As a long-time fan of , I'm becoming more and more aware of the fact they are a channel through which the predominant, hierarchical and capitalist worldview is delivered to teenagers and young adults around the world.

What if, for a change, we developed a strategy game where and mutual help are rewarded, instead of conquest, exploitation and wealth extraction? Would such a game be boring, or fun to play?

@Antanicus It wouldn't, and in fact cooperation is a theme that has been explored.
Take for example Jon Ritman's Head Over Heels.

@Antanicus I mean, it wouldn't necessarily be boring, and it's an idea that has been floating around for a while. I agree it's an idea that needs more implementations.

@Antanicus It'll be 4C instead of 4X. Communicate, Collaborate, Cooperate, Create?

@Antanicus i'm planning to, actually :) check my pinned toot ;)

@Antanicus try playing battlefield (any version) as lone wolfs dont do well - team work well rewarded !

@Antanicus tbh in stellaris there's no issue with human players cooperating and mutually helping each other, the ai (at least the non-pacifist ai) will just be on your arse

@Antanicus but speaking generally, strategy games center around dealing with conflicts over resources, territory, status, etc

it's an interesting idea to make strategy games based around helping others, but i'm not sure how you could execute it?


Conflict is an easy way to introduce competitive elements and clear challenges to a game, both of which speak to the primitive parts of our psyche.

I would love a game not centered around conflict and hope to see some innovation on that front (or discover existing titles).

@Antanicus I think it'd be harder to design a cooperative tabletop strategy game because a human opponent is more interesting than the rules.
I think a cooperative video game is a lot more viable, eg. you can build cooperatively in Minecraft and defend against the AI.
It's harder to implement complex threats in a tabletop game and building is more limited.

@grainloom what if we changed the concept from "human opponent" to "fellow human"? I've been dreaming about a coop-themed board game for a long time and I believe such a shift of paradigm is crucial, if we want to have something that's even remotely fun to play

@Antanicus Yeah but you still have to find a source of conflict, except you want to put that between the players and the world, not among the players.
I'm not saying it's impossible, it just requires a very different way of thinking.

> you want to put that between the players and the world
- that's precisely what I meant. I imagine a series of decks called "government decisions", "corporate actions" and "natural disasters", from which players need to draw one or more cards based on specific dice rolls and/or other events, and then cooperate to conteract those. A "random" event generating phone appllication could work even better...

@Antanicus @grainloom Pandemic is a pretty good example of cooperative strategy board game.

I've also played a medieval "knights and castles" game, where there were mechanisms for family alliances between players by marrying characters, which made the game way more interesting than any simple 4X game.

@zatnosk @Antanicus ooooh
off but you know what would be really cool as a coop game (at least in my head)?


@grainloom @Antanicus XCOM, but you're controlling an anarchist coop military group, and other players are allied anarchist coop military groups :D #extreme

@zatnosk @grainloom this actually sounds like a ton of fun... Only question... How do you "control" an anarchyst team? :D

@Antanicus @grainloom Any military group in hot action should have a (democratically elected) leader, coordinating actions. The leader doesn't even have to be the same from encounter to encounter. Hell, we could make a mechanism for getting different bonuses/disadvantages depending on which person you're playing as the coordinator.

@zatnosk @grainloom plot twist: this thing actually happenend in Spain during the Civil War, when the anarchist battalions from all around Europe joined the spanish forces against Franco. La Columna de Hierro was one such battalion. Which actually gets us to: let's set the game during the Civil War period and have players command anarchist battalions against Franco's army?

@antanicus @zatnosk @grainloom I'm no expert on games and maybe people have already been doing this, but there is the opportunity to educate and perhaps agitate via depicting the history of labor struggles in the medium of games.

@bob @Antanicus @zatnosk True and that might be a good idea, but if you just want a fun game that shows you how cool cooperation is, it's best if you choose a theme that doesn't limit you.

@zatnosk @Antanicus @bob I'd totally want to see a good cooperative historical game tho, but it seems harder to make.

@grainloom @bob @zatnosk well, keeping the game in the present is paradoxically one way to keep it both accurate (we know our age pretty well, after all) and free (players would be effectively shaping future events). I already have a few notes around this concept, I just need to find them in the mess that is my home folder :)

@Antanicus @bob @zatnosk Any historical era that you try to mimic WILL limit what game design choices you can make and mechanics are supremely important IMHO.
Of course you can give up some historical accuracy for better balanced gameplay and only keep the general story.

@grainloom @bob @zatnosk
> Any historical era that you try to mimic WILL limit what game design choices you can make
- True, but not necessarily a bad thing. If done well, it might actually add to the experience instead of detracting from it.

