So last week I posted about my experiences in Watch the Skies 3, which was hella-fun. Now, having had some time to reflect, I’d like to talk about three key tweaks I’d like to make to the game.
This post might read a little weird as I’ve essentially pasted the email I sent to the admins, as they need the feedback too and I don’t want to re-write.
Thoughts are appreciated!
Idea: To split the Paper (layout-wise) into two distinct halves – Regional News & Headlines. In the Regiona News section, Press have a quota of one story per continent with players. Headline half is the same as always.
Thinking: I don’t have a problem with the press game, and if this idea is rejected it’s not going to ruin anything for me, but I do believe it can be tweaked to make the… relationship between Teams and Press a little bit fairer for everyone involved.
I’ve already spoken to Becky about this idea for some feedback from her end of things, and she said she was on board with it.
Essentially, in a game with 300 people all collaborating and being smart and doing *things*, many, many teams are going to lose out in the press game. It’s just a fact – too much going on, not enough spaces in the paper.
That’s fine – but It’s one of those things where between Nations doing things and the presence of Aliens and talking whales, a lot can get lost in a game, and yet as human national (and corps) teams, we’re still told to court the press, to try and get good coverage to boost ourselves. But not all of us get to interact with the aliens and whales or do something crazy like blow up a Eurovision team. As a specific example to Nigeria:
- We bribed FIFA to hold the 2030 World Cup in Nigeria. To be fair, Becky said she was going to print this but she forgot about it due to technical snafus, so that was bad luck.
- Nigeria cleaned up the ocean several times. We were specifically told by local control to go to the press and tell them, but the press didn’t report on it so we didn’t get anything.
- Nigeria bribed a whole American Old Tech Corps to their side. A reporter came over to ask a few questions, but nothing went in the paper.
Now – I’m not upset by any of this. We had a great game without the press boosts. Like I said: someone always has to lose out because it’s a competition for the news slots.
My only concern is that as a nation it’s hard to just make something up that’s newsworthy, as that’s not in the spirit of the game. It’s not something you can force, or engineer – either something interesting enough happens or it doesn’t, depending on how your game unfolds. Random chance and ‘reasons’ also don’t help a nation’s odds of getting featured, and then it’s really easy to lose out to an exotic story. This tweak allows nations to compete in two ways – on the regional level for a ‘local’ story, and then if their game is particularly interesting then there’s the global headline stage as well.
My resoning for wanting to make this fairer is BECAUSE it’s something we’re told to interact with, and get rewarded for. I’d like to think I’m not fundementally changing how the press works, just that they give more consideration to regional stories as well as their headlines. Boring stories will always be ignored, but interesting stories that arn’t quite as interesting as aliens or whales stand a better chance of featuring.
To use real-world precedent – many global news services have regional sections that fill up news from a specific international area, separate from the headlines. There’s always something going on so these sections can always get filled, and even if nothing interesting happens that turn in a region… well, welcome to real life. You ever read a local newspaper? They still have to report news, even if that news is just a cat getting stuck in a drainpipe. Besides, there are enough wonderfully creative people in a region that something is bound to happen, so it just means the regional reporter has to try a little bit harder to find out what it is.
Idea: Expand Permit Cards to other areas of the game that rely heavily on controlled interaction or specific pre-requisities. Save Control a lot of work.
Thinking: The talking language permit cards worked wonderfully well. Helped keep the player base honest I think and focused a lot of interaction around seeking out one of these cards.
I personally think this should be expanded to other concepts – such as travelling up into Space. I know you had to stop people going upstairs who didn’t have a spaceship, so perhaps this could also be controlled by cards.
So to go up to the alien balcony, you’d need either:
- An alien player with you.
- A ‘Travel to Space’ permit card, (Or a ‘Spaceship’ card) which you get when you collect some pre-requisite techs or something. Or be with someone who has that card.
I think it’ll help keep the player-base honest again, save you from having to act as a bouncer, and again prove a focal point for interactions.
Idea: Evauate Terror Track’s purpose, influences, and how that fits in with how the game is evolving from an ‘Enemy Unknown’ to a ‘Enemy Known’ situation.
Thinking: Again, I don’t really have a problem with the terror track. I wonder if it needs evaluating though for WTS4?
Basically – the Aliens are known about in WTS3. In our region, a few nations even actively encouraged them to come down, do stuff on the operational map… and yet the terror track still went up. The operational game almost goads you into shooting down UFO’s because if you do you get Good Stuff(TM), if you don’t your regional terror goes up and then Bad Stuff™ happens. But you don’t really want to shoot them down as you want to have a dialogue. Which requires them to come down to Earth. Which puts the terror track up.
It’s possible I missed something important behind the scenes, but from where I was sitting there seemed to be a genuine disconnect between the Operational and Diplomatic/Politica portion of the game in this regard. Our own national policy was to not shoot down UFOs, something all Africa agreed on and many African nations had working Alien relations. Yet turn after turn I had to watch the regional terror track go up every-time a UFO turned up, and I found myself wondering why that was happening and what I could really do about it.
The terror track was perfect for WTS1 & 2 – aliens were unknown, strange events kept happening, and people naturally freaked the hell out. Nations had to balance between trying to open a dialogue with these visitors, and keeping their skies clear and their people happy.
In the WTS3 and I imagine even more so in WTS4, the game has changed, evolved. The Aliens aren’t an unknown force anymore, so what does the Terror Track represent now? What factors influence it’s rise and fall? Depending on what WTS4 is going to be about (it’s called Global Apocalypse?), I can see a terror track being needed, but does it need to evolve as the game is evolving? Do you need to make players more aware as to it’s changing nature and what influences it? Otherwise a team’s default policy might as well be “Shoot Everything” and know your public will love you for it, because terror is an Important Thing(TM).