I just put in the eXploitation currency economy for Syphilisation and I wanted to note down what it does and why it’s in the game.
I decided to break down the game into four phases early in the game’s production, each one being one of the four Xs of the genre. I did this as a conceptual statement more than anything else. I want players to engage with the assumptions of the genre and I feel that something as clearly deconstructive as the explicit breakdown of the game into these four stages would help players assume the right mindset for the game. To emphasize this, it is necessary to have something of a gear shift in between phases as a punctuation mark.
With the shift to the eXploitation phase, I wanted to move the game back to the map and the units. The eXploration phase focuses on those while the eXpansion phase lives more in the menus. Additionally, I wanted this to gesture towards colonial economics. It’s an important concept for Syphilisation to represent and this is the phase best suited to doing so.
This starts with the introduction of a set of new eXploitation currencies; motivation, awareness, energy, fuel and color, all of which can be converted into fabric. Most of the production options in this phase require eXploitation currencies to complete.
The first thing this does is force the player to make trade-offs across the different production options and across different cities as to what to prioritize. By limiting them with these currencies, they are now limited at the civ level instead of at the city level and so can do much less in parallel. You can also build factories to convert the base eXploitation currencies into fabric and this creates a new set of bottlenecks and trade-offs and functions as some of the building blocks of an actual colonial economy.
This even let me put in the dynamic of indigo planters. Players can replace food production with color production that they can then use to complete actions or make fabric, thus starving an area in order to boost manufacturing. I also made the preserves request fabric to represent the demand for manufactured goods that came with the age of capital.
These currencies are all shipped with units, namely truckers and fabric dealers, instead of automatically gathered. This way, the players are able to make their trade-offs with intention and the focus moves back to the map for this phase.
Also, as actions don’t complete until they get the currencies that they need, the flood of player input is stemmed. It’s natural as the game progresses for the player to get more and more requests for input that are often of low value. When you play Civ, the late game is full of low-value cities asking what to build next. Here, the player starts the action when the city has nothing queued, but the action will not complete until the player delivers the currency it needs and so that city will go much longer before asking for input again.
This is a feature that’s going to need some iteration to get perfectly right, but I quite like how it plays already. If you give it a try, please do be sure to tell me what you think.