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A Human Object Node or HON is the representation of a typical citizen. HONs are independent agents with their own needs, desires, biases, and traits. Each HON has two budgets, one of money and one of time, which they can spend to meet their needs and desires.


The basic research model being used to model bias in HONs is presented in the paper "Predicting human behavior toward members of different social groups". This model finds substantial predictive power in a two-axis system, with the two axes called Warmth (the extent to which people "have good intentions toward others") and Competence (the extent to which people "are capable of acting on those intentions"). These scores can be applied to any trait, such as "Irish" or "farmer".

Not presented in the original paper is a means of calculating the Warmth and Competence scores for a given trait, nor how multiple traits intersect. Critically, the paper does not present a way to calculate the total Warmth and Competence score of, for example, an Irish farmer. Intuitively, it seems that there's a third aspect to a trait, namely Visibility, which would affect these intersections, and which would vary in different contexts. In personal conversation with Pierre Karashchuk, one of the authors on "Predicting human behavior...", he mentioned that another author, Ming Hsu, director of the Berkeley Neuroeconomics Laboratory, was continuing research on that issue. We have yet to reach out to Dr Hsu.


Needs are based on a simplified version of Clayton Alderfer’s ERG theory, itself a development of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. ERG theory categorizes needs into three types: Existence (the basic needs required to stay alive), Relatedness (the need for interpersonal relationship), and Growth (the need for personal development). When a low-level need is not met, the HON will invest time and money in completing that need instead of higher-level needs. When a high-level need is unavailable, the HON will use their excess time and money to pursue lower-level needs that aren't actually necessary.


Basic metrics of a HON's condition include Joy/Happiness, Productivity, Health/HP, Stress/Trauma, and Respect. Each metric is improved by meeting certain needs. All formulae given here are preliminary, and are presented for conceptual reasons.

Joy and Happiness

Joy is an immediate measurement of how a HON's environment is making them feel at any given moment. It is heavily affected by a HON's biases and traits. Joy is determined by the location a HON is in and the activity they're currently undertaking. Joy is blunted by Trauma but reduces Stress.

Happiness is an aggregate measure of how well a HON's life is going. It ranges from 0.0 (bad) to 5.0 (good). It is equal to (% of Existence needs fully met) + min(Respect / 144, 1) + (% of first Growth task complete) + Health - Stress - (Trauma * 2) + Joy. A Happiness score of 5 thus requires 100% of existence needs met, a Respect score greater than or equal to 144, completion of at least one Growth task, perfect Health, no Stress, and no Trauma.


Productivity is a measure of how effective a HON is at achieving work and Growth goals. It ranges from 0.0 (bad) to 7.0 (good). It is equal to Happiness + (% of Existence goals fully met) - (% of Existence goals under Stress threshold) + (Respect / 576) + (% of current Growth task complete / 2) - 1. It is designed to fluctuate more than Happiness and to be harder to maximize.

Health and HP

Health is, effectively, the measure of how quickly a HON is dying. It ranges from 0.1 (bad) to 1.0 (good). It controls the rate of change of HP, which is the actual measure of how far from death a HON is. HP range from 0 (dead) to 60 for children and 72 for adults. We will say that a HON loses (¼ ÷ Health) HP per day: a HON with a Health score of 1.0 and 72 HP can survive for 288 days without healthcare but a HON with a Health of 0.1 and 72 HP will be dead in 29.

Not all Essential needs affect Health, but where they do, each unmet need causes Health to decrease by 1% per day. Both Health and HP are increased by medical care, which is covered under the Healthcare section. Health also improves by 5% per day when all Existence needs are met, by 10% per day when Relatedness needs are also met, and by 20% per day when Growth needs are met. Having more fully actualized HONs therefore reduces the load on the healthcare system, but does not replace it.

