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Pot Growing Tycoon Mod

Discussion in 'Civ4Col - Creation & Customization' started by Fortuente, Feb 14, 2009.

  1. Fortuente

    Fortuente Chieftain

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2009
    Messages:
    26
    Hello, I am a long-time lurker here. Long-time as in since about '02 or so. Yet I have never made a post - I think I have never even made an account. So what is the occasion of this momentous event? Why finally make an account and begin posting after so long?

    I have begun work on a mod for Colonization to make a strategy game out of illegal pot growing. I have chosen Colonization as the base for it's city-building and trading which I find more to my liking than plain Civ 4.

    I envision a game where the player must build up a base and a trade network while avoiding capture or destruction from forces like the police and criminal gangs. I will be more specific a bit later - first:

    The goal for this mod

    Spoiler :
    To present the player with a black-market industry/trading strategy game where they will compete with other players both economically and violently to control the illegal marijuana market, real estate and politics of a generic North American rural area. Summed up: Build, Trade, Fight - just don't get caught.

    Basic design decisions

    1. All decisions are based on expediency. I have limited time, technical knowledge and attention span so all design goals will ultimately be shaped by that.

    As I said before, I have chosen Colonization for its city management interface. I also like how it handles units, with the ability to directly assign them to city tiles, specialize and multipurpose them for outside the city. It also has commodity production and trading - it is almost the perfect package for what I orginally envisioned.

    Because my idea and Colonization's mechanics are similar enough, it makes the following decision easier: 2. I will almost always adapt around Colonization's rules rather than make Colonization's rules adapt around me. I say "almost" because I may have to make at least one notable exception.

    3. This is a nothing more than a prohibition strategy game. I am attempting to make a game that simulates after a fashion real-life illicit growing operations in the USA and Canada at this point in history. It is not propaganda for or against the subject. (Though I have a feeling stoners will appreciate the most, honestly speaking.) I could have made an illegal-moonshine-distilling mod, but I find this subject more interesting.

    4. I am not rushing this. I just want to put this down because I tend to obsess and I need to reminder every once in a while. :crazyeye:

    Thoughts

    I have already begun writing about my ideas here:

    http://fortuente.com/tag/grow-tycoon/


    Maps, cities, boundries:

    Spoiler :
    Maps will need reworked terrain to take into account the smaller scale being presented. I envision one tile being equal to perhaps 2500 meters squared - that is certainly not set in stone. I see the focus of the map being a smallish town with countryside surrounding it. The need for alternate terrain graphics is the only real significance of this clarification at this point, though distance from a town center might factor into a stealth and secrecy mechanic.

    Will maps need to be pre-made by a human - how difficult will it be to have them auto-generate considering issues with the town setting and predefined borders? How will terrain graphics be handled exactly? Will large highways take up entire tiles?

    Cities will be called "Base Camps" or something similar. Think of them like a house or building and its yard and parking. The city management window will need to be reworked graphically to account for flavor changes. However, as I want to keep the same basic game-play elements (buildings, trade goods, units and trade routes), this should not prove overly toilsome.

    I do plan on giving the Base Camps the ability to specialize and this will completely change the graphic. This is not completely clear, but I will give an example: a Base Camp can specialize as a Fake Grow House (an empty house in a residential setting that is made to look lived-in but conceals a large indoor farm). This would change the map graphic from the default Base Camp to a Fake Grow House, not simply modify it.

    Always in deferment to decision 2, I would also like to add multiple separate types of beginning Base Camps, to take into account the changing architectural landscape from backwoods to the Town Center.

    This can be "easily" solved by making an upgrade path for the Base Camp (remember, a city in Civ terms) from a tent or shack up to a mansion. Is it possible to manage these upgrades through a building, however? This is how I will initially approach it - I expect success, but then again I am foolhardy.

    Buildings will be added and morphed from cigar factories into electric generators and from weavers into waterworks. I would also like to add in different building paths based on the Base Camp specialization. One could upgrade from a Base Camp to a Residence to Fake Residence or rather to a Family Farm.

