A real-time strategy game with emphasis on secrecy and subversion. Unlike most RTSes, building and training times are fairly inconvenient, so tactics is key rather than churning out units. It is possible for an army without any resources other than its men and supplies to survive hidden and remain a considerable force while other armies beat each others' cities down.
The game should be tilted so it's generally not a good idea to throw all your army around at once, but strikes and ambushes with small numbers of highly trained troops are advantageous.
Military production and training centers are seperate. This is a huge departure from traditional RTSes. A training camp would have a maximum level that it can train units up to, above which units will need field experience to reach. This can be different from camp to camp, as a training camp where high-experience units are present could train units to a higher level than one without. Sponge minions actually lose training over time. Training centers don't advance a city's economy nearly as much as any civilian building occupying the same area would.
Population centers are a key to winning since workers and soldiers can be recruited from them and heavy unit production takes place here, but unit training levels can play as great a role as production. Military bases can be established in obscure places to train troops. While some production can take place outside of cities, it is more efficient in cities where resources and workers are more accessible.
Reconnaissance is more than just a “vision” value, as some infrastructure is loud or polluting and can be detected from far away, and some land (mountains, forest) hides certain units (troops especially) while other land (open desert) doesn't. Troops in a forested or mountainous area who do not move and do not fire upon visible enemies can be almost impossible to find.
It is possible to infiltrate a peaceful city and simply lie there while the controlling faction, even if they are at war with you, may not notice. Military bases will see you coming and blow you away, while civilian centers can't tell your forces from civilians if you're careful. Closures, searches and curfews can be implemented with different effects on the economy and the peoples' attitude. Since a good economy requires that people will do a lot of city to city travelling, it is impossible to just have your units shoot anything that gets close since you won't be able to build anything and you will lose popular support fast.
In order to implement this, it may be necessary to have “neighbourhood” building units that represent population centers. In this case, it may be necessary for each to have its own like/dislike values. Population builds far slower than in sim/rts games; If half of a small city is wiped out, it might take a full day of real life time to regrow. In other words, you can consider it fucked for the rest of the mission. Good conditions and resource management can lead to faster population growth, but generally population growth will only serve to replace some of the people who leave to join the army.
Since everything is to take so long, there might only be one mission. The Left Coast would make an excellent battlefield with three established governments and all the different kinds of natural terrain available save tundra. With the different ways I'm thinking of this, games could be anywhere from 1.5 to 30 hours long.
In the beginning of the game, the three traditional governments will have total control over all population centers, and all military equipment. This does not put the Jihad or the Lyrans in any sort of a good position, so somehow some advantage will have to be given to these groups. This will have to be through propagandizing. Certainly the traditional governments' AI, being at peace, does not take any actions to defend itself until it becomes obvious that a military power has popped up in its midst. The Lyrans can operate at levels that are extremely difficult for the traditional military forces to detect, while the Jihaddi groups can detect them easily. By the time the Lyrans attack the traditional governments, they will have huge numbers of troops and little else; the Jihad at this time will probably have small numbers of troops, perhaps a few hidden production facilities, and little else. The Lyrans' strategy will be to simply take command of existing production facilities through propaganda and later force, while the Jihad's would initially be to operate independently and build its own, and later to take existing ones through force. To win, the Jihad must play the traditional governments against the Lyrans while building up its own forces; if the government targets the Jihad, the Lyrans will more likely win. The Lyrans have strategic disadvantages of pulling everyone possible into the army, causing for a horrible economy and slow production of everything but troops, and of spongin actually losing their ability to fight rather than gaining any training. The Jihad groups have the strategic advantage of being able to build the best weapons in the game if they could get the resources, production facilities, and time to do it.
If there is a Barney unit, killing him will halve the Lyrans' ability to raise support while his presence doubles it in the immediate vicinity. He could be reincarned by the Lyrans.
The game then seems to have three periods:
The Jihad and Lyrans have a few specialized units gaining support from the public. The traditional governments and police forces do little to stop this. There may be periodic battles between Jihad and Lyran forces which would cause the local police to intervene. This is the boring part and shouldn't last more than a half an hour to an hour.
The Lyrans break out from their strongholds with massive armies of Sponge Minions. The traditional governments swiftly lose power in these strongholds and fight to hold the Spongin forces back. Some government forces may be subverted by the Lyrans. The Jihad is at a disadvantage here and cannot fight the Lyrans on a one to one basis, and may even draw an attack from the governments if it shows itself to attack the Lyrans. This will last from an hour to two hours.
