More Discussion

Work has continued on the project which may turn out to be Shadows++, a half-sequel, taking as much as possible from the original while expanding in the directions I thought the original was lacking.

The focus is on politics. Hopefully that was everyone's favourite part, because it's now fairly advanced. The basic gameplay concept is as follows:

The political game revolves around "Social circles". These are the people you can interact with. They themselves will have their own social circles, which probably have different people in them. Get invited to the right balls, feasts or hunts and you may get a chance to mingle with others, and so can temporarily add them to your social circle. Maintain the relationships you need.

Your aim, as usual, is to rise from the bottom to the top of the society. To do this, you require allies. Promotion is now voted on, so you need high-ranking political allies who can propose your promotion, then vote on it. That means political donations to the right people, to get them into your social circle for a few turns. Then maybe invite them to your social activity, to boost your relationship, or to meet their spouse, who could be a useful secondary channel to them. Cash opens doors, but is in limited supply.

Cash itself is generated over time, but the society votes to balance who gets what. A lord whose city specialises in fishing might propose to increase the revenue from all fishing economies, at the detriment of those who specialise in mining. The aim is for every economic vote to need to propose a set of winners and a set of losers, creating allies and enemies as people are pleased or displeased by voting issues and those who voted for them. Again, powerful allies are useful to get your issues paid attention to, and you'll have natural allies in the upper ranks, those who share your economic interests.

Deception and interpersonal actions are how you compete with the higher-ranking lords who can easily outspend you. Increasing existing hatreds can be a good choice, as can be deliberately polarising the lords around a particular issue or person, forming dislikes where none existed before.

Information comes into play through discovering who is friends with whom, and who is merely pretending. You may discover information through talking at parties, or through paying people close to them. Possibly the duke's advisor actually hates him, but the duke doesn't realise this. If so, that presents an attack vector. Pay the advisor to publicly shame the duke and his prestige will drop, weakening him for a time. Do this at the right time and you may swing a vote in your favour.

The ultimate weapon is the plot. These are crimes committed against people during activities. They are risky, as they produce evidence which could be discovered by others, but allow you to suddenly crippled  a person's political power, or even murder them. Once performed, plots are usually known to everyone, and the NPCs will start to form their own hypotheses as to who is responsible. If they have a target, they may start their own plots to find evidence to prove to the world who was guilty.

This forms the basis for the rumour system, as you can start rumours based on crimes, blaming particular individuals. If an NPC is willing to believe this claim (based on their own probability assessments of the guilty parties), and likes you more than they like them, you may well get a target blamed for a crime they didn't commit.


So. That's a rough overview of the gameplay. It's obvious very complicated, and I can neither guarantee that it's A) Possible, B) Fun. Maybe it's just too complicated to be fun. Maybe I won't be able to balance it. As it stands, the AI exists, they host activites, vote on matters, occasionally perform plots, hire advisors and develop deep hatreds of one another over minor economic upsets. The UI is slowly coming together, and a very rough first playable version might arrive sometime soonish. Assuming nothing unexpected occurs, which of course it might.

Who knows? Maybe this'll be good. Maybe it won't. Only time will tell.

Files

shadowsV13Linux.tar.gz (20 MB)
43 days ago

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Comments

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Like I said before, I like your approach in general and also this new update is really "dense", maybe too much ? You should try to explain and test every mechanics separately, so you can learn if they are fun or not!

For example I'm not sure if the player can keep track of all circles and relationships in order to manipulate them, I mean I can see some sort of "information overloading " ?

One of my problems with SBTT was the interface and all the stuff happening together. I suggest you to take a look to Europa Universalis IV from Paradox, or Crusader Kings 2, where player Is able to follow a lot of things together because of the real time pause, of course, but also because of the interface.

My suggestion here is to work a lot on the UX and UI, maybe with some prototypes, to find the better way player can interact with such complex world you have in mind!

You're entirely right about your worries, and I genuinely do feel there's a decent chance this approach to the game won't be fun, or won't be playable due to the information load required. I consider this new direction to be an experiment. I can't tell what it'll play like, it's too different from what I've seen or tried before for me to judge. On the other hand, it may succeed, and could be great if it does. I had a bunch of ideas which came about from Shadows, so wanted to try them out to see how they played.

If it succeeds I'll continue, and move over stuff from the older approach to this one, to create a better whole. If it fails I'll take the ideas which seemed to work from the experiment and continue with the previous version.

As to the UI, I assure you I don't deliberately ignore the UI aspect. In fact, I'd say that at least 75% of the current experimental build has been UI work. The AI and internal systems were relatively easy to design and implement and were done a couple of weeks ago, while the UI is still being assembled. The issue may simply be that I'm not a very good UI designer, and that this project is difficult to design UI for. That said, the Shadows UI has slowly been improved over time, as I realised issues with it from testing gameplay and fixed them, so there's still hope even if the first version is a bit difficult to use.

Thanks for quick answer!

From an outside perspective, seems that you were too much focusing in adding more and more content ( I'm referring to SBTT ). My advice is to focus on the core mechanics and when that one is really good and you have a lot of feedback from players, move to other mechanics .

Do you have UI to show to potential players? I mean, me :D You could get a lot of feedback without code anything, I think is right approach!

Btw, good work, I'm following you because I believe in this kind of games and with the right mix of gameplay elements could be really interesting !

I don't yet have anything, but I'm getting there. I should, hopefully, get something testable in the next couple of weeks. It'll just be the politics/intrigue part, not the world map, so you can have a look at it and comment, so it can be improved and polished before the world map is connected up.

Sure! If you have Just a mockup i think Will bene great too