TL;DR 3rd Person Perspective Action-Combo or JRPG Turn-Based
Starting as a poor villager you slowly upgrade your first trading cart, collecting goods to craft and trade for wealth, using wealth to upgrade your trading cart to a wagon, and purchase various facilities for you settlement. Your trading wagon travels along paths and roads, with handcars and trains unlocked later. Paths, roads and railroads pass through settlements of various sizes, with railroads providing more economic boost to a settlement than roads, and roads more than paths. Use your trading wagon to ferry your collected goods between regions using the network of paths, roads and railroads as you explore each region on foot to collect those goods. Your trading directly impacts the economy and growth of each settlement, and as a small settlement grows it can develop connections to the road network and eventually railroad network, which can further increase its growth rate.
If this idea intrigues you please read further below for more detail, and feel free to share your feedback and/or suggestions.
1. Theme and Setting
- High Fantasy/Steampunk/Western
It's the birth of a new Empire. Cities have begun springing up surrounding prominent Faction and Family Strongholds and leaders began banding together in a network of trade and mutual aide with the shared goal of protecting these Stronghold Cities and strengthening their economic growth. Among the leaders of these Strongholds an Emperor is elected, with other leaders acting as Advisors. Roads begin to replace Paths, crisscrossing Regions in order to establish firm connections between these bustling Stronghold Cities, but without a thriving industry many settlements are left disconnected from these economic arteries, down dusty, overgrown Paths barely manageable by mule. Near the rural edge of a Region containing one of these Stronghold Cities lies your Home Settlement, down one of those dusty, overgrown Paths.
2. World Structure and Traversal First I will list the Structural Pieces of the world:
Next I will list the mechanics of Transports:
- The game world is constructed of Regions, Stronghold Cities, Castles, Cities, Settlements, Outposts and your Home Settlement, these are Structural Pieces.
- Regions are large instanced zones (mostly rural).
- Stronghold Cities are semi-large instanced (urban) zones with a central Castle.
- Castles are mid-sized instanced zones that can consist of interior and exterior spaces.
- Cities are semi-large instanced zones.
- Settlements are mid-sized instanced zones.
- Your Home Settlement is a small to semi-large instanced zone that may contain a Castle.
- Cities, Settlements and your Home Settlement also contain enterable Buildings.
- Buildings are small instanced zones.
- Outposts are small to mid-sized instanced zones that may contain interior and exterior spaces as well as Buildings.
Finally here's how the Structural Pieces and Networks integrate:
- Transports are fixed to the Network of Paths, Roads and Rails.
- The Player can directly control the speed of Transports while piloting them.
- Switching between Roads and/or Paths is contextual.
- Switching between Rails is Contextual.
- Transports stay where you last piloted them.
- Structural Pieces are connected using traditional Gateway corridors, which then load to the corresponding Gateway of the adjacent Structural Piece.
- Transports must be piloted to move them between Gateways.
- Some Gateways require (or are limited to) a certain type of Transport.
- Gateways can be traveled through on foot, if able.
3.Physics, Movement and Combat
The physics wouldn't need to be too advanced, but it should control like a solid 3rd person game with movement that could allow platforming while exploring or hunting for treasures. So walking, running, jumping, and swimming should all be tight and responsive at a bare minimum. I don't see a need to include much environmental physics beyond vegetation movement, water reaction, the ability to smash certain crates/barrels/jugs to loot goods. I'm not a programmer or anything, so maybe the physics I have described are advanced, but I'm not envisioning crumbling buildings or destructible environments.
Combat is an area that I'm open to explore. My intial thought was action-based combat similar to Outward, but maybe a bit more Zelda-like, something with combo-based attacks combining light and heavy strikes in various patterns. I do like the impact that weight has on you in Outward though, and since much of my idea revolves around moving Goods it seems appropriate that you should think about the weight you're currently carrying before diving into a battle or chasing down a hunted creature. On the other hand JRPG-style turn-based can allow for some very cinematic combat encounters, and in regards to the Player leveling up, choosing to upgrade a Weapon Skill and having that result in a new attack animation rather than just an effectiveness boost is much more enticing from a progression standpoint.
