Sunday, July 22, 2018

Adjacent Extremes

Hmmm...needs a guy playing his
flaming guitar on the front...
Frost Punk is an interesting take on the city building strategy subgenre.  In particular, the crazy Victorian era steam technology mixed with abrupt ice age climate shift makes for some very unique visuals.  Even so, the whole time I was playing Frost Punk I had a weird feeling that I had seen all this before somewhere.  The movie "The Day After Tomorrow"?, to modern.  "Steamboy"? not enough arctic landscapes.  "Snowpiercer"?  There aren't really any trains in Frost Punk outside of the opening cutscene.  The same goes for that obscure old DOS game Arctic Baron.  Then it hit me; Frost Punk is the flipside of a Mad Max style post-apocalypse setting.  Instead of everywhere becoming too hot and dry though, the world has become too cold and snow covered.  I could go into more detail, but it's not really the point of this blog post.  Instead, I want to talk about how one might adapt the gameplay mechanics of Frost Punk to a place of road warriors and sun-scorched wastelands.

A plateau rather than a pit would be
more thematically appropriate
 in Mad Max 
Resources are at the center of everything the player does in Frost Punk, so let's look at those first.  Listing them off, we have coal, wood, steel, steam cores, raw food, cooked food, and prosthetics.  The last three are fine as is.  While people probably won't be losing any limbs to frostbite, I can definitely see gangrene being a problem (particularly in cases when antibiotics are not readily available).  As for the rest, it's a bit difficult to map them over directly.  However, I was thinking about something along the lines of scrap, bullets, combustion engines, and gasoline...excuse me, "guzzoline" would be the setting appropriate term.  There's also two other important resources I haven't mentioned yet - heat and people.  Since air conditioning isn't really a thing in Mad Max, I think it would have to be replaced by an entirely different (but equally important) resource - clean water.  Instead of a furnace at the center of the settlement there would be a water well.  As for people, workers are still workers, and engineers could easily be reinterpreted as "black thumbs."  A lot of the structors used in Frost Punk could be adapted with only minor cosmetic changes.  Granted, homes in Mad Max are for shade and shelter from the wind, rather than thermal insulation.  Instead of cold spells there could be heat waves or dust storms.  So no major changes thus far, although I think a lot would have to be modified when it comes to how things are handled outside the settlement.

In Frost Punk the player sends out scout parties on foot or by sled, but in a Mad Max setting that sort of thing would take the form of vehicle convoys transporting groups of people armed with weapons.  Benign or belligerent intentions can depend on the player, but the fundamental goal remains unchanged - they are in search of leftovers from before the collapse of the old world.  Other communities using valuable resources could be a potential obstacle to overcome or the icing on a cake (in the case of marauding slavers).

A red color scheme
to replace the blue one
There really isn't a place for atomotons in Mad Max so I think combustion engines are better suited to the production of Pursuit Specials, V8 Interceptors and (of course) mighty War Rigs.  Gasoline gets used whenever these machines are sent out and bullets are consumed whenever they find trouble.  Scrap is needed to do pretty much any kind of construction, but is also fairly easy to comeby.

The Book of Laws is another area the both functions as is, and could benefit from some tweaks.  Rather than choosing between authoritarianism and religion it might be more thematically appropriate to go with a "predator" or "prey" dichotomy.  Now, I know some people are going to look at that and wonder why anyone would choose the latter over the former...well...going the "predator" route is a bit like turning into Immortan Joe; the threats become internal rather than external.  Meanwhile, going with the "prey" option smooths out a lot of internal strife, but also draws the attention of external threats (a bit like the little community built up around the pumpjack in "Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior."

Obviously, in terms of complexity we're not looking at a simple mod here.  Still, I think a relatively small group of programmers and artists could make a desert version of Frost Punk that feels true to the spirit of that game while adding in the aesthetics and vision of a Frank Miller inspired post-apocalypse.  If nothing else you could have a catchy tagline that goes something like "Who runs Bartertown!?!"

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