Olympia - Future Implimentation Propositions

John Morrow (morrow@romulus.rutgers.edu)
16 May 92 02:32:15 GMT

This is long -- very long. I typed it in on a 2400 baud dial-up so
please excuse any errors.

Following are several proposals I have worked out for how I would like
to Olympia develop in the future. I will try to present them in
order of easiest to implement to hardest to implement. My priority in
the following suggestions is to add detail to certain aspects of the
game without adding undue complexity to either the programming or the
player-level commands. Forgive me if any of these suggestions have
been made before. I am relatively new to this game. These are only
suggestions. If they are naive or there is something wrong with them,
let me know. It won't hurt my feelings. Please read to the bottom
before you reject any particular proposal. They are all, in a way,
related into a whole simply broken down into implimentation levels.

1.) Turn the regions that have either a market or a large population
or both into two regions arranged as follows. The first region would
reflect the overall region, the "province" if you will. It would
continue to be accessed by all the exits currently accessing the
region and would retain the terrain feature of the original region
(Plains, Forest, etc.). The second, new region would represent the
actual center of population -- the town or city. It would acquire the
mass of the population (90% or so) and also any markets and most of
the towers or castles found in the various regions such as the magic
guilds (some, such as the beastmaster's guild could remain outside on
the plains...) and any players, characters, or groups currently
hanging around in the region. It would get a new terrain description,
"City" or "Town" (and, maybe, "Village"). It would be accessable only
from the outer province by a single exit. Travel time for that
journey would be one day (this could be put up for debate...). It
would represent travelling from the city to the countryside or
visa-versa. The only exception would be sea routes which could be
adjusted to adjoin the city only, the province only, or both with a
new exit added depending on the geography of the area. Not all
provinces would have cities, only those with markets and/or large
populations. Why do this?

A) Seiges would become a viable military tactic as would garrisoning
the countryside. Battles could take place either outside the
city or inside. In concert with a "hostile" disposition which
causes immediate attacks to occur, seiges or defenses could be
performed while leaving a city proper untouched, it's inhabitants
protected from harm.
B) Since most activity would concentrate in the city, it would be
possible for many to skirt around the city, remaining in the
countryside to avoid being detected by everyone.
C) This provides a mechanic by which skills such as "work" could be
confined to region of dense population while other skills such
as mining would be prohibited inside of the "City" terrain type.
D) This provides a feel for "you are in a city now" as apposed to
cities being just another region with a market and big
population. A city was an important political and social feature
in early societies and this would bear this out.
E) More than 1 city could thoretically exist in one province.
F) This would increase exploration as an activity and increase the
overall "size" of the world in terms of places without drasticly
changing the overall geography as it has already been layed out.
G) The only effect this added detail would have on players who don't
care for it, besides needing some new maps, is to require an
extra move into a city, if you want to go there, once you reach a
H) It would be easier for a political entity to hold a city if it
could have a buffer zone so troops couldn't just march in. This
would reduce the scale of imperial conquest from having to
control all of the outer provinces with exits to a city to safely
hold a city (the Cohort Mirhys incident in Chardia -- attacking
the tower -- while funny, really was unfair to (am I really
saying this? :-) Dr. Pain who otherwise held the city as I
understand it.

Note that EXPLORE or OBSERVE could theoretically reveal exits directly
from a city to an adjoining province in a few cases. The above
changes, in my opinion, would add some important flavor to the cities
of Olympia. In addition, I think the most important part (making the
city part a seperate province) could be implimented with the current
mechanisms available in the game (correct me if I am wrong). There
are further implications for doing this which will become apparant in
my following suggestions (this is set up as a building progression).
Suffice to say, I think it would more accurately reflect the "feel" of
assaulting a held province and city than the current arrangement with
a spiderweb of exits going everywhere.

2.) Implimenting an "EXCHANGE" command. It would work as follows:

856> exchange 501 "pay 501 100" "give 856 13 4"
501> exchange 856 "give 856 13 4" "pay 501 100"

What this says is that 856 will expect a corresponding exchange order
from 501, when he gets it, he will issue "pay 501 100" AND the return
order from 501 MUST be "give 856 13 4" or the deal is off. It works
the same way in reverse. Basically, this would allow two players to
work out a contract deal where one player will not release the goods
until the other pays and visa versa. This would allow for
simultanious transaction of items at a given time without fear of
getting screwwed or having timing problems. Whether more than one
"exchange" command could be put on the que at once is up to the
programmers. This would provice safe trading for those players who
desire it (for example: "Yes, Dr. Pain, I will pay you 500 gold if you
release the captured PC"). Of course the two units must STILL be in
the same location allowing for another sort of "screwover". This
would represent "contract trades".

This is where things start getting complicated. The following is my
proposal on political ownership and taxes.

3.) Each city would have a single structure in it designated as the
"Seat of Government", be it a temple, meeting hall, or palace
(depending on the flavor of the region). Occupancy of this structure
by one or more entitites would put him/her/them in charge of the city.
Those in charge of the city would have the power to levy taxes on all
transactions that take place in the city market, all use of the "work"
command, "entertainment", etc. (now confined to cities), and, perhaps,
all hiring of men (optional). These taxes would go directly to the
person in charge. In return, the person in charge would be
responsible for executing some sort of maintenance commands similar to
"PERSUADE" and "TERRORIZE" which would reflect maintenance of the city
(civil projects, "bread and circuses", etc.) which makes the people
happy. In other words, a city would have a sort of moralle. This
would require rulers to put money back into cities to make them work
which, as I see it, is realistic. Even the Romans had "bread and
circuses" to please the masses. The city population would be divided
into two groups, merchants and citizens. If your cities moralle is
high, you will get immigrants from both groups. If moralle is bad,
people will leave. If the population of merchants hits zero, the
market disappears (more on markets next), and if the population
reaches zero, the city might disolve and leave only the province (if
this can be done, programming wise). Note, the taxes would be based
upon the USE of certain commands, buying and selling, plus, say, a
value based on the population. If you attract a lot of factions to
your city to work and trade, your income will increase. This will put
a check on despotic leaders. An additional command such as "rob" or
"raid" could be provided that would function sort of like "work" in
that it would net gold and or items. It would, however, have a
negative effect on the city's moralle. This would generally get the
local government, if players, to do something about it at some point
without providing for instant retaliation as others had suggested.
Merchants, in general, would flee in such an environment. Why do