    The entire building system and trade goods will be need to be retooled in XML. I suppose this statement is somewhat remiss as probably everything will need that particular work. This is where decision 2 applies very heavily. The SDK is something of a nuclear option for me - only to be used if absolutely necessary. :nuke:

    Speaking of which, there are a few areas that I believe it will be necessary to engage in that unclean behavior :)eek:), one of which is cultural boundaries. I plan on morphing them into property boundries that pre-exist at the start of the game. The only way a player will be able to grow his/her property is by purchasing more.

    Rather than come up with a complex real estate system, I plan on simply making the buying and selling of Base Camps (imagine it as a house) by whoever owns them. The property boundaries will be preset for each Base Camp and neither grow, shrink or overlap. This sets the stage for an economic domination victory condition as the person who owns all the property, clearly owns the town.

    EDIT: 4/23/09

    My current way of thinking about how to handle maps is basically re-assigning terrain variables to new one variables I'll come up with and completely redoing the terrain graphics. To illustrate:

    grasslands tiles become above-average income houses
    plains tiles become average income houses
    desert tiles become below-average income houses
    hills become something else I haven't decided on
    mountains become roads - can't build on them but can travel on them
    ocean tiles become dense forestland (i.e. BLM land)

    To set up a "colony" you simply build it on an existing (non-occupied) house. There could be a slight graphical change to signify that it is your house, such as adding team colors or leader-specific architecture to it. Then you go to work. Also, building like this will trigger a diplomacy screen with the Authorities asking for money to build (i.e. buy the house) in the same way natives will ask for gold in vanilla COL.

    This approach raises a few issues: will there be land bonuses? and will there still be workers assigned in city management? It doesn't make sense for your neighbors house to have a, say, irrigation bonus and for one of your employees to be assigned to that person's house. This also makes the concept of cultural boundaries problematic, though not so much, as that could be morphed into a zone of control - i.e. your neighborhood "turf."

    Mountains and hills are nice to have in the game, but I think I'd morph them into roads and highways - structures which allow you to move slightly faster but cannot be built upon. Oceans as BLM land - in my fictional Pacific Northwest setting, the forest is the ocean so it makes sense for the "town" tiles to be surrounded by it much like land tiles are surrounded by water. This land of course can be traveled across by foot units (not cars) and can also be settled. Rather than mostly empty space, this land will be the setting for much of the "action" of the game. I also think handling the map this way will also make randomly-generated maps more feasible.

    I am leaning toward removing the part of the city management screen that has units working outside the city (I forget what it is called) and having only the screen with the buildings. There is no need for camps to have large populations and it doesn't make sense you would have units camping out on your neighbor's lawn to steal electricity or whatever. But I think I like and see it as a refinement - pretty much all the strategy at city level will be on what "buildings" you build and how you man each. Maybe it could be thought in the context of the style of the browser games Travian and Ikariam.

    I am also leaning heavily toward what I just mentioned for cultural boundaries: your Turf. Basically I am envisioning it tiles with buffs for you and debuffs for everyone else. Not sure exactly yet how to implement that but I am thinking movement bonuses, defense bonuses, etc. More to come on that as I have really been interested in culture lately and I'll probably be working on this most.

    Secrecy and Stealth

    Spoiler :
    What I conceptualize is that the Authorities will be somewhat omni-present and you must maintain certain levels on your various properties lest they risk being exposed to their watchful gaze.

    My plan to make this work is to make one or more police units that patrol the map randomly - like they are on auto-explore all the time. They will "attack" on sight any unit or Base Camp that has marijuana on or in it. They are able to detect the marijuana because of a rating or level - that is what I have to figure out. Ideas are welcome, lol!

    I plan on using the <Invisible> and <SeeInvisible> tags in CIV4UnitInfos.xml for this.

    I do want to put in or manipulate an existing level (perhaps rebel sentiment) that will cause the Authorities to arrest you (the Leader, not individual units) and remove you from the game. This would be achieved by police units busting mule units and Base Camps or responding to violence between players. Each incident will cause the the level to go up a bit and at a certain point it is game over for the player.

