Policies and Nicknames (Part 2)

Well, I almost missed a weekend update for the first time in over a year, but in my current timezone (Germany) it is still Sunday, so here we are! Just a quick one this week, but I’ve got a few really long and interesting updates, and some more abstract discussions, scheduled for the coming weeks. However, since this entry is rather short, here are four of my most recent conference/lecture presentations, in no particular order. Enjoy!

Talk to AISB AI & Games conference on designing URR’s upcoming NPC AI:

Talk at a conference on literary dystopias about Command and Conquer: Tiberian Sun

My main talk at DiGRA about Japanese arcade culture, danmaku games, high scores, and some other cool stuff (a full paper version is going to be published as a chapter in a book on Gaming and East Asia in 2016)!

My secondary talk at DiGRA about civilians in the original Command and Conquer

Remaining Policies

Thanks to everyone for their ideas on the remaining policies. I realized as I read through the suggestions that something had been a tad unclear: Tribal Knowledge, Chiefdom and Escort Cavalry are policies which can only appear in hunter-gatherer and nomadic societies, and are therefore rather like “placeholders”, so suggestions for those – although there were some great ones and I might integrate them as general buildings/NPCs/etc! – won’t be directly integrated into the policy system. So, without further ado, the Militia policy will result in citizens owning weapons in their homes; the Imperialist policy will allow that civilization to seize colonies (currently all feudal nations can do this, but this’ll therefore be changed); the Hegemony policy will mean that race (which is to say, skin tone) will directly affect citizens in that nation in some way, but I haven’t yet decided precisely how; and the Vigilantism policy will cause bounty offices to spawn, listing wanted individuals and the bounties on them. That means interventionist – by which I mean covert operations, spying, espionage – remains undecided.


So, as well as city nicknames, I’m working on nicknames for people. This means both historical figures, and living figures who the game considers important. Right now I’m splitting this into two categories: people from important noble families have a certain generation algorithm underlying their nicknames, whilst anyone else who isn’t high-born but has still become “important” will have a different generator. Firstly, if someone is from an important family, the game looks at the coat of arms for that family. If their coat of arms contains a “distinct” pattern, it will go to a unique generator for that pattern; if it doesn’t, then it will default to a more “general” generator. This generator can sometimes use words from the terrain of the homeland of this person as well.

So, for example, let’s say someone comes from an ice/tundra area, and their coat of arms contains the pattern of the dragon flying “upwards” (I’m sure many of you will have seen it). They might be nicknamed “The Roaring Breath of the Ice”, “The Adorned Wyvern”, “The Drake of the Hailstones” or “The Ennobled Dragon”. Alternatively, someone who hails from a temperate region and has a coat of arms containing a trident might be nicknamed “The Halberd of the Bluffs” or “The Invested Spear”; someone from a family with a harp on their coat of arms and who lives in the desert might be “The Singer of the Dust” or “The Sand Melodist”… and so on. Alternatively, if a coat of arms is generic or geometric enough to not merit any special words, it instead defaults to a name based on the policies of that person’s nation: “free trade” as a policy might yield “The Glorious Merchant”, “frontier” as a policy might yield “The Grand Marshall”, “theocracy” yields “The Sublime Conduit”, and so on. I still need to finish off some of the generation possibilities, but these are basically done.

And that, I’m afraid, is all for this week! I’ve been at a conference so haven’t been doing any programming this week, but there’s a lot of cool stuff on its way. See you all next week for probably a URR update, or a discussion of one of the many interesting game-related things this conference has got me thinking about!

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8 thoughts on “Policies and Nicknames (Part 2)

  1. Question: Is it possible for the player to acquire a nickname from their in-game actions?

    Also, here’s an idea for a Interventionist: nobles will give you assassination quests, or quests where you have find and report back some information.

