This system is a collection of procedurally-generated traits to civilization-based entities. It forms the foundation of Quests and Guilds, and also generally makes the world more interesting and worth exploring.
This post lays out general notes -- actual details will come later.
Basic Civilization Entities
These are all procedurally generated, and form the foundation of later generation.
Guilds -- 7-10 Guilds are generated. These each uniquely focus on some aspect of the world or its economy, and are assigned a variety of "personality" traits that say how they treat their members, economics, competition, etc.
Towns/Cities/Nexuses -- These traits are generated when the province is loaded. Cities are assigned economic specialties that may not match the shops they contain (but are more likely to). Cities are also assigned province economic power rankings -- cities are more likely to have higher ranks (as are nexuses), though that's not universal. Lastly, they're given vague cultural traits.
NPCs -- All NPCs in the province are given personality traits, which will probably be a modified version of the way DF does this. Other things will be explored like overall loyalty or likelihood of travel. There will also be some traits that involve their relationship with others of different guilds, etc.
Shops are the basic entity of civilization. The generation here is half random and half based on the basic layer above.
Guild status -- Each shop, with the exception of the neutral shops (such as general stores) is assigned to a Guild. Neutral shops are instead assigned to their respective handcrafted guilds. Within a Guild, each one is given a ranking within it -- this is based on how close or far the shop is from the Guild's specialty and how close or far the town's specialty is from the Guild's specialty. Anything beyond that is random.
Guild Hub -- the top three shops of a guild become that guild's "hub" within the province. These have to all be in different towns however, so the algorithm is a bit more involved.
Guild Loyalty -- Each shop is given a completely random loyalty score to every single guild (including its own). Hubs will always have 100% loyalty to their own guild. Hub loyalties to other guilds if matched will be classified as "local alliances" and matched disloyalties as "local enemies".
Leadership -- Each shop is given a "leader" within it chosen based on the NPC with the highest leadership trait.
Jobs -- Each shop has a variety of jobs, which overlaps with other shops or are somewhat generalized. This depends on the overall shatterloop economy and I'll probably have to create some kind of post exploring the lore here. Jobs are assigned to the NPCs within based on priority. Guild hubs have some very high-priority jobs that involve managing the guild's economy.
NPC/Job relationships -- NPCs don't necessarily like their job. The trait here is based half on their personality and half random -- it's possible to have an NPC that appears perfectly suited for their job, but they still don't like it, and this can translate into interesting stories depending on what else is going on.
Building on this, NPCs have some additional traits associated with them:
Their loyalty to their current guild. This is based on their loyalty trait and how close their guild's traits match their own. One can sometimes account for the other but if both are low enough they won't be loyal at all.
Their relationship with the city they live in. This is based on several things like cultural traits matching personal traits, the city's economic level matching their expectations of luxury, and their likelihood of traveling. Nothing here should be random.
Their relationship with other NPCs in the city. This isn't assigned from the outset, it's generated as needed. This is based on several things such as guild differences, combative personalities, guild loyalty differences, etc. I'll need to explore the other systems a bit before I can really do this right.
If the NPC has a job that requires travel or they like traveling, they'll also have relationships with the NPCs they're likely to meet. This also requires some exploring of how those jobs or traveling traits work.
All of the Guild factors combined together determine their control over a particular town or province and how strong or fragile that power is.
Town leverage is measured by a simple majority of shops within that town. Failing that, a town's links to other towns/cities are explored to add more power to that guild based on power concentrations nearby. This can be recursive but hopefully doesn't take too many steps to figure out.
The strength of that town leverage, meanwhile, is based on the loyalty of those shops relative to the loyalty of other guilds in the area.
Both town leverages and town leverage strengths are replayed at a higher level, determining who has the most power over the Province and how fragile that power is.
Things built on this foundation
The identity system will form the basis of questlines -- any area where there's conflict or disloyalty or just people hating their jobs or leaders will be explored by the quests and guilds systems. Solutions (or potential solutions) will also be based on the traits within the system -- like if someone hates their job you might be able to find them a new one in a shop that's lacking in that job. This should give the quests an emergent feel, particularly if you have to actually ask around to come up with your own solutions.
One other thing worth mentioning is that actions you take should alter the balance of power slightly in the area, which when it runs all the way through the system again means that conflicts can be closer to escalating or guilds can be poised to gain more power. This should also make the late-stage guild questlines feel more emergent without doing a significant amount of work.
A lot of this is based on what the system is actually capable of, however. I'll have to build it up and see how feasible these ideas are.
