The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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  1. - Top - End - #91
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    Default Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

    Quote Originally Posted by Deadly View Post
    I think I'm coming around to the idea that it's a trap to let a story linger in your mind for too long without writing it.

    I'm writing this story that I've wanted to write for three years or something now. At this point, it's not just a neat idea that I want to write, it's a parasite demanding absolute creative control and oversight. Like, it's not just about writing a story based on some premise I liked, it has to be this exact story that I thought of years ago, this exact way, or I won't be happy. Consequently it will take me forever to write it.

    I get lots of half-formed ideas and random premises for stories that I'd love to just sit down and write, spur-of-the-moment. But I can't, because this parasite of a story has taken over my mind and won't let go of me until I've labored to produce it exactly to specification. If not for this old and gnarled story spreading its roots in my brain, I could take some simple premise like ... idk, "fairies fighting an apocalyptic war against dwarves" and just write some awesome adventure story with nothing but that as my seed, without worrying about producing some specific idealized vision. It would just be whatever story came out of that premise, and maybe it would be awesome, maybe not.

    Stories should not be allowed to linger. They need to be written as soon as possible, because every day they aren't written, they become more and more unattainable. They become sort of ideals of the perfect story, because you've had so much time to imagine them in perfect splendor instead of just writing them and accepting them however they turn out.
    I'm not sure I agree. My example is Yours Truly - I carried that story around in my head from the early days of the pony community. Thought it through, imagined the shape and feel of it, kept pushing it back because I wasn't good enough to do it justice. When I was planning it I was convinced that it was a Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy story 100%; I visualized the shape of the letters, how the looked and felt, where tears had smudged the ink... it was years before I sat down and wrote it.

    And the second I started writing it the story told me to go f*ck myself because it was really a Twilight/Applejack story and everything else was a sideshow.

    And I think that's just how it is. Manifesting an idea changes it. And sometimes - often! - the physical laws of shape and gravity make perfect ideas collapse under their own weight. But in the wreckage invariably you find the shapes of ideas that do work.

    As an interesting sideline, this has never happened to me in a PBP. I've had brilliant ideas planned for years, run a PBP of them and had them be just as brilliant as I imagined them. And I don't think anything's different except the built in acceptance that the story isn't entirely yours.


    In a practical sense, I sidled over to the Tomb Regiment like I suggested I might and found a really compelling opening there (combined with other recent thoughts I've been having it's like, what would Starship Troopers be like from the bugs' perspective?). Maybe this is what the story was always meant to be.
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  2. - Top - End - #92
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    Default Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    I'm not sure I agree. My example is Yours Truly - I carried that story around in my head from the early days of the pony community. Thought it through, imagined the shape and feel of it, kept pushing it back because I wasn't good enough to do it justice. When I was planning it I was convinced that it was a Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy story 100%; I visualized the shape of the letters, how the looked and felt, where tears had smudged the ink... it was years before I sat down and wrote it.

    And the second I started writing it the story told me to go f*ck myself because it was really a Twilight/Applejack story and everything else was a sideshow.

    And I think that's just how it is. Manifesting an idea changes it. And sometimes - often! - the physical laws of shape and gravity make perfect ideas collapse under their own weight. But in the wreckage invariably you find the shapes of ideas that do work.

    As an interesting sideline, this has never happened to me in a PBP. I've had brilliant ideas planned for years, run a PBP of them and had them be just as brilliant as I imagined them. And I don't think anything's different except the built in acceptance that the story isn't entirely yours.
    I don't mean the story doesn't change or reveal something new. I learn something new about this story and its characters all the time as I write it, and that's great. If I didn't, I probably wouldn't be compelled to keep going. But there's like a core that never changes, or only puts on a bit of makeup and clothes to look different, but underneath it's still the same story. Yours Truly went from Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy to Twilight and AJ, but it was still the same story, right? It wasn't that you suddenly realized you wanted to write a different story entirely, you just wanted to dress it up different.

    And maybe it depends on the story, I dunno, but I think letting them linger can be a trap. Not that they become impossible, I still feel confident that I'll finally pull off this story the way I want it (with enough work), and I'm still enthusiastic about it, but compared to much of the stuff I used to write, it feels less spontaneous somehow. More like I'm trying to aim for a vision than just writing a story.

  3. - Top - End - #93
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    Default Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

    Quote Originally Posted by Deadly View Post
    I don't mean the story doesn't change or reveal something new. I learn something new about this story and its characters all the time as I write it, and that's great. If I didn't, I probably wouldn't be compelled to keep going. But there's like a core that never changes, or only puts on a bit of makeup and clothes to look different, but underneath it's still the same story. Yours Truly went from Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy to Twilight and AJ, but it was still the same story, right? It wasn't that you suddenly realized you wanted to write a different story entirely, you just wanted to dress it up different.

    And maybe it depends on the story, I dunno, but I think letting them linger can be a trap. Not that they become impossible, I still feel confident that I'll finally pull off this story the way I want it (with enough work), and I'm still enthusiastic about it, but compared to much of the stuff I used to write, it feels less spontaneous somehow. More like I'm trying to aim for a vision than just writing a story.
    Hmm, yeah I actually kind of see what you're saying. Trying to aim for a vision than writing a story. That's a really good way to put it that cuts right through to the heart of why I'm having trouble.

    Based on this thought I decided to try discarding all my visuals and weird flavourful setting stuff and instead do something which was just about the main characters and their dynamic and you're right, now it feels like a story in a way none of the previous drafts did. Was everything a distraction from the central relationship? It's possible. I might have had to scourge away ideas I love in order to get at the idea the story was truly about. We'll see if I can sustain this approach.
    Roses are red,
    Violets are blue,
    Omae wa mo shinderu

  4. - Top - End - #94
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    Default Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    Hmm, yeah I actually kind of see what you're saying. Trying to aim for a vision than writing a story. That's a really good way to put it that cuts right through to the heart of why I'm having trouble.

