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

Come for the pizza stay for the Pie!(charts)

The Positech Games Eurogamer Expo 2013 booth will not have booth babes, or even booth kittens, but it will have Strategy! Sci-fi Puns! PIE CHARTS! What is not to like? Plus it’s cunningly near to the pizza express bit apparently…


Anyway, here’s hoping this proves worthwhile and lots of people enjoy trying out Democracy 3 and Redshirt. We have badges and fliers that we are literally giving away, starting tomorrow, for four days. I will have lost my voice and be unable to stand by Sunday, I’m sure.


Do those monitors look small to you? they do to me. I am itching for an excuse to replace both my home monitors with big silly ones. If I hypothetically did a Gratuitous Space Battles sequel, I’d definitely plan on showing it off with big ridiculous 40 inch monitors if I ever did any shows to promote it.

I know there are some of you people out there that amazingly do not live in the UK and will not be able to come try out the games, so my honest, considered opinion is that you should just PRE-ORDER THEM NOW, and then you can play them immediately at home without having to pay £10 for a sandwich in central London.


For those about to mod…

We salute you with the new exciting (can you contain yourself?) Democracy 3 modding guide…


The system is pretty similar in a technical sense to Democracy 2’s modding, although there are some new features, and the whole system is much better at coping with multiple mods. if people stick to the ‘system;’ then mods will all be installed in completely discrete folders and have a switch that allows them all to be toggled on or off, So you can install ‘Deathstalkers Evil Inflation Mod!!!!11111’ and then when you realize it makes the game unplayable, just leap over to the mod-control panel on the main menu and toggle his awesome efforts off.

I’d really like to see people getting into the idea of Democracy 3 modding. I’ve never thought I was the worlds greatest simulation balancer, researcher or tweaker. I’m, more the sort of designer that has big ideas and likes huge sprawling systems, but there are definitely people who will be better than me at tweaking the state of the missions, or the finer interactions of policies. Plus, there are people who want the game to be much more complex, or more free-market based, or simulate eastern or developing-world countries, and now then can do whatever they want. I’ve built a system and an engine, it’s up to the community what they want to do with it. I hope people have fun.

In unrelated news… I have the final figures from the Humble Weekly sale that featured a whole bunch of my games recently. It raised enough to pay for jacks biscuits for almost a month, but apart from that we also raised (roughly)…

Barefoot College – $15,400
American Red Cross – $14,600
if you check out the barefoot college website they say you can donate $100 to educate one child in a night school for a year. So let’s say we are providing 5 years of basic education per child, that means fans of positech games have paid for the education of 30 children. That’s pretty awesome, certainly the most money I’ve been involved in raising for charity. In some ways I think it’s possibly the most worthwhile thing I’ve ever done. I’m so glad we got that charity added, and I’d love to see other developers of the humble sales use it. Sadly there isn’t a breakdown on the red cross website for what each amount would achieve, but it’s obviously another decent cause.
(I should probably be musing about valves SteamOS, but I’ll, wait for all 3 announcements first methinks…)

New Democracy 3 update…

So here is what is new in my exciting new Democracy 3 game which you are all so suddenly aware of because I have a ‘site takeover’ advert on rock paper shotgun… :D


