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Spinnortality: evil megacorporation strategy game Messages in this topic - RSS

Frederick Metzengerstein
Frederick Metzengerstein
Posts: 65

25 days ago


So, this is a project I couldn't be more excited about; currently in the first week of its Kickstarter campaign.

This is a dystopian cyberpunk (think Blade Runner, Robocop, James Brunner's Stand on Zanzibar, Peter Watts's Maelstrom) evil global megacorporation CEO strategy and management PC game.

And how gloriously evil it is! You launch and market products of ambiguous morality: an autoshopper which buys things for you before you know you want them; a sentient social media profile which can spam memes, like your friends' status updates and even troll those liberal snowflakes for you smile Clones which the one per cent can buy for spare tissues and organs which, one assumes, are kept under general anaesthesia all their life because the alternative would be unethical smile

Your megacorporation is big, faceless and unaccountable to now one: bribing legislators and rigging elections (so, just like real life smile); assassinating politicians; imposing martial law in failed states (or as I like to think of them, "emerging markets"). It can even spread Fake News smile

In a game where you can amass more money than God, mortality is an inconvenience. Your CEO can fund radical life extension therapies, discover the means to cheat death, and with their techno-oligarchs run the world forever.

Although the game is in development, there is already a (free!) demo in a very advanced and highly addictive and enjoyable state. Well worth your time.
edited by Frederick Metzengerstein on 11/19/2017
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Anne Auclair
Anne Auclair
Posts: 1756

25 days ago


I'm a backer, albeit a very small one (I'm tapped out from CS and SS).

The writing in the demo is really quite good, alternating between dark and darkly funny. The products, their marketing campaigns, and their social impacts at the heart of the game feel like things that could actually happen. The glimpses of late 21st century life, as conveyed by emails, special projects, and random events, is also pretty interesting.

There's a great deal of depth to the scifi writing and theorizing. The writing naturallys makes some very astute and cutting observations about the malign ways that all these products are or would be used (your company can lean in and actively embrace malign use btw - say by explicitly marketing social media as an echo chamber or harassment tool). But it's not just Blade Runner, Ghost in the Shell, Aliens, and Rifters style bleakness (though there's plenty of that curtsy of all the corporate shenanigans you can get up to). The writing makes you consider the nature of our desire for commodities and how this tendency to find or invest our individual identities in mass products can be cynically manipulated. Like, say, a social media program that promises one person a life of refinement and class might promise another person the ability to be an absolute slob. Or a life organizer that allows one to pretend they're living in the past...while flattering others with a mirage of post-singularity life. And what happens when our commodities advance to the point where they know our desires and identities better than we do?

But the Spin Angles also capture the promise of these great inventions and technologies and how they could potentially be used to meaningfully better our lives...if they weren't under the control of manipulative for-profit megacorporations. I'm somewhat reminded of Walter Benjamin's belief that the Arcades of Paris, the world's first modern shopping centers, contained within themselves the frustrated dreams of a utopian future that the 19th century could never be. New programs and industries which promise a world of freedom and leisure instead turn their users into puppets and make the rat race an even more omnipresent part of existence. At the final level of the tech tree, you're left contemplating life in a world where flesh and bone human existence has been made completely redundant by automation and AI, the actual physical person being little more than a ghost or pet for the greater and far more real virtual avatar, who does your work, picks your entertainment, buys you consumables, and forms your relationships based on communication with other avatars.

Frederick Metzengerstein wrote:
And how gloriously evil! You launch and market products of dubious morality: an autoshopper which will buy things for you before you know you want them

One of my favorites ^_^

Autoshopper

Intelligent shopping program that buys things before you know you need or want them.

Spin Angles
Buy with no clicks: How long does it take you to find what you want? Autoshopper has found it and bought it in the time it takes to read this.

Think of the savings! Finding the best deal for the lowest price can be tough. Autoshopper does it every time, guaranteed.

An art, not a chore: Shopping shouldn't be a chore: it's a valuable craft. We've combined these principles into the best, most skilled, most tasteful shopper, because shopping is art.

Never shop online again: Those online shops can be so confusing! is that an ad or a link? Why can I pay this way but not that? Shipping?! Take a step back; you don't have to wrestle with this new-fangled stuff any more.

How we shop now: Technology has sped up our lives and made us more efficient. Let's push it further.

Consumerism taken to its logical limit: completely automated consumption. Storage companies probably do fantastic business because of this program.

Frederick Metzengerstein wrote:
a sentient social media profile which can post memes, like your friends' status updates and even troll those liberal snowflakes for you smile

Ah, the lovely little Profile Chatbot, so versatile, how can you resist it?

