Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

More about the complexities of Democracy 3 income…

Wealth is a complex thing in Democracy 3. far more so than before. I’ve been wrestling with bugs in it today which have reminded me how intricate the new income simulation is. How does it work? Well here is a rough synopsis.

Every sim voter in the world (defaults to 2,000 of them) has an ‘innate income’ which dictates basically where on a scale of 0 to 1, they sit on the big income spread. This is their best effort, in an unchanging world, to make money. If you implemented no policies, they had no characteristics, and the world was unchanging, this would be their level of income. Obviously the real world is more complex. The simulated voter is actually a fractional member of a whole bunch (maybe 5 to 8) different voter ‘groups’. For example, to keep it simple lets say the voter is 52% motorist and 33% parent. That might sound weird, but this just makes him an average car user, who maybe has teenage children, so not a ‘hardcore’ parent with multiple infants.

Now the player may have policies in place, or simulation values may exist in the world that affect income for the groups in which the voter is a member. For example, Child benefit may make parents better off, whereas Petrol tax may make motorists worse off.  Because our voter is a member of these groups, we run the equations and work out the combined effect on their final income based on these changes.


But it’s not that simple… because we also have policies, situations etc which affect people based on their income. For example income taxes affecting the middle classes, or luxury goods taxes affecting the wealthy. The real complexity hits where someone may be middle-income by default, but the taxes levied on them due to their middle-incomeness actually makes them poor. With me so far?

What this means is that the income calculation has to essentially do this:

Step #1: Work out the extent to which we are poor, middle income or wealthy, based on our innate-income. Using this data, calculate the effects of the policies that affect those 3 groups on our actual income

Step #2: Calculate the effects of all the other groups, such as being a farmer, motorist etc, have on our income, to come up with a final figure for our new ‘adjusted’ income.

Step #3: Given the final income figure, place us in the poor, middle income or wealthy group accordingly, which *may* differ from our membership in step #1.

Why all this grief? Because it is possible, through social engineering to take people whose basic income would be poor, and raise them 9through state benefits) to be middle income, and then reap the benefits of their membership in that social group. For example, middle-income members may get a kick out of seeing a certain cabinet minister in office who sympathizes with them as a group (they like the speeches he/she makes…). This can work, despite the effect that only government policy has put them in that situation in the first place.

It’s a difficult effect to describe, but it’s a real one.  Peoples final income differs from their earned income dramatically due to state policies, and you tend to ‘identify’ with the political view of the income group you are ‘effectively’ in. In other words, you base your views on your take-home pay, not your headline salary.

I’m definitely going to make a simple pong clone one day…

9 thoughts on More about the complexities of Democracy 3 income…

  1. Your still talking about money, you do know that it’s a fake pyramid scheme, with endless inflation and debt showing it’s distance from the real world ecosystem we are limited to.

    What about a moneyless society think Star Trek?

    Check out the Zeitgeist Movement and the Venus Project.

  2. They are relative, more than absolute categories, so effectively no, although it is possible to change the distribution between them. Theoretically you could make everyone in the country middle-income, for example.

  3. Sounds a bit complicated, but also very very interesting, in so much as what you are doing in a game is approaching what happens closely in the real world. Now that is an in-depth and vastly interesting simulator. :)

    Really looking forward to this one!! Thanks for the on-going posts! Its really cool to hear how it works and how it is doing as you go along. Thanks!


  4. I’ve got a question for you regarding how you’re handling money in the game. It’s more related to the finance screen you showed in your development video than this post, but that one has comments locked down.

    Are you going to have monetary policy as part of the game? Setting interest rates and currency values isn’t necessarily something that a president or prime minister can do unilaterally, but many governments work with their central bank as a partner in implementing some economic policies. For an example, see Japan’s new government, which has as a stated policy a devaluation of the Yen (to improve export competitiveness) and increased inflation (or at least, a clear end to their long spiral of deflation).

    It would also be interesting to consider relative currency values between countries. It would probably be impossible to simulate a crisis like the one going on in Spain or Italy without considering the currency union they’re in, and it might be fun to ponder how something like a gold standard (which was responsible for some of the problems during the great depression) would work in the game.

    Obviously you won’t want to fully simulate many countries (one will be hard enough!), but I wonder if you could expand on a single “world business cycle” into a few different blocs which the main country could set policy relative to (forming trade agreements, joining or leaving a common currency, borrowing from foreign financiers, etc).

    To tie this long post into the current topic a bit, such a “outside world” simulation could also have effects on individual incomes. For instance, poorer workers might find their employment prospects go down if the country implements trade agreements with other nations with low wages, and farmers might struggle if their country opens up the markets for some agricultural commodities (see for instance, the problem Mexican maize farmers have had competing with the massive US corn industry or the long history of trade conflicts the US has had with Brazil over sugar).

    Anyway, I’m really interested in where you’ll go with the game. I’m looking forward to hearing more, and eventually to playing it for myself.

  5. Would it be a possibly good idea to build the framework out so that you can massively modify it? Say like grow it out?


  6. I’ve made a ‘strategic’ decision not to model currency or interest rates, to prevent the whole simulation becoming too unwieldy and unplayable, but the good news is that the game is 100% moddable, so anybody could essentially replace the entire simulation with their own values and equations.

  7. I just meant leave it more moddable so that if I for instance, were to change the necessary police values based on how people are feeling about the government I could. Or maybe you did in a way?

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