Population Growth in Games: Part 2

Some games do population growth right. Take Civilization, for example. A single play-through can take over 24 hours. That might be a short time for some games or a long time for others, real-time games for instance. 

Civilization can do population growth well because it's scope is so large. It is an entire planet over thousands of years. And, because it is a turn-based game. The turns in Civilization vary in length. In the beginning of the game, the turns are hundreds of years long but layer they can be less than a year long. This is because, as time goes on, it takes less time to accomplish the same amount of work or, in this case, population growth. 

That works fine for tun-based games because everything is just an aggregation of things from the real world and time scales can vary. 

That doesn't work for real-time games, however, since the game must be played in the lifetime of the player, not over thousands of actual years. One solution to this problem is to keep the population constrained as a part of the story. In Homeworld, the population was put onto the Mothership by the Bishop ships and it was plausible that your entire population for the entire game consists of that initial population. 

Other games, like Fragmented Galaxy, can't use that option. I'm trying to make a fun game and a plausible simulation. This means trade-offs, unfortunately. In real life, the world population grows by about 10,000 per hour (0.000000014% growth). If a player invests an hour of time into my game I want them to have accomplished more than that. 

In the interest of fun, I am considering a few options. Read about them in part 3. 

Population Growth in Games: Part 1

It has always bothered me at how unrealistically populations grow in real-time games. Let me explain... 

Remember the orcs in Warcraft III? The orcs broke out of the internment camps and sailed to Kalimdor in a finite number of ships so we know they didn't bring a ton of warriors with them. To dominate the region Thrall had to raise an army. "From where?" I hear you asking. 

That's my point! 

Where did all those extra people come from? We certainly didn't see any female orcs come with Thrall so how does reproduction work in this world? Do orcs just spring forth from the ground? While this particular discrepancy does not apply to Humans, (we see human women and children all over the place) another one does: rate of reproduction. 

From what I can tell, it takes 30 seconds from request to delivery of a trained-killer, blood-thirsty, adult orc. The same goes for the humans too! So the orcs and humans developed either time distortion or cloning and probably both. This isn't completely out of reach, they do have magic after all. 

But this just makes the story of the orc race even more tragic. How did the orcs lose their female gender? From the lack of female orcs in WC3, it had to have been before this cloning thing was invented. It means that within ONE generation the orcs lost all their females THEN found a method to preserve their species. This is both depressing and super lucky. 

However, the humans must also have the same methods. Human swordsmen pop out of barracks even faster than grunts. And they need to! When the orcs could reproduce so quickly the humans needed to bolster their population to keep up. 

In fact, I think I can pinpoint when this cloning procedure became widespread. 

Once the orc populations grew to overcome the resources of their world they needed to find another one, hence the portal to Azeroth and the First War. So, just before Warcraft I, the humans found out how to use this cloning magic and win at Stormwind Keep and eventually gain domination over the orcs in Lordaeron. Plus the humans get to keep their gender diversity intact. 

Also, somehow the orcs restored their missing female genetic code after WC3 because there are female orcs in World of Warcraft. 


Unfortunately this sort of thing happens in a ton of games that deal with populations. People seem to just pop into existence from nowhere which has always annoyed me. I know these are just games and they are meant to be fun. After all, how can you have huge battles without large armies? How can you collect enough taxes to build empires in just a few hours? Did I nerd out too much? 

Visit again in a few weeks for the thrilling conclusion, and to see what I am thinking about for Fragmented Galaxy.