Maintenance Costs in Strategic Primer

One of the features of earlier campaigns of Strategic Primer that hasn’t (yet) made it into the current campaign is “maintenance costs.”

Previous campaigns included a single currency and measured most costs in that currency. Maintenance was an additional cost charged each turn, consisting of a set percentage of the purchase price of each unit or improvement the player owned. (This cost could be modified by improvements and General Advances.)

Maintenance was intended to represent several things, taken together:

  • The cost of sending orders and receiving reports. (Thus inventions like radio and beamed transmission towers could reduce maintenance costs.)
  • Consumption of food, fuel, and other “cheap” consumables. (Projectiles didn’t cost maintenance, but tended to be expensive. But this category explains why advances like automatic kitchens could reduce maintenance costs.)
  • Salaries of soldiers.
  • Real maintenance: things tend to break or wear out over time if not replaced. (Thus inventions like sewing machines and automatic looms could reduce maintenance costs.)

Maintenance also served as a primitive handicapping system, as more powerful units and improvements generally cost much more, sometimes even when this didn’t really make sense.

Maintenance costs, as they were modeled in previous campaigns, almost certainly won’t be added back to the game. This is partly because there’s no longer a currency to levy it in, but more because we’re increasingly able to model what it represented more directly. I do intend to add back in maintenance requirements (representing the last point in my list above) sometime in the not-too-distant future, and sophisticated workers may demand “pay” (more about that when I next talk about culture, I think), but there’s no need to include the costs of message transmission or resource costs in the same measure when they can be modeled separately.

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