Ideas for Capitalism 3

Suggestions for Enlight's future strategy game projects.
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Stonx
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Ideas for Capitalism 3

#1 Post by Stonx » Sat Oct 07, 2017 12:14 am

I consider Capitalism Lab to be a highly flawed masterpiece. I have played Cap 2 and Cap Lab for years despite these flaws. There is so much potential waiting to burst out of it and yet it often gets mired in micromanagement instead of letting you get on with the main thrust of the game.

I think that you could use the current Cap Lab shell and format to try out bold new ideas for a potential game before committing to the time and expense of an entirely new game and graphics engine. That is a playing environment of several detailed and interconnected cities.

In my opinion there are several things that would need axed from Cap Lab to make way for a competent Capitalism 3 – and several things that I believe you should strive to incorporate. I have made a list of each below.

Text in bold will be addressed in more depth by a title further down by a paragraph of the same name.

What we need to scrap

1. The factory grid

Yeah, I know. It's like a heretic suggesting losing the crafting grid for Minecraft! But if we want to make progress we need to be honest and ask ourselves - "What exactly does the factory grid bring us?"

In my opinion the 3x3 factory grid is incredibly limiting to the potential of the game. It means that no factory can contain any intricate manufacturing chain without taking from the factory next door - which requires purchasing and sales units to basically wheel the semi-products through on a conveyor belt. The 3x3 grid is nonsense. It doesn't even add immersion - it purely adds micromanagement because of the arbitrary and archaic 3x3 grid.

Why can't you just click on your factory and up pops a window showing a list of which goods you want to purchase and ship to it, which products/semi-products you want to manufacture internally and a third list of products/semi-products that you wish to make available for sale/external sale?
The second and third lists would only populate with items possible from the ingredients shipped to the factory (although it might be nice to have the bottom of the list contain greyed out versions of what there are a partial supply of ingredients for - and each would a tooltip available to show at a glance what else would be needed for that to be an option.)
It would be such an intuitive and simple system for setting up, monitoring and amending supply chains. Possibly even pictorially show the ingredients coming together, being processed and being shipped out like a tech tree or flow diagram.
A disrupted supply chain could show one of the boxes with a red X on it – working as a link to the offending supply problem and possibly also as a tooltip showing you (at a glance) the potential replacement sources of that commodity.
I will cover capacity, staff, obvious outcomes and industry availability due to timeline later. It should also be possible to use the tech tree to gate futuristic processes – as of 2017 in real life we have abundant access to carbon and yet no current way to create future materials like Graphene on an industrial scale, for example.

2. The retail grid

As with the factory grid this is a hangover from several decades ago – the 3x3 grid means that you can sell 4 products per shop with the potential to have these products advertised, or 3 products per shop with a buffer inventory each but no adverts allowed.

I find this situation to be immersion breaking nonsense. Supermarkets routinely carry over 10000 products – due to the 3x3 grid our simulated ones are incapable of stocking a fifth one!

What should happen is that you click on a retail complex and up pops a window with a list of all products that are being sold in that building are displayed along with price, inventory, profit, internal advertising etc.
Click on Add Product button to bring up a list or all products that could be sold here – filters would work as they do now. The main difference would be instead of only showing 3 products per page they would be normal text sized – so typically 30 or 35 could be viewed at once. I really dislike having to scroll for every product added after the 3rd! We no longer have to tolerate VGA and SVGA – we should make use of more modern resolutions and allow us to see much more at a glance.

Capacity, staff, advertising, perishables and obvious outcomes are covered later.

3. The R&D grid

The R&D system is begging for a huge overhaul. Currently it takes so long to research anything using one of the slots on the 3x3 grid of research. As it stands I only set up one R&D building to use all 9 slots and it is still slow.
So it is normal for me to have perhaps 40 R&D buildings taking up vast amounts of real estate and requiring considerable amounts of needless micromanagement. R&D should merely be one aspect of the Tech system in general – covered later in tech tree. Also see capacity, staff and obvious outcomes. Naturally, the position in the timeline would greatly affect R&D options.

4. Natural Resource grid

The natural resources system also needs a huge overhaul. Why does this need a 3x3 grid too? These only ever have one output which is governed by the square that it is constructed on. You just want output to supply your industrial needs. I will cover all of this under resources.

