Mechanics v. Narrative: The crux of the debate
04-20-2013, 02:42 PM
Post: #1
Mechanics v. Narrative: The crux of the debate
The balance between automated, mathematical mechanics and human-driven, free-form narration is the heart of the problem in many types of Forum Games, which include RPGs, "board" games, variations on cardgames, and of course, the now-established genre of states-games.

This is the main issue in a game I have been planning to run since seven months ago: A Disaster in Geopolitics (which I now just plan on calling "Cyclical History" or something else).

Upon first design, I was driven most by a desire to see more complex interactions in states-games, both in mechanical and organic levels. However, I overdosed. The map blew up rapidly, and though I had planned for the ridiculous size to exemplify detail in the game, there was a severe disparity in detail.

I could not possibly zoom in further and detail the already six-thousand square pixel map.

Likewise, the plan for city-flags went kaput as well, when my original generally vague idea of "uniting symbol" did not merge with the standardized system of unit display.

Next, I obsessed over the allocation of resources. I planned to physically distribute resources - only areas that controlled and developed certain areas could gain control to certain resources. This was not so bad. Having a physical reference on the map was useful for quick resource checks.

However, what came next was absolutely horrid.

I tried to make a mechanized form of resource trade and consumption, creating a horrendous list of numbers and variables.

Needless to say, it took up over four-fifths of any given spreadsheet.

Beyond this putrid abomination, however, was something far worse - the system of combat.

Already before the inception of Geopolitics (The Game), I had made plans for some sort of combat system. Whether it would be included in a game (Tentatively called "SKIRMISH") or as a standalone (also named the same) was decided after the creation of the new, massive states-game idea.

The general idea was a tile-based, turn-based, double-blind system, not unlike Fire Emblem.

Trouble began when I grew too fond of unit statistics.

I was forced into creating completely arbitrary equations for the purpose of the system.

Perhaps I could remove the grid, but keep the idea of a localized battlefield?

Combat, however, would likely be much more in-depth..... The time period the game takes place in would make that so.

That is the dilemma.

Map Detailing;
-Unit Display
-City Structure (For potential city fighting!?)
-Scale (Detail disparity)
Resource Management;
-Trade
-Keeping track of resources
-Consumption
Combat
-Streamlining
-Keeping depth and real-world strategy

This thread is open to other concerns regarding the balance of these two great forces.

However, I open it on the topic of Geopolitics. This is a great game that I have already put a very decent amount of effort into. I would not like to see it go to waste.

I will return endless gratitude for all who help.
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05-11-2013, 11:18 PM
Post: #2
RE: Mechanics v. Narrative: The crux of the debate
It seems to me that what you are trying to emulate is Age of Empires: The Forum Game. Your level of Detail that you wish to include reminds me also to the game of DnD where map and combat are very, very detailed. I must ask though, How would you accomplish this, even without the problems, on a post by post game play?

You want something so complex, it comes to the level of complexity of Real time strategy game, even down to equations and statistics.

In addition, how would you accomplish this with more than two players? You could keep a very fat time when no battle occurred, but upon a battle the entire Thing would slow down to turn by turn, even when other players wern't battling. Otherwise, massive time gaps would occur.

It just seems to big to be put in a forum game as it's self. It honestly would probably ok better as an actual game, and these problems would mostly be fixed in such an environment. However, for a forum game it seems too complex.

HOWEVER! Your battle system might not be. It would be a two, maybe three player I imagine, With you giivng unit options to the payers, maybe even allowing them to create a special unit of their own. From their, a turn based game would not be completely out of the question. If you have ever read Erfworld, it seems similar to the battle system they follow,to some extent.

For the city-state aspect: I believe that it is extremely complicated. I don't know what goes on behind the scenes of a Cit-state game, but I don't believe it is this complex.

Our Foreign Minister reports:

Crisis Averted!

Vulsiss accepted the following peace offer:
Humiliate Vulsiss

[Goto] . . [Fine!]
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