At the start of the series, we talked about how it’s better to make challenges to players in games into spatial problems, because relationships and emotions are difficult to compute or convey. This time, we talk about the unavoidable need to have those sorts of relationships and emotions in our simulated villagers.
Factions in Cultures
Unless a species is composed of some insect hive-like creature, (and with our creature-building system, some cultures may,) we expect the individuals of a society to have individual desires, but still be capable of coming together for communal need. To facilitate that, we hope to bring to you a sophisticated faction system based upon all the individual villagers having conflicting loyalties.
Each villager, for example, belongs to a town, which has its own goals, directed by the mayor, that includes giving out tasks to keep the town from falling apart, and that is a major faction which they usually listen to, and be loyal to. However, a given villager may feel a greater loyalty to their family than to their town, and if their ambitious uncle wants to plot against the mayor for his own gain, then that villager may drop their normal work for the town to go plot.
This is determined by a loyalty system. Villagers have loyalties to their Identities (as a culture, religion, family, political group, or other grouping,) Ideology (as rigid views on behavior that may prevent some actions, even when people or groups they are loyal to demand it of them,) or to Individuals (as loyal followers of someone else, or their own ambitions). Hence, there are factions for the town itself, for cultural or religious groups, for major families, and for important individuals who command subordinates (including, possibly, the player).
Factions decide how villagers will act, and villager loyalty decides which orders they choose to follow. If factions are at odds with one another, this can result in unrest, disobedience of orders, or even open conflict in the streets of the town! Just because a villager is generally more loyal to their family than their town, however, doesn’t mean their family always comes first – a sudden raid or disaster that threatens the whole village may make villagers suddenly more loyal to their town as they pull together to face a common threat.
What does this mean to the player? It can mean any number of things. If the player is a mayor, the powerful families in town are often scheming behind your back, and you’ll have to use political wrangling to keep them in line behind you, or their infighting can ruin all your plans. On the other hand, if you’re not mayor, and want to climb the social ladder, then building up a good relationship with different influential families is the best way up, right? So what if the backstabbing and skullduggery they ask of you is harmful to the town – when you become mayor, you can fix things back up, right? Since the player can control their own faction, this also means building up loyalties among friends, family, and/or underlings and employees.
By using factions that have conflicting goals, we can generate a never-ending fountain of quests that the player can engage in which have real consequences in their village, or the world, as factions eliminate one another based upon player intervention. Help cause a regime change by tarring a political leader’s image for their opposition, and the way that town or nation behaves can change overnight. Even without leaving town, we hope to give a player who enjoys social meddling all the entertainment they can ask for.
– The Imagine Nations Team
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