Profile Chatbot

A simple AI chatbot carries on chats and social media exchanges with friends in your absence.

Spin Angles
Connect to your clan: You're the life of the party; everyone loves you. You're building friendships, you're carving out your own tribe. You reach out, and a community builds up around you. Want to take it to the next level? Now you can do all that a hundred times more.

Trololol: The only thing preventing you from trolling every feminist on the planet is the speed of your brain and fingers. Oh, now not even that. Would you like to send death threats, or pictures of mutilated corpses?

Chatting like old times: Remember IRC? Nostalgic for those long hours chatting into the night, using your actual fingers on actual keys? Now you can while away the long nights, just you, a keyboard and a welcoming (AI) partner. Just like old times.

You're a chat machine! Love promoting yourself, but limited by the linear nature of time? Now you can chat, network, and publicize like never before! Make connections at lightspeed!

Helpdesk? Yes. Employees? No. With simple AI technology you can provide off-the shelf customer support for a fraction of the regular price. Note: no guarantees this will be less irritating than normal customer support.

The best chatbot yet: Remember those old chatbots, the ones that couldn't hold a train of thought and kept repeating stuff back to you? Well that time is over. Our chatbots are more convincing than ever. At the cutting edge of AI technology, they remember subtle details and pass the Turing test with 93% accuracy. our bots are new, improved and better than anything else on the market.

Which can eventually be upgraded to a completely sentient version.

[spoiler]Sentient Profile

A social media profile that posts, comments, flames, trolls, and undergoes mental breakdowns convincingly.

Spin Angles
Never check your profile again! No need, it checks itself. And everything else! What a waste of time that was!

A New Life is Born: Life is wonderful and variable. Life is anywhere and everywhere, in all countries, climes, and cultures. We've marveled at its beauty for millennium. Now we've created it, a whole new life form.

The Net is Thinking: We are online. We are the net. And the net is thinking. It's a brave new world.

Better than human: We all make mistakes. 'We're all human.' But this profile is smarter, faster, and better than us in every-way. This makes luxury look like a neanderthal.[/spoiler]
edited by Anne Auclair on 11/19/2017

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phryne
phryne
Posts: 906

24 days ago
This might be a little too realistic for me to enjoy...

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Anchovies
Anchovies
Posts: 407

24 days ago
I'm wary of a work which is critical of virtual entertainment and social media, and which is also a form of virtual entertainment being advertised and distributed through a social media platform. In particular, this sort of anticorporate dystopian fiction can promote an insidious form of lazy nihilism. If the people who govern us are all bribed by corporations, why bother taking the time to vote? That's not a straw-man; I have met real people who actually choose not to vote because they believe election outcomes truly don't matter. When a work presents the notion that only a few certain people control or will control the course of global progress, it's telling everyone else that their actions don't have consequences. If individual people can't meaningfully influence the world around them, why not just play video games and masturbate until you die? There's no reason to recycle, or donate blood, or plant a tree, or teach a child how to read, or do anything else which might contribute to something larger than yourself, because things only happen when The Man says they do.

Does this game offer anything more than that empty, shortsighted pessimism? Can a person play this game and live a better life for having played it? I'll have to give the demo a spin when I have the time. For now all I can say is that my first impression was "ugh, another one of THESE". I hope I'm pleasantly surprised, and I'm interested to hear what other people think.
edited by Anchovies on 11/20/2017

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Passionario
Passionario
Posts: 762

23 days ago
Anchovies wrote:
For now all I can say is that my first impression was "ugh, another one of THESE".

This was my initial impression as well, but after this screenshot, I've upgraded it to "undecided".

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gronostaj
gronostaj
Posts: 372

22 days ago
Anchovies wrote:
"ugh, another one of THESE"

funnily enough i vehemently disagree on everything you said and your stance on things is alien and ridiculous to me, but this was also my first thought. more specifically, my first thought was how it immediately reminded me of one of these horrible social media posts that start a little something like this;

"these stunning drawings show the sad truth about the reality of modern world", and you open it (lets assume you're young and don't yet know to avoid this hogwash for a waste of time that it is) and what do you see? Mediocre artists' drawings of people in trains checking something on their phones to showcase how technology is destroying human relationships. There is a drawing that's rallying against facebook. It's posted on facebook.

I'm not gonna judge a game I haven't played yet, but i hope to god the developer behind it is self-aware enough to avoid this.

