One homeworld, many factions

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SmellyTerror
Space Krill
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Joined: Mon Jul 11, 2005 7:01 am
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One homeworld, many factions

#1 Post by SmellyTerror » Wed Sep 13, 2006 5:10 am

I realise this is a bit out of left field, but I think this could work very well:

Imagine if scientists on Earth developed a cheap and effective stardrive tomorrow. Would a united Earth send a single, united force out into the universe, or would a bunch of different factions all leap to compete in a space race?

I think the latter.

You know how, in these games, planets tend to be single-locations, one city per planet, with none of the complexity of Earth (which is capable of supporting multiple civilisations, dozens of cultures, hundreds of nations, and thousands of cities). Why is that? Ok, maybe it makes sense for colonies that are created, populated and run by a single faction, but the homeworld? Pfff. Mono-culture homeworlds seem a bit silly to me, and a bit boring.

To translate this to a game-play point of view: each faction would have its own facilities in orbit around the one homeworld. They have a resource base coming from their planet-based nation, over which the player may have little-to-no control. From there, they need to go out and colonise the galaxy.

Combat in orbit would orignally be banned (your sponsoring nation is not willing to let you start a war that could spread to the planet - though what goes on in the colonies and out of sight is open to, ahem, "interpretation"). An important stage in your empire will be the moment you break away from your sponsoring nation and go it alone (you lose the local protection and free resources (and/or taxes?), but gain political and military options that used to be restricted).

In the meantime, the homeworld would be an inexhaustible market for your goods, and an essentially infinite source of colonists and supplies. It'd provide the same for the other players, too.

This provides for a lot that fits 4X storyline conventions (which is the reason I think of this as "storyline" more than anything else):

1. It explains why multiple factions are emerging into the universe at the exact same time with the exact same level of tech, and why everyone seems to be able to develop technology along pretty much the same lines.

2. It explains where those massive 4X population increases come from (assuming colonies would have a maximum useful population of, say, 20 million - in that scale, the game doesn't have to pretend that colonists are breeding at some ridiculous rate, but are emmigrating from the overpopulated (mutiple billion population) homeworld).

3. It provides an initially safe base of operations, to prevent "rushes", but leaves the rest of the game open to conflict.

4. It gives equal starting conditions to all sides (that is, equal opportunities for colonies, resources, etc).

Note that this does not preclude the existence of NPC "aliens" - either as trading partners, awesome ancients, or common enemies, as per the storyline set out for FO.

Important early negotiations would be to decide who would colonise which planets / systems / resource fields, since they are all equally available at the start. Exploration would move on from there. One offshoot is that it would encourage some interesting "merged" empires: you might own a planet in the home system, an asteroid field in the next, a couple of moons somewhere else, and so on. A star-system would not be something to be claimed in total, but rather owned as individual elements.

Threats to the homeworld would be a threat to everyone (eg. NPC aliens). Being cut off from it (militarily or - say, politically: genocidal maniacs might become pariahs to the homeworld's population) would force a different style of play. Being an outcast would have an effect beyond the merely diplomatic. Destroying or gaining hegemony over the homeworld might be important winning conditions.

Factions - cultures, nations, religions, corporations, cults - could still be radically different to each other. Wierder philosophies and cultures have historically had a powerful impetus to expand, explore, and exterminate.

I realise this might not be what people are expecting when they pick the game up, so it might be unwelcome. If that's the case then maybe this would work as a mod or as a setup option...

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