    Based on this thought I decided to try discarding all my visuals and weird flavourful setting stuff and instead do something which was just about the main characters and their dynamic and you're right, now it feels like a story in a way none of the previous drafts did. Was everything a distraction from the central relationship? It's possible. I might have had to scourge away ideas I love in order to get at the idea the story was truly about. We'll see if I can sustain this approach.
    I have no idea if we're dealing with the same issues, but if it helps you in any way, that's great. Always glad to help

  5. - Top - End - #95
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    Default Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

    Quote Originally Posted by Deadly View Post
    I have no idea if we're dealing with the same issues, but if it helps you in any way, that's great. Always glad to help
    Yeah this is working out much better. I capitulated on a bunch of stuff like:
    - The entire setting
    - Writing in third person
    - Trying to not be funny
    - Not making modern references
    - Not being Mage

    The Mage angle has been lurking in my head since I started this thing. Just quietly sitting there saying, 'I'm not saying it has to be mage, but I'm just going to be here for when you decide to make it mage'. So now it's just a weird gnostic stream of consciousness from Idelle where I'm stylistically ripping off Raz Fox as hard as I can and it's working great.
    Roses are red,
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    Omae wa mo shinderu

  6. - Top - End - #96
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    Default Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    where I'm stylistically ripping off Raz Fox as hard as I can and it's working great.
    I mean, you really can't go wrong doing that.
    School Fox by Atlur

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    Anarion's right on the money here.
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  7. - Top - End - #97
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    Default Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

    Okay great! The warmup is done!

    Today's session was recalibration, future planning, and cramming all the useless garbage I had written so far into a shape resembling an actual story. I used the hero's journey framework because why not it works I guess. I'm actually pretty chuffed at this, this is a plan now, a plan with steps.

    I think I decided to do this when I got some very clear writing instructions at work and consequentially found the writing almost trivially easy. After then taking the time to give myself some unambiguous orders seems like the correct move. I am chuffed! Chuffed and ready!
    Roses are red,
    Violets are blue,
    Omae wa mo shinderu

  8. - Top - End - #98
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    Okay great! The warmup is done!

    Today's session was recalibration, future planning, and cramming all the useless garbage I had written so far into a shape resembling an actual story. I used the hero's journey framework because why not it works I guess. I'm actually pretty chuffed at this, this is a plan now, a plan with steps.

    I think I decided to do this when I got some very clear writing instructions at work and consequentially found the writing almost trivially easy. After then taking the time to give myself some unambiguous orders seems like the correct move. I am chuffed! Chuffed and ready!
    I'm sort of flat-lining right now. I've got the first five-ish chapters. It's a mess, but it's a mess I feel confident I could distill and refine into a fine brew at this point. Which is great and should mean I can finally blaze ahead with the rest of the story. Except there's just a vast and open desert ahead, and no road to follow. What road is there are just fragments scattered all over the desert. I finally know how my story begins, and I have some notion of what the end looks like if not the exact ending, but there's a vast emptiness in between.

  9. - Top - End - #99
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    Default Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

    Quote Originally Posted by Deadly View Post
    I'm sort of flat-lining right now. I've got the first five-ish chapters. It's a mess, but it's a mess I feel confident I could distill and refine into a fine brew at this point. Which is great and should mean I can finally blaze ahead with the rest of the story. Except there's just a vast and open desert ahead, and no road to follow. What road is there are just fragments scattered all over the desert. I finally know how my story begins, and I have some notion of what the end looks like if not the exact ending, but there's a vast emptiness in between.
    I found just crowbaring it into the standard hollywood heroes journey formulae helped a LOT - that's my expensive arts degree coming in handy. Basically introduction, bad guy does a thing, ordinary day, resisting the call, mentor, weird adventures, mentor dies, depression, resurgence, showdown, victory. Have you tried doing something like that?

    Alternately consider just blamming out a bunch of disconnected scenes and long rambling conversations with the most jagged and clunky of transitions just to get better ideas of how the characters work together and what they really believe.
    Roses are red,
    Violets are blue,
    Omae wa mo shinderu

  10. - Top - End - #100
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    Default Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    I found just crowbaring it into the standard hollywood heroes journey formulae helped a LOT - that's my expensive arts degree coming in handy. Basically introduction, bad guy does a thing, ordinary day, resisting the call, mentor, weird adventures, mentor dies, depression, resurgence, showdown, victory. Have you tried doing something like that?
    Hmm. Not intentionally, but I see I've got something like the first few at least. My problem is probably that my story is far too complex for its own good. Probably nothing to do but soldier on. I'll get it done, I swear it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    Alternately consider just blamming out a bunch of disconnected scenes and long rambling conversations with the most jagged and clunky of transitions just to get better ideas of how the characters work together and what they really believe.
    I've done a little, but I'm honestly not good at writing disconnected scenes, and I don't seem to get much from them either. It's the connections I struggle with most, the characters I've got, so just writing the characters and not thinking of the connections gives me very little.

  11. - Top - End - #101
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    Alright! Today's output may not have been breathtaking, but that's okay, because I managed to pave a pretty decent road right through that desert, so now it's clear sailing most of the way.

    I now have an outline of most of the story. It's going to consist of three parts of about ten chapters each, give or take. I still need to figure out how exactly part one ends, and the last half of part three, but crucially I managed to figure out the middle part completely, which is what has really been holding me back.

    From here on out it's full gas, straight ahead! I'm gonna blast right through that finish line I am.

  12. - Top - End - #102
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    Slogging away. Making progress. Playtesting story elements. Did you know I have no idea how to run an evil corporation? Somehow that's never come up in any of my games so far.


    Anyway I just had an awesome idea for a video game. The key thought: In strategy games, espionage tends to be a bolted-on extra, often added as an expansion pack or something. What if espionage was part of the core gameplay?

