The Direction of the Game: True Simulation or Weighted Sandbox

This is for, what the discord lovingly calls, 'top hat beaver' content and ideas. Mechanics that will be used to flesh out the game over the absolute necessary mechanics of the core concepts. Eventually, as the development of the SOTE project continues, things in this forum may move to the 'Core Concepts' forums as things are completed and what were once future ideas become pressing and more important to develop

Which Direction Should SotE Take?

True Simulation
10
77%
Weighted Sandbox
3
23%
 
Total votes: 13

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gutza1
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The Direction of the Game: True Simulation or Weighted Sandbox

Post by gutza1 » Sun Aug 20, 2017 2:21 pm

I've been following the development of this game for about a month and a half now. In that time, I've seen Demian outline his long-term vision for the game. He wants to create a detailed fantasy simulation with ecology, population, and political mechanics. However, there are some questions about the vision of the game that I'd like to discuss. For that, I will have to explain two possible types of game that SotE could be: a Weighted Sandbox or a True Simulation.

Both a Weighted Sandbox and a True Simulation share some major features: detailed simulation of a world, no set storyline, and an opportunity for the player to make their mark in the world. However, they also have a major difference. A Weighted Sandbox does have deep mechanics, yes, but it also "skews" the simulation towards an artistic vision. An example of this is Eve Online, which has detailed combat and economy mechanics, but is skewed towards being a soft space opera by adding space friction instead of orbital mechanics. A True Simulation, on the other hand, does not seek to uphold an artistic vision, instead simply modeling the world with as much accuracy as it can. An example of a True Simulation is Children of a Death Earth, a hard science fiction space combat game that seeks to discover what near-future space combat would actually resemble, instead of tweaking the simulation to uphold an existing vision of how space combat should look like.

From what I've heard of Demian's plans, he seems to be leaning slightly towards a Weighted Sandbox vision for SotE from his ideas such as:
  • Making intelligent races (not counting bestial races such as gnolls) innately predisposed towards their standard fantasy lifestyle, such as making elves biologically predisposed towards living in forests, making humans biologically predisposed towards cutting down forests and farming on plains, making dwarves biologically predisposed towards living in mountains, and making orcs biologically predisposed towards being primitive and violent. This is by far the most notable example.
  • Making the usage of coal only a small increase in the amount of energy available to a society, which makes an Industrial Revolution impossible (instead of waiting until a modder does the dirty work :P ).
  • Constantly filling the world with dangerous, even apocalyptic threats to civilization to make progression past a certain point of development difficult, which while perfectly acceptable in a True Simulation game by itself, does make SotE more of a Weighted Sandbox game when combined with the previous mechanics mentioned.
While these examples, except for the first, are minor compared to the skewing that Dwarf Fortress uses, are still hints that Demian seeks to take SotE in the direction of a Weighted Sandbox. However, I personally think that a True Simulation SotE could have significant potential. Instead of upholding standard fantasy tropes, it could attempt to model a world with the presence of races and magic to discover what a fantasy world would actually look like. I think that the community should discuss which of the two types of game SotE should be, as it will be increasingly relevant in the mid-future.

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David Buunk
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Re: The Direction of the Game: True Simulation or Weighted Sandbox

Post by David Buunk » Sun Aug 20, 2017 3:36 pm

Thank you, this is a valuable discussion to have.

Your first point, about the predisposition of sentient races, is a very good one. I see three possibilities, and reality is probably a combination of these.
  • There is a innate predisposition, the value of this is to test various ways to be "civilised" that would otherwise not have been possible. It is there for both a game-play and educational value. This would push the game towards the Weighted Sandbox.
  • The predisposition you observe is not innate. Differing physical characteristics cause the differing behaviour, think of Elven longevity completely changing the outlook on life. For a human who lives to 50, a tree grows slowly. For an elf, who lives to 500, it grows much faster. This would mean that the predisposition is caused by something deeper, and therefore we have a True Simulation.
  • What you hear about fantasy races is there purely for the benefit of the discussion, not the actual plan for the game. As far as these fantasy races have been brought up, the discussion focused on the influence of different races per se on the game. So Elves were used for the discussion, with their tradition characteristics, not because they are planned for the game as such, but as an aid in the discussion.
I don't understand where your second point comes from, I don't think this is a serious core proposal, just an off-hand remark someone once made.

As to your third, and most important point:
Throughout history, there was almost as much decay as there was progress. This was the case both when it comes to knowledge/technology, as to the complexity of a society/polity. SotE, much unlike other games, plans to implement that. So far this is True Simulation.
Now here is the crucial point: in order to make this workable, it is necessary to instil on the players a sense that while decay is bad for your polity and people, it is not for you, the player, or for the game. Now if a player has its polity decayed to where it was at game-start, and the clock towards the Industrial Revolution is running out, that player benefits from re-starting, instead of playing on.
And it is for that reason, that an indefinite game duration is beneficial, and the proposed additional apocalyptic mechanics are there to ensure that. So in that regard it is a Weighted Sandbox, the artistic vision being that a player should play through decay as much as she plays through growth.
The final thing to note here, is that this will be optional. When fantasy elements are disabled in setting, and Industrial Revolution will probably occur, ending the game.

Disclaimer: I vote in favour of True Simulation.
Programming SotE.

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gutza1
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Re: The Direction of the Game: True Simulation or Weighted Sandbox

Post by gutza1 » Sun Aug 20, 2017 3:38 pm

True, David makes good points. As I said, the third example is perfectly acceptable by itself.

