One of the next steps for us in terms of the actual GAME development is going to be the inclusion of work time and not-work time for the characters. This is kind of tricky, because if you have a button that lets you control how much of any given time period a character works, you’re going to want to crank it all the way up. And when the characters get cranky, you’re going to want to just ignore their demands for the good of the production chain. But we want your characters to not be working sometimes, because that means that they can form relationships with other people that they don’t work with, and they can sleep and drink strange liquids and have Super Secret Meetings. It’s important!
This is a trap.
See, if we make your people not do what you want them to in order for them to do what we want them to, that’s not very fun. It’s even less fun if we punish you for trying to get them to do what you want them to do. The storied history of economics games is littered with games that tried to make their agents interesting and the players weren’t motivated to let them be interesting. It almost always gets in the way, and you would rather nerve staple them all and have them work forever with no rest than let them have a good time. I get it, I’ve been there.
What’s missing, honestly, is an incentive for making this an interesting choice. Working them less needs to be beneficial in some ways, just like working them more does. The old “let’s not work them so much so they’ll be happy so we can work them more later” isn’t actually a choice, it’s basically stupid. Players don’t bank possible work like that. Well, most people. MOST people crank it up just a bit because, you know, you get more widgets, and then there’s a problem and they crank it up like crazy, and then after the problem is gone and everyone is angry and tired, players will begrudgingly lower it and just sit around waiting for their characters to have high enough spirits to lower their morale some more.
Instead, what if giving people more free time actually increased long-term efficiency, to the point where they actually produced more than otherwise? We probably can’t diverge entirely from having a downside to working your characters more, because it wouldn’t be very convincing if there wasn’t one, but what if you were reminded, periodically, if you did up their work hours too long, that this was a “bad idea” with visible and escalating consequences? And what if, perhaps, you could spend some prestige to convince people to work longer hours without any negative effects?
We’re going to play with some ideas. It’s a core tenet of the game that the characters have lives, and as such we can’t just work them 24 hours a day. It’s important that they interact because it increases the chance of interesting occurrences. I mean, if you’re clever enough to separate the imperialists and the communists into different work parties, they need some way to be really upset at each other, and we have all these lovely plans for pubs.
That said, there will also be a night cycle. Night time is interesting thematically, which may roughly (but not necessarily) correspond to the amount of time a character has free. It will, however, cause Fun and Unremitting Terror due to the Baleful Moon leading to irregular periods of darkness, which we call “Night”. Night time lends itself to interesting possibilities. Some nice fog rolling in, some ominous meetings, people cramming into a packed pub for safety, food, and booze, a diminished range of vision for your constables and military units, and perhaps some noises emerging from that mysterious meteorite that just landed in the woods…