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jamesPatton
jamesPatton
Posts: 5

21 days ago
Hello lovely Failbetter people! I'm the developer, nice to meet you smile

First, thanks so much for making this thread! I've been so busy chasing around with this Kickstarter I didn't even think to post here, though I think the game is a natural fit here.

Let me address some of your concerns:
In particular, this sort of anticorporate dystopian fiction can promote an insidious form of lazy nihilism. If the people who govern us are all bribed by corporations, why bother taking the time to vote?


Good point, and this is something I worry about a lot! On the one hand, I'm not sure how much we can do to halt the advance of capitalism. I personally feel very small and powerless in the face of whatever's ravaging the world right now. On the other hand, enough votes CAN swing an election, which CAN lead to long-term systemic change and, say, less people dying and gay marriage being legalised and trans rights being recognised and so on.

The game addresses these problems in two ways. First, there are several "Agendas" (long term projects that move you toward victory) which make the world better. Most agendas are evil, like "Military strikeforce", or just 100% capitalistic, like "Total retail site" (think Amazon), but the game also has "Rights and Protections", where the rights of cyborgs, mutants and AIs are set in stone, "Social Media training" where people are taught how to use social media responsibly and healthily, "Electoral reform" which destroys the two-party democratic system in favour of a multi-party system and eliminates bribery in politics, "Democratic taskforce" which helps chaotic nations form democracies on their own terms, and "Universal income" which gives everyone an income regardless of how much they "deserve" it (oof, loaded words those).

If you do all those then you can then claim the "Humane victory" which is "leaving the world a little better than you found it". Not perfect, but at least a step in the right direction. Also, it's actually hard to do this - much harder than the other victories. You will have to actively work against your interest, and in some cases hamstring yourself, in order to achieve all these agendas. The point is that a humane world is possible, but it will be difficult, and it absolutely will go against the interests of the political class, old-school media institutions and all the billionnaires.

Second, most products you launch have some kind of effect. Genestims asks you "If you have to destroy a nation to keep making your product, do you destroy the nation or do you take the income hit?" Mutant workers can be researched, but it becomes clear that they are not happy; the mutation process is horrific and traumatising. Once you realise this, do you go public and try to lessen the damage, or do you keep it secret and hope nobody joins the dots? In these ways, I hope that players will be challenged to ask what they're willing to do in the name of profit, and be made aware that these are all things that real-life companies have done, are doing or could do (minus the metaphorical wrapping).

I'm also aware of the fact that it's weird to be critical of social media and interactive systems when I'm making an interactive system and then promoting it on social media. The way I see it, I'm not criticising social media, I'm criticising how we are told to use, how its systems shape our behaviour and how big companies have a lot of control over how it's used (and exploit their users as products). That doesn't mean they can't be used well, but they must be used critically. Same with games: I absolutely believe they can be the most horrifying skinner-box addiction-making mechanisms ever, but they can also be respectful, healing, wonderful works that enrich people's lives. Design is everything.

I'd like to pick your brains a bit: how do you think I can engage more critically and positively with my subject? Perhaps I could make the political system more nuanced, so that backing a Xenophobic or Multicultural party actually had more of an in-game effect?
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Passionario
Passionario
Posts: 762

20 days ago
Welcome, nice to meet you too smile

jamesPatton wrote:
I'd like to pick your brains a bit: how do you think I can engage more critically and positively with my subject?


Mmmm, it's quite a thorny topic, isn't it? One that I've given it a lot of thought over the last year (I'm also making a cyberpunk strategy game, albeit one set on a 23rd century space station rather than the modern world). Here are some of the insights I've assembled:

Give victims a voice: One of the most powerful ways to avoid trivializing and glorifying evil is to show the aftermath and make it personal. There are many examples of this approach, ranging from the cutscenes of slain civilians in Spec Ops: the Line, to paragraphs describing the anguish of Nameless One's betrayed friends in Planescape: Torment, to despondent one-liners said by NPCs in Papers Please as they are turned away or detained.

So when you create the evidence that the CEO keeps away from the general public, don't just rely on legalistic corporate reports about risk evaluation and profit margins. Intersperse it with more personal items - angry (or tear-stained) letters from local communities destroyed by the super-retail initiatives, photos of the remains of people who ended up on the wrong end of the unsafe product, suicide notes from teens targetted by the AutoTroller. The contrast between the tragic feel of this private feedback, contrasted with the clinical coldness of company reports and the creepily exuberant tone of advertisement will send the player a message that they will not easily forget.

