Playing Corporation – 09/12/99

Introduction

Welcome to the beta-test of Corporation, the new game of wheeling and dealing in the city of the future.

Because this game is still being tested and developed, it doesn't have a formal, finished rulebook: instead it has this document, which gets updated and copied to the players every time a new bit is added to the game. Apologies for its incoherence – it gets revised every now and then, but in general new stuff gets added on the end at first, so if you stick to the main document you should find everything you need to know for now.

In general, though, you'll find you don't need much in terms of actual rules of how to play the game. The order sheet is designed to be pretty intuitive to fill in: the depth in the game lies in looking at the options open to you and working out what you want to do, rather than in sweating over how to do it. This document provides mostly advice and discussion of the various game elements.

Starting off in Corporation

Doing well in Corporation is all about making money, and to make money you have to sell things. To be able to sell them you have to produce them. Producing things needs a building to do it in, machines to do it with, and a company to do it through.

You come into the game with your Corporation and a starting sum of money – 2000 credits (you'll see this on your order sheet). Your Corporation (which you should think of a name for, nothing obscene or defamatory please!) owns nothing at all, so your first turn will involve spending some of that money.

Your Corporation can own as many operating companies as you want. Each one costs 500 credits to set up and will need to be maintained, and to start with you will probably only need one, but as you get bigger and break into new markets you will want to diversify. You might have a range of companies each of which is producing different goods or services, or you might have companies which are targeting different sectors of the same market (eg. one making luxury cars, one making cheap runabouts), or you might have one purely to research better production techniques for the others… anyway, that's all in the future, for now you want to have a company which will make you some money.

So the first thing you want to do is set up a company and give it a name: then you need premises for it. You've been given the list of buildings available in the city, and their prices. Once you have own a building you can start to improve it, expand it or whatever, but to start with you just buy it off the peg. Property near the centre of the city is more prestigious and hence more expensive: apart from that, you should aim to be in an area where you'll find it easy to expand. We will be bringing out a map of the city showing where all the buildings are, but it's not working yet.

Buildings are rated for their size and number of floors – so, 2 floors of size 100 is not uncommon. The size given is size per floor, so this building would have a total space of 200 available.

Another rating is the building's quality. The nicer your buildings are, the more prestige you gain from owning them, and also it makes your staff more cheerful. You shouldn't worry too much about this at the beginning, because frankly you won't be able to afford anything decent, and once you get Janitors set up you can improve the quality of your buildings quite cheaply (at first).

A note about finding buildings: they're referenced by the block they're on and their position on that block. So your first building might be building 3 on block 6J. If you own all four buildings on a block, you can (eventually) combine them together into a tower block: you'll see that there are already a few of these, all currently owned by the city council. It'll be a while before you can afford to emulate them, but it's quite cool when it does happen. You can automatically buy any building that's currently derelict or owned by an NPC company: it doesn't matter what product it's currently being used for, you can sling all that old rubbish out.

You'll note that each building has a rating for value and another for cost. This is because if you want to buy a building that someone else is already using, you have to pay over the odds to buy them out of it. Note that at the start of the game you can only do this to NPC companies, not to other corporations (ie. you can't buy buildings off your fellow-players against their wills). This restriction will be relaxed once everyone has settled into the game, but by then we'll have told you how to defend against this unscrupulous tactic, as well.

Once you've got premises you need to think about what you want to produce. There are thirty different products bought and sold in the city – ten capital goods, ten consumer goods and ten services – each of which has its own market characteristics. Price levels are set according to supply and demand, so you'll get the best prices on product where there is currently not enough supply to meet the demand. Demand for each product changes according to various factors – for example, some goods are heavily seasonal, while others are heavily dependent on the city's prosperity – so you will want to try and predict which are going to be growing, which shrinking. The last thing you want is to get stuck with production capacity which is left sitting idle because no-one wants to buy your stuff. On the other hand, if you foresee a short-lived boom in a product, you might want to tool up, sell it for a few months, and then convert the facility to something else. Anyway, that's all in the future as well, because at the start of the game you won't have too much idea of what the current trends are: you'll have to observe them over a few turns.

You should also think about the raw materials requirements of whatever you want to produce. If you want to make electrical goods, for example, one of the main raw materials for that is microchips, so if the market for microchips is in undersupply and the price of microchips is rocketing, that will mean it's more expensive for you to produce your electrical goods. You'll see the current raw materials cost for each product on the page headed ‘This turn's economy', along with demand and price levels for the current turn and the previous one, so you can get an idea of which way they're moving. You can see straight away that you're likely to make more profit from selling products where the price is much bigger than the raw materials cost.

A company can make any number of different products, although to start with you'll probably want to concentrate on getting just one up and running. Each different product needs its own department: setting up a department costs 50 credits, and it has running costs just as setting up a company does. So the next thing you need to do is create a department for the production of whatever good or service you've settled on. You should then allocate some space in your building to it: it should be large enough to fit in all the machines you want to buy. Changing the size of a department at a later turn costs another 50 credits, but that's not a lot of money really, so don't worry too much about getting it right first time.

Now you can buy in some machines. For the sake of simplicity, in Corporation we talk about everything being produced by ‘machines'. This makes sense when you're talking about producing chemicals, furniture, food or whatever, slightly less sense when you're talking about law or entertainment. You'll have to imagine that a law ‘machine' is really a nice wood-panelled office and set of law books. At the start of the game there is just one type of machine available to produce each of the 30 products. Further, (usually) better types will become available during the course of the game, usually through players researching them: you might want to research your own improvements, or you might want to license in a new machine design from another player or from a non-player company. That's in the future though, for now you just have a standard machine available to produce your product.

In the table listing the available machines, you'll see that each has a set of statistics associated with it. These are pretty self-explanatory: productivity is how many units of the product it makes in a turn, size is how much space it takes up (compare this with the amount of space in the department into which it is going), pollution is how many units of pollution it produces a turn, waste is an indicator of what proportion of the raw material will be wasted during the production process, staff is how many staff of the three different grades (unskilled, skilled and professional) it requires to operate, sell value is how much you get if you want to sell the machine back, running cost is how much it costs each turn to have the machine active (not including wage costs), installation cost is how much it costs to buy. By default when you buy a new machine it comes ready-staffed and ready-activated, ie. it starts production straight away. You can deactivate it whenever you want it to stop production, and you can even unstaff it if you want to save on the wage bill: although, if you do this, then when you want to turn it back on at some future point, you'll have a waiting period to recruit and train up new staff. But basically you don't have to worry about that for the time being, just be aware that it will start producing straight away. You don't have to worry about buying in raw materials for it, it will look after that itself, and it will also automatically sell the goods it produces (if anyone wants to buy them, that is).

That's pretty much all you need to worry about for this first turn: create a company, buy a building, create a department, buy some machines. If you've chosen sensibly then the machines should pretty rapidly pay back your investment and leave you with spare cash to think about expanding: maybe putting more machines into that department, maybe creating another department in the building, maybe get another building.

A brief note on Corporate Philosophies

Every Corporation has to choose one of the six Philosophies available, which are discussed below. (From now on, people will choose a philosophy when they first join the game.) To change it at a later point will be an extremely expensive business – it means changing the whole culture of the corporation, from top to roots – so you should be pretty sure that you're happy with what you choose now.

You should declare a corporate philosophy on starting the game.

At the moment the main effect of your corporate philosophy (apart from a role-playing hook ;-) is on recruiting staff. Individual specialist staff will be appearing in the game also very shortly, and basically each one of them has a set of adjectives attached to them which makes them (as shown below) more or less compatible with your Corporate Philosophy. Someone who's compatible will be happy to work for you for less money, and will stay longer. Someone who's not very compatible with you will demand more pay, or may refuse to work for you altogether.