Stress and Trauma

Stress is created as soon as Existence needs aren't met; Trauma is created when needs not being met becomes a chronic condition. Both range from 0.0 (good) to 1.0 (bad). As soon as a HON falls below the "Stress below" threshold for any Existence need, Stress goes to 0.1 or 109% of current Stress, whichever is larger. Each day that the HON remains in that condition, Stress increases by 109%. Multiple stressors stack; a single stressor will take Stress from 0.0 to 1.0 in 28 days, but two stressors will do so in only 15.

Trauma begins to accumulate when Stress passes a certain threshold, equal to (1 - (current Trauma + 1) / 2) or 0.1, whichever is smaller. For a starting Trauma of 0, for example, this threshold is equal to 0.5. If, however, the current Trauma level is 0.2, the threshold is 0.4. Existing Trauma therefore makes it easy to accumulate more Trauma. Once Stress levels pass this threshold, Trauma goes to 0.07 or 105% of the current Trauma, whichever is larger. Each day that the HON's Stress level stays past the Trauma threshold - which will continue to drop as Trauma increases - Trauma will increase by 105%. Trauma does not increase faster if there are multiple stressors, but multiple stressors will make it harder for the HON to drop below the Trauma threshold.

Stress is reduced by working towards Relatedness or Growth goals. Trauma can only be reduced by working towards Growth goals.


Respect is a measure of how well respected a HON is within their community. It ranges from 0 (bad) to 288 (good). Respect is gained by working towards Relatedness goals and by completing Growth goals. A HON must have a Respect level over 144 to begin working on Growth and will stop working on Growth if their Respect drops below 132. Respect decreases by one point per game month. More details on Respect and friendships are in the Relatedness section.

Existence Needs

HONs need certain basic needs met to exist. Meeting all these needs increases Health and Happiness. At this stage, all HONs will act more or less identically regardless of any underlying traits.

If these needs cannot be met with the fiscal budget and time budget available, a HON will develop Stress and potentially Trauma, will not be able to reach their potential, will put heavy strains on city services, will be more likely to turn to crime to meet their needs, and may move away or die early.

If a HON has extra time or money and cannot meet Relatedness goals for any reason, they will instead switch into "status-seeking" mode, consuming more Essential needs than they strictly require. This may place a burden on city services.


  • Death below: 5,000 kJ (adult) / 3,000 kJ (preteen child) for 6 consecutive days
  • Stress increase & Health decrease below: 7,000 kJ (adult) / 5,000 (preteen child) at least 20% quality food
  • Need fully met: 9,000 kJ (adult) / 7,000 kJ (preteen child) of 50% quality food / 5% high-status food (once high-status food becomes available anywhere in the city)
  • Status-seeking ceiling: 9,000 kJ (adult) / 7,000 kJ (preteen child) of 20% quality food / 80% high-status food

HONs will buy food from commercial zones, or may in some cases receive it from free from city services or private charity. To meet this need, HONs need a place to procure food, the money to afford it, and time to either eat or cook it. HONs can trade time and money to some extent by adjusting the balance between cooking food at home and ordering takeout.

Food comes in three levels: low-quality, quality, and high-status, increasing in expense. Small, low-value, and high-crime commercial food retailers will not carry quality food. A diet more than 80% low-quality food will reduce Health and increase Stress. Only high-value commercial food retailers will carry high-status food. High-status food has no health impact, but serves as an occasional pleasure and a status symbol; HONs will not notice its absence in their diets until it becomes available in the city.

If they cannot obtain sufficient food at any quality, HONs will suffer serious consequences. Their Health will get worse and their Stress levels will skyrocket. Productivity will plummet. If money is the barrier, they may take on second jobs. If time is the barrier, they may begin sleeping less. If crime offers more money or less time demand than their job, it will be almost impossible to stop people from turning to it if it means feeding their family. If they cannot obtain sufficient food to avoid starvation, HONs will die.