The Lyrans have conquered much of the map from the governments, but at a great cost of population (not that they care). The economy and rate of production in Lyran controlled areas have subsequently fallen, and they have fewer victims to induct into their armed forces. The governments are beginning to lose control of their remaining areas to the Jihad and to militia groups who don't recognize the government's abilityto defend them. The Jihad, despite having far less territory, should have enough population and industrial strength to put up a good fight. The governments have probably noticed the Jihad by now and may be either friendly or hostile. The civilian government and police will certainly know of the Jihad where it has been active, and will be friendly or hostile depending upon local events or the national government's opinion if they have had not contact. The game is ended upon elimination of the Lyrans and peace between governing factions, or Lyran control of all population, or elimination of all Jihad and government military forces by the Lyrans. This period will last an hour to six hours.
These aren't scripted events but could occur naturally within the game engine.
The governments may begin to fight against each other. This would cause an upset in the popular opinions of these governments which either the Lyrans or the Jihad could take advantage of, but would also cause crackdowns that could hamper Jihad activities and a weakening of the governments' abilities to fight the Lyrans.
A town can revolt against the government and become its own government. This can happen when there is a strong like for the town and dislike for anyone else. The government losing the town may be either hostile or neutral to it. A strong militia may also attack and take over the town's civilian government. These sorts of things are far more likely to occur in Endgame, but could happen in any period.
The Lyrans might lose “Conflagration” and return back to trying to raise support for another attack. After this, the governments would crack down hard on secret operations, harming the Jihad, and military action may be taken against the Jihad's bases when these are found, but the Jihad would have the time to be much stronger when the second Conflagration comes.
A government may assault a Lyran-controlled city before Conflagration. This isn't likely, but situations could arise where the government gains knowledge of the Lyrans and their presence in this city, and determines it to be a threat. The government is likely to succeed in a coordinated early attack. This would push the timeline for Conflagration back quite a bit or cause the Lyrans to attack prematurely and lose to the Government. The government's strength after getting in the first shot could cause the Jihad to have to fight it to be able to freely fight the Lyrans.
Likewise, a government may assault and clamp down on a city where Jihaddi are active. If the Jihad forces there retreat to their base, they may be followed and the base lost due to overwhelming force. Jihad-controlled production facilities within the city will be taken by the government, and further Jihad activity in the city will be seriously hampered after their loss.
Sudden reinforcements can appear after Conflagration. Their chance of appearing depends upon the strengths of the major governments. Reinforcements can be from any faction's offmap operations (such as a group of US, Canadian, Mexican, or militia armed forces from the east continent), or even a group of foreign armed forces (Russian, British, French, German, Japanese, Chinese, Australian, Brazilian, European Union, or United Nations).
Native national reinforcements will be mostly heavy units in a varying state of damage and disarray from unseen battles. Foreign national reinforcements will be large task forces capable of changing the course of the game since troops that can be sent overseas aren't needed at home and won't be sent in insignificant numbers. The idea of seeing a Russian carrier group move in from the Pacific as a band of Quebecois militia joins the fight in the north is difficult to resist.
Militia reinforcements will comprise a moderate number of poorly armed men and light, usually civilian vehicles. Jihaddi reinforcements will usually be a small number of highly trained and well equipped men but could also be a group of advanced land vehicles and aircraft. Lyran reinforcements will usually be a small number of specialized alien beings capable of reproduction, but may also be a large number of spongified soldiers with a few vehicles.
Part of early strategy involves the Jihad working with or under the traditional governments simply because it is not strong enough to fight the government. Your Jihad characters can actually join the government army and get military training there, but won't be able to openly propagandize without getting caught and won't be able to leave without getting followed and arrested.
While spongin troops shoot first and ask questions later, government troops don't unless they are moving into a known hostile situation and you're a known hostile. If the Jihad sees government troops moving towards its base, it can often negotiate a surrender. When the Lyrans then attack the government base where the Jihaddi are held, it is very likely that the government forces there will release and arm the Jihaddi to assist in the base's defense unless the Jihad has done something to horribly anger the government; or, in time of peace, the Jihaddi may be released after a period of time (and perhaps followed). Of course, when you surrender the base becomes the government's and the government has a greater awareness and wariness of your activities, but their hostility does not increase as much as it would have if you had fought back. The presence of captive Jihaddi in a government base may make the base's troops less susceptible to be spongification as information on how to resist the process is shared.