As staff are distributed randomly across the adjectives, and they're in general good things to have, you can see that there's a game-theoretic element here: the more Corporations there are of the same philosophy, the more difficulty they'll have recruiting decent staff, because they'll be competing for a limited number of compatible ones.

The other major effect of corporate philosophy, which will be coming online slightly less soon but still fairly soon, is that the better you live up to it, the more prestige you get. If you run a Community-Oriented corporation but still carelessly pollute the city, you'll lose prestige. If you run an Old School Tie outfit, and sponsor a lot of city projects (also arriving soon…), you'll gain prestige. More details on this sort of thing as and when, but again it impinges on the game-theoretic element of philosophy choice, because if everyone else is also Old School Tie and donating heavily, your donations will make less impact and you'll gain less prestige than if you were the only one. So in theory we should expect a fairly even distribution of philosophies, not that I expect that for a moment ;-)

Next, and growing out of the Corporate Philosophies, is the concept of corporate reputation and its effects on prestige. Depending on what philosophy you follow, you'll gain and lose prestige in different ways depending on your activities: for example, a Community Oriented corp will lose a lot of prestige for being a high polluter, while a Corporate Bastard firm won't lose anything for polluting. An Old School Tie corp will gain extra prestige for big sponsorship projects; a Touchy Feely corp will gain prestige from having high staff morale; etc. More details on these as they're implemented, but basically what it will mean is that you will gain prestige if you act according to your philosophy, and lose it if you act against it.

Corporate Philosophies

Community Oriented

Community Oriented Corporations have made a commitment to their city, and the world around them. They have chosen to care about their impact on the environment, the future of their city, and the lives of the city residents. These Corporations will attempt to minimize the negative environmental impact of their activities, and are likely to be some of the first to become involved in helping the city thrive and develop in the future. These Corporations would hate to be seen in a bad light, and may go to great lengths to ensure their environmental record is in the public domain so everyone can see they really aren't doing anything bad to the city. Through this caring attitude they hope to create a better future for everyone.

Community Oriented Corporations like employees who are:

Ambitious, Anxious, Generous, Moral, Timid

And dislike employees who are:

Altruistic, Belligerent, Cantankerous, Greedy, Irritable, Miserly, Obstinate, Ostentatious, Ruthless, Selfish

Corporate Bastards

Corporations who choose to become Corporate Bastards have decided that the Corporation is all-important, and that nothing should stand in the way of its success and development. They believe in total commitment to ‘the organization', demand a totally professional attitude from their staff, and expect Career to dominate the thoughts of those they deal with. Joining the Corporate Bastards has been likened to selling one's soul - but it is usually done at an excellent price.

Corporate Bastards like employees who are:

Aggressive, Ambitious, Assertive, Irritable, Ruthless

And dislike employees who are:

Altruistic, Anxious, Caring, Generous, Individualistic, Relaxed, Shy, Sociable, Timid, Zany

Immoral Capitalism

For the Immoral Capitalists money is the only thing that matters. Profit, and bank balances, dominate their thoughts, and they have come to the conclusion that finance makes right, and all other considerations are unimportant. The Immoral Capitalists are the old style Corporation, not afraid to bend the occasional rule or law in order to build a stronger position in the city, and in the marketplace, frequently seeking somewhat dubious connections in order to open opportunities for the future. Determination, and the ability to place one's morals behind financial considerations, are perhaps the keys to working for the Immoral Capitalists.

Immoral Capitalists like employees who are:

Belligerent, Greedy, Obstinate, Ostentatious, Selfish

And dislike employees who are:

Altruistic, Caring, Extroverted, Friendly, Generous, Gregarious, Miserly, Relaxed, Timid, Neophilic

Old School Tie

Old School Tie Corporations are looking for something rather better than most. Quality, not quantity, is their interest - quality of individual as well as of product. They don't believe in new-fangled ideas of equality and innovation, but hark back to an older era of Empire-building. As a consequence they are often first to become involved in the building of a bigger and better city, trying to lead the way into a bright tomorrow, which they presumably hope to dominate.

Old School Tie Corporations like employees who are:

Caring, Conservative, Miserly, Uptight, Stable

And dislike employees who are:

Aggressive, Ambitious, Assertive, Belligerent, Extroverted, Gregarious, Individualistic, Ostentatious, Neophilic, Zany

Techno Heaven

Techno Heaven Corporations just love gadgets and innovation. They seek, wherever possible, to innovate and invent, to create something new. Not for them the formality of the boardroom: employees are usually happier slobbing in the coffee lounge, or more commonly still exchanging notes via their terminals. They tend to leave their staff alone to ‘do their own thing', believing it adds to the creative atmosphere, and so they attract staff who would feel cramped in a more formal Corporate setting. Techno Heaven Corporations believe they've seen the future, and it's technological.

Techno Heaven Corporations like employees who are:

Individualistic, Relaxed, Shy, Neophilic, Zany

And dislike employees who are:

Aggressive, Anxious, Ambitious, Conservative, Friendly, Miserly, Moral, Sociable, Stable, Uptight

Touchy Feely

Touchy Feely Corporations love people, and want nothing more than for people to be happy. Caring for staff is key, and staff should never feel that they can't approach their employers with any little problems they might have. Talking through problems is always encouraged, and everyone should know who they can turn to with any of their little problems. Group talks, problems solving sessions, and ‘getting to know you' meetings are all heavily emphasised. By being good and nice to everyone Touch Feely Corporations believe they will get the very best from their employees, and create a better world for everyone…

Touchy Feely Corporations like employees who are:

Caring, Extroverted, Friendly, Gregarious, Sociable

And dislike employees who are:

Cantankerous, Conservative, Greedy, Irritable, Obstinate, Ruthless, Selfish, Shy, Stable, Uptight

How the economy works

In the game world, the cities are currently in the process of recovery after the global economy and infrastructure were blighted by a previous generation of high-handed Corporations, so this time round the city governments are keeping a rather tighter rein on things. They assess demand each turn in each of the goods, and tell the companies (player and non-player) how much they can sell of each product. In general, at the beginning of the game all products are in undersupply, ie. there is more demand for them than there is supply of them. This means that you can produce and sell pretty much anything. As the game matures, though, and the companies expand and develop their production capacities, you'll start to find that there is more supply for some goods than there is demand. In this situation, where companies are trying to sell more than customers want to buy, not everyone will be able to produce to their full capacity. The way it works is that demand is allocated between companies in proportion to the companies' public images: those with a good public image will be given the opportunity to supply more of the product, those with a poor public image will be left with machines sitting idle. So by this stage in the game you will have to think about developing your public image and making sure you are not lagging behind your competitors. You will need to set up a marketing department and get spending. (Only highly unscrupulous tycoons would think also of setting up Grey Ops departments to subtly harm the pubic image of their competitors).

It's actually slightly more complicated than that, in that if a company with lots of public image (PI) is allocated more demand than it can actually fill with the number of machines it's got, the spare will then be reallocated among companies with a lower PI – customers can't get the brand they saw advertised on TV, because it's sold out, so they make do with your competitor brand. All this is handled automatically and transparently, of course: to start with all you will know is that your machines are either producing at full capacity or not. To find out more about the details of the market you have to get your Economic Data department to research it.

Broadly speaking you can be confident that if supply is lower than demand, prices will rise; and if prices are higher than raw material costs plus a margin, demand will be low. So for any given state of supply and raw material cost, there is a target price which it will now never be too far from.

This is ignoring the effects of seasonal factors, prosperity-related indices, etc etc etc, which also play their part.

One implication will be that it will be difficult to make much money in an industry that is in oversupply, and this will be particularly true of course for those companies that have a poor public image and some of their capacity shut out. The idea is that suppliers will exit these industries until supply descends to a reasonable level – or demand picks up to match it.

