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  1. Axioms Of Dominion

    There's quite a lot of design posts available on the substack since my last post here. I'm on pace to get an EA version ready for Steam this Winter. Family issues, getting covid, the US election and a variety of other stuff I wasn't expecting really put me behind my original completion date. Luckily none of that is likely this year. Really recommend reading the posts about meaningful characters and diplomacy.
  2. For no reason, no need to look deeper, don't mind me, I'm very excited for the potential "revisiting major facets of strategy games and how we have or haven't advanced them to the level we have focused on combat and maybe economics." Really wanna hear people talk about what is missing in religion, diplomacy, politics, intrigue, and other stuff. Logistics also I guess.
  3. Axioms Of Dominion

    Been a while since I posted here, mostly cause it isn't very active. Did a ton of work on optimization for RAM, this game is quite RAM hungry for various reasons, as well as basic multithreading, getting 80% less time spent on the NPC AI Planner, actually if player turns last long enough, like 60 seconds or so, you don't even spent end turn time on it, just executing the plans. Generally filling out the AI with various capabilities so the game becomes "playable". Also wrote plent more blog posts which you can find at the substack linked above.
  4. Background You can skip to the next heading if you don’t care for this part, as it is pretty long. There are several interrelated sub-genres of “simulation” and “rpg” game that deal with social interactions. You have anything from The Sims to Japanese dating sims, to dating sims mixed into rpgs, including western games like Pathfinder: Kingmaker, to school sims like Academagia and things like Long Live The Queen. I’m not very positive about these kinds of games but not because they are inherently bad. Well, pure dating sims are not interesting to me I guess. The reason I don’t like them is that they are untethered. The Sims has perhaps advanced a long time since I played The Sims 2 back in the mid 2000s. Back then they didn’t really account for anything but the player family. Unless you added more families to the neighborhood. Jobs, school, cops, etc. They were all fake. Similarly many RPGs only had detailed romance options and little if any effort put into other kinds of relationships. Maybe faction “points”? Meh. Games like Academagia sort of had “cliques” and “bullies/rivals” and in fact seeing as they haven’t released Year 2 after over a decade the game/series doesn’t even have romance options. Similarly stuff like LLTQ and CK2-3 have very limited interpersonal mechanics. RPGs and most varieties of sims also don’t have an “outside world” at all. If you are playing an adventurer or a mercenary or w/e you are heavily constrained by handcrafted settings and interactions. Conversely something like CK2-3 lacks an “inside” world. Everything is shallow and limited. There are some interesting mods like the ones by Tobbzn for CK3 that add mechanics that are halfway between vanilla and fully fleshed out. City builders like Emperor and trading sims like Patrician 3 arepretty similar. You aren’t making connections with rulers, other merchant families, not hiring caravan guards, and so forth. And most city-builders lack a deep Guild system, even something like Majesty 1. My goal for Axioms is to create a system where all these genres blend together. A lot of people will talk badly about “kitchen sink” games and that is one reason another key aspect of Axioms is creating a mechanical/system “framework” that adds flexibility and cuts out redundancy and integrates the major systems I want to include without being clunky and rigid and requiring piles of distinct mechanics. That is one major problem I always had with Paradox games. It also applies to stuff like unique country flavor. Especially the HRE and ERE. Relationships And Dissonance If you’ve read most of my other posts you know that Axioms has a primary mechanic called “Opinion” that underlies all relationships. You’ll also know that I have added Fear, Honor, Trust, and Respect as Opinion modifiers. I haven’t yet worked out the final modifier for friendship or romance. Many games use some sort of “Affection” mechanic but I’m still thinking about the difference between friendship and romance and I think Affection might not be enough. I’d like to minimize the number of sub-factors beyond Opinion. I suspect I’ll have to add something. I don’t think it is reasonable or necessary to represent the full range of human emotions in a Video game. Especially one that is not a pure Social Sim. I did come up with a mechanic similar to Stress in Crusader Kings. Just as my Secrets system from 2013-2014 was much more detailed than the one Paradox came out with in 2019 the Stress mechanic was more detailed than what CK3 has. In this case the name is actually different. Dissonance is a mechanic which represents a Character feeling out of sync with the ideals and expectations of their environment. Characters have a Personality which interacts with the Ideology they have for themselves and those around them. They will be unhappy if the expectations put upon them, their own or otherwise, don’t match up with their personal desires and circumstances. I should make clear here that while this system is more expansive than any existing game it obviously isn’t at the level of granularity of the real world. There will be no Onegin, nor Karenina, nor Zhivago in Axioms. You might, depending on the emergent results of the simulation, get something approximating that kind of Dissonance or ennui but it can in no way match up to a novel in characterization and