GamesvonJames
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Re: The Direction of the Game: True Simulation or Weighted Sandbox

Post by GamesvonJames » Sun Aug 20, 2017 3:41 pm

My quick reaction to this is that I am looking for more of a deep, true simulation. Obviously technology limits how deep you can go, but I would prefer to see something with more of a hands off approach, but with just enough interaction as your civilization's "leader" to call it a game.

I also voted true simulation.

Jonnicon
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Re: The Direction of the Game: True Simulation or Weighted Sandbox

Post by Jonnicon » Sun Aug 20, 2017 3:56 pm

Im in support of true Simulation.

lastresort1
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Re: The Direction of the Game: True Simulation or Weighted Sandbox

Post by lastresort1 » Wed Aug 23, 2017 2:19 am

What I would recommend is to put a basis in the game for ever population modifier biased on general fantasy knowledge. Ex Elves have a 70% to highly civilized, a 90% chance to worship nature, and 60% to be a peaceful race. This would keep the fantasy elements realistic while promoting the classical ideas of each race

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gutza1
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Re: The Direction of the Game: True Simulation or Weighted Sandbox

Post by gutza1 » Sat Aug 26, 2017 6:34 pm

According to True Simulationism, those "racial" traits should be a result of cultural evolution instead of being hardcoded. Remember, the full game will start in the neolithic when there isn't any reason for the elves to all be forest-dwellers, because their culture hasn't evolved yet.

lastresort1
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Re: The Direction of the Game: True Simulation or Weighted Sandbox

Post by lastresort1 » Sun Aug 27, 2017 10:21 pm

gutza1 wrote:
Sat Aug 26, 2017 6:34 pm
According to True Simulationism, those "racial" traits should be a result of cultural evolution instead of being hardcoded. Remember, the full game will start in the neolithic when there isn't any reason for the elves to all be forest-dwellers, because their culture hasn't evolved yet.
I disagree because evolution is the reason elves would start as forest dwellers, dwarfs would live in caves ect. Elves are tall and have pointed ears because it helps them hunt for food in forest. Dwarfs are short and have good low lite vision because it helps them survive in caves. In human history the first religions were biased around peoples surroundings. So why should elves or dwarfs be any different?

JonnyH13
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Re: The Direction of the Game: True Simulation or Weighted Sandbox

Post by JonnyH13 » Tue Sep 19, 2017 9:37 pm

I am in support of a true simulation but I am wondering how large the scale of factors will be allowed to influence the planet, the races, and the resulting society, technology, and physics, and more.

Will you be going to take into account if the solar system the planet is in has multiple suns, planets, asteroids, and comets, not to mention the location relative to the planet you are playing on? All these can heavily influence many physical effects such as eclipses, tides, and the like as well as affect society and culture due to the differing constellations and variety of signs and omens people will make about the sky. This is not even considering the position in the galaxy as if the solar system is located closer to the center of the galaxy, the planet can receive massive amounts of stellar radiation not to mention any relativity effects due to gravity. This can open up the incorporation of magic as well. The amount of moons, the presence of rings, and all the physical and cultural effects would most likely be taken into account.

How far would you go in creating species? Would you allow them to evolve from the surrounding environs and have them adapt to it, or will you possibly allow a deity or deities to create species and make them a background influence that actually affects the people of the world. Magic again with how it affects physics and what cost does it take to access the magic (if that is possible at all for the people) can really create a vibrant world if done right.

How will species work? Will they have differing natural instincts. Humans naturally want to survive and make work convenient. What would other species natural values be? How will it affect the societal values and evolution? Will you be factoring that in?

There are so many variables to consider. I still have so many questions and ideas to spew out too... I hope this game becomes the Dwarf Fortress of Civilization.

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gutza1
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Re: The Direction of the Game: True Simulation or Weighted Sandbox

Post by gutza1 » Tue Sep 19, 2017 9:44 pm

JonnyH13 wrote:
Tue Sep 19, 2017 9:37 pm
I am in support of a true simulation but I am wondering how large the scale of factors will be allowed to influence the planet, the races, and the resulting society, technology, and physics, and more.

Will you be going to take into account if the solar system the planet is in has multiple suns, planets, asteroids, and comets, not to mention the location relative to the planet you are playing on? All these can heavily influence many physical effects such as eclipses, tides, and the like as well as affect society and culture due to the differing constellations and variety of signs and omens people will make about the sky. This is not even considering the position in the galaxy as if the solar system is located closer to the center of the galaxy, the planet can receive massive amounts of stellar radiation not to mention any relativity effects due to gravity. This can open up the incorporation of magic as well. The amount of moons, the presence of rings, and all the physical and cultural effects would most likely be taken into account.

How far would you go in creating species? Would you allow them to evolve from the surrounding environs and have them adapt to it, or will you possibly allow a deity or deities to create species and make them a background influence that actually affects the people of the world. Magic again with how it affects physics and what cost does it take to access the magic (if that is possible at all for the people) can really create a vibrant world if done right.

How will species work? Will they have differing natural instincts. Humans naturally want to survive and make work convenient. What would other species natural values be? How will it affect the societal values and evolution? Will you be factoring that in?

There are so many variables to consider. I still have so many questions and ideas to spew out too... I hope this game becomes the Dwarf Fortress of Civilization.
A lot of the stuff you're talking about is serious Top Hat Beaver content. For most of the game's development we'll assume that the planet's solar system is like Earth's.

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