We're now, in a few industries, reaching the stage where supply is starting to exceed demand. This means that you will not necessarily get to produce all that you are capable of. If customers have a surplus of goods to buy, rather than just having to take whatever they're given, they will exercise that choice between the various producers. At the moment all goods of a particular type are assumed identical, so the only basis the customers have for choice is the producer company's public image. If you have a very low public image, you may find your lovely machines being forced to sit idle, with the demand going to your rivals. You can see if this is happening or not by looking at what your machines did last turn, in particular the Productivity figure. If this is less then their design productivity, then you are being partially shut out.

How do you remedy this grim situation, or better yet forestall it? By advertising. You create an advertising department, put machines into it in the usual way, and get it churning out units of production. Once it is doing so, you'll be offered the opportunity to spend money on advertising, which will increase the public image of your company and hopefully garner you a greater share of the market. The maximum amount you can spend depends on the number of units your advertising department is producing. The more units it produces, it also gains extra ‘special abilities', such as an order slot for you to compose a company slogan. But you'll have to discover how all that works for yourselves.

In the shorter term, if you find you have capacity shut out, you can always deactivate or unstaff machines. If you've got four machines and they're only running at three-quarters capacity, you can save money by shutting one of them so that you then have three running at full capacity.

Other things that will become important later in the game

Not all products are of the same quality, and you may wish to produce slightly shoddy goods, or goods of supreme quality, to attack a slightly different sector of the market. You'll need first to research or license in machines that will allow you to do this, though. You'll also be able to vary your price about the government-declared central price: you might want to go for a cheap and cheerful brand image, or push your products as luxuries at above the normal price. These decisions will affect your costs of production, and they'll affect your PI, and the effect on PI will be different depending on the general economic climate (in times of boom, customers are less worried about a good being more expensive than average, and so on).

You'll also need to think about your staff. In general they are uncomplaining types, but if the building they work in is grotty, or the machines they tend produce lots of pollution, their morale and hence their productivity will suffer. You can improve morale by paying them better, by cleaning up their work environment, by creating leisure facilities in the company (a Staff Recreation department), and so on.

By the time you've got settled into the business of production, it will be starting to become apparent to you how the operations of companies impinge on the city outside, and vice versa. For example, if the companies produce a lot of pollution, the city's pollution index will rise, and demand for tourism will fall away. If there are few jobs available in the companies, unemployment will rise, crime rates will rise and health levels will fall, which will affect the levels of demand and supply for various goods, and will affect security levels. Most importantly, if your operations generate wealth for the city, then demand for absolutely everything will rise. You can monitor this through the city's prestige index, its most important stat.

Another factor you may wish to consider in the distant future is the education system. The city runs various schools and colleges which have the effect of turning unskilled workers into skilleds and professionals respectively. As the economy develops and evolves, you may find that there are not enough of one type of worker available: for example, the service industries need more professionals than the manufacturing industries. At this point you will probably need to move in on the school system yourself, as of course you will be able to run it far more efficiently, and in a way far better suited to the needs of industry, than a bunch of City Hall bureaucrats can.

Prestige

Don't worry too much about this at the moment, but basically it's a measure of how well your corporation is regarded in the game world. You have lots of Prestige if you have lots of businesses, own many machines, have impressive buildings, turn over a lot of money, etc. As well as each Corporation having a prestige score, the city has one as well: the more prestige the Corporations have, the more the city will have too.

How time works within the game

Corporation has a slightly unusual game-time system. The game world will keep running turns for itself and moving its calendar on, even if you don't send in orders for your position. A turn for the city is a fortnight of game time, and it will turn over one of these every (working) day of real time: so during a week of real time, five turns will be processed, and five fortnights will pass in the game world. You can send in your orders whenever you want, and they will be processed as part of the city turn for the day on which they come in to us. So you could with this first set of orders set up a department which clears a profit of 200 per turn: if you send in your next set of orders in a week of real time later, five turns will have run in the city, and your position will have accumulated 1000 cash.

In general you only need send orders in when you want to change something. At the beginning of the game, when your position's small and simple, there's no point sending orders in every day, because you won't have accumulated enough money to be able to do more than minor tweaking.

Each time you send in orders, you get a report back showing the results of your orders, details of your position's operations during that turn, and the current states of things like prices, demand levels and city indices.

If you've left it a long while since you received your last turn, much of the information on it will be out of date: prices will have changed, and so on. Probably not by much, and probably fairly predictably, but they'll definitely be different. You can just submit new orders anyway, assuming that all will be reasonably predictable. Or if you want you can request a Report. This is basically a summary of your current position, last turn's profits etc, and the economic state of the city, and the idea is that it brings you up to date. When the Web interface is finished these will be free, but at the moment I'm afraid we have to charge the same for them as we do for an ordinary turn.

The other reason you might want to send in orders or request reports reasonably often is to avoid missing out on opportunities. Every turn there will be a different set of news items within the city – for example, a new book might have been published revealing some new management technique, or the government might open a new TV studio and require extra supplies of entertainment. Most of these will have some sort of business implication and will carry some sort of opportunity, only available to players who received that turn's report.

Once you've got some production going

Once you've bought some machines and got them up and running, you'll get reports on how much profit they're currently making for you per turn. Remember, this is per game turn rather than per your turn, ie. it's per real-world day, so if you leave it a week before sending in your next orders then about five times this amount will have accrued to your balances. This is only approximate because of course the sales price and raw materials price will have been changing during that time. If you're producing Fuel, say, then in the middle of winter there's lots of demand and if there aren't enough people making it the price will be high: but as we move into summer less people will want it and you'll find you can barely give the stuff away. Most of the products have some sort of seasonal effect, which you can assess by watching the prices and applying common sense. Remember that a game turn is a fortnight, ie. it takes 12 game turns (12 real-world working days) for the economy to move from winter to summer.

Anyway, you should thus be able to get a vague idea of how much money your corporation will have available when you next send your orders in. You can spend this on buying more buildings, departments and machines exactly as on your first set of orders. Note that you can't buy buildings which are owned by other players (yet), or by the Council. Just the NPC buildings and the Derelict ones.

You also have a few new orders available to you. You can change the size of a Department: this doesn't cost any money and you can make it as big as the building will hold, or as small as its machines will fit into. You can sell a machine (you get about 50% of the purchase price), you can deactivate it (simply turning it off so that it produces no product, uses no raw materials, and has no running costs), and you can unstaff it (the same as deactivating it, but also removes staff wage costs, and when you restaff it you can't reactivate it on the same turn).

Office services

As well as departments that produce things to sell, there are departments that provide internal services to the company, called by the general title of Office Services. At the moment there are eight different ones of these: Admin, Advertising, Economic data, Janitors, Public relations, Security, and Staff recreation. There are more on the way, which we're still designing, such as R & D, and Grey ops.

Office services are handled in a pretty similar way to ordinary departments: you have to allocate space to them, buy machines for them, pay their staff and so on. They produce units of production in the same way, but these don't get sold, just counted up. So basically these departments are a drain on your company expenses. They provide benefits, of course, but in general you won't need to bother too much about them until you get to a fairly decent size.

Each office service works to slightly different rules, but they have certain things in common. The total production of each office service is totted up across your company, and this is converted to give a ‘level' of effectiveness, eg. you might have level 1 in Advertising, level 3 in Janitors, and so on. The same amount of production will convert to different levels in different companies: for example, a huge company will need a lot more Janitors production to achieve the same level of effectiveness as a small company. They all start at level 0.

