FUNDAMENTALS OF GAME DESIGN, SECOND EDITION

Pure Business Simulations

Pure business simulations allow players to construct only financial fortunes, not visible worlds. A game like Theme Park World is a business simulation because it's about attracting customers and making profits, but because the player builds struc­tures that exist in the virtual world, it is not a pure business simulation. Compare that with the game Hollywood Mogul, for example, which is a pure business simula­tion about the business of making movies. It consists only of a series of menu screens about hiring stars and making deals. The player never sees a set or a cam­era. Mr. Bigshot, shown in Figure 18.4, is a fairly simple stock-market simulation and is even more abstract than Hollywood Mogul.

Most of the challenges of designing a pure business simulation are the same as for any other management simulation: You must devise an economy and mechanisms for manipulating it. The real trick is to find some way of making the subject visu­ally interesting. Spreadsheets and pie charts have limited appeal, so if you're going to do a management simulation without a construction element, try to give it some kind of a setting or find a visual representation of the process that will make it attractive and compelling. Mr. Bigshot accomplishes this with lots of animation, voiceover narration, music, and cartoon characters representing the player's oppo­nents; the player feels rather like a contestant on a TV game show.

Capitalism II (see Figure 18.5), a huge, sprawling business simulation covering all kinds of products and industries, develops in a different direction. In addition to showing pictures of the products and all the raw materials that go into them, the game allows players to construct or purchase buildings in cities, so there's an attractive SimCity-like view as well.

Pure business simulations never have the pulse-pounding excitement of a first-per­son shooter, but fans find them highly enjoyable games. As the designer, you need to work closely with the art director to make the essentially numeric nature of the gameplay as lively as possible.

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FIGURE 18.4

Mr. Bigshot is a pure business simulation without a construction aspect.

 

FIGURE 18.5

Capitalism II

 

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Never let a player buy low and sell high as often as she wants without further expenditure or the passage of time. She'll use it to rack up runaway profits. See Chapter 10, “Core Mechanics,” for further discussion.

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