I have just had a thought and must write this down:
I was playing around with 'Garry's Mod', and realised what fun it is just messing around with the physics and building things out of stuff. This made me realise something:
Building stuff is fun.
When I was a kid, obviously living out in the countryside, building forts, dams and treehouses was...well, pretty much part of every day life for a kid. I learned how to build a fire when I was about seven or eight years old, and which foods you can find in the wilderness are edible, as well as how to build a bivouac to shelter in. Even on wet days, a popular way to keep entertained for us, like many kids, was building forts out of cardboard boxes, clothesmaids, sheets etc.
Even on a smaller scale, down to wooden blocks or Lego, building things is somehow incredibly satisfying.
I've also been reading an amazing webcomic called 'Freak Angels' which takes place in post-apocalyptic partially flooded London. The details of the society which has emerged and how people live seem very convincing and believable, making it compelling stuff:
So here's an idea for a game which is part RTS, part Sim and part RPG.
You play a member of a small group of survivors of an apocalyptic event. Unlike the idiots in that recent TV show, 'Survivors', these guys work together (I read an interesting article which said that actually, in an emergency, people's instincts don't turn to savage self-preservation, but actually they band together and make sacrifices for the greater good. Makes sense if you think historically, right?). The cities are filled with monsters and mutant gangs, so you have fled to the countryside. You and your friends amount to just one or two people at first, and you start off small, building a bivouak in which to sleep using nearby materials like branches. Early on, you will live off your supplies you start off with that your character grabbed from their house before leaving, supplimented with natural foods like mushrooms, berries, roots etc. Fortunately along with your main character, the first NPC in your party is somebody with a bit of wilderness knowledge. You start to scavenge food and materials and find survivors from further afield as you progress, and your shelter becomes a fort, and then gradually a settlement. As more people come to stay in your settlement, it has the double-edged effect that more raiders and monsters will attack, so building weapons and defenses and setting up a watchpost are good ideas. As you go further out, you'll be able to explore, scavenge, raid and help villages, towns and cities you find to get food or supplies or, if you help them, set up valuable trading posts. If you want to move into a village you've cleared of monsters, and barricade that up, you can move at any time. Home is wherever you make your bed, though it's advisable to move your supplies too, and the beds of your buddies! If you want to take over the ruins of an old medieval castle and barricade it up and live in there, that can be done.
You customise your character's skills and knowledge at the start of the game like an RPG. Characters with wilderness skills are useful in the countryside, as they know what fungi and plants can be eaten, while characters who have skills in crafts or trades can build and create or recycle things into useful tools, buildings and weapons, Historians know about old technology such as armour and butter churns, and characters with diplomatic savvy are good at dealing with other survivors etc.
The eventual goal, besides setting up some kind of civilised society, is to discover what caused the problem by exploring areas like an RPG, and stopping the big boss that caused it in the first place, stopping any more monsters from coming into the world and ensuring the safe future of the human race. Like an RPG, you can build a cadre of party members. Many NPCs are best left at base, looking after everyday tasks or building projects, while others you can take on excursions to help fend off monsters, negotiate deals and spot useful gear or food.
...This may actualy be a really ambitious game now I think it through. But it would be pretty awesome, right?