Most of the office services provide ‘special abilities' at various levels. For example, if you have Janitors at level 1 or better, they give you the ability to renovate your buildings to improve their quality. When you have Economic data at level 1 or better, they report to you on how your Public Image compares with your competitors'.

Most of them also provide continuous benefits that aren't triggered by level. For example, having a working Advertising department allows you to advertise; and the bigger it is, the larger your advertising budget can be.

Most of them have both a continuous ability and also special abilities: for example, an Admin department will reduce paperwork cost (a cost incurred when your company produces a wide range of different products) by a portion no matter how small it is, and when it reaches level 1 it also gives you the ability to change wage levels in your departments.

If you have an office service at a high level, the abilities it can provide are quite potent, but achieving this is bound to be very expensive. For example, if your janitors ever reach level 5, they can erect a Tower Block.

You'll see (as from turn 24) a new report on the front page of your turn, which has various stats for your companies' office services. For the four services so far implemented – Admin, Advertising, Economic data and Staff recreation – it lists the total productivity of that company's machines, and in the next column the ‘level' that this is equivalent to.

Level is a bit of a flexible concept which means different things in different places (you can tell we're old AD&D players). In each case Level 0 means no ability at all, and higher levels are better. The more your productivity is, the higher your level is going to be, but in each case there's a weighting factor against which productivity is compared – for example, for Staff recreation it's compared to the number of staff you have – to work out the level. So if you keep the same number of Staff recreation machines, as you take on more staff in general this department's level of capability will actually decline.

What effect different level has is also different from service to service. For example, in advertising, it determines the maximum amount of advertising that the company can do in a turn. In staff recreation it has an effect on staff morale. But in addition to these variable effects, you'll also find that going up a level confers a new special ability, which usually means an extra order slot. You'll have to find out what these special abilities are, and how hard it is to reach them, by yourselves.

There are actually three further office services – Reception, Janitors and Security – but we haven't implemented them yet. They'll work, and be reported, along similar lines. Be warned that renovating a building, which you've all been doing as standard up till now, is in fact a special ability of the Janitor department, and when this office service is implemented then it'll become more expensive to renovate if you don't have Janitors.

Just to clarify: office services all work across the whole company, not on individual buildings. So there's no need to have a separate Janitors dept in each building, for example: one big one in one of the buildings will be just as effective.

Of course, you might want to have several small departments for other reasons, such as wanting to keep the freedom to sell off odd buildings or whatever.

PR

Having good PR will allow you to manipulate the news, promoting good stories about yourself and squishing bad ones. It will also help you sway civic decisions in your favour, which will be an important part of the game but isn't really at this stage.

Probably not worth building any yet, you won't really gain any benefit from it for a while, apart from having more news stories about the departments you're opening and so on.

You may be thinking that the news is rather repetitive and boring – this is very true, we haven't done any work on it other than to make sure that it works properly. It will be getting attention shortly, but not until we've got another couple of important bits of the game working. At least it allows you to keep something of an eye on what your rivals are up to.

Not everything makes the news, there's a random element – which, like all things, can be influenced by your PR level. Not running yet but will be shortly.

Advertising

Advertising works in basically the same way as other office services. Each set of orders, you'll be asked for each company how high an advertising level you wish to spend (per turn) – the maximum is limited by the total production of units of Advertising from your Advertising department, which again each company can set up and must bear as a cost. Don't worry too much about advertising now, as it won't really be relevant until supply levels are getting high enough to satisfy demand, but when it does start to bite it will be vital to keep your public image up if you don't want machines sitting around idle.

We've got advertising working properly now, so as from turn 0033 those of you who have departments producing at least level 1 will be able to set an advertising budget for the company. The way this works is that on your order sheet you're told the max you can spend per turn, and you can write in any value up to this – the higher advertising level you have, the higher this number will be. At level 1 it's a max of 20 per turn. Once you set a value in here, the company will spend that much every turn until told differently. The more you spend, the greater will be the improvement in your company's public image, which means you'll be able to command a greater proportion of the demand in those goods which are oversupplied.

At a higher level of advertising capability (you'll have to find out how high yourselves) you also have a slot to set a company slogan – the snappier the better, of course. At the moment we haven't decided where on the various reports this slogan should appear – if you've got any ideas, suggest away.

Janitors

Another new feature which is posed on the runway is Janitors. These friendly folk trudge about your buildings repairing machines, redecorating and so on. Along with them come the concepts of machine lifetime and building degradation.

Machine lifetime – each machine, when you buy it, has a finite life (research will allow you to develop more reliable machines, but we'll come to that later). If left to its own devices, one day it will suddenly conk out and turn into an expensive heap of junk. Janitors can help with this – when they see a machine is about to die, they try and fix it, and if they're successful its life will be prolonged. The better level of Janitors you have, the more likely they are to succeed.

Buildings degrade in a fairly similar way. Over time their state of repair will gradually decline, and janitors have a chance, greater the better their level is, of preventing this decline.

Renovation is now no longer something that you can do automatically each turn – you will only be offered a slot to carry it out if your company has janitors of level 1 or better. At higher levels, they offer you further slots for optional orders, including the fabled ‘convert four adjacent buildings into a tower block' order.

You'll see janitor machines available to buy on the new machine list, so get setting up those departments if you don't want your buildings and machines to start falling apart: you can't renovate a building unless you have Janitors-1 or better.

As with most of the office services, janitors are only really worthwhile if you have quite a big company. Their effectiveness is limited by the total floor area and the number of buildings they have to patrol, so if your operations are extensive you'll need more of them to reach the same levels.

Administration

Also just about ready to go is Administration. And, just as each new spring brings with it the sweet sorrow of the melting snow, so each new cool and interesting thing brought into this game carries with it a penalty of some sort. In this case it is Paperwork.

Paperwork is the general hassle cost that a company incurs if its operations are very diverse. It can be kept to a minimum if the company is only producing one good: the more different goods you produce, the higher it will be. But it will be reduced by having an effective Administration department in the company.

As well as that, Administration confers various special abilities as its level improves. At level 1 it gives you the ability to set different wage levels: they can be set separately for each department. Those of you who have companies with admin levels of 1 or better will see a new order slot alongside each department, allowing you to set the department's wages to be either Poor (10% less than the standard amount), Average, or Good (10% more). The level persists until you change it again, and the default is Average – which is the value shown on the CONSTS sheet. If you have admin level 2, you'll be able to set more extreme levels, Meagre (-20%) and Excellent (+20%). As well as affecting the departmental wages bill, wage levels also affect staff morale.

At higher levels of Admin, further useful abilities will appear, such as the ability to buy new machines at the same time as you create a department.

Administration is slowed by high turnover. The higher your company's turnover, the more administration machines it will need to achieve these levels of effectiveness.

Paperwork cost and the Administration function are both now fully up and running. Some of you will get a nasty shock when you see how much your companies are wasting each turn on the paperwork associated with making lots of different products. You can reduce it by selling off some of your departments (no way to transfer them to another company, I'm afraid) or by introducing an Admin department – with sufficiently good Admin you can reduce paperwork cost to zero. But the greater your company turnover is, the more admin machines you need to achieve the same level. Having any admin at all will reduce paperwork cost a bit, though, even if you don't have level 1.

Economic Data

Those of you with Economic Data departments of level 1 or better will notice a new figure on the Department profits table, headed Share of PI. This is given for all departments in the company, except those which aren't producing anything. What it shows is the share of the total public image in the city for that product that you have – eg. if for Basic Food you have 0.04, that means that consumers in the city think of your company 4% of the time when they want to buy basic food (roughly). This share of public image is affected by the amount of advertising that your company is doing: spending in advertising will generally increase it, unless all yor competitors are also doing so. And increasing it is generally a good thing, because it allows you to produce and sell more. If you have machines sitting idle, producing less than their rated productivity, this is because your share of public image is too small and nobody wants to buy your goods. Increasing share of public image leads directly to increased ability to sell what you produce.