  • Death below: 20 L per person for 3 consecutive days
  • Stress increase & Health decrease below: 150 L × [water saving factor]
  • Need fully met: 300 L × [water saving factor]

HONs will pay for water from the water utility. To meet this need, HONs need water piped to their homes and sufficient finances to afford it. If a HON does not have access to affordable water, they will travel to commercial or government buildings with water supply, trading off time for money. This will reduce utilization of those buildings for their intended purposes and lower Land Values.

The water saving factor is 1 by default. Building codes and research can reduce that number by making toilets, showers, and baths more efficient.

If HONs have water access but it is expensive, they will conserve water by reducing their personal hygiene. This reduces Health and raises Stress. If they cannot even get enough water to survive, they will die.


  • Houselessness below: 1 bedroom/household
  • Stress increases below: ceil(1 bedroom/3 household members)
  • Need fully met: ceil(1 bedroom/2 adults) + round(1 bedroom/1.4 children)
  • Status-seeking: ceil(1 bedroom/2 adults) + round(1 bedroom/1 child) + 1 guest bedroom

HONs will rent or buy housing from landowners or the city, or may be sheltered for free by city services or private charity. To meet this need, HONs need adequate housing and the budget to afford it. If a HON's financial budget allows for all existence needs to exceed the stress threshold, HONs will preferentially choose the best place that costs less than a third of their income. If their income is too low to get all existence needs above the stress threshold, or if no place that costs less than a third of their income is available, they will get the cheapest open housing available even if it pushes them into stress. Time is not a significant factor in shelter. Once they have found shelter, unstressed HONs will only consider moving at certain trigger moments, like getting a new job or having a child, unless an inability to fill Relatedness goals sends them into status-seeking mode. If HONs are stressed by inadequate shelter, they will consider moving to new housing whenever it comes on the market.

When an occupied rental building is bulldozed or renovated, this will create an immediate housing pressure, as residents will lose the rent they have already paid and will need to pay rent a second time to find a new place. City policies may require either the city or the landowner to pay relocation costs to prevent this problem. The city will also need to figure out an eminent domain policy to reimburse landowners when the city bulldozes a property.

If HONs can afford shelter, but it’s cramped, this will cause Stress. If, however, no shelter is possible at all, the HON will experience houselessness. If a HON has a strong social network, they may be put up temporarily with an established friend. Otherwise, HONs without shelter may sleep in cars, on streets, in bus stops or metro stations, in parks, or in informal housing, depending on your city’s layout and policies. Wherever they sleep, they will lower Land Values and reduce utilization.

Obviously the HONs themselves will suffer the most, however. In addition to the Stress of inadequate housing, without government support, lack of shelter often means lack of sleep, lack of water, lack of healthcare, and lack of comfort, with the attendant consequences. It can quickly lead to a spiral of Stress and Trauma, which reduces Productivity and makes it harder to find good-paying work, which reduces the ability to find Shelter, ultimately leading to death.


  • Lack of function below: 5 consecutive nights @ 3 hours
  • Stress increases & Health decreases below: 2 nights out of 7 at @ 4 hours at < 60 dB / 5 hours >= 60 dB (without narcotics)
  • Need fully met: 8 hours at < 50 dB / 10 hours at < 70 dB

HONs need shelter, quiet, and sufficient time to get sleep. Money is not (directly) a significant factor in sleep. Noise may be caused by proximity to environmental noise sources or by very high housing density. Unless they are using a narcotic, HONs automatically wake at 70 dB (about the volume of a vacuum cleaner) and will not be able to fall asleep again until the noise drops below 70 dB.

Building codes can dramatically affect noise, reducing interior sound levels below the 50 dB threshold. HONs experiencing houselessness are not protected from noise sources and are therefore much more likely to experience dramatic sleep loss if they don’t begin self-medicating with narcotics.

Bad sleep increases Stress and lowers Health. A more advanced metric might cause it to increase the chance of car crashes and industrial accidents. Exceptionally bad sleep causes total lack of function; HONs will cease doing anything else until they can meet their sleep need, regardless of the consequences.