Why Not Games

Syphilisation Update - 2019-04-28

You can read about what Syphilisation is here and the manifesto for the game here. You can subscribe to the mailing list here.

Work Done

I built out a new techs system for the tech tree for the people in the game. This one is about the learnings you get about the people that you are working with and separate from the one for the research for the group report. Earlier, it was a straightforward tech tree like in Civ but I wanted something that felt more organic. Now, the game gives you a choice between a number of random options from the tree and obfuscates what exactly it is that you are going to learn. It also lets you sometimes take shortcuts to techs that you're exposed to. I'm going to play around with how it gets displayed a little but this is the fundamental aspect of the shift and I think that it will help differentiate the two trees, aid replayability and make for a better metaphor.

I finally put in a quest system. I felt that the early game was quite empty and this should help fill it up. I don't currently have the heavy combat of the early game of Civ where barbarians threaten and where you're so heavily incentivized to annex your early neighbors. I don't want the annexation at all and I'm not sure about how much of the rest of the combat I want in the early game. The quest system here lets players interact with each other and gives players something to do and that takes the weight away from early combat.

I've also put in beliefs that spread within cities and even the ability to force conversions. Religion was key to the history of the Raj both as a justification for colonialism and as a weapon against it in the eyes of people like Tolstoy and Gandhi. Representing this nuance has proven quite tricky. I thought at first that I could use the strong link between industrialization and rigidity that is already in multiple places in the game to have religion function as a counter to that. Those thinkers all saw religion as a way to combat the excesses of the dominant capitalist society and so I thought this might work.

However, the idea of spirituality leading to flexibility never came together. It feels wrong. After thinking about it, I felt that I was approaching it from the wrong angle. Religion wasn't chosen as a counter to the rigidity of industrialization, it was chosen as a counter to the materialism of industrialization. The reason that the Bhagavad Gita so moved Gandhi was that it showed him the value in doing your duty, no matter the difficulty. Krishna lectures Arjuna about the dharma of taking arms against his relatives and his teachers. It's highly rigid but it transcends Arjuna as an individual and shows him his place in the universe and his duty to the world around him. I personally wasn't as convinced as Gandhi by the book but this idea of being part of a larger ecosystem is a major theme of the game and a good place to build this feature out from.

So far though, I only have the base mechanics in place and the most obvious representation of altruism. It's a stub and something that I'm going to come back to when I find something else that dovetails cleanly with it. I think that it might be a very strong piece of the game but it's also inessential enough to trim if it doesn't work out. Unless it does the job well and really lets people explore the ideas around religion and colonialism, I don't think it will justify the complexity associated with it.

Interesting Fact

Today's fact is from Jan 3, 1911, when two Latvians were holed up in an apartment and a combined army and police force turned out to exchange fire with them in what was known as The Siege of Sidney Street. This force was joined by the Home Secretary of the time, Winston Churchill himself. This was the first siege in Britain to be caught on film and so footage was shown in cinemas where crowds shouted for the poor Secretary to be shot. Furthermore, the press of the time and members of the Opposition both amused themselves greatly at Churchill's expense over the whole affair. The idea of a Home Secretary going forth to take command of a police matter and getting filmed doing so was so farcical in its lack of dignity that it must have been difficult to abstain from humor. Add to this Churchill's already renowned thirst for reputation and you can see why no one tried very hard to resist.

- @murthynikhil

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Written for Why Not Games.