NRG is a multiplayer game that allows you to upgrade your house and neighbourhood to experiment with the consequences.
It was built to support research into sustainable behaviour among homeowners. By visualising the effects of each choice the players make, they can experience the advantages and tradeoffs sustainable choices can bring.
TU Delft, Faculty of Law and Policy
Lead development (Unity/C#)
Pick a home
Players can pick a home to start with by indicating their preferences in 3 categories: Energy, Housing and Luxury. Their goal is to make this home into their dream home, but what that means is up to them.
Buy, sell and repair upgrades
The player has to manage expenses vs income, and try to build their perfect house using the available funds. With each purchase, they have to made trade-offs between luxury, sustainability, price and durability. Lower quality purchases break down and need repairs sooner.
See the effects
The integrated model view shows the players how their household items affect scores like quality of living, energy consumption, durability, etc. Using this model, players are able to experiment and gain an understanding of these effects.
Using a custom-built morphing system, the game features dynamic models representing the player's purchases. Any object can morph between luxurious, budget-minded, intact, broken, expensive, cheap and any point in-between.
Rathern than presenting them with numbers and statistics, this makes the player's house feel truly theirs and alive while still communicating the relative value and state of each object.
After some playtime the neighbourhood opens up, extending the player's decisions to a communal level.
Should we all get solar panels together to save costs? Should we invest that money in a waste disposal plant instead? How would you run your neighbourhood? Gaining insight into player's behaviours and preferences was one of the main purposes of this game, and the multiplayer aspect of it was custom-built to deliver challenging decisions and generate discussion.
Being able to visit other players' houses and see their contributions to the neighborhood adds further incentive for each player to do well.
Events and interventions
To facilitate research, session runners are able to activate events that influence the player's game to see how they react. Sales, accidents, group buying incentives, taxes, etc. are all able to be triggered from the facilitator interface/server.
Each object and house available for purchase is generated from a spreadsheet of options. Using this list, researchers are able to easily tweak costs, effects and availability without requiring help from developers.
Rather than using turns, NRG uses the concept of days to control game flow and keep players synchronized. During the day, players take actions. Every night, the most impactful action a player has made is shown to the group.