Hi everyone. I thought I'd pop up my WIP game design for a new turn-based grand strategy game. It'll probably take me a couple of updates to get the document finished, but at least the game description and gameplay is here. If anyone wishes to comment, please feel free. :)
Design Document for: Empires!
Forge a Nation, Create an Empire
All work Copyright ?2006 by Dale Kent
Written by Dale Kent
Version # 1.00
Friday, November 03, 2006
This section will describe the stages taken to create the full design of the game Empires. Listed here is changes made in each version of the design document for the game.
Version 1.0 includes the initial layout and description of the game design. The document provides the base roadmap to expand the design of the game on. There are some sections still to be filled in, but the basic premise of the game can be seen.
Version 1.1 is the first complete edition of the design document. The entire game design is discussed with each part of the design addressed.
Empires will be a turn-based strategy game set in the time period 500AD-1500AD in medieval Europe. The game will be a grand strategy game where the player controls the national decisions of their nation. Players are required to guide their nation from a single tribal state to a full fledged Royal Authority Empire.
Empires will be similar in style to other such grand strategy games like Age of Empires and Sid Meier?s Civilization. However there will be distinct differences in game play. For example, in Civilization due to the epic history traversed through the game, certain concepts which will be highlighted in Empires are abstracted in Civilization. Similarly, whilst Age of Empires concentrates on expansion by conquest, in Empires a nation will be able to expand and exert a larger influence via trade, diplomacy, religion and conquest.
Empires will be built in such a way as to allow scenarios to be created for the game by players of the game. The map will be defined via a height-map graphic, whilst the initial settings for the game will be controlled via easily editable text files. These text files will contain nation definitions, starting locations, initial building and army locations and composition.
What is the game?
Empires is a turn-based strategy game based on Medieval Europe from the end of the Roman Empire till the dawn of the Age of Discovery. The years covered will range from 500AD till 1500AD. The game will be a grand strategy Empire builder complete with working economy, diplomacy reflecting the time period, as well as other features in the same strain as Civilization and Age of Empires.
Why create this game?
In line with my belief that epic history games such as Civilization over-simplify the topic, this game is the beginning of my grand design focusing on specific eras of history. This will be the first game in a series which will eventually span from the dawn of civilization to the near-future.
Where does the game take place?
The game takes place in a world similar to Medieval Europe. The politics, social fabric, ebb and tide, military, economics and other concepts will reflect the time period of 500AD to 1500AD. The game starts at the end of the Roman Empire in a time when feudal society was just beginning to take shape. The conclusion of the game will see Royal Authority reign supreme marking the end of feudal society.
What does the player control?
The player will be in control of a single nation chosen from the many tribal states that existed after the collapse of Roman Authority. The player must take this tribal state and forge a fully fledged Empire using diplomacy, trade, religion and military might. During the game the player may gain partial control over various other vassal nations and full control over nations that have sworn fealty.
What is the main focus?
The player?s focus is to take a small tribal state and forge a united Empire under their rule. They may take control of other nations by conquest, by other nations swearing fealty to them, or any other means available to the player. The ultimate goal to win is to take your small tribal state through the many stages till your nation is a leading Royal Authoritarian Empire ready to explore the world and expand their influence. A Royal Authoritarian Empire has either conquered or had other nations swear fealty to them, has a strong economy with many chains of production, trades with fellow nations, and has other nations vote on them as a great power within the world. The ultimate victory in Empires is to have fellow nations vote the player?s nation as the strongest great power in the world.
Currently there are a number of games at the present time that are also within the same gaming sphere as Empires. However Empires will be different in the following ways:
? Age of Empires III: Empires will be focusing on more than military conquest. Whilst there are similarities between the games, they are both in two different time periods, military conquest plays a sole part in expanding within AOE3, and the nations used are already fully-fledged Empires.
? Civilization IV: This game concentrates on the epic scale of history. Due to this a lot of concepts that are highlighted in Empires are very abstract. For instance, religion will play a much larger role in Empires than the generic single diplomatic bonus religion depicted in Civ4.
? Rise and Fall of Ancient Empires: This game focuses on the ancient time period in the time of Greece and the beginnings of the Roman Empire. Also, the game has a large component based on first-person role playing in relation to the leaders.
? Huge flat-map world.
? Many tribal states vying for power from the former Roman Empire.
? Areas of barbarians, who are ripe for conquering or conversion to the Faith.
? Dynamic religion model with schisms, crusades and the incursions of Islam into the area depicted.
