This will officially be my first blog, no pressure!
So today at lunch I found myself talking a good deal about one of the parts of a hobby project of mine, that being the population growth/decline in settlements and how this is handled. To me this was to be one of the most common parts to my game, one that most games did and it is unexpectedly the one I find myself telling people about most of all. It seems my approach to it was different and rather appealing to people. So I thought to myself, why not share my experiences with you.
To give people a bit of context about my little game before I dive into the approach I took, here is a link to the Greenlight page, naturally it is rather out of date by now but the core of it is still pretty accurate:
Tales of a Spymaster is basically a standard turn-based strategy game set in a fictional land. The game tries to be a little different by taking you out of the position of power, such as the king and putting you in a right hand kind of role, advising and manipulating in the background. I have worked on this as a weekend hobby project for a good bit of time now as a solo developer primarily. The goal being to one day I will be able to say I have released a game :D
Within the game there is 8 kingdoms fighting over 200 locations, spread across the following world map.
Now if you select any location, you are presented with information like any other game. Please ignore any art inconsistencies or issues, the game is still rather far from done. So if you look at the following friendly village that is selected below, you see some basic options to defend, relocate and hire doctors, nothing special. You may also make out another tab is not selected, now this is where the fun begins.
Let’s take one of the capital cities for example. Note, this data will need to be presented better before I go to release the game. I am a programmer not an artist sadly and my UI design is pretty bad in some parts :P
So you may ask, “What am I looking at?” well every location within the world is made up of men, women, children and elderly. Everyone is born, grows old and dies. They can also die during birth, from diseases, weather, accidents and many other reasons. So war is not your only enemy, the environment is too. This is surprisingly the part that seems to excite more people than other features right now.
Here is an example of some of the code behind how I am handling all this within Unity. Every turn the population growth and death is determined and applied to the population.
In the end an army is formed from the men within the kingdom, so if the king (The AI you are trying to advise) goes to assemble a huge army from across the kingdom, then all these men will leave their homes. In turn the pregnancy rates drop while they are away and in turn so will the birth rates after 3 turns (9 months).
For example, if this grand army that was assembled marches off to capture the fortress below, then their losses will be extremely significant. A few costly military battles could ruin your entire game as the long term effects will be felt for a few generations.
The simple fact is the armies are formed from the people and the people are vulnerable to all sorts of stuff, not just attack.
I put a good deal of work into this part and it seems that it paid off significantly for me. I can honestly say I did not expect this area to be as interesting to people I shared it with. When I was going through Greenlight it was easily the most common area that I was asked about and I was Greenlit in just a week, which in itself was a pleasant surprise!
Anyways I hope my little story will encourage some of you to not ignore the little things or side things that you don’t realize could be important to a player.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and please do feel free to follow me on Twitter if you would like. In the short term I am hoping to take this game and enter into thegdwc.com and perhaps some other competitions, more for feedback but the deadlines are always great motivation and targets to aim for. I personally find it very hard to develop on my own if I have no short term targets to aim for that’s for sure. Perhaps the process I follow could make for an interesting blog post too sometime, first I will see how this one goes :D