Monday 14 September 2009

Gaming the socialist calculation debate - update

I'd previously noted a game reviewer's discovery of the socialist calculation problem in Dawn of Discovery. Loyal reader Max Marty bought the game and emails the following:
I've always been a fan of city-building sims so when I read your post on the "Dawn of Discovery" game I decided to go try it for myself.

So you might find this interesting, the game rates the size of your city on I think it was a 5 point scale or such, from a tiny borough to a metropolis. The problems don't start showing up till somewhere around stars 2-3, at which point the issues behind the socialist calculation debate start becoming evident. And the worst part is that if you have an accident happen, which could include a fire or forgetting to check your storeroom for the 30 different goods you must keep stocked at all times, it will lead to a cascading effect that can destroy the entire province. Towards the end of the game I even downloaded a special program that ran in the background which could grant me all sorts of resources (infinite money, different kinds of goods), and I was still spending nearly all my time using the cheat program just to stay alive and maintain the status quo (The bailouts always required more bailouts!).

Anyway! I thought you might be interested in reading up on a new one that seems to be coming out in October. Its called "Cities XL", its billed as a "social-networking online city building experience", or some such business. The screenshots look amazing, and from what I've read, its going to be a fantastic game - but it doesn't seem like its going to involve spontaneous order of any sort. Though apparently folks can trade across their cities between on the social-network, so the "agent" level here may be the city itself and Hayek may get some screen-time after all.
Cool findings on Dawn of Discovery. No way I'm going to try Cities XL though: a version of SimCity that's full time social play? Too perilous.

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