plot. In any case Dissonance can impact characters as far as being a ruler, who they marry, the expectations of their society, like being warlike or bookish, and so forth. There is a natural level of Dissonance which all/most characters can sustain indefinitely and then they start to be impacted by it. I am considering some sort of Attention Point modifier here for very low Dissonance. Characters with too much will be motivated to change their situation or act out. Interactions Those who follow the blog will be aware of the Social Occasion system in Axioms. This is a system that, as far as I know, is distinct not only in strategy/simulation games but in rpgs and social simulations as well. Those games rarely have a resource/economic model or the sandbox underpinnings to support staffing and supplying a social event. In fact even something like The Sims doesn’t allow this, as far as I know. Again I haven’t been really engaged with the series for a long time. Social Occasions create both broad impact as well as the opportunity for characters to engage on a more personal level. Nearly all the personal interactions possible at Social Occasions are also possible in individual or small group interactions. Basically you are making decisions on how to spend your personal time and who to spend it with. This is actually the most similar aspect to dating or school sims but with more context and consequence and obviously much less art and dialogue. Think of something like Three Houses, Academagia, Persona, or King Of Dragon Pass. They trade context and consequence and emergence for hand writter conversations and hand drawn backgrounds or character models. Personal relationships are impacted by a variety of factors. You need some level of “background” like familial connection, long running factional attachment, or similarity of self/circumstantial impact to overcome a lack of direct personal interaction. If you lack that then keeping a strong relationship requires actively engaging with the other person, especially at Social Occasions. Aside from the value of spending time together and past circumstance another key part of relationship strength is how you impact another character. Do you support them when they are down? Perhaps taking them out to dance/drink or for a ride? Do you engage them frequently but only superficially and without consideration for the circumstances? Are your interactions mostly private or do you often associate in public? Relevant here is that through the Intrigue/Espionage/Intelligence system you can manipulate relationships very effectively. Figure out what they like and dislike, know when they are having a good or bad time, and so forth. Intersystem integration is a top 3 goal/focus for Axioms. Putting all that aside the actual character interactions involve written corresponance, visits, long talks on distinct subjects, getting a drink, at home or on the town, going riding or dancing, if possible in your polity, training together, which includes martial, musical, mental, magical, and so forth. You can Bribe, Flatter, Insult others in public, or in secret, and so forth. All non-public interactions can create a Secret. Friends can betray you or vice versa if the situation is appropriate. You can also engage in romantic or sexual interactions of various kinds. You can give romantic or platonic gifts. A major value of Social Occasions is that they can provide cover for interactions of various kinds. An affair at a party is much easier than having to come up with some other excuse to travel, especially between provinces. Characters have Desires and Interests and thus you can, for personal or political reasons, gift a studious mage rare tomes, tell an adventurer of secret locations, or promise a friend to, as mentioned in a previous post on secrets, arrange a loving marriage for a daughter, or son. Interacting With Interactions I mentioned above how you can learn information to use in social manipulation with the Intrigue mechanics. You can also interact, as mentioned in a previous design post, with Social Occasions by doing stuff like following traveling characters and ambushing them, or getting them alone at events to blackmail or bribe them. Additionally you can do the same when two friends go for a ride in the countryside. Murder, kidnapping, etc. You could also, pending some possible feature cuts, meet another character during their interaction with someone else. Or specifically go somewhere with another character as cover for a separate meeting between that character and someone else. I’m sure we’ve all read fantasy novels where this kind of thing occurs. Or seen the Harry Potter movies or all those new fantasy tv adaptations. Conclusion I spent a lot of time when designing various systems designing them such that they interact smoothly with at least 3-5 other game systems and massaging the base/core mechanics to facilitate this and to avoid redundant systems. The downfall of many an existing genre blending or kitchen sink game is having too many almost totally rigid and siloed systems/mechanics which make the game complicated for players to learn without providing a proper amount of value in return. Axioms had originally been conceived as a real time game back in 2010-2012 but I finally came to the conclusion in late 2012 that a turn based core would allow for a lot more of the things I wanted to do in a more elegant and also more performant way. When I played EU4 and CK2 in early 2013 to early 2015 I found that their real time nature did indeed limit them in ways I had forseen and I felt pretty happy about my choices. Playing those games also solidified my feelings about having a bunch of shallow and unconnected game mechanics creating strong negative impacts on user experience.