    Concept: Two powerful 21st century rival nations, vaguely China and America, vying for economic and political dominance. The new avaunt garde style of information warfare and cyberespionage.

    There are two types of labs, military and commercial. Each lab can be assigned to work on a piece of future tech - social media, robotics, cybernetics, whatever.
    You have no idea what each technology does. Each piece of tech has a variety of benefits and consequences, partially randomized at game start. For example, robotics might give a small boost to the economy and an enormous boost to social unrest, meaning if you just blindly release it to the public as soon as you've developed the technology you could create a disaster.
    Each piece of technology has two sets of uses - the use a military can put it to and the use civilians can put it to. Stuff that comes out through the military labs has a good idea of the military applications, stuff that comes through the commercial labs has a better idea of the civilian applications. Research always tells you what the upsides are before the downsides.
    The longer a tech stays in R&D the more control you have over it - you can discover more of the possible ramifications, or even work on reducing the negative consequences of the rollout.

    So in this game, technology is always a risk, and one you don't fully understand the consequences of unleashing. However, you can't just take your time and be safe because if your rival rolls the dice on a risky technology and it pays off you'll be at a deficit.

    The layer that interacts with the research system is the agent layer. Agents are also two types, commercial and intelligence. Commercial agents represent your state-industrial complex and can push the distribution of new technologies in your nation, their nation or in the wider world. Intelligence agents do a variety of stuff but mainly safeguarding or infiltrating enemy labs.

    There are two stats for each tech:
    - Regulation: Player controlled, this is a range of restrictions ranging from 'banned', 'intelligence agents only', 'military only', 'restricted commercial', 'commercial'.
    - Spread: This is based on who actually has the technology in a region. It ranges from 'top secret' to 'ubiquitous'. So you might try and ban AI in a world where literally everyone can access the information on how to make an AI. Intelligence agents can work to spread or contain the spread of technology.

    So it's possible that, say, one nation develops a tech with massive social destabilizing consequences. They activate their commercial agents and try to spread it in the rival nation. The rival activates their intelligence agents to contain it but they're too late, banning is no longer feasible, so they have to grudgingly settle for restricted commercial legislation while working on a counter-tech.

    It could also be a case where one nation notices a rival aggressively pushing an unknown tech and reflexively bans it in response. Turns out that they just banned a tech with only good effects and set their research back years while the rival reaps the benefits uncontested.


    So it's a game about calculated risks, brinkmanship and information control. The tension between the economic benefits of a free society and the risks of unregulated technological rollout. Cyberpunk from the perspective of the Megacorps.

    Now I just need to find a games studio to pitch it to!
    Roses are red,
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  13. - Top - End - #103
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    Okay, so I think I've messed up irrecoverably. All my ideas have collapsed and the words that I have barfed forth isn't anything even vaguely resembling a story at this point. I could keep shoving but I'm sensing the burnout cliff looming and I really don't need that at this exact moment. The writing itself is trending increasingly towards existentialism so I'm going to call it at 50% and go back to the drawing board.

    That's not to say this process wasn't valuable! Not only did it teach me a bunch of simple, practical writing habits to get into, it really showed me exactly what sort of planning, specifically, I need to do before I can actually embark on a story like this. I need a whole lot more structure in what I write and, above all, I need to figure out exactly what the theme and message of the story is. I've been radically torn between so many different genres and I think my recent foray into sci-fi really messed me up in particular.

    So yeah. I've had to look practicality in the face and, in the spirit of this thread, the only way to learn is to fail, fail magnificently, fail often. I am going to come back to this stronger and smarter and better prepared right now this year is over.
    Roses are red,
    Violets are blue,
    Omae wa mo shinderu

  14. - Top - End - #104
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    Okay, so I think I've messed up irrecoverably. All my ideas have collapsed and the words that I have barfed forth isn't anything even vaguely resembling a story at this point. I could keep shoving but I'm sensing the burnout cliff looming and I really don't need that at this exact moment. The writing itself is trending increasingly towards existentialism so I'm going to call it at 50% and go back to the drawing board.

    That's not to say this process wasn't valuable! Not only did it teach me a bunch of simple, practical writing habits to get into, it really showed me exactly what sort of planning, specifically, I need to do before I can actually embark on a story like this. I need a whole lot more structure in what I write and, above all, I need to figure out exactly what the theme and message of the story is. I've been radically torn between so many different genres and I think my recent foray into sci-fi really messed me up in particular.

    So yeah. I've had to look practicality in the face and, in the spirit of this thread, the only way to learn is to fail, fail magnificently, fail often. I am going to come back to this stronger and smarter and better prepared right now this year is over.
    Aw, that's a shame. But hopefully you can use what you learned to good effect.

    In my experience, the words you write for NaNoWriMo will always be a total, useless mess that you'll probably discard completely on December 1 and never look back on. But the hope is that you learn a ton about the story, and about writing, that you would never have learned by simply thinking about it, that you only learned because you sat down and wrote a ton of useless words. Last year I didn't even manage that; I just ended up with a lot of useless words and nothing really learned from it. This year I feel much more successful. The words are still crap, no two ways about it, but I have learned so much about the story that for the first time in the years I've spent thinking about it, I feel like I actually know what the story is.

    You tend to hit a point, usually somewhere around half-way through, where you don't see much point in continuing. I'm at that same point, but for a different reason. I'm there because now I can't wait for November to end so I can get serious and write the real story, not this silly crap. For me, I suspect it's a trap. I'll certainly keep going all month, to 50k and maybe beyond, however far I make it, just to see how much more I can learn about the story before I get serious.

  15. - Top - End - #105
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deadly View Post
    Aw, that's a shame. But hopefully you can use what you learned to good effect.