What we need to add

Steam compatibility

I bought Capitalism 2 years ago but only stumbled across Cap Lab by accident. It is not an easy product to find if you have never heard of it. Any new game should be on Steam as an absolute minimum. This would greatly increase visibility and your own income and ability to further develop the game. You could use early access while you are improving it to increase sales and get extra feedback.
Just because we view this game as a fairly hardcore simulation it does not need to be marketed as such. With the easy difficulty settings it should be approachable to anyone with a casual interest. Casual fans pay the same as the rest of us so it makes sense to show that the game can be accessible for most. After developing through early access the finished product could be sold on consoles.
I’m not suggesting dumbing down to Offworld Trading Company levels!

Timeline

Cap Lab starts in 1990 or 2000 and typically lasts a few decades of play time for any given scenario. Since we can’t simulate the future accurately without a crystal ball I believe we should focus on being able to model the past. We should be able to have start dates of around the industrial revolution – or earlier even. Available products would be governed by resources and tech tree.
And whereas heavy industry would be simpler (Source timber, cut to paper or lumber, ship to retail) Perishables would play a far more important role given the cruder technology employed in transport infrastructure, storage, and refrigeration – all aspects of the tech tree.

Realistic Cities

Currently the cities in Cap Lab are awful. I’m sorry if this sounds harsh but it’s true. The cities are less realistic than they even were in the original Simcity – a game which ran on the ZX Spectrum 48K and Commodore 64!
Even if we really pushed the boat out and advanced to Simcity 2000 levels the whole game ran on 8 MBs RAM IIRC. Even if our game simulated 10 cities that is still a negligible memory and processing requirement for any PC built in the last decade.

As it stands cities consist of such sparse variation in buildings – the same few 2D houses on the outskirts with the occasional 15 storey apartment building scattered around. The CBD (central business district) consists of most of the taller buildings on a map but there are still huge unsightly gaps and then you have several apartment blocks rammed close together.
Roads are another point of contention – there shouldn’t be a fixed grid system like that. It should be possible to delete unnecessary roads or to move them slightly so that you can efficiently fit in whatever zones or constructions you wish. Depending on the cities corruption rating you may need to give a “donation” to local government to be allowed to do this?

Each specific city should have parameters for its population, wealth, climate, disaster likelihood, corruption and also available mineral deposits. Climate and mineral deposits govern potential resources, although the tech tree would also play a part in this. They could also have their own maps – easily enough done especially if maps are to remain 2D for the time being. Intercity infrastructure is covered below.

I believe that maps should be significantly larger if remaining 2D. If city maps will become 3D then perhaps they could just focus on the city itself? Then the surrounding countryside could become a more abstract construct. Click on the Rural tab on a given city screen and it brings up a window containing mainly a large map – a small square in the middle would be the city and all of the land surrounding it would make up the majority of the map. Use filters to show humidity, altitude, temperature, rainfall etc – all the parameters needed to govern potential crops that could be grown.
Other filters would include mineral content of ground (not as detailed to say 72% basalt + 28% granite or anything as superfluous as that) but depending on how much general prospecting you had done in the area you would get a rating of likelihood of finding a deposit of bauxite, oil, iron ore etc.
Farms could be bought on the rural screen – click on the area where a crop would grow and ask for X hectares – and you will get a price pop up if the computer calculates any for sale. Land for farms could fluctuate with global commodity prices.

Buying apartments and office buildings in the current game can be a nuisance because each one is a separate entity which has to be built and monitored. If I build 8 apartment blocks as a single development in one area why can they not be processed as a single entity? They are in the same area with the same ratings – why not just have the rental value set as if it was a single entity?
In order to keep down the amount of processing required on the city screens larger areas could be zoned as districts. So as whether playing as a business or as a local government you would be able to zone large plots of land beside a road. This would then place in the smaller side streets automatically as per Simcity 4. And then just as in Simcity 4 if a few parameters are agreeable then buildings relevant for the zone would get built and the smaller gaps which are currently unusable would get filled with plazas, car parks, gardens or small utility buildings.
To keep CPU processing requests down treat the whole district or zone as one entity. Click anywhere in the zone and it brings up a window of the zone showing if its needs are being met. Companies could buy entire districts out in order to rent them or they could approach the government about taking a 20% stake in a residential or industrial zone for instance. They could add to or reduce their investments as they see fit – but companies could buy low value housing areas and build shops and amenities nearby to see its value and rent increase.
A company could build an appropriate building in a certain zone without penalty but to build a factory outwith an industrial zone you would perhaps need to pay more or “donate” more – depending on the city corruption rating. Or local government may simply say no – you can’t build that here. You may find yourself having locate certain buildings outwith the city in the Rural screen or even in another city abroad.

