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Colonization remake - gameplay of slavery

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Hi!

This is mainly for those who have played the old colonization (or at least civ 4:colonization). You need some knowledge in the mechanics of the old game.

I'm doing a reimagining including slavery. I made another long topic about weather it was ok or not to include it. This is ONLY for gameplay discussions, plz keep it that way.

 

In old COL you mainly grow your workforce/population by producing food and generating free colonists directly in your colonies (except from in the early game where religious immigration is big (it fades away quickly) and indian converts is also useful). You make farming colonies and soon have alot of population. This is a bit boring.

 

For gameplay reasons I will include slavery and the tringle trade. Africa will be a trading hub just like Europe, buying processed goods and selling slaves. The idea for population growth is like this:

 

- No new poulation directly from food (food is only used to sustain the current workers and to produce horses and train soldier units)

- Buy workers with coin in Europe (not linked to immigrants generated by crosses but the price goes up as yo buy)

- Immigration from cross-generation (same as original but stay relevant longer by limiting how much cross-cost goes up)

- Slavery! This is the biggest change. You buy them in the African "port" (from around 1520 until the abolition) and they must be shipped to the colonies. They may rebel or die from diseases during the trip. The cost goes up but less so than for buying "free" workers in Europe.

 

How do slaves work?

1. In my game you dont have individual colonists with specializations, instead a colonist or slave unit adds a "worker" to the colony they join. They can then be assigned by pressing "+/-" on a building with free worker slots (such as plantation or mine). So worker placement is greatly streamlined (no schoolhouse-training and shuffeling colonists around).

 

2. Slaves reduce a percentage of rebel sentiment when joining a colony (representing a diversion from the "freedom ideal")

3. If more than halv (or a third, or a fixed number such as 4, we'll see) of the population of a colony are slaves you get a production penalty (similar to if you have too high Tory sentiment).

 

Feedback?

Edited by suliman

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I think it's still in bad taste to add slave-trading into games based on "recent" historical events.

It takes playing a bad guy in games to a whole new uncomfortable level.

 

[Floodgate now open]

Edited by BrianRhineheart

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I'm not kidding when I say the idea makes me feel genuinely uncomfortable.

It's the same reason why you don't see sims about concentration camps, it would be considered disrespectful.

 

If it weren't drawing from real world events that are still linked to people's sense of heritage, then it would be easier to talk about the gameplay.

 

Any chance of changing some details to avoid political controversy?

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Is there an ethical penalty on religious immigration? That may be a concept to look at. Consider that in the early game when religious immigration is important, a player may choose to have untrained European immigrants and the max ammount of slaves they can support with no penalty. It would make sense from a logistical perspective as a min/max strategy.

 

Maybe having a higher slave percentage could reduce/increase the cost of Religious immigration.

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Additional factors :

 

Some environments and work were so dangerous/unhealthy  (mines, plantations) that there was a constant eroding of the slave population.   Some types of work would simply not be done by free immigrants. (Some colonies were known as "white mans graveyards" because of prevalent tropical diseases).

 

Even when indentured servitude of whites was done, they had a limited term and the workers then were lost to other activities.

 

The transatlantic slave trade was as big as it was because of constant replacement of the 'workers' being required - but it still managed to pay (in certain colonies growing cash trade crops or generating precious metals) even with that 'overheads' costs.

 

Diseases also often  wiped out populations of 'converts' from indigenous population  (sometimes largely wiping population out even only after the early 'trading' interactions took place, even spreading to populations with no contact with the 'outsiders')

 

At some points even the 'homeland' sources of new colonists were affected by plagues brought in via global trading.

Edited by wodinoneeye

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Yes diseases and rebellions are planned.

 

For those who played colonization:

I'm planning on skipping liberty bells and rebel sentiment altogether (big move I know). What could limit the usability of slaves then? Other than hard limits like "each colony can have maximum 4 slaves" kind of limit.

Edited by suliman

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Don't shoot the messenger.

Deliver the message at the correct place and time. You have been provided with a link to a separate discussion on whether or not slavery should be included, and further commentary on it in THIS topic is off topic.

The other topic is still open if you wish to continue that discussion.

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That's why I said "Don't shoot the messenger". There is some good info in the video that might help with figuring out details on how to integrate the gameplay aspect.

I wasn't planning on discussing any further the "public relations" side of this.

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How do you want the mechanic to integrate with the rest of the game?

