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A refugee camp managment game: how and why
Published 3 months ago
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A prototype of game consisting in building and managing an alien refugee secret underground base. Just think Men In Black.
We can already build our own high security prison with Prison Architect, or imagine our personnal cult with Cultist Simulator. Now we will design, build and manage a refugee camp.
This game is inspired by Prison Architect and Rimworld. You welcome refugees, build spaces to house them, manages services to make them live in the choosen conditions, destroy obsolete parts to adapt to the incoming and unstoppable stream of poor guys seeking for a temporary home and try your best to avoid the situation to explode.
I've acted as lead developper and game director during the development of this game.

A refugee camp, really?

As the refugee topic is sensitve, even more these days with political tensions and climate changes, we wanted the game to imply the player deeply into the refugee management problematic, but in a fun way. We consider that refugees need to be talked about. We all may become refugees in a matter of years and we must know what it is, what it takes to manage this situation, from both sides: the refugee himself/herself and the guy how welcome him/her.
But we also need the game to be a game. Fun and pleasant. And educational. And sensitizer... This is how we ended up with Men In Black. With aliens as refugees of all sorts - climate, planet disasters, war or even earth tourism - and a secret underground facility, we found the perfect mix to acheive our goal: close enough to reality, and way more fun.

Gameplay key elements

The gameplay turns around three key elements to make this game unique:

Refugee stream is out of control

You can limit the number of prisonners to deliver in Prison Architect, or the number of visitors you let in in Planet Coaster. But the stream of refugees, in real life, is something you can't control. They are here, they need you, you can't refuse them out.
It's even worst with aliens because you need to catch all of them to keep their existence secret. If you let them land illegaly anywhere, or escape your camp, you will have trouble with the next key element.

Keep the secret

You will massively rely on donations from governement to keep your business running. But in exhange, the governement will require you to keep the secret from the public knowledge.
Everything you will do will drag the public attention. Too much delivery truck in the middle of nowhere? A huge electric bill for an empty land? Big piles of waste everyday for a disused building? You will have to change your strategie as your base growth. Install underground tunnels, generators, incinerators...All of this will take place, money and workforce.

Rehabilitation

No, you won't be able to keep all these refugees into the base. But you can create disguises and learn some of them to behave as us, create and manage false identities, so many refugees can still have a life on the surface of earth. Rehabilitation is a serious stake in real life refugee management, as it will be in the game.

What's next?

The game is currrently in development. We have created a strong code base with easily expandable AI, which is one of the most important feature. It is inspired by the job system found in The Sims and Rimworld and allows to add thousands of independant behaviors launched by a centralized decision machine. Each refugee has it's own objectives and moods and we are ready to expand the system to all necessary behaviors.
The game also already features viewed-from-the-side underground base inspired from Fallout Shelter and X-COM, in full 3D, accompagnied with a complete building system that will allow to create your own secret facility. This mix is quite unique in the industry and while the ergonomics is a real challenge, we beleive it will create a strong identity for the game.
Also, we are looking for an artist ^^ It's a non paid position.
Benoît Dumas
Indie gamedev punk wanabe - Programmer
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