    In my experience, the words you write for NaNoWriMo will always be a total, useless mess that you'll probably discard completely on December 1 and never look back on. But the hope is that you learn a ton about the story, and about writing, that you would never have learned by simply thinking about it, that you only learned because you sat down and wrote a ton of useless words. Last year I didn't even manage that; I just ended up with a lot of useless words and nothing really learned from it. This year I feel much more successful. The words are still crap, no two ways about it, but I have learned so much about the story that for the first time in the years I've spent thinking about it, I feel like I actually know what the story is.

    You tend to hit a point, usually somewhere around half-way through, where you don't see much point in continuing. I'm at that same point, but for a different reason. I'm there because now I can't wait for November to end so I can get serious and write the real story, not this silly crap. For me, I suspect it's a trap. I'll certainly keep going all month, to 50k and maybe beyond, however far I make it, just to see how much more I can learn about the story before I get serious.
    Yeah, this is all congruent with my experiences. I've definitely learned a tonne about story writing, and really importantly, what story I WANT to write. I definitely don't regret the process and may do things like this constantly throughout the year.

    If it were just a willpower thing I could easily keep going, though! The decision to stop comes from 1) the story constantly starting and stopping and redefining itself in genre and style 2) not having an idea to wrap the story around. Basically I need to make a really big couple of decisions about the basic nature of the story that I didn't know I needed to make before now, and I need to spend some time thinking about it.
    Roses are red,
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  16. - Top - End - #106
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    Default Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

    Day TWO THOUSAAAAAND AND ONNNNNEEEEE: horse art

    Oh yeah, I do art!

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    Roses are red,
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  17. - Top - End - #107
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    Day 2015: Screw 2016

    Oh hey, something good happened! Previously my @ and " keys were reversed for some incomprehensible reason but now they're back to normal.

    My current project is called The Crazy Book. It's a huge journal-like book that I'm filling with all kinds of crazy illustrations, incomprehensible symbols, Time Cube style ranting and occasional moments of lucidity. A bit like a handwritten House of Leaves. It's pretty rad and is my current big drawing project.

    Other than that I'm finding myself really blanking on things I want to draw. I think I'm gonna push towards crazy 40K styles for the immediate future because I can find a fair bit of inspiration there.

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    Last edited by Thanqol; 2016-12-03 at 11:48 PM.
    Roses are red,
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  18. - Top - End - #108
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    Default Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

    Day 2036 Horse Sizes

    What size is your horse

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  19. - Top - End - #109
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    Default Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    What size is your horse


    If we put a height chart behind them, this can also caption as "The Usual Suspects". :3
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  20. - Top - End - #110
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    Slogging away. Making progress. Playtesting story elements. Did you know I have no idea how to run an evil corporation? Somehow that's never come up in any of my games so far.


    Anyway I just had an awesome idea for a video game. The key thought: In strategy games, espionage tends to be a bolted-on extra, often added as an expansion pack or something. What if espionage was part of the core gameplay?

    Concept: Two powerful 21st century rival nations, vaguely China and America, vying for economic and political dominance. The new avaunt garde style of information warfare and cyberespionage.

    There are two types of labs, military and commercial. Each lab can be assigned to work on a piece of future tech - social media, robotics, cybernetics, whatever.
    You have no idea what each technology does. Each piece of tech has a variety of benefits and consequences, partially randomized at game start. For example, robotics might give a small boost to the economy and an enormous boost to social unrest, meaning if you just blindly release it to the public as soon as you've developed the technology you could create a disaster.
    Each piece of technology has two sets of uses - the use a military can put it to and the use civilians can put it to. Stuff that comes out through the military labs has a good idea of the military applications, stuff that comes through the commercial labs has a better idea of the civilian applications. Research always tells you what the upsides are before the downsides.
    The longer a tech stays in R&D the more control you have over it - you can discover more of the possible ramifications, or even work on reducing the negative consequences of the rollout.

    So in this game, technology is always a risk, and one you don't fully understand the consequences of unleashing. However, you can't just take your time and be safe because if your rival rolls the dice on a risky technology and it pays off you'll be at a deficit.

    The layer that interacts with the research system is the agent layer. Agents are also two types, commercial and intelligence. Commercial agents represent your state-industrial complex and can push the distribution of new technologies in your nation, their nation or in the wider world. Intelligence agents do a variety of stuff but mainly safeguarding or infiltrating enemy labs.

    There are two stats for each tech:
    - Regulation: Player controlled, this is a range of restrictions ranging from 'banned', 'intelligence agents only', 'military only', 'restricted commercial', 'commercial'.
    - Spread: This is based on who actually has the technology in a region. It ranges from 'top secret' to 'ubiquitous'. So you might try and ban AI in a world where literally everyone can access the information on how to make an AI. Intelligence agents can work to spread or contain the spread of technology.

    So it's possible that, say, one nation develops a tech with massive social destabilizing consequences. They activate their commercial agents and try to spread it in the rival nation. The rival activates their intelligence agents to contain it but they're too late, banning is no longer feasible, so they have to grudgingly settle for restricted commercial legislation while working on a counter-tech.

    It could also be a case where one nation notices a rival aggressively pushing an unknown tech and reflexively bans it in response. Turns out that they just banned a tech with only good effects and set their research back years while the rival reaps the benefits uncontested.


    So it's a game about calculated risks, brinkmanship and information control. The tension between the economic benefits of a free society and the risks of unregulated technological rollout. Cyberpunk from the perspective of the Megacorps.

    Now I just need to find a games studio to pitch it to!
    I like where this is going. The individual systems are easy to understand, and interact in ways that naturally create the tension you're going for. And I think you're nailing the Megacorp fantasy. I can see somebody playing this game, and withholding the cure to cancer because strategy reasons.

    If you ever want to pursue this, why not make a paper prototype? This sounds like the sort of game that could be hashed out in physical form. Also let me know if you do more work on this, I make vidjeo games and all that

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    My horse is exactly .87 horses tall.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate View Post
    I like where this is going. The individual systems are easy to understand, and interact in ways that naturally create the tension you're going for. And I think you're nailing the Megacorp fantasy. I can see somebody playing this game, and withholding the cure to cancer because strategy reasons.