Note, though, that it's share of public image which is important. You can advertise heavily, but if all your competitors are also advertising heavily, your absolute public image will improve but your share of the total will not, and you will not get increased production. It's a bit of an arms race.

R & D

The long-promised R & D now makes its appearance on the runway. This is an office service much like any other. The way it works is pretty straightforward. Once you've got an R & D department up and running, you can set it to designing new machines. You tell it which old machine design to base the new one on (it needn't be a machine that your company's already using, it can be any of the ones off the list – including of course the R & D machines themselves). You also tell it which stats of that machine design you wish to improve. The higher level R & D you have, the more stats you can improve at once. The stats that can be improved are Size, Pollution, Productivity, Waste, Running cost, Number of unskilled, Number of skilled, Number of professional, and Installation cost.

When you make this request of your R & D people, they report back to you straight away with a Blueprint. This is not a completed design, it's just an indication of what they think the design will end up like, and how long it'll take them. This gives you an idea of how significant the improvement will be when finished, and whether it's worth tying up your R & D for that long for the sake of it.

At any point after that you can tell your R & D people to implement the blueprint, or you can delete it if you think it's worthless. Once you implement it, it occupies all their time and productivity until the design is finished. Of course, this will be quicker if you have lots of R & D productivity.

Once the machine design is finished, it will appear on your personal Machine Designs table, and you can then choose whether or not to license it out. If you don't, it remains secret to you, and you can buy as many machines as you like to this design, but no-one else can. If you choose to license it out, it appears on the general machine designs list, and anyone in the world can buy it – but they must pay you a fee if they do so. You can set this fee to be any percentage you like of the new installation cost. Of course, you don't have to pay the fee yourself.

R & D departments also have other special abilities, such as offering you the chance to create new departments of secret types that don't ever appear on the general list. But you'll have to discover those for yourselves...

Anyway, I hope this is all reasonably clear – it should become more so once people get under way.

Note that if you have more than one R & D dept in a company, their effect just adds together, as with the other office services. Unlike other office services, though, the benefits of an R & D dept are shared across your whole corporation, because any of yor companies can use the new design. So does that mean that there's no point having R & D depts in more than one company? Well, if you do, you can have them working on more than one design at once.

The other thing is that player-created machine designs are also now appearing on the list, if the player in question chooses to license them out. If a design is player-created, it will appear underneath the standard machine on which it's based, it will have the licensor's name in parentheses after its own name, and it will have different stats to the standard machine – better ones, usually. it will also cost more. It's up to the licensing player to charge whatever they like for their machine, and it's up to you to decide whether it's worth it or not – obviously, they want to make as much money from the license as they can, so the better the advantage that their design has over the standard machine (or over other player-created designs), the more they can get away with charging. You buy a player-designed machine in exactly the same way you do an ordinary one, just put its design number on your order sheet as normal, and the designer gets a cut of the cost that you pay.

We've still got a teeny wrinkle in the code that actually turns blueprints into sellable designs (ie. it's not working properly yet) but expect the list to be flooded with player designs in coming turns.

Of course, the designer also has the option of not licensing this new design out at all, in which case no-one else can buy it.

How to submit turns

At the moment Corporation is playable by email or by post. This means that you can submit your orders by email or by post as you prefer, and you can receive results and reports by email or by post as you prefer. We don't care which way you submit, but we charge differently depending on which way you receive. If you receive by email, it's 50p per turn; if you receive by post it's £1.00. We recommend email if you have the choice, because (a) it's cheaper, and saves us the time of printing stuff out and putting it in envelopes, and (b) the information you're working on is automatically slightly more up-to-date.

We're simultaneously working on a Web interface for the game, so that you can just log onto our site whenever you want to, look at the city and at your position, and submit orders via an online form if you so desire. That won't be available for a while yet, though.

Note that you have a fixed number of slots available for each activity. For example, when you start off, you have only one "Form a company" slot available, and this means that you can only form one company in a turn. As your corporation expands and invests in admin systems, more of these slots will become available. The order form is customized to your position: it's called orders.txt, and it can be found in the zip file with the results pages. You can fill it in and return it to us either by pasting it into an email, or attaching it to one.

A few people have asked whether it's right that after your first turn you can't buy a building for a company the same turn as you set it up, etc. This is correct – you set a company up one turn, can buy a building for it the next turn, can set up a department the next turn, and can buy machines and get it making money on the turn after that. This is to represent the realistic difficulty of springing into profitability the same turn as you conceive of the new company. You can do all this at once on your very first turn in the game, but then it's assumed you've been planning your move for ages and get help off the Council.

Note that the sequence of order slots on the turnsheet is the order in which they get enacted. So when you create a new department, for example, you have to have the space for it at the beginning of the turn – you can't create that space by shrinking another department the same turn. This is another one of those ‘realistic delay' situations.

You'll notice that on reports for Turn 21 and subsequently your machines have been compacted together. If you have a number of identical machines in a department, their stats appear just once, and at the end of the line is the profit of each multiplied by the number you have to give a total profit.

Similarly their order slots have also been compacted together, the assumption being that in general anything you want to do to one particular type of machine in a department, you generally want to do to every example of it. However if you have say 3 machines and want to sell just one, or deactivate just two, or something like that, you still can, just make it clear when you write in your orders: eg "Deactivate? – YES, TWO OF THEM" or whatever. At the moment these orders are being interpreted by human eye, so anything sufficiently obvious and explicit will generally do the trick.

You will see a separate listing for those of your machines which are activated, deactivated and unstaffed.

* Activated machines (ie. normal ones) have the option to deactivate them or to unstaff them.

* Deactivated machines have the option to reactivate them or to unstaff them.

* Unstaffed machines have the option to restaff them – if you do this, the following turn you'll be able to reactivate them as well.

Timing

We're going to stick to quite a rigorous schedule for processing orders, so that you can be fairly confident about how many turns in the city have passed before your orders are processed. This is how it works.

Orders processed in the 10th August turn are those which have arrived with us between 9am (UK local time) 9th August and 9am 10th August. Anything which arrives after 9am will be processed the following day. We don't run Corporation turns over the weekend (at the moment – we will do when it becomes automatic) so anything which comes in after 9am Friday is run on the Monday.

·          First of all, all player orders are carried out: machines bought, buildings improved, etc.

·          Second of all, all profits are added to corporations.

·          Third of all, the economy is updated and new price / demand figures calculated.

·          Lastly outputs are generated for the players.

There are a few important things to note here. One is that on a given turn your profits are added after you've bought your new machines. This means that you can straight away see how those machines are performing, but it means that you have to have the money available at the beginning of the turn, ie. before your existing machine have generated their revenue for that turn.

Another important thing (for those of you who are into the more technical aspects) is that profits are calculated on the old economy figures. This is important because price is set according to the relation of supply to demand: if supply is much less than demand, the price will rise. So if you buy a load of machines and increase supply, you might expect the price to stop rising, but in fact you'll get one turn's worth of production at the old price before this adjustment takes place.

City indices

Apart from city prestige, mentioned above, there are other indices that measure the city's performance as a whole. At the moment the ones that are working are pollution, unemployment, and wage hopes. You'll see these reported on the page that has the raw materials and so on.

As the level of industry in the city increases, you can expect to see pollution increase and unemployment decrease. Of course, some industries are more polluting than others, and when you're able to research new machines then decreasing their pollution will be one of the things you can do. Similarly some industries are more labour-intensive than others and so will employ more people.