Cities and national governments have separate armed forces and relations with the factions. When the local government is friendly with the Jihad, police will allow the Jihad to freely operate even if the national government controlling the city is at war with the Jihad, unless national troops are controlling the city.
There are several different factions vying for control: The Lyrans, the Jihad's separate branches (TRES, DE, VRDET), Mundane civilian forces (police), Mundane military forces, and various Mundane criminal/rebel/militia groups. Populations will have like/dislike values for each of these. Spreading propaganda or destroying nearby forces of an unliked faction tilts these values in your favour. When conscripting, recruits are considered to no longer be part of the population, so your “like” value goes down. Militias can pop up on their own when a population has a dislike for everyone.
The Jihad is a loose coordination of three factions that have independently discovered the Lyran invasion and secretly fight against it. The game is meant to be played as one of these three factions: the Dobermans (trains soldiers more quickly), the Templars (starts with advanced technology), and the Rangers (bonus to tech advancement). Each faction begins with a number of specialized “leader” units who are powerful and charismatic; the number of these units can be changed to vary the difficulty of the game. Your job is to raise support from the population, stay under the radar of the government, found bases to train troops, found production facilities to build equipment, fight off Lyran encroachment, defend the other Jihad groups, and eventually eliminate the Lyran presence. Victory is achieved when the Lyrans are defeated and all Jihad groups are at ceasefire with all other groups.
The Lyrans are an alien race of mages who enslave other worlds by controlling the minds of their populations. As the Lyrans, your job is to stay under the government's radar while you spongify as much of the population as possible. When the government finds you, they're likely to make a massive coordinated strike with little notice, so you may want to attack first when you're ready. The Jihad groups know about you, so you'll want to destroy them without attracting government attention. Lyran technology is biological/magical in nature, so they are unfamiliar with human physical technology and can only gain such technology by capturing enemy equipment. Lyrans have their own biological units with a drawback: to create a breeding ground to produce more units, the units must already exist.
You can also play as either the US, Canada, or Mexico. Your job is simply to survive. You begin with low popular support, and require the allegiance of the cities who will turn if you order them to propagandize. If you mistreat your population without reason, they only turn to another side that much faster and you may get attacked by the other Governments. You can go conquering the other Governments if you feel like it, but understand that the Lyrans are going to appear out of nowhere with a massive army in the middle of your territory.
You can play as the government of any of the cities on the map. This is difficult, as the larger cities are going to be hard hit by Jihad and Lyran subversion while the smaller ones aren't going to be very effective. Also, you cannot do much on your own without inspiring the wrath of the government. If you just go declare independence without popular support, you'll get militia'd to death if the government doesn't take you over first.
Yes, you can be a militia group! The long term strategy for this is like the Jihad's (since the Jihad is basically a large militia with bonuses), but much more difficult since you start off with only one person and you're unlikely to end up on friendly terms with the governments or most cities. If you aren't wiped out by the Lyrans, expect a Militia to take twice as long to play the game since you'll butt heads with the more powerful Jihad for control once the Lyrans are gone.
I don't see how a crime group can be playable. Crime may be just something that happens in cities where there is little public support or government control. Even if you could play as a criminal element, what would your goal be? Raise crime levels in the cities? Why bother when you could be a militia and own the cities? Some criminal groups (nortenos, etc) might be implemented as militias with varying popular support in the cities.
Units of trade include:
Where a demand for trade items is not being met, the people become unhappy with the government. Where this demand is for food or water, the people begin revolting en masse.
Civilian units can represent more than just one of those units; Blowing up a car might kill 100 civilians because it represents that many people driving to work.
How the economy actually works is still a question mark. Somehow you get buying power and materials, and can build stuff. Different cities have different needs and production, and trade is conducted between them. It should be normal to see cars shuttling between cities when trade is good, while fewer cars move around during wartime.
May only be built on roads.
Many of these buildings are usable by the military but aren't considered purely military buildings because the civilian economy can make use of them. In the game, you may be able to tell whether a building is being used by the military by what's coming out of it, but it is just as likely that you (and the AI) will attack anything of possible military value. Only a few buildings seem to be purely military.
The map is based on the US Pacific Coast from the ocean to Nevada, including portions of Canada and Mexico.
The elevations and ecology of any point of land can be drawn from publicly available GIS data.