Lubricate the slopes: There's a reason why most games let us play as heroes instead of villains, and why most of the few successful exceptions to the rule adopt a deliberately humorous/parody style and fantasy/allegory aesthetic (see: Dungeon Keeper, Overlord, Evil Genius). Realistic evil is not fun, it's sickening - one of the most common themes in Planescape: Torment reviews is "I tried to play as an Evil character, but I just couldn't handle being that much of a [censored]". And while Spinnortality certainly promises quite a bit of tongue-in-cheek humour, its basic premise, as phryne noted above, hits way too close to home, since we already live in a cyberpunk future ruled by megacorporations.

To solve this issue, I advise taking a page from Failbetter's own book. It is fantastically easy to become a villain in Fallen London (and, to an extent, Sunless Sea), because the slope into darkness is very slippery, coated with escalation of commitment and sunk cost fallacy. Reasonable requests eventually become less so, and what started out as a simple messenger job can end up with the player character carrying out a murder/terrorism spree. And all along the way, the player can quit at any time - which makes their decision to keep going all the more meaningful.

For instance, instead of directly establishing a Military Outfit, the CEO may start out by creating a Rapid Task Force to do good things globally: install solar power batteries in regions hit by hurricanes, airdrop medicine into epidemic hot spots, that sort of thing. After a few incidents when these mobile do-gooders get attacked by desperate criminals and mercenaries hired by competitors, the CEO might decide to provide them with weapons - for self-defense only, of course. Eventually, someone on the Board will point out that the company can save a lot of time, money and lives by taking initiative and going after the source of the attacks. And since we're paying those brave men and women anyway, maybe they can lend a hand with those pesky protesters boycotting out new pipeline...

Add gray areas: While I immensely like the fact that an evil supercorporation game will feature the option to do good and pursue humane goals (as well as other goals, of course), I am somewhat concerned about the proposed implementation. Specifically, if achieving a particular victory requires the player to fulfill all of the conditions on a predetermined checklist, it creates a twofold risk.

Firstly, it may trivialize gameplay choices and lower replay value: if you know that your win condition requires you to save kittens/sell kittens/eat kittens at every possible opportunity, then you do just that instead of making choices. Secondly, it implies that the world is a simple black&white pattern where good corporations always do only good things, and bad corporations always do only bad things.

What I'd do is keep the list of criteria required to achieve each of the victories, but instead of requiring ALL of them to win, lower the threshold to 80% of the list (the 100% completion can still be an optional goal or perhaps an achievement). This would neatly solve both of the above problems.

Narratively, it would paint a more believable picture of a world where even the good companies occasionally screw up and even the bad ones sometimes deliver something valuable. Gameplay-wise, it would introduce a new layer of strategic decisions for the player - and choosing trade-offs is much more fun than completing a list of tasks. Which 20% of your goals would you be willing to throw under the bus to achieve the remaining 80%? Do you sacrifice freedom for security or the other way around? Are you prepared to compromise on one promise to deliver on three others?

I hope that at least some of this will prove helpful and wish you the best of luck with your game. smile

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jamesPatton
jamesPatton
Posts: 5

20 days ago
Passionario: those are excellent, excellent points. Seriously, thank you for all of them, you've clearly put a lot of thought into them.

Give victims a voice: totally agree. I played The Curious Expedition a while back, a game about being a colonialist asshole trampling over indigenous communities. The problem was, because it focused on the colonialists and not on the impact they made to those communities, it didn't quite hit home for me.

I was already planning to have you receive accusatory / distraught / humbling emails from the victims of your growth. I especially wanted the player to be confronted by the horror of bombing a nation into submission to establish dominance and set up a government. The reason that's not in the latest build is that every time I set out to write those emails, I just couldn't handle it. I'll get round to it eventually once I've psyched myself up.

Lubricate the slopes: I really love these ideas. The Agenda interface is a bit of a mess and needs a redesign anyway, and it might be interesting to make each agenda have several stages, each one further down the slope than the last. And if the player doesn't choose to slide down the slope themselves, I can prod them with the board, or with random event choices: "It has come to our attention that our rapid action task force is constantly under attack and can't get anything done. Should we spend a ridiculously cheap number of connections to upgrade it? Come on. You know this is a good deal."

Grey areas: This also speaks to me. I don't want people to pick a victory in turn 1 and have that determine their play style. I envisaged the victories as something players might settle onto once they've been playing for a while: "Hm, it's turn 100 and I already have black ops, a global police force and an observation net. Maybe I should aim for the Iron Fist ending?" I think your suggestion helps with that a lot, since it already means people aren't locked in.

