I was listening to NPR today, about the Ted Talks and the idea of natural systems. And then I had an epiphany.
They were talking about the biosphere and things like that, closed systems where everything factors in and these systems adjust to meet the changing situations, automatically.
Think about it in this way, you have a simple biosphere with grass and grasshoppers. The grasshoppers eat the grass. They multiply. But as they do, they eat too much grass. With the grass mostly gone, the grasshoppers die back. The grass, given a chance to grow, comes back. The grasshoppers begin their slow repopulation.
And that’s kinda neat – the ecosystem is in a constant readjustment to meet its balances. And that was my “ah ha” moment – what is a game other than a closed environmental system! Too often, games are simplistic things. All those 4X games were stupid in that the game played the same, regardless of whether you were small or large. They don’t adjust to meet your size. The challenges remain the same; you just have more resources. Your advantage multiplies. Once you hit that roll, you cannot be stopped.
And that’s where this Gaia-feedback loop should happen. Once your grasshopper nation becomes huge, the game should stack challenges on you. It should get harder and harder until you are hitting a wall (like real life). Nothing can grow infinite.
We’re just starting to think ideas up for our first multiplayer, ATF (After the Fall) but I think I’ll have to not focus on the game as a balance between players, but more as a post-apocalyptic balance that shifts as the situation changes. So we’ll see.
Dynamic universes make for dynamic relationships make for dynamic games, don’t you think?