    While Rebel Sentiment will work perfectly as an over-all metric for the Grow Operation as described and possibly for individual Base Camps, I am unsure how I could use it to manipulate individual units. I can foresee for a Base Camp, however, that it will be automatically "invisible" to police units and/or to the Authorities leader - but when it passes a certain Rebel Sentiment level it will become "visible." The more pot fields and production buildings built will increase Rebel Sentiment and additional buildings (for example an electric generator can be put underground to lower it's Rebel Sentiment production) must be constructed to lower it.


    EDIT: 4/23/09

    Currently I am of the mind that I will be using Liberty Bells, Crosses and whatever-the-education-points-are-called for these measurements. Currently:

    Liberty Bells/War of Indepence = Reports/Go to Jail ... the main difference here is that you will want to avoid Reports as much as possible, but some of the things you do at your house/camp will no doubt generate them. The other main difference is that unlike the WoI, where a new phase of the game starts, GtJ will end the game (this could be up for review, however). I like this concept too, because I would like to strive for more open-ended gameplay (i.e. no end turn) and trying to create an illegal empire without going to jail encourages that - you can keep going and going until you are eventually taken down.

    Crosses/Immigration = not sure yet, but I am thinking Contacts/Networking. Alas that is little better then renaming the exact same concept already in the game, so I want to think more about it.

    Edumacation Points/unit upgrade = I'm still fuzzy on exactly how this works in the Vanilla game, sad to say. I know basically what it is, but it annoys me with its ROI so I have rarely ever used it. I'm not sure I really want to bother having a shack out behind the house where I can turn a gutter-punk into a Trimmer in 20 turns. I'll be considering this more at a later time.

    As I added in earlier, I will be using the existing Civ4 Invisible tags to handle unit stealth. Think: Dead touring buses are to submarines as state troopers are to destroyers. You will be moving your goods in land units that are invisible to everyone except certain other units. This can also open up a similar player unit, the Jacker, that is also set to see these "invisible" units. If a Jacker or State Trooper encounters a VW Microbus they will immediately attack it, regular police or other regular hostile player units will leave the VW Bus alone.

    Units and Trade Goods

    Spoiler :
    I am not quite at the stage yet where I am crafting individual units, but I will list a few ideas and update this section more as I go. I'm discarding the "Master" naming convention but do plan on keeping the same basic idea from Colonization that anyone can work any job, but specializations can get a positive or negative increase.

    Field Workers are specialized for planting, growing and harvesting your product. They are just like Expert Farmers and will be best at working Pot Field city tiles.

    Trimmers are people who trim the leaf from the marijuana bud - they "produce" the finished product that is sold on the street. They work in the Trimming Tent building.

    Thugs can fill a variety of roles in you operation, but are best at helping you defend yourself - or attack your competitor. They would be like the Veteran Soldier unit of the mod.

    Squatters are the street kids, gutter punks and hippies who wander from town to town. They are not as effective at production as other units but can be recruited for very little. They have the ability to desert you. - envisioned as the unit will disappear randomly based on a percentage.

    Horticulturalists will help generate the Founding Father points to advance you up the tech tree. They can also help improve your harvests and mitigate crop blight - they work in the Greenhouse building of the Base Camp.

    I'll keep posting more as I think of them. Feel free to post any forum links to custom units you think will go with this mod!

    Trade Goods I am still working out. They will obviously include items like marijuana itself, soil, fertilizer, seeds, tools, firearms and the like. I am also considering adding in other goods that might figure into the daily life of a pot farmer - DVDs, recreational equipment, food, toilet paper, etc. For simplicity's sake, I do plan on keeping the amount of trade goods in the mod equal to the number of different trade goods in Colonization. These will be able to be traded to/from the Big City or traded among Grower players as in Colonization.


    Europe

    Spoiler :
    Europe in this mod will henceforth be the "Big City." This is where you go both to sell your weed, but also recruit your Trimmers, Thugs, Squatters and the like.

    It will be accessed via highways at the edges of the map. There will be one or more "mule" units in the mod that will be able to make the journey to deliver Trade Goods and pick up more units or goods.

