Zero Carbon Nation got us into the world qualifiers of the Microsoft Imagine cup (a student games design competition) in 2012.
The game was never finished because we didn’t manage to get into the finals. So, you can play the demo version here, minus a few features which would have the game more interactive and balanced.
All the energy & money generation represents a realistic economy. There’s some pretty fancy maths going on in the background of this one.
As part of the imagine cup applications must design their game around the theme of one of the UN millennium development goals. We chose energy sustainability.
Here’s an extract from our game-summary document which we were also required to do as part of the competition;
In our game Zero carbon Nation, the UN millennium development goal we will be addressing is energy sustainability. The goal of this game in raising awareness of energy sustainability is to force the player to incorporate responsible energy management into how they play the game, and through this, the hope is that the thought processes developed in playing the game, will change how the player thinks about their energy use and the environment on a larger scale.
Zero Carbon Nation is a simulation game along the lines of Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri and Civilization. These types of game are often referred to as “serious games”, owing to the high level of strategy and management that is required from the player to think about all of the game aspects while playing, while also allowing the game to simulate scenarios and situations as realistically as possible.
This is our main design-goal with Zero Carbon Nation. It’s our belief that the topic of energy sustainability is an extremely broad one and touches on a variety
of aspects. From autocratic carbon-based energy domination, through to energy conservation and awareness and eventually completely renewable energy production, which is the end-goal of the game.
But this also reflects the future of our planets energy production goals. Through the game the player will be confronted with the same difficult choices and decisions as the politicians and managers who are tasked with the progression of the cause of sustainable energy in the real-world.
The game therefore shows a non-biased picture of the problem of sustainable energy. The player will often encounter situations where it may be more feasible to fall back on old technology in order to gather the funds to invest in a burgeoning “green”-technology which may have the potential to generate more revenue for the player. The game will therefore strive to be as realistic a simulation of energy production, management and technological development as possible.
However the message of responsible energy management should not be outweighed by the simulation elements in the game. This is what will hold the players attention and interest as they work toward the eventual end-goal. So it is important for these elements to be as balanced as possible, in order to allow for smooth gameplay, and to be as realistic as possible so the player can gather some real-world information about the scenarios and technologies being presented to them.
Our hope is that this dynamic will allow the player to sit in an unbiased seat asthey govern their energy monopoly, effectively showing them, as they make the decisions, that the progress toward a “Zero Carbon Nation” is not as straight forward as might be expected.
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