Roads,cities, and monsters
Wed, 8 Dec 93 19:43:09 -0500

A few observations on Olympia

In a nutshell:
- all the incentives are for each player to go off away from all others and
form and set up a seperate base
- there are no good reasons to stay near other players, except that the
game is likely to be boring if you don't.
- in other words Olympia does not encourage player interaction
- let players spread out until they fill up the map, potentially a very
long time.
- reduce the map size (please don't)
- provide some incentives for players staying near one another,
disadvantages for moving away.

now out from the nutshell:
With the large map in Olympia II, still effectively infinite at this stage
of the game, the necessity for players and nobles to stay near one another
disappears. I have noticed that as soon as players gets on their feet and
figure out the basic game mechanics, they almost invariable leave Lesser
Atnos because of "crowding" and head off to some remote corner of the
globe. This is very understandable seeing how easy it is for one faction to
use up all the resources in any province, especially the valuable mountains
which provide both stone and iron, hence control the towers(research),
castles, and armies. The same holds for cities, and inns, and so on. It is
possible to grow faster and with less interference from other players by
going off on your own. Then no one will wander into building you leave
unattended, no one will beat you to market with their fish, no one will
pillage before you, no one will quarry all the stone you were trying to
gain etc...

In a world with a smaller map, such as I heard Olympia I had, most of the
free space is used relatively quickly and then players are required to
compete, or cooperate, for scarce resources with each other.

|What I want to know, is what can be done to encourage more player interaction?|
|Why should players want to congregate in small regions of Olympia? |

smaller map?
I don't think that a smaller map is the best solution. I think that the
opportunity that this large a map has for exploration and adventure more
than offsets any disadvantages due to lack of player interaction. Olympia
is designed as an open ended game and should have a space larger than any
one player can control, or even explore.

Mutual Defense
The easiest incentive to stay together to implement is probable mutual
defense. Fill Olympia with dangerous creatures (see the stick options) and
players will have to stay together to be safe.

Dynamically sized cities
I think in addition an economic incentive should be provided. Currently
most everything in Olympia is static, in that once it is built, it may
decay with time, but it can't grow. I think that by making places within
Olympia changeable and dynamic the gaming potential will multiply. For
example if cities had poulations that could grow and shrink with time, and
this population figure affected what and how much the city traded, and in
turn the populations growth was dependent on such items as how much was
traded, whether there are guards present, how long ago was the last
pillaging etc... the dynamics of the game would be much richer. Cities
which were well protected and had good trade routes would expand, bringing
more traders and on and on... This feedback of course would have to be
nonlinear with a decreasing but never zero increase as the city grew in

Roads could be built between provinces which increased travel time but
required up keep. I liked Rich's proposal with the following caveats. Roads
should only be able to be built where a route is already and no one should
be able to own a road. If ownership of roads is allowed either a) a noble
needs to be stationed there to keep it open or b) whenever one noble is
traveling through it, others will be barred from entering.
If no one owns the roads and can collect tolls who will maintain them, why
the noble who has a castle in the nearby city because the castles tax
revenues go up as the city increases in size.

Libraries and other buildings
Allow libraries and markets to be built. Libraries would increase the speed
of studying and research in that province, and markets would increase the
trading profits.

Tax = Profits
Of course the poor soul who is going to try and protect these cities will
need to be compensated by increasing tax revenues as the city prospers.

The dangerous wilderness
It should be dangerous to travel through remote unexplored territory. All
travellers know that unfathomable dangers lurk in the wild and unexplored
lands far from civilization. Fearsome monsters that can capture and kill
you. Barbarians that will take all your possesions, including horses and
ships, leaving you as dinner for the wolves. The home of pirates who
sometime seems to have uncanny knowledge of who's travelling through
'their' lands, I wonder how? it almost seems that they are communicating
with those savages which were seen a couple weeks ago. In other words only
well provisioned, well equipped, and well protected groups should be able
to make the unexplored provinces their home. Traders which travel far
should need armed guards, and anyone wanting to wander around unprotected
had better stay near well protected cities where guards pratrol frequently.

The wilds should be well populated with ogres, savages, and other nasties
which will attack others who are perceived to be weaker. These nasties
however should not pop up in the middle of a trade route. Perhaps require
that no noble had been within one province since last turn. Eventually it
would be nice if there were 'tribes' of nasties which could actually
cooperate and share information, even nasty cities! Nasties of course would
have gold and other artifacts. These nasties would preferable be controlled
by 'simple' computer AI, but could also be player controlled. For variety
there could even be different player races, which if desired have some good
reason to despise one another.

This grew a 'bit' longer than anticipated ;). I guess I've been thinking
about this more than I realized. Several of these ideas have already been
expressed by others. Thanks. Rich, is any of this feasable??


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