I wonder, though, is there a better way to make the ending an expression of player choice rather than a determiner of it? I'd like people to choose these endings because they mirror how they perceive their playstyle - not dangle them in front of players like a carrot on a stick. Ideally I suppose I'd almost want a victory condition that triggers without players knowing it in advance? Like a buzzfeed "Which Marvel character are you" quiz: you do your inputs and then the system spits out "You are this!" at the end, maybe?
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Frederick Metzengerstein
Frederick Metzengerstein
Posts: 65

20 days ago
I've only completed one playthrough (it took me six hours over several days?) but I don't think your choices in this game are (human) costless. Some spoilers follow.

In my playthrough my CEO met a journalist and based on my choices began a friendship which became intimate. I found myself as CEO priorotising the relationship at a cost to the financial gain of the company, for whatever psychological reasons people do such things. I even did so in a few situations where I thought I as CEO was being used (using my infleunce and power to do a favour for this friend and his friends -- the deliberately personal manner of his request made it obvious to me as CEO that he was emotionally manipulating me but the CEO had invested so much in the relationship that they allowed themselves to be used, plus it was a smaller favour in the scheme of things).

Eventually the relationship was brought to a crisis when the friend, who was a principled and concientious man, could no longer ignore the obvious social cost of my company, even though I as CEO had sought to conceal the worst of its activities from him.

Ultimately I as a ruthless CEO decided to cut him loose (you are given the choice to take his side) but certainly not without regret and in what I tried to ensure was the least harmful way I could (which was still hurtful).

Some years later in game time when another secret outrage of the company became public the friend sent my CEO a disappointed email, and that event also generated regret.

This is just one and by no means the only example where James's game brings home the human cost if your actions.
edited by Frederick Metzengerstein on 11/23/2017
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gronostaj
gronostaj
Posts: 372

20 days ago
Hello, developer! I'm sorry what I said about your game reminding me of these "wake up sheeple this is the world we live in" illustrations, I'm all for harsh critique but no one deserves to hear something this vile (; I actually played the demo today and decided I was pleasantly wrong there. Unlike people who draw these kinds of hm, "art", you seem like a very self-aware creator- maybe a little too self-aware, honestly. at the end of the day, sensitive subject or not, it is just a game.

I cringed when I saw the "made with unity" screen, and was also pleasantly proven wrong in my first impression- unlike a lot of games developed on free unity, yours has a clean, intuitive interface and frankly astonishingly low amount of bugs. one of the things that irked me though was small amount of setting choices in the in-game menu- for example, i couldn't find a sound level setting, which is desperately needed because that blaring noise that comes with every new turn (or possibly it's the messages that make that noise?) is making my very irritable dog lift his head and give me an offended look every few minutes. the music, though a pleasant enough jingle, also got old after a while- it'd be nice to be able to mute it without muting the entire computer (or re-starting the game to get into the pre-boot settings menu), so as to put some background music on.

the other interface-related comment is that i'd really, really appreciate a country list, or even arrows at the sides of country menus to easily switch between the countries- the grabbing and spinning of the globe to find the country i want to interfere with got tiring really quickly. and speaking of interfering with countries, while the tutorial was really user-friendly and non-irritating (a true rarity), it could have a slightly quicker pace- the mechanics of laws and politics interferences are vital, and it'd be good to know about them bit earlier than they are currently introduced.

that aside, i set out to make horryfying abominations in my labs, and brought AI into golden age of cybernetic god-hood, then i got utterly surprised that this strategy game includes romance (we had a nice few dinners with that journalist, until she learned that i won that one healthcare lawsuit against my employees which. she didn't like.), then i plunged north africa into chaos and destruction only to appear as their new corporate lord and saviour (as my lawyers like to say, "war crimes" are a relative term), and then i got assassinated at the ripe age of 48, just a few days before i finished a research into a way to achieve immortality.

[spoiler]

guess who's sleeping on the couch
[/spoiler]

which could be the end, but the game didn't recognize my death (bug?) and i merrily went on- straight into bankrupcy. Now, there's a problem, as there's a certain limbo one can fall into, when you go so bankrupt that you can't launch any products, have nothing left to sell, have no employees to fire, can't even take a loan- but the game keeps going. There needs to be some border of bankrupcy that player can cross and lose the game, otherwise they can get stuck forever. And sure, they can just realize they're stuck and quit, but it doesn't feel very satysfying.

passionario made some excellent points, though i am a little sceptical if even the most tear-stained tragic personal events are going to make players feel that kind of remorse over their choices you seem to be looking for. this seems to be primarily a strategy game- and during long play sessions of strategy games, a lot of players tend to fall into sort of a "flow", where they skim over the text of system messages and don't really overthink the content of the messages outside of their gameplay-related value. If you're really looking to make a point rather than simply provide some entertainment, you might've chosen a wrong genre.

