Welcome to the first Dev Diary for Seasteader! Over the next couple of dev diaries, we'll be talking about specific features and showing you what makes Seasteader a truly special game. For this first one, however, we'll give you a broad overview of the game as a whole.
Seasteader is a city-building game with management strategy elements. It's largely inspired by a lot of the games we played in our childhoods. These include the Impressions Games, such as Pharaoh and Caesar III, from which we've taken many of the city-building elements, such as the explicit number of people in a population and the way that affects the workforce. Another big influence has been the old games from Bullfrog, such as Populous The Beginning and Theme Hospital, from which we've taken some management and business strategy elements. On the modern side, probably the biggest inspiration has been the Tropico series, in particular Tropico 3, which has a similar type of symbiosis of features as Seasteader.
In Seasteader, you find yourself in control of a settlement in international waters. Not bound by laws of any countries or norms of any cultures, it's your job to build up your own floating city however you want. The game has many resources, but perhaps your most valuable one is the individual. They work on your seastead, collecting a salary, but they also pay bills and patronize your businesses. The amount you pay them and the amount you charge them is entirely within your control, but be careful not to give too poor a ratio of one to the other, else you might see them taking their business elsewhere and leaving your seastead.
Straddling the minimum possible conditions before they depart is also a dangerous tactic, since you may find yourself up against competition on your own waters. Foreign businesses can open up shop right next to your own buildings if they sense opportunity. For example, if your rents are too high, you may find residences being built by third parties to offer more affordable living, and that could potentially - depending on whether the owners are locals to the seastead or simply foreign investors - lead to currency leaving the local market.
But these foreign businesses are not necessarily your enemies. Perhaps you want to invest your limited funds into high-tech industry and hiring professionals, but won't have enough to ensure anything other than the lowest cost (and lowest quality) housing for these new workers. Foreign investors or your own well-to-do seasteaders can fill in the gap in the housing market in a way that all parties involved benefit. After all, if investors bring the seastead-wide housing quality up, that has the potential to attract better-skilled workers for your industry.
Attracting better-skilled workers is an important part of running your seastead, since an individual worker's production rate scales based on their skill level. You can fill up a sweatshop with unskilled workers, set it to maximum production and minimal training, and churn out enough low-cost, low-quality product to make a small profit, but at that rate, you're less likely to see your profits rising in the future. You can certainly use it as a way to diversify your production which will leave you less vulnerable to swings in the market, but if you're chasing larger long-term profits, an early investment in your workers' training and education can pay off big time down the line.
As for the world market, it can be unpredictable, with export and import prices changing based on global factors, but you still control your local market entirely. If export prices fall too low or import price rise beyond affordability, you can set minimums and maximums respectively, stockpiling goods in the process, to weather violent economic storms. You also set your local sale prices to whatever you wish, and can use this opportunity to either make life easy for your intrepid seasteaders with low consumer prices, or make life miserable for competitors with higher business prices.
These are just some of the opportunities and challenges you'll be facing in Seasteader. In the coming weeks, we'll introduce each feature - including many not yet mentioned - with detailed descriptions. Stay tuned, and remember to follow us on Twitter if you aren't already.
Note: The game is still in development and features are subject to change before release.