    I do not plan on putting in a chance for a mule to be captured by the Authorities while it is off the map.


    Leaders

    Spoiler :
    Leaders will function in essentially the same way as the other Civ games. You will be able to conduct trade, diplomacy and even declare war, the exception being war against the Authorities.

    As of now, I envision the leaders to be archetypes for your typical rural pot growers: the idealistic Hippie commune leader, gangster from the city, college kid turned farmer/dealer, bankrupt farmer trying to save the farm, etc.

    The natives will likely be re-purposed into the "Locals." These local residents will vary in sympathy to your business and may insist on being bribed lest they "snitch." They can also sell property and buy/trade goods.

    There will be at least one non-human-playable leader to represent the Authorities, however I am toying with having more than one Authority - I can envision having Federal, State and Local Authorities all vying to take you and the other Grow Operations down. Unlike Colonization, each Grow Operation will not have their own "king."

    EDIT 4/23:

    Your King is now the your nemesis FBI Man. In terms of diplomacy he knows you are a Marijuana Kingpin, he just can't prove it! But eventually he will, and when he does you are Going to Jail! I am not sure yet how I will morph tax and tribute to a cops-and-robbers setting, but I think this approach is definitely the path of least resistance. Originally I was of the mind to remove the king entirely, but this may be more fun and probably require less searching on how to remove the king and potential for screwing up the code in the process.

    Natives are now locals, represented by several City Councilmans (and maybe a police or fire chief or newspaper publisher thrown in)! You will need to trade, negotiate and invariably bribe these guys to get your "business" off the ground. And beware crossing them, as they will call down their police units on you.

    Players (playable leaders) are the usual motley bunch. Beatnik college professors, bankrupt farmer, Mexican gangster, college kid - you get the picture. Because vanilla Colonization tailors each player civ with its own king, I will be doing the same. Mexican gangsters might have an INS agent, bankrupt farmer might have to deal with the county sheriff, etc.

    Still haven't considered the starting bonuses, etc. of leaders yet. That will come with time.


    Founding Fathers

    Spoiler :
    This will be morphed into strains of marijuana. Think Maui Wowee, Northern Lights, Trainwreck ... or "Pineapple Express" lol.

    I am thinking that rather than generating specialized points like Colonization does for Founding Fathers, making it more like Civ Science points. But I haven't completely considered that yet - I am open for suggestions if you have one.

    You will be able to have multiple strains "join" your Growing Operation and they like the Founding Fathers will confer some benefit upon it.


    Conditions for Victory

    Spoiler :
    Perhaps the most important consideration, as why else would one play the game? Well, aside from the joy of building.

    As I mentioned, I want to have a economically-inclined Domination victory that is achieved by real estate acquisition.

    I would also like to have a more pure economic victory, but I am unsure as of now how it should be achieved. Cornering the market in some fashion.

    There will also be a technical victory to achieved by having the most points or other measure and making it to the final turn without being arrested.

    I am toiling with considering how to handle a Conquest victory. It seems viable - eliminate all your competition through the ancient art of killing them. The problem I conceive is how do I rectify this with living under the Authorities? I plan on, decision 2 willing, to also add a mechanic that will cause the Authorities to "attack" if they witness violence. The problem I am having is how to handle it in the game.


    EDIT 4/23/09:

    Not adding much, just to say that I've been thinking about this subject the most of all and yet have the least to show for it. Though I have come to the conviction I want to make more of a "sim" or "tycoon" game, and so I would like to have no end-turn, just game goals that must be met. (As a CIV player I am rampant builder and trader.) So I want to make this slightly more sandboxy.

    I've also been considering a diplomatic victory condition that centered around decriminalizing marijuana. If you can get all the players/locals to vote on it (a la the UN or Apostolic Palace). Not sure how much work that will entail, though.

    Why am I doing this?

    I know this is a touchy subject for some, so I'll understand if the moderators aren't thrilled with it.

    I am mainly doing this in as an exercise to get my feet wet in game design. To see what decisions I am and will be faced with, to jolt my brain with some new knowledge, perhaps by banging my head against the wall :crazyeye: - basically to see where it takes me.

