A Global Afterlife Enterprise: The Business Of Death Inc.
You are of course wondering what the Death Inc. business sim will look and perhaps even play like! Tim has very kindly furnished us with a set of concept pieces to illustrate that, literally.
Zoomed in on a couple of rooms:
Zooming out to see more, I spy a Zen Reaper:
And the vast expanse of a developed Death Inc. office:
Hmm I think I recognise that...
Luckily, today I got the chance to sit down with Mr Daniel Leaver (that's how he likes to be addressed) and talk about this business side of the game. How do you go about running a company specialising in "outsourced mortality solutions"? If you're an actuary who deals in death, are you a mortuary?
- So Daniel, for those not in the know, what's the setup for Death Inc's business game?
So the game is part real-time strategy and part business simulation. Grim T. Livingstone's office space starts out as a couple of rooms in his Nan's basement. And in the business of reaping, the cold, hard corpses get exchanged for cold, hard cash. And the player can spend this cash to expand their basement and to hire new employees.
- So how does a player earn money?
They reap humans from the main levels of the game. Even if the player doesn't complete a level, they'll keep the corpses they reaped up to that point and those will get exchanged for cash. In addition, each level has 3 special Black Hearts, belonging to the most revolting, despicable humans in the land. They're always going to be well protected behind armies or castle walls.
- Sounds tough. Can you complete a level without getting all 3 Black Hearts?
Sure. And they're unique so you can only ever get 3 from each level. It's unlikely that a player will be able to get them all in one go without unlocking new abilities.
- To encourage experimentation?
Absolutely. It's just another part of the puzzle for how to fully complete a level, and really adds to the replayability.
- Right, so why's a Black Heart different?
Normally you spend your income on everyday business expenses - paying salaries, a reaper's gotta eat. But Black Hearts are used to unlock new rooms for the Death Inc. office. They're rare enough that players will need to make tough choices on what room to unlock next.
- And what are rooms for?
Well there's three types: Office, Research and Lounge. You need Office space to hire employees, Research labs to unlock and improve abilities and Lounge rooms to improve in-game and employee stats like morale and energy.
Underlings, minions... You employee them through the office space - the more you spend on hiring, the better the quality of the worker. Each potential underling has two stats to compare on their employee card: Reaping Proficiency and Research Competence. Once they're hired, they get a desk space along with a motorised scythe sharpener, World's Best Dead mug, you know.
- And what do you do with them once they're hired?
You have two choices as you might have guessed: Reaping or Research.
Selecting Reap presents you with 3 options - side quests if you will - and they vary in duration. The longer it is, the larger the Corpse Haul you'll get from it. But obviously it costs more to do the mission, and there's always the risk they'll fail the mission if they're overworked or over tired.
- And this is where the Lounge spaces come in?
Exactly. And then with each successful mission you'll get Work Experience Points, XP. Earn enough XP and they get additional proficiency points and can do better missions, and so on.
- So that's Reaping. What about Research?
With this you can send a minion to a specific piece of research, like the Rat Zoo. Researching here enhances the Plague Rat ability. Each upgrade needs a certain number of research points - and each employee generates research points according to the number of skulls of Research Competency on his employee card. An employee with 3 skulls will research something 3 times faster than an employee with one.
- Excellent! I'm very much looking forward to researching the next advancement in incendiary cows.
That would be offal.
- Thanks Dan. Thanks very much.