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

New Beta ‘balance’ patch for Democracy 3.

After a brief period of thinking about writing AI that plays Democracy 3 (I am still going to do this one day), I took to doing some cunning data mining, and then did a lot of play-testing, and musing, and staring at graphing calculators and came to a few conclusions as to what improvements could be made to Democracy 3 to make it a more accurate sim, a more fun game, and a better balanced game. The conclusions I came to are in the beta patch I’m releasing today on steam, meaning that you need to right click the games name in steam, go to the properties tab for it, then betas, and opt in to the pc beta (no password)


. That gets you the following changes:

Version 1.26
1.    Unemployment now contributes towards obesity
2.    Increased impact of car usage on traffic congestion
3.    Increased base likelihood of a teacher shortage.
4.    Unemployment now reduces the chance of a teacher shortage.
5.    University Grants now increase the chance of a teacher shortage.
6.    Reduced impact of CCTV on Armed Robbery.
7.    Added impact of low inequality on Armed Robbery.
8.    Changed equation for GDP impact on Alcohol Consumption to be non-linear.
9.    Added impact on doctors and teachers strikes from trade union membership
10.    Adjusted impact of state school funding on teachers strikes.
11.    Added effect of wages on Teachers & Doctors Strikes.
12.    Added effects of science funding and the environment to contagious disease.
13.    Arts subsidies, Bus subsidies and community policing now reduce unemployment.
14.    Adjustments to triggers for various events.
15.    Increased impact of refugee crisis event.
16.    Effects of corporate exodus event worsened.
17.    Increased impact of Unemployment on CrimeRate.
18.    Impact of religion on antisocial behaviour now linked to membership, not frequency.
19.    Unemployment now linked to antisocial behaviour
20.    Trade union and Socialist group memberships now contribute towards general strike.

As you can see there are some new links which should have been in there but I never thought about them (unemployment causing obesity is one), plus some tweaks to simple numbers and influences on events. It was really interesting to look at stats and realize how some events and situations were simply not triggering for many people, so effectively they were missing out on part of the game, and the numbers now mean that they are m,ore likely to experience the whole range of events and dilemmas etc. I feel such a fool for not having done this analysis ages ago, but I guess you live and learn. I felt like a fool for never having multi-threaded the ‘next turn’ bit of the game until recently. (BTW thats why its so fast).

Hopefully a bunch of ambitious tweakers will opt in to the beta (you can always go back to the original game at the moment), and give me feedback on if this marks an improvement on the basic game. I’m probably going to leave this beta for a while to see what the consensus is before I set it live, or maybe do some more tweaking.

In the meantime I have 2 big announcements about other stuff coming up. Oh yes.

Oh and if you are confused and wonder what democracy 3 is. click here. And if you have any opinions on these changes feel free to post them here, I read them all.



5 thoughts on New Beta ‘balance’ patch for Democracy 3.

  1. Obesity should also have a small effect on military cost, and increase slightly logarithmically. Obese recruits cost more money to train initially, and the military must spend more to prevent current members from becoming obese.

  2. I’m glad you’re still working on balance issues. Some of these changes (like correlating obesity with unemployment) make pretty good sense (although, I’d argue that poverty is a better correlary than unemployment).

    I’ve been playing Democracy 3 for a while now (Steam has me a bit over 40 hours, though I would have thought it was more than that), and my biggest frustration has nothing to do with minor balance issues. I know it probably can’t ever happen as a Democracy 3 update, but my biggest wish for Democracy 4 is that it actually model the US political system better. Namely: State’s Rights.

    So many of the dilemmas, issues, and policies presented for consideration are not federal matters under the US constitution. Rather, they seem often to be matters which should be left to the states, but D3 forces a “one-size-fits-all” solution to these questions. I realize that many countries have forms of government where that is the model, so this is the norm. Nonetheless, a major factor limiting my enjoyment of the game is the inability to recuse a matter to the states and refuse to take an unconstitutional federal stance on a matter. I realize that for most games, this is a minor/petty gripe. But D3 isn’t most games. It’s a political simulator that is probably only played by people *broadly* like me in that they care about the realism and the accuracy of the simulation.

    I realize that building AI personas for 50 state governors and legislators is an arduous task (luckily, Monte Carlo methods are there to help), but I feel like this would make a much better political sim.

    Thanks for making this game. I’ve enjoyed it a lot so far, and hope to enjoy it more in the future.

  3. This might be completely ridiculous but it’d be amazing to have you work with Barack Obama on this and get the correlations right. It’d be extremely educational not only for kids but those who want to learn the skill neccessary to govern (not just as president but in any capacity that involves dealing with multiple groups with different interests).

    Given that he’s going to be out of office soon, and may not be able to give away some trade secrets, incorporating the senate and how to deal with liberals and conservatives would be extremely interesting.

    You could also expand the game so that there are multiple strategies in the game: taking certain steps would ensure good government no matter what. Taking other steps would take the government down a dictatorship/socialism/communism. I can also imagine how the popularity of this game could sky rocket if you incorporate some House of Cards aspects to it as well.

  4. One aspect that I felt was overlooked is the tax system. For example with income taxes, there are usually 3-4 tax bands, so one can raise/lower taxes on some but not others. In the game there is only one slider for overall income taxes so it is not quite flexible. Raising taxes on high income earners in the game would hit the middle and lower incomes as well. The same goes for inheritance tax (for the value of inheritance at which the tax kicks in), sales tax (i.e food are taxed less than other goods). More flexibility for the tax system would greatly improve the game’s realism I feel.

    My second comment is on how events popping up in the game tend to tip the balance too much. GDP gets completely whacked by short-term and small-scale occurrences but an earlier post you seem to realise this and are correcting this in the game so, great!

  5. I like those changes. I was always curious why bus subsidies didn’t provide people with jobs. ;)

    Arts subsidies creating jobs makes sense. During the Great Depression, under President Roosevelt, the government created jobs for artists so I guess updating the game to model and reflect that makes sense.

    I don’t know jack about Community Policing so I probably need to read some books and wikis but I suppose that you’d have to hire an additional force of people to actually administer a community policing program.

    I’ve actually wondered that a little about the Witness Protection Program. I know that’s in the Social Engineering DLC but I suppose a government would hire people to help run a program like that but I don’t really know. In America they’re called the US Marshals Service and they run our Witness Protection Program.

    I never really thought that University Grants could cause a Teacher Shortage so I guess it’d be important for governments in real life to make sure there are enough teachers to go around before they dump money into University attendance. I know what my strategy would be for the game. Totally pump money into public and private schools and make it so there isn’t a chance a teacher shortage will happen. Lol. Though in Democracy 3 Africa you could probably increase Civil Service Wage Parity to attract more teachers and doctors too. Yeah, I’d just brute force the problem and do all of that. Lol!

    I still need to play D3:A more with all of the DLC so I can learn more about what some of the extreme policies can do to solve some issues. Of course, I find myself just thinking about this stuff even when I’m not playing the game or watching the news. I pace a lot. I was even imagining what it’d be like to totally or mostly close up the informal sector economy. Gosh, my country would go from informal work to formal work very quickly but then that’d mean poverty must get under control then so that the earnings of the poor would be recovered.

    I voted in the Democratic primaries this week on May 17. I could not bring myself to vote for Senator Bernie Sanders or Secretary Hillary Clinton but I learned something about the ballot. I found out that even if some candidates drop their campaigns or never even had a campaign they still show up on the ballot and I can also decide not to commit to any candidate for the General Election for President. This election will be interesting indeed.

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