Version 0.1.1 - in the beginning, there was a map.

Feb 26th 2019

I've waited a long time to really go public with details about Hannover. Now that I have the website up I want to begin to use it to show the public just what it is that I've been working on, and allow you guys to track my progress. I've been asked many times to show screenshots, mockups, and demo videos, and I've been paying attention! This dev-blog will serve that precise purpose. I hope to use it to show not just the current state of development but also to provide a window into the future; to let you guys see where this is going.

Hannover is purposefully a quite ambitious project. The videogame industry of today tends to focus on simple ideas with simple gameplay mechanics. I'm part of a large demographic of gamers that crave for something more. I want complexity; I want a game that allows me to be really creative in my play-style. I want a game that forces me to really think, and refine my strategy.

Between August of 2016 and July of 2018, with some major hiccups and breaks in development, I've been working on the visual part of the game. Hannover is a game in which the fundamental play-pieces are map regions (see video below). Thus, the graphic part of the game consists of a map which functions in a similar way to Google Maps, insofar that it's a map which one can use to reveal more levels of complexity at higher zoom-levels. Unlike Google Maps, which focuses heavily on road maps, the Hannover map only displays regions.

In the game you control a nation, and as in-game time marches on, the simulated nations will be attempting to grow larger and stronger via an endless series of wars, annexations, coalitions, consolidations, and administrative changes. On the map, this behavior would be reflected by nations swapping territories between themselves. Indeed, if we look at a world map throughout history, this behavior is exactly what we would see.

In the interest of not making this first post too long, I won't go too deeply into the game mechanics yet. However, I did want to share some of the core ideas surrounding one important part of the game: the in-game macroeconomic simulation. In Hannover I'm trying to build a realistic world-scale geopolitical simulation, and it simply wouldn't be possible without also simulating a realistic version of the world economy.

At any given moment in the real world, €X euros is worth $Y dolars. How does the market determine that number? The answer is shockingly complex, and requires a non-superficial knowledge of how the global economy actually works. I had to spend weeks studying macroeconomics to begin to make sense of the wider picture of it all. The game specification is 30 pages long; 3 of those pages are bibliography. It was a shockingly complex task to attempt to lay out these concepts in such a way that the game could still be fun to play.

I had the amazing luck to discover an amazing Ph.D paper from the Univsity of Münster, in Germany. "A Multi-Agent Non-Stochastic Economic Simulator" by Ulrich Wolffgang lays out the idea behind creating a virtual macroeconomy that ends up behaving in a very similar way to the real world. In the video below, we see these ideas in action. The project computational-economy accompanies the paper, putting its ideas into a working simulation. My intention is to adapt and port a lot of these core ideas to integrate them into the game.

This will allow a sophisticated level of play never before seen in the strategy genre. Players will be able to wage economic warfare with the same level of detail as military warfare. Not to mention, these two core systems will be inextricably linked in the game, just as they are in real life! Elevated military spending will have consequences that reverberate throughout the domestic economy of a given nation. Maintaining a large military will be expensive, possibly causing you to enter into deficit spending, which would naturally lead to inflation and elevated taxes. Then the player will have new problems; namely, a population which is unhappy about having to pay high taxes, and a currency which is worth less on the international market.

That's all for now. I'm currently in the process of hiring my programming team, and so I hope that the updates to the game (and consequently, to this blog) will become exponentially more frequent. Now that the website is finished, we'll be working exclusively on finishing the first wireframes and mockups, which I'll be sharing here when they are finished. This should give you a better idea of how this will all look when it's finished, and the overall direction this project will take. Stay tuned!