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Scarcity

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Derantol

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One thing that I have been convinced of for quite some time is that Cybernations would benefit greatly from an introduction of some sort of scarcity in resources. At present, only two genuinely scarce resources exist - senate seats, which aren't exactly fought for tooth and nail, and members, which is fairly arguable as members that one alliance wants are vastly different than members another alliance wants. There's a reason that Starcraft games never last more than about an hour, and Empire Earth (for those who know the first EE game) can last for hours and hours, and it has to do with how the mechanics of those respective games force (or don't force) conflict.

In Empire Earth, it is entirely feasible to take your corner of the map, fortify it, defend it, and simply build up until you have completely filled out the tech tree. On average, it takes me and my friends about three hours to go from the very beginning of time to where we stop teching up and start taking over the map. This is possibly because in your starting base, you get resources piles of 300,000, which would literally take several days of realtime at top speed in optimal conditions to completely mine out. Therefore, your only limits are how fast you can collect resources - which does *eventually* force you out, but only once you reach the last few ages where the stuff that you're buying is actually straining your income.

Starcraft, on the other hand, gives you roughly twenty to twenty five minutes to completely collect all the resources in your main base. Each expansion base takes about the same or less time. Because of that, it is important to expand quickly, and it is important to expand more than your opponent, who you will likely end up fighting very quickly as you begin to expand. This strategy does work in EE as well, but not nearly as well, and it doesn't give you nearly the same kind of advantage that it does in Starcraft.

EE is fairly similar to CN. Resources are really only limited by your ability to acquire them - in CN, aid slots are effectively the limit. In the standard setup these days, you can get on average 150-200 tech every ten days, depending on whether you are doing 3/50 or 3/100 deals. It doesn't matter how much money you're making - unless you want to pay exorbitant amounts, you aren't going to edge out your competitors in tech totals. The only advantage you can get has to do with your activity and your ability to choose reliable trading partners. Which - surprise! - is a feat that is more or less achieved by a large number of people.

Unfortunately, there are a couple problems I haven't personally found a way to reconcile yet. Starcraft and EE are both different from CN in that they have a win condition - you do eventually win the game. CN doesn't have that, and that's the first problem. The other problem is that to create a balanced system, the scarce resource in question has to be desirable, but can't overbalance the game in that group's favor. Having sanctioned alliances was in some ways an answer to that, as having the alliance allows you a pip on the boards and a flag in the game, but most of CN has decided that being sanctioned isn't valuable. Senate seats are technically a scarce resource, but the tangible benefits of holding them aren't terribly potent in the first place, and the facets that are usable aren't being used in a way that makes the seats genuinely important to have - it doesn't matter who is an ally of who, rogues often get sanctioned either way, so what's the difference between, say, Fark or MHA holding a particular seat? Or TOP and RnR, for a non-allied comparison.

I wanted to open a bit of a brainstorming session to see if anyone could come up with an idea worthy of the suggestion box. It'll get more traction (hopefully) if we get some of the discussion out of the way now and bring it forward with considerable support from the get-go. With that, ideas?

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