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a multiplayer game of parenting and civilization building

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#1 2019-07-19 18:44:22

jasonrohrer
Administrator
Registered: 2017-02-13
Posts: 2,811

Update: New Brothers

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I'm back from a very interesting and refreshing trip to Taiwan.  Taking time off---and not working on the game at all for a week---is a really important thing to do from time to time.

The variety among the red-headed a black characters has been a little thin for a while.  This update adds two more male characters for each, taking the total up to 22 playable characters, currently in four different skin tones (12 males and 10 females)  The red-heads and black characters are still missing one female each (to bring them up to six each), but those will be added in the near future.

As the character set has grown, I'm facing a larger and larger creative challenge with each new character that I add.  I want them all to look unique, and 22 unique people is already a pretty broad spectrum.  I already have a bearded guy... already have a balding guy... already have a mustache guy.... oh wait, I don't have a totally bald guy yet!

Along with the characters, there are a bunch of fixes.  I'm still working on those reported issues, bit by bit.  Reconnection after a network outtage is now much more robust (before, if the server didn't know you were disconnected, it would block you from reconnecting).  Projectile aiming from acute vertical angles was totally broken (the line algorithm that I was using was missing an important case), but it's working now.  You can now swap items into full clothing containers (like backpacks).  You can't force-break someone's YUM chain by feeding them (getting fed by someone else only helps, but never hurts, your YUM chain).

There's one more big change that I'll describe in a minute, but first a little context.

Over the past few months, I've been tackling several "grand design challenges" in this game.  Most of them have now been solved to my satisfaction, but there's one big one left.  Those design challenges are:

--The possibility of property as a foundation for social structure, trade, inheritance, and inter-village negotiation.

--Bringing villages closer together in an crunchy way (without having everyone just blend together into one bland mega-city).

--Some reason to care about the survival of each and every one of your offspring.

--The civilization-building arc, from Eve up to the diesel water pump, is challenging and reasonably well-paced.  There are many possible failure points along the way, and the challenge is indeed transgenerational.  (The pacing might still need tweaking... but it's close enough for now.)

The reason why these design challenges are so important is that, in solving them, we will enable new kinds of intricate emergent stories inside the game.  As a simple example, if all property is communal, you never have to ask your neighbor if you can borrow a tool.  You just walk up and grab it.  The story where you have to ask first is simply more intricate, by one degree.  Your neighbor might say no.  Then what?  Well, you have a bit of drama, that's what.  The same goes for caring about offspring.  "We were short on food, so my teenage son died.  Shrug."  That's not a very interesting story.  A desperate search for food, to save your teenage son at the last minute, is much more interesting.

The last grand design challenge is this:

--What is the long-term arc of the game?  What happens after you hit the top of the tech tree?  Does the game vary across a week or a month?  Is there a game-wide arc?  Do resources run out on a global scale?

This part of the game is currently handled by an ever-expanding Eve placement spiral that forges endlessly into untouched wilderness.  We have a perpetual churn of brand new civilizations rising and falling in parallel.  But each rise-fall cycle follows the same arc, and happens in relative isolation.  Yes, villages can interact, but interaction is optional.  There are no pinch-points where they must interact.  If you need extra resources, you can always just head into the unexplored hills and find them.  If you really run out of resources in your local area, you can migrate into greener pastures.  On an infinite map, there is an endless supply of greener pastures.

And you can see how optional village interaction reduces story complexity.  "We were out of oil, so we wandered into the hills and found more."  That's way less interesting than, "We were out of oil, and we couldn't find any new deposits, but the neighboring village had control over three productive oil wells."

This is the grander-scale version of asking the neighbor if you can borrow a tool.  Will they give you some oil?  Will they demand something else in trade?  Will they answer "no" with a volley of arrows?  All of these possibilities are grist for the emergent drama mill.

But currently, there really is no long-term arc in the game.  There's a perpetual cycle of parallel civilizations spawning in resource-rich wilderness.

So I'm thinking about changing this.  I'm thinking about long-term, world-wide arcs.  Arcs that take several days to complete.  The most obvious arc is one based on world-wide resources running out.  At the start of the arc, the world is green and rich with resources.  But as people survive longer and longer in that world, the resources get consumed.  Meanwhile, civilizations become more advanced and efficient in their use of the remaining resources.  But pinch points and dramatic texture will emerge when one village runs out of a necessary resource first.

The problem with such an arc, of course, is that it's not sustainable.  The current implementation is sustainable, though bland.  The big question with such an arc is this:  what happens at the end?  Obviously, there will be some kind of reset at the end of the arc, but what happens in the hours before that reset?  Imagine a world where there are almost no resources left, and people are barely surviving.  Imagine that you're a brand new player who plays their very first games in such an environment.

Part of this change may involve a finite map.  An infinite map, though tantalizing conceptually, means infinite resources.

But this week, as a warm-up exercise, I've patched end of the current civilization arc to eliminate a steady-state once you have a diesel water pump:  oil wells now eventually run out.

