I saw some suggestions regarding lots new automated systems and fire hydrants. I was thinking, “how can we implement things that are region-based resources, like a municipal electric grid, or water supplies?” Would it be possible to set up a sort of municipal “vehicle” that represents all the resources a municipal system has? What I mean is water pressure, electricity, back-up generator fuel, etc, could be monitored by hacking into an active city municipal network. Add some municipal systems a player has to delve into sewers and subways to reach and activate or refuel.
Imagine the whole thing like a big vehicle: elevators, trams, and other transit devices are wheels, generators are engines and alternators, there’s water tanks and a general running capacity and fuel-usage estimate per-turn. In fact, it might be easiest to associate all the municipal access devices as stationary vehicles themselves, giving a special part that allows them to input and output from the municipal grid. So say you have a big room filled with powerful diesel engines. The entire thing is one big vehicle and it’s access to the power grid is called a “Municipal Power Junction” You can add multiple types, so Municipal Water Junction, Municipal Network Junction, and Municipal Fuel Junction. The assumption is that these parts will NOT be able to be moved by the player. They lack tools in the scope of this game to do so, so each junction is pretty much a permanent affair. A player can, however modify the “vehicles” themselves and change them to suit their own purposes. This means that a player can tap into the electrical grid by commandeering a traffic light junction to refuel their electric car, but they can’t expand the network outside the city. That’s my feeling anyhow, if expanding a municipal grid would be something that could be balanced, it’s perfectly fine by me.
Municipal systems could be hacked to do several things, like reactivate streetlights, control traffic barricades (automated for ever more extravagant parades celebrating American Exceptionalism, naturally) activate water pumps to specific hydrants. Activating all of these things affects the municipal resources associated with that grid. Having back up generators attached means that you’ll be operating on limited power, so don’t expect to keep an entire city lit up, just turn on the systems you need and shut the rest off when you can, disabling components that are too beyond repair may waste resources: broken pipes, exposed power-grid, leaking fuel lines, etc. Certain resources could be in need of repair or be unable to shut off and need to be scrapped. For instance, smashed hydrants will quickly drain water pressure so might need to find a way to shut it off if you want to make use of municipal water access or treatment. In order to wirelessly hack, however, you need a cellular transmitter on a laptop or a sophisticated hacking application for a PDA. The cell tower in the area needs to be reactivated as well, which is also tied to the power grid. Pumps for water-pressure may be damaged and need to be repaired before hydrants, sinks, drinking fountains, etc will work properly.
On the technical side of things, I was thinking that the municipal grid would be simplest if it was static, determined by what map sections are considered part of the grid. If the grid were to be expandable, you would have to consider forcing maps to have infrastructure that is actively tracked, perhaps buried under the roads. These hubs would occupy every city street and essentially form the basis of the power grid. Any junction box vehicle part can access the grid if it’s submap is adjacent to a submap with a hub. Large buildings off the road would have their own hubs inside them to transmit power to the back-sections. Imagine sub-panels in an electric grid. Though, I strongly suggest keeping the system as abstract as possible, though. We don’t need to know where all the wires are, we just need to know “is this submap wired? Does it have pipes? Network access? Cell coverage? Is there a fuel pipeline somewhere here?” If there’s something the player can do to toggle the on-off state to truly connect a grid together, much like frames connecting a vehicle together, then that is the most ideal system.
This is a pretty complicated one, but after playing so many games that take advantage of networked systems, it seems like a cool addition to an apocalypse game with a setting like C:DDA. There’s something about having to make the decision on whether or not the nuclear reactor under Tenderberg is worth trying to fix and restart just so you can have running water and CCTV access. The old rogue-like meme was to delve a dungeon for ancient treasure. In C:DDA we delve dungeons so we can finally take a hot shower!