A) This would give a goal as to what it means to "rule" a city.
B) This would give a mechanic for the tax issue others have
C) It would help provide a more political dimension to the game.
D) It would reward people who make their "kingdoms" desirable which
is generally realistic (note the exodus from unfavoralble places
to live to favorable places in the real world).
E) It is a relatively simple but realistic way of dealing with these

In addition, since more than one entity can occupy a "Seat of
Government", councils, democracies, etc. could develop to rule cities
in addition to the single leader model. Each FACTION represented in
the structure would get an equal share of tax profits and any could
alter the taxes making cooperation in such cases manditory.

4.) Next up, let players FOUND cities by expending a certain amount of
time and/or money to etch their city from the wilderness. If cities
are seperate from the province at large, it would be easy to drop one
in and one could be dropped into a province that even already has
another one (this should probably be limited to 2 or 3 to avoid too
much craziness like a city-cluster). This is part of the reason for
suggesting cities seperated from provinces. It would allow an
alteration of geography on the fly without changing the map too much
overall. When a player founds a city, they can name it and a minimal
seat of government is provided inside (which may be fortified at a
later time using Construction) as part of the base city. They then
must attract citizens and merchants using the moralle affecting
commands mentioned above. Making a market could be a seperate action
requiring, again, a certain expenditure of gold. Why do this?

A) This would allow mega-rich characters to do something
constructive with their money.
B) It would give players a special interest in THEIR city's well
C) It would allow players to constructively change the environment
without rendering all maps obsolete.
D) It would further the political aspects of the game.
E) It would allow sections of the world to become civilized and
develop as others grow old and die off.

Once the mechanics of (3) are in place, (4) should not be all that
difficult to impliment. This has a certain "mud-esque" flavor but
most people, myself included, seem to like the fact that the game
itself does not impose rules but the players themselve can and this
moves towards letting the players influence even the geography.

5.) OK, here is my suggestion, then, after all the above has been done
(particularly the seperation of "merchants" from "citizens") for a
free market economy. The first thing that MUST be done is that items
must be limited in their availability (no bottomless pit of warhorses,
etc.) in each place. The availability would be limited to what the
merchant actually has in his or her posession. Price would then,
also, be based on availabilty, both for purchase and sale. Merchants
would ALWAYS purchase something, then, but if they have a million,
they may only give you 1 gold, even for a warhorse. On the other
hand, if they had a million, they would sell for 2-3 gold. As a
correlary, if they had none, they might pay three times the value and
sell for 4 times the value. Each item would have a minimum and
maximum value to prevent the 1 gold Warhorse or the 5000 gold javelin.
Supply of items would come from two sources. The first would be the
players. This would require that there be a skill for everything
that can be collected/mined/made so that it can be acquired by someone
to sell to the market. The other source would be the citizens of the
city. Depending on the number of citizens, a random number of items
would pop up in the markets each turn. The number of merchants would
determine how good or bad of a deal you could get, etc. Why do this?

A) It would allow the players to govern the economy of regions.
B) It would make trade more rewarding.
C) It would make the economics more dynamic.
D) New markets would have to be stocked to make the worthwhile
E) Artisans would have a realistic market to sell goods to.

The danger of the above are that, if not properly balanced, as another
person noted, things can quickly get distorted badly. The secret is,
I believe, not only to do things subtly but also to provide for checks
and balances. Allow a ruler to tax but give his citizens a moralle
rating and require that money be pumped back into the city. Allow
merchants to vary prices based on availability but give items sales
minimums and purchase maximums to avoid severe distortion. Etc. Etc.
Another danger as that prices and availability will change within a
turn. People will have to rush and buy. One sword available? If
your 0 phase command is executed first, you get is so don't delay. On
the other hand, if prices fluctuate, the minimum sell for and maximum
buy for prices would become very important. I suspect that since this
aspect of the game will affect all players the most, with sometimes
frustrating results, it will be the most controversial but it will
make things more "real". If things aren't balanced or if things are
neglected by the rulers, a city could die from a real live depression.
This would allow, over time, cities to be born, live, and die, or
carefully maintained cities to live on and prosper. Great care would
have to be taken but the realism that would come from these changes if
done right, I feel, would be worth it.

Note, I have some more specific suggestions for implimentation and can
provide additional comments if you want to hear more or didn't
understand something. I am also more than willing to answer any
questions on any of the above and would be interested in hearing
alternatives. The above ideas come from playing several economic
simulation games including "Santa Paravia and Fumaccio", "Sim City",
and "The Global Dilemma" as well as reading comments on rec.games.pbm.
I hope you find the above interesting and perhaps these comments will
have some influence on the future shape of the game. If not, oh well,
I tried! :-) It isn't that I don't love the game already, even if I
don't survive past the next turn... :-)

Varian [856]

John Morrow