suliman

Income sources in modern /sci-fi empire builder

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Hi!

Im making a total war style empire builder (turn-based, control cities on a map, move armies around) but need some input about "income". I use the full world map as the playing board, so it's a bit risk-like in that sense. There is 4 "resources" but I have mostly questions about "funds". Its modern day with some scifi elements. Most cities are destroyed but new empires emerges and rebuilds. The resources:

Power
Generated by power plants, some cities has better output from solar, biomass plant etc depending on world location (close to river: hydroplant is good etc).

Development / Research
Generated by population, but mostly from research centers/labs/academies

Fuel
Used for units. Generated by refinieries (efficiency based on local oil and gas natural resource). Or more expensively from synthetic fuel plants.

Funds
General and most important resource. Used for both buildings, infrastructure, spies and units. How can cities earn this resource? It's sort of "wealth". My idea so far:
Taxes
Mines
Agriculture
Logging? (might be used for biomass power plants instead)
Trade? (not sure if this fits the game)

How is "wealth" or general funds/resources generated in a modern setting, with totalitarian governments and full world war going on? Preferably something connected to buildings/infrastructure and/or the terrain/location in the world.
 

Edited by suliman

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“Nothing is certain except death and taxes” - Ben Franklin

Taxing, seems to me the right way to go. The bigger your city(s) get the more people would live there, so it would be generated by houses (or something that a civillian would live in). Having the houses in the game would make it feel more realistic, after all, what is an empire without people to rule?

 

Just me hashing out ideas at this point: What if you had the ability to tax the population and get money whenever you wanted? But the more you did it (and the less fair you did it) the more the people would hate you (viva la revaluation)

Edited by Zebularck

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I feel like "Power" might be a poor choice in this case. Strategic resources in a game are usually things we understand to be easily transportable and stored, so you can stockpile when able. Unless you're making a more futuristic (which it doesn't seem like, though I could be wrong) power doesn't fit that frame. Electricity generation is highly local - power plants need to be fairly close to the areas they serve because power is lost when transmitting it a long distance. 

Even if you remove power, you can still have bonuses to production or other game areas that are understood to come from good power generation (like near a hyrdoplant-capable river/dam). 

Assuming this game is set in or near the modern day, I might go with mines/metals as a resource. Not necessarily for the common metals like copper and iron, but rarer metals used in more specialized and high tech weapons like titanium and rare earth metals. They could be a high-tech gateway. 

Timber doesn't seem like a good choice. Agriculture maybe, especially if it fits the game (maybe there's a world-wide food shortage and fighting over arable land is a big part of the conflict? Could make for a good game element). 

 

Now, on to your main issue of funds. Representing funds income as taxation makes sense - most players will understand it. Does that mean that conquering cities/populous regions immediately increases your funds income? Cities would probably also need to be peaceful and safe to allow for actual taxation, offering incentives to not just conquer areas but to secure them. As far as how it works with totalitarian governments, you might look to Hearts of Iron for an example. There is no real concept of fungible wealth in that - you control resource sources and usage directly. The State has taken complete control of any production necessary for wartime, so they don't worry about paying for it - they just worry about getting and using it. If you were to abandon the funds concept altogether I think that could work just fine. Really depends on what other uses you have for it.

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In a totalitarian global total war scenario there's presumably not much international trade going on, so something superlinear in the number of cities could simulate the value of non-local resources and specialization. If you wanted to get simulation heavy this could take into account resource diversity, but you could also hand-wave away and say "any city is going to be rich and poor in different resources." In essence by conquering a new city you got access to purer iron ore letting you smelt steel faster and produce more tanks, which is all abstracted into "more wealth." This would encourage snowballing for quicker games where somebody gets an edge and then conquers the world. Especially if you require geographic diversity this could have a counter where a player has to stretch themselves thin to maximize wealth, opening themselves up for counterattacks until they can resolidify with the additional wealth.

Another resource to consider is "stability": If people aren't being fed, they'll turn to scavenging rather than showing up for their shift at the factory. If people keep vanishing into the countryside to get away from missile strikes, specialized knowledge keeps getting lost. If the highways are crumbling, deliveries are slow. Here construction would lead to better stability (more farms, road repair projects, hospitals), but it would mostly be a function of not letting your cities be attacked. Spies sowing unrest, air strikes, raids on truck conveys between cities would do economic damage, so you could fight wars two ways: either seizing cities with troops for knockout blows, or wearing your opponent down and then going for the conquest.

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Most countries have country-wide power grids, so to have an empire-wide power grid is a stretch, but not to wierd in my opinion. Not sure yet. Maybe powerplant could also just generate "funds" instead of being a resource of its own, or give bonus to factories (like in most civ games).

I was unclear:

I need several sources for income. Taxes (that affect happiness) and mining are a given. Maybe split mining up to give some more geographical significance?

But I want more:) Why is logging strange? Not modern enough? It seem a good choice to make cities still matter if not close to mineral sources. Wood is not used so much in infrastrcuture / military production though in the modern era...

