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Author Topic: Cartel: a squad-based gangster simulation  (Read 295 times)

wolf.b

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Cartel: a squad-based gangster simulation
« on: September 08, 2019, 01:10:03 pm »

Hi folks! My gamedev partner and I have been discussing + laying the groundwork for almost a year now on a game called Cartel, we've recently begun development and we're aiming to have regular releases hopefully along the lines of once a month. Whilst the scope of the game is fairly large, we do aim to keep the feature growth limited in each release as we work on laying the foundations of the game, which will be released for PC, Linux and Mac.

In Cartel you begin as a lowly gang in NYC (currently), where you buy and sell drugs with varying markets in different areas, much like the classic Drug Wars. You must economically and violently take on other gangs to corner your markets, make alliances and partnerships, organize mule-trains and smurf drops, stay ahead of the police and FBI or even try to infiltrate them. You'll also need to set up stash-houses, money laundering businesses and even setup more illicit money sources from human trafficking and prostitution through to gun running and arms deals.

At the moment it's designed as turn-based but we do want to change that to a more realistic design soon, once we've laid out the game's basics. Anyway DF was a really great inspiration for us and I thought I'd mention what we're up to, hopefully with plenty of screenshots to follow in the near future.

https://sites.google.com/view/cartel-the-game
« Last Edit: September 12, 2019, 01:38:26 pm by wolf.b »
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wolf.b

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Cartel - Development Blog
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2019, 08:21:24 am »

Okay so groundwork was laid on development last week and we got back into game development gear. I've prepped design for the first two versions and I'm breaking ground on v0.00.03's version today. Again we hope to release one version every month or so.

So I'm noticing in design how Cartel feels more like a large urban gang-style game and less of a mafia style scenario (think 'The Wire' vs 'The Sopranos'). Which isn't bad but I do want to make that style of theme/gameplay viable as well. I've been thinking about why it is that way all day and I came to the conclusion that the mafia was actually a fairly small group of gangsters that simply had the power to make big waves a) as middle-men for the drug scene and b) by focusing their business on other ventures. Hopefully as we dig into setting up fronts and illicit businesses that style of gameplay becomes more viable. Selling as middle-men to other gangs will also definitely become possible as well later on.

Right now Cartel works on a turn-based system where you choose the actions for the day and react as required before jumping to the next day. However this will not be the final iteration. I do intend for action to flow with a consistent timer ie. 1 minute = 1 hour or some such. However for the sake of simplicity at this early stage I feel turn based with help us stabilize gameplay first. But we do have concrete ideas on how to implement a more real-time style of gameplay and it will dramatically change how people play I think.

At the moment Cartel centres around drugs being the main source of income and something the whole gang revolves around, especially early game. That's not always going to be the case. I want to give people all sorts of ways to play even early game, from burglary crews and robberies to heists and much much more.

For the short-term future we'll be using a basic occupy corner system where you send foot-soldiers to deal drugs and guns, each neighbourhood having a different number of corners based on neighbourhood size, however this is not where I want the system to remain. I intend to create real-estate density and value markers so that some "corners" are more valuable than others whether they have more foot-traffic or more money in the area or both/neither. Giving the corner occupation system a more strategic style of gameplay and more tactile reasons to go to war over specific spots.

One direction I see Cartel going in down the road is that the more low-end crime and violence there is in a neighbourhood, the more the demographic and thus market tastes will change over time and on the flip side, the more legit business is built and invested into an area, the more gentrified it becomes, again changing the demographics and market tastes. For example coke being a more white collar drug and crack a more blue collar one etc. Though these are fairly basic examples.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2019, 08:23:02 am by wolf.b »
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wolf.b

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Cartel - Development Blog
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2019, 06:06:11 am »

Time for the Saturday Roundup. Anon E Moose & I tend to work on our projects together six days a week, with Sundays off, with whatever time we can spare around our jobs and lives. I'll be doing Saturday roundups from here on out along with other updates interspersed through the weeks.

We currently estimate that we're about 30% through v0.00.01's development cycle. We ended up switching programming languages midway through the week, forsaking Batch for C++, so we lost a day transferring everything we had so far over. Anyway this still puts us on track to release our first version within the next two weeks, as things should go a bit faster from here on out.

On the design side, I've been waylaid with building a car list of several thousand vehicles; no that's not a typo. Basically I've taken most cars ever made circa 1950 and beyond and built them into a database with manufacturing release dates and exponential sale numbers based on totals ever produced. Complimented by assembly locations for import vs. domestic markets I was able to devise that there are roughly 2.9 million domestically produced cars in NYC and roughly 1.5 million imports. Extrapolating from these figures, production dates and rarity based on sales I'll be able to put an equation together to determine likelihood of encountering certain cars. Coupled with a valuation system that cross-references numbers of sales, production dates and domestic vs. imports, it will give future mechanics some real sweet juice.