Infrastructure

What each city map needs firstly is intercity connections. So, that will be dependent on the timeline and tech tree but will ultimately involve road, rail, maritime and airport infrastructure. Roads will exist in any map and any reaching the outside of the map are considered connected to a specified nearby city. With the technology and investment they could be upgraded to highways (either by private funding or government) to allow faster deliveries and higher capacities – especially important for perishables. Perhaps it would make sense that a large freight depot/warehouse could be built on these main arterial routes into the city before the land values start ramping up too much.
Rail could be modelled by having a terminal built in the city and then rails leading to the outside – they would be considered linked to neighbouring cities just as roads are and would be built and upgraded (wide gauge, electrified, high speed etc) in similar ways.
Maritime transport would always be available and would be available to any non landlocked city in the world. Private investors would be free to build new ports close to their production facilities and to upgrade them for storage, refrigeration, efficiency etc as governed by the tech tree and cold hard cash.
Airports would be available to link to any city in the world (giving respect to the timeline and tech tree). They would also be upgradeable and aimed mostly at luxury freight, perishable freight and passengers (see tertiary industry.)
If no company wanted to upgrade infrastructure then eventually government would be forced to. These planned public expenditure operations always go over limit in real life but they could be incorporated into the game. Private money backing a development would be one idea, or tendering for the whole construction job would be another. Vast amounts of construction materials would be needed in a certain time period. Perhaps the odds of winning these types of contracts would be determined by how close and helpful you have been to them?

Resources

Available resources on a given city map would be governed by climate and mineral resources. Mineral resources would have varying potential outputs per resource site. For example, crude oil and natural gas are often located in one well. Gold, and silver are often found with copper deposits, etc. Finding a site with coal and iron ore together would be a cheap and efficient way to kick off steel manufacture.
Resource sites would be randomly offered as they currently are on the city map but it should also be possible to go prospecting for mineral finds. This would be very expensive with random results – although greatly influenced by the tech tree.

Also, you should be able to further prospect resource sites that are in use to see if more proven reserves can be found. The tech tree should play a large part in the viability of this. Think how exhausted oil deposits are once again in full swing thanks to technology such as fracking.

It should be possible to grow crops in colder than expected places using greenhouses and heating – although startup and continuing costs would obviously be higher. And again it should be possible to use desalinated sea water to grow crops in arid areas – cost would rise greatly once again though.

Lumber should now be considered more like a slow growing farm plant than a mineral – it is a renewable resource which doesn’t abruptly run out causing your whole supply chain to freak out! In real life forestry plantations whole tracts of forest are being felled others are being planted and progressively grown.

Fishing fleets should be able to be built go out to sea doing their own thing. You can either pay to rent a fleet at an existing port or buy your own with all the rooms for storage capacity upgrades, fleet capacity upgrades, infrastructure links, refrigeration etc that you could imagine.

Coastal areas could be zoned for the production of commodities such as salt or shellfish. An alternative would be to milk the tourism industry if the climate is warm enough – zone for beach tourism and then build your hotels and retail as close as possible.
I would like to see large amounts of products like the three main mods have. I like how a lot of grown products can be sold in retail stores as is. Unless things have changed I don’t think you can grow and sell things like lemons, strawberries, or coconuts direct to retail in the vanilla version.

I would also like to be able to build and supply power plants with fuel they need, ship waste away from cities for recycling/landfill. Also, I’d like to know if it’s even possible to make money by recycling without government subsidy?

Tertiary Industry

As all of us probably know that industry is divided into three types. Primary industry involves extraction activities like mining, forestry, farming and fishing. Secondary is manufacturing. Tertiary industry involves the service sector. Tertiary industry makes up the majority of the economy in any developed country and (with the exception of retail) is hardly simulated at all in Cap Lab. This situation needs to change.
I noticed that our modders have tried to mod in things like financial products – thanks guys – but they are still constrained by the core game rules so they end up selling financial products from retail buildings which need to be in high land value places to get sales.
Cap 3 needs to have a fully integrated service sector. So many “virtual” products can be sold online or over the phone – things like insurance policies, bank accounts, legal services. Tech support and customer services are often located in countries with lower wages – Cap 3 certainly needs to acknowledge globalisation – and allow us to profit from it accordingly.

