Game Sketch: The News

In an ongoing series of exercises to work on game design skills, I will be finding a random article on Wikipedia on which to create a game from. This sketch’s article was The Linfield Review. Again, I want to say this is a sketch of a game, and in all honesty, I’ll probably only get around to explaining the core system, so that there isn’t a massive post explaining an entire game.

The News

Overview

The News is a simulation game based around running a successful news source. The player will act as the CEO of a start-up news outlet, focusing initially on printed material. As the game progresses, new areas such as online and broadcast capabilities will be added. The player must maintain a successful outlet by maintaining credibility, increasing circulation and building revenue through advertising.

The player is given a limited amount of space in order to run their news outlet. As their circulation increases, along with their revenue, they can purchase larger spaces, more equipment and more employees. Their is a finite number of equipment and employees that can fit in any particular space.

Credibility

The main resource of the game is the outlet’s credibility rating. The credibility rating is used to determine the amount of increase or decrease in circulation per distribution cycle the outlet gets, i.e. How many readers the paper gains or loses each time they publish a piece of news. It is affected by three categories: truthfulness, spin and popular opinion. Each one of these three categories affect what demographic will use the news source.

Truthfulness

Truthfulness is rated based on the amount of fact checking the news source goes through. The player may add or remove fact checkers from the news process to increase or decrease this rating.

Spin

Spin is a rating that the player can affect based on a per published setting. Each time the news source releases news, the player can choose to put spin on it to have to go in a certain direction. The larger the difference is between spin and truthfulness of an article, the larger the amount of credibility change. This can be positive or negative.

Popular Opinion

This is the theta factor of the credibility system. The player has no control over this rating, but can check it’s feedback after each publishing. The amount of difference between the published news and popular opinion determines the number of “Letters to the Editor” that the player will receive.

Circulation

Player’s must purchase and maintain publishing equipment in order to circulate their news information. Their are fixed publishing cycles which are tied to the size of the player’s housing facilities. As the player increases the size of their business, they are expected to get news out faster. Each circulation, depending on credibility, will have a certain amount of actual purchased/viewed copies.

Advertising/Revenue

As the circulation of the news source increases, the player can increase their advertising rates. This revenue is used to purchase larger spaces, more equipment, more/better employees, etc.

Further Explanations

There are many things I didn’t want to bother formally explaining, so they go here.

  • employee wages are tied to employee efficiency. The more an employee costs, the more efficient they are at their job.
  • advertising rates are controlled by the player using a slider. Increasing higher may drive away advertisers, too low means you are undercutting your prices. This is determined by circulation rates.
  • as the publishing cycle progresses, players could click individual articles as they come across their desk. Using a spin slider (or a fixed setting towards a certain political view, etc) the player would see different versions of the same article, ie 100% truthful vs 100% spin and everything in between.
  • as circulation increases employee retention gets easier. Employees that have been around longer will ask for raises and internship programs (free labor) can be instituted.
  • their will be many charts and diagrams to explain all of the detailed systems in the game.
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