City prestige index is basically a measure of how important the outside world thinks your city is. It'll get bigger the more stuff you all do to enhance the city. It's directly comparable between cities: when we get organized we'll generate an occasional report comparing stuff across the different cities, but for now you can always boast to each other. Cities with high Prestige will tend to get people migrating to them, increasing demand generally, but that's quite a long-term effect which won't really impinge on you for a while.

The other city index which actually works at the moment is the Wage hopes index. This is basically an indication of how well-rewarded your workers would like to be. It's affected primarily by the amount of profit that there is in the city (player and NPC): the more profitable business seems to be, the more the workers will reckon that they deserve a share of it. And can you deny that they have a good case? Well, yes you can, because actual wage levels are set by the interaction of this index and the Unemployment index. If there's lots of unemployment, the workers can ask for as much money as they like, you just tell them there are plenty of people out there who'd be happy to slave away for the starvation wages you're offering. You'll see that the basic wage levels for unskilled, skilled and professional workers are also listed on this sheet, and they'll go up and down in response to unemployment and wage hopes. You can set variations on them for your own workers when you have sufficient administrative capability, but up till then this is what you have to pay.

The other main point of these indices is that they affect demand levels. If the city is very polluted, then demand for things like tourism and recreation will be adversely affected. If unemployment is high, then demand for things like entertainment and media will be less. And so on. These city indices are the main things that distinguish demand for the various service industries.

Specialist staff (Heads of Department)

Each turn, on the News page, you'll see listed a selection of staff available to hire, together with their abilities, their target wage, and their character traits. What these staff are for is to head your office services departments: you'll see they each have a rating across the seven office services, which adds directly to your company's level in that. So if you have Janitors 1.7, and hire someone with Janitors 0.6, it gives you an effective level of 2.3. You'll see straight away that in most situations they're pretty good value for money, compared with the equivalent number of machines.

You hire staff to a company, and each company can have only one head of each office service – so even if the company has three janitors departments, it can only have one Head of Janitors. Most of the staff have abilities in more than one area, so you'll have to choose which you think is the best position to appoint them to. There's no point appointing a Head of an office service you don't actually have, as they can't have any effect by themselves, but you could hire them anyway and just keep them hanging around while you build the department for them, if you don't mind wasting the money.

On the subject of money, you'll see that each member of staff available for hire has a target wage quoted. This is round about what they'll want to be paid, per turn, to work for you and weave their magic over your ailing departments. However this is where their character traits come in, and are compared with your corporate philosophy. If they are highly incompatible with your modus vivendi, they won't work for you at any price. If they are mildly incompatible, you'll have to pay more to gain their services. If they are compatible with you, though, you can get them for less. You'll have to experiment to see what you can get away with: the way it works is that you write an order offering them X amount, and they decide whether they'll take it or not. If it's a long way below what they want, they'll tell you to get lost. If it's getting there, they'll encourage you to improve your offer. If it's more than they were expecting, they'll work with you for longer, which is a good thing.

In general staff will only work you for a limited length of time before getting bored and seeking fresher pastures elsewhere. The more you're paying them (compared to what they expect – ie. it doesn't have to be so much if you're compatible) the longer they'll want to stay. But they'll always disappear eventually.

Staff only stay available on the list for a few turns – if no player hires them, they go off to work abroad for a while. They'll usually come back round again in time, though.

The other unusual thing about staff, compared with everything else in the game so far, is that the list of staff available is across the whole game, not across your city – so you're in competition with every other corporation in the game to secure their services.

When you first hire staff, they're not immediately assigned to a dept, you have to do that the following turn. Instead they are put into a thing called the Pool, which is basically a receptacle for unassigned staff. You'll see an order slot offering you the chance to allocate staff members to new depts. You can put them back into the Pool if you like (you still have to pay their wages of course), or you can move them directly to another dept, as long a it doesn't already have a Head, in which case you'd have to move that one out first.

Selling things

When you sell a machine, you get its sale value.

When you sell a department, you get the sale value of all the machines it contains – they are all automatically sold too, you don't have to order separately for them. This is listed on your position report under the department as ‘Breakup value'.

When you sell a building, you get the breakup value of all departments it contains, including their machines, and you also get the value of the building itself: and when you close a company, you get the breakup value of all buildings, departments and machines it owns.

Morale

To get the best performance out of your workers, you must look to their morale. Each department has its own morale stat. This is affected by various things:

* wage level of department;

* total number of staff in building(applies to all departments in the building);

* quality of building (applies to all departments in the building);

* quantity of staff recreation facilities (applies to all departments in the company).

You can set wage levels for each department as either Meagre, Poor, Average, Good or Excellent. This means that all workers in that department will be paid at 80%, 90%, 100%, 110% or 120% respectively of the current wage rates for the different classes of occupation, as shown on your Constants sheet. You can change wage levels when you have sufficient Administration: the more extreme wages are more difficult to set.

You can improve the quality of a building by renovating it. There's no way of degrading the quality of a building, but you'll find that it will automatically degrade occasionally if you don't spend enough on Janitorial services.

You can add staff recreation facilities by creating a department for that purpose, in the same way as you create an ordinary department, and buying machines for it. Basically they work exactly the same as the ordinary machines, producing units of Staff recreation, except that they don't sell them, they just feed them to your staff – so these machines and departments are only a cost, they will never make you any money.

What is the point of staff morale? I hear you wonder. Well, the more disaffected your staff are, the worse they perform. You'll see, quoted by each department, their morale and then a figure called ‘losses', which represents the amount of potential profit wasted by their morose inefficiency. If you can get them really cheery, this figure will fall to zero.

As most of you have discovered, there are two ways to improve staff morale: renovating buildings, and installing staff recreation. (There's a third way, which is having fewer staff in the first place – sheer numbers will depress morale – but as we plan to implement a rule that sacking large numbers of workers depresses morale among the remainder, I won't recommend that as a solution.

Staff recreation facilities are large and expensive. Staff's demand for recreation is less than a proportional one, so if you have twice the staff you don't need twice the recreation facilities to keep them happy – in fact, the more staff you have, the less recreation facilities they need per head (although still the more in absolute terms) to keep them as happy.

For small companies, renovating buildings is a more effective way of improving morale. Up to a point, at least, because renovations become more expensive the nicer a building is. (Also, we're shortly introducing a requirement that you have Janitor machines producing out put before you can renovate, rather than being able to do it automatically as at present, but they'll be pretty cheap so shouldn't make that much difference to the economics.)

So to summarize: renovating is more financially effective at improving morale than installing staff rec is, if staff numbers are small and buildings are grotty. As staff numbers increase or as buildings improve, this balance shifts, until for large staffs and nice buildings, installing staff rec is more effective. Where the two balance points come you will have to find out for yourselves…

Slight tweak to the way that morale is affected by numbers of staff. It's now calculated on number of staff per size of building, rather than just total number of staff in building, so you can now get away with more staff without it affecting morale if your building is larger.

This compensates for the result of fixing a bug which meant that staff weren't being summed properly across multiple departments to calculate this morale effect.

Poor morale also affects the performance of office service departments. Office services will do whatever it is they do (fix machines, advertise, reduce paperwork cost) less effectively if they have poor morale.

Sponsorship

You'll see, as from turn 0046, a new report appearing, Sponsorships available (and the corresponding order slot). What this consists of is a list of schemes for which money is sought from you, the corporate fat cats. Each scheme has a name, a description, a cost and a lifetime. The name and description are self-explanatory. The cost is how much it costs per turn to sponsor, and the lifetime is how many turns it will last (so if a scheme is cost 56 and lifetime 44, say, you'll be spending 56 per turn on it for the next 44 turns, a total of 2464.

Each scheme can only be sponsored once, so the first corporation to sign up for it gets it, and it then disappears from the list. However, unlike staff, each city has its own set of schemes. And you make a sponsorship at corporate level, rather than company level like staff. Each corporation can have any number of sponsorships going.

