Suggestion: Dominate Faction Option

Talk about Sarah's upcoming game in the Rebuild series.

Suggestion: Dominate Faction Option

Postby Llapgochmaster » Mon Dec 16, 2013 12:29 pm

Thinking about ways to foster genuinely different approaches to survival in the zombie apocalypse, it's clear that the presence of Factions opens things up in a big way. For example, there will almost surely be some kind of Trade system (e.g. food, which could also include bonuses for both sides to reflect the value of nutritional diversity), which will give concrete benefits to securing good relationships and likely additional roles for advanced leaders (diplomatic bonuses).

But what about playing as a big bully? We'll be able to fight with rivals, and we'll likely be able to go raiding for materials and resources. I'd like to propose that there also be official "Domination" diplomatic options as well. For example:

1. Protection Racket. The classic "You've sure got a nice place built up here, sure would be a shame if something happened to it" line. The victim coughs up a regular tax in return for you not hitting them with small scale raids. If they call your bluff and say "we need protection from the Riffs!" you can either actually win some positive relationship points by intervening or grab some popcorn and watch them get beat up.

2. Domination. If you have enough firepower to threaten to wipe a faction out, or if you're already well on your way to wiping a faction out, you might instead set them up as your "thrall faction". This nets you considerable income (depending on what they've got left), but your thralls will be looking to stab you in the back if you weaken.

The main reason I like the "Domination" option is because it might provide some pretty epic gameplay if you yourself decide to surrender to a belligerent faction, and then have to keep your head above water while waiting for a chance to get some payback.

If the bullying options are well-implemented enough, it ought to be a viable alternative to farming/scavenging. Just fortify a small colony and spend your time stealing other faction's lunch money...
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Re: Suggestion: Dominate Faction Option

Postby Shining Hector » Mon Dec 16, 2013 1:00 pm

Could be interesting. Every game I've played with the option seems to make it more trouble than it's worth, though. You're basically always better off just wiping out your enemies and taking over their territory to use yourself as you see fit once you've got them beaten. Ethnic cleansing causes less hassle and less drama in the long run as well as giving you 100% of the proceeds of the territory in question. If living people were as rare and hard to replace as you'd expect given the setting the Final Solution wouldn't always be the optimal solution as is usually the case in computer games.
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Re: Suggestion: Dominate Faction Option

Postby Llapgochmaster » Mon Dec 16, 2013 2:13 pm

Shining Hector wrote:Every game I've played with the option seems to make it more trouble than it's worth, though.


Good point. That's my experience as well. It appears to be a genuine AI challenge, and maybe too much to tackle? One the one hand, if you allow AI factions to capitulate too easily, then it risks being an overpowered strategy. On the other hand, if you make factions too reluctant to cave in, you get what most games give you: AI rivals that never give up until they're two turns from annihilation and then suddenly change their tune.

Shining Hector wrote:If living people were as rare and hard to replace as you'd expect given the setting the Final Solution wouldn't always be the optimal solution as is usually the case in computer games.


Would be nice, I agree! Putting together an effective and enjoyable faction AI is going to be a pretty big challenge.
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Re: Suggestion: Dominate Faction Option

Postby Chah » Mon Dec 16, 2013 9:07 pm

The computer factions don't have to be playing the same game as players, though. They don't need to be managing things (like sending out squads) at the same level that a player does.

They don't necessarily need an AI, there could be random rolls about whether they gained a square or lost one, whether they gained a survivor or lost one, loosely based on their current population and surrounding danger level.

The computer could "cheat," surviving more stably and producing more food than a player faction would if they took it over for themselves. Some people might dislike that as a "simulation" but I think it's worth it if it makes diplomatic relations more worthwhile and interesting.
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Re: Suggestion: Dominate Faction Option

Postby Chah » Mon Dec 16, 2013 9:33 pm

The idea of bonus food for both sides of a trade due to nutritional diversity is awesome.
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Re: Suggestion: Dominate Faction Option

Postby Shining Hector » Mon Dec 16, 2013 9:33 pm

It would be ok if they were run by the same rules you play by I think. The main issue with other games I think is that generally resources auto-harvest and population automatically grows, which supports a strategy of what boils down to genocide.

I rather like the idea of the reward for wiping out an enemy faction and taking over their territory basically being a few helpful buildings, a lot more border to defend, and no more people to help defend it. Maybe your recruiting takes a big hit too, as nobody wants to be fitted for jackboots the second they join up with you. And farms fall into disrepair if you have way too many for your population to support for good measure. It would give a nice ashes in your mouth feel to wiping out the few other miraculous survivors of the zombie apocalypse.
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Re: Suggestion: Dominate Faction Option

Postby Llapgochmaster » Tue Dec 17, 2013 8:41 am

Shining Hector wrote:It would give a nice ashes in your mouth feel to wiping out the few other miraculous survivors of the zombie apocalypse.


I'm with you here. If we can manage to tune the game mechanics so that genocide doesn't really make sense, that would be ideal. Arguably, as you've pointed out, we're already mostly there: storming through an enemy colony, attempting to take their territory, would leave you dangerously over-exposed and likely militarily weakened with little pay off.

