shopping mall conglomerate both want the same location because of reasons. The surrounding population is heavily in favor of the shopping mall, but the land is already owned by the factory baron. The locals try to block the construction legally, and at the same time the conglomerate offers to buy the land fairly cheaply. Being that this is a dictatorship (or something like it) you can either choose to allow the factory to be built, or not.

 

Allowing it makes the people unhappy (though it will open up lots of jobs, which might help your overall situation if you have high unemployment), and will displease the conglomerate, but will please the factory owner and perhaps the unions who will have more workers/dues payers.

 

Denying it makes the people and the conglomerate happy, but pisses off the factory barons - and because they already own the land, if they refuse to sell to the conglomerate you might have a big unfinished building and useless plot of land sitting there for awhile, when you could have had productive use. Forcing the baron to sell will just piss them off more (but it could be an option).

 

The above scenario springs out of the simple fact that construction is expensive, and some places are FAR more attractive (and cheaper) to build on than others. "Location, location, location," as they say.

 

I'd actually suggest that the player represent a "legislature" of some sort rather than an out and out dictatorship, as you will need to put limits on what the player can do with regards to private property (like having the ability to force the baron to sell the land or just taking it away from them) OR you will need to implement a lot of that political stuff and the danger of assassinations and uprisings if you abuse your power too much. The fun of your game will be heavily influenced by how many of the "economy's" decision you cannot change.

 

Anyway, those are a few thoughts of mine.

Edited by Telcontar

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I will drop a screen to fuel the discussion :) It does not necessarily have to work like that, it's just how I visualize it at the moment.

 

mapofprovinces6_zps0f23d870.png

 

The rectangles are haziendas (farms), these are owned by landlords and grow coffee, tabaco, etc. Below them is an "efficiency bar".

 

The provinces have a blue/red bar showing the support to the government.

 

 

mapofprovinces-governors_zps52422326.png

And here is a map in "governors mode". Each have some stats (competence, corruption, loyalty). The red and green rectangles are units (rebels and army)

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Note: you can also comment on the sceen I posted, it's not only about mechanic, interface/represenation also should affect it.

 

 

The way I see it working now. If you have an available farm slot (colonized a province or cultivated the terrain or cut down the jungle or it became vacant for whatever reeason - like the owner going bankrupt) you decide to whom to sell it. You have several options (various rich personas offer how much money they want to pay - you also see what they will produce/grow there; some might also offer a bribe :D), alternatively you can "sell" it to the poor (but they are inefficient since they can't afford fertilizers and machines and don't expect taxes, but it makes you popular).

 

Once you sold the plot of land a new "important person" is being generated (owner of the hazienda/farm), you can borwse these personas anytime (they can also affect politics later). The money of ALL other already existing personas of that type (like coffee producers) is decreased (part of it being trasferred to the new planatator - it's assumed a son or relative), so the money is not produced here, just switches hands (an implication is that if your rich people are too poor you can't sell the land for much since they can't afford it).

So, we have covered the decision what to grow in a country (note that the player decides it - which is nice - yet do not own or control it at all - which is nice too)/

 

Then plantators will hire labourers, invest in fertilizers, machines, irrigations and sell the crops abroad. The player gets an export tariff (the main source of revenue, since it can be ALWAYS taxed no matter the efficiency of your tax collectors/administration, since it is a foreign export). There might be also some flat "land tax" I guess. Also labourers are taxed based on income (if you are able to collect these taxes - not easy if your administration is weak and guerillas in countryside).

 

Sometimes they will/can sell to internal market (inside your country), mostly edible crops (corn) - poor/independent farmers specialize with these, and sometimes coffee as well (if you have coffee processing factory so there is demand for it). Generally they always sell on the market (country/global) where they get better profit (don't forget tariffs which apply for selling abroad only). Global market has infinite demand (but the prices might be lower), for domestic a simple supply/demand system will work here.

 


Alright, I think I've got a better handle on your aims now. (I also agree that Tropico tended to be way too easy.
I think it was not too easy per se, at the beginning it was not. It's just after you learned how to play it it became too trivial (decrease salaries, disregard any needs of people for a short term, build mines and farms, then onces you make have tons of money make up for tit to the people so they don't rebel). Economy was too important there (mostly because the player owned and controlled everything, so he/she could optimize insanely well). That's why I want to take some control over economy (or at least direct control) out of the player.

 


I think it will be important for their to be a fairly large amount of detail to your map so that a lot of differentiation happens with regards to choice building locations. That way you won't just have conflicts between rich and poor, but even competing rich factions. Take the following situation: A factory baron and a shopping mall conglomerate both want the same location because of reasons. The surrounding population is heavily in favor of the shopping mall, but the land is already owned by the factory baron. The locals try to block the construction legally, and at the same time the conglomerate offers to buy the land fairly cheaply. Being that this is a dictatorship (or something like it) you can either choose to allow the factory to be built, or not.

Allowing it makes the people unhappy (though it will open up lots of jobs, which might help your overall situation if you have high unemployment), and will displease the conglomerate, but will please the factory owner and perhaps the unions who will have more workers/dues payers.

Denying it makes the people and the conglomerate happy, but pisses off the factory barons - and because they already own the land, if they refuse to sell to the conglomerate you might have a big unfinished building and useless plot of land sitting there for awhile, when you could have had productive use. Forcing the baron to sell will just piss them off more (but it could be an option).
Yeah, not necessarily everyting listed have to be there, but I would like to include at least some of these.

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