Dev Diary #4: Structures and Production in Pride of Nations
Although often made of brick during the era of Pride of Nations (1850-1920), structures in the game are quite concrete. The engine that we used is, at its roots, military oriented, full of details on how to conduct combat operations against your enemies. One of the features is that structures are entities which are independent from the region in which they are located. This allows for a richness in the scenario and campaign detail that is seldom found in other region-based games. For example, it will be a common occurrence for you to be faced with the decision to either stay outside of the walls of a fortress so you can cover the approaches into the region, or to place your troops inside for protection. The nut will be tougher to crack for your opponent because of the many concepts that the engine manages, such as limited combat frontage when assaulting a structure, and the fire range bonus for emplaced guns. The risk you take, though, is to end up with the fortress being “covered,” where the enemy stations just enough troops to neutralize it while the remaining forces move forward. Nothing will prevent you from making a sortie, if you feel like having starving troops is a bad idea. From a military standpoint, there is thus a kind of gamble to take in each region with structures…
…because, and rather importantly, you can also defend cities! Cities in the game harbor your key industries, so protecting a city will prevent the enemy from taking them over. The bad news is that agricultural structures and mines are not considered to be in the city but in what we call the countryscape, which is the ensemble of structures that are dispersed around the countryside. You want to keep them? Then don’t take refuge behind the walls…
But enough about military matters. Your nation will often have times of peace, or so we hope, because being in a constant war for 70 years is simply not sustainable! Where and when you decide to build new economic structures will be some of the most, if not the most, important decisions you’ll have to make in Pride of Nations. While war is the continuation of diplomacy, you can only continue a war if your economy follows! If you plan to build an agricultural or mining site in Pride of Nations, then the first and almost evident requirement is to have natural resources in the region. There is no hard constraint on the number of resources a region can have, and very often a region will have several resources (for example, four coal sites, one iron site, and perhaps two potential locations to raise cows).
But don’t worry if you don't have every resource that you need in the target region, as there might be some elsewhere in the country (or in a colonial possession). Therefore, building a railroad to ensure their transportation from the production site (e.g., a mine) to the place where they are needed is a good way to make sure your industrial structures get what they need to operate properly. For example, a steel furnace needs coal, iron, and minerals to operate, and it’s very rare you find all three in the same location. And when a railroad is not enough, transportation via merchant shipping can also be used (more on this in a future diary).
Note also that some of the resources, especially in distant lands, are unknown at the beginning of the game, and you’ll have to send prospecting parties (tiny units made up of only a few dozen men) to uncover them.
Then you’ll want to have a population in the region, made up of the correct social classes. This will be the subject of another Developer Diary, but Pride of Nations also works with the concept of social classes (I say ”also” because I guess you are wondering how it works compared to Victoria II!) Last but not least, creating production sites will cost funding – private capital, to be precise. If you followed our previous diaries, you know there are two kinds of money in the game: ‘State Funds’ and ‘Private Capital.’ Industries can only be built with the latter. You’ll also need a lot of other resources, depending on the exact type of structure you are building.
Another point you'll have to consider when choosing to build a structure is how efficient it will be. This is tied to the population of the region and the technologies you master, but these are not the only factors. The game also checks the type of transportation network around the structure, plus the quality of the resources you use. This last point may seem complicated but it is handled simply in the game, while working quite well (no micromanaging at all, rest assured).
So, that’s it? Not quite. There is a plethora of structures in Pride of Nations. We briefly discussed the industrial ones and hinted at the presence of fortresses (which come in three generations and six graphical styles, depending on the region where you build them - you wouldn't want to have a North African fort instead of a US one). You can also develop supply depots, an important aspect of the game that keeps your armies fit and well; here too, the whole distribution of supply is automated, taking its roots from military simulations we’ve done before, like in Rise of Prussia or AGEOD’s American Civil War. Finally, you can also expect several buildings to play with for the “Colonial game,” and this part too needs at least one Dev Diary to discuss, if not two, as it is rather involved.
We only scratched the surface here, but we are sure you now have a better idea about what Pride of Nation will be once it is released!
The PON Team.