The Resources Must Flow

In most strategy games the resource system forms the base of the design pyramid. All systems process something according to some given rule set. In most interesting systems there is some type of transformation. In a nuclear reactor the kinetic energy of fission products is turned into heat, which eventually usually turns water into steam which imparts kinetic energy to turbine blades which moves a magnetic field relative to a conductor which generates electricity which powers any number of things. In a WW II grand strategy game civilians, iron, oil and rubber are commonly transformed into panzer divisions and aircraft carriers. You get the idea.

In Solium Infernum I wanted to meet the following resource design goals.

1. Control the resource pumps so that there was a clear trade off between guns and butter, action and potential (growth)

2. Control the resource pumps so there was always a scarcity that influenced the player’s decision process

3. Create symmetries in the way the resource sinks worked that influenced the player’s decision process

4. Use randomness to create a sense of expectation… i.e. what’s behind door number 1.

5. Use randomness to force the players the adapt their strategies to unforeseen events.

6. Despite random elements in the resource generation provide the players with a sense of limited control.

7. Decouple the resource generation from the game board so that it was more equitable and not as dependent on the vagaries of geographic distribution

8. Provide interesting ways to transform the resources as well as change the efficiency of the transformation.

As I have explained in a previous entry, the resources in Solium Infernum fall into four flavors: souls, ichor, hellfire and darkness. You request “tribute” from your minions both demonic and human as an order action and the next turn you are presented with a choice of resource cards. The quantity and quality depends mostly on your Diabolism power level. You can however also get additional bonuses to the rolls that determine the tribute quality by acquiring unholy relics, choosing special perks before the game starts, capturing certain places of power or playing some event cards. Once you have selected your resource cards they appear in your tribute section of your “Ministerium” user interface which consolidates all your game information into tabbed areas. Here is a screenshot.

Tribute Tab

You can organize your cards in the tray by dragging and dropping them. In this particular mode you are being prompted to pay for your bid on an Evil Artifact called the Great Scythe. You drag the resource cards from your tray and drop them on to the eight card slots in the top half of the dialogue box. Once you are finished you click on the commit tribute button to place the bid. This same type of pattern is followed for any order that requires resources to power it….. i.e. performing a ritual, increasing your avatar’s attributes/powers, responding to demands, creating combat cards etc.

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