4. Gameplay Loop and Main Campaign
The Player traverses the world, Hunting, Crafting, Collecting and Trading Goods to sell. When the Player's inventory is full they deposit their Goods into their cart(Transport) for storage until sale. The Player can move around freely on foot, but their Transport is locked to the Path/Road/Rail (Network) it is on. So players can explore the environment for Goods, but they must return to their Transport to deposit Goods and move it further along (the Network) to prevent leaving it far behind.
When the Transport and Player inventories are full the Player uses the expanding Network of Paths/Roads/Rails to deliver Goods across the Empire. The Price for certain Goods is based on the Demand of each City. The Demand varies depending on the Region, Values of the citizens and Supply of that specific City. So the Player will have to discover the Demand of each City and provide Goods that match those Demands without increasing the Supply so much that the Demand and Price decrease.
The Player uses earned Wealth to purchase new Transports and Establishments. New Transports increase storage capacity significantly as well as their travel speed on Roads. Certain Transports also enable the Player to setup a temporary Shop at various Outposts scattered between Cities, and endgame Transports expand on this. Establishments provide bonuses to your Home Settlement in the form of passive Wealth accumulation, passive Goods accumulation, and unlocking new Progression tiers. When the Player has invested a certain amount of Wealth into their Home Settlement the Empire will invite them to join the Railroad Network, which allows the Player to purchase a Railroad Station Establishment for their Home Settlement and unlocks access to Purchase Railroad Transports.
Modular Increase per Level.
Either individual stats, or by group: Physical, Mental, Social(Str+Agi,Int+Wis,Cha+Luck).
Possibly by group for the first 5/10 points, then individual stats thereafter.
Going by group for the first 5 you could max all stats by level 45, but have nothing invested in Weapon Skills.
Modular Increase per Level.
Skill increases could be damage and/or speed modifiers, or entirely new attacks.
Each Transport has Craftable Upgrades, Each Transport must be purchased using Wealth(except handcart).
Unlocking of Railroad tied to Home Settlement Progression.
- Home Settlement Establishments
Establishments must be purchased using Wealth.
Establishments can be assigned a Transport.
Establishment effectiveness is increased by the assigned Transport and upgrades to both the Establishment and the Transport assigned to it.
The Railroad Network connection would signify the conclusion to the main storyline of helping your Home Settlement rise up to become a thriving City with a safe connection to the peaceful Empire, with the Player elected as the City's leader, and subsequently making you an Advisor to the Emperor. Gameplay described from here forward acts as the endgame content and focuses on further expanding your Home Settlement to increase passive Wealth accumulation, as well as investing Wealth in other Settlements to aide them in creating their own Road and Railroad connections.
Until this point the Player has been able to purchase Transports that allow them to erect temporary Shops at dedicated Outposts scattered across the Regions. These Outposts have mostly served as a safe haven in the wilds for Players to sell unwanted Goods to other traders, Craft(repair?) equipment and potions, and provide a safe location to save and sleep. With the purchase of the Railroad Station for your Home Settlement the Player now has the ability to purchase a Train, which not only has a massive storage capacity, but it can also be used to erect much larger temporary shops at Outposts and Railroad Stations in Cities. Eventually the Train can be upgraded to create a Traveling Carnival Which can be used to decrease the Supply of Goods in the City it is stationed, as well as produce passive Wealth accumulation.
The Player will have less direct input over the formation and expansion of the Settlements they invest in (compared to the control in your Home Settlement), but you will still recieve bonuses as the settlement expands. The endgame content revolves around maximizing your Home Settlement and then focusing your attention on investing in all other settlements until they all have a railroad connection. Various Settlement Leaders will give you Quests focused on Establishment expansion and residents of Settlements can also offer sidequests that offer other rewards. There should be a loose story surrounding the endgame content that could be as simple as the Player investing and helping to grow other Settlements to help the Empire prosper, and once that endgame goal is completed a story segment could introduce the election of a new Emperor and the Player's subsequent election as the new Emperor. Then allowing the Player to continue playing, finishing sidequests/collectibles, and perhaps introducing a mini Progression tier in the form of a Throne Room or something like that.
That's what I've got so far, I'll update it if I feel any great inspiration to the idea.