|Imperium Offtopicum XIX|
Political divisions, Summer 2043
Thorvald of Lym
11 July–12 August 2016|
|Notable events||15% tariff reduction|
Imperium Offtopicum XIX (previously known as Imperium Offtopicum XIX - Sign Up and Announcment Thread after accidentally starting in its sign up thread) is a Near Future IOT run jointly by Robert Can't and Thorvald of Lym. The game is somewhat of a spiritual successor to Robert's previous title, IOTXIV, which was itself inspired by Thorvald's IOTIV and The Aftermath. The game emphasizes diplomacy and international relations, rather than the often-seen economy- and war-based games. IOT XIX features the most comprehensive United Nations system yet seen in IOT.
Despite launching to high acclaim, confusion over the original budget system, followed by several dropouts after it was removed, led to the game's suspension in mid-August shortly after the second update as Robert sought to overhaul the rules. Intended to reopen about a week later, no further correspondence has been posted and the game's future is unclear.
Robert Can't had mused a sequel to IOT XIV for some time. In December 2015 he invited Thorvald onto the project as co-moderator of the United Nations, which they both felt was critically underdeveloped in most games. The game was originally intended to launch that Christmas on the anniversary of XIV's air date, but university work and uncertainty on the game's structure led to its postponement, first to a tentative April start, then to a summer release.
Early brainstorms of the game featured extensive hard stats akin to Robert's earlier projects, but these were ultimately dropped in favour of pure-fiat roleplay as per XIV. In May, he posted plans for a Prologue Phase in which players participated as delegates in a peace conference that would determine the setting of the game proper, but this was not developed further. The first formal draft of the rules was only completed and transmitted to Thorvald in late June, and the budgetary system and UN framework were ironed out over the following week. Robert's declaration early July that the rules were mostly complete prompted a firestorm of sign-up anticipation which, due to irregular correspondence and miscommunication between the GMs, led several players to accuse Thorvald of "stalling" the launch and fears that the two GMs were already at odds. Sign-ups opened July 11, with the first update posted July 20, although the UN social group did not open to the public for another week.
The game begins in the year 2043, each turn representing a three-month season. Although originally intended as a loose sequel to XIV, a hard backstory was ultimately dropped and pre-game history was assembled from player signups, chiefly a global financial meltdown in 2017 and a military crisis in Ukraine and Crimea in the late 2020s.
Updates are intended for every Wednesday, preceded by a 'soft lock' (when information is collected), and 'hard lock' when work on the update begins, during which time players are requested not to post in the main thread.
The game was originally designed to use 'soft stats' in the form of annual national budgets, the exact meanings and effects of which remained in debate and varied by player. In addition to determining government-level performance in public sectors such as health and education similar to the statistics used in XIV, budgetary spending directly determined a player's territorial expansion rate, with each claim costing 1 currency unit (BEF 1 billion). Players were free to allocate income in whatever field they wished and did not have a hard cap on expenditure, but all countries began with a flat debt rate of BEF 400 billion at 1.2% interest. Budgeting would be set for a full fiscal year with the starting season determined by the player, and as such could not be adjusted except in the event of military invasion or a similar national disaster.
Wide-scale player confusion over how to conduct the budget, as well as Robert's own concern that the process was too tedious and drew attention away from the main game, led him to abolish the budget system on the second turn, replacing it with a XIV-esque national statistics chart. In addition to at-a-glance comparisons for economic, military and diplomatic strength, a second chart details the style and quality of national services, including armed forces, health care, transportation infrastructure, education, welfare, and state bureaucracy.
IOT XIX reuses the 'classic' world map divided into subnational administrative divisions. Each claim is "one use of the fill tool", i.e. a contiguous colour zone as it appears on the map. Total expansion per turn was originally determined by budget allocation; following Turn 2 it is a fixed four claims per player.
A country's relative military strength is determined by its military budget, which represents annual aggregate spending on supply, training and maintenance. While baseline costs fluctuate depending on the type of armed forces, the budget does not directly determine a military's professional quality.
The military budget is implied to represent peacetime standing strength, with mobilization demanding higher funding; one of Robert's stated objectives in developing the budget system was to disincentivize knee-jerk wars and better model their long-term economic and social effects.
All wars must be declared publicly. Results are determined primarily through GM fiat with some elements of RNG; players may submit war plans, but they are "not necessary or necessarily encouraged".
IOT XIX's most ambitious feature is a detailed United Nations that in addition to the voting assembly includes several pre-established offices. Its primary organs include the default General Assembly, an elected Security Council, a Trusteeship Council, two International Courts, and a stand-alone Human Rights Council. Inspired by the "top five" lists seen in IOT XIV's latter updates, the UN also operates nine Specialized Agencies under the umbrella of the Economic and Social Council that provide forecasts and feedback on regional and national conditions, and that players can work with to develop informed policies and supplement local resource or knowledge shortfalls with international expertise.
- The budget system's design led both Thorvald and Reus to ask whether it was inspired by the 1991 computer game Crisis in the Kremlin, which Thorvald was investigating for Project Marmot; Robert stated that he had not based it on any particular source.