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

Some Democracy 3 simulation changes

Sooo… it REALLY helps to talk over your game design with other people, especially as a lone indie. I sit here shivering in the small dark basement I program in sipping tea in my luxurious gilded office, and realize that I am alone in a bubble of game design where other peoples input goes unheard. So after a brief chat about the design with someone else, I’ve realized I need to make two changes to the simulation stuff:

Democracy3-Brand

Firstly, there is the topic of dilemmas. Dilemmas are a good mechanic because they are issues you cannot kick down the road. For example, there is an application to build a toxic waste dump. Do you say yay or nay? Saying yay obviously annoys environmentalists, but for how long? Right now… the answer is FOREVER.  I now think this is wrong. I think it should decay over a long timescale, and also that dilemma should possibly be re-usable. if the player *wants* to play an endless game of D3, surely they shouldn’t ‘run out’ of dilemmas? This is a change that needs making.

Secondly, the current system has a negative effect on your popularity after an assassination attempt. This was because I wanted it to reflect how bad and unpopular your government was, implying that people who were on-the-fence about you, would see someone trying to kill you and go ‘oh Obama must be a fruitcake, look at those guys shooting at him’. I now think this is just WRONG. Surely the opposite is true? I might not like the UK prime minister, but would I like him less if someone tried to shoot him? Especially if I was a ‘floating voter’. I suspect the spirit of ‘rallying round the government’ would kick in, and maybe have a positive effect on your support.

That also has the positive effect that it is a nice self-balancing game mechanism, rather than the current spiral of failure. I’m pretty certain I’ll replace the impact with a slight, short-term popularity jump.


11 thoughts on Some Democracy 3 simulation changes

  1. In my mind, an assassination attempt would would have little effect on people’s opinions – if anything, it might harden their views:

    People who are against the victim will feel confirmed: “That only proves how much people hate this guy, I’m not the only one thinking that!”

    People who are for the victim will feel threatened and dislike the opposite side even more: “If those evil opposition followers can’t get their way fairly, they’ll try to force it upon us, they’re dangerous!”

    That’s at least how I would expect it to play out :)

  2. Indeed, anything I do will be a simplification. I did toy with the idea of skewing peoples opinions based on their current views and their militancy but that seemed like a concept that might be tricky to show to the player.

    1. Don’t you have some polarization meter or such that shows how much the player divides opinions?

      I thought some mechanic like this would exist since you tweeted about extremism in voter groups. Well, maybe the player has to read and interpret for him/herself out of the statistics :)

  3. This game seems interesting to me, but my fear is that the programmer will build in certain political and economic opinions. That I’ll do something that clearly would fix the economy and make everyone wonderfully happy, but due to differing assumptions it will not work and I’ll just assume that the author has stupid views that they built into the simulation and at very least not enjoy it.

    I know that won’t happen deliberately but do you see that as a possible issue with this kind of game, which is a simulation but it’s not like a flight simulator where there are fixed physical rules and a lot of it is down to opinion?

    (Looks like a good game that a lot of thought is going into though :) )

    1. This is a concern, although I have a bit of a plan to make EVERYTHING easily editable, so that any relationship between two items could effectively be tweaked by players, if they disagreed with the equation. That is all in the planning stage. I also expect, and will strongly encourage people to do ‘total conversions’ that basically overhaul the data to suit different interpretations. That can be done by anyone with a text editor (preferably a spreadsheet)

  4. For the assassination maybe the effects could be group specific as in there would be a general effect on everyone (whether that should be negative or positive that’s tough to decide on) but then each group would act differently according to who juxtaposes them politically and on who initiated the attack. Liberals would rally around the government after an attack by the religious terrorist organization or assassination etc..

    For dilemmas I like your ideas for them but it doesn’t change the fact there are too few. Would you take suggestions of situations from players? To deal with the issue of running out of dilemmas I see the problem more of one to do with frequency. Maybe you could have in the options alongside a choice of whether to have dilemmas or not a choice of how frequent the player wants them. That way if you’re playing a two term at most game it’s more condensed than someone who hopes to be playing as the country’s ruler indefinitely? Or conversely they could keep the frequency as very frequent as to have a very tactile first term and then stretch their reign out and make long term decisions like Margaret Thatcher or Roosevelt…

    Regardless of these issues I am really liking what you’ve done to change the game so far and I really feel like it’s the same concept but just better overall. I love the art and on that note would you be willing to release what all the characters look like? However much I liked the previous ones in Democracy Two I feel like these are not only far more superb for their crispness but also how they’ve been changed.

  5. I think you are right on both the dilemma and the assassination attempt.
    I’m pretty sure Ronald Reagan got more popular after the attempt, not less.
    Americans always love a store of overcoming hardship.

    The toxic waste can easily be an endless mechanic.
    Occasionally, industry should ask for increased dumping limits.
    And less frequent, request a totally new dump site, which may or may not be near delicate eco systems. So you could scale the effects.
    Increased waste on existing site will get less protest than opening up a new one near the bird sanctuary.

  6. I like your views on dilemmas and i agree with your assessment of the government receiving a positive spin after an assassination attempt. To further that idea, it might be interesting if you had ‘events’ or dilemmas if you prefer, although they may not all need to be dire incidents, that pushed the populace vote in one direction or another, say in one game, random events lead the country to be more liberal, not something induced by you, or by the player, but by the interaction of the dilemmas and their resolutions, which in some cases (randomly?) produce liberal or conservative response (for xx amount of time in game).

    Just a thought, but i really like how D3 is very in-depth, you are doing a marvelous job and can’t wait to see it when it’s done.

    -Teal

    1. Great minds think alike! I already have one ‘test event’ along these lines, when a famous socialist is found guilty of corruption (obviously I’ll balance this with all sorts of others being caught out too…), which makes people cynical about socialism at a basic level. I suppose things like a market crash or a credit crunch could also nudge the underlying level of ‘innate capitalism’ downwards as well..
      Also There are now global ‘socialism’ and ‘liberalism’ sliders at the start of each game that allow you to nudge the ‘innate’ levels for those variables if you want to, before the game starts.

  7. One of my most interests is foreign policy. Like how you interact with other countries. A dilemma there could be: Should you go to war or not?
    The effects I’m not certain about. Liberals are probably the closest we get to pacifists and they probably would get mad, even if you went to war for humane reasons. Patriots are probably the ones that’s going to be happy (even though many patriots does not like to go to war in real life).

    And do you think assassinations should give a positive affect? Right after the 22 July shootings in Norway the labour party went up 10% all the way up to 40% (which is a lot in Norway, considering that he highest the two main parties ever reach is around 30%.

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