    I am already familiar with XML and do not see any significant technical challenges to my reworking the content in those files. I am a fair hand with Photoshop and see myself being able to produce a good portion of the graphics without outside help. However, in my initial experimentation I have had some troubles with configuring the appropriate file outputs, even having already read through much of the discussions on that topic in these forums. But I'm sure that with time and practice this will sort itself out.

    The two main technical hurdles I have already identified are with unit modelling and animation and working with the SDK and Python. I have absolutely no knowledge of using programs like 3dMax and I have not touched C++ in almost 10 years. While I can see myself getting up to speed with C++ enough for this project, I will likely have to rely entirely on the CivFanatics community for 3d work. I have planned on learning Python anyway, so this should present me the perfect reason to get off my behind and do it.

    I also want to clarify my last design decision somewhat. I am not on a strict timetable as of now, but projecting into the future I see this mod reaching alpha stage within about a year. I am really, really taking my time on this.

    I like the New World rebellious flavor of Colonization and think it fits perfectly with the mod's subject matter. Which is why I am not surprised that the concepts already present in the game fit in so well with those that have been percolating in my mind. I'll be updating this thread here and there; I appreciate your commentary as I am rather inexperienced and wouldn't mind a few pointers. :king:
     
  2. Jeckel

    Jeckel Great Reverend

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2005
    Messages:
    1,637
    Location:
    Peoria, IL
    Hey, good luck man, the idea is definetly different from the norm. :cool:
     
  3. Huayna Capac357

    Huayna Capac357 Chieftain

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2007
    Messages:
    8,195
    Location:
    Boston, Massachusetts
    Is C4C the only game that can be about both the American Revolution and the illegal cannabis market?
     
  4. jakob ladder

    jakob ladder Chieftain

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2008
    Messages:
    2
    dont get high and not make this.

    sounds like fun. =)
     
  5. Ekmek

    Ekmek on steam: ekmek_e

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2002
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    6,033
    Location:
    San Diego, California
  6. Fortuente

    Fortuente Chieftain

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2009
    Messages:
    26
    LOL, done and done.

    Speaking seriously I have not touched this in a month or more at this point. But I am saying this having always known I would be working this way. This project is something I have planned to take very slowly from the beginning, so still I would say to not expect anything at all until next year.

    I have also been mentally debating this whole time how the game will work with the Civ 4 engine. I have a pretty good idea, but I am still working out some concepts. Again, I welcome any ideas or suggestions, perhaps I will read one that will make everything go click.

    Timeline-wise, I am expecting to really get the ball rolling this summer when I will have more free time. I am hoping that I have as much as possible conceptualized and have a clear idea of how the game will generally play out each time by then so I won't waste too much time when I actually have it.

    But also, yes, I'm a stoner and rather absent-minded in the first place, so don't hold your breath too long. Fear not, though, I shall endeavor to prevail over my languor.
     
  7. Fortuente

    Fortuente Chieftain

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2009
    Messages:
    26
    I just had an idea ... just jotting this down for later reference.

    I think for maps, I will use the basic system from Colonization, perhaps with some slight modification. However, there will be no ocean tiles, and forestation will be prevalent. The idea is that you are looking at a large chunk of land waaaaay out in the middle of BFE. This will make modding the maps easier and give the game a more familiar feeling, as you will be, in a sense, colonizing the forest with your camps. I am still undecided about having tile yields and the city management screen.

    The real reason I just couldn't wait to write this down later, is for my idea for a victory condition. Finally, a good one! Essentially it is a protracted game of capture the flag, where each player will be given one unit that, if captured, will kill their civ. (Wasn't this in Civ 2? It seems so familiar to me.)

    What I am thinking is that at the GtJ stage (i.e. WoI stage), rather than merely ending the game, a similar thing happens to vanilla in that the FBI releases a bunch of agents on the map to raid your various camps. They are mainly looking for this unit and you must run it around the map, trying to avoid capture. Of course, every other unit on the map will be openly hostile, thus keeping this unit safe will take some serious work.
     

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