January and Potential Idea for a Proper Godfather Game

January 19, 2009 § Leave a comment

Ah January, the most cold, dark, dingy, depressing month of the year. It’s a bad month for new media releases and just a bad month in general. I promised myself I wouldn’t moan or remark on mere trivalities in this blog and so to escape this this self-imposed ruling I have found a loophole – I have to find something of substance to talk about.

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I saw some trailers for Mafia 2 and The Godfather 2 a couple of days ago. From what I’ve seen it’s not promising. The Godfather 2 seems to have more in common with Goodfellas rather than the spirit of The Godfather films and Mafia 2 doesn’t look like anything we haven’t seen before.

As it happens I have been playing a bit of Medieval Total War 2 and it strikes me now as odd that there hasn’t been a game made which borrows the setting and characters of The Godfather universe and combines it with a turn-based strategy game vis-a-vis Total War’s campaign mode. After all, the most fun I have in Total War is the plotting of alliances, the betrayals, the scheming, the plotting etc… Unfortunately the diplomacy in Total War is quite screwy a lot of the time with factions betraying you one turn after signing a peace agreement, but the idea is rich for exploitation.

You set the game in America, right at the point where Vito Corleone is rising in power, having set up his olive oil import/export company. The campaign map would be representitive of New York. The game would put at your disposal several agents, similar to Total War’s princesses, diplomat, assasins, spys etc… but they would be slightly different. So for instance you would have your soldiers, your capos, diplomats and possibly even a couple of Luca Brazis at your disposal. Next to them you also have your own family members, the Don would act as the King, sons would be princes and the daughters could be married off to other factions to seal alliances. The family members would of course have certain characteristics and statistical data attached to them. For example, they would have stats for ‘ferocity’, ‘intelligence’, ‘charisma’, ‘respect’ as well as random bonuses attached. You could have several criminal activities open for exploitation such as racketeering, prostitution, drug peddling, gambling, smuggling etc… The aim of the game would be to be the most feared and respected clan by a certain date.

Further to this you would have random events popping up – family members would marry, have children, others die and also structured historical events which would dramatically change the game, for instance, prohibition and its abolution, Sollozzo’s appearence etc… Businesses under your control would provide your family with a basic resource – money and manpower, as well as assorted bonuses i.e. owning a newspaper could imrpove your public perception, peddling drugs would decrease your reputation with the state and potentially with other clans, money laundering would add a bonus to income etc… Further, investment in the political scene could reap dividends, encouraging softer laws to be passed; police captains could be bribed to target rival clans instead of your own.

Supremacy in the game would be won through a mix of force and cunning and the balance of that cocktail is up to the player. Outsmart your opponants or trample over them. At times of peace there could be an assembly set up to discuss pertinant issues challenging the mafia’s overall stranglehold of the city, a discussion which involves all of the five families and is resolved by vote. From here certain missions could be assigned to specific clans including your own which if completed wield a reward and if not will bring down a punishment. Missions could also come from constituents in your territory willing to exchange a favour or two. The assembly would act like the senete in Rome: Total War, defying it could bring about grave consequences. Of course at the same time, if you are head of the assembly you could set the agenda yourself. Becoming head of the assembly could be another aspect where the player expresses his playing style – he can curry favours and be voted in or become head through fear and oppression of all the other families, forcing them into submission. If he wanted he could even dissolve the assembly.

What is crucial is that the diplomacy between factions is complex enough to be interesting as well as transparent enough to be comprehendable to the player. The game must inform the player what affect his actions have and at the same time, the motives of the AI factions must also be transparent enough to the degree that they make logical sense. Betrayal should be an option for the enemy AI to use but at the same time it has to follow from some logical rationale. Again, the Don’s statistics would play into diplomacy with his intelligence and charisma a factor in negotiations and in detecting when betrayal is a foot, perhaps giving a percentage of certainty as to whether an opponant is telling the truth in his dealings or not. Agents also must have many options available to them to allow varied gameplay opportunities. Intimidation and murder would be gameplay options but more would have to be added to allow for a more complex game.

Further, a reputation system would be implemented and would impact on how the different clans and the state perceives your family. this could be affected by many things such as killing a policeman, attacking a clan without proper cause etc…

Finally the game would have a timeline, beginning at one point and ending at another and as the game goes on, the state will become more and more wary of the mafia so by the end the most eminent threat will be the state clamping down on organised crime, it won’t necessarily be the other factions providing the main cause for concern.

The above can be seen as a mishmash of ideas, probably illsuited to a design document. However, with some refinement and tweaking, I can see a very good game being made out of this, and I’m sure I’m not the only person who thinks so. In fact I’m sure other people have thought of the same ideas too, so why hasn’t somebody made this yet?

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