Catastrophic Events

  • So far, we know that there are at least two "catastrophic events":

    <li>A meteor hits the planet (approximately after a month)</li>
    <li>Collapse of the ecosystem (caused by the players)</li>

    Simply put: I believe <b>such events should not be game stoppers.</b> The game shouldn't "end" once it's uninhabitable because it can teach a lesson that way.

    Instead of showing a cutscene and displaying "You tried your best but didn't succeed, good luck next time!" before rolling the credits, players should be able to experience the catastrophe. Let the meteor hit and have them experience the slow death of flora and fauna. This offers a new, interesting aspect on the social component: The struggle for resources (and probably power) in a post-apocalyptic world. While this might not be the main message of Eco, I think struggling to survive in an increasingly hostile environment would reinforce the survival aspect as well as that feeling that everything was better before (i.e. put bluntly, to induce guilt). On top of that, all this would be optional: Players could leave whenever they want and a community might decide that once they failed to save the planet, they abandon it. The game would not necessarily need any additional content for it either.

    By letting players continue (or start) playing on such servers, you let them experience their failure at first hand. This could easily serve as a demonstration tool for future or other servers, in the sense of "Well, if we don't get this project done by the end of the week, you can check out our first server to see what it's gonna look like".

    On top of that, I think the events should have varying degrees of devastation. Of course that's not possible for some (you can't have a slightly collapsed ecosystem for example), but others like the meteor would work great. I'm thinking of something like increasingly random disasters: The meteor might pass your planet after a month, but won't hit. A few small to medium meteors that are dragged in its tail however do. They're no threat to the global environment, but might cause havoc in a smaller area. This would both warn the player ("Uh, so these meteors are a real threat... I suppose we should invest astronomy?" which could lead to "Well, our astronomers found out the meteor's due to strike our planet in 14 days.") and show them what happens if they fail to prevent it.

    Other events that could work this way that I can think of on top of my head would be (super-)volcanoes (maybe with earthquakes/geysers as harbingers) or floods, depending on how water will be implemented.

    Of course, these events could be a curse and a blessing. Maybe the meteor's impact site is now rich in minerals, or the volcano/flood has fertilized the soil. However, whether there still is a community that can profit from these blessings would entirely be based on the preparations for the catastrophe as well as whatever happened during it.

    I think that it would make for a vastly more interesting game where you are allowed to let such catastrophes happens - as long as you deal with the fallout accordingly. What do you guys think about that?

  • Oh man, sounds like The Road, where humanity devolves into cannibalism in a dying world. Good ideas, and we definitely want to make some 'grand finale' when the meteor hits or the ecosystem dies off. And the idea of letting players survive in that world for a bit longer before it goes away is an interesting, and powerful in the same sense that the Road was (that is, a terribly depressing way, which also exposes a lot of the beauty around us in the real world by contrast, made more meaningful due its fragility.. Yeah, one of my favorite movies :)

  • i would add ZOMBIES!!!! or at least pandemic viral spread. End of humanity should have the possibility to come from the players, not only from external causes (well, there is the ecology collapse)

  • You could add a difficulty very hard. there could be random eco disasters happening .. very hot dry weather that kills every plant if you don't water it. allot of rain that creates some sort of catastrophe .. or cold weather or even freak storm

  • actually i change my mind .. there should be other dangers to fight after people managed to win against the meteor ... that way the game would keep on going

  • I really like where you're going with that @RepeatPan, and i agree that multiple world ending scenarios should exist and i like @Magellus suggestion that it could be player based (thou that kinda is what a eco collapse would stem from, whether or not we handled /balanced our need vs usage of materials). I'm thinking that in that in the process of creating the tech to combat the inc asteroid there may be a chance of failure there and the facility handling the dangerous material used for the rocket construction would leak or explode causing large ramifications in the immediate area yet not necessarily completely world ending (look at hiroshima fallout). So with enough of these 'localized' events occur, then i could foresee the global eco collapse, thus it would give a buffer of "hey, things are going to hell atm, maybe we should fix that" before it gets to "oh hey, the world is ending" or "The Sky is falling!" because i can't see it getting to those extremes without steps or events leading up to it.

  • @JohnK: Exactly that's a bit of an issue for me, this "before it goes away". In my opinion, the game shouldn't auto-restart or auto-end itself, that should always be done by the administration. Of course, for the public servers there ought to be some sort of mechanism or rule set (maybe "X days after we reach point Y, the server is shut down"?). Otherwise, we might miss out on a pretty crazy sociological experiment!

    @NoBlackThunder: That was something that I wanted to express too. It shouldn't have one "final" event, but rather (increasingly) difficult events. I'm thinking of things like invasive species, droughts, earthquakes or maybe (mass) extinctions for no obvious reasons. That way, players would be challenged all the way until the inevitable end (no resources/a great filter that can't be passed happens). It would also keep servers up for longer than 30 days.

    @Magellus, @cr4zyc4t: I don't think that zombies fit into the core game (but as a player-made mod, maybe!). I like the idea of players being responsible for the end of the world (which is kind of the theme currently anyway: either by action (over-using the system) or inaction (getting hit by a meteor)). However, I think the best approach would be to be delicate about it. For example, the catastrophe defences could all require lots of energy which could be provided in whatever way you want. Maybe you opt in for coal (pollution), maybe for solar (resource cost; waste), or maybe for nuclear reactors (resource cost; danger of nuclear accidents). It would require players to get together to find a good mix and maintain it properly, lest something goes wrong. A nuclear accident isn't just horrible for the environment, it's also a huge problem because you've wasted all these resources to produce lots of energy which are now inaccessible. No resources, no energy, you're back to square one.