As I mentioned in the realistic cities section I believe that zoning larger areas for specific types of land would make sense for reducing micromanagement and keeping computational costs low. Generic commercial districts would include lots of smaller businesses. These would include less consequential things such as hairdressers, dog walkers, beauticians, tutors etc. It might be asking a lot but eventually I’d like to see it possible to start these micro businesses if you so wish – particularly depending on the timeline.
Imagine a scenario where you open a single hairdressing salon in 1900. How big would your business empire be by year 2000? Would you also be pushing your own maxed out brand rated hair products to other companies retail stores by then?

The omission of tourism and the associated transport companies, hotels and entertainment is hard to ignore.

A tech tree

The whole technology aspect of the game currently boils down to 3 things. Firstly, learn to develop a new product at 30 quality, then secondly to increase this figure slowly. Lastly we are beginning to need to develop technology to access newer electronics.

In Cap 3 all of this needs to be integrated into a single tech screen displayed as a tech tree. Each tech has a year on it such as that it will be invented at a given date (+/- a few random years just to keep things unpredictable) even if no player makes any attempt to invent things. Some inventions would be patented and would take perhaps a further 10 years to unlock and be useable for free. It should be possible to buy techs on the free market without the need for yourself or a competitor in your city researching it.

Why not have your R&D buildings all just generate research points instead, the city housing each R&D would affect the land value the property would be built on, the wages of the workers and inversely from that the effectiveness of the staff. Apart from that what difference does it make where R&D is carried out in a globalised economy?

Much like the Civilisation game tech trees you don’t need to stop every year and tell them what your new research is – you can click 4 steps ahead and your labs will work through all 4 without bothering you to stop what you were doing and pore over the tech tree every few turns. But in addition you can split your total research amongst as many techs as you want with whatever weighting you want and slowly work through several long chains of research without bothering the user – just a discreet temporary pop up to say that X is done and they are continuing with Y.
Techs would be considered as need to have items – they unlock new buildings and products and you cannot proceed along that branch of the tech tree without unlocking the previous one.
I think that there should also be a capacity to have optional sub techs that improve smaller aspects of your buildings, product quality, etc. This would work as the tech web does in Beyond Earth.

Capacity

Factory capacity should no longer just be defined by size of factory and however many boxes of your 3x3 grid you manage to make as manufacturing. You buy a site for a factory and then build a factory on it. You can expand capacity when you need to by building more on the site.
Factory throughput will be determined primarily by the specific product being created. Other factors will include staff, relevant tech tree acquisitions and upon upgrades. You can divide your capacity of a given size of factory across as many product lines as you want within the same building, and change the weightings as you want.
You should be able to pay to increase warehouse size for inputs and outputs from the factory and to upgrade to newer invented processes to further increase capacity.
Click Estimate for an estimate of new productivity and confirm or reject changes. Estimate accuracy would be dependent upon staff. This would be in respect of the obvious outcomes ethos that the new game should have. Purchasing neighbouring plots would be possible for yet further expansion if the land is available.

Retail stores would work in a similar fashion but all items for sale are all being sold as efficiently as they can (staff and tech tree would affect this, of course) so there is no need to assign weightings to each product.
Sales capacity would be given by store size (upgradeable within the given plot) and would be varied by staff and tech tree. Retail storerooms and sales areas would be upgradeable
just as was similarly possible with factories.

Staff

Staff effectiveness should be governed by experience (training), wage levels, and tech tree entries.

Staff costs are not clear to me in Cap Lab. Also, it should be possible to pay staff over or under the going rate and take the performance gain or loss respectively. Strikes should be possible for when employers really clamp down on wages. Click on the Staff tab on any owned building to see things like quantity, training level, wage level compared with city wage level as a percentage etc.

Regards training – it is strange how in Cap Lab you build a farm at quality 30 output, max the training slider and then years later you are at 100 output. Now, you build a farm next door and that starts from 30 and works in exactly the same way.
Business does not work like this in the real world. Do you think when McDonalds builds a new restaurant in a city they just 100% staff it with random people from the street? No, they send an experienced manager and several experienced staff over to train up all the newbies before it opens the branch and then from day 1 the staff are fairly competent. (That is the theory anyways, your own experience may differ!)
I would like to see a very low experience for your first building of that type in a city and then each new one of the same type should be the average of the current buildings minus perhaps 10%.

Advertising

Each info screen for a building that can be advertised should have an Advertise button. Click it and it takes you to all options to get advertisements for your building as works at present. But it should be possible for start ups to advertise using fliers, email campaigns, social media targeted adverts, etc. More options needed!

