Maybe this isn’t the kind of game for this, but I’d really love to see more mechanics that open up how the town operates, looks and “feels” beyond the daily labour of everyone involved. What I mean is that after a certain point in the game, stopping for a moment and watching the town move begins to feel kind of stressful… everyone is rushing about from A to B… and it’s ceaseless. There’s no sense of life being lived to complement the lush bucolic graphics and music. I’m not saying that villagers should stop working sometimes to loaf off, but rather, it’d be nice for there to be some mechanics in the game that help us to guide and cultivate the social and cultural life of our townspeople. Or even just some random visual events to show how they live when they’re not running from A to B.
Events like soldiers and bears getting drunk are a good start. What about children playing in the streets? Can we get gangs of naughty children stealing things if we don’t provide enough schools to keep them occupied? There are also some productive kid-friendly jobs they could do. What about needing to provide for the care of children who can’t work? Elderly citizens would be ideal for that. I recall the last failed attempt to institute retirement into the game: that didn’t work because people perceived the elderly as contributing nothing while consuming resources. They need a productive role, and it should be, as it always has been traditionally: home and child care. We could see the children and grandparents seated together in parks or on strolls throughout the town, or washing laundry and prepping food in house yards. Elderly and children could specialize in essential domestic goods/services like knitted goods, cleaning and cooking that contribute to the liveability of a house. Basically, mechanics that encourage us to have healthy family units in each house. Perhaps a lack of elderly citizens makes it more likely for kids to get hurt or be neglected. Gotta look after that future workforce!
And what about marriages? Surely these people have love lives that we should facilitiate? Officiating weddings would give our preachers something more to do. A marriage mechanic may incentivize accepting immigrants in order to make sure you have enough potential mates for villagers and therefore maintain the birth rate. Family trees would be ideal.
Perhaps we could make musical instruments as a luxury item, at which point a new branch of entertainment opens up: musicians, who then can be seen (and heard) playing at the pub or in town squares.
I find that after reaching a certain point in building a town - usually once I’m able to build cobbled roads - my attention turns to wanting my town to feel lived in, not just sustained through the frantic efforts of my workforce. The way the time works in-game might make this hard - we don’t see our townspeople’s evenings when they get to relax - but there must be some creative ways to include things like this. Since some jobs are based on the seasons (farmers, foragers etc) perhaps when those workers become idle they could default to behaviours like hanging out in parks, dancing at the festival pole, or socialising with each other in house yards (even a bit of canoodling). Same for workers who are wandering and unable to work due to lack of resources. Just little momentary visuals that given the impression of villagers living life, not just endlessly working.
I feel like there’s potential for whole systems of social and cultural life that are just as complex as the economic systems to be incorporated into this game, all which together would give it much greater and ultimately more rewarding depth.