I think it as Michelangelo who once said:
Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.

I've been toiling around in the construction of the Clay framework enough that I think I finally see the vision of what The Epic of Gilgamesh wants to be. This essay is not so much as sheet of specifications as a vision statement. But a vision statement of things that I'm 90% convinced I can achieve with what has been developed so far.

Principle one: Respect the Player's Time

I love to play video games. But I am really getting annoyed with the time commitment involved to actually play them. Everything about this game is designed for the busy person on the go who has work and life committments that don't permit them to be locked away in front of a screen or eight hours at a stretch.

If a game mechanic requires a lot of repetitive actions or level grinding, I will go provide a scripting mechanic. If a game mechanic requires upkeep, I will provide some agent in the game you can call on/hire/etc to mind the store for you. If there is some mathematical trick to beating a game mechanic, the equation will be published. And if there is ever a question about what the game is really doing behind the scenes, the source code will always be available for review.

Principle two: There is no Principle Two


Principle three: Losing is Fun!

Stolen from Dwarf Fortress, obviously. This game is designed to be satisfying to play even if you can't actually win it. And assuming there is a way to "win" it. And even if you do win it, the game will probably destroy you. For fun.

Principle three: the Random Number God

Many games employ the concept of global random events. Certain events only occur randomly. And for really fiendish games, those random events are actually major events in the game needed to unlock other events. While overuse can be obnoxious, in measured amounts it ensures the game will never play through the same way twice.

Principle four: Appease the Other Gods

In addition to random chance, the Epic of Gilgamesh will feature a pantheon of Gods (real and imagined) who will bestow boons and inflict curses to the actors in the game. Not just the player, all of the actors in the game. Each of the Gods will have his or her own (sometimes twisted) logic, and navigating the complicate and conflicting belief systems will be an important element in the game.

Principle five: The Player is not God

Or a God. They are a demi-god, living in a world populated by other demigods. Demigods who want the same things the player wants, and have every opportunity to become as or powerful (or more powerful) than the player to get them. Players can team up with the other Demigods. They can destroy the other Demigods. They can reach agreements to stay out of each other's way. The idea is that the player is not in charge of the world. Ever.

Principle six: Empire Building

Your player will gain influence over city states by performing heroic deeds, outright military conquest, or schmoozing with the local royalty. Taking over the world will provide some advantages in the game, but it's not the point of the game.

Principle seven: Empire Busting

If the player (or an NPC) get a little too successful in taking over the workd, one or more Gods will decide to inflict some sort of curse or mythological monster attack to level the playing field.

Principle eight: This is not a Kid's Game

While I'm not going for something entirely too raunchy to be mentioned in polite society, this game is not meant to be played by small children. I have several of them, I know what works and what doesn't as far as a child's game goes. And frankly something on that level (while challenging on its own merits) is the the sort of game I am setting out to develop. This game is intended for adult entertainment, and will have adult themes, and will require an adult level of sophistication to play.

Principle nine: More than One way to Skin a Cat

There will be multiple paths players and NPCs can utilize to shape the actions of other characters. These include: monetary inducement, intimidation, persuasion, physical violence, sexual conquest, competitive games, and ritual combat. Characters will level up on skills that help (or hurt) in these areas.

Principle nine: The SIMPLE system

Embedded in the workings of the game is a custom skill and attribute system called "SIMPLE":

Each level of those defining attributes will unlock perks. Some perks will conflict (or at least antagonize) other perks. Leveling to an extreme amount in one attribute will actually incur penalties in others. Rules, obviously, to be worked out later. But I want to make it very hard to create a Heinlein style "He or She is simply good at everything" character.

Principle ten: Teamwork

Because it's difficult to have the player be good at everything, the game allows the character to assemble a party of supporting characters. Some party members are motivated by gold. Some by the mission at hand. Others by patriotism. To truly play the game well the player will have to attract a following. Also, players can hire/retain/enslave/deputize npcs to assist in running cities, run trade routes, defend the realm, and so forth.

How much or how little the player decides to play an active role in managing is entirely up to the player. Even actually performing the missions can be farmed out to hired heros if the player is more interested in some other aspect of the game.