the slippery slope thing is an amazing one though. i love negative character development in which a character doesn't become evil due to some big event in their life (like having their family killed or something), but rather through a series of wrong choices, moral compromises, escalating stakes that, in their eyes, force them to respond in an also escalating way... delicious, really delicious. i remember playing planescape:torment as an evil nameless one and finding it novel and oddly cathartic. similarly in a recent rpg from obsidian, tyranny, where the evil does feels both brutal and strangely impersonal, bureaucratic. i mean sure, you can feed a newborn baby to your lady werewolf companion, but you're doing this for the good of the empire. and its people. probably.

it's not a coincidence that these types of things come up most often in rpgs (congratulations to shooters for spec ops:the line though, except that one thing that player was forced to do by the linear scenario and then the game went off like "you're a bad person". i know "there was no alternative" is an excuse too common in real world, but that one just came off as bad design.) rather than other genres.

gamers have some notions and habits relating to their favourite genres. Those who buy and play an rpg game, are likely ready to really read that wall of text and think about it. people who buy and play strategies... well, they often think about gameplay first, context later. (notable exception, i played a ww2 strategy that, aside from normal things like troops movement, had lots of making personal decisions about your soldiers and your behaviour and conduct and interactions with your country's leader, which, by the way, as the player was a general from either soviet russia or nazi germany, were truly an excruciating experience.)

jamesPatton wrote:
I wonder, though, is there a better way to make the ending an expression of player choice rather than a determiner of it?

you might consider making certain agendas mutually exclusive, so that the player choices there will determine the kind of ending they get, however, i'd be careful with that. beware of locking the player into an ending too early, or shoe-horning them onto a certain path.

--
Gronostaj (pl. Ermine), a decadent duellist of mysterious and indistinct gender. Seeker. Willing to die- but not of boredom. Open to all social actions, including the harmful ones.
Soft-Spoken Surgeon, a doctor who owes an onerous debt. Professor of medicine at the University by day, at criminal employ by night. Open to all non-harmful social actions.
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jamesPatton
jamesPatton
Posts: 5

18 days ago
@Frederick: Ah, you found Sam! I was hoping players would respond like that. smile

@gronostaj: No problem, I agree the game would be dull if it were a "wake up sheeple" thing. And yes, I might be too obsessed with this stuff :P

I'm glad you had a good experience overall! Sorry about sound - I still have to figure out the best way of adding volume sliders with unity. They will absolutely be in the final game, don't worry, it's just a matter of exploring unity's audio system.

And sorry I disturbed your doggo! XD


Yes to both your suggestions: the game NEEDS a quick way to switch countries (I like the arrows idea), and the tutorial is way too long but doesn't tell you everything you need to know. The first part of the tutorial is just to ground you, and will be taken out when I can replace it with a better framing device. Later parts of the tutorial - especially politics - will also come in sooner, or when you need them. You're not the first playtester to complain that they needed laws NOW, but the tutorial didn't explain it for another 10 turns or so; I think I'll explain laws as soon as you finish researching an illegal product.

Oh, um, yeah, the game has no endings right now. It's still kind of a prototype in that I haven't actually built the end-screen yet, so the "END_GAME" function just... doesn't do anything? But rest assured, your death (and eventual victory) would result in an actual "the game is over" type screen.

As far as failure goes, you can borrow up to a certain limit. Your debt grows slowly over time. If your debt reaches twice your borrowing limit, you lose. But, maybe I should have some other, more accelerated kind of failure too?

And I see what you mean about strategy players skipping text and not engaging with the tear-streaked letters from wounded family members - but my philosophy is, ok, sure, there are players who want that emotional experience and there are others who just want to play to win. The game can accommodate both. My goal is not "Make every player into a wonderful person" or even "Give every player the feels": games are, by their nature, played differently for different reasons. But I'd like to put those emotional moments in, when the victims are allowed to speak, so that at least that's in the game. What players do with that is up to them. smile
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gronostaj
gronostaj
Posts: 372

16 days ago
jamesPatton wrote:

And sorry I disturbed your doggo! XD

the four-legged furry lord of this household graciously forgives thee for thy trespass. as dogs tend to do (;


the "END_GAME" function just... doesn't do anything? [...] If your debt reaches twice your borrowing limit, you lose. But, maybe I should have some other, more accelerated kind of failure too?

