At this point, I have the core mechanic in place, which is trading.
Interloper, like most simulation games, is all about managing limited resources. You start out with a “raft” that you can pilot solo and allows you to haul 3 tons. You also start out with 1000 gold(the currency of the realm – I will probably lower this amount to increase the initial stress on the player), 100 units of food (each unit of food will feed one person for a day. A unit of food weighs 4.7lbs – a value I looked up), and you are docked on an island. You don’t know of any other islands.
At the moment, there are no other commodities besides gold and food. Fortunately, food is cheap, and you can buy yourself enough to fill up your raft, which then allows you to travel pretty far away without starving.
The first major task is not only to find another island, but to find another island with enough of a price differential in food for you be able to make a profit buying at one and selling at the other. Hopefully these islands will be close together, but I have occasionally found islands that are 100 days apart, which cuts a bit into the round trip food price.
Unfortunately, one cannot milk such a price difference forever, because each time you buy a commodity at one location, the price goes up (fractionally, but over time noticeably), and whenever you sell, the price where you sell goes down. Eventually the prices at ports A and B will narrow into non-profitability. This means that eventually you will want to find a new island to trade at. In the future, you’ll just want to find a different commodity to trade in, but once those are exhausted, it will be time to move on.
Eventually, you’ll want a bigger ship (not currently implemented). Bigger ships require hiring more crew (also not currently implemented), which brings up the overhead of moving things, which means you’ll need higher margin merchandise. Eventually there will also be encounters will other NPC ships. It begins to sound an awful lot like the game Space Trader, which makes sense, because it was partially inspired by Space Trader.
So, at some point, I realize I’m going to need a final goal.
I’m also going to need a final delivery platform. While it currently exists as a JSHTML application, I think it may be better suited to a PHPMySQL thing that gets delivered on Facebook. Then it could be made social and have a persistent world. I work with it in JSHTML because things are very easy to change. Once aspects get more gelled, I think I can move it to PHP without having to mess with the tables all of the time.
If I go the route of PHP and Facebook, I’ll need to throttle how many turns people take. Likely that’ll have to take the form of Energy/Action/Mana points that allow one day of sailing. This of course then means that there will need to be experience levels and such, because that’s how all of these games work on facebook. Sporadic play.
Unfortunately, I’m also a sporadic developer.