I had set aside this week for the consolidation of the eXpansion phase. Before that though, I wanted to finish off one last feature for the eXploration phase - gating regions. I divided the world into lots of regions and put in villages as gates for each of them. This has been very elegant mechanically as it provides a sink for the units that the game needed to produce for eXploration and makes the eXploration phase much more interactive and demanding. However, it’s inelegant thematically. It doesn’t really say anything coherent when you look at the interactions between the semantic values of the pieces. The units represent saying certain things and the world is the shared space of the relationship, but having the one open up the other isn’t fully explained here. This makes the statement muddled and muddles the game surrounding it as well. The base of the feature seems solid, but I’ll need to iterate on it a bit to get it properly integrated with the rest of the game.
For the eXpansion phase, I put in stances. The districts each represent a mental space dedicated to things like studying and self improvement. Being the first one to complete a district makes you the prime for that role in the group and you can later go on campaigns to claim a role for yourself. I also put in forks for the buildings in the districts and rewards for following the leader on these. The game has a lot of these features that softly encourage standardization and will have a lot of things that punish you for just that and exploring that space is one of the major aesthetics of the game.
The other major feature of this week is player storylines. I’ve set all of the players to be the same for right now and only put in a very barebones story, but I’m really excited about having this in as it gives me a lot of space to shape the way the game plays and because this allows me to put across the political points of the game in individual terms. That mirroring is key to the points that I want to communicate.
The Black Hole of Calcutta was a famous prison in Bengal best known for the imprisonment of 164 British, Anglo and Indian PoWs who were apparently crammed in the 14ft x 18ft space by Siraj-ud-Daula. Of those people, only 23 were said to have survived. This account was made famous as an example of the cruelty of Eastern princes, but is apparently strongly questioned in the present day. It’s only supported by a single account by John Zephaniah Holwell, who has been found to have fabricated similar stories. Some posit that given the dimensions of the room at 14 feet by 18 feet, it would not have been possible to cram more than about 65 prisoners into the space. Others say that if several had died, all of them inevitably would have at the same time as limited oxygen would have killed everyone simultaneously, not depriving them individually, unless Holwell and his surviving crew had strangled the others to save air.
In 1940, Subhas Chandra Bose forged a link with the Muslim League and planned to start a civil disobedience movement to remove the Holwell monument. The Bengali Muslim community had long felt that the entire story had been concocted simply to smear the Nawab, Siraj-ud-Daula, and so wanted the monument removed. However, on the 3rd of July, 1940, before the protest could start, Bose was arrested by the British and thrown in prison. The monument was actually removed later that month (and re-erected in the graveyard of St. Johns Church, Calcutta), but Bose himself was left in prison until he staged a 7-day hunger fast for his release in December. Shortly after this came his escape to Germany where he joined the Axis powers, went to Japan and set up the INA, but that is an interesting fact for a different day.