    If you ever want to pursue this, why not make a paper prototype? This sounds like the sort of game that could be hashed out in physical form. Also let me know if you do more work on this, I make vidjeo games and all that
    So the problem with a paper prototype is:
    A) I don't know enough about board games to understand the intricacies of good balance and design. I could learn but it'd be a huge project to do on my own. (Doesn't mean I won't do it, I'd just need to be pushed a little)
    B) There's a lot of granularity between hidden and public information that'd take a lot of thinking on how to solve. Although just raising that question makes me understand how to solve some of them actually. But in general it's much more convenient if a computer can do all the math offscreen.

    If you actually want to sign up and make vidjagames with me, well, you know that I'm not just an ideas guy and will totally pull my weight. As there aren't a lot of moving parts it's not going to be a profoundly difficult thing to code.

    EDIT: I am totally serious on this; I have a degree in entrepreneurship and small team management and I'm made for this kind of stuff.

    My horse is exactly .87 horses tall.

    Who are all these characters?
    These guys. My horse is the biggest horse. Biggest horse is best horse.
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    Okay because you got me thinking about this as a board game I can't stop imagineering it so here's the physical setup:

    - We do not change what player capabilities are round by round. You get two, maybe three Agents which can each do one thing.
    - Two technology decks, one military and one civilian. At the start of the game these are shuffled and one of each is placed under each individual technology. The effects are generally positive and somewhat small, with a fair amount of range to them.
    - A technology board with every technology listed and a grid of its status - Banned-Military-Civilian. It takes one agent action to move one technology one step. At the end of any turn when you have a technology allowed you reveal its relevant card to everyone and adjust your score on the scoring deck accordingly. Everything starts at banned (though I'd want to try variants where the reverse is true)
    - A scoring board that maps your corp's Economy, Security, Environment and Health. These all start at 0 and go up to 100. You action the effects of all technologies that are currently legal.
    - A crisis deck. It takes an agent action to generate a crisis, in which case a card is drawn from the deck that engineers a massive crisis that shifts the balance of power between the two megacorps. Each card reads something like "Grey Goo: Score economy. If a player has Nanobots legal for civilian use, subtract -25 from economy first." Whoever wins the crisis check gains one point of Market Share; whoever gets all the Market Share wins.
    - A research deck. It takes an agent action to draw a card from this deck and you can hold cards indefinitely. Research cards give a variety of useful effects, ranging from adding a one-off bonus to one of your nation's scores, looking at the effects of un-revealed technologies, to looking at the next crisis card or extra agent actions and so on.

    Holy crap I just boiled down this vast complicated thing into two boards, three decks, and some little spy figurines I am a genius.
    Last edited by Thanqol; 2016-12-25 at 06:52 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    These guys. My horse is the biggest horse. Biggest horse is best horse.
    This is sound logic and I would like to see more big horse art.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    These guys. My horse is the biggest horse. Biggest horse is best horse.
    I approve of Big Horse, and the rest of these punks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    If you actually want to sign up and make vidjagames with me, well, you know that I'm not just an ideas guy and will totally pull my weight. As there aren't a lot of moving parts it's not going to be a profoundly difficult thing to code.

    EDIT: I am totally serious on this; I have a degree in entrepreneurship and small team management and I'm made for this kind of stuff.
    I'm serious too; strategy games are primarily difficult to make on the design side of things, rather than on the tech/production/graphics side of things. Ideal for small teams if they can get a solid design down. And for me, I have two work days a week dedicated to this stuff and loads of software development experience.

    However, right now I'm working on a game prototype, and I have to see how it pans out. It might end up being a full game, in which case I'm going to be working on that for the foreseeable future. If it busts, I'll have some serious re-hashing to do, and working on a strategy game would be a welcome change of pace. Either way, you'll have some time to iterate on this design, and I'd be happy to help there where I can.

    PS: Right now, I foresee multiplayer being one of the big risks of this project. Indie multiplayer games are always a gamble.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    Okay because you got me thinking about this as a board game I can't stop imagineering it so here's the physical setup:

    - We do not change what player capabilities are round by round. You get two, maybe three Agents which can each do one thing.
    - Two technology decks, one military and one civilian. At the start of the game these are shuffled and one of each is placed under each individual technology. The effects are generally positive and somewhat small, with a fair amount of range to them.
    - A technology board with every technology listed and a grid of its status - Banned-Military-Civilian. It takes one agent action to move one technology one step. At the end of any turn when you have a technology allowed you reveal its relevant card to everyone and adjust your score on the scoring deck accordingly. Everything starts at banned (though I'd want to try variants where the reverse is true)
    - A scoring board that maps your corp's Economy, Security, Environment and Health. These all start at 0 and go up to 100. You action the effects of all technologies that are currently legal.
    - A crisis deck. It takes an agent action to generate a crisis, in which case a card is drawn from the deck that engineers a massive crisis that shifts the balance of power between the two megacorps. Each card reads something like "Grey Goo: Score economy. If a player has Nanobots legal for civilian use, subtract -25 from economy first." Whoever wins the crisis check gains one point of Market Share; whoever gets all the Market Share wins.
    - A research deck. It takes an agent action to draw a card from this deck and you can hold cards indefinitely. Research cards give a variety of useful effects, ranging from adding a one-off bonus to one of your nation's scores, looking at the effects of un-revealed technologies, to looking at the next crisis card or extra agent actions and so on.

    Holy crap I just boiled down this vast complicated thing into two boards, three decks, and some little spy figurines I am a genius.
    Is this the first pass at the mechanics of the video game, or is this the "if I were making this into a board game" design? I have some feedback, but if it's the latter, then some of that feedback isn't going to be of much use.
    I'm developing a game. Let's see what happens! Complex.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate View Post
    I'm serious too; strategy games are primarily difficult to make on the design side of things, rather than on the tech/production/graphics side of things. Ideal for small teams if they can get a solid design down. And for me, I have two work days a week dedicated to this stuff and loads of software development experience.
    Hey, awesome! Looks like we're in this!

    However, right now I'm working on a game prototype, and I have to see how it pans out. It might end up being a full game, in which case I'm going to be working on that for the foreseeable future. If it busts, I'll have some serious re-hashing to do, and working on a strategy game would be a welcome change of pace. Either way, you'll have some time to iterate on this design, and I'd be happy to help there where I can.

    PS: Right now, I foresee multiplayer being one of the big risks of this project. Indie multiplayer games are always a gamble
    So first up, I don't really believe in multiplayer for videogames, and I certainly don't believe in multiplayer balance. Balance is for Blizzard, pretty much every other big game company in the strategy game space are experimenting with profoundly imbalanced games designed around single player. In EU4 it's okay for France to be 800 times the power of Ulm because the goal is to one day be strong enough to beat France.

    Designing this as a single player experience gives me a way freer hand to do interesting narrative driven stuff too.

    Is this the first pass at the mechanics of the video game, or is this the "if I were making this into a board game" design? I have some feedback, but if it's the latter, then some of that feedback isn't going to be of much use.
    That's the hypothetical board game design. With a video game my natural instinct is to do something more like a Paradox game; there's more time and therefore room for added complexity.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    Hey, awesome! Looks like we're in this!
    Bust out the highest of fives!

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    So first up, I don't really believe in multiplayer for videogames, and I certainly don't believe in multiplayer balance. Balance is for Blizzard, pretty much every other big game company in the strategy game space are experimenting with profoundly imbalanced games designed around single player. In EU4 it's okay for France to be 800 times the power of Ulm because the goal is to one day be strong enough to beat France.
    Interesting. I have no qualms with multiplayer, but given the tremendous risks associated with doing indie development as-is, adding multiplayer seems a good way to stack the odds against you. Well-scoped single player is much safer.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    Designing this as a single player experience gives me a way freer hand to do interesting narrative driven stuff too.
    Oh-ho? I would love to hear more on this. Thus far I've pictured this as a head-to-head strategy game, with the option of playing against an AI opponent. How do you envision single player working?

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    That's the hypothetical board game design. With a video game my natural instinct is to do something more like a Paradox game; there's more time and therefore room for added complexity.
    I was thinking a similar direction for the video game version, so we're on the same page there. I still have some thoughts on the board game design that may be useful, but it's getting late, and I'm going to give my brain some sleep. Will post mullings tomorrow.
    I'm developing a game. Let's see what happens! Complex.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate View Post
    Interesting. I have no qualms with multiplayer, but given the tremendous risks associated with doing indie development as-is, adding multiplayer seems a good way to stack the odds against you. Well-scoped single player is much safer.
    Gotcha. I can easily adjust to that fact.

    Oh-ho? I would love to hear more on this. Thus far I've pictured this as a head-to-head strategy game, with the option of playing against an AI opponent. How do you envision single player working?
    Its an easy enough concept to sprawl outwards in any direction. I'm still pretty sold on the basics as you've mentioned, head to head strategy game vs an AI. But to add a narrative for the single player I'd do a simple thing: Have you regularly meet with the head of the opposing MegaCorp.

    There was this moment in a convention game where I was the head of a massive interstellar megacorp fending off a bunch of rivals. It was crazy, I was run off my feet with work, all the schemes and feuds and betrayals and everything. And then as I rushed from one meeting to the next I passed one of my rivals in the hall, a man who I had already set in motion plans to rob of everything he owned - and I felt a profound sense of kinship. He had the same haggard, over-busy expression I did, rushing to the next meeting just like I was.

    So what I'd do to add life and character to what would otherwise be an ice cold strategy game about technology and espionage would just be to have every so often the game pause and go to a conversation with the mind behind the opposing force. Maybe he calls you up on the emergency nuclear hotline in the middle of the night and tells you they've lost a warhead, maybe it's an international trade summit and you get to exchange a few lines of dialogue before the photo op. These conversations have a few branching options, and there's an occasional moment to connect, but mostly it's dominated by circumstances. After all, these are the only two people in the world who truly understand the big picture.

    These conversations are random and there's a big library of them so they don't double up. There's a tendency in strategy games against an AI to characterize it - I actually thanked my computer out loud when AI Russia unexpectedly bailed me out of a stupid war I'd foolishly bungled my way into - and in a 1v1 strategy game I want to explore that concept a little. I want to communicate hints of Mr. Johnson's (randomized) personality through these dialogue scenes, give players a chance to get some insight into the mind of their enemy.

    Eventually, when the player is winning, Mr. Johnson might try appealing to them directly for clemency or mercy. A sincere gesture to help put the world back together or a cold and ruthless betrayal taking advantage of the player's foolish kindness? At the end of each game the player will have a story about who Mr. Johnson was as a person and what his relationship with the player's CEO was. I reckon I could pull that writing challenge off.
    Last edited by Thanqol; 2016-12-27 at 09:35 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate View Post
    I was thinking a similar direction for the video game version, so we're on the same page there. I still have some thoughts on the board game design that may be useful, but it's getting late, and I'm going to give my brain some sleep. Will post mullings tomorrow.
    It's mulling time!

    So, seeing how this is board game prototype, a lot of my original thoughts aren't going to be too helpful. But I think there's some aspects of the board game version that we can use to learn about the video game version:

    -The board game version is a game about winning Crises. How do you win a Crisis? By winning stat checks. How do you increase stats? By getting tech. The tech bonuses are random, as are the stat checks/stat penalties on the Crisis cards. Research is the only way to intentionally, proactively tip the odds in your favor. Most of the game, as I understand it, would be about gobbling up Tech and hoping for the best, because you have no way of knowing what's actually going to help you in the long run. With the amount of RNG present, and lack of espionage layer, there really isn't much room for strategy. Now; I don't think we'll have the same problem in the game version. The process of incubating and researching a tech gives plenty of opportunity to make interesting strategic decisions. Doubly so with espionage involved. But we still need to be mindful of the nature of our RNG. A player should be able to make strategic decisions, and be able to consistently beat another player who's just researching/releasing tech willy-nilly.

    -This also taught me that I really really really like the research/incubation concept.

    -Your example of the Grey Goo crisis being tied to a Nanomachine tech got me thinking; what if Crises/Bad Stuff was more closely tied to the technology? Ramifications can still be randomly distributed, but what if there are specific, known Bad Things that can come with each tech? Giving the player that knowledge makes sense in the fantasy; these worst-case scenarios would be common knowledge among the Corp's scientists. It could also give them the chance to either prepare their own Megacorp to handle that eventuality, or spread the tech intentionally, knowing their rival doesn't have the means to deal with said Bad Things. And! If the Bad Thing isn't guaranteed to happen, that offers a major incentive to extensive research.

    TLDR: What if, in addition to the unknown stat ramifications, there were known, specific Crises that might happen with certain technologies?

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    Gotcha. I can easily adjust to that fact.
    To add a bit more to this thought; a multiplayer game needs a community to survive. A community needs to be carefully tended to in order to survive. If the perception goes around that nobody is playing the multiplayer, your game is toast. You need to market exceptionally well up-front in order to get that day-one community going, you need to give them frequent updates, patches, and new goodies to play with, and you need to be sure your game is visibly doing well so people will expect to find games when they log on. This is really hard! It's by no means impossible, but considering how neither of us have released a game commercially, maybe we don't take on all the crazy challenges right out of the gate.

    What I can do is build this thing with the thought of "maybe multiplayer someday" in the back of my mind, so that if it ever does happen we won't have to hack apart everything we've already built.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    Its an easy enough concept to sprawl outwards in any direction. I'm still pretty sold on the basics as you've mentioned, head to head strategy game vs an AI. But to add a narrative for the single player I'd do a simple thing: Have you regularly meet with the head of the opposing MegaCorp.

    There was this moment in a convention game where I was the head of a massive interstellar megacorp fending off a bunch of rivals. It was crazy, I was run off my feet with work, all the schemes and feuds and betrayals and everything. And then as I rushed from one meeting to the next I passed one of my rivals in the hall, a man who I had already set in motion plans to rob of everything he owned - and I felt a profound sense of kinship. He had the same haggard, over-busy expression I did, rushing to the next meeting just like I was.

    So what I'd do to add life and character to what would otherwise be an ice cold strategy game about technology and espionage would just be to have every so often the game pause and go to a conversation with the mind behind the opposing force. Maybe he calls you up on the emergency nuclear hotline in the middle of the night and tells you they've lost a warhead, maybe it's an international trade summit and you get to exchange a few lines of dialogue before the photo op. These conversations have a few branching options, and there's an occasional moment to connect, but mostly it's dominated by circumstances. After all, these are the only two people in the world who truly understand the big picture.

    These conversations are random and there's a big library of them so they don't double up. There's a tendency in strategy games against an AI to characterize it - I actually thanked my computer out loud when AI Russia unexpectedly bailed me out of a stupid war I'd foolishly bungled my way into - and in a 1v1 strategy game I want to explore that concept a little. I want to communicate hints of Mr. Johnson's (randomized) personality through these dialogue scenes, give players a chance to get some insight into the mind of their enemy.

    Eventually, when the player is winning, Mr. Johnson might try appealing to them directly for clemency or mercy. A sincere gesture to help put the world back together or a cold and ruthless betrayal taking advantage of the player's foolish kindness? At the end of each game the player will have a story about who Mr. Johnson was as a person and what his relationship with the player's CEO was. I reckon I could pull that writing challenge off.
    Ooooooooooooh. I like. I think you're onto something potent here. I've definitely noticed myself characterizing the AI in the Civ games I've played. (Siam. What did I ever do to you? I thought we were trade bros. ) A system that intentionally does that, and even writes a story about your opponent could be really cool.

    I also don't think I've ever seen this done before, though my experience with these sorts of strategy games is limited. I think it's a great niche to aim for.

    (Also, do you want to move this to its own thread, or is here good?)
    Last edited by TheAmishPirate; 2016-12-27 at 11:26 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate View Post
    -This also taught me that I really really really like the research/incubation concept.
    Sure. We can focus on that.

    TLDR: What if, in addition to the unknown stat ramifications, there were known, specific Crises that might happen with certain technologies?
    Stellaris makes a good case with this; there are four big endgame crisises and you'll get one but you don't know which one. Unfortunately Stellaris falls a bit flat because you deal with all of them the same way; get swole fight in space.

    I don't think the nature of the criseses should be free information, or static every time. I think that research into the ramifications should be something you pay money for. Maybe you've got a megavirus and you don't really know if unleashing it will end all humans or just all the humans you don't like. You do some digging and find out that it's the former so it's pretty useless to you. On the other hand, now you've got this useless doomsday device to go in your collection, so you strategically leak to Mr. Johnson that you've got the thing. Now he has to divert a whole lot of resources to going down the same dead-end research path as you or over-invest in medical infrastructure in an attempt to blind counter it.

    I also think this is where the real power of having a single opponent throughout the game, and it's essential to the espionage genre. You're always asking 'what does he know'.

    To add a bit more to this thought; a multiplayer game needs a community to survive. A community needs to be carefully tended to in order to survive. If the perception goes around that nobody is playing the multiplayer, your game is toast. You need to market exceptionally well up-front in order to get that day-one community going, you need to give them frequent updates, patches, and new goodies to play with, and you need to be sure your game is visibly doing well so people will expect to find games when they log on. This is really hard! It's by no means impossible, but considering how neither of us have released a game commercially, maybe we don't take on all the crazy challenges right out of the gate.

    What I can do is build this thing with the thought of "maybe multiplayer someday" in the back of my mind, so that if it ever does happen we won't have to hack apart everything we've already built.
    Let's do single player 100%. If the game's a hit and gets a sequel then we add multiplayer in the sequel.

    Ooooooooooooh. I like. I think you're onto something potent here. I've definitely noticed myself characterizing the AI in the Civ games I've played. (Siam. What did I ever do to you? I thought we were trade bros. ) A system that intentionally does that, and even writes a story about your opponent could be really cool.

    I also don't think I've ever seen this done before, though my experience with these sorts of strategy games is limited. I think it's a great niche to aim for.
    I absorb anything which might even sound like this concept so I've got the gameplay background. Take a look at Twilight Struggle, Invisible Inc and Crusader Kings II, they're my inspirations here.

    (Also, do you want to move this to its own thread, or is here good?)
    Use this thread. It's become my go to place for internet creative projects now that I'm mostly pen and paper for art.

    So I really enjoy writing to limitations, but at the same token I don't feel great starting writing unless I know what my limitations are. Can you please communicate some basic stuff as to what's easy, what's hard and what's impossible when designing a video game at our level of resources? (I am prepared to invest money, most likely for art/music)
    Last edited by Thanqol; 2016-12-28 at 07:00 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    Stellaris makes a good case with this; there are four big endgame crisises and you'll get one but you don't know which one. Unfortunately Stellaris falls a bit flat because you deal with all of them the same way; get swole fight in space.

    I don't think the nature of the criseses should be free information, or static every time. I think that research into the ramifications should be something you pay money for. Maybe you've got a megavirus and you don't really know if unleashing it will end all humans or just all the humans you don't like. You do some digging and find out that it's the former so it's pretty useless to you. On the other hand, now you've got this useless doomsday device to go in your collection, so you strategically leak to Mr. Johnson that you've got the thing. Now he has to divert a whole lot of resources to going down the same dead-end research path as you or over-invest in medical infrastructure in an attempt to blind counter it.

    I also think this is where the real power of having a single opponent throughout the game, and it's essential to the espionage genre. You're always asking 'what does he know'.
    From your explanation here, it sounds like the player/AI will know what tech is needed to counter other tech. If your opponent is investing heavily into X, then you'll need Y to counter its negative effects. Is that more what you're thinking?

    There's also the ban/allow system to counter the spread of technologies with negative effects. Is that system relevant here, or are megaviruses/superweapons in a different system altogether?

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    Let's do single player 100%. If the game's a hit and gets a sequel then we add multiplayer in the sequel.
    Sounds good to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    I absorb anything which might even sound like this concept so I've got the gameplay background. Take a look at Twilight Struggle, Invisible Inc and Crusader Kings II, they're my inspirations here.
    I've played Invisible Inc, haven't played Crusader Kings II but I have a friend who regales me with tales of her empire, and I've no experience with Twilight Struggle. I'll look into that one.

    XCOM II seems close-ish to this concept as well, given that you're playing against the alien regime. I'm unsure how much the AI can actively work against you there, though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    Use this thread. It's become my go to place for internet creative projects now that I'm mostly pen and paper for art.
    Roger roger.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    So I really enjoy writing to limitations, but at the same token I don't feel great starting writing unless I know what my limitations are. Can you please communicate some basic stuff as to what's easy, what's hard and what's impossible when designing a video game at our level of resources? (I am prepared to invest money, most likely for art/music)
    Hoo boy. That's a big question.

    First and foremost; I don't think now is the time to be doing much serious dialogue writing. That comes later. If you start writing a bunch of dialogue right now, odds are the design is going to shift and change and make said dialogue obsolete. Concept dialogue is going to be much more valuable. Think of it like concept art for words. Write until you have something that could appear in the game, something that capture the tone, the feel, everything that you're going for. That'll be a valuable reference for when it comes time to write things for reals.

    Now. Limitations.

    Dialogue w/out voice over: Easy. There's a whole host of ways to import text into code. We find one that works for us, write up a quick parser, and there you go. Add in a non-grating sound effect for text crawling, and you're golden.

    Dialogue w/voice over: Near-impossible. Voice over work is expensive, especially with the amount of dialogue you've indicated. It takes a lot of time, effort, and money to get it right, and if it turns out bad the whole effect is ruined.

    Basic strategy mechanics: Easy. This game is all numbers. No physics, no real-time action, no troop maneuvering, none of that. While designing the mechanics will take a lot of work, actually transcribing them to code will be relatively easy.

    AI: Hard. Possibly the hardest thing we're doing, now that multiplayer is out of the picture. This game will live or die on the AI. I took some AI programming courses in college, and there's resources I can tap when working on this, so we're not starting blind.

    Scene Triggers: Easy. It'll take a bit of planning, and it'd be really helpful to know up front what sort of things will trigger a scene with Mr. Johnson. But the actual implementation should be simple.

    Music: Easy, but requires somebody else to make it. We're cheating here by picking a strategy game. Not a lot - if any - directional audio, music is ambient, and will really only change to different tracks in response to game events, rather than being anything complicated. We just need somebody to make the music for us.

    Sound effects: Easy, but requires somebody else to make it. Same deal as above.

    Art: Easy-Hard, will require somebody else to make it probably. This depends entirely on how fancy you want to get. Something like Civ's 3D maps with moving units and lots of animations? That's going to be hard. Something like DEFCON's 1980s vector graphics? Easier. Art and graphics are always going to be fiddly, much of computer graphics is based on cheatery. If whoever is making the art also knows how to navigate our chosen game engine, that would be a big plus.

    UI: Easy. Most game engines these days come with UI tools. Difficulty will depend more on if you want to do anything fancy.

    Does that help? Is there anything specific that you'd like to know more about?
    I'm developing a game. Let's see what happens! Complex.

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