So what sort of mechanics am I talking about? Well chop shops will be introduced eventually, where the more mundane cars can be scrapped for parts, whether you're selling to third-parties or running the chop shop yourself. You'll also be able to resell vehicles through dodgy dealerships, which again you'll be able to set up. Finally, as your reputation grows you'll be able to take custom orders on the black market for more palpable items, along with planning these car jackings which will more often than not require overcoming certain external security measures. After all no sane owner of a 1963 Ferrari in the 90s is going to just leave it out on the street (one just sold at auction for $70 million, FYI).

Furthermore, new cars will be released up to the present day (game starts in 1980) which will make older cars rarer over time as the density equation is maintained. Now why are we doing all this? Because why the hell not? The end result is going to be a lot of fun.
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Lunardog15

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Re: Cartel: a squad-based gangster simulation
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2019, 01:42:31 pm »

would it be possible to base your empire off on legal things?
like milk
cause Al Capone literally sold milk for a while 
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wolf.b

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Re: Cartel: a squad-based gangster simulation
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2019, 02:08:14 pm »

Well I don't know about milk, but strong-arming your way into legal industries, besides merely setting up fronts is definitely a feature I'm eager to explore later on. As I mentioned before, part of what made the old-school mafia so successful with so few a number and no drug trade was this very thing. As to making this legal industry your primary income, that's harder to say without further design in that area and testing. But I think it could be possible given how I'm trying to design the game to be about how you want to play.

Another component of that Capone story is that Al strongarmed Chicago's council into having expiration labels on milk to prevent children becoming sick, only adding to his everyman's hero persona amongst the working-class. This 'altruisim' is also something I want to integrate, giving to the community for popularity and interesting benefits and restrictions (and vice versa).
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Lunardog15

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Re: Cartel: a squad-based gangster simulation
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2019, 02:22:15 pm »

that would be super cool
btw that cool fact has me grinning right now. that's super cool
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wolf.b

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Re: Cartel: a squad-based gangster simulation
« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2019, 03:14:16 am »

I think so too.

And yeah Capone was a crazy cat but he knew how to play the PR game. Another interesting fact, Al Capone's secret vault beneath his headquarters (a hotel), was turned into a live TV 2 hour special in the late 70s/early 80s (I forget which), where they literally used dynamite in enclosed spaces digging through cellars searching for it and fired off guns from the era. One of the highest ratings in TV history and it pioneered the phenomena of reality TV. One last fuck you, from Al's grave to the world.

P.S.
There was no vault.

P.S.S.
Happy to answer anymore questions about Cartel from anyone :D
« Last Edit: September 15, 2019, 03:15:52 am by wolf.b »
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wolf.b

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Cartel - Development Blog
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2019, 07:14:43 am »

Midweek update: We're keeping time on v0.00.01's development with an aim of releasing it at the end of next week. If I had to describe it in an elevator pitch I'd call it a slightly larger version of the old-school Drug Wars with squad mechanics for distribution, which really isn't bad for our first release. There are so many things I'd love to talk about and promote for what we envision with Cartel but I don't want to overpromise despite being a free game. When we drop v0.00.01 I'll also be uploading a feature development list for the near future on our website (along with switching to an original domain name).

A couple of things I do want to touch on briefly in this report. Bay12's Liberal Crime Squad, is a massive influence for me on the game's design strategy, and if you haven't played it yet you are really missing out on a great game. Whilst I don't want to commit to any ASCII mapping yet which is an important part of LCS' experience (though I do envision this game having two sides management/ascii rpg) the basic premise of running a gang that grows into a cartel takes presidence as a strategy-management game.

The other thing I want to touch on is that I am a huge fan of realism in strategy games, within the confines of still keeping mechanics enjoyable. On that note I do a lot of research for Cartel. I freely admit that sometimes the idea of 'glorifying' violence etc. makes me uncomfortable, but on the other side - this game will examine the connections and functionality inside the underworld of human society and I think it's always better to see how things come to be the way they are.

For example, gang culture has been a massive influence of geopolitical history, perhaps always, but certainly in the last few hundred years. I relish the opportunity to explore and show how this exploitation of the human condition comes about amongst other facets. So in summary, I do have some misgivings about making a 'fun' gangster game, but that I think it can also be another way to show beneath the hood of society, at least this is my hope.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2019, 07:17:41 am by wolf.b »
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Lunardog15

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Re: Cartel: a squad-based gangster simulation
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2019, 10:25:26 am »

sounds good :) I will be sure to give my thoughts on it when it comes out
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everything is fine
 everything is on fire
I see no difference between these two phrases.
only at modded hell does this make sense