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

Is modding a signal that you undersupply DLC?

Just a random thought, that occurred whilst playing Star Wars: Battlefront, a game I deeply love, have bought the season pass for, and yet am still desperate to say ‘shut up and take my money’ to the developers. If a popup appeared in-game saying ‘3 new character skins 5$’ I’d hit buy without question. New maps? ditto. I love the game, I love spending time in it, I want more, more more.

AFAIK Star Wars Battlefront supports no modding at all. You can tell its a very console-style game, and the idea of allowing modding was probably heresy to the publisher, but apart from the usual arguments (good ones) that people often make about modding helping to build a decent community, keep people playing, and build up the perceived value of the base product, I think there may be another good reason to allow it in a game.


It MAY be true, that when you have a healthy modding scene, its a sign of a lack of supply in the market a little like the way piracy , in some circles, is considered to show up an under-served market for cheap games.

I know some AAA publishers are anti-modding on the basis that people should be sold new content, not allowed to make it for free, but frankly, who installs a dozen mods for a game who does not ALREADY own all your DLC? Besides, I think that modding may well be the best market research tool ever made. Amateurs are basically making new DLC and letting you test the market, before you even consider creating ‘official’ DLC. The existence of a singular, big, popular and well-reviewed mod for your game could be taken as evidence that you missed an opportunity, evidence that you should get in there and give those customers what you did not realize they wanted.

As I recall Battlefield had a Vietnam mod before Battlefield Vietnam. This does not surprise me at all.


I have supported mods in pretty much every game I’ve made or published. Gratuitous Space Battles had an amazing popular modding forum, Democracy 3 has both a huge list of mods on my site plus a major steam workshop presence. Even Kudos 2 supported a modding scene, and I have always been a cheerleader for indie devs enabling mod support.

I am starting to realize how good a beacon this is for encouraging devs to serve that market with official content. TBH, the only reason I stopped developing new GSB1 DLC was I felt I was ‘being cheeky’ by making so many, but frankly now I’m starting to think that was silly. maybe EA think they are being cheeky by having a whole Star Wars Battlefront season pass, but as a dedicated player I want MORE, I demand it in fact! Unfortunately the lack of modding means they will never know for sure :(.

You could argue that not every downloaded mod is a ‘lost-sale’, and obviously that’s true, there may not be a viable sized market for mods that replace Star Wars storm-troopers with pink rabbits, and yet you might still get a mod for it, but I think in general, the more popular and more mainstream mods are definitely a sign that the players are saying ‘we want more stuff in this game’, and as ever, the game developer should always be listening to the players.

I was wrong to stop making GSB1 expansions when I did.


Democracy 3:Electioneering…The fundraising video

Talking a bit about the new fundraising features coming to Democracy 3:Electioneering soon…

I really am stupid filming myself with a big bright window behind me. I must fix that next time. Still.. I got the hang of doing it with a decent audio track and no headphones this time which is a slight improvement. Watch out you-tubers, I’m a new star in the making. Maybe.

Linkedin is not worth 26 billion

Ok, so there were people who said WTF when Facebook bought Instagram for a BILLION dollars in 2012, saying how on earth can it be worth that? They had a point. Instagram had 13 employees. Yup, that was not a typo, THIRTEEN. By contrast, for example, Comptacenter PLC has the same market cap and employs 12,993 people. Yup, a single instagram member of staff was worth 1,000 people at computacenter. That was insane.

But today I hear that linkedin has been bought for 26 billion dollars. Lets put 26 billion in perspective.

Thats more than the market cap of Associated British Foods, a company that employs 124,000 people, has 6 million square feet of retail space, owns twinings, ovaltine and primark, was established in 1935 and now has 200 stores.

Thats more than the GDP of Estonia, Uganda, El Salvador or Latvia.

Linkedin has 9,000 staff, and presumably some buildings, and a great big email list, which, lets be honest contains a LOT of peoples details like me, who tried and tried and tried again to stop the damned company spamming me before eventually setting up an email filter to nuke any mention of the damned company, as the only way to stop the endless spam.

So a spammers database, and a website, and presumably some office chairs, some name recognition 9although not all positive, by any means). And thats worth 26 Billion dollars.

The thing is, other companies worth 26 billion have something tangible. Associated British Foods has a lot of physical assets. Even if the company became associated with pure evil, you can still break it up, sell the buildings and recover some of the capital, but when it comes down to it, linkedin is a social network. A SOCIAL network. And these never go out of fashion do they?


Newscorp paid 12 Billion for myspace in 2007. Then