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Adding non-territorial expansion to a game

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larienna
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I was thinking about 4X strategy games lately where one of the X consist being the word "Expand". On first, thougt, people always think about military territorial expansion, but there can be other type of expansion. For example, today, military expansion is not seen with a very good eye so there is little change in the political borders. But a country could still have a strong economic expansion without increasing the size of his country. This is for example the case of the united states which has a strong economic and political influence on the world even if their territory does not cover the majority of the world.

So I thought that the idea of expansion could be promoted in different ways than colonisation and military campaign. I was thinking at the different other fields where expansion could be possible. I found so far: Economy, Politics and Espionage. If you have other field ideas, let me know.

Now how could a system like that be implemented. For a concept like Economy, I did not want to keep track of all economic transactions. I wanted something of higher level and maybe more abstract that reflected the concept of economy. I thought of 2 properties:

- First the concepts increases in size when all civilizations gets bigger. But a civ's size is not proportional with it's influence.
- Second, A civilization's influence expansion would mean making other civilization lose influence. So you must expand at the cost of others.

Which means that the influence grow and civilizations try to fight for getting their share.

So the mechanic I designed could look like something similar to this.

The maximum economic power that can be allowed into play is equal to the total number of cities into play. So if you have 5 players which each have 4 cities, it makes a total economic power of 20. Now these points will be distributed differently among players. So the power distribution between players could be 7-5-3-3-2. So even if all players has the same territorial strength (4), they each have different economic power.

Now there could be various mechanics that could make these numbers grow ro reduce. First, if people colonize, the total amount increase, to that will leave unused power that can be acquired. Or players can fight against other players to steal their power. But at some point, when the whole world will be colonized, the toal power will always stay the same, so you will have no choice to steal.

Now what could be the effect of these levels. The usage depends on the game. For example, economic level could determine you money income or the number of building/upgrade you can maintain. Espionage level could determine the number of espionage cards you can play. Etc.

Finally, it would be possible to make treaties between players that influence these things. For example, I had a hard time determining how a trading treaty could influence the game (Gain additional money, have access to more resources, etc). Now it could simply increase your level of economy, or make some of your economic points impossible to lose. What ever the effect, this new dimension of expanding your influence increase a possibility of negotiation that was not there before.

So what do you think?

rcjames14
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Emergence

It seems to me that you might be trying to model emergent phenonema rather than allow those phenomena to emerge. Giving each player an economic ranking seems to miss out on all the rich complexity from which something like an economic rating arises. The major countries of the world do not have trillion dollar GDPs because someone gave them a trillion dollar GDP rating. The GDP reflects an innumerable amount of smaller transactions from which the figure is derived.

So, you might think about focusing upon the rather simple and straightforward transactions that make up a nation's economy and all the rules that structure those transactions. If you give players the opportunity to produce, trade, buy and sell, they will create an economy (and likely some will benefit from it more than others). But, as long as economic transactions appear more advantageous and less costly than martial tactics for even the weakest player, then there will be a general move towards economic expansion over military expansion.

Exactly, how that expansion takes place will be subject to the many different actions and smaller choices by all the players, creating interesting questions about strategic complexity that a fiat rating system does not.

rcjames14
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Emergence

It seems to me that you might be trying to model emergent phenonema rather than allow those phenomena to emerge. Giving each player an economic ranking seems to miss out on all the rich complexity from which something like an economic rating arises. The major countries of the world do not have trillion dollar GDPs because someone gave them a trillion dollar GDP rating. The GDP reflects an innumerable amount of smaller transactions from which the figure is derived.

So, you might think about focusing upon the rather simple and straightforward transactions that make up a nation's economy and all the rules that structure those transactions. If you give players the opportunity to produce, trade, buy and sell, they will create an economy (and likely some will benefit from it more than others). But, as long as economic transactions appear more advantageous and less costly than martial tactics for even the weakest player, then there will be a general move towards economic expansion over military expansion.

Exactly, how that expansion takes place will be subject to the many different actions and smaller choices by all the players, creating interesting questions about strategic complexity that a fiat rating system does not.

larienna
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Quote:It seems to me that you

Quote:
It seems to me that you might be trying to model emergent phenonema rather than allow those phenomena to emerge. Giving each player an economic ranking seems to miss out on all the rich complexity from which something like an economic rating arises.

Exactly. The level of management of my game is too high for the players to be able to trade to buy things. I am thinking about managing empire that span across the world, players do not buy or trade stuff, everything is being abstracted else there would be too much details.

So I though that stimulating the phenomena would be a way to make sure the concept is present and possible to use without having to detail economic transaction to make it work.

simons
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2 other types of power

If you're looking for other ways that a country can measure how powerful it is, two that you might want to consider are science/technology, and cultural.

Science/technology is fairly straight forward. It could represent both bragging rights ("Ha! We were the first ones to the moon."), and the ability to do things that your opponents can't ("We're switching our entire country from coal power to nuclear power."). This might be an interesting one to play with, since the second player to come along will be able to get the abilities at a cheaper rate ("Hey, now that Bob's empire has switched invented the hybrid engine, we can just reverse engineer it.") but none of the bragging rights.

Cultural, well, is a little more intangible. I guess the best illustration of this is the fact that there are small African villages I can travel to, where I can listen to Beyonce on the radio, while drinking Coca-Cola, and have at least a basic conversation with the locals in English. The inverse of that would not be true (i.e. someone from Africa couldn't travel to a small town in the US and find anything resembling his home). I'm not sure what sort of in-game effect this would have, but it could be an interesting one to play with.

Simon

zinkroid
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So whats the gameplay?

I'm kind of confused. Exactly what properites is the player tweaking? Is the goal to make your country the most powerful? If so, what exactly defines power? Influence over the other countries, Economic dominance, UN dominance?

I fear that nations, even the United States, has used war and territorial expansion as a way to gain power in world. After WWII, all of the powerful nations were left in ruins and in debt to the United States thanks to its massive industrial production. Afterwords, the United States started placing bases in foreign countries throughout the world. This is nearly the same as territorial expansion. Its like having a friend that one is intimate with except no strings attached. The US can tell what the country can and can't do via the threat of violence without having any reprocutions if the country becomes 3rd world.

Likely this is why Canada, US and Mexico haven't combined. If one goes down, at least there is a buffer for the other two to say they weren't responsible. Anyway I'm not hating on US or anything.

If it weren't for war, we find that over history, power is a pendulum swing. Europe is in power, Asia is in power, Europe is in power... etc. Now we probably have 3 states. Americas, Europe and Asia. Unfortunately Africa always seems to be left out. Probably insufficient resources.

larienna
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Quote:I'm kind of confused.

Quote:
I'm kind of confused. Exactly what properites is the player tweaking? Is the goal to make your country the most powerful? If so, what exactly defines power? Influence over the other countries, Economic dominance, UN dominance?

I made some test yesterday, and I think I will only use it for economy. The idea is that you money income, defined by your economy, will be variable instead of fixed. Allowing other players to power down your economy and give you a lower money income without actually attacking you.

There will be something called economic influence. Various stuff in the game increase your influence: Trade treaties, number of special resources, monopoly in a special resources, etc. Each turn, the 1st player in influence can steal 1 economy from player 2-3-4, 2nd player can steal from 3-4 and 3rd player from 4.

You economy level is equal to the amount of cities you have. At the beginning of the game, when opposing player does not know each other, no economy can be stolen. It only happens after a certain point of the game.

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