In the long run, what’s the future of Strategic Primer? That of the for-now-neglected “computer version” is obvious: if I ever get back to serious development, it will either succeed or fail as a (probably eventually massively-multiplayer) computer game. But the future for the “campaign version,” beyond any campaigns that I personally run, is far less clear—yet I have a few ideas, which I’d like to share with you today.
The first use is as a proving ground for ideas, concepts, mechanics, and content (including advances) for the computer version. A computer game—particularly one as massive in scope and scale as Strategic Primer has the potential to become—demands vast amounts of quality “content,” some of which can be developed in the less demanding context of the campaign version.
The second use, the one I consider more valuable and the first one I thought of, is in education. You may recall that it began as the apparatus for my eighth grade science fair project; here, I suppose, my idea is coming full circle. In the rest of this post, I’ll explore my idea in a little more depth.
The first campaign, unlike subsequent campaigns, was conducted largely on paper—strategies and advance designs were handwritten, and results were printed. This had two effects on the quality of advances players created: first, it made true “inventions” far more common, and second, it essentially prevented the submission of designs or information the player didn’t understand.
My idea is to have children, of about the age I and most of my players were when I ran that first campaign, play in a campaign as part of or alongside their education—possibly in teams either of allied players or collaborating as single “players.” Teachers would advise and assist the players in addition to running the campaign. Children, unlike older adolescents and young adults, would generally tend to begin with less historical/technical knowledge and strategic insight, which both makes the early stages of the game easier on the Judges than they would otherwise be, and provides a greater incentive for extracurricular research.
Unless the campaign’s Judges wanted to do the work themselves, it would use a map, a database of advances, and other materials supplied by a publisher (probably me); contributed additions to the advance database and other improvements would be rewarded with discounts to the cost of this subscription.
From another perspective, this model would allow me to release the tools (the “assistive programs”) as free software, and a basic (pretty minimal) ruleset under similarly liberal conditions, but still produce some profit from my labor—and would permit me to keep researching to develop the game’s content.
What do you think of these ideas?