The core of the game is a highly dynamic economy simulator. Thousands of simulated citizens produce goods to sell and then buy things that they want. They make decisions based on their unique, randomly generated preferences and abilities. The price of every good responds to forces of supply, demand, and inflation. In turn, citizens respond to changes in prices by producing more expensive goods to increase their profits and buying more of a good when it is cheapest. This creates a negative feedback system that results in a rough equilibrium. I, personally, find the complexity elegant.
Developing this simulator has been a lot of fun. I enjoy tweaking the citizen AI and observing the effect on my little economy. I identify a deficiency in my system, or a new feature that I wish to add. Then I try to find the smallest change to make to the base algorithms that will produce the change in behavior that I desire. Even when I am not successful, I find the process extremely satisfying.
I want to build a game that makes some part of that experience available to other people. My first thought was to have players play the part of a captain of a merchant ship. They would take part in the economy by transporting goods from one city to another in an attempt to make a profit.
I am beginning to think that having more control of the economy would make the experience more rewarding for a player. Rather than being mere cogs in the economy, I would like players to be able to shape these economies in meaningful, but indirect ways. Perhaps changing the environment within cities to change the way citizens behave would result in a better game.
So far, I don’t have any specific plan for creating this kind of more expansive play. I don’t know what kind of changes I might enable a player to make. I can’t think of a suitable mechanic for allowing players to change policy. I don’t even know if having more control over the economy would actually make the game better.
Also, any player is hypothetical at this point.
I need a play test. For that I need a prototype. I suppose we should start with the prototype we had originally planned. Then, we can determine if a game where the core mechanic is simply trading is as tedious and unfulfilling as I suspect. At least it’s a start.
Oh, and welcome to my blog.