Monday, 14 September 2015

The First Faction: The Civilisation of Humanity

The First Faction: The Civilisation of Humanity

We get on right to it, just as announced by the title, to the first Faction: The Civilisation of Humanity. I shall approach first with a description of the themes that went behind the design of the Human Faction. One main distinction to be made is that The Civilisation of Humanity, as it is canonically named, has a certain tangent away from usual representations of them, the "them" which is "us", in popular science-fiction. Rather, The Civilisation of Humanity is known and called for as a technological utopia, in which the best and height of what civilisation means, in its every protection and declaration of the rights of the individual person regardless of standing or worth, are made equal, and defended by highly humane laws, that are evolved only from the integral "humanness" realised in "Enlightenment", and the cooperation of mutual benefit that comes out of consequence, within the species. In other words, The Civilisation of Humanity is by its default, the most advanced form of civilisation in our gaming universe, by its egalitarian culture, and not just that, but the necessary development of technology that becomes by extension a product of it too, as an ideal utopia will naturally benefit and advance the state of what progress can be accomplished, by the lack of counterproductive and harmful competition, added onto the great efficiency that comes with the workings in common of the best minds of the human populace.

Besides this theme from the background, there are several others upon which the mechanics of how this Faction functions in-game, being Defensive, Ranged, the Promotion of Ranks to Elite Level, and Technologically Advanced. These are the core themes, but as can you see, they are a natural evolution and implementation from the background of the Faction, so the form and shape of how the Faction works and plays, organically reflects them. First, the theme of them being technologically advanced is understood as being highly integral to how us as humans work, live and function. Among all animals, we are the only ones to adapt our surroundings to us, instead of the reverse. And we are physically rather frail, relying as has been always, in order to survive in the wilderness of our prehistoric past, on the action of our intelligence, which has led to our symbiotic relationship with technology, one that we are highly dependent on, as a great augment of the means of our convenience in living.

There is also a theme on the fragility and preciousness of human lives, and how we attempt to resolve that by the act of gaining experience to become stronger and more skilled. Technology aids in this way by getting us more equipped with means to handle and overcome our own innate weaknesses, that are largely physical, and as such, a defensive philosophy evolves and is applied by the technological utopia that refers to itself as The Civilisation of Humanity. The title in the name itself suggests so. This is where the mechanic of promoting Human Units into a more elite level, with each successful completion of a Mission, comes in. And this is also where I have taken, and not completely forsaken, the original mechanic of winning in Nexus Ops, which was to fulfill the criteria written on Secret Mission Objective Cards, in order to gain Victory Points and get enough before the opponent reaches the winning amount as well. Rather than removing that totally, which I realised of course if I was to alter Nexus Ops and resolve its main fundamental issue, being the lack of asymmetry between the four fighting Factions, and have it ported over to become part of the mechanics of just one of them, the objectives of the Secret Missions had to be entirely reworked, as they played out and worked on the premise that the four Factions were essentially the same. This might be one of the design reasons that the designers had to consider in the process, due to the mechanical issues in how the elements had to come together and work, resulting in the four identical Factions.

In other words, a large emphasis of the design is the same as my preference of working, or my design philosophy of gaining function, coming from theme. And I understand well too the shortcomings of such an approach, and it is wisdom that has me being flexible, even if my design philosophy gravitates from working from the basis of theme, and having the function of the mechanics and features to be defined and follow after the appearance as close to the theme, taking resemblance from the suggestion of how it is best represented and taken form. For me, there are two prime reasons, the first being there is a certain irresistable satisfaction for both designer and player, in knowing that the operations of the game are almost perfectly thematically represented and resembled, and close as ideal if the game was a reality. The second is that working from such an approach, of adapting function to theme, allows naturally a seamless balance, as the conspiration of the mechanics follow along the ideal feel and theme, that the design attempts to emulate. Essentially, what happens is the intuitive development of how the mechanics of the game work, on the fundamental structural basis as laid by the background of theme. I would even call it elegance. To understand this, we must note certain important design issues, that is in the end related to balance, of the determinants of what is arguably the hardest part of the game design process, being the determination of the values and numbers, the mathematical calculations of the statistical elements of the game.

Why should one feature have a certain number for a value? That in the end must be considered in relation to each other element, and then the whole, the crux upon which the balance is maintained. And there is a rather elegant and easy way around this, and that is to naturally work from theme to function, since you are acting on the premise of its plausibility as realism, and that when considering the features and factors to each other, theme provides a vague and broad outline for the fixing of those values that constitute the game, and we must realise one important yet subtle point that most are not aware of, or fail to consider. And that is something of relation to the functioning of Reality itself. It is like explaining why is it that our planet Earth and life itself, or those who live in it by extension, have such considerate and perfectly fitting and ideal settings, such as the amount of time we have within a single day, that determines and regulates the conditions of our experience of life, the duration, the amount of work possibly achieved within that timespan, which in the end moderates the speed of the international economic progression, to be so conveniently and ideally fixed, that the momentum of such operations that determines our pace of life, somehow works itself out.

