Russell Wallace (
Sun, 19 Jul 1992 23:03 GMT

Suppose we consider the basic model for region resources to be, each terrain
type (city, town, forest etc.) has both a maximum production for each type of
resource (entertainment jobs, timber, recruitment etc.) per month, and a
productivity value which determines the output a worker with a certain level of
skill will produce per month, if the resource is not saturated (if it is, an
algorithm to divide the resource up among the people competing for it is used).
We then consider introducing extra complexity into it.

It has been suggested to make e.g. stone a permanently depletable resource,
i.e. there is a certain amount there at creation, and once that is gone, it is
gone forever. I think this is wrong for a number of reasons. It is wrong for
the reasons given below, and it is also wrong for this reason: Olympia is an
open-ended game, which means it should be capable of continuing indefinitely. A
permanently depletable resource would be consumed after a certain length of
time, after which no new players would ever be able to use it.

It has also been suggested to make some resources renewable provided they are
not depleted too much, e.g. cut down too many trees in a forest and the forest
is gone. (The arguments against this also apply to permanently depletable
resources.) I think this proposal needs to be judged, not only on its own
merits, but also against the background of basic design decisions.

As I see it, a basic design decision has been made to have an economy in
Olympia which is there as a backdrop, permanent and unchanging, and cannot be
affected by player actions, other than temporary saturation of resources. (The
idea of designating "city" and "town" terrain types is predicated on this.)

If you are able to destroy forests, this means that players can create
substantial and lasting changes in the Olympian economy. Logically, this
implies that other lasting changes should also be possible, such as planting
forests, depopulating or founding cities and towns, etc.

One effect of this is that there needs to be a set of rules governing how and
under what circumstances terrain types can be changed, otherwise people would
start creating huge blocks of dozens of city regions (as these are overall by
far the most productive).

Another effect is that things like population, forest density, wild horse
population etc. would have to be introduced. This would introduce extra
complexity into the game, which is in itself undesirable, except where it can
be shown to add more to the game than it costs (and as I am arguing, it is
doubtful whether this would on balance add *anything* to the game).

Another effect is that there would have to be a complex set of interactions
between the PC and NPC economies, such that you would end up with a situation
where anything the NPC economy could do, the PC economy should also be able to
do and vice versa (this is a logical consequence of abolishing the concept of a
backdrop NPC economy). In fact you could argue from this that the NPC economy
should be abolished altogether, thus vastly simplifying the game and also
encouraging players to trade among themselves.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, in fact it is what I am doing in the game
I am currently developing.

HOWEVER, it is NOT in any way compatible with the design philosophy on which
Olympia is currently based, and would involve tearing down and reconstructing
much of the Olympia design. And to what purpose? The current design is good and
works well; and if you were to do such a restructuring, you would be again back
at the start of a whole series of arguments about the new economic system. This
is surely only worth doing if there was a consensus that the current economic
system is rubbish and desperately needs replacement, which as I have said is
not the case.

The point is that design decisions such as lasting alteration of region
properties cannot be made in isolation, but need to be considered in the
context of the overall design; and this particular proposal does NOT at all fit
into that context.

How about temporary depletion of region resources, such as the replenishment of
ENTERTAIN jobs over a period of 3 turns? I think this is also a bad idea
(though not unworkable in the current design, unlike semi-permanent depletion),
for the following reasons:

It adds extra complexity to the game without clearly contributing anything.

It means that to be fair, one would have to implement a way whereby someone
moving into a region should have a means of determining how depleted, say, the
ENTERTAIN jobs in that region were, rather than wasting a month finding out.

But even that is not going to work all the time: suppose you move your
entertainers in on day 2, have them entertain all month, and find out in your
turn report that they were largely wasting their time because someone depleted
the entertainment demand last month? (realistically, they would have
immediately moved to the next province to try their luck there.)

So I think sticking with the basic model of X maximum production and Y
productivity per month per terrain type is the best idea

BTW: Rich, could you mail the current list of terrain type production values
for different resources, so we can get a better idea of what we're dealing

- Russell

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