@grainloom @zatnosk @antanicus So if there isn't already you could have a game about the Paris commune or the Spanish civil war. I'd be very surprised if there isn't already a game about the 1917 revolution. Cuba would be an obvious one because of the well known iconography and there are numerous strikes and lockouts would could be turned into games in which you try to win against the bosses.

@bob @grainloom @zatnosk the only game set during the 1917 revolution I'm aware of is one of the (admittedly very interesting) side-scrolling spin offs derived from the main Assassin's Creed franchise, called "AC Chronicles Russia". As a side note, the only game tackling political revolution I am aware of is "Republic The Revolution" byt the genius Demis Hassabis

@Antanicus @zatnosk @grainloom @bob there is a game board game called The Resistance which is sort of what you are going for but with infiltrators.

@Antanicus I think that it would be boring for some conditioned gamers... The gameplay must be innovative

@Antanicus @vfrmedia
The reason why computer games usually rely on conflict is not just by preference - it's horrifically difficult to write game AI any other way.

@shadowfirebird @vfrmedia @Antanicus
I think it's partly true. Computers are better at things like spatial simulations and physics than they are social or imaginative simulations, so violence is quite an easy fit. That being said, I think it's also possible to do computer-friendly simulations that don't come from a capitalist and/or militaristic worldview, and there are games out there and it's territory that's not that well charted.

@Antanicus @vfrmedia @shadowfirebird It's also possible to do computer-unfriendly simulations well, such as dialogue trees (which most games fuck up, but various CRPGs like the original Fallout games and Shadowrun Dragonfall do pretty well)

@dzuk @Antanicus @vfrmedia
I think it's just that violence is inherently simpler. It requires a lot less AI. Anything else would actually require the simulation of reasonable people -- imagine a game where everyone you met talked like Siri? We're not there yet.

@shadowfirebird @vfrmedia @Antanicus I was saying that even with violence, there are different ways you can contextualise it (and I don’t just mean in a Christian game sort of way), and a dialogue system doesn’t have to be Siri to be engaging.

@dzuk @Antanicus @vfrmedia
This is true, but so many games that aim for this seem to miss. I'm especially thinking of Skyrim here…

@shadowfirebird @vfrmedia @Antanicus I think recent think Bethesda games are really bad examples of a lot of different gameplay types tbh

@Antanicus do you preferred turn-based cooperation or real time cooperation?

@datatitian I believe turn based would be a better choice, as it generally allows players to better ponder their moves, though it would be interesting to experiement with hybrid solutions where part of the action takes place in real time...

Wow I didn't expect to have so many replies, retoots and favs for this one. It seems like there's a lot of attention around this topic in mastodon, and that only makes me happier to be hanging out with all of you guys!

Now: how many of you would like to participate in a community-driven, distributed and mastodon-wide effort to develop at least some of the core mechanics of "4C" gaming?

Thank you all!

@Antanicus YES YES YES. I've often been frustrated with the inherent capitalism and warmongering in all 4X games. I really love the "eXplore" and "eXpand" parts of 4X, and the "eXploit" can be fun in some contexts, but mandating the "eXterminate" just diminishes everything into being Dalek simulators.

@zatnosk great! I'll search for some of the stuff I noted down around the topic and share them ASAP

@Antanicus I suggest we use @AdmiralBell|s term #4C as a hashtag for this endeavor :)

@Antanicus I think it would be fun as long as you could level up in various ways and gain new capabilities to face new challenges. The explore and expand features could be preserved... You're looking for new people to cooperate with. In fact, isn't that basically the point of Star Trek?

@gcupc never thought about Star Trek this way, but it makes sense...

@Antanicus This doesn't even neccesarily just apply to strategy games. Minecraft is 10x more fun when played cooperatively, whether in creative or survival modes

@Concerned_Catgirl not a minecraft player myself, but that's great to know :)

@Antanicus it could definitely be fun. Or at least I might find it fun.

@Antanicus Original Tetris for the NES (the unofficial cartridge from Tengen) has single-player mode, two-player competitive mode, and two-player co-operative mode.

@rotatingskull this doesn't surprise me at all, given the game's origin! Great stuff!

@Antanicus relatedly, someone here (I think?) recently dug up this archive of video game reviews written for the US arm of the Maoist Internationalist Party

@Antanicus At least in board games, cooperating games are often my favourites. It creates more (and positive) interactions, and it is also interesting to fight a "system", a "machine", something that constantly can threaten you.

The "competition" part can still exist, but maybe it's harder to set it up.

@Antanicus fun fact: originally, the game "Monopoly" was called "The Landlords Game", and 'was created to be a "practical demonstration of the present system of land grabbing with all its usual outcomes and consequences"'

So, there's that. :)

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