 

Is it a poisoned option, which looks superficially tempting but inevitably makes things worse in the long run?

 

Is it a net benefit, such that you have to play at a disadvantage to avoid the topic?

 

Is it a situational choice, where it requires a certain playstyle? If so, what sort of play style would you want to make it "work out"?

 

It is just flavor, where participating or not doesn't really matter?

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I think it should be sort of benificial for the early game, but needed to be phased out mid to late game. Plantations are more important than in the original (you sort of need those).

Maybe population growth (of "free workers") can be unlocked midgame, making slaves less useful at that point onward.

 

The original game is very much based on US history, and slavery there was very much still around when declaring independence from Britain. And I dont want it to be forbidden to achieve independence either.

 

Maybe the amount of slaves you have work against your ability to declare independence, but doesnt make it impossible? Sort of a scoring system where you must reach a target score to progress (in the original you must reach 50% rebel sentiment to declare independence, which starts a war against your european sponsor).

Edited by suliman

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The constant attempt to avoid the topic while exploring the topic is silly. Gameplay and gameplay meaning are always connected. You can't talk about slavery without talking about slavery. To continue to attempt to do so is being obtuse.

The problem you're running into is the reason why slavery existed so long and still continues today. It can't be 'balanced.' It is, in every case, a license to print money. It is, unless you make up and enforce something illogical and unhistorical, always the best choice for the bottom line. It does not hurt production if you have a high percentage of slaves, more double shift workers with minimal overhead only helps all things being equal, and it did not negatively impact anyone's ability to declare independence, but actually helped the financials needed to do so and maintain it.

Slavery was only balanced by morality. The high moral and social cost to dehumanize people. There was never, and still isn't, any financial or material drawbacks to slavery. It is purely a moral and social issue.

And to be clear, so you don't continue to dodge your own conversation: I'm not talking about not including slavery. I'm takling about including slavery. The grittiness the griminess, the soul-wrenching effect of your empathy conflicting with your bottom line. You keep trying not to include slavery, avoid any further information on slavery that could be used to inform you design, but I'm saying, as I did before, to include it. Really include it. And if you really include slavery, and not try to make up things about slavery so you don't have to truly include it, not only will you have meaningful gameplay that asks interesting questions of your players, but you'll actually be exploring the history you're claiming you want to explore.

A great game that accomplishes this kind of morality vs bottom line is The Darkest Dungeon. Papers Please also, though in a different way. Those are the kinds of ideas and problem, historically, that balance slavery for 'late game.'

EDIT: But, it's your game.  You don't have to really base it on history if you don't want.

Edited by hypester

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You keep trying not to include slavery

Who tries to not include it? Me? Not at all. I'm confused by this comment. This topic is specifically about how to make the gameplay better since I already decided to include it.

 

Also you didnt comment before here as far as I can see. 

There must be some balancing to slavery (some drawback), otherwise other sources of population will be pointless and the gameplay suffers.

 

How does Darkest Dungeon accomplishes "this kind of morality"?

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You keep trying not to include slavery

Who tries to not include it? Me? Not at all. I'm confused by this comment. This topic is specifically about how to make the gameplay better since I already decided to include it.

 

Also you didnt comment before here as far as I can see. 

There must be some balancing to slavery (some drawback), otherwise other sources of population will be pointless and the gameplay suffers.

 

How does Darkest Dungeon accomplishes "this kind of morality"?

 

 

You say you want to include slavery, but you redirect conversation about slavery to another discussion, which I responded to you in, and you're not aware of. It makes it seem like you don't want to talk about slavery, and you can't include something you don't know anything about. You can include a pale fiction-based facsimile of it, sure, but you can't actually include slavery without learning more about it.

The drawback to slavery is, in reality, being faced with the inhumanity required to make money in this way. Being faced with the humanity of the people you are disposing of. That is the drawback to slavery. It already exists, it's already been proven not to be anything else. That's all there is to it. If you're doing a historical game, that's your goal. If you want people to be able to experience or explore the triangle trade, that's your goal, essentially guilting them into not being slave traders.

