Why fantasy?

For discussion on the most 'core' concepts and ideas for the first version of the SOTE project. This is for absolutely necessary mechanics and ideas that form the backbone of the game.
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Findan
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Why fantasy?

Post by Findan » Tue Aug 15, 2017 11:15 pm

When I first heard of this project, I assumed it would basically be "MEIOU&Taxes+" and attempt to simulate alternate history in realistic detail. But then I found out that SoE is planned to be a fantasy game.

For what purpose? It seems odd for a game with a focus on realism and with much inspiration from history to have fantasy elements. You might say "but Dwarf Fortress also has realism despite being a fantasy game" but then you're also saying "there already exists a game like SoE", especially because there are plans for DF to have a civilization game mode where you control entire civs instead of a single site or individual.

Not to mention how most 4X games released in recent years have had either fantasy or sci-fi themes. For example there is Dominions 4, a fantasy 4X with a thick manual that already fills the niche of "detailed fantasy game" with extremely in-depth magic and custom maps. Making SoE historical would help it to stand out from the crowd, avoid competition and also make it appealing for its niche and target audience, huge history nerds like me.

There is some demand for a game that is basically Civilization except more detailed and realistic. A lot of people know Civilization, and once they hear "it's like civ except it's better" some of them will definitely be interested. It might not be much in the end but certainly better than trying to compete with Dwarf Fortress and Dominions, both of which have existed for over a decade.

I can't see what fantasy adds to gameplay. Any flexibility provided by things like magic hurt the realism of the game. Fantasy can spice things up, sure, but is in no way necessary. Even Dwarf Fortress would work well without fantasy, and will even have a "fantasy slider" where you can adjust the amount of magic and supernatural things.

Mundane things that can cause empires to fall can easily include numerous things like climate change, migrations, economic collapse, instability, plagues et cetera. There is no need to add anything to that list. Any immersion or educational value of a realistic game about the rise and fall of empires degrades when a kingdom can collapse from an invasion of demons that appeared because your mages got a little too excited about the dark arts.

And if you do want to include fantasy elements to make it easier to add certain mechanics and such, just do it like Unreal World does it. "Magic" in the game consists of historically accurate rites and rituals that have an unseen effect on things. You can ask the gods to make it easier to catch fish, but whether or not they help is uncertain. A game like SoE, which takes place before the rise of a rational and empirical worldview, could include a magic system like this. Sacrifice war prisoners to the gods and gain some unseen bonus effect, or don't. The gods are fickle, after all.

So why fantasy? It seems baffling to me and I'm just confused.

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David Buunk
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Re: Why fantasy?

Post by David Buunk » Wed Aug 16, 2017 12:04 am

It appears to me that you misunderstood some things.

Firstly, SotE won't be as much a fantasy game, as it will be a game with fantasy elements. I think the consensus is that the first version will not have fantasy elements at all, and they will be optional in any case.

Secondly, fantasy doesn't necessarily imply magic. You can have a magic-free world that has, say, elves, either in addition to, or replacing, humans. This way you could simulate the consequences thereof on a world, in things such as ecology, societal development, and inter-species interaction. That is not to say magic will never be a part of the game, but I reckon that it is quite top-hat-beaver.

Thirdly, SotE won't be an "alternate history simulator" in the vein of EU4 and its kin. It will feature a dynamically generated world, and game-play will start in the neolithic. On the other hand, it should be very much possible to create real-world start-dates, and if the game succeeds, I do expect a modding community to arise and provide those. But expect the focus of the main SotE team to be with mechanics.

All in all, I think that "Like Civ, except better" would be a better description of where SotE plans to go than a comparison with DF or Dominions.
Programming SotE.

Findan
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Re: Why fantasy?

Post by Findan » Wed Aug 16, 2017 11:34 am

Okay, thanks for the info. I haven't been following the development too closely (for example I still haven't even visited the discord group) so I'm unaware of many details of the plans for the game.
David Buunk wrote:
Wed Aug 16, 2017 12:04 am