This set of notes should simplify several things (like Guilds) while allowing more of the emergent procgen feel to come through.
The identity system is heavily in play -- I have some ideas for more categories (like families and ancestral families that tie into lore), certain things will be simplified, and I should be pretty close to fleshing that set of notes out.
The end result of the identity system is that each NPC has a set of relationships with other NPCs, their town, their work, and their life. The most conflicted ones of those turn into "Quests".
Quests are a system that make you do some set of tasks in order to resolve that conflict. The tasks should be largely procedurally generated if possible -- that will require analyzing a lot of other game questlines and generalizing.
Whenever the questline concludes, the actions taken in it cycle back through the identity system, changing things permanently. Because of this, some quests might become uncompleteable as you finish other quests -- you could probably return to the quest giver to update it, unless they have changed and don't want to do the quest anymore. Will need to explore this a bit.
These changes can then open up additional quests.
All actions taken affect only the provinces where people you've interacted with are, including the questgiver).
Actions can sometimes shift the balance of power in a town or province, which can have pretty dramatic effects.
Buying/selling from shops or using services will increase their value.
Stealing from shops or moving furniture/NPCs around too much will decrease their value.
Value calculations will go back through the Identity system and can have effects, beneficial or otherwise.
The value system can affect shops as well -- make them sell more or less items, have a higher or lower markup.
You can ask NPCs about a variety of topics. There might be areas of conflict in there where you can offer advice. If accepted (it's random), this will effect changes through the identity system as the NPC does whatever you want them to do.
This is somewhat of a passive Quests system that happens as you're talking -- it should help make the world feel more alive without having those actions happen randomly on their own (which was my original idea).
You can't join guilds anymore -- you can however work for them. You can still do the same things you could in the old notes post, but this time they're general nonlinear objectives. This should encourage players to actually figure things out and also not be bound to whichever guild they decided to join.
Each Guild has 3 HQ's per province chosen at the start of the generation. These locations don't change, so as things change in the world, Guilds will get increasingly desperate as they lose power, offering more Quests.
Guilds don't offer Quests, they instead offer Objectives, such as making disloyal subgroups more loyal or making guild members happier. These objectives don't give you specific instructions -- you have to figure out how to accomplish them by making changes to the civilization via quests, advice and adding/removing shop value. These objectives can change as the world does, however any objective you've taken on that changes will mean you get the reward for it. You can only have one Guild objective at a time.
This system is getting a lot closer to a complete set of notes. I have some more work to do on specifics obviously, but the new version of this system should make it a lot easier to get there, and put the complexity in the Identity system where it belongs.
Moving this part out of the Guilds post since it's still relevant -- have simplified it a bit however.
The name might change here, but so-called "Maintenance Guilds" are structures that function like Guilds but aren't associated with any of them. Maintenance Guilds wield a lot of power but aren't allowed to hold territory except under their very specific shop types. The game has at least four of these:
Pawn Shops -- Pawn shops are connected with thievery and sabotage and also move the goods stolen from other guilds. They therefore try to remain neutral and are part of their own separate Guild.
General Stores -- General Stores sell a variety of widely-used items. They try to stay neutral because they sell items sold by all types of guilds, but also because a lot of the time they're fronts for items sold to Pawn Shops.
Inns -- Inns essentially sell lodging, entertainment, food and drink to everyone. They have heavy presences in Civilization and try to avoid Guild conflicts so that Guild travel and business can be done without conflict. They also get kind of a lot of money from other Guilds, and were they ever to try to rise to power, they'd probably win instantly due to their large presence. They're held back from this goal somewhat by their moral code and the stranglehold of the Preservers.
Preservers -- Unlike every other maintenance guild, these don't have any particular buildings that they occupy -- they're instead part of other Guilds or live in them (depending on their arrangement). Preservers maintain the technology that makes Civilization viable, particularly transport technology such as Conduits and Aleph Conduits. They also operate the Newflesh network (which literally gives them power over life and death) and the Strange Mesh that underpins a lot of other technology. It's worth pointing out that from a story perspective you belong to this guild and are probably pretty high-ranking if your starting technology is any indicator.
Maintenance guilds fit into the lore and the main quest heavily, but can also be a part of quests as well.
Guild loyalty -- affects how likely they are to betray their guild's interests.
Guild fellow loyalty -- A separate metric. If they're high in this but low in guild loyalty they'd be willing to betray their guild but not if it hurts other members of the guild. Meanwhile if they're low in this but high in loyalty they'd be willing to sacrifice their own members to strengthen the guild.
