IMO the Year effect is a very crude approximation to many things.
Instead of it, I have a few broad suggestions. These would arguably make the game more complex, sure. However, I think complexity gains would not actually be as bad as they seem at first, because the way I envision it, it would actually streamline certain aspects of the game, making similar ideas more uniform.
Year seems to crudely stand in for two things:
- Global Reserves of Finite Non-Renewable Resources
- Cumulative Effects
So these things should be modelled as that instead.
Finite Non-Renewable Resources
As of right now, that would amount to Global and Local Oil Reserves, and Global and Local Rare Earth Metal Reserves.
Reserves are not Supply. They are what you derive Supply from, and they limit how much total cumulative Supply you could ever get throughout the game. (Unless you add some crazy ideas such as Asteroid Mining Program which would be extremely expensive at first, but then, after literally decades, rake in money like crazy and really bolster Rare Earth supplies, effectively rendering them a non-factor)
Global Reserves, no matter what country you play, would start at 1, whereas Local Reserves would depend on the country.
Increasingly rare Random Events could occasionally boost Global reserves (Something something foreign nation discovered new pocket of oil), and random, increasingly rare decisions, could occasionally boost Local Reserves if you choose to do so (Environmentalists hate it but some investors brought up a spot that seems promising for Rare Earths, wanna prospect? -> yes: reserves increase but environmentalists hate you)
Otherwise, these reserves only ever go down.
Global Reserves go down more slowly with high foreign relations, and high Foreign Trade means you can secure some portion of what ever those reserves go down by each turn, bolstering your Supply of those resources.
Note: the reserves don’t go down via year, but instead, cumulatively! More on that once I get to Cumulative Effects. The only thing that’d effectively depend on Year, unless you also add a “True Global Supply” which represents currently hidden reserves, is the chance that the supply boosting events fire.
Local Reserves go down faster if you introduce the Oil Drilling and Rare Earth Mining policies respectively. (Once again, a cumulative effect)
The amount of the Local Reserves that actually lands in your Supply depends on Foreign Trade as well, but inversely: More trade means you trade more of it away. (The Global Supply is likely so much larger, however, that it would still be a good deal to trade more. This might depend on what country you are though! Saudi Arabia’s gonna have a TON of oil, China has most Rare Earths)
Higher Foreign Relations might allow you to keep more of those materials, weakening the influence of Trade? Not sure. Perhaps not.
You would be able to reduce effects to do with low Rare Earths or low Oil in two ways: By boosting Supply (which will deplete either Global or Local Reserves more quickly) or by reducing Demand (This is already easy for oil, and there’s a little bit you can do this for Rare Earths by boosting device efficiency. But otherwise options seem limited. Maybe there could be a Material Science Research Grant or something which would be laser-focused on finding new materials that might be easier to fill demand for. It’s hard to actually predict the future, but there are plenty of promising research strings today which might eventually land there. And as said, Asteroid Mining, while a total moonshot today, could one day make this problem practically irrelevant. (And which ever country manages to pull this off first would earn trade money by the boat loads)
One weird way to slightly get around the oil supply problem would be the Carbon Capture Program which, once Oil Reserves go really low, if Oil Demand remains high enough, should even be profitable, because Oil Prices would then be enormous. (Otherwise it’s definitely a huge waste of money though)
Effectively, Carbon Capture can turn Oil from a non-renewable into a renewable resource, albeit slowly.
The best example of Cumulative Effects I can think of is the way water currently works vs. the way it ought to work. As said, these ideas will play directly into non-renewable resources as well.
Basically, these things are integrals of other stuff.
There would, once again, be a (Clean/Fresh/Drinkable) Water Supply, but unlike Oil and Rare Earths, your decisions can have a much stronger effect on this one.
If The Environment is bad, this water supply would, each turn, drop a bit. - This is NOT a year effect. The formula is something like
[Supply] = [Supply] * (1 + [dependence on The Environment] * [tiny constant multiplier]) or perhaps
[Supply] = [Supply] + [dependence on The Environment] * [tiny constant multiplier]
There’s a case for either. The question is whether growth is exponential or linear. Different situations will give different results here.
