Syphilisation is stabilizing and I should be able to have people play an early version soon, so I wanted to note out the big things on my mind that I want to get done for the game. I’m going to come back and do this more thoroughly later, but I felt that putting a bit down here would make sense.
What Civ Says
I’ve spent a bit of time thinking out exactly what it is that the Civ series says through its mechanics and the semantic values of the pieces, but I need to spend some time doing so in a more deliberate manner. A large part of why I’m building this game is to function as a parody of the Civ series. I think that video games need more parodies as a way to promote video game literacy. My hope is that they will serve to make clearer what games and their systems say by showing more of the space around them. I feel that we can then thus develop the skills to see these more clearly and more easily without the aid of external parodies.
So, it follows that I need to spend a fair bit of effort fully detailing what Civ says so that I make an effective commentary on it. I’ve naturally identified a number of major headings, but I want to spend the focused time on it to see what I might be missing.
Tied deeply into Civ is the concept of the nation-state. It feels almost inextricable and I still need to do a lot more work to combat that in Syph. It’s fundamental to a very large part of how Civ works and so is non-trivial to approach
The most fundamental difference between Civ and Syph is that Syph is not built around the idea of a single winner. That one concept and the zero-sum thinking that it necessitates is the source of most of what is most worth questioning in Civ and additionally is one of the places where it breaks down the most. It’s an artifact of the game’s nature and history, but fundamentally conflicts with the idea of building a civilization. I don’t want any country to engage in a war of opportunity, least of all the one I live in, and the inability of Civ to represent a civilization of that style is one of its greatest flaws. Letting the player decide what to compete on and how competitive to be changes the game drastically and I still need to fully understand the ramifications.
History From Below
Civ has a strong history-from-above perspective. It’s completely focused on the idea of great people leading a nation and I want this game to have a history-from-below skew to it, at least in comparison. I want the game to feel much more organic than the somewhat antiseptic Civ. This side of the game is very underdeveloped and I need to add a lot to make this feeling come through
Tech trees form the spine of the Civ series. They give it a lot of the forward momentum that drives the one-more-turn part of the game. The narrative of an overarcing tech inevitability is, I feel, blinkered. I want a more fluid-feeling tech tree for Syph. Additionally, this should help with the issue of how Civ games often feel similar.
The other big part of this is that I need to integrate tech skepticism into the game. The allure of tech solutions will be there naturally due to the Civ framework, which unquestionably believes in them, but I want to put in something that allows for aggressive skepticism here.
This is what I’m in the middle of working on currently when not stabilizing. There’s still a lot to do here though.
Similarly, I want the game to allow the player to question industrialization and development as a whole. I have some non-industrial options planned and I want to be able to represent a Gandhian village system and also a deep ecology stance. I also want to take advantage of the framing of Syph as a set of people doing a group project and criticize the industrialization of relationships and the ensuing pollution caused.