 

Darkest Dungeon does this by showing you the anguish your causing and then allowing you to move on and start fresh without any mechanical consequences. As time goes on, it requires you to do more and more inhumane things to keep your numbers up at the same rate. This video from Game Maker's Toolkit gives a great summary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RHH7M4siPM&t=304s

 

Now if you don't want to actually do the actual Triangle Trade, you don't have to, but the whole point of the 'Include it or Not' thread was that you wanted to be faithful to the time period, to be respectful of the realities of that time period. So for you to include slavery, purely to be faithful, and then, once you have stated your claim of faithfulness and respect, to then decide that being faithful to the time period isn't that important, but it's all about arbitrary rules to include an unfaithful disrespectful version of slavery, it makes you very inconsistent, and it's hard to advise, much less make a good game, if you're not consistent about what you're trying to do.

 

So the question then follows: what is "Better" gameplay in this context?

Edited by hypester

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In a colonization game context, I see them as a type of worker with an alternative cost and an alternate or additional production method.

A slave unit may be acquired by conquest or through growth of a colony that has slaves. In a game context we don't typically worry about the mechanics of that, soldiers are generated out of the ether from a barracks yet nobody questions it. If you have slaves, you can get more slaves. If you conquer another group you can gain slaves.

A few of the alternate costs or effects are addressed. Slaves would tend to have a cheaper direct cost when produced versus non-slave units. Slave units would have costs against those that are enslaved; if you enslave a race or nationality then interactions with those groups would be soured. Slave units likely will have lower stats than non-slave units, and captured and enslaved units may keep some stats but have others reduced. Thinking in real-world terms, someone who is captured may retain education and experience, but lose their equipment. So capturing an enemy engineer or scientist may add their brains or experience to your pool, but they may become critically weak; capturing an enemy soldier may retain is strength but lose defense.

I like the idea of a few other costs that are less visible or indirect. A society where a large part of the people are slaves likely means that those people aren't educated, so technology might grow slower even though there may be rapid growth through cheap units. The growth may be lower quality and break down faster when slaves are used to build them rather than regular builder units. Slaves used as workers may cost less but take more time to accomplish the goal, or may die off or be consumed faster than traditional workers. Civil unrest could be expressed in many different ways, like rebels appearing, cities protesting, production declining during protests. Slave units may escape or disband and vanish. A slave uprising may cause an entire town or city to leave the nation. Since slaves thematically get less care, an outbreak in slave pens could mean mass death or destruction or incapacitation of units. And while slaves may cost less directly they likely pay less/no tax so they generate no revenue for the player acting as government. Slave units may require additional resources over time, as being driven to work harder may mean more costs to food.

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Thanks frob some good embryos for mechanics there!

 

@hypester

I understand your point but do you think this about every subject? Most strategy games are about war. But almost all of them completely ignore the themes of refugees, rape, killing of children, ethnic cleansing, some sort of enslavement etc, yet these are part of most wars. Does it mean you cannot make games about wars?

 

I think a game may include historical slavery, use mechanics and some historical elements of it, while still keeping it fairly respectful. But again this thread is not about that. Also, I'm not making a commercial product, and not one for the American market only, nor about American history specifically (which everyone seems to assume).

Edited by suliman

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Some real-world (or at least realistic) negatives that you could implement, that would have a gameplay effect.  And some would (I think) highlight the moral costs of slavery.

  • When slaves escape, they don't just disappear.  They join free states (both free colonies and free indigenous nations) and work against the slave states from there, or form their own societies.  It can turn potential allies against you and cause new enemies to exist.  
  • The player might even lose allies for just being allied with a slave state.  (I can't think of a real world example, but something like the fall of the Second Mexican Empire when France abandoned them to avoid pissing off the newly-victorious Union.  This wasn't really due to them being friendly with the Confederacy, but that didn't help their cause either.)
  • There's not much need for free labor in the plantation economy, and immigrant-attracting policies like giving away free farmland were less common.  Only about 10% of immigrants to the young U.S. were to the south, and by the time of the war, the population of the Union dwarfed that of the Confederacy.  (And almost half the population of the Confederacy couldn't be called up, for obvious reasons.)
  • On a similar note, a free colony that successfully takes a city from a slave colony has a ready and willing supply of workers and potentially soldiers from it.
  • Speaking of arming slaves, some of the cause for abolition in Argentina was due to the need to field more soldiers during their war of independence, if I remember correctly.
  • Further on the subject of slaves and arms, you can't have a pacifist slave state.  It was entirely possible in Colonization to keep your limited workers doing important things like farming and carpentry, and only pick up weapons when there was an enemy at the gates.  This wouldn't be a viable strategy if the player is trying to force people to work by threat of violence; guards are necessary for that.
  • Slavery can turn the King against a colony (or at least, against slavery in that colony) and vice versa, and maybe even precipitate a revolution before it's ready.  When de las Casas got the ear of Emperor Charles V, he passed laws that attempted to abolish the encomienda system, at which point Pizarro's brother led a rebellion, which was initially successful but eventually failed, with the rebellious Pizarro beheaded.
  • On that note, abolishing slavery isn't just flipping a switch; if the player relies on slavery for its early economic boost and then decides to abolish it when it becomes a burden in the later game, the slaveholding colonies might very well rebel against the player.  