this explains why i've been able to get to debt sized like five times over my borrowing limit without the ending. for me, it seems like a sufficient amount of losing the game conditions.

whether you should add another kinds of failures depends entirely on whether you plan on adding different difficulty levels for players to choose from. if you did, then you might consider adding, on a "hard" level difficulty, some danger of, for example, being fired by the board of the directors; for example, if you fail to implement some agendas in a long time, making the company "stagnant", or if some of your scandals are exposed (like the black ops or even your "friendship" with a journalist), just to add more challenge.

also if you were to add a difficulty slider, you might also make the rival company more of a threat, 'cause for the moment, it's not really that threatening (though of course, that should come a little later in the game, once the player has already established a mildly successful corpo.) and a memorable, difficult opponent (or opponents) is sort of a staple of the strategy genre.

my philosophy is, ok, sure, there are players who want that emotional experience and there are others who just want to play to win. The game can accommodate both. My goal is not "Make every player into a wonderful person" or even "Give every player the feels": games are, by their nature, played differently for different reasons. But I'd like to put those emotional moments in, when the victims are allowed to speak, so that at least that's in the game. What players do with that is up to them. smile


hm. has anyone ever told you that you could make a career in diplomacy? because you could (;

--
Gronostaj (pl. Ermine), a decadent duellist of mysterious and indistinct gender. Seeker. Willing to die- but not of boredom. Open to all social actions, including the harmful ones.
Soft-Spoken Surgeon, a doctor who owes an onerous debt. Professor of medicine at the University by day, at criminal employ by night. Open to all non-harmful social actions.
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Amsfield
Amsfield
Posts: 163

16 days ago
I'm basically enjoying the game. Couple of bugs (like I paid to redesign the nanny twice and I've had it pop up three times) but I'm guessing they'll get ironed out for the final release. Couple of features that would be nice are the ability to list countries by culture, like ranked most public to privet, and count of how many times I've relaunched various products in each country. My main problem is the pacing is a little slow. Like, I've completed all the objectives toward victory except the last, and am not sure I can actually be bothered finishing the laborious process of edging every country along the slow process to chaos in order to impose totalitarian one party states. It's not much faster to promote a popular party to 80% popularity. Given that I'm only a couple years from firing my now useless workforce once the last R&D projects finish up I still feel a long way from the finish line and I'm not even on my first body swap. I'd agree that the rival company could be punched up too, it was exciting when they were introduced but several years later they are only at 15% vulnerability and still static otherwise.

I know that seems like I didn't like the game, but I do find it really engaging. I particularly enjoy the fairly unique cyberpunk distopia you present, where people are basically forced to give up autonomy by convenience and to remain employed as I replace them with AI. I've found that I've started to take vaguely moral choices because its really cheap, despite playing as an amoral monster.

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Quiet, thoughtful and possibly mad. Excellent listener though. Favours grey.
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jamesPatton
jamesPatton
Posts: 5

9 days ago
Hi guys, thanks for the feedback smile
Sorry this response was a long time coming, turns out Kickstarter is a lot of work :P

gronostaj: I don't really want to add different difficulty levels, but I would like to make the game become easier if it's too hard, and vice versa. Players can already kind of "self-select" a hard mode by deciding to go for the humane ending anyway, and when I play a game like EU4 or a Total War title it feels weird to tweak the numbers behind the scenes to make it harder or easier; that just feels to me like the simulation is just a bunch of numbers anyway, so it undermines the whole point for me. But, I do like the idea of having the board think about firing you if you don't do so well; that's something I'm currently designing on paper and would like to see in some form in the next beta build.

What is easy about the rival corps right now? Is it that you can just click the "spend more resources" button every time, so there's never any real challenge to it? Or is the problem actually the way the rival system is presented, as a series of binary button choices?

It's precisely because I understand this stuff that I don't want a career in politics wink

Amsfield: thanks for flagging those bugs, I'll put them in my bug list. Yeah, it would be handy to list countries by culture; not sure what the best way to do that is, but that's a UI challenge more than anything else.

Oh, god yes. Lots of people have pointed out that when you get to the endgame it just takes FOREVER to topple regimes. (I cannot believe I just typed that.) I'm going to introduce more ways to increase chaos, so that doesn't take so long. I'd also like to find ways to switch a country from one gov type to another without having to go through the whole chaos thing.

