This stream is a collection of ideas about this app which is about halfway to its goal on Kickstarter:
Obviously I don't have the ear of the developers and they aren't soliciting design input. I'm just recording ideas that would make the game compelling and well-designed.
The basic idea: you physically walk or run around an area of your neighborhood to claim it as your own.
The more times you circumnavigate a given area, the more resistant it is to being stolen by other players.
People who take to their bikes (or even cars!) instead of walking or running are going to be able to rack up vastly more territory.
To level the playing field, the app should track the speed of the player. Circuits travelled above a given average speed should count at a multiplier of less than 1.0, which decreases as the player gets faster.
Perhaps anything as fast or faster than biking would primarily have value as reconnaissance. You wouldn't be able to see who owns neighboring territory without actually traveling it. (Real-life Age of Empires!)
Several bolt-on game features suggest themselves, but the developers state on the Kickstarter page that their goal is "a unique, uncluttered and accessible play mechanic".
Just found this at the bottom of the Kickstarter page:
Any players that appear to be travelling at unrealistic speeds will be flagged for consideration.
So they've obviously thought about this, but I think simply implementing diminishing returns for fast speeds, and/or making fast speeds useful only for reconnaissance, is more sustainable.
The Territory Tax
The designers promise "the game will never offer players a paid-for advantage over opponents – the only way to build a successful empire will be through commitment and planning."
This is nice, but perhaps we could go one further: not only will players not be able to buy advantage over other players, but players that do amass large amounts of territory (above a certain threshold of ridiculousness) will need in-app purchases in order to retain their empires at baseline levels.
Given that this game could require significant ongoing server infrastructure and attendant costs, this could be a way of keeping the whole thing sustainable.