Strategic Primer: Long Range Design Plans

In my series on my strategy game, Strategic Primer, I’ve talked a great deal about the current campaign (which still needs more players), somewhat less about the history of the game and the technical challenges involved in running it, and a little bit about the current state of the computer version. Today I’d like to talk about what I envision the computer version eventually becoming.

In the final version of Strategic Primer, any player will be able to play any part, from infantryman to theater commander, from pilot (naval, aircraft, or spacecraft) to admiral. (Not that a player could start out as a theater commander: more on that later.) This will require lots of different interfaces: a first-person interface for ground troops, a standard strategy-game command interface for unit commanders, a flight simulator for air and space pilots, and so on.

Some of these “parts” in the game, including ordinary soldiers, low-level commanders, pilots, ship commanders, and so on, will require the player to interact with the game in real time. But others, mainly higher-level commanders, will only need to do so intermittently. Commanders who aren’t at the front will usually send their orders to their subordinates by messenger, then wait for a messenger to return with news of the results of those orders.

I said above that a player couldn’t start out as a theater commander. This is because respected rank is supposed to be earned. Players will be promoted, which is to say will work their way, to as high a rank as they can both enjoy and do well. Unlike most strategy games that include a supposed progression in rank and increases in scope of command, success comes from fulfilling a commission well rather than from advancing to the highest rank.

Beyond this requirement that players work their way up, there will also be a training segment for commissioned officers, sailors, pilots, etc. This will be a part of the game for two reasons, one external and one internal to the world. First, many players will need training to become accustomed to the interface and the capabilities it gives them, so it’s wise to add a tutorial level. Second, in the world in which Strategic Primer will be set, after a certain fairly early point in the world’s history, every nation is sufficiently advanced that it would be unthinkable to put untrained officers or pilots in the field. Advanced players can breeze through the training segments, and I think I’ll bow to pragmatism and not require any player to pass any training segment more than once, even as a different character.

Given the above features, Strategic Primer will almost certainly need to be a Massively Multiplayer Online Game, though I intend to make versions with more limited and conventional feature-sets for single-player and local-multiplayer markets. But that’s all years if not decades in the future. I’ll work my way up.

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