• Jan. 23, 2021, 7:32 a.m.
    1. I'm working on a game, where the player lives in the space-station equivalent of a dying rust-belt town.

    2. The "settled lands" of an interstellar civilization, are in a horseshoe-ish shape

    3. The two ends (I'll call these places End-A and End-B) are too far apart to reach each other without traversing the entire horseshoe.
      a. End-A and End-B are the two farthest-apart places in the settled galaxy

    4. This new settlement (I'll call this place Gap) is in the middle of the gap, between End-A and End-B.
      a. If it can be settled, the horse-shoe becomes a circle, and (physical) trade between End-A and End-B is expected to be worth a lot of money

    5. People actually try to settle the Gap system, and it's actually going pretty well. Everyone thinks this will be a new center of commerce.

    6. You head to the Gap system, seeking a better life on the frontier

    7. However, before you get there, cheap FTL engines are invented, and now the Gap system is essentially worthless as a trading port

    8. However, you can't afford to leave, so you live here now

    9. The game, is about you trying to survive, and the people you meet, who are doing the same

    What I'm trying to figure out, is: what kind of space stations do you build, in you're trying to settle a nearby system, so you can use it as a filling station and trade hub? I was thinking that a few space stations would exist at the outer edge of the system, and they would essentially just be filling stations, selling hydrogen collected by the refineries further in-system. As the player, you run a gas-station of this type.

    There is a nearby space station, which is a "small town" of fewer than 10,000 people. There are a few other stations in-system, but any place that could be described as a "major city" would be prohibitively remote.

    One thing I have in mind, is for this "town" to be designed with the expectation that it should expand over time, as it accrues new resources from trade; and the town as it exists in the present, is simply the "core" of the possible-future-development. The town infrastructure should have its own life-and-growth story, if you will.

    The problem I'm having, is trying to figure out what jobs people would have, and how they would go about their daily lives. It's easy for me to imagine people being doctors, or farmers, or part of a municipal government, but I would also like to help real-world people imagine real-life space-station jobs as something they could do (or could imagine people doing some day).

    So, I've tried the idea of just "copying a small town", but I haven't really been able to find a list of things you need to start a small town--I've found some ideas for revitalizing small-town economic sectors, but I've found very little information about how one would go off and start their own.

    So I guess my question is: does anyone have any ideas, about what would be included in a rust-belt space-station town? Or any ideas of where I could look for specific information of this type?

    I quite liked the scenarios depicted in the IA: Life in a Space Colony series, but the scenario I'm looking at, is after the colony has been established, and then external support is cut off. In that way, I feel it would be similar to the Gardener Ship, except that a Gardener Ship is built with the gardening process in mind, and this colony was built with the expectation of continued external support and trade, so it will have lower competence in sustaining itself in isolation, than a Gardener Ship would.

  • Jan. 26, 2021, 5:01 a.m.

    You seem to have the environment and story well thought out, but I don't think I saw anything about genre or game mechanics. It sounds like it would devolve into some form of Rimworld, but where certain hard to produce things would become more rare and valuable over time. But that's assuming you're planning a Dwarf Fortress like simulation. Is the player the governor or owner of this place and basically in control over all aspects of it's expansion (like Sim City), or just an individual placed in automatically evolving world (like Skyrim or something with an economic component). Or, would this be more like the old Capitalism games (it sounds like you're thinking of simulating an economy) where the player runs a business that competes with others?

    I'm not sure I have any specific suggestions right now, but maybe if you detailed the planned mechanics/genre or could compare it to something that's similar, it would help others make suggestions. (BTW - just curious - what technology/language and what platform(s) are you targeting?)

  • Jan. 27, 2021, 3:32 p.m.

    That's fair, I did omit discussion about the mechanics.

    The fundamental game system, is something I'm calling a "convolutional storyteller" (although, confabulation storyteller" might be a better term)

    In most games, the plot is something that the developers make ahead of time, which the player experiences. But a side-effect of producing stories in this way, is: you will always run out of story. Multiplayer games posit the social interaction (or the competitive interaction) as the basic experience, and those are implicitly generated by two people playing with or against each other. A multiplayer game with only one player (like if you log into Battlefield 1942 these days) doesn't really have content, because content is created on the fly, by the interactions between people. (To compare back to single player games with a pre-defined plot: you can play any old single player game--if you can get it to run--and there will be content for you to experience, because a single player game has a pre-defined amount of content. So you can't play a multiplayer game that no one else is playing, and you can't play new parts of a single player game that you've already 100%'ed, because both of those scenarios represent a situation where the content-generator has stopped working. In the multiplayer game it's not working, because it is the multiplayer interaction that makes the content, and in the single player game it's not working, because games are produced and then shipped, and then there's no new game after that. Even in situations where someone makes an expansion pack / DLC / next season content, this is a standard game development cycle, just of a different length or with a different focus.)

