Reintroduction: Strategic Primer

As I mentioned in Monday’s (re)introduction to the Shine Cycle, I never properly introduced myself or my work on this blog. Today, I’d like to (re)introduce Strategic Primer.

Strategic Primer is a strategy game that I’m designing. There are two versions of it (editions, perhaps): a campaign for a group of human players, run by a human moderator called the Judge, originally done with pen and paper but now run by email with computer assistance, and a computer game for one or several players.

In Strategic Primer, each player takes the role of the commander of a military outpost on an imagined world, which he or she is leading into the future. It has obvious similarities to many other games, but has several distinctive features that I think make it superior, including:

  • Competent subordinates: once your workers and other subordinates have some experience, you can generally give them their instructions and leave them to it, and trust that they’ll carry them out competently.
  • Limitless possibilities for discovery: If you describe a technology or scientific advance in terms that your subordinates can understand, and they have the necessary tools (physical and mental) to make use of that description, you gain the advance.
  • You can do the unexpected, taking the campaign in directions I never anticipated.
  • A story to explore.
  • The possibility of real diplomacy between players.

A campaign is run by turns. Each turn, each player gives the Judge orders for his subordinates (soldiers, farmers, miners, scientists, engineers, smiths, etc.)—this is called the player’s “strategy” for the turn. Based on all the players’ strategies, the game rules and mechanics, and his or her own imagination (for things like “AI” players and “independents” that the Judge controls), the Judge determines what happens in the world that turn, and gives each player his or her “results” of the turn. In the current campaign, which desperately needs more players, each turn has taken about a month to resolve, but creating a strategy should take even a beginner no more than an afternoon; most of the time is spent waiting for the other players to give me their strategies—we work around your schedule—or for me to work my way through them to produce the results.

Players in a campaign have assistive programs to help them play the game. Right now the only fully-functional program is a map viewer, which shows the player the terrain of the game-world, the locations of fortresses and units, and the results of explorers’ explorations, but I have plans to significantly improve the (not-yet-functional) character manager and add more programs according to player demand.

I also have plans to develop Strategic Primer as a computer game, in which each player will be able to play any part from infantry grunt up to commander in chief. But that project is on the back burner for now, as I need more programming and design practice before really tackling it and the assistive programs need my attention right now.

In this space (Wednesdays) on this blog, I write posts about various topics related to Strategic Primer: summaries of completed turns, the game’s distinctive features compared to other games, designing and programming the assistive programs and the computer game, hints and other information for players of the campaign, and so on.

If Strategic Primer looks interesting, welcome! I’d love to hear what you think.

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