Sunday, January 8, 2017

Circling Around

Standard blog post-gap real-life excuse....

It's been a long time since I have had cycles to more than skim away at my hobbies. Not that that is entirely bad, there have been good as well as awful events in my life. Just like everyone else's life of course. I'm dropping a few notes here around an idea for a multi-player strategic space wargame that I might -- or might not -- develop and run for some friends here.

Game Concept

For centuries the nations of Earth have expanded to the stars; as the colonies have grown and matured the outdated and overloaded Terran Federation government has become less and less able to provide effective government for the colonies or for an overtaxed Earth.  When global thermonuclear war at last removes Earth herself form the equations, the colonies must find their own way without the resources and guidance of the mother world.

Short timelines will make this a game of competition for existing resources rather than of exploration and expansion.  Military and trade rules will concentrate on strategic decision making but rather than abstracting away all detail the AI will be used to construct a more detailed narrative that reveals the implications of player decisions.

Play Concept

  1. Must be entertaining, and permit the player to enjoy participating no matter what level of effort they choose to put into the game.
  2. As real as possible a star map.  While there are real data limitations mostly in population of dim stars out to a distance that gives an interesting number of stars at all, I think it would be more fun to deal with these issues and see what complications a 3D environment actually adds to a strategic game.
  3. Extensive use of automation.  Essentially the core should be a lightly-moderated computer game in which players make high-level strategic decisions that are executed by software.  Unlike a commercial product, some manual intervention is acceptable mostly to allow players to go beyond the limitations of a simple AI in terms of political operations.
  4. No more graphics than needed.  Two reasons for this.  Pragmatically I am not an artist so while I can produce clean, modern interfaces I cannot produce anything that looks like a modern 1st person game.  Second, the game will strategic in nature; artistic renderings will not aid the decision making process. 
  5. As many graphic components as are needed.  Good decision support graphics of course (plus the ability to export data for the enthusiast). And people are just not equipped to process 3D star data without computer support.
  6. Asynchronous play.  The AI should keep things going, so the player should only need to intervene when he deems it essential.  The player should also be able to select notification channels for events (slack, email or sms for example) and other parameters to control how much of his real life the game intrudes upon.  Freeing any one player from overloading on his commitment to the game frees all players from having to move in lockstep; the game need no stop because one player is vacationing.
  7. A balance of war, trade and politics.