Firstly, SotE won't be as much a fantasy game, as it will be a game with fantasy elements. I think the consensus is that the first version will not have fantasy elements at all, and they will be optional in any case.
Good, I was hoping for them to be optional.
Secondly, fantasy doesn't necessarily imply magic. You can have a magic-free world that has, say, elves, either in addition to, or replacing, humans. This way you could simulate the consequences thereof on a world, in things such as ecology, societal development, and inter-species interaction. That is not to say magic will never be a part of the game, but I reckon that it is quite top-hat-beaver.
Magic was just one example of a fantasy element I'd expect to see after reading about SotE. Cliche fantasy races were the other. I still don't think they're necessary as there is more than enough variety amongst human cultures that entirely separate races won't add too much.
Thirdly, SotE won't be an "alternate history simulator" in the vein of EU4 and its kin. It will feature a dynamically generated world, and game-play will start in the neolithic. On the other hand, it should be very much possible to create real-world start-dates, and if the game succeeds, I do expect a modding community to arise and provide those. But expect the focus of the main SotE team to be with mechanics.
I had a feeling someone would misunderstand what I meant by alternate history. I lacked a term for it, but I meant "history on another world with humans", like Civilization except with procedurally generated cultures instead of pre-set historical ones.
All in all, I think that "Like Civ, except better" would be a better description of where SotE plans to go than a comparison with DF or Dominions.
Good, but I still hope the main focus will remain on realism and scientific accuracy and that fantasy will just be optional icing on top. Trying to market (I don't mean market to sell, but market to introduce the game to an audience that might be interested in it) a realistic simulator by calling it "a fantasy 4X" doesn't seem like a good idea to me.

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David Buunk
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Re: Why fantasy?

Post by David Buunk » Wed Aug 16, 2017 1:17 pm

Findan wrote:
Wed Aug 16, 2017 11:34 am
Cliche fantasy races were the other.
I merely took a cliché one because that would require less explanation. You can also expect non-cliché ones like sentient beavers (with top-hats and monocles).
Findan wrote:
Wed Aug 16, 2017 11:34 am
I still don't think they're necessary as there is more than enough variety amongst human cultures that entirely separate races won't add too much.
I think you're mistaken here and that they will add a lot, but only time will tell.
Findan wrote:
Wed Aug 16, 2017 11:34 am
I had a feeling someone would misunderstand what I meant by alternate history.
Sorry, I took it for the generally understood meaning of alternate history.
Findan wrote:
Wed Aug 16, 2017 11:34 am
I lacked a term for it, but I meant "history on another world with humans", like Civilization except with procedurally generated cultures instead of pre-set historical ones.
It will be like that, but a lot better.
Findan wrote:
Wed Aug 16, 2017 11:34 am
Trying to market (I don't mean market to sell, but market to introduce the game to an audience that might be interested in it) a realistic simulator by calling it "a fantasy 4X" doesn't seem like a good idea to me.
You have a very valid point there, and I hope Demian will read this, and consider it.
Programming SotE.

kingjerkera
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Re: Why fantasy?

Post by kingjerkera » Thu Aug 17, 2017 5:38 pm

Another good thing about adding Fantasy to this game is that there are areas that humans just don't like living in and one could then put in races that do making the game deeper in that regard. There is also the added measure of suspended disbelief that demian and crew can use to add exciting game play with less demands for reality above all else. Of course there is the flip side where there will be the need to put in massive amounts of effort into building the world, clarifying the goals, and shaping expectations but honestly seeing that this a project rather than a standard release and let go game that should come with time.

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David Buunk
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Re: Why fantasy?

Post by David Buunk » Thu Aug 17, 2017 6:06 pm

kingjerkera wrote:
Thu Aug 17, 2017 5:38 pm
There is also the added measure of suspended disbelief that demian and crew can use to add exciting game play with less demands for reality above all else.
That is not, and will never be the goal.
Programming SotE.

kingjerkera
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Joined: Wed Jun 28, 2017 8:41 pm

Re: Why fantasy?

Post by kingjerkera » Fri Aug 18, 2017 6:06 pm

David Buunk wrote:
Thu Aug 17, 2017 6:06 pm
kingjerkera wrote:
Thu Aug 17, 2017 5:38 pm
There is also the added measure of suspended disbelief that demian and crew can use to add exciting game play with less demands for reality above all else.
That is not, and will never be the goal.
Alright fair enough.

Demiansky
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Re: Why fantasy?

Post by Demiansky » Sat Aug 19, 2017 1:24 pm

Yeah, so I think we can alleviate the OP's fears by saying that the point is to follow real world principles as much as possible, and that magic will not supplant them. Instead, we build those rules and when the player does play with magic, it will bend the rules that we would normally see in our own world, rather than have them SUPPLANT those rules. And of course, if someone wants to play on a procedurally generated map with no fantasy, then you basically have a "civ like game." As David said, our first game is basically going to take this form.

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