Travel interest -- Determines how much the NPC likes traveling.
Travel amount -- The amount the NPC actually travels. If this is high and the interest is low or vice-versa they'll be dissatisfied. Additionally, the higher this is the more people/towns/etc they'll know.
Relationships with others of different guilds -- Complicated and hard to pin down; will probably be scrapped.
Combative personality -- A metric that determines if an NPC has a normal reaction to people they don't match with, tries to be friends with them anyway for some higher good (which varies), or is excessively antagonistic towards them.
Dislike of authority -- If neutral will be cynical towards leadership, if low will make them very defensive of leadership actions, if high will make them antagonistic. Probably ties into a lot more too -- people who are both leaders and dislike authority will be a lot fairer with it. I imagine being in that position and being under the wing of a bigger guild would make you try to get out from under them.
Whenever the quests/guilds system is working (haven't finished the notes yet even), this set of changes will (optionally) integrate civilization mechanics back into the central game loop.
Upgrades that would have been relegated to Labs or their own context (like bow upgrades, fishing upgrades) can be unlocked by blueprints instead of crafting the requisite materials.
Blueprints have a type that indicates what they're unlocking, such as a "Fishing blueprint" or "Farming blueprint". Each shop type lets you trade blueprints for research targets or stackable modules (like fishing catch improvents) through a specialized NPC system.
There are several ways of obtaining Blueprints, which are civilization-heavy:
They can occasionally be found directly as loot in the Theft mechanic. They only appear in containers that are locked.
Items sold to a pawn shop give you very little money, however they can incrementally give you Blueprints of that category over time.
Quests / guild quests started in a shop of that type will always give you a blueprint of that type.
(Removed "from loot" as a mechanic, because that makes it too easy to get them)
Shatterloop has a lot of data that runs through it that's largely randomized and can be difficult to know without heavy exploration.
To cut down on this, NPCs can give some of that information away for a price. I'm not sure what everything is that will be incorporated into this system, but here's a few:
Which materials to use to make specific weapons / bombs / etc. This won't have all of the ones in the dimension, but you might see something you like and will know how to craft it.
Analysis of materials to tell you what you can make with them (and the properties they gain)
Analysis of potion ingredients -- this will be a lot more distributed and go to several different shops (like butchers or lumberjacks) and the NPCs within.
Where to find specific materials needed for the other crafting system (instead of the help system just telling you right off the bat). This can also be found if you actually find one of them. Doing it this way means you have to go to civilization and ask around in order to learn how to find different materials, which integrates civilization a lot tighter with core gameplay loops.
I'm bringing libraries back as a way of organizing this system. Each province has a Library house, which will tell you everything that everyone knows -- not the actual information, just the topic. Libraries will never appear in a Nexus.
Overall, libraries are a great way to find new things you may be interested in exploring.
This set of changes heavily reintegrates civilization back into the main game -- instead of being a set of side systems it's vital towards core gameplay systems.
My notes here are still way too scattered. My new approach will look something like this:
Nonlinear self-building questlines (see section).
The politics and economic value systems are really solid -- I like the idea of the things you do with the world having an actual impact on it with as little filesize changes as possible (though that doesn't matter much anymore with the filesaving system). Buy from a vendor a lot and they'll restock more, their house will have more floors, whatever.
I still like the idea of guild targets of various tiers -- like maybe they want a controlling influence over a particular house or town. How you actually accomplish that is up to you, but running quests or altering economic value can help a lot.
Actual narratives should be able to be built piece by piece -- I don't want to add too much content here but with a piecewise approach and some known lore, the player's imagination should be able to fill in the gaps.
Definitely want extracurricular structures that have their own pecularities with transport and tie into quest lines.
Nonlinear self-building questlines
These are still just raw ideas, but I'm thinking of several things here:
The main component of the quest is delivering or fetching something to a particular NPC in a particular province/town. Might be right next door, might be 5 trade routes away in some isolated town (or extracurricular structure even). It may be a bit more complicated than that (deliver to multiple NPCs, pick up the item in transit (or build it) etc) but that's the basic idea.
NPC relationships to each other and guilds play a factor -- they can outright refuse to let you complete the quest, unless you do something for them first or maybe give them money or something. This can't be infinite -- eventually someone will just agree to it on a whim even if they hate the other guy.
The end result is increasing questgiver happiness (which might actually be bad depending on what your guild quests are, so maybe you get options where secondary quests are involved), money and/or blueprints for you, maybe economic or interpersonal impact somehow.
I think this basic concept is enough to build on or refine.