  5. Axioms Of Dominion

    Still working on this. Tons more posts on the blog plus if you go to the subreddit I have a thread about my day to day or sometimes a few days at a time, work on the actual programming of the game. Trying to get to the point by the end of the month where a video is justified.
  6. Axioms Of Dominion I wrote an important design post about warfare. Preparing for and declaring war is an interesting process with lots of stakeholders. You don't just click and go. And in the right game that is more fun. Of course for like Total War it wouldn't work. But for a more diplomatic and character based game I think it works.
  7. Axioms Of Dominion

    Still working on this. Just wrote a post about tradeoffs made to get more gameplay flexibility vs more AA/AAA games.
  8. Axioms Of Dominion

    These are just working visuals except maybe the icons. I plan to finish the UI skinning and other art type stuff once the code is finalized. Debugging some stuff: A Randomly Generated Map: Unique colors for province detection on maps: Icons:
  9. Axioms Of Dominion I did a post on RPG-adjacent stuff today. Also brown water navies but a less popular topic. I also have a post about making a fantasy rome with similar military and diplomatic policies. Also one about magic and then the various political ones.
  10. Axioms Of Dominion is a project I got about 40% through and then had to let go for life stuff. Now I have roughly a year where I shouldn't have anything else to do so I'm hoping to release in late 2022 or very early 2023 if I run into serious issues. This is a fantasy geopolitics simulator that is broadly comparable to CK2+Vicky2+Dominions4+more. As a fantasy game it has tons of magic stuff but the focus is on DIP mechanics. Diplomacy(foreign affairs) Intrigue(shadowy affairs) Politics(domestic affairs) I have a Substack which can be located by searching the game name in Google. I have a goal of enabling 40000 provinces on very new PCs but the game is perfectly functional around 14000. I have a major goal of playing an almost purely combat free couple millenia taking down a major empire in the world from the inside. I'd expect an average top tier empire to have roughly 7000 provinces on larger maps if you run history for 4000-8000 years. Anywhere from 15% to 40% of a larger map. What constitutes an empire or even a kingdom is much more fluid and dynamic than in existing games. A 7000 province empire would have something like 10 ~100 province substates at the core, 40 ~50 province "major vassals", and then 200 ~20 province periphery/border vassals. Of course you can fiddle those numbers a bit but that is a good illustration of my goal. Several of the substack posts relate the very detailed political sim I am designing to make this goal plausible. I still have a few major and a few minor things to talk about on the blog. There is a Fandom wiki that has a few dozen pages on various major and minor systems. It hasn't been changed much since mid 2015 when I had to pause working on the game until now. Most of the backend stuff is done and I'm primarily figuring out the equations for mechanics, doing all the UI stuff, and getting the AI to function. I expect I'll do a UI theme, smooth out map generation, and maybe polish up the art assets at the end. The game is turn based with attention points. So you have like 1000 attention points per turn, still testing the proper amount and the costs for actions. I wanted to do a time based system but it is hard to code and people will just get mad anyways. It is a province map style like Sovereignty or Paradox games. There is a very detailed population simulation which interacts with the character mechanics. Ideology covers almost a dozen areas, Propaganda impacts ideology and religion and the military, there's a Quality Of Life system regarding food variety/quality and material goods plus shelter, Religion ties into both magic and diplomacy/politics, population is where your troops come from and there is a logistics system. Those are some early maps. The top one almost looks like Europe/Africa/Near East. Maps are generated procedurally as will the world be if you don't start on world creation but run history for a few centuries or millenia. The magic aspect is highly integrated and very expansive. It impacts every game system in various ways. I have a substack post about just magic. My substack is free for anyone to read. Magic can build roads, discover secrets, troop movements, and other knowledge from distant provinces, change the weather and climate, be used in various enchantments, etc. There is even a cool The Runelords(think that is the right series) inspired magical transference/pacts thing where you can empower your soldiers or other people with the powers of captured, or tamed, magical creatures. Or sentient captives. Strength, mana pool, speed, physical features like scales or claws, etc. And you can do evil mad science shit. Speaking of evil Axioms allows you to play a truly ruthless tyrant rather than just