As a trained IP attorney (minus the experience), I am always in line with IP and the traps and tricks are to some degree well known to me, so one question with any design my mind makes is “Is it more alike to the previous version, or not?” This is important, I have no doubt that making TESVII: Restoration myself implies that Bethesda (or their legal team) calls and demands all the materials I copied with an added cease and desist and that would be fair, IP is protected and I will not copy what is not mine, but a good idea is a good idea and that is a larger stage. As such, my mind has been considering a new version of seven cities of gold and when I saw new, I mean totally new. The part of exploration is pretty much the only part that not all mine, but that is too generic as such my version has options.
As such the game is in two settings, the first one is the original world, with all the bells and whistles and the gamer can start (and should start there) so that he or she can get their feet wet. After this and after the immediate training, you can start a second game, a new game, yet this version will redesign the world, so you will be in a massively new area, an area that differs largely from the original. It will design a new map roughly 1000 by 1000 miles, you start in one part, and that is 200 by 200 miles. You get to explore, map, set sights and start foundations. You get to build a fort, from the fort you grow a trade post, from there a village, a town and if you are good enough a city. But it is not merely ‘building’, you have vassals for that. A city with infrastructure, religion, logistics, a setting that grows with every choice you make yet it is not that mundane. As I was thinking it through, I was listening to Jordi Savall, and a consideration grew, what if music is part of growth? As the town band grows, its music increases, all production goes up, yet not always, some react to the beat, some to tempo and some to melody, as you set the stage for the local music, you set in motion a choice. We explore and we find, but there is a sort of randomiser in play, so not everything will be there, some parts will be, some will not, some area’s will have hides, a forest has lumber and as we explore what is and what can be grown, we alter the foundation of growth, the game needs to be entertaining, but it can be educational as well. When we played Civilisation, we had the research to make changes, what if something like that is in the game, but different? What if we had writings, but we set a larger stage with laws, we make choices, common law or civil law, later the introduction of accounting, criminal law and taxation, but they can only come into effect if certain conditions are met. And when the addition is made we see the larger benefit, politics, republic, monarchy, all choices that impact the bottom line of life, but we need to see the changes in a larger stage, the settings of natural laws, the benefit of a nameless religion (in the beginning there was a benefit), yet all these elements are in a different shape, this is not civilisation. So what happens when the world is a 1000 by 1000 miles and you can run through it all? Transport becomes important, we start with horses, and as we see more and more challenges, we can also fathom the impact. We get to shape the world as we see it, as we want it to be. Run around like in AC Brotherhood, but here there are no shops, no banks and no buildings, we get to build it all. Build to close together and space becomes a problem, choose the wrong location and you might be cut off from resources a town needs, we want an exploration game that is true to reality and the new consoles allow for that, cloud gaming allows for that. So when you see the AC Brotherhood map below, consider that 25 times the size, if the X and Y axes represented 10 miles, consider it now at 50 miles in each direction, and that is merely stage one.
What more, whenever you make a new game, you get a new map and you have no idea where you are so navigation and cartography become important, no YouTube in that space, in 1607 JamesTown was founded, consider that stage and see if you can do better, a game that has its own little sidesteps, because wildlife could kill you as you ride too far away, no option to get back in time, as such you will see the results of choices. Seven cities of gold was a great idea and what they got out of the CBM64 with 38Kb of space was pretty awesome, so we can take that idea and evolve it into something really serious and from there we get something entirely new, something never seen before, and all this in a third person view, not a top view that is map like, but the actual view, and consider that you might be playing a very different set of rules from your best friend, you can actually consider discussing what the best road to act is, a game setting we rarely see.
Is it doable?
I believe it is, the new consoles, PC’s and cloud consoles (Google Stadia) can easily deal with it, the question is, can it be done in such a way to entice the player to dip its toe in the exploration waters and see what will come next? I am game, but I am merely one view, there is a commercial side to this and a game designed to appeal to 10-499 people is not a triumph, it is a niche that has no place to go, it is the 3-5 million group we want to reach, that makes a setting achievable and something worth pursuing. It is merely my view on the matter, but I believe that banking on value for money is never a bad idea.