"We built an oil well, and then had oil forever after that."  That's not such an interesting story.

I'll be tackling this issue on a larger scale next week.

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#2 2019-07-19 19:07:14

InSpace
Member
Registered: 2018-03-02
Posts: 436

Re: Update: New Brothers

Whatever you plan on adding, start with putting babies in backacks

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#3 2019-07-19 19:29:20

aloelita
Member
From: Florida
Registered: 2019-05-11
Posts: 1

Re: Update: New Brothers

I wonder if you could use seasons as a green/rich (spring/summer) > barren/dead (winter) ?  & cycle back to spring


ʕ◉ᴥ◉ʔ

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#4 2019-07-19 20:37:13

Peaches
Member
Registered: 2019-04-04
Posts: 62

Re: Update: New Brothers

Or rather, make a sling to put babies into.

I'd also suggest a season idea as a possible fix for the issue.
Maybe they would change every six or twelve hours so that every day/two days sees all four, but you're unlikely to experience them all in one day. Every map reset starts the game in a random season, so that you would have the chance to play them all eventually, and each offers hurdles in the way of resource gathering.

Spring/Summer could be a "resource reset" in which things replenish once and then deplete as it nears fall and winter; added to a finite map, that'd eliminate the need for manual resets every time wells and rigs run dry. Unrealistic for oil to refill itself in spring, sure, but that's unimportant for a game. I might also, selfishly, want to see white rabbit clothing.

It'd also make each play session feel more unique than "grassy/plains village life #23443"

Last edited by Peaches (2019-07-19 20:38:41)


The Frank to your Cleopatra

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#5 2019-07-19 20:59:34

ollj
Member
Registered: 2019-06-15
Posts: 500

Re: Update: New Brothers

theres null negotiation, as long as first growl always wins in an instakill, everyone is a naivee ignorant/gullible fool (due to short lifespans), and there is null defense system, therefore, might makes right, any trial is always a witchhunt, and you just kill before you get killed.
this goes as far as NEVER making a knife if anyone begs you to make a knife, especially a child or your mother, you intead just kill that dumbass as soon as he is dumb enough to ever leave town alone. you never give your mom a knife, because she likely is most obsessed/paranoid with whateverr you do, may just cause the whole town to curse you for taking something that you just made.
this goes as far as removing all knifes from bell towns as much as possible, to make them safer and more stable.
you may have noticed the ridiculous amount of 4-6 shears in the 2 bell towns (each), where 2 knifes where turned into 1 shear, quite a lot.

your curse system is a bullshit joke, and all combat is imballanced tue do null defensive tactics, therefore any properety fenche ends in a threat to be cursed and or knifed.

the property fenche system alost certainly leads to murder, greed/theft and slavery.
you may be the dumb designer that things that an opt out property fenche is fair, but opt out "prooposed property fenche" is usually enforced with knifes and curses.
this once again is a kill or be killed situation. and its far removed from any social structure model.

theres only one resolve to this that least likely gets you in trouble, luring 10-20 bears, till every city learns to not waste time with property fenches.
the best use for property fenches it so make a line that bears can not walk onto, to lure 5-20 bears at once over a distance of up to 500 tiles.
sure this takes a while longer. but man, it sure is worth the surprise of a dozen bears at once.

Last edited by ollj (2019-07-19 21:09:55)

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#6 2019-07-20 00:10:44

Kinrany
Member
Registered: 2018-01-22
Posts: 238

Re: Update: New Brothers

JasonRohrer wrote:

What happens after you hit the top of the tech tree?

Serious answer: you start inventing games. (Because once you have no external goals, anything you choose to do would be playing a game, by definition)

Last edited by Kinrany (2019-07-20 00:11:34)

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#7 2019-07-20 02:37:00

Grim_Arbiter
Member
Registered: 2018-12-30
Posts: 589

Re: Update: New Brothers

Kinrany wrote:
JasonRohrer wrote:

What happens after you hit the top of the tech tree?

Serious answer: you start inventing games. (Because once you have no external goals, anything you choose to do would be playing a game, by definition)

I mean we already do that in game, in towns that aren't even at the top of the tech tree, with players that don't even know all the tech.

I think that stuff is going to happen regardless as a happy accident.


--Grim
Everytime you think you're walking, you're just moving the ground. Everytime you think you're talking, you're just moving your mouth. Everytime you think you're looking, you're just looking down..

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#8 2019-07-20 23:46:53

seth
Member
Registered: 2018-02-28
Posts: 49

Re: Update: New Brothers

Love it!

[update]
Just played born into a major town, son of a baker. Was taught baking by mom and baked many a pie. Apprenticeship is great! And it's fun having a dedicated kitchen..

There seemed to be plenty of water, so I guess it'll probably take some time before we see major towns having water problems.

No children wanted to be my apprentice though, so I didn't get the joy of teaching someone else.. It seemed difficult to coordinate.. to create structure in our town.  Like we have no berries, can someone tend to the berries?