I have "factories" for producing military units. But maybe have a choice between "mil factories" and "civ factories" like in HOI4. Civ factories would produce consumer goods, which yield income (funds). But this isnt so location-based.

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Most countries have country-wide power grids, so to have an empire-wide power grid is a stretch, but not to wierd in my opinion. Not sure yet. Maybe powerplant could also just generate "funds" instead of being a resource of its own, or give bonus to factories (like in most civ games).

I was unclear:

I need several sources for income. Taxes (that affect happiness) and mining are a given. Maybe split mining up to give some more geographical significance?

But I want more:) Why is logging strange? Not modern enough? It seem a good choice to make cities still matter if not close to mineral sources. Wood is not used so much in infrastrcuture / military production though in the modern era...

I have "factories" for producing military units. But maybe have a choice between "mil factories" and "civ factories" like in HOI4. Civ factories would produce consumer goods, which yield income (funds). But this isnt so location-based.

 

More than one source?

 

Print your own money!  Your government could make their own money when needed, but if it was abused or used to often prices would go up.

Exploring uncivilized areas for hidden gold. Nothing extravagant, just a little cave would be on the map, or an uncharted island that you heard a rumor about and you sent a party to investigate.

Government run Shops/Restaurants could make money for you.

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Printing money doesnt really work. "funds" represent wealth or resources as previously stated.

Finding Gold in a cave is not an empire wide scope resource used to fund factories and aircrafts.

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On 6/16/2017 at 0:40 AM, suliman said:

I need several sources for income.

in total war type games you have taxes and trade, and some factions or settlements ( perhaps?) seem to get some additional base amount.  you also have a number of resource types (raw materials) that allow the construction of specific types of buildings and units - including buildings that can generate more income via taxes.

in RTS type games you typically have gold as a resource - which becomes money (perhaps with a smelter and a mint). you can do the same with things like silver, platinum, palladium, diamonds, uranium, etc. but these are all forms of mining income or to put it in more general terms: income from state controlled resources.

say you're the government of a country. how can you get money? tax stuff, trade with other countries, exploit natural resources...  can't think of much else. 

ah, one more, and total war has it:  tribute payments from subjugated countries.  but this could also be considered just another form of taxes. 

 

Edited by Norman Barrows

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True but let me phrase it like this:

What natural resources could suit? If i clump mining into one, agriculture into one. What else is there? Maybe this is enough but want to have all ideas on the table:)

I use oil already as "fuel". And forest resource is used for biomass energy. Maybe I covered everything? (i like rather broad cathegories of natural resources)

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I think the best fit for a near-future postapocolyptic setting would be cryptocurrencies.  

So your funds would be determined by unutilized computing power.  Essentially it'd mean an oppositional relationship between research (using your computing cycles to solve real problems) and money (using your computing cycles to solve meaningless problems that make you money).

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How would cryptocurrencies translate to ability to construct buildings and machines of war? It seems more like something you use to fool someone for real currency and then use real currency to buy resources/items in a working economy.

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It's all equally imaginary; cryptocurrencies can be the underpinning of a working economy just as well as pieces of paper or shiny metals.  Why will Boeing make me an airplane if I give it lots of pieces of paper?  Because their supplies accept it, their employees accept it, and on down the line, and the employees accept it because grocery stores and banks accept it...  What keeps it going?  A shared understanding that the pieces of paper are "worth something", combined with a government decree that businesses have to accept them.

The benefits of deciding that crypto underpins the economy in your game world is that it's immediately empire-wide by nature (like you don't have to transport it), and it's produced by buildings you already have (power plants and/or research centers).  It's basically a way of theming "energy" as "funds", without having to worry about how you actually transport "energy" across the map.

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On the note of Crypto Currency. It doesn't really add anything then?

Back to the original question:

You can have:

  • Mining
  • Agriculture
  • Forestry
  • Services

The idea of services is that they can be spent to maintain equipment(ie heal), new research or make your people happy(more produce). It is an abstraction of the service industry today.

 

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Not a bad idea (service).

How about forestry (or maybe "logging", forestry seems to be more focus on caring for the forest, which doesnt suit a militaristic dictatorship maybe. But the world "forestry" fits the modern theme better i think). Does it seem it's ok for a modern "income source"? I know it's a big deal in todays economy but i think it's more related to consumer products, not so much military. But it's still used (wood products) in construction of course...

Logging/forestry would be agood to squeesz in as in "funds income source" becouse i will most likely skip "power resource" and power plants (too many different gameplay elements).

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I would go for:

Money (funds) - this represents labour, it's used for most things. Generated by cities.

Resources (ore/minerals) - this represents rare substances required for some advanced units (infantry and simplier units require money only).

Fuel - fuel for mechanized units, limits the number of heavy units

 

As for science and the like I would go for a secondary resource. Like, you can set how much money goes into science.

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