I was just thinking about what it would mean to attack another faction, say to go in and sabotage one of their perimeter walls. You can do a lot of harm to them, but don't get much out of the bargain except terror.

Maybe we look at offensive actions as, essentially, diplomatic events? By making them less deadly, as they tend to be between rival tribes in pre-industrial societies, they become more like violent negotiations than all-out warfare. I read one analysis of human violence that pointed out that relatively-harmless skirmishing was by far the norm through history unless one side had a huge advantage. Examples of hostile missions cast in diplomatic terms:

    1. Terror raid: Smash their wall (they lose the square), go after targets of opportunity (inflict some casualties), get out (little or no resources taken). The whole point of these is to demonstrate military superiority and add emphasis to your diplomatic moves. These would be the main tool for pushing a rival into "Thrall" territory. Swapping these back and forth (because neither side is strong enough to counter them effectively) would be a massive waste of resources for both sides, leading the player (and hopefully the AI) to eye truce negotiations. Maybe if you "Terror raid" a rival colony into non-existence, what really happens is that their colonists disperse onto the map for eventual recruitment (probably to other factions, not yours!).

    2. Resource Raid: Less effective than you'd think, really. Colonies will be guarding their food/materials with their lives and all the guile they can muster (Armory buildings, for example). A raid would probably be mean targeting a farm square and doing a petty smash&grab over their wall. Sending experienced scavengers with some weaponry might allow you to risk a raid on a central square and grab some weapons, tech, items, etc. The overall diplomatic effect would be to worsen relations, but not much else. Why not scavenge neutral squares instead? Maybe this mission would be one that you, the player, watches closely. The longer you leave it running, the more you get, but the more intense defensive response is and the riskier things get. You'd cut and run as the mission went "red" and casualties started to pop up.

    3. Slave raid: Smash their wall (they lose a square), grab a colonist or two, get out. Maybe this is an AI-only option? So that the player doesn't need to manage prisoners/slaves? Would be good for hurting morale, instilling terror, and motivating "rescue/payback" missions for the player.

    4. Total takeover: You show up with an overwhelming (you hope) force, and they have to either fight for their lives (unlikely, due to world scenario) , move directly to Thrall status (if you choose), or bye-bye faction status (colonists disperse for recruitment). Being able to run this mission would necessarily require a huge strength advantage (since everybody also has wall to defend and zombies to bash). This could be run via Event Dialogue.

In addition to Colony missions, there might be several that can be run on rival squad deployments:

    1. Shake 'em down: Cancels their mission, grab a couple resources. Helps push their faction into "Thrall" territory.

    2. Slave raid: As for colony mission.

    3. Total warfare: Murder, plain and simple. Maybe you always send one casualty back to make your point. This would push towards "Thrall", but also entail big morale penalties in your own faction, due to the "there are only so many humans left, dude" factor. Maybe not worth implementing?

Even just having the upper hand, militarily, might convey benefits during gameplay. For instance, you might receive a "We came across a team of scavengers from the Gamers at the mall, but they packed up and headed out when they saw us coming.". Or conversely, "We had to cut the recruiting mission short when the Gamers showed up. We don't want any trouble with them after what happened last week.".

By having your own colonists "lay down the law" in this and other ways with respect to the non-desirability of outright warfare, we'd somewhat force the player to play within the diplomatic system and world scenario provided.
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Re: Suggestion: Dominate Faction Option

Postby Llapgochmaster » Tue Dec 17, 2013 9:13 am

Okay, here's a goofy idea: maybe if you're feuding with another faction, an event could pop up inviting you to a "rumble" in neutral territory.

Both sides would choose 10 colonists or so and then you'd battle it out, either based on a probabilities (your offensive strength vs. theirs) or via a series of dialogue events. Loser goes "Thrall", or maybe just gets pushed in that direction plus surrenders resources/materials/tech, etc.

It makes me think of how sports pretty clearly evolved as a way to channel violent conflict in to less costly and, er, final forms. If you doubt this theory, check out Calcio Fiorentino! Maybe instead of a rumble, in the game we could have something like "Zombie Ball"?
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Re: Suggestion: Dominate Faction Option

Postby Shining Hector » Tue Dec 17, 2013 11:28 am

I like it. "War is the continuation of politics by other means."

I'm starting to see how this might get complicated to implement, though. Maybe you can have basically two sliders for other factions. One being friendliness, one being dominion. Most of your actions will affect one or both. Giving supplies increases friendliness, stealing decreases it. Successfully attacking their compound decreases friendliness and increases dominion, successfully thinning out the zombies surrounding their compound increases friendliness and increases dominion. Failing at a task decreases dominion. Eventually if your dominion gets high enough, you can make overtures towards them becoming a protectorate or annex them outright if friendliness is high, demand most favored trading status and/or a pact of non-aggression if friendliness is neutral, and force them to become a tributary or thralls if friendliness is low. That shouldn't be too horribly tough to implement yet still give lots of options.
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Re: Suggestion: Dominate Faction Option

Postby Chah » Tue Dec 17, 2013 10:42 pm

It might be interesting to be able to smash enemy walls to let in zombies.
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