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Private sector (Galactic Milieu)

At the Freeciv scale, that is, the scale that deals with an entire populated planet on a strategic level, the Freeciv software itself abstracts away the private sector to such a degree that there is legitimate concern that any attempt to build it back in would severely distort or spoil the game.

In the Freeciv system, civilisations pay upkeep for all their city-improvements; this provides a constant stream of the wealth that the Freeciv software refers to as “gold” that vanishes from the Freeciv system and can conveniently be taken to have entered the private sector. The flow from the Freeciv system to the private sector is thus easy and is already accounted for in the Freeciv system. It is when we consider introducing flows back from the private sector to the Freeciv system that problems could be introduced.

This flow of wealth in the form of city-improvement upkeep is easy to rationalise but it amounts to a huge amount of wealth, especially if one keeps track of it from game-turn to game-turn of the Freeciv scale game. On the other hand though, it should also be borne in mind that all the improvements built in all cities are also subject, in the Freeciv system, to the possibility of being sold at any time for the same kind of wealth that is being paid for their upkeep. Thus we can use the current sale value of all such improvements as an amount to hold aside as a reserve, an amount somehow tied up in the resale value of those improvements. That takes quite a bit of this proposed private sector wealth out of consideration, and if the total amounts paid out as upkeep never add up to more than the resale value of the upkept improvements the imagined private sector ceases to present much of a problem.

This leaves us with the cases where the total amount of upkeep that has been paid out over time does add up to more than the resale value of all the city-improvements. We are left with a residual accumulation of wealth vanishing from the Freeciv system which, were it to re-enter that system, could be quite a windfall, potentially upsetting that system.

The gripping hand in all this is what happens if some “private sector” entity, that is, some entity not directly and clearly represented in the Freeciv system, accumulates a stash of the Freeciv scale's so-called “gold” and decides it would like to spend it, or possibly a better term might be to utilise it, on the Freeciv scale and within the Freeciv system.

Considering the Freeciv system overall, we can perhaps assume that the arising of barbarians shows one possibly outcome of the accumulation of private sector wealth that is not directly accounted in the accounting systems of the Freeciv system, and indeed on planets where there remain “wild” regions such as are required for the appearance of barbarians we can possibly even provide to players in the private sector the option of raising private armies to form units that will be represented on the Freeciv scale as barbarians without particularly upsetting the Freeciv level of play. But what of the worlds that are so civilisaed, so populated, so high-tech, that there simply are no places sufficiently “wild” to permit the “spontaneous” appearance of barbarians?

Here possibly high technology itself could come to our aid, at least once Cloaking has been discovered. We could require private sector entities who wish to attempt to deploy Freeciv scale units of barbarians to somehow acquire cloaking technology and to wait, for actual deployment of units of barbarians, for a time when the level of cloaking available is sufficient to cloak against the best sensors available. But then again, how likely is that, really? Cloaking is quite a bit more advanced than sensors, and if this idea is actually adopted surely governments will tend to react by keeping their level of senmsor technolofy ahead of their level of cloaking technology precisely to forestall the arising of high tech barbarians by this method.

In addition to the problem of how to re-introduce back into the Freeciv scale of play Freeciv scale funds that vanished into the private sector there is also the question of where such wealth resides exactly, since there will obviously be the potential for players at the Freeciv scale to hide away some of their nation's wealth in this imagined private sector to keep it out of enemy hands while retaining control of it within the supposed private sector ready to conjure it back to the Freeciv scale at a moment of their choosing. The existence of a private sector level of play thus could be used to achieve an effect that could be equivalent in play to the caches we see in villages scale games such as Villages Online. In such games a cache is basically an improvement that serves the specific purpose of keeping some of your wealth out of the hands of enemies who raid your village. Since such games deliberately implement such an improvement, possibly it can be argued that Freeciv's lack of an improvement having such a function is an “ommission” that we can reasonably choose to correct by means of the implementation of a private sector instead of by means of implementing such an improvement directly within the Freeciv system itself as a city-improvement. In such a view the private sector will in effect be rationalised as being a “cache” type improvement that we have chosen to implement in a private sector level of play instead of directly in the Freeciv system itself.

Here possibly we should give some thought to the fact that a “cache” implemented as an “improvement” is on the map, subject to being seized along with the population-centre in which it is built in the event that an enemy caputures the population-centre instead of merely raiding it for loot. This circumstance seems to hint that it might be wise to retain a geographic aspect when implementing our private sector. For example even if we do not migrate private sector caches of wealth back to the Freeciv system when a city in which such a cache is said to exist we could at least make it apparent to, and probably in some way or ways vulnerable to, the capturing nation's own private sector.

Hopefully what has been written here so far gives readers an inkling of the kind of considerations game designers face when looking to interface different levels of play; it is not yet intended that this page actually present a detailed solution to any of these considerations, so far the goal is simply to lay out some of the problems.


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