Our current iteration of the Clockwork Empires meta-game follows you, a bureaucrat of The Empire, on your (in)famous career. In game terms, preceding every instance of the city-building game, you will be presented with the choice of a number of objectives to attempt to complete during the game. Completing these will generate prestige points, which is currently designed to be a voucher system that can be spent to “break the rules”, from something as simple as calling in a favour for some rare machine parts to, perhaps, an airship bombardment strike against an attacking enemy. It’s like using mana to cast a magic spell, but in a strategy game. And it’s politics rather than magic. And you’re a bureaucrat. The pen is your wand; the spreadsheet is your tome. (We can go on like this for some time, you know.)
But a downside of the system that we’ve been discussing is that this mechanic rewards only the people who actually do what the Empire wants and so penalizes people who want to do something totally weird (and possibly awesome/terrifying) that has nothing at all to do with what the Prime Minister wants you to be doing. To solve this we’re considering a system in which prestige is no longer won just from The Empire; other factions will exist throughout the game and, say, by helping or hindering them you will open up the possibility to unlock new objectives for yourself.
Are the Stahlmarkians running dangerously low on festive lager? Send ’em a few barrels and maybe they’ll train some pilots for you. Are the Squamous Crater Beasts running dangerously low on human brains? You probably have a few you weren’t using anyway, and you never know when you’ll need a favor from the Squamous Crater Beasts. Maybe they’ll be so good as to eat the brains of someone you don’t like the next time they come around; Her Majesty’s Detective-Inspector from the Ministry of Extradimensional Containment, say — why, you can’t have him wasting time questioning your overseers about the digs going on beyond the Screaming Hills when there’s Important Digging to be done.
It’s useful to make friends. And they come in all shapes. Some wear pointy helmets. Some are incomprehensible to a sane human mind.