Culture questions for the Developers.
I was wondering if Tropico 3 is going to be specifically oriented towards Cuban culture? Or will there be a broader focus?
I'd love to see aspects of Jamaican, Haitian, Dominican, Sint Maarten, etc. cultures. Possibly also some Mexican, Central and South American influences, etc. but on the flipside of that, I would really hate to see culture entirely diluted into a generic, unauthentic, "latin" theme.
The original Tropico allowed us to play as leaders of numerous diverse countries, which was great, and it was a bit of a shame that there was no real distinction present in the game, other than "stats".
One idea that appeals to me (and I can hope that it'll appeal to you, too) is that the Tropico island itself could have it's own indigenous culture--whether just a general "latin" theme, or maybe something a little more distinct--but then have migrants to the island bring in aspects of their culture. Jamaican migrants could bring in Rastafarianism and Reggae (possibly with a chance of generating a peace movement), Ska, Dub, etc. while Sint Maarten arrivals could bring aspects of French and Dutch culture, as well as excellent chefs.
Haitians could bring Compas, and ofcourse could also bring Hoodoo (it's steriotypical, but well-established in popular culture, and Carribean life, and would seem a bit out of place if ignored.).
Something that would be extremely interesting and fun, in my opinion, would be to see the background music of the game slowly alter as our populations shifted, with new song titles replacing older indiginous ones, in-game.
Great music, ofcourse, is a major desire for the game. That was one of the absolute best things about the original Tropico, and if it can be held to the same standard of quality, but also broadened a bit, and even made to be a more dynamic part of the game, that would be awesome.
(As a side-note: It would be wonderful if the music didn't just shift due to changing populations, but also due to the advance of time. Also, have you considered adding radio stations? Being able to add them-and giving "El Presidente" control over their content-would be a great feature to have. Absolutely player-friendly.)
Even the spoken language of the people might shift a bit over time, becoming a sort of Patois. Nothing difficult for us to understand, but enough to add flavour to the background. That might be a bit involved, though, but it would be fun.
As far as food is concerned, I'd like to see that be a part of the game.
It'd be great to have some "marketplace politics" going on, up to and including market "turf-wars", which might cause headaches for our food distribution. Marketplaces can be vitally important to an island's economy and society, in real life. They're very often run by women, also, which would give a nice opportunity to balance some female power into the game.
Ethnic restaurants/bars/etc. could be opened by migrants, and they could contain actual menues that list authentic recipes.
I'd love to see Jerk Chicken being grilled by the side of the road, a Puerto Rican roast pig emporium, or a Cevicheria, even the occasional "ex-pat" bar run by Europeans or Americans far from home, who have either gone native, or just aren't welcome anymore in their own country. Some of these "ex-pats" might be spies. For that matter, all of them might be a political concern for El Presidente.
Migrants might bring new crops/industries/skills/wealth (licit, or otherwise) for us to play around with, as well as their own viewpoints on the Government. They might also bring their own problems, such as gang warfare, guns, drugs, political rivalries, etc. Not to mention ethnicity-based hate crimes, which might need to be handled by anything ranging from greater police funding, to diplomatic mediation, to infiltration of racism-based organizations.
Religion-and religious conflict-could also be a really interesting challenge for us. Since Catholicism is likely to be a major religion in the game (with Papal visitation being an event in the original game), the relation between Catholicism and Voodou could be explored. Santeria and Bahai could also be added into the mix.
Muslims, various forms of Christian, Jewish, and various "cult" religions could also be represented, adding their own cultures to the island.
Carnival could be a major cultural event, not only increasing the happiness of the people, but also bringing in tourists.
Also, there's the possibility of neighborhoods gradually developing their own "personality" over a longer period of time, provided that the neighborhood(s) in question don't change much.
(As another side-note: In the original game, there didn't seem to be a whole lot of benefit to building different types of residential homes. It would be really nice if there could be some cultural interest in doing so--so that very poor neighborhoods might develope "personality" faster than more comfortable ones, with the trade-off being that those neighborhoods would be much greater sources of problems.)
