When I was eating today I got a crazy idea for an economy or resource system for an RTS that could become very fun to use and would force players into a economic war and a “real” war. It would use scarcity of resources and trades to be the primary source for resources.
What this means in practice would be a system that forces players to interact and use trades to get everything they need to obtain specific goals, such as being the last man standing. This gives us atleast 1 main game goal and 2 main interactions. The first being to be the last man standing through either War or Economics and the secondary goals being resource management and establishing the best trade deals. This sounds pretty basic right now and like any old resource interaction system.
To make it more interesting, we add 3 resource types to this, let us say Plastic, Steel and Aluminium. Then we add a trade and upkeep resource named money and to call it a day we add a stock market. Wait… Stock markets aren’t that usual in a normal resource system. Well, to make it all more interesting all the players are called companies that have stock. Each players stock is worth the total sum of their assets. So if you go around and lose assets, your stock will start losing its worth. Each player start with a total of 100 stock that can be sold (meaning a player starts with 201). To increase your total stock amount you spend a minor sum of money and increase the amount that can be sold by 1.
To top it of, the other players are buying your stock, giving you the money they are buying them for, but when they sell the stock, depending on the games flow, would either take away your cash (which can put you in a negative amount of money. Which is bad) or is just given your current stock value. If we went with the path of negative money. a player could in theory go bankrupt if their debt increased so much that they couldn’t pay it of even if they sold everything they had.
Then we turn the tables and put this basic resource + stock market system into a game world with scarce resources (players only have enough resource to focus on 1-2 out of 4-6 manufacturing options). Meaning they are forced into trading. But trading requires trade routes to be established and on these trade routes your goods are sent by caravan (Space ships, cars, boats) and other players can raid these caravans to steal the things you are sending to your partner.
This would force players into either trading or progressing really, really slowly, while creating a risk in trading by giving the caravans a chance to be raided by other players, putting your trade “alliance” even further behind. But is it enough for the game to be interesting? Is there something unique in here, that won’t feel like a mini-game (stockmarket)? Not yet, but some of the plans that I’m thinking of right now is to limit vision between players and between players and their own caravans.
The first thing would be that there is no way to share any kind of vision between players. This would create trust between players over the time of a game, if you aren’t getting your resources, you can only ask if your resources are coming soon and hope he doesn’t lie. So establishing trust between players would be important to stabilize your game and keeping your allies happy would become important. Backstabbing would also become more interesting, because you could just stop sending resources and by doing so, emptying his supply of whatever he got.
The other thing would be that if you had no escorts on a caravan (no combat things) You had no way to know how far it has gone outside of bleeps on a minimap. This would let raiders have a chance to keep their identity in the dark. It would also be expensive to keep all caravans escorted. Especially if you are sending many of them.
So yeah. Large political Conflict game. Might wrap some people up and create a SC2mod based on this one. Anyway that’s all for today from a Van and a Game Designer!