Friday, May 7, 2010

Alcan Highway

It is not often I run into such a visible example of what I would like to see in a 4X game, but I think this documentry on The History Channel shows one:

"Modern Marvels - The Alcan Highway"

So what does this have to do with 4X design? Getting away from the specific engineering of the project, it has a number of interesting logistical and strategic elements that I would love to see come out naturally in a game. Namely:

At the time, Japan was a major force in the Pacific Rim, but only in terms of naval force. There were worries that they would attack the US mainland with the major worry being Alaska. Alaska was easily accessible, poorly defended, and geographically isolated from the mainland. The only way it could be reenforced would be via moving troops in ships, at which point the troop carriers would have to content with the Japanese Navy, which could probably stall them long enough to dig in. So here we have element one: strategic footholds that getting reinforcements to is difficult (most 4X games treat travel as very quick).

So the US&Canada decided to build a highway that ran from the lower US, past several Canadian airfields, to Alaska. This was a major project, not something you can do over and over. So the scale is another issue, 4X games, it only takes so long before you can tile the entire map with roads or rails, so the cost of infrastructure tends to be high early on and dirt cheap later on. I am not sure how to offset that, but something needs to scale the costs so that major strategic builds do not end up tiling the whole map.

Lastly, in order to actually run such a massive project, it was cheaper to build an entire associated oil infrastructure, including wells, refining, and distribution, right off the road construction. This would be another interesting element, logistics where getting resources to massive projects other then 'use 50 shields' is a real consideration.

So ideas ideas ^_^

I think this would also be a good example of how a 4X game could be moved into an MMO type domain. Logistics has the potential to be quite complex, a game unto it'self. In EVE, even though it was painful and boring, people still would play pure logistics roles for years at a time. Imagine what it would be like if someone built a game where logistics was interesting rather then tedious?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


For some reason when I tried to title this post, blogger tried to autofill 'Every Kiss....'. I have no idea where that came from.

I have decided (yeah, for the nth time) I am done with EVE. I have been playing less and less, and EVE is a bad game to set down and come back to. The OSX client has been getting progressively worse (and I wager in the next expansion it will get even slower), the exploration interface is borked, etc etc.

What did in me in though was a random wardec from an alliance with half a dozen corps in it. Wiped out my staging platform which contained some ore and my freighter. It is a recoverable loss, but recovery just does not sound fun this time. It took ages to get to the point where mining Bar was less tedious because of the platform, and going back to a more tedious task just to get back to being less tedious, is not appealing right now.

I think one of the other blog entries from that contest pointed out, in terms of play, EVE really sucks. The whole package can be fun because the final rewards give you a thrill, but pretty much all the gameplay elements, when taken in isolation, are not fun to actually do.

I always felt that the wardec mechanic was a bad one, and a bad mechanic just kicked over my sandcastle. Even worse, it worked because I do not get a chance to log in every day, which is frustrating. So I have deleted my apps and canceled my accounts.

Not a rage quit, no carebare tears, just sorta, done.

And with that, I am probably done with multiplayer games for the foreseeable future.