Monthly Archives: August 2008

Medieval: Total War Drinking

During the course of my research for another blog article, I came across this fairly hilariously deadpan FAQ on Medieval: Total War. The game has a character attribute system for nobles and generals. This part of the FAQ discusses the mechanics behind all the traits related to alcoholism. It’s fairly hilarious:

Social Drinker (Drink 1)– +1 Command, +1 Popularity, gained after 1 point of Drink
Gets Merry (Drink 2)– +1 Popularity, upgrade after 2 points of Drink
Steady Drinker (Drink 3)– -1 Command, +1 Popularity, upgrade after 4 points of Drink
Drunken Heathen (Drink 4)– -2 Command, -1 Authority, -2% Tax Income, upgrade after 8 points of Drink
Alcoholic (Drink 5)– -3 Command, -3 Authority, -5% Tax Income, upgrade after 16 points of Drink
Paralytic (Drink 6)– -5 Command, -5 Authority, -10% Tax Income, epithet “the Drunkard”, upgrade after 32 points of Drink

Drink has Sobriety as an antitrait, and a NoGoingBack level of 5 (there is no AA in medieval times).

Drink is not available to Middle Eastern cultures the Quran is apparently just that good, and there is no “Shisha” trait).

A general gains a point of drink on adoption or lesser adoption with 8% probability, or when offered for marriage with 6% probability. On coming of age, a general gains a point of Drink with 4% probability, and if a general’s father had one or more levels of drink, he gains a point of Drink with 30% probability.

A general belonging to the France or Denmark factions also has on additional 4% probability to gain a point on coming of age. Also, when a character marries or becomes a father, they have a 5% chance to gain a point of Drink. When a general suffers an assassination attempt, they have a 20% chance to gain a point of Drink.

Drink is also self-perpetuating. At the end of any turn, if a general has a level of Drink, they can gain a point of Drink with 4% probability. At the end of any turn, if a general is in a settlement with a brothel or better and has 100% of his movement points remaining, he gains a point of Drink with 5% probability, plus an additional chance at 5% probability if that building is a pleasure palace. If he is at sea at the end of the turn, he gains a point of Drink with 3% probability. Also, at the end of the turn in any settlement, if the general has 100% of his movement points, the game takes a random percent- if that percent is greater than 90, the general has a 1% chance to gain a point in Drink, Gambling, Arse, or Girls.

In other words, do not leave your generals in town with 100% movement points.

Boston Gameloop

I attended Boston Gameloop today. It felt good to actually start connecting with some of the game development community around here. I just wish they hadn’t started the damn thing at 9 in the morning. I shouldn’t have to get up an hour and a half earlier on Saturday than I do during the week. So I was a little baked for the morning portion of the unconference. Observers might have described me as ‘catatonic’.

There were two key talks that I really took a lot away from. Alexx Kay, one of my co-designers at 2K Boston, did a great discussion on implicit worldviews in game mechanics. We talked about how in Civilization, unprovoked attacks on friendly nations are almost always part of an optimal strategy. What message do these mechanics send about the state of the real world? I mentioned that all the sims in The Sims 2 are effectively bisexual. What assumed, implicit message does that send to players? I think this kind of thematic deconstruction is extra interesting because it is something that is only possible in games. We’ve been analyzing themes in canned storylines forever. How many classical philosophers ever considered the worldview implicit in the rules of Chess?

The second talk generated some ideas that I’ll probably want to expand into an article here. It was a discussion about emergent narrative. My main point was that we don’t have a shortage of emergent narrative in many games (especially strategy games). The events themselves are all there. What we lack is a way to make the game interpret the events and connect the dots together into a story. All that work is left to the player, and I don’t think game designers really realized that anything was missing at all. More to come on this.