Among the many problems to solve for game development, one of the fundamentals is :
how is the game board made?
Some sentences of the book [04 30] [30 21] suggest that the shape is irregular even if it is specified that the width is about 20m per side.
This is misleading because one might think that it is squared but nowhere is this shape unequivocally mentioned in the book.
There is only a reference of a length of 20m per side, so we only have an indication of his overall extension.
What shape then?
There is talk of an abstract mosaic formed by elevated areas and valleys
The hills or generally the raised areas, are made using different overlapping layers (a sort of frame) which, going up, tapers giving the rise a pyramidal shape
It should be noted that Banks insists on describing the table using expressions referring to geographical elements
A phrase that I find significant at the end of the book [243 26] verbatim cites that the table has a carefully balanced topography of low and raised territories
Another “geographical” quote
But what do you mean by “balanced”?
In geographical terms, does this mean that valleys and hills are equivalent as respective total surface?
We know that Banks was an avid player of “Civilization”, the video game of Sid Meier’s Microprose, where this game aims to conquer the territory to allow the development of an empire continuing in the ages, from the past to the future.
An interesting thing of the game is the possibility to choose the game map between three different types:
– Pangea = this creates a world with one huge continent and possibly some smaller islands
– Continents = this creates an Earthike world with several big continents and some smaller islands
– Archipelago = this creates a world with many large and small islands, but no full continents This is a good world if you like navies.
Does it mean that the three type of boards Origins, Forms and Becoming have some relationship with the ones of Civilizations?
It could be.
If You think the three maps of Civilizations, are obviously the representation of the evolution of the earth crust, from Rondinia to Pangea to the actual situation (not considering the various intermediate reconnection and new detach).
At this point it is legitimate to deduce that Azad must have inherited at least this characteristic and that the three game boards represent the evolution of the territory.
What kind of territory?
I remind you that Azad was born and evolved on Ea for several millennia, so we can assume that from the beginning it was based on pawns placed on the boards that represent territories.
But are we talking about parts of the Ea territory or imaginary territories?
We know that Azad intends to represent in the most faithful way possible the real life reproduced inside a game.
So if the board is perfectly balanced it means that the territory represented cannot be natural but was designed for the game.
In fact, in nature there is no territory in perfect balance between hills and valleys as described because as far as we can strive, if we measure any section of any territory with millimeter precision, we will always find differences in the proportions measurements.
A final note, nowhere in the novel is it said that the territories represented on the tables have some type of pre-existing construction, indeed it suggests that these are territories completely devoid of the presence of any living being.
Finally now that we understand that the tables represent the evolution of the earth’s crust, but what part of it do they represent?
The whole planet or only an area?
I suggest only a part simply because it is never indicated that the territory of the table represents an enitre planet, indeed many sentences suggest that we play in a specific portion of the territory.
To summarize we have all these elements available:
– three tables representing “a portion” of the earth’s crust during three evolutionary stages
1) Table of Origins, only one huge central continent surrounded by the sea (perhaps with a few scattered islands)
2) Table of Forms, a series of large continents with some smaller islands
3) Table of Becoming, a series of large and small islands scattered throughout
– the continents and islands are not flat but obviously have various heights to represent the hills and mountains
– for playability convenience these geographical elements are obtained with open support structures which overlap to form platforms and which at each new level are reducing the available surface. In this way the pawns can be placed on every different levels
– the precise shape of the table is not a perfect square but varies along its external profile as it follows the profile of the territory it represents
– in any case, the table seen from above is an approximate square since it measures about 20m per side
– The grid of boxes for the movement of the pieces obviously applies to both the flat and the raised parts so that there is continuity of the grid
– the shape of the boxes we know creates a complicated, chaotic and irregular mosaic, therefore the boxes are composed of different geometric shapes that connect and cross each other
Now all that remains is to draw three boards with less and less soil and more and more water and be careful to measure how many flat and raised parts there are because they must be equivalent.
Anyone want to try?