Monday, June 05, 2017

President, General, Spy #4

I was working on starting values for all the countries in the test scenario (Central America) when I realized that the CIA Fact Book had a huge amount of information.

I looked at government type for all countries and realized that I could just take the information directly from the fact book.

Then I slapped myself in the face. Hard.

I don't need fifty different types of government in the game, and even if I did, I wouldn't need it now. There's a development stage plan, and I'm sticking to it. Here it is:
1. Board game rules
2. Board game AI
3. Government types and personalities
4. Internal political stability
5. Geographic influence
6. Event layer
7. International or regional assemblies

Basically, stages one and two will be very rigid, just to get a simple prototype working. The rules will be simple and absolute. The AI will be the same (think blackjack for the dealer).

Stage three will start to add nuance. Different kinds of governments, along with different personalities leading those governments (stabilizer, destabilizer, opportunist), will lead to different behavior. Stage four will add the possibility of coups and insurrections, which will further affect how the leaders behave. Stage five will add onto stage four, because political stability is influenced by geography, and this will also make regional scenarios feel more individual.

As I work through these stages, the rules originally laid down in stages one and two will become less rigid and more probability based, with existing statuses both inside and outside the country having large effects. So the AI will go from being rigid to being dynamic.

The event layer--stage six--is what what will hopefully make the game feel alive. There will be hundreds of possible events that must be responded to, and responding to these one-offs will deeply influence the course of the game. This is also a way to make regional scenarios feel very custom, as events will be drawn from that historical era--not the exact event, necessarily, but if a leader (or a few) was assassinated in that era, the chances of someone being assassinated will go way, way up.

The last layer is the United Nations layer, basically. At the end of the year, all nations in the scenario will come together for an assembly. This will have a very different feel than the regular turns, with a different set of outcomes possible, because it's the only time countries will come together as a body.

That was a long aside when I was talking about government types, but my point was that I tend to bury myself in detail and go down very deep rabbit holes. Can't do that this time.

Also, to avoid the rabbit holes, I'm trying to use the rule of five, which is an entirely imaginary thing I made up over the weekend.

Types of government? Limited to five. Types of actions a President could take? Limited to five. The same for General and Spy. Five possible actions each.

The reason I'm doing this is that I've realized part of creating is working with constraints. The constraints themselves feed creativity. I need those constraints to work against. It both helps me to control scope and forces me to make decisions about what's important.

All right, tomorrow I'll discuss the rule set I have for actions and ask you for feedback. I'm not going to write about the game this much as we go on, but as I'm just getting off the deck, it's a regular subject for a few weeks.

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