Also, a new product can have sluggish sales until it builds up. It should be very affordable to have in store adverts to boost sales in that period. Perhaps with an X% discount for the first Y days for new products added to existing stores. This could be a default setting that you could set in game for your standard approach and modify it as necessary.

Perishables

Goods which will perish from taking too long to reach consumers should be reflected by disappearing sales inventories of such items.
Each perishable good for sale or inputted into a factory should be calculated to find out how much or this produce will spoil. This calculation will include parameters such as its distance from source, freight type, infrastructure quality, refrigeration tech tree entries obtained.

Obvious outcomes

I do find that a lot of what I do in Cap Lab was trial and error – or reading posts online. This should not be the case. Going to find wikis and such is an immersion breaking experience.

I would like if the ethos of Cap 3 was to be as user friendly as possible. It goes without saying that a tutorial would be mandatory. It should be fairly obvious what things do before you are committed to them.
Pondering over where to place a building should be made easier by the streets being coloured fading away to the limit of that buildings functional radius. Factory screens should be have listed (but greyed out) goods that you have some but not all the ingredients available for – tool tips would show what is missing so that you could easily add a new line if you have the spare capacity and access to missing ingredients.
Any upgrade in a retail or factory should show estimated changes, accuracy based on staff level. If your staff are really angry you can always pay to get the accountants in for a more accurate estimate but this will cost you as you may imagine. Or, maybe you also own the accountancy firm?!


Any questions or comments welcomed!

saffgee
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Re: Ideas for Capitalism 3

#2 Post by saffgee » Sat Oct 07, 2017 11:14 am

I applaud your comprehensiveness in pulling this together and can only agree that with all those features it would indeed be a great game.

Couple of things to understand though - Cap Lab is basically a life extension for a dated classic game. We love it and we especially love the new features we get from the CapLab team and the small community of modders. Our expectations then need to be in line with those realities - I'm not convinced you really understand how big a project your Cap 3 would be as you have outlined it here. Our small group of CapLab lovers all want to play the game you described and the developers want to develop exactly that game, but the reality is we just simply can't/won't.

Maybe the way forward here is to pick out a few items that would be possible for David and the team or the modders to work on and try and get smaller elements fixed in CapLab. Alternatively, maybe motivating a group of players here to setup a crowd funding effort to get a brand new version of the game done would be a good way to get progress towards some of the things you/we want. Maybe Enlight is up for some crowd funding love for Cap 3 ?!

Njeroe
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Re: Ideas for Capitalism 3

#3 Post by Njeroe » Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:24 pm

I think you are on the right path with some very good suggestions. I said this in the other thread too the game needs to be simpler to understand, but still have the depth to set difficult goals for the hardcore player. I think the suggestions you make getting rid of the 3x3 grid will help this in a way. Tech trees are something which are missing too, R&D currently is too simple and some people don't know what to do with it.

What I like about capitalism is the simulation of the city economies and the detailed reports. Being able to dive into the numbers yourself if you want to but still being presented with some simple profit figures if you don't care about your balance sheet/income statement. Setting up production chains and trying to increase profit margins is something too I enjoy. I think that Capitalism 3 should be more barebones as CapLab is currently and flesh it out from there on out perfecting the game mechanics at first before adding too much content.

I suggest to the Enlight team to put together a list of features they think their new business simulation game should have looking at the positives from capitalism lab and learning from the current mistakes/shortcomings.

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Re: Ideas for Capitalism 3

#4 Post by Odare » Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:31 pm

Multiplayer!!!! \o/ Pleaaaseee

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ukrlex
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Re: Ideas for Capitalism 3

#5 Post by ukrlex » Wed Feb 14, 2018 2:18 am

Odare wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:31 pm
Multiplayer!!!! \o/ Pleaaaseee
+ 1

chengtsai
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Re: Ideas for Capitalism 3

#6 Post by chengtsai » Thu Feb 15, 2018 11:09 pm

1. Stock options to CEO, COO, etc
2. Option markets for AI investors to buy and sell
3. We need a chart or something to keep track of freight expenses within the company's operation. Don't have to wait for Transportation DLC
4. Move seafood farms to ocean tiles
5. certificates of deposits (CD) on earnings to hedge against inflation (so easy to implement, my money & company's fund are sitting there earning NOTHING)
6. Allow multi-floor for factory and R&D
7. philanthropy DLC

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