Some possible benefits of neighborhood personality might include: greater artistic talent in the children born there (possibly increasing tourism, but also occasionally providing free artwork of excellent quality), more determination to "get out" and get a better job/home/life (translating to harder workers), tougher soldiers (they've been fighting on the streets since they could walk), better quality chefs (they really know how to cook over there), a free church/soup kitchen/park (everybody on the block chipped in to build it), an annual parade/festival/block party (with the same benefits as Carnival, but only confined to one smallish area), or especially loyal citizens (Everybody supports El Presidente around here--if you don't, then get out!).
Ofcourse, there could be detrimental "personalities" too, such as a given neighborhood being a rebel support-center, center of drug-traffic, or a breeding-ground for rats, insects, or disease. A bad enough neighborhood might even be able to keep your police from going in there without a ton of backup.
Indigenous culture could also be a source of interest. I've heard rumors that there may be Native Indian attacks on tourists and the like. There's a lot more that could be done with that subject, though. Ruins ofcourse are obvious, and were present in the original game, but having a chance (and I don't think it should be easy, but I believe it should atleast be possible) to develope a diplomatic relationship with Natives, could be very beneficial as well. Maybe they know of pharmaceuticals that could be very valuable to the 1st world? (Could be cures for diseases, or could be powerful hallucinogenics.). Maybe they know the location of a lost gold mine that doesn't otherwise show up on the map or at game-creation? The people might also go to the local "medicine man" for medical assistance, reducing the strain on our hospitals.
They might be a factor in tourism. Allowing Western anthropologists into the country could help get the U.S. on your side, and even regular tourists could flock to witness aspects of Native culture.
Something else that might be very cool would be if there were an option for "El Presidente" himself to be a Native chieftain, and thus have access to their lore, and begin the game on friendly terms with them, while at the same time being on poorer terms with other factions, especially 1st world citizens (Racism is very unfortunate, but ignoring it, I think, would be a cop-out.).
Kind of on the same subject: It'd be fun to see some kind of "cargo cult" going on--maybe among the Natives, or maybe just on the fringes of society.
Legends and superstition could also come up in the game.
Certainly, it's reasonable to suppose that a 3rd world island country, in the 1950s, would be a ripe breeding-ground for superstitions, and those might have a real impact on the game.
For instance: If you disturb/destroy a Native burial ground, after being warned away from it, there could be supernatural, as well as regular Native repercussions. Building a road over it might doom that stretch of highway to having many more traffic accidents than normal. Putting a building over it might cause a haunting or a disease. And if you commit atrocities against the Natives-or another ethnicity, for that matter-your soldiers might get cursed, it might trigger an earthquake or a hurricane, whatever.
Not enough to turn the game into a fantasy, certainly, just little things here and there, but enough to add some mystery, and a little more respect for the Natives and other factions.
There also might occasionally be a zombie shuffling around the island. That isn't necessarily a supernatural event, since "zombification" can be induced by certain drugs/poisons, and brainwashing. The possibility of employing "zombie" labour is also a thought--you wouldn't have to pay them, ofcourse, so it could be very profitable, but if the U.S. found out, you'd probably be facing atleast a trade embargo, if not some kind of military intercession.
That doesn't mean that it has to be sanctioned by El Presidente-zombification might instead be a threat to a benevolent government (or it's public image, anyway), and need to be stamped out. The possibility could exist to go either way.
It would also be a way of adding something different to the "basic" illicit drug-trade that El Presidente may either secretly involve himself in, or combat (or both, for that matter).
Finally, while I understand that the game is oriented towards the Cold War era, I'd love to see some historical influences from past events.
Being able to discover the history of the island, from the culture of the original inhabitants through Colonization, the slave-trade, the pirate era (I know the idea of pirates has some bad connotations due to Tropico 2's failure, but pirates are still cool, and maybe something can be done to erase bad memories--also, the possibility of locating a sunken pirate ship, or treasure-map, could be a fun/profitable little event.) past revolutions-successful or otherwise-the role of the island in WW2, and even the former government, would all add a lot of thematic flavour.
These events could be unique (randomly generated) to each island, allowing you to piece them together throughout each game.