If The Environment is very good (say 0.9 or higher?), instead of a negative dependence, there might, in fact, be a positive one, and supply can increase again.
Farming and the Meat Industry would solidly bite into this supply, by dropping ground water levels, and contaminating the water with fertilizer, antibiotics, steroids, and/or pesticides, so high Farmer membership will also decrease this supply. Part of their effect is a flat reduction (their direct usage) as it is now, but part of the effect is a cumulative reduction like the above-mentioned, because, very often, the way they treat the land and livestock will actively reduce supply.
Heavy Industry will do much the same.
Another big contributor would be Temperature which, imo, should be reworked to itself be cumulative. More on this below.
In all those cases, most of those effects can be mitigated via policies and regulations. A lot of such regulations are already in the game. They would reduce the dependence of various industries on both direct and cumulative effects.
Additional policies might be stuff like sewage treatment or desalination plants, or water conservation regulations which each would boost both momentary and cumulative supply.
Once Water Supply falls below, say, 25%, Water Shortage begins. It should be pretty hard to reach 0% supply - this ought to be equivalent to literally everybody is dying from thirst or at least from drinking heavily contaminated water.
Basically, the TL;DR of what cumulative effects are is really simple. Some things don’t approach a fixed value, but rather keep on growing (or shrinking), possibly even snowballing, depending on your decisions
And all you gotta do to make it work is to tweak the formula a little bit and get rid of the Year modifier for them.
Either linear growth: [Value] = [Value] + [Small Constant] * [Effect Strength]
Or exponential growth: [Value] = [Value] * (1 + [Tiny Constant] * [Effect Strength])
Temperature should definitely be a cumulative effect. If global CO2 Emissions are high, it keeps increasing.
You can reduce your local emissions to 0 but really Temperature will only make a dent if you additionally convince the world to do the same, which you can accomplish by having high foreign relations while also having low CO2 emissions.
In fact, accomplishing this ought to also reduce Uncompetitive Economy, because one of the biggest road blockers for large scale climate action is, that a lot of economic powerhouses are afraid of becoming uncompetitive. But if EVERYBODY jumps in, this should be less of a concern.
But anyway, Temperature should have sweeping effects
- The Environment gets worse
- Extreme Weather Effects (Hurricanes, Tornados (even in places that aren’t known for them - the other year there was a Tornado in Poland!), Floods, Droughts, Forest Fires, extreme storms that aren’t quite Tornados or Hurricanes yet but definitely do a lot of damage…) should get boosted massively by temperature. (We already see this today!)
And all of these would make water shortage or energy demand etc. worse.
- Directly decreases Water Supply (more water gets stored in the atmosphere)
- Directly increases Energy Demand (more A/Cs which, if you model those, would actually appreciably increase temperature as well!)
- Reduces Health (more heat strokes and the like)
- Farmers, Environmentalists, maybe Youth, Parents, and Retired, and possibly EVERYONE just flat out hates you more
- At extreme temperatures, positive feedback loops kick in (Melting Methane on Ocean floors or in Permafrost will boost CO2), making it even harder to stop.
- Foreign Relations will plummet
- Food Prices will shoot up
Basically, Temperature is an all around chaos booster. Keeping that low should be a big goal. It’s literally the biggest problem of our time. It deserves being modelled that way.
And importantly, it should be entirely a cumulative effect.
Over very long time scales (centuries!), it would tick down if we stopped producing any greenhouse gasses at all right now, but in the short term it’d remain almost constant. Unless we actively remove CO2 from the air faster than we add it, which would be possible via extreme amounts of Reforestation and Carbon Capture programs. That’d be the only way to bring temperature down at faster than natural rate. And even then it’d be slow going. (And it’d still be cumulative, not flat)
Same could be said for CO2 itself. You can reduce CO2 increase. You can NOT (or at best just barely) actively shrink CO2 currently in the air. Effects on CO2 should be exclusively cumulative in nature.