It occurred to me, I would have liked if the kitchen was my own property, and I could exchange pies for berries and other supplies.. but the coordination factor of that is too high. (plus, I guess I'd have to replace the door with a fence) It's just easier to go off looking for the stuff and hoping someone helps.

Last edited by seth (2019-07-21 01:24:42)

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#9 2019-07-21 19:44:14

karltown_veteran
Member
Registered: 2018-04-15
Posts: 555

Re: Update: New Brothers

Is there a reason why the gingers are all wearing matching loincloths?


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#10 2019-07-21 20:59:33

ollj
Member
Registered: 2019-06-15
Posts: 500

Re: Update: New Brothers

soulless loincloth

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#11 2019-07-24 14:43:33

Twisted
Member
Registered: 2018-10-12
Posts: 241

Re: Update: New Brothers

Love the new characters, but we need a lot more to be able to discern people in our towns more easily. I'd love to get one or two new characters every week, or an update that's dedicated to new characters once a month.

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#12 2019-07-24 15:10:52

Thaulos
Member
Registered: 2019-02-19
Posts: 242

Re: Update: New Brothers

Instead of having to add every single variation how about you allow some customization. Like a barber job that could add small things like a different beard or hair style.

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#13 2019-07-25 05:44:53

schmloo
Member
Registered: 2019-06-15
Posts: 83

Re: Update: New Brothers

Thaulos wrote:

Instead of having to add every single variation how about you allow some customization. Like a barber job that could add small things like a different beard or hair style.

+
Oh my god yes please.

Last edited by schmloo (2019-07-25 05:51:26)

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#14 2019-07-25 11:20:07

ollj
Member
Registered: 2019-06-15
Posts: 500

Re: Update: New Brothers

jason makes all art hand drawn scanned images. theres no vector graphics on ohol.
this makes procedural/modular visuals impractical.

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#15 2019-07-26 22:57:36

Spoonwood
Member
Registered: 2019-02-06
Posts: 1,188

Re: Update: New Brothers

jasonrohrer wrote:

The reason why these design challenges are so important is that, in solving them, we will enable new kinds of intricate emergent stories inside the game.  As a simple example, if all property is communal, you never have to ask your neighbor if you can borrow a tool.  You just walk up and grab it.  The story where you have to ask first is simply more intricate, by one degree.  Your neighbor might say no.  Then what?  Well, you have a bit of drama, that's what.  The same goes for caring about offspring.  "We were short on food, so my teenage son died.  Shrug."  That's not a very interesting story.  A desperate search for food, to save your teenage son at the last minute, is much more interesting.

No, that doesn't make them more interesting.  What is interesting does not depend that much on complexity.  Newton's laws of gravity are interesting.  They are not complex.  Dozens of mathematical formulas and logical formulas are interesting.  Oftentimes there exist other ones more complex, but they are less intricate.

Drama also doesn't necessarily make things more interesting.  Honestly, if drama determined as much as you believe, then people wouldn't play video games, they would watch soap operas or other contrived forms of art that focus solely on drama.

I also find your teenage son dying because of starvation interesting (given that local food in town has to get eaten).  Specifically, it raises question, why were you short on food?  And I'm not so sure about the answer.  So, I'd be interested to know.

A desperate search for food is also NOT more interesting.  It doesn't raise any questions that look like they would remain questions or involve uncertainty for a very long time.  It just involves exploring the landscape and identifying food types.

And no, private property in this game, other than what people carry on them, isn't going to work out.  The game ends up too small scale in terms of the number of players.  Someone having private property ends up a drain on everyone else.  That person thus will get classified as a griefer.  Griefing needs prevented somehow, so whatever means exist for preventing griefing will get used to take care of such a person using private property poorly.  Sure, it might involve murder, but since people won't end up having something like a presumption of innocence, and courts of law would take far too long for this game, private property doesn't make sense within the scope of this game.

Jason, you also have tried private property before.  It's not worked in any meaningful sense.

Also, you need to hear the above, because you're working with concepts that just won't work together.

Your question about the game's long-term story arc is interesting.  But, it's interesting WITHOUT any drama or it necessarily being all that complex.  It's interesting, because of the uncertainty of how to answer it well and because there exist many possibilities that, at least in principle, could be attractive.

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#16 2019-08-02 15:19:03

Aurora Aurora
Member
From: Tuppsala (HAHA FATTAR NI!?!?!)
Registered: 2018-04-09
Posts: 809

Re: Update: New Brothers

You see, the problem with these new guys is I don't wanna draw them making out. Better luck next time


A fandom isn’t a fandom without an obnoxious teenage girl people want to strangle <3

I've quit the fandom so you better write legends about me

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#17 2019-08-02 15:33:34

Angel Carrillo
Member
Registered: 2018-04-10
Posts: 211

Re: Update: New Brothers

Why?

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#18 2019-08-02 20:20:22

Peaches
Member
Registered: 2019-04-04
Posts: 62

Re: Update: New Brothers

Why not?


The Frank to your Cleopatra

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