    • Yes! Possibly many nicknames? That might be cool. I’m not sure about quest giving nobles of that sort, but something similar – I intend to implement some kind of “plot” system like CK2, so maybe in non-Interventionist nations “plots” are contained WITHIN THAT NATION, whilst interventionist nations deploy plots into other nations too? Actually, just as I type that, I really like that idea…

  2. Will the nicknames influenced by the caller’s knowledge of rumors, geography and such? I’d like to imagine someone that lives in isolation from other nations to just call everybody else ‘Outsider’ or something like that.

    • Ahhh, interesting question. I had intended nicknames to work slightly differently, but I actually like that idea too. Certain nations have derogatory nicknames for other nations, and so on, as well as the “official” nicknames (is that an oxymoron?). I like it! Will add it.

  3. “the Hegemony policy will mean that race (which is to say, skin tone) will directly affect citizens in that nation in some way, but I haven’t yet decided precisely how”

    Skin tone already says it all, though it sounds more like the Casta system. The Spanish during the conquest of the Americas had a very strict caste system based on genealogy: The lesser the amount of native or african blood a person had the better their chances of enjoying a better social standing (including things like education, profession, and even government delegations). While native Spanish citizens were preferred, a criollo (colonial son of spaniards) for example could ascend so high as to become viceroy, while mestizos (son of a spaniard and native) would never achieve such status no matter how examplary their behavior.

    I am not sure how the game keeps track of skin tones, but a caste system based around them would be quite interesting.

    • Hmmm. A very interesting example, and perhaps something along those lines is what I have in mind. Basically, skin tone is obviously geographically determined (with a little variation/randomness) and it keeps track according to latitude/longitude and a number of other lesser factors; also, when you look at an NPC, you will of course see their face (see a couple blog posts ago), so each NPC will have skin tone stored somewhere as well.

  4. Heh. I looked through your “civilians in C&C” presentation. Mostly accurate, though the “protect civilians” mission was pretty broken by the fact that even without panic, civilians wander around into the tiberium anyway, and there is nothing at all a player can do about it except wall the whole village to stop them from moving.

    To make it worse, the inconspicuous little tree behind the church is actually an infected tiberium spore tree, and it will mutate to its deadly-spore-spitting variant somewhere during the mission. Any civilian who stands close to it after the mutation will die whenever it spits its spores around.

    My C&C95 patch modifies that mission, moving the tree to the center of a nearby tiberium field, because with that tree in the village the mission is just completely broken.

    Oh, another note: the panic behaviour is not really what you think. Strangely, it only applies to the rare armed civilians. They have guns with 10 bullets in them, and quite a long reload time. It is only when they shot their 10 bullets, and are ‘waiting’ for it to reload, that they run around in panic.

    Their guns do no damage whatsoever, though:
    (Well, technically they do ‘1’ damage, but the armor on any vehicle stronger than a basic jeep reduces that to 0)

    On the crates: no GDI missions have churches with crates under them, and the few missions where you can attack the civilians are probably bugs. Still, the game’s force-fire ability indeed means you can get rid of them if they get in your way. Though, while in the mission score screen of Nod, civilians are counted separately, they are simply counted as your own losses on the GDI score screen.

    A couple of the Covert Operations missions do have some oddities involving civilian allegiances, and crates under churches in GDI missions, but there the civilians are often changed to another side internally so they don’t count as losses for GDI as they normally do.

    • Oh, yeah, I know re: the protect civilians mission; it’s probably the most broken in the game, since as you say the only option is to surround them with walls (which is what I always did in the game). That sounds like a really good modification.

      Panic behaviour: huh, thanks for the clarification. What’s the behaviour of the non-armed civilians? Do they just not panic? I am *sure* they all panic, but it has been a year since I last played the game, so perhaps I’m remembering this incorrectly. Crates: oh yeah, I acknowledge missions where you can attack the civilians are probably bugs; but from a kind of “death of the author” perspective, I think that’s rather interesting, since the game the player plays is undeniably one where GDI can, indeed, attack civilians in certain contexts.

      Also, I’m glad you’ve returned, since there is a big project I’m hopefully going to working on where, as a C&C expert, I’d very much appreciate your input/thoughts! I’m waiting to hear back on the viability of the project at the moment, but I assume the email address you use for your comments is the one I should contact you on?

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