Every sponsorship carries with it a prestige bonus, which that corporation will get for the lifetime of the scheme. Each sponsorship also has an effect on the city indices: for example, if you sponsor a recycling scheme, it will reduce pollution. You'll have to guess how large these effects are from the description of the scheme, although in general the ones which are more prestigious and have more effect also tend to cost more. Once you've signed up for a sponsorship you don't have to do anything else with it, it looks after itself.

Of course, sponsorship schemes are more closely tied in with some corporate philosophies than others. Community-Oriented and Old School Tie type firms will likely be the main sponsors: Immoral Capitalists and Corporate Bastards are less likely to be interested.

Mailing list

We've set up a new mailing list for discussion of Corporation – rules-/design-related issues or discussion amongst yourselves, whatever you like. We strongly recommend that you subscribe if you can, because we use it for bug announcements, new rules and so on, and it's generally a little way in advance of this rulebook. You can subscribe to it at http://www.onelist.com/subscribe/corporation and post to it at corporation@onelist.com

Logos

You're encouraged to send in a logo for your corporation: you'll see them on the list of corporations in a city, and also on your corporate profits page. Do send one in if you like the idea. The spec we use them at is 120w * 60h pixels, 75 dpi, 256 colours (8-bit), GIF – don't worry if you don't have control over these specs in your graphics package, we can deal with it here, pretty much any bitmap you can throw at us.

Finally

Thanks for your interest in Corporation, and for taking part in this beta test! The rules and the game world are going to be changing about you, as we add in new rules modules, make more options available, and tweak the numbers. Don't be alarmed to find that we've changed things on your position between turns, or made machines cheaper to buy, or something. And, more importantly, do feed back to us with any thoughts or comments you have. We're very open to rules suggestions from players, or other ways to improve the game, and will receive them gratefully.

Mo Holkar

Undying King Games
57 London Road
IPSWICH
IP1 2HF
UK

tel: (01865) 452921
fax: +1 (707) 2767748
http://www.ukg.co.uk
corporation@ukg.co.uk

====================

You'll have noticed that there are now quite a lot of office services about, in fact what might at the beginning of the game be considered a bewildering number of them. We've decided therefore to phase their introduction to new players, so that you only get told about / discover / have made available a particular office service at about the time when you're going to need it. At the start of the game the only ones available to you will be Janitors and R&D: you'll find out about Staff Recreation when you get up to 50 staff, for example, and you'll find out about PR when you reach 100 prestige. That sort of thing. We haven't quite finalized all the criteria yet, but we'll be introducing them over coming turns. Of course, these won't be applied retrospectively to existing games: if you already know about an office service, you can continue to use it, even if you wouldn't qualify to under the new rules.

==

The first big chunk of development work on politics has now been completed, and will be added in over the next few turns. To start with it's quite simple: there exist 100 Councillors, each of whom has a particular set of political opinions. Every time a corporation tries to do something politically sensitive, the Council will vote on it, and they may prevent it. At the moment the main example of politically sensitive things is when you try and buy out an NPC company producing something that is in short supply: the Council will start go get nervous if eg. there are only two companies making textiles left, and you want to buy one of them. Similarly, they get nervous as corporations in general get bigger and more powerful, taking over more of the city, and they may prevent you from buying buildings at all if they think you're getting too dominant. More things will be added to this.

Of course, all this political idealism is all very well, but the ingenious entrepreneur can find a way round it. This is where the Politics office service comes in. You can create this like any other department, once the criteria for you discovering it have been met (see other note), and once you've got it you can spend money each turn on lobbying the Council, much like the way you spend on advertising at the moment. At level 1 you can only lobby for corporations in general, meaning that all corps find it easier to get measures through. At level 2 you can lobby for yourself specifically, and at level 4 you can lobby against other corps.

All this is just lobbying the Council in general at the moment. The next step is to define the Mayor, and allow you to touch him / her individually: then to allow you to try and influence / bribe / blackmail / etc individual Councillors. After that we move on to the thorny area of elections and political parties...

==

Just a quick note to say that as from tomorrow you'll be able to buy and sell shares on the market. Don't get too excited yet, because even if you manage to get hold of a majority shareholding in another player's company, you won't be able to take it over until the politics rules are working properly, because you need to put a motion through the Council to do so. And you won't ever be able to take over companies belonging to corporations in other cities.

You can attempt to buy any number of shares in a company that's quoted on the exchange, and you'll buy at the current quoted price. It's going to be more sophisticated than this eventually, with price movement during the day in response to player trade orders, but not yet. Similarly, you can sell any number of shares that you currently own (no short selling!) again at the currently quoted price.

Each corporation can make one sell order and one buy order per turn, no more.

The other thing is that the share prices aren't yet moving up and down in response to trading, only in response to perceived value of the company, and this is still a rather crude perception. So the effect is that the share market at present is only really suitable for investment, not speculation. More developments will follow in due course...

==

Over the next few turns, those of you with good enough R & D depts will be given the opportunity to research two new types of machine – the Dive, which is the basic machine for producing Sleaze, and the Grey Ops machine. In both cases, once you've researched the machine, you can create departments to put them in, and buy copies of the machines.

Sleaze is a bit like Advertising: it provides a way of attracting customers to your illegal activities. The more Sleaze you generate, the greater will be your Criminal Image (CI – works much the same as PI), and the easier you'll find it to sell illegals. What are these illegals products? Well, the better your Sleaze Level is, the more of them you'll discover, and in each case it's a matter of researching a machine, setting up a dept etc.

To most intents and purposes, producing illegals is not much different from producing ordinary goods and services. The differences are (a) you have to research the machines yourself, you can't buy them on the open market, and (b) they're illegal (duh!) so if you get caught at it you'll have the machines confiscated, buildings closed down, fines, etc. The better your Security is, the less likely you are to get caught: also if you're bribing the police, but we'll come to that later. And the better your PR is, the less your popularity will suffer from being caught. You're more likely to get busted sooner in a city with high Security index.

So that's Sleaze, in brief. Grey Ops is completely different. The better your Grey Ops level is, the more different types of order slot are available to it. These range from spying out information on your rivals' operations and running smear campaigns to harassing their staff and minor sabotage. Nothing too juicy though, that is saved for the Black Ops department... but I'm not saying yet how you get one of those, I'll leave it as a pleasant surprise.

In both cases, as with ordinary machines, once one of your companies has researched the machines, any of them can build them. These machines cannot be licensed out, of course.

Demand for illegals follows a completely different set of models too, and I expect you can work out what some of the consequences for the city of their development are likely to be.

This new stuff probably won't all work properly at first, if experience is anything to go by. Tell us if you try something and it doesn't work as it should...

==

Tomorrow should see the next stage in share dealing. Now, instead of buying and selling at the start-of-day price as quoted on the report sheet, you buy and sell during the turn, so if the price rises during the turn, you'll end up paying more for the shares than the start-of-day price suggests.

This means that we have to allow you to put a ceiling on the maximum you're prepared to pay for buying the shares, and a floor on the minimum you're prepared to accept for selling them. This guarantees you a certain level of revenue / max expenditure, but it does mean that if the price moves outside your limit, you might not end up with all the shares you want.

When buying, then, say the share is currently priced at 1.12, you might say "Buy 5000 shares, pay no more than 1.22." We assume that the price moves steadily during the day, and all transactions take place steadily throughout the day too. Then there are three basic possibilities:

End of day price is less than 1.32

You get all the shares you want for a price less than your ceiling, eg. if the end of day price is 1.26, you'd end up paying 1.19 each for your 5000 shares.