Glad you like it! I might have to make those moral-ish choices tougher, though :P
+4 link
gronostaj
gronostaj
Posts: 372

8 days ago
jamesPatton wrote:
What is easy about the rival corps right now? Is it that you can just click the "spend more resources" button every time, so there's never any real challenge to it? Or is the problem actually the way the rival system is presented, as a series of binary button choices?

for one, the rival feels sort of.... tacked on at the moment. It's just a random name, with a random logo, and the "rivalry" feels insignificant; more like dumb bad luck happening to the company, like people discovering CEO's shady business with the ops, than actual memorable opponent.

which is not necessarily a bad thing, because a stronger, more engaging opponent might... muddy the waters and distract from the actual capitalism part of the game. then again, after finishing all of the research, there isn't all that much to do, other than toppling governments, so it might be a welcome diversion in the endgame, and make for a more diverse, less predictable playthroughs... i don't know. you're the dev, you decide (;

if you were to crank up the whole rivalry, then could use some variety; one solution would be to have several rivals of varying power levels to make things more interesting and realistic. Another to, possibly, add black ops interactions with rival(s); different rivals having different weaknesses (like society and military points weaknesses), but i'd fear balancing and tweaking this whole system so as to not make the rivalry frustrating might be a challenge. figuring out some use of employees against the rival would also be very good, because again, there isn't much to do with them specifically after the researches are finished, other than to fire them.

another angle could be to add story-like interactions, much like with the journalist. judging by the comments here, sam was very well received. possibly some sort of passive-agressive mean emails or tweets or whatever is that CEOs fling at each other instead of bricks like we, poor people, do.
It's precisely because I understand this stuff that I don't want a career in politics wink

think about it. a soon-to-be full-fledged diplomat known to me says the caviar canapés make it all worth it in the end

--
Gronostaj (pl. Ermine), a decadent duellist of mysterious and indistinct gender. Seeker. Willing to die- but not of boredom. Open to all social actions, including the harmful ones.
Soft-Spoken Surgeon, a doctor who owes an onerous debt. Professor of medicine at the University by day, at criminal employ by night. Open to all non-harmful social actions.
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Anne Auclair
Anne Auclair
Posts: 1756

6 days ago
Spin is only 600 pounds away from meeting its Kickstarter goal. Five days to go.

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gronostaj
gronostaj
Posts: 372

6 days ago
Anne Auclair wrote:
Spin is only 600 pounds away from meeting its Kickstarter goal. Five days to go.

as of now, it's funded! congratulations, dear self-aware developer.

--
Gronostaj (pl. Ermine), a decadent duellist of mysterious and indistinct gender. Seeker. Willing to die- but not of boredom. Open to all social actions, including the harmful ones.
Soft-Spoken Surgeon, a doctor who owes an onerous debt. Professor of medicine at the University by day, at criminal employ by night. Open to all non-harmful social actions.
+2 link
Anne Auclair
Anne Auclair
Posts: 1756

6 days ago
gronostaj wrote:
Anne Auclair wrote:
Spin is only 600 pounds away from meeting its Kickstarter goal. Five days to go.

as of now, it's funded! congratulations, dear self-aware developer.

Now there's a stretch goal.

*******************************************************************************

A new stretch goal: colonising the moon!

The moon's just sitting there: hanging in the sky like an empy lot, or unclaimed real-estate. Doesn't that seem like a waste? Don't you just want to...
  • Build a theme park there and extort millions from hapless tourists?
  • Turn it into a giant billboard, visible every night from Earth?
  • Stock it with missiles, weapons and lasers and create your own Death Star?
Well, now you can! Or, rather, you will be able to if we make it to €12,000!

These are just some generic ideas, and I don't know if these exact plans will make it into the game, but a lot of people have said that colonising the moon would be a delicious dash of scifi weirdness on top of the dystopian cyberpunk cake. I'd love to make it happen, and I really hope we make that stretch goal so it can become a reality!

To be clear, I still want to add lots of other features, mechanics and content to the base game as well as tweaks and polish, but I wanted to be able to say "If we get THIS far, you will definitely get THIS thing."
.
edited by Anne Auclair on 12/8/2017

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jamesPatton
jamesPatton
Posts: 5

5 days ago
WOOOOOOOP, the game is funded!!! Big Grin I HAVE ALL THE HAPPIES.

Ahem.

gronostaj: All good ideas for the rivalry system, thanks! The single biggest problem with rivalries, to be honest, is how much time I want to sink into them. I could go all out and create a parallel system of other corps doing research, but that would take time and I don't think it would add much to the game. So I think I have to be smart and spawn events that feel like your rival is an actual game entity even though they're not right now. The current system isn't really there yet, though, and I like all your suggestions.

Anne: thank you for the post update! Sorry I don't come round here too often, so many places to post O_O
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