Diplomatic efforts continue

It’s been a pretty good week; momentum seems to be picking up again, and we’ve been having some very positive discussions with some very interesting people.
As a result, we should be sharing some more exciting news with you very soon — those of you on the mailing list will be first to be told, of course, so if you haven’t signed up yet, all you need to do is use the widget at the top-right of this page.

Meanwhile, a lot of my time has been spent working with Clive, working on the third iteration of the Diplomatic interface, which is shaping up to be one of the most important (and innovative) parts of the whole design.

Original FOTW didn’t have much time for diplomatic niceties. As head of the GEO, you were an unelected and unaccountable authority, dictating policy as you saw fit, and following no agenda but your own (as if that could ever happen).

In reality, diplomacy has a massive role to play in humanity’s struggle to tackle the challenge of climate change and other environmental issues. Diplomacy is the process by which consensus is reached; conflicts resolved; concessions agreed; and cooperation achieved. It is what we must turn to, if we wish to see a future characterised by peace, and not war.

Of course, we’re not the first game to feature a diplomatic interface, but ours needs to do things that few others have attempted.

For example, most other games treat diplomacy as a one-on-one affair. You have a meeting with another national leader/sorceress queen/alien exarch, and between the two of you work out a deal that seems mutually beneficial. Click the button, sign the deal, job done.

FOTWO, in contrast, is a game about summits, particularly the UNFCCC Conference of Parties, where legally-binding climate treaties are made. Lots of diplomats, representing lots of different nation groups, all trying to come to some sort of mutual understanding about the scale of climate change, and how to solve it.

To model this well, we’ve had to tackle a lot of design issues. What’s the best way to formulate a binding agreement that covers multiple parties? How do we show feedback from different diplomats clearly and effectively? How do we make the process sufficiently quick and interesting to resolve that you won’t mind doing it multiple times during a game? And how do we make the whole thing look pretty?

We’ve got answers to some of these questions so far, but not all. Once we do, you’ll be the first to know about it.