End of day price is exactly 1.32

You get all your 5000 shares exactly at your ceiling price of 1.22.

End of day price is more than 1.32

You get fewer shares than you asked for, because you drop out of the buying once the price rises past 1.32. Eg. if the end of day price is 1.36, you'd end up with 4166 shares bought at your ceiling price of 1.22.

The converse is true when you're selling shares: you can specify the minimum price you're prepared to accept for your shares, and if the end of day price is too low then you'll end up not selling them all.

In both cases, if you want to ditch those shares at all costs, or if you want to buy in no matter how much it costs, you can leave the floor / ceiling price blank, and just say "I want to buy 5000 shares in X" – in this case, be warned that prices can go pretty high if there's a feeding frenzy on.

In case anyone was wondering, you can't sell shares on the same turn that you buy them, you have to hold them for at least one turn. Not that there would be much point in doing so, in any case.

==

CEO perks – those of you who've named your CEOs (and who have enough prestige to merit perks) will see them starting to appear. People with lots of prestige already will see a long string of perks appearing over the next few turns, to catch up with their current level, but in general you'll get them as you go through prestige barriers. You'll also note that they've all been described as female, but that's been fixed now (apart from for those who actually are female, of course).

==

Another big area of the game which we're about to start opening up: the stock market.

This has four main aspects to it: corporations can float their companies on it to raise money; corporations can speculate in share prices to make money; corporations can invest in shares to gain an income from them; and corporations can try and take over each other's holdings by buying a majority shareholding.

All this is going to be released very gradually over the next few weeks. The first step is simply that you can float your companies onto the market. You'll be told how much money this would raise. You can choose to release anything up to 100% of the shares, holding the remainder yourself: of course, the greater the proportion that you release, the more money it'll raise. These shares are all sold to NPCs in the first instance, although they can later be bought by rival corporations, or bought back by you of course.

Share prices will move up and down in quite a sophisticated way when we've got the model fully implemented, in response to various different types of market confidence as well as to the company's performance and to the volume of buying and selling that's going on in that share. But to start with they will behave very placidly and will just be affected by the company's perceived worth.

The main purpose of this order at the moment is to allow corporations to raise money: of course, it will be most useful to fairly small, starting corporations. For convenience, each company will consist of exactly 100,000 shares.

Note that the stock exchange is a global thing, you'll be able to trade shares in companies from any city, not just your own.

Note also that it is a company that you float, not your corporation. Companies which actually make things, and which make profits, will do better in the market than those which only provide office services or which lose money. You can, if you want, float off all your companies separately.

This will all become more clear once you see it happen...

==

As of tomorrow's turns, the long-awaited corporate rankings will be appearing on your turns. You'll be told on your own turn what rank you are in the city for the five stats of Greenness, Sponsorship, Politics, R & D and Staff Morale. You'll also be told which are the top 5 corporations in your city for each of these stats. (Note that the rankings are a bit unreliable for stats which no-one's got any of, like Politics in a couple of the cities.)

Although interesting in their own right, these rankings are of importance because, depending on your corporate philosophy, your prestige will be affected. If your corporation is claiming to be a Techno Heaven, but you're bottom in the city for R & D, your prestige will be reduced as the public at large find it impossible to take you seriously. Conversely, if you're an Old School Tie firm, leading the city in sponsorship will gain you prestige. I won't go into the details of how it works, but basically the better you're ranked in the areas your philosophy deems of importance, the more prestige you'll get.

Each corporate philosophy has a primary and a secondary stat they consider of importance (basically the rewards / penalties for excelling / doing badly at the secondary stat are less that those for the primary one).

Philosophy

Primary

Secondary

Community

Greenness

Sponsorship

Touchy

Staff morale

Greenness

Techno

R & D

Staff morale

Bastards

Politics

Sleaze

Immoral

Sleaze

R & D

Old School

Sponsorship

Politics

==

You'll see a new order slot asking you to submit a name for your corporation's CEO (Chief Executive Officer), the person who runs the whole thing. (You should also say what their gender is, if it isn't obvious.)

Initially this will have little effect other than being reported to you. You'll gradually see this person's name appearing in news reports making announcements on your corp's behalf and so on. But shortly we're going to allow you to choose a lifestyle for them, and then there'll start to be news reports on their personal life – 'Lord Gnome, CEO of Gnomes of Uqbar, was seen sipping champagne with actress Guinness Paltry at the Canned Film Festival' etc. Then the next stage is called 'CEO perks' – as your corporation grows, there'll be little items announcing that your CEO has awarded him / herself various perks. 'Lord Gnome has had an 8-foot mahogany desk installed in his office' and so on. The hope is that on the Web site version these will be represented graphically, the office etc getting gradually better as your corp progresses; a bit like the way your palace improves in Civilization, if any of you have played that.

All this CEO stuff is just for fun, it doesn't have any actual impact on the game; but no less worthwhile for that, I hope.

==

Those of your companies with Janitors 1 or better now have the option to 'Renovate all this company's buildings'. If you tick this it has exactly the same effect as if you go through and tick all the buildings' individual renovate boxes, but hopefully just doing it in one order is easier for you and for us. If you've got a building that's already as beautiful as can be you can still use this order, it'll just ignore that one.

In case anyone's wondering, if you tick the 'renovate all' box and also some of the individual renovate boxes, the latter will be ignored – you can't sneak a double renovate this way.

==

Build Towerblock order: if a company owns all four buildings on a block, and it has Janitors of level 5 or better, it can convert the four buildings into a towerblock.

This involves all four buildings being demolished, and the departments in them being broken up, and all machines sold at their ordinary sell value.

The shiny new towerblock is then erected on the site: it has size 400 and you can specify in the order how many floors you want it to have, up to 20. It is completely empty, so you can start putting departments into it the following turn, and then machines.

Subsequently it behaves just like a normal building: you can renovate, extend etc just as normal.

Be warned that towerblocks are exceedingly expensive. They cost 6000 credits per floor, multiplied by a factor ranging from 1 at the edge of the city to 5 in the prestigious centre. So the most expensive towerblock possible would be 600,000 credits, enough to stretch the pockets of the most plutocratic corporations. But the prestige rewards for owning one are truly stupendous.

Note that all four buildings to be converted must be owned by the same company. If you have all four buildings on a block but they're owned by different companies, you may find judicious use of the 'Give building' order helpful.

==

Just a quick reminder note about the difference between blueprints and designs, now that a few more people are using them.

When you ask your R & D people to research something, they immediately produce a blueprint, which is basically a drawing of what the new machine will look like, how well they think it'll work, and an idea of how long it will take them to turn it into a working design.

if you want them to turn it into a working design, you have to activate the blueprint. You'll then get messages from them each turn saying they're working on it, until eventually they finish. It then appears on a new table of machine designs that your corporation owns. Only at this point can you start buying and installing copies of the machine, or licensing it out.

Another important point is that blueprints cannot be based on other blueprints – they can only be based on working machine designs. Either on those which are on the public 'machines available to buy' list, or on your private 'machine designs this corporation owns' list. You can't create a blueprint, and then next turn create another blueprint based on it: you have to activate the first blueprint and let your R & D people turn it into a design, and only when that's completed can you base a new blueprint on it.

==

A new order which allows you to give a building from one company to another. It must be to one of your own companies, you can't give it to another corporation. It includes all the departments and machines within the building. This order costs 100 credits to use, and each company can use it once per turn.

==

Something you can do with your janitors if you have level 2 or above: The new 'Extend building' order allows you to add an extra floor to one of your buildings, thus creating a load more space. You can use it repeatedly if you like – in theory a building can be up to 20 storeys tall – but only once per turn, and of course it gets progressively more expensive. And as you'll see, it's already pretty expensive to start with.