 

Actually, that last one is a really interesting addition to the Colonization formula.  Beyond getting to independence, there could be a second win condition of abolishing slavery.  Leading to the potential for interesting game journeys like getting independence, then trying to abolish slavery and getting into a civil war, then getting invaded again and losing independence, and having to gain it again.

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@Valrus

Good ideas, many interesting game events can be plucked from this.

 

My prototype now includes free and forced worker units:

 

Free workers: originally only colonists from Europe.

 

Forced (unfree) workers:

Native and african slaves. May be free only through reforms

Indentured servants (from Europe). May become free after ~20 turns of work

Criminals (deported from Europe) May become free after ~40 turns of work

 

>Only free population may support the idea of Independance (be "converted" from tories by liberty bell production) making unfree workers good for production but bad for reaching end goal and building larger populations in a "city" (large colony).

>Unfree workers may not produce/work in some workplaces (town hall, church etc). Free workers may.

 

This may make slavery an element that is partially "phased out" as history unfolds. More testing is needed to know how this works out.

Edited by suliman

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Thanks frob some good embryos for mechanics there!

 

@hypester

I understand your point but do you think this about every subject? Most strategy games are about war. But almost all of them completely ignore the themes of refugees, rape, killing of children, ethnic cleansing, some sort of enslavement etc, yet these are part of most wars. Does it mean you cannot make games about wars?

 

I think a game may include historical slavery, use mechanics and some historical elements of it, while still keeping it fairly respectful. But again this thread is not about that. Also, I'm not making a commercial product, and not one for the American market only, nor about American history specifically (which everyone seems to assume).

 

There are games that completely ignore these issues, but you don't want to completely ignore slavery, do you? So how is that relevant? This kind of contradiction is really quite revealing, as is your insistence that your take is fairly respectful while avoiding the lists of reasons it is not. But I can understand the aversion. It's a heavy subject, and it's much easier to just stick to your assumptions than to explore how games that put players in the roles of rapists and child killers do so, and how that affects the overall game.

In regards to the specific mechanics, I think you may be on the right track. I suspect you'll need to make larger colonies, who by nature have lower slave populations, somehow in conflict with the mid-game colonies with large slave populations, but that's also getting into the Civil War, in a way, which I suspect is another thing you'd like to avoid.

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@hypester

Your insinuation that I'm either lazy or cowardly is not constructive. Also, I think making a game about war but totally skip all the subjects I listed is on par with (or even more ahistorical than) making a game about colonialism and trade and include some elements of slavery but not model all the details of it.

 

Again, this isnt a game about US or US history specifically. Stop assuming it is. Dutch colonies had no grand civil war for example. Neither did the portugeese (yes you can play with portugal as your sponsor as well).

 

Thank you for your input on gameplay:)

Edited by suliman

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Even when indentured servitude of whites was done, they had a limited term and the workers then were lost to other activities.

 

That's how the Barrows got to America. In 1620,  My "x number of greats"  grandfather John Barrow (no s yet) booked third class passage on the Mayflower, paid for by indentured servitude as a farm worker for 12 years for a landowner in the colonies.

 

So indentured servitude would be a third type of labor force available, beyond immigrants and slaves.

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Slave units should produce less than other workers.  volunteer indentured servants should not have this penalty, only slaves, criminals, and others who are there against their will.

 

The non-slave population of a colony should limit the max slave population possible in that colony. about 2/3rds free 1/3rd slave seem to be the historical max ratio. I can't think of any society that had a higher ratio of slaves, except sparta and the helots - which approached 10 to 1 as i recall, IE 10 helots for every spartan.

 

Slaves should have no effect on chance to revolt against the Crown.

 

Other effects mentioned previously in this thread such as relations between slave and non-slave colonies should apply.

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