I cleaned up the preserves a bit. I merged the three different kinds that existed. I want the preserves to give the player the full worth of what the tile produces while the industrial camps only give you what they make, but give you a little more of that. I now check against the industrialization of the biome to see whether to give an industrial camp or a preserve and I convert from preserves to industrial camps when industrialization events happen.
I also did a few small things. I put in a better explainer, I updated the tiles and I cleaned up the code a little bit.
I made the prayer system more coherent and better explained it thorugh the UI. I also brought inspirations into the memory system. I think that these two pieces will do a lot to make players be excited about the whole system. It was very hard to understand what was going on before and it’s hard for a player to get excited about something they don’t understand. Also, putting on the very clear reward of memory points should push players more into the system as well.
I wanted at least a nod to deep ecology and what I put in is not it at all, but it’s still a reasonable addition, so I’m not too unhappy about it. I made tiles that represent deep forest and the like. They need to be surrounded by creepers and die out as soon as they are not. They can be used as prayer sites, generate anomalies and most importantly, contribute significantly to the final score if they survive. It’s not a major change, but I think it’s a fun extra piece.
Ends Without Means
I love the idea of ends without means in games and it’s especially important in a game like this. Achieving your goals without the use of means makes a strong statement against the modern ethos of 4X games. When it came time to develop this as part of the anti-industrialization focus of the week though, I found that there was already enough of it in the game that I didn’t really have anything to do, an amusingly apt discovery.
I did tweak a couple of things here though. First, I cut the early campaign triggered by meeting new players. It just played poorly and pushed players away from meeting other players. I also made the deep eco tiles generate quests so that there are more quests from nature in the game.
Countering Growth for the Sake of Growth
On the other hand, growth for the sake of growth is deeply entwined in the nature of the game. Honestly, the primary reward for 4X games is watching numbers go up and even a game like this can only do so much about that. There are already mechanics in place to punish unrestrained growth, but there is so much fundamental to the game that rewards it. For instance, if production is used to make new things quicker and the player wants to get new things, it then becomes very hard to keep a production increase from being a good thing.
My new points system gives me an avenue to push back on this though. Now, the game gives points for using fewer citizens and given them more free time. This cleanly fits in the existing video game trope of rewarding players for doing more with less and works well thematically.
I put in events for when the pollution levels in a region rise beyond certain thresholds. This adds some direct weight to pollution, which it needed. It also lets me clarify the metaphor of vegetation and animals as the idiosyncracies of the people in the game and how a toxic group burns away the fun side of people in the group.
Besides this, I set up the eXploitation phase and spent a fair bit of time playtesting and fixing bugs. The eXploitation phase now fits in the new tech paradigm. I found a lot of things that need work on from these playtests though and so I’m going to get to those.