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Good evening, afternoon, or whatever time it happens to be there, ladies and gents! I happen to be Andy, who happens to be a freelance web designer, musician, writer, and whatnot.

Roman Catholic, student of tabletop gaming, and someday soon I'll have my own designs in the field!

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Paper Empires: How it Started

Well, folks, here begins what could be the craziest endeavor that I've undertaken. My mission, and I have accepted it, is to deliver to all of you a free RPG called Paper Empires, a game which puts you at the helm of a massive realm that spans nations. It also puts you in the same world as a number of other realms, too. Are they neighbors, pests, or blood enemies? Well, that's up to the players to decide and figure out. Enough about the premise. Let's delve into the history...

Sid Meier: The RPG
I can't exactly say why I decided that Civilization's mechanics lent themselves to an RPG. It possibly had something to do with the fact that I'd been playing the game for such extended amounts of time. The mechanics...well...those were really streamlined and cool...and it was a really different area. Part of it, probably, was the fact that nobody's really touched on this story area in RPGs before, because there aren't generally any stories which feature countries as the main characters. Barring satirical Japanese cartoons, of course.

Somewhere along the line, though (possibly after seeing the Facebook game "City of Wonder", and plans for a social network version of Civ), it struck me that this would be a really, really cool thing to do. From there, I started jotting down ideas on paper (well, more accurately, Google Docs...so, digital paper...) and things began to spiral out. This is what I would call the "dump" stage. A few things immediately bled over, and eventually began to morph into the basic concepts of the game. These were the "core attributes" of your empire.

Back to Basics
Taking very directly from Civilization, I decided that there were four main stats that you could assign to any, well...I called it a "civilization" early on, but "empire" quickly emerged as a far catchier and more distinct term. These four attributes were: Military, Trade, Culture, and Production. Those match up pretty closely to the principal activities of Civilization: conquest, trade (to get money for conquest, and to keep research high), expansion (culture flip!!), and making stuff (armies, buildings, wonders...) So far, so good, except that we're ridiculously close to knockoff territory here.

But then came some mulling-about of the concepts. Production...well...production didn't seem nearly as important as the others. It was more something that...happened. To top it off, it seemed to invite a heavy level of micromanagement. I didn't want micromanagement. (For the short version of this...I think that micromanagement can be one of the biggest enemies to roleplaying. If you're too busy figuring out what all of your minions are doing, or what the repair status of your power armor's different nodes are, it takes you out of the moment. Computers can handle a lot of these things, but when it's in person, that changes.) So, if there was a way to limit and streamline the production aspect...

Well, I had an epiphany there, too. Same thing goes for Culture. I realized some things about culture and its role in a civilization. That let me find a rather easy analogue in traditional RPG terms, and away we went! I'll discuss my approaches to Production and Culture later, when I really go over the attributes. Suffice it to say, Production and Culture have been rather transformed into very core stats, but they've also somewhat dropped out of the picture in terms of being "evaluation stats" like Military and Trade.

But that's okay. In Paper Empires, it's the Military and Trade stats which let you take care of problems and flex your power across the world. Well, it only makes sense. Conquest and money have been two of the strongest influences in the history of the world, and it's no different in this game.


  1. *chuckle* Good to know there's interest. Next post, I'll discuss exactly what I did with the Four Attributes, and a preview of the main flow of the game.

    In fact, I may do the post rather soon. Depends on just how swamped I get by a few different bits of work that need to be done this coming week. Friday, though, I can guarantee you I'll have a post up.

  2. Research is a major part of civilization, will you include it in Culture?

    Also, food-production (which leads to population growth) is not quite the same as manufactured production.

    Please post more!

  3. Very good concerns. I've definitely got something to say about both of those, and I'll elaborate on it in the Friday post. (I've been too busy to get a post up today...if I can get enough things together, maybe a Wednesday post)

    For now, I'll say that Research is definitely linked to Culture, and I more or less streamlined Production into Population, though there will be opportunities to increase your manufacturing capacity without increasing population.


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