Political models for advanced cities

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Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 4:21 pm

Political models for advanced cities

Postby curtadams » Sun Apr 21, 2013 1:44 pm

I have an observation on what has worked with city builders in the past and a suggestion, based on medieval politics, that might both provide atmosphere and improve interest in Medieval Mayor. As a side effect, it might help with a pet peeve of mine with city builders, that it's very hard to start a city but then gets rather easy as it goes on. So you get a game that's hard for beginners and easy for experts, which is kind of backwards.

Looking at recent sales and forum activity, the most successful city builder is apparently still Pharaoh, generally considered the hardest city builder, beating Zeus and Rise of the Middle Kingdom, which were designed to be easier and more accessible. Maybe there are other reasons, but I really think a big issue is that people like challenge. As long as you can make some progress, hard is fun. So I think Medieval Mayor should be designed to be on the hard side; but I do think the extra difficulty needs to come in the large operating cities and not the small starter cities.

My thematic idea is based on long-term political struggles, which was a common feature of medieval cities. To take Florence as an example, there was a multi decade struggle between the monarchical Ghibbilines and the clerical Guelphs. When the Ghibillines won, they then split into two factions. When one of those factions won, it faced an uprising by the merchant class, which succeeded, but which in turn was subverted by the Medici family, leading to another long-term conflict. Or Mainz during the time of Johann Gutenberg; control of the town went back and forth between patricians and guilds for most of his life until the Archbishop conquered the town and kicked both sides out.

To put this in game terms, I suggest adding three influences, similar to desirability, reflecting influences of the nobility, the clergy, and the merchant class (the three estates of France, basically). For names, you could use Order, Faith, and Ambition. The three influences would conflict, with things that increase one generally decreasing the others. Ranges would be much higher than for desirability, so you couldn't get desired levels just by plopping down small clusters of ornamentation. High-level development of buildings would require appropriate levels of the three influences. A specific suggestion would be that certain walker buildings evolve to higher levels under the appropriate influences and that that is the only way to get some services.

The result would be that higher-level development would require balancing these three influences, making advanced cities more challenging. Starter cities wouldn't be affected at all, so newcomers to the series wouldn't be chased off. At the same time balancing the influences of the three estates would give some of the feel of medieval town politics, where different factions fought for supremacy but none could really ever win for good as all were necessary for a city to function.

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