Strategic Primer: Enumerating Resources

One of the chores that Strategic Primer needs me to do before either finishing it as a computer game or publicly publishing the campaign version is to make a list, or perhaps rather a database, of all the resources players might be able to acquire over the course of a game. Since the day of such a release will be a long way off, if ever, there’s no hurry on this yet, but I write about it here today so that I’ll have a record of my thoughts when I work on this later, and so that if anyone else has any relevant thoughts this can serve as a place to raise them.

The first major issue that needs thinking about is how detailed I want to get. Do I want to distinguish between the different kinds of iron ore, for example? Do I want to keep track of whether rubble or gravel is packed or loose (giving a difference in density)? Where there are several different related kinds of trees with different important (and game-relevant) uses in the real world all referred to by the same name, do I want to conflate them or distinguish between them in the game world? And so on.

Some of those decisions, for the campaign version of the game, can and should be left to the Judges who will run their individual campaigns … which means that I should go into more detail but document where things can be reasonably conflated, or differences can be safely ignored, for the sake of simplifying the game.

Another major difficulty, this time of research, is the need to list, for each resource that isn’t simply found in nature, how it’s produced, and from how much of what other resources. Of course, this means that the list will never be truly complete, but getting it complete up to a certain level of technological development should be possible, at least in theory. But this also provides an incentive to reduce the number of superfluous kinds of resources in the game-world and to document cases where resources—things—are interchangeable.

One reason this is tremendously difficult, and not merely time-consuming and complicated, is that for many things this information is simply not available, or requires a great deal of “digging” to find. It’s not as bad as the question of how much time things take to produce—which has been my bane since I first started trying to base the game on hard data, not just making up numbers that don’t even sound reasonable—but it’s a similarly vexing problem.

The second major research problem is to list, for each resource, all relevant properties. This is intertwined with the issue of detail, since not everything is relevant—in fact, most properties of most things probably aren’t, making this a simpler and easier task than the others in some ways. But, like the other research tasks, it’s hampered by the information being scattered diffusely through a variety of sources that aren’t easy to find, let alone search.

And the third major task here is condensing all relevant information to a single list (in hypertext for cross-references, of course), or at the very least a single database. What makes this difficult is not so much creating such a list (I have the beginnings of one already), assuming the tasks I’ve described above are well underway, but that word “condensing”—with such large amounts of information, it’s easy enough to just let it pile up, but making something concise and well-organized, especially with the necessary cross-references, becomes more and more difficult the more information involved.

Now, as I said, it’ll most likely be a long while before I start working on this. But does anyone have any questions or comments at this stage?

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