Re: Brave New Olympia

Scott R. Turner (
Fri, 14 Aug 92 09:11:16 -0700

I've only been sporadically following the discussion on unit reform,
but I'm still going to make a few comments.

> There are two motivations for pursuing unit reform:
> Shift the focus to fewer, more interesting units.
> This will make factions easier to control, and
> will improve game feel.

I have always thought that Olympia was distinguished from a lot of
other games by the fact that it can model large numbers of units. A
game in which thousands of units can interact and be active at the
same time is impossible without a computer. There's an opportunity
here for some really interesting emergent properties. To me, this is
the best part of Olympia. I wouldn't like to see it go.

On the other hand, I recognize that there are at least two major
problems with large factions. The first is economic: large factions
tend to become exponential money machines. But the cure to this is
not to eliminate large factions; the cure is to better model the
aspects of the real world that limit exponential growth: limits and
erosion of resources, difficulties with managing large numbers of men,
information overload, marketplace forces, and so on.

The second major problem is that a game dominated by large factions
makes it difficult or impossible to run a small faction enjoyably. I
view this as strictly a game balance problem - in the real world,
small companies are at a considerable disadvantage to big companies.
Anyway, the main problems here are (1) small factions can find it
difficult to get money and (2) small factions can be brutalized by
large factions. To this I would suggest a couple of solutions.
First, make it very cheap to run small factions, so that they don't
find themselves hogtied by economics. Secondly, make it difficult to
use force against small units - i.e., let a unit of one man have a
guaranteed flee from any combat.

> Reverse the economics of hiring men: instead of added
> men directly contributing to income, they should instead
> cause expenses to rise.

I think that Olympia is already well down the road toward solving this
problem. Men aren't income; they have to work at something to
generate income. As sources of income are tuned, this problem should
go away. Raising the fixed cost for obtaining men and adding an
erosion of loyalty (something I've long argued for) should also
ameliorate this problem.

I think that the real problem in Olympia is that almost everything
that you can do in the game is made easier/better by having more
money. That necessarily drives everyone into a money-hoarding mode.
Perhaps we should discuss changes that would add new dimensions to
Olympia. For example, if the ability to hire followers and their
subsequent loyalty were tied to the "fame" of the hiring unit, it
would drive some people towards gaining fame rather than money.

At any rate, here's a vote against eliminating units as they currently

-- Scott T.

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