? Scientific discoveries allowing the pursuit of new inventions which advance society.
? Many diplomatic options including royal weddings, declarations of war, cassis belli, trade agreements, fealty and oaths of allegiance.
? Fully dynamic terrain where human habitation affects the land (such as forests being chopped down, cities spreading across the land, roads and farmland).
? Complex economy involving the collection and stockpiling of raw materials, and the processing of these resources into goods which can be used for construction, armies, trade or diplomacy.
Initially, hot-seat and PBEM will be the only MP methods supported. This may change later.
Editing of the game will be via external text files that will control most parts of the game. Terrain will be loadable via terrain mapped graphic files. All 3D objects will be 3DS Max objects exported ready for use. Scenarios will be easy for players to create using a single terrain mapped graphic file, and a combination of text files containing the settings for the scenario. Additional 3D objects will be loadable via the scenario if required.
There will be two types of victory in Empires, a minor victory and a major victory. A minor victory will be obtained when a nation scores the required amount of points in one of the following categories:
Once a minor victory has occurred, that nation will have the option to play on for a major victory. The major victories also come on two levels:
- Become a Great Power
- Become the strongest Great Power (the ultimate victory in Empires)
A military victory is declared once a nation has accumulated a set threshold of military points. Military points are scored for the size of the player?s army and combat results.
A society victory is declared once a nation has accumulated a set threshold of society points. Society points are scored for science and technology, the happiness of the population, the progression of government and infrastructure (buildings, roads, resource collection).
A religion victory is declared once a nation has accumulated a set threshold of religion points. Religion points are scored for converting the barbarians to the player?s religion, participation in crusades/jihads and interaction with the religious capital (Rome and Constantinople).
An economic victory is declared once a nation has accumulated a set threshold of economic points. Economic points are scored for setting up trade agreements, importing/exporting goods, setting up trading posts in other nations (allows the formation of a trade agreement), owning monopolies on goods and keeping a positive cash flow.
A diplomatic victory is declared once a nation has accumulated a set threshold of diplomatic points. Diplomatic points are scored for interactions with other nations, following through on agreements (Eg: following through on a defense treaty), the number of vassals and nations who swore fealty.
If the player opts to play on (if they receive a minor victory during the game) the game will play till conclusion. This is the first of:
- all 1000 turns being played
- 1 nation remaining in the game
Once one of the above conditions is met the scores of all minor victory conditions are added together to give a nations total score. The top total score is declared the strongest Great Power of the game (and is the ultimate victory in Empires!) and the top 5 total scores are declared Great Powers of the game. If there is only one nation remaining in the game, then that player is the winner by default.
The Game World:
The world?s terrain and architecture will be based on medieval Europe. Cities and farmland will be scattered across the land inter-connected by roads. There will be many different nations controlling territory on the map initially, but this will quickly change as nations vie for control over land and resources.
Rome & Constantinople:
Even though the Roman Empire has collapsed, Rome in the west and Constantinople in the east will act as the centre of power in each sphere. As the game progresses, their respective power will decrease till finally they are either absorbed by another nation or they become a minor nation.
Islam & Pagans:
At the games start, Islam will be a small pocket in a far corner of the map. However, via diminishing bonuses Islam will quickly spread from its initial location. Islam will act as a counter against the other religions, being Roman, Orthodox and Pagan. At the games start, a number of tribal states will begin as Pagan religion. These represent the ?barbarian Eastern Europe? which was present at the beginning of the time period. Paganism will act as a counter against the other religions, being Roman, Orthodox and Islam.
Playing the Game:
A Single Player Game:
After the player starts the game, an introduction movie will play. After the movie the main menu is displayed with a number of options. Selecting Single Player will take you to the setup screen. On this screen you select map configuration (sea level, map size, Europe/Random/Load map), the nation you wish to play and enter your leader name. After accepting these values the game (depending on map choices) will either load the default Europe map, load a custom map or generate a random map. This ends the setup phase.
Once the setup is complete the main view is shown on-screen. This view is mostly made up of a detailed view of the map. The player can zoom in or out of the map to get a closer view or an overview of the lands. The view begins focused on the player?s capital. The player begins with 1-3 towns/cities and a range of units. Above the map view is the control panel. From here the player can enter any of the game?s screens, including diplomacy, economics, or military. These screens are linked to function keys as well for ease of access. The main menu button is also contained on the control panel, and it is consistent for every screen in-game. When the player wishes to save their game, or load a previously saved game, or even change game options they access the main menu. At the bottom of the screen are the information panels. One information panel has the minimap of the world, another panel has action buttons for what is currently selected or generic action buttons such as ?build? and ?govern?, and the third panel holds information about the currently selected object. If nothing is selected then this panel holds general information about the player?s nation.