Version 1.04
Bug Fixes-
    Checkbox seelcted graphic is now a tick, which should be mroe intuitive.
    Fixed some typos.
    Lightened some minister skin tones.
    Fixed transparency on one ministerial hairstyle.
    Grey lines are now used to show effects that are currently neutral (set to zero).
    Improved the smoothness of drawing connecting lines on main GUI.
    Fixed crash when selecting 'summary' tab on an empty voter group.
    Fixed bug where it was possible to fire ministers and there be insufficient replacements.
    Fixed crash bug relating to shaders and alt-tabbing when running the game fullscreen.
    GM food approval now pleases, not angers capitalists!(ooops).
    Detention without trial policy now harms foreign relations.
    Monorail policy now only affects CO2 through car reduction, and reduces car usage more.
    WelfareFraud Dept policy incomke is now scaled by the level of housing/disability/child/unemployed benefits.
    Increased the strength of the BorderControls policy for the USA mission.
    Reduced impact of BorderControls policy on Immigration.
    Added new effect from Foreign Relations to Immigration.
    Negative health effects from drugs is not a curve, skewed to harder drugs.
    Oil price Shock event now affects the oil supply, not demand.
    Maximum cost of the RoadBuilding policy increased by 20%.
    Reduced effect of legal aid on socialists by 50%
    Reduced effect of Inheritance Tax on socialists by 50%
    Reduced effect of Income tax on socialists by 25%
    Reduced liberal anger at CCTV Cameras by 25%
    Reduced liberal anger at Border Controls by 25%
    Reduced liberal anger at homelessness by 25%
    Increased delay on effect of inheritance tax on euqality to 24 turns.
    Fixed wrong equation(backwards!) for the effects of unemployment on immigration. High unemployment now reduces immigration.
New Content:
    Added new simulation value: Legal Drug Consumption.
    Added new policy: Recreational Drugs Tax.


Analyzing advert effectiveness. (Where did all my clicks go?)

I ran an ad on reddit recently on the /games subreddit. it’s the place for fairly serious gaming debate, and I thought it would thus be a good match for my very serious political strategy game Democracy 3. It was a ‘sponsored link’ right at the top of the page. First things first, don’t let all that information on reddits ad page about ‘how ads work’ fool you. That’s an old comic they drew years ago and is completely wrong. they just sell impressions at $0.75 CPM. they really should update that…(I think this is a recent change).

Anyway….normally $0.75 CPM is a bit high for indie game advertising, but it was targeted, and a good experiment in a potentially rich new source of players. I put $250 into it, which lasted about 3 days.

According to the traffic stats provided by reddit I got:

stats1Which says 1,140 clicks. On the face of it, this isn’t too bad at all, 22 cents for a quality-traffic click. However, if I check google analytics for that page and its source I get this

stats2Only 199 views? that’s insane where are all the other views? Let me check my webalizer server logs instead… I see about 2,200 hits from reddit/r/Games for the month (which is almost certainly all this ad, as I have been listed only in /indiegaming until this. If I look at different logs from awstats I get 1,000 visits for the month from /r/Games.

So what value do I believe?

Well in a sense, who cares? All I care about is how many of those people bought the game, but so far I am suspicious about the tracking I have in place there, although it seems to work very well for other games so…arggghhhh!. Can I conclusively say the ad was worth it? I suspect not. Something I can definitely say from all this is that google analytics is CRAP at actually tracking the number of hits you get from a site. It could be php acting up, maybe people have javascript turned off or ad-block software turned on that blocks google analytics? All of my online research has given me long lists of reasons a few clicks might be missed, but not 90% of them. If we believe awstats & reddit 9and I’d be surprised if any site selling ads had the cheek to lie about them, they WOULD get caught by someone, and then the site is toast overnight), then it means that all of my google analytcis data has to be taken with a huge helping of salt.

Would I advertise on reddit again? Maybe, but I have other methods I’m experimenting with for now. (BTW don’t bother with google video ads, total waste of time and money).

Eurogamer Expo, press & public come see our games!

This is a public service announcement aimed at both press and public alike who will be attending this years Eurogamer Expo in London at the end of this month:



We obviously have 2 of the most interesting games at the show! I’m pretty certain we will have the ONLY turn-based deep political strategy game based on a neural network at the show…


And also I’d wager that we have the only comedy sci-fi life-sim game at the show too…


And when I say ‘We’ I mean me (Cliff Harris / Cliffski) the designer and programmer of Democracy 3, and Mitu Khandaker, the designer/coder of Redshirt. Come talk to us! Try our games! and if you are press, even just-starting-out youtube let’s players or bloggers, then don’t be shy, come say hello. We are happy for you to book interviews or meetings in advance (just email me), or just show up and tap us on the shoulder. We look roughly like this:


We will be in a big indie booth collection near prison architect and hopefully lots of nice places where you can actually sit down. We will even have FREE BADGES. How can you turn that down?

Press people be aware that these are two new games currently in beta and both heading for release soon on Steam/GoG, so get in early and write up your impressions NOW!