    So that's "the problem" of running out of content. My attempt at a solution to that problem, tries to invert the way stories are told in games. Right now, you have the "main quest", which is broken into different sub quests, which are sequences of actions the player has to take. Each time you advance to the next link in a quest chain, it's because you (the player) made some kind of change in the environment. Usually, killing a specific person, or getting a specific item. It's a very top down, prescriptive way of considering it.

    I want to go in the other direction. The game itself is just kind of a simulation, with no goals or meaning. The player wanders around until they find something that interests them. The the game asks the player what they're doing. If the player's answer implies they would like this to turn into a quest, then a quest is generated relating to whatever the player is doing right now.

    Here's an example:
    1. Player has spent 15 minutes playing a minigame
    1.a.i. "press [X] to fix broken machine"
    1.a.ii. player was doing this for 15 minutes
    1.a.iii. player was doing this in room: repair bay
    1.a.iv. player was doing this with machines: sanitation drones

    1. Player is given a quest
      2.a. The quest says: "Hello [player]! Do you want to get better at [1.a.i], and help out your local [1.a.iii] by <fixing> [1.a.iv]? If so, go to the certification center to learn more!"
      2.b. If player doesn't care, they don't go, and the quest just kind of disappears
      2.c. If the player does care, then they go, and they play through a new link in the quest chain

    2. At the certification center
      3.a. This vignette (the boss is a jerk, but it's because they feel said, cause their friend recently died, and this was the only friend who ate grilled giant space beetle with them; get some grilled giant space beetle, give it to the boss, and say something nice; reward: +1 relationship with boss, boss stops being obsctructionist about your paperwork)
      3.b. After completing 3.a, player does the thing they actually came to do, reward: +1 repair skill

    So, in this way, my plan is to procedeurally generate the quests at runtime, and that will be the plot. This is very similar to Rimworld's use of a "storyteller", but a big part of my focus is a non-reliance on combat as gameplay. Instead of combat, I'm focusing on "social exploration".

    And, basically the player will "curate" their game, in a gardening sense. Over time, there will just be an accretion of history, (people who make decisions for reasons, in a place), and the history produces the raw material for the next iteration of playing the game. This part, the game has more in common with Dwarf Fortress than with Rimworld.

    But in essence, the game exists to depict the simulation data, stories about how the world changes, are sequences of operations applied to the simulation data.

    I'm not sure what role the player will have in the game, but my assumption is: If you were playing Rimworld, but in a city, and you can't change characters, and instead of direct barbarism (people coming with guns, to make you into slaves), your problems are largely maintainance problems. (We need to fix the water pipes or the plants will die, and the plants handle all of our CO2 scrubbing, ever since we used the last CO2 scrubber to fix the....; So either go fix the pipes, or go scavenge one of the broken ships to see if you can find a CO2 scrubber, you have 20 hours before we all die)

    Regarding what technology: this project is still being designed. The main piece of technology, is the plot generator. A very substantial piece of tech though, is the social simulation, which I haven't really mentioned.

    Right now, I'm just writing vignettes (like the one mentioned above), and trying to formalize the procedure of storytelling. If I can get the plot generator to work, then I'll probably just start work in Unity, with an attempt to implement online multiplayer in one of the unity-centered multiplayer frameworks. I see the game as being 1-8ish players, where one player acts as the host, and owns the world they load into. Emotionally, I would like to release this game on a Nintendo console, but I'm not targeting anything until I have a playable demo.

    So, all of that said, the thing I'm actually trying to figure out is: If you were building a commercial trade spaceport in real life, and literally putting it around pluto; but once you get it there, you have to abandon the plan because a new form of cheap transportation makes it pointless to go that far out; and also some people are already living on the station. If that were a literal circumstance, what would be the design of the space station? How big would it be? How does it get food? How does it get resources? How does it deal with waste? What do the people there do for fun? What are those people's jobs? What is a house like there? Is everyone there freaking out about being stuck with no incoming wealth? Is it going to be possible for that station to survive for 100 years? Are any of these people going to have kids? Are there like, hundreds of kids who are going to make it to 30 and then die, when the space station busts a leak because of no maintainance?

    The thing I'm trying to do, is get the most detailed and clear depiction of this space station as I can. (As though it were a literal place I could go to myself) That's the information I'm trying to find, and I'm not really sure where to look. I don't think the information exists yet, really, but I don't know how to make a good guess, so I'm trying to learn how to make a better guess. And that's what I'm asking for.