To begin with, the player must make a few decisions regarding what they will research first and what will be built in the towns/cities of their nation. The player then clicks on any units they wish to move and then right clicks on the target tile. The unit will move towards the tile to the extent of their movement points. Once moved to its maximum the unit ends its turn and another unit with movement points remaining is selected for the player. If the player doesn?t want to move a unit they fortify the unit which will take the unit out of this cycle of move-next unit-move. Once the player has finished their turn they click on the end turn button. At this point all of the other nations in the game perform their turn. And so the game progresses.
Eventually, the player will finish researching a technology. Once complete a popup window will appear asking the player what to research next. If the technology has an accompanying invention then the player is able to select an amount of gold per turn to spend on trying to complete the invention. The length of time for the invention to complete is determined by the amount of gold per turn the player spends on the invention. At any one time the player can research one technology and multiple inventions. In this way a player can concentrate on inventions that will benefit them and ignore the ones that hold no benefit to them. For example a land-locked nation can ignore naval inventions but concentrate on land inventions.
Once enough wood and stone is stockpiled the player can begin building infrastructure in their nation. By clicking on the ?Build? action button a selection of choices depending on technology level will be presented. The player simple clicks on the building they want to build and then click on the location of the map to build it. Some buildings will rely on a resource to be build able such as an iron mine, but others can be built anywhere on land such as a farm. The two resources gatherers that allow building are sawmill and quarry. These two buildings will produce the timber and stone required to build all other buildings in the game. Some of the bigger buildings, especially civil buildings for cities such as a library, will also require an amount of gold to build.
At this point the player should be collecting the essential resources to survive and have the basic infrastructure built. They will have researched a couple of technologies and maybe an invention or two. The player should now concentrate on diplomacy and trade. By using diplomacy the player can befriend other nations and form trade agreements with them. This will allow for the import and export of goods to expand the player?s economy. Once the player is making weapons from steel, and has a positive cash flow it is time to build up the army. Whilst it is possible to win peacefully in Empires! a weak nation militarily will be a target for other nations. Even a defensive army is essential to survive. Once the army has been expanded the player then makes a critical choice. Do they try to expand via conquest or diplomacy?
If the player chooses to expand by conquest they use their nation?s army to invade another nation. The player must defeat the armies of the opposing nation and occupy all of the cities of the nation. The nation will consequently surrender all of its lands to the player. Any army remaining of the surrendering nation disbands. During war the player is able to order their armies to pillage and burn improvements made to the land. This includes houses. If the player faces a stronger enemy than anticipated the player can pillage and burn the enemy?s improvements to destroy their economy. This can help a further war later down the track as the enemy has had to rebuild their infrastructure instead of building up their army. The player is able to conquer any other nation in the game, including Rome, Constantinople, the barbarian nations or Islamic nations. However, every declaration of war will result in a counter affect on your diplomatic relations with other nations. An overly aggressive nation risks turning the rest of the world against them.
If however the player chooses to expand via diplomacy, then various diplomatic options are available to help make friends with other nations. As well as the before mentioned trade agreement, the player can arrange a Royal Wedding (only one for each other nation), help them in their own wars with other nations, guarantee their sovereignty and let them be a vassal to you. Once a nation becomes the player?s vassal the player can control the vassal?s armies. The player also receives 25% of the vassal?s resources and gold as tithe. If a player has had a vassal for a long time, and relations are still very high, the vassal may agree to swear fealty. At this point the vassal gives all land, units and possessions to the player. This is how the player expands via diplomacy. This may be a harder path to take, but the player is able to maintain high diplomatic relations with other nations, and there is no impact on the player?s economy.
Eventually over many turns the player is able to expand by conquering some nations and diplomatically other nations. The players economy will become stronger and technology will progress with new inventions improving society. At some point the player may be offered a minor victory. This is where the player has reached a victory criteria in one area of the game. It is the player?s choice whether they take the victory or play on for a major victory. If the player then plays on and becomes strong in all areas of the game, then they will be voted as a Great Power at the end of the game. If the player is the strongest remaining Great Power the player will achieve the ultimate victory in Empires! and go down forever in the annals of history.