23 of April, 2014

"Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit."

These words, said by ruthless businessman Gordon Gecko in the movie Wall Street is a memorable scene from a movie that does not really have all that much to do with our game. I mean, it's a movie about stockbrokers and our game takes part in the ancient times where people haven't even got a currency system.

If you can overlook that slight mishap I'm going to clumsily segue into my post about game design and talk about greed. Greed and its opposite, goodwill.

Your people in Crest will embody several pairs of characteristics that are opposites of each other. One of these pairs is greed and goodwill. Naturally, there's no way to embody both at the same time, but people may change their characteristic based on the commandments you write. As such, even the greatest philanthropist can eventually turn into Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas Eve and back again. If you want you could recreate that Charles Dickens' story both forwards and backwards with your commandments, as if you had the film adaption on tape and either let it play through or used the rewind button.

Your people will automatically go out and work for food if they are of age. They will also need food continuously to survive. After they have come home from a hard day of even harder labor, before they sit down to reap the fruits they will have some moral questions to ask themselves:

How much food should I take for myself?
How much food should I put in the community's storage?

Once those people are running low on their private food supply there will be another question to ask:

How much food from the storage should I take?

All these three questions will be answered by their position on the greed-goodwill scale. If you want you can picture it as two figures on their shoulders, something like this:


Mockup images created for the prototype

Depending on how your people are split up in their ideologies (or how uniform they are) there could be a lot of interesting consequences that may follow.

People eligible for a Nobel peace prize for their altruism may live their whole life bouncing up and below the existence minimum, gathering food and placing most of it in the public storage. If there is a long period without rain and the harvest is bad, they might even let other people take food first from the storage and starve themselves!

People who have their hands in the cookie jar on a constant basis will hoard up food for them and not contribute much to the community. Newly born people will not get a share of their hard work and neither will those retired. Once people die however, their food is placed in the community's storage. Greedy people who die at the peak of their work performance may accidentally become huge benefactors of the have-nots. Other greedy people might live their whole life only providing for themselves, and once they retire from working they reap the fruits of their labor and won't leave a single spill for other people to consume.

These are extremes however. In our game we do not want people to view any of the characteristics as inherently right or wrong; but view them with value derived from the situation and what you want to accomplish. Sometimes you may want people to be greedy, but not too greedy. Sometimes you may want all your people to try and maximize their goodwill. Sometimes you may want a few select people to take their greed to the utmost peak.

The goal of the game is to aim towards whatever society you want to create. If you want you can write commandments which could give benefits to people who have much goodwill, such as having to work less. You could also enforce capitalism with death as the other option. If you want, you could even try to eradicate any middle ground and tell people to either be Gordon Gecko or Santa Claus.

That's if, your people believe in you and your commandments. But that's a discussion for another day :)