  • the final end should be the sun blow up .. like we know this is gonna be our final faith her on earth anyway XD

  • Assuming we stick to 1 year in-game ~ 1 day IRL, then we're talking about five billion days (assuming we're using the same age/lifespan)... or about 13 million years. I don't think Eco will be relevant by then.

  • it should be something like 356 real life day... to basically force a total wipe ? but i believe giving player or server admin the power to control how many or when those catastrophe will happen .. i a thinking about to start a server without the treat of getting hit by a server to let me and my friends slowly in my own pace learn the game .. later you can just change or add those events or even restart with the timer to total annihilation =P to make the game harder .. mods will later hopefully expand the game and there you need then a way to adjust when some events happen. i think it should not hard to implement that if its done from the beginning. and giving server providers power over those settings would enhance the game and how people like it

  • Do you not think that while its in alpha, games should be kept short in order to test out how the ecosystem will react etc?
    Although I do agree that server admins are given the ability to customise their world and enhance the options depending on how people want to play it.

  • That's actually a good point that I didn't think about @Scots! My idea was more for the late alpha/early beta than the Alpha, due to the assets and coding required to make such a thing even happen.

    The only possible issue I have is that it might become very repetitive for players until then - because all you do is basically grind resources until the inevitable happens. I think that just having severe impacts on the system instead could help fine tuning the simulation further, even if it is for unlikely events at the beginning.

  • well i believe the asteroid or endgame disaster should be one of the last thinks to implement. i would think that adding other stuff like ice age or other thinks that make the game hard should be implemented. just my idea .. i agree just grinding resources would be boring .. but just grinding until an asteroid comes could also be boring

  • I think Viral outbreak, even zombisim, would be very interesting. You would have to quarantine players (in essence that character you made will be unplayable until cured, or playable but locked up in some quarantine building that would need food supplied by the player-government. Thus you'd need to create an alternate character, which you may use to help look for the "cure" for your other character, or just write them off. Alternatively you could declare open season on all infected. Another option with zombisim specifically. The character may be unplayable however if "quarantined" there is a "chance" you could find a cure. Of course you could use these players as test subjects and that could have a chance to mutate the virus to something stronger...think resident evil... though this would also lead to a greater chance at finding a cure and lead to other research trees (stronger immunity to other ailments. A decreased need for sleep, weapons...for medical purposes the possible side-effects would be interesting)

  • i think zombies would be a bit over the top for the vanilla version .. viral outbreak ... like the common cold ... eve something even more severe player and animal life .. yea why not =P this could even apply to plant life ( i guess pollution is basically doing something like this already tho )

  • What if concentrated pollution in one area could cause a outbreak in the animal population of that areas that turned them into something like zombies. It could then spread to humans and end the world.

  • No zombies. There's enough "zombie apocalypse survival" games out there and most of the communities are just toxic. I agree that maybe some disease that spreads from animals to players could be useful, but definitely nothing supernatural. An epidemic should be a nuisance, not a hard mode trigger.

  • What if pollution can mutate the ecosystem. Change the temper of animals, aggressive undergrowth growth so trees can't grow, or other plants that hinders the player and animals?

  • Not all ailments are transferable from animals to humans or vice-versa. Some could sure and some can mutate to be able too, especially blood born ailments, however I don't think the apocalypse to come should be all to complicated. No one should be scratching their heads wondering why everyone is dropping dead or becoming zombies. It would think it should be either "we did this and so it caused this" or this is going to happen so prepare for the worst. Also a catastrophe once caused I think a well prepared person or community should be able to bounce back from though perhaps with great difficulty.

  • An alternative idea would be to allow for a little ice age. Now, I don't have any idea how the meteorite is supposed to be stopped, but what if there was a possibility of partial success? Instead of the world either being destroyed or completely saved, suppose that an ice age is triggered. The players then have to adapt to the new environment and find ways to survive. The environment would then heal after, say, another 30 years has passed - or rather the temperatures would stabilize.

    And of course, if the meteorite isn't destroyed at all there should still be a chance of bringing the environment back to balance.

    The only issue of course is extinction. Maybe a set of future skills, like cloning extinct species, could be possible? Or, alternatively, a way to catch live game and store in some way. Like building a zoo, but protected.

    If you allow for underground dwellings, green houses (glass roofs to concentrate warmth, pipe irrigation), and underground growing areas with artificial lighting that would also allow for adaptation scenarios. Just as importantly, such possibilities will allow for people to specialize as "Survivalists" who, rather than trying to stop disaster, or actively preparing for it. This type of player would actually make issues worse for the players trying to stop disaster, but at the same time would make surviving the disaster itself more likely. They would also likely be more difficult to be spotted very often on the surface meaning that the antisocial element is introduced to a very social game.

    EDIT: Also, if you allow such things, it creates the possibility that everyone will just try prepare for the disaster rather than meeting it head on. In that case maybe another meteorite could arrive every so often?

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