Since I started programming classes this Spring, I’ve been using my combined understanding of spreadsheets and basic programming to organize my thoughts as best I can.

If you’ve been following my game design for any length of time, you know I’m working on several interwoven projects simultaneously: character revisions, dungeons, settlements, narratives, and factions.

I needed to learn programming so I could automate some of the tedious stuff. Every time I made a change or correction, there would be sweeping changes throughout my designs that took far, far too long to update. I’m reaching a point now, where a change in one section takes me a few days to a week to update rather than… 2-6 months.

I haven’t been exactly “diligent” about updating my progress on the blog since taking on several large projects. Rest assured, my projects are moving along at a pace that’s difficult for me to describe. I want to say “Lovecraftian.”

Over Spring Break, I wrote a program to automate world generation (and then subsector generation) for Traveller, and taught myself how to create outputs so I could make Excel spreadsheets of the worlds and sort by atmosphere, terrain, trade codes… you know, important stuff for Traveller.

I think I dropped some hints on the blog about that back when I wrote it.

Some weeks later, I wrote another program to automate “Skyloft City” generation from Airship Pirates. Since picking up some projects, my memory has been shot (losing sleep hasn’t helped), and I’ve since used what I learned from that to revisit the settlement generation rules I’ve had in development.

Speaking of those settlement generation rules, they’re coming along really well. If I don’t get too off-topic in this post, I’ll write another just about that.

The great thing about automating these generation processes is that I can look at trends and ask large, abstract questions… look at some data, and answer those questions much faster than before. So development is humming along.

I reached a critical point… over the weekend(?) — my short-term memory isn’t the greatest right now — when I realized I was going to have to throw out my faction attributes because I’d obsoleted them.

Remember how I said it used to take 2+ months to make cascading updates throughout the system? This was one of those faster-turnaround things. Yeah, of course I technically knew about the obsoletion of those attributes from before when I merged them with settlement attributes, and I had yet to write new ones.

Well, then I needed the new ones.

I was too tired to write them up as soon as I needed them, so I left a big void with a “to be filled in later” note to myself. I remember an exhausted ramble to someone in a car about how I needed to do that when I had more sleep.

It’s been a couple days since then and I have some new attributes. About four, currently. Just enough to start work on the next phase — I’ll come up with the others as I move along.

Those new attributes? Violence, Intrigue, Research, and Diplomacy.

As for factions themselves, they’ve gotten a little weird… hence the post title.

Over the last few days, I wrote up a faction profile based on ideas borrowed from Master of Magic and Magic: the Gathering. My thinking was along the lines of “allegiance” to a particular color influencing X or Y about a faction’s philosophy, and MtG provided convenient (if flawed) shorthand.

For some reason, I did a little research into bartending/mixology for some terminology to use in “color ratios” to supplement allegiance, and came up with “Splash, Mixed, Blended, and Fused” to represent degrees of philosophy dilution. They’re placeholder terms, but they’re colorful enough to make me smile.

Earlier this week, I wrote a program to randomly assign allegiance, composition (mixology), and some other attributes (not including my four new ones) to see what a faction “character” might look like.

And that brings us to my “sudden need for those faction attributes I left blank.”

Okay, so we’re all caught up now.

This morning I implemented the four faction attributes I came up with and revised the ‘Strategy’ selection process to use attributes instead of random assignment. It’s good, but wow it feels pretty slap-dash.

Then I threw in assignment of faction priorities, and the policy system I’ve been working on the last few… weeks? Months? Hard to say at this point. It’s pretty crazy.

The evolution of grand strategy games in the vein of Civilization uses Social Engineering and Government Policies to represent all kinds of things, and I’ve been working on my own version of that. I hoped to effectively model real and fantasy cultures using a system of policies including governments, executives, ideals, and whatnot.

It’s funny to think of (for example), elves being “Green-Economy Monarchists,” but that’s where I ended up. I drew up some sample policies for each of the “standard” (as of 5e) races, to get a feel for them.

And that’s where I’m at now. I’d love to go into more depth, but I’ve exceeded my limit for a single post, and I’m going to need to break this conversation up into a couple posts now.

Exciting times!