Building the Commune

Building the Commune is an anarcho-communist take on the classic city simulation.”

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Building the Commune was made for an Advanced Creative Technologies Workshop module at Middlesex University, where our simple requirement was to make a game for mobile.

I didn’t personally play many mobile games outside of educational ones like Duolingo, and so I felt somewhat creatively stifled. However, I managed to brainstorm eight separate ideas, gradually developing them through conversations with teachers, friends, and course-mates. It quickly became clear that the idea that got people most excited was Building the Commune, a city-builder about making a commune away from society at large.

Knowing that I only had a small time to make the game and that it would be a solo project, I decided to aim to make a “minimum viable product”, reducing the game down to its bare essentials from a design perspective. At the core of this was the Artificial Intelligence (AI) of commune members: members each have a level of skill and a level of enjoyment in various tasks, with skill affecting success and enjoyment affecting happiness, with unhappy members leaving the commune outright. This makes the game a careful effort of balancing: members have to have the freedom to do the activities they enjoy, while also having the resources they need to survive.

As I developed the game I noticed that the commune would tear down much of their environment for resources or building space, and I soon realised the opportunity this presented as a game mechanic, forcing players to actively considered their surroundings and balancing expansion with conservation, in contrast with other games and particularly the 4X genre.

I also came to realise just how much my inexperience with mobile games was holding me back; I was in the mindset of making a city builder which happened to be on mobile, not a mobile game which was a city builder. I did not think about the particular requirements of the platform, and how the player would interact with the game using the touch screen compared to a mouse. Since then, I’ve broadened my horizons on mobile games significantly, and learned just how much they’re capable of accomplishing.

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