This is the observance of an important concept in regards to how things work. And you wonder that quote from the economist Hayek, "The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.", and what it means. And the answer to that of course is that the regulation of the pace of economic progress, is of course in direct and comprehensive proportion to the unit of the individual, the capita on which forms its own measurement. Thus Hayek's questioning quote answered and explained. It is a question asked on the mystery of how and why economics seem to function, seemingly noticed by the sufficiently clever minds of those in the field of economics, and I suppose one of the critical observances is on how the pace of life in regards to the pace of economic progress somehow synchronises. And you realise now the sum of such actions are so optimally figured, we come to an understanding of how it is the same as it is with game design, in how the fixing of values can be aptly figured out when knowing that of the graduation of the difference of values from each other and the tenuous balance from their interwoven relationship, and you realise once again that same quote on economics, and the realisation where it applies here that it is entirely intergrated structurally because of what can be called a "nature of Math". If the "natural attributes" of Mathematics had not this "logical progression" intrinsic to its rational function, certain ideal computations, such as how a D6 die has a very agreeable numerical relationship to the limits of the to-Hit and to-Wound charts' value of 10, in the game of Warhammer and so on, would cease and disallow its function. It works because the sequence of set values of Mathematics allows us this possibility. Naturally, it is my belief that the function will flow with the theme, and because it is working on the premise of the rationale that the game is analogous to some probable reality, where the events and phenomena have a logical progression, thus so too will the function naturally enter coherence, and both balance and utility emerge in union.

I suppose there's something satisfying when playing a game, and having it emulate as close as possible, in devices and mechanics, the feel of the game when possibly ported over to a "realistic" simulation. And it itself is an indicator of true design skill, since having the design follow so closely after its semblance in Reality, requires some creative measure and ability too.

Moving on, you will realise the themes for the Human Faction has strong correlation to each other, with each encouraging the idea or notion of the other, such as how being a Faction that emphasises the protection of human lives, they have adopted a defensive philosophy, of which the reliance of technology produces powerful weapons that are meant to be used at ranged, thus further serving their doctrine in regards to warfare and military execution, the priority being the precious lives of a faction that holds "enlightened" utopian views, the only fault being its focus on only those from the same genetic stock. So they come together and is summed up quite appropriately.

A part of me hesitates at this point, on the level of detail and scrutiny I go into an exploration of this Faction, but the features as has been said in the emphasis of the themes, are shown in the details and characteristics of the Units, with all without exception being Ranged Units, with some even helpless when caught in Assault or Close Combat, being without the capability to attack in such a situation. On the issue of their tech, which as has been revealed, possess the characteristics of being highly advanced, as well as geared towards defence, suggests all that in emphasis with they do, and can do.

And this is where we get into something interesting. In fact, all the Factions have a mechanic to them that works almost like a mini-game within the Factions' mode of operation. For the Humans, as I have already mentioned, they are the only ones to inherit the mechanic from the original game, but in this purpose, do not rely on it for the gathering of "Victory Points", to win the game, but for the accomplishing of Special Operations Mission Objectives in order to gain Promotion Points, to promote the ranks of individual Human Units into elite ranks, boosting their utility and power. Those that are promoted gain new abilities, apart from the one they begin with, and every Unit can be promoted twice, in other words there are three "ranks", with the first being the default or "0 Rank", manifest as more a condition than an ability, that describes the character of the Unit, and the limits of what it can do. For instance the default Special Ability of the Sniper, or SA0, states that the Sniper may not attack in Close Combat. In a sense, the default "Rank 0" Special Ability is meant to define the character of the Unit, more than anything utilitarian. They are not always beneficial as an Ability, but might act as a limit or margin to what the Unit can do. In this way, a synergy between different fighting Units is encouraged, in the way you use each individual element to support the shortcomings of others, in order to create a powerful fighting force. This is a feature present in the original game that was taken inspiration from, in how the player was at some level, in order to create a powerful yet balanced force, forced to diversify his army into groups that contain both expensive, strong units, and cheap and weak ones, having the weak ones act as fodder in place of the more strategically-important elements and suffer damage, in order to protect the more expensive investments that are the stronger units. This is carried across too in Chaos Stone, but of course, it is on an entirely different level of complexity.

It is at this point that I feel I have revealed enough of the Human Faction, with perhaps the one lack of mention being the aspect of Buildings, and its importance on both a thematic level of background, as well as of use by the Humans. Among all the Factions, Humans have the greatest reliance on Buildings, which by themselves assert the technologically advanced nature of the Humans. They have the most different types of Buildings, with the characteristics of being slightly more expensive than their equivalents in other Factions, as well as being the hardest to destroy, in virtue of their high Defence Levels. Buildings are in fact a very important facet to the Humans, and their requirement in the Humans' deployment, is of high usage and significance, that might have great contribution to the final outcome and contention of the war, between the powers that are the Factions.

It is at this point that I feel I have to say all that there is sufficient, whatever I can at least, the minimal amount of discussion without revealing details that are best left known when playing the game, after acquiring it. I hope however that I have informed enough to tantalise and lure you into temptation, for a game that is as interesting as it sounds. Having we settled that already though? Peace. Out.

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