a good boy. Fear, blackmail, military threats, second class citizens, slaves, etc. The culture system allows a something like a society that reveres dragons, character secretly captures a dragon, transfers dragon traits to himself, become leader of confederation of tribes. Someone finds out, and can blackmail him, reveal him, kill him and become dragon king themselves, etc. You can destabilize a society by cutting off their access to a prestigious food resource that is a traditional staple of cultural diet, say cinnamon, assuming the leader has depleted his political capital and put himself in a risky position. Much more detailed example on the blog. The trade off is graphical sugar, no voice acting or 3d models, random world gen vs handcrafted map, although players/modders can make scenarios if they want, I just don't plan to release official ones but there is mod support. A stretch goal, well not really since there isn't a kickstarter, if I finish the main stuff early before release date is to integrate a "History" system that records important actions and can be loaded/interpreted by a wiki type program to allow you to read "history books" about the game world. The "simulated" history mentioned earlier is just starting a game with no player or observer and letting the AI play a few centuries or millenia and then picking a point jump in. Player could look at data files in theory but the idea is that you only know what your AI guy knew when you swapped in.
  11. Political games?

    Several years ago I got about 50% through the development of a fantasy geopolitics simulator. Started back up in late 2021 and expecting to have at least an early access if not full release by the end of 2022. If you read my blog, more of a high level ideas blog than a dev blog, although many of the things described are all done except for some AI fiddling, you can see that my primary focus is on DIP mechanics Diplomacy(foreign affairs), Intrigue(shadowy affairs), and Politics(domestic affairs). I'd recommend the earliest 4 posts to read. Of course I also focused heavily on magic for the fantasy aspect. Which is more of the subject of the three most recent posts. I'm writing another politics post today about allies and secrets/desires. I've been heavily disappointed by CK3 but they did implement several features I designed in 2014-2015, probably convergent evolution rather than copying, like Secrets, unique vassal relations, and so forth. Not enough to save their boring Intrigue systems but better than nothing.
  12. For those who aren't aware I am currently developing a strategy game. I prefer not to call it 4X. More of a fantasy world simulator. 4X has so much baggage. But it does include 4X concepts to some degree. In Axioms of Dominion there are 3 modes. "civ start", "paradox start" and "player sculpted start". This post is specifically focused on the "civ start" mode. In this mode you start with a race unique to your nation. The standard start is a humanish race as the base race. "National" races are a base race or a designed race that uses national nouns. So your national base race could be elves but they'd be called Abyssians if your nation was Abyssia. One major part of Axioms that is missing from all over strategy games is developing your race and culture and society in general. Since the game is fantasy you can breed with various other races or even crossbreed with creatures or w/e. Well, unless your people are racial purists. Or if you aren't an absolute ruler maybe you can only incentivize interbreeding, but that's a topic for another post. Depending on your goals, both gameplay and flavor wise, you could find a lost race or a rare creature and engage in a centuries long program of interbreeding to give your nation a unique character and unique culture or just purely for power. Potentially if you conquered an area with a habitat you were not suited for you might interbreed with native races or use magic to acquire traits of native creatures to become more productive in your new lands. Alternative you might magically alter your territory as well as your race at the same time to give yourself a large advantage there and/or make it seem inhospitable to potential enemies. Axioms keeps track of a relatively large number of factors affecting the climate of regions/provinces in the game. You essentially have both natural and magical factors that affect the climate of each region/province. Your population does adapt naturally over time in both knowledge and form to different environments but the magic efforts discussed above can greatly accelerate the process. Variables in climate include things like altitude, temperature, ambient sources of various magical energies, soil acidity, soil quality, rainfall, sunlight, etc. Different plants and animals prefer different climates. Altering climate provides advantages as long as you don't accidentally drive valuable animal or plant species to extinction. If this seems complicated that's because it is. However keeping track of more information for each province/region, race, character, crop, and creature allows for a much different style of gameplay than is possible with a more abstract system like that used in Civ or other simplistic 4x games. You can create races/nations with vastly different compositions and gamestyles and there is also more variety that can generate conflict and interesting diplomacy/politics for those aspects of the game. Also adds to the economic gameplay. On that note a major part of the game involves the aspects of your nation that are political and cultural rather than racial. Axioms allows unprecedented variety in how you manage your populace. You are able to apply laws based on racial, national, religious, class/caste, and other such factors. You can forge a nation which uses conquered humans/dwarves as a labor caste while the ruling castes are elvish/dragon/flameborn types with powerful magic and superior education. You might only allow dragon bred elves to be priests or researchers or learn the magical knowledge your society possesses. Purebred elves may be the only ones allocated management and administrative duties. Class/caste based societies have unique costs and benefits as do nationalist single race societies and more diverse nations. Nationalist single race nations are far less likely to have uprisings during wars. A society with a racial underclass might have issues with revolts if a same race kingdom who promises better lives invades. Diverse nations have more potential revolting populations but since there isn't a race based class/caste system they have less incentive to revolt. My goal is to make it so that different political and cultural choices only result in trade offs rather than having say a high literacy level diverse gender equal democracy be strictly superior which is something many games do. Victoria and Civ for instance. Similarly slavery or gender limitations have their downs but also their ups. Higher birthrates could offset preventing smarter women from being scientists and such in a society with strictly divided gender roles. Different nations will also have a diverse use of livestock, whether for food, labor, or conflict. One nation might ride dragons to war while another may use leviathans for sea power. Another nation might use behemoths for construction or goods moving. Essentially the player will slowly build up their own unique nation/race, which you can then save for scenarios, in the style of Conquest of Elysium, Endless Legend or Master of Magic races. Those games/companies tend to use premade races that can't change much over time.
  13. I don't know if you'll ever see this, you appear to have never posted again, but if you are looking for the most complex diplomacy system in a strategy game, you might be interested in my current project. I'll just give a sort of overview: Fantasy empire building game with from 1000-10000 provinces. Propaganda: Populations in your provinces have various ideologies and cultures that you can slowly alter over time through expending resources on propaganda. Espionage: Espionage system designed to function at a complexity similar to combat. Characters have political beliefs, secret desires, and potentially damning secrets which you can exploit to get them to perform various actions. You'll set up and fund an intelligence network to keep tabs on nobles, merchants, mages, generals of various nations. Internal Politics: Populations and characters have beliefs about how the world should be and their situation. You can control them through ideological alignment, propaganda, quality of life, espionage, magic, and cultural and political policies. Diplomacy: Aside from fulfilling desires you can engage in various actions through diplomatic agreements. You can foster the children of nobles or merchants or mages, work together on mutual goals, and have the ability to set an unprecedented number of policies like open trade, open migration, sharing university or private library access etc. Rulers can operate a diverse set of government and rule through fear, intimidation, wealth, respect, and influence. You could be a benevolent magic friendly, culturally accepting, free trade, ruler or a feared, merciless, militant, treacherous tyrant. Different choices result in very different play styles and kingdoms. There is a rather open government system where you can align with other characters/nations through various agreements. You might function as a feudal nation with divine mandate or an HRE style empire or like the Ottomans or w/e.
  14. Well I have never watched 3MA, but since I buy a buttload of Paradox games, they would probably have cost me money. Of games people listed I own or have played the demo of: Dom 3, I was obsessed with this game for ages Majesty 2, Majesty 1 was vastly superior in every way though CK2 Various Paradox games I also recently blew money on a pack of 5 Stronghold games, which I consider to be on the same niche level as majesty, I heard of them from reading Majesty and Tilted Mill forums.