Requirements document for "Future Tense, a 'God game'"

This game is a simulation of the 21st Century. The purpose is to get a high score of historical esteem. At the beginning, you pick the nation you want to lead. By levying taxes, imposing trade sanctions, funding research (and deciding what to fund), declaring war, and other actions, you manipulate the world to improve it (especially your own nations) and deal with random disasters which strike.

Hardware requirements

This game will run under Windows 95/98/NT/2000 on a Pentium machine, and should be easily extensible to other windowing environments running processors at least as fast as the slowest Pentium.

Conceptual design/Functional requirements

Display:

The main window shows, on the left, a row of icons (in keeping with MS Windows standards, moving a mouse over the icon creates a display showing its name, something like "Taxes" or "War"). These icons are: pollution control; war; taxes; population; education; research.

The center of the window shows a world map. Nations that send the player communiques flash briefly before a pop-up window appears. To communicate with that nation, or get information on it, the user clicks on it. The mouse pointer is replaced with an 'X' when it is over a non-clickable region.

On the right are several bits of information: the current year (2001-2099); world and national population; popularity rating; crime rate; education and research spending; tax rates.   Clicking on the adjustable ones (spending and taxes) takes you to a window for adjustment, described below.  Sufficiently low popularity ratings lead to unrest (especially in poor countries), which 

Pull-down menus have the familiar Windows functions (same File, Edit, and Help menus as in Notepad), as well as a Data menu, including the same controls as the icons on the lef

Pollution control

This window shows existing pollution control technologies; the amount of pollution (originally air pollution only, in tonnes of particulate matter, but this may change) and amount spent on pollution control (which may be adjusted).

War

This shows current allies and enemies; DEFCON rating (1-5) for enemies; military budget (adjustable); and has links to other nations screens (usually accessed through the map).

Population

This shows current national and world population; national and world food reserves; and   incentives/disincentives for having children (adjustable), in terms of tax benefits or penalties.

Education

This shows current national average last year of school completed, and spending on higher education (adjustable).

Infrastructure

This shows current spending on infrastructure (adjustable), and the value of infrastructure (in billions of dollars, yen, ECUs, whatever your country uses).  Of course, you have to do a lot of spending just to maintain the value, and even more to improve it.

Research

This shows the current spending on research (adjustable) in these categories:   biotechnology, high-energy physics, computer technology, and possibly others not added yet; also, a listing of existing technologies, and whether the technologies are classified.  Classified technologies stay secret for a while, but after a random period (1-5 years) are leaked to other powers.

Police funding

This shows funding for police (adjustable), and crime rate.  Crime rate tends to go down as you fund police, but it's partly random, and too much spending on police gives diminishing returns.

World map

As described above.  Clicking on another nation (among those the game considers) brings up a diplomacy screen.  It shows:  any classified technology the other has (if you know about it, which is randomly determined); for each other nation, how well they like it (Furious, Hostile, Neutral, Receptive, Friendly), whether they're allied or at war; trade sanctions you're imposing on them (adjustable) or they on you.  You may click on the icon for leader and send a communique:  declaring war, asking for peace, demanding some concession (trade concession, human rights, or arms limitation).

Game play

When the game starts, you pick a difficulty level (number of disasters, ranging 1-5), and a nation to play.  Each has strengths and weaknesses:

Nation Advantage Disadvantage
USA Infrastructure
Education
Citizens won't tolerate high taxes, pop. control
European Union Infrastructure
Education
Unless popularity is high, the European Council will veto your decisions in foreign policy
Japan Infrastructure
Education
Small and vulnerable to blockade
Russia Education Corruption
China Population Infrastructure, education
India Population Infrastructure, education

Each turn (that is, each year), you get the top part of a newspaper (USA: USA Tomorrow --all the news that's fit to print, and then some; Europe: Le Mondo -- bringing you all that's wrong with the world; Russia: Gass -- there's no truth in the news and no news in the truth; China: uh, I need to see what Beijing has; Japan: Dasai Shimbun; India: not decided yet).  It reports any significant event happening that year (except what you'll get from communiques from other governments).  The newspaper changes as the years progress, to mock-ups of web sites.

You also may have phone messages (in a pop-up window, also accessible from the pull-down menus) from your own government, notifying you of classified technologies developed.

The things that might happen that year:

Technology

Your scientists may provide you with a new technology.  It's partly dependent on research spending, but there's also an element of randomness, and you may get a result from an unexpected quarter (e.g. spending on biotechnology may give you a computer advance).  Classified technologies aren't in the newspaper (probably!); you get informed of these by other means (below).  One technology, longevity treatment, causes a disaster (below).

Foreign affairs

You may find out first of a dispute or alliance between foreign powers in the paper.

Disasters

You set at the start of the game how many disasters will occur, but you don't know when (although they won't happen at the end of the game -- then you wouldn't have time to deal with them).  They are:  plague; famine (plague on food crops); longevity treatment (which drops the death rate to near zero if you fund it -- there's a special dialog box for this accessible through the tax window, if it's developed -- or if not, it causes bitter unpopularity and civil unrest), world flood by melting of an ice cap, meteor strike.

War, unrest, or famine from overpopulation are not counted as disasters, as they're generated by the player's decisions.

Scoring

The score is determined by comparing the state of your nation -- and the world -- at game's start and end.  This means:  you get penalties for pollution, die-offs, and wars; bonuses for having to deal with disasters, for increased technology, education, and infrastructure, and for not being too close to famine (having more than enough food).

Help

All documentation is available through a MS Windows-style help facility.  It contains, essentially, the Functional Requirements specification in this document.

Data structures

There are files for saved games, including a complete description of the state of the world; files for news stories.

Non-functional requirements

The game should run fast enough to be interactive -- no noticeable delay in response to any event (mouse click, keyboard input, etc.)

All text to be read should be in files -- possibly one loaded at the game's beginning -- so that we can later add an option to play the game in some other language.  Text should be Unicode-compatible, so this will work with non-European languages.

Installation is done by an MS Windows-style installation wizard program.

If the game starts in 2001, we really should have this released by 2001!

Maintenance and documentation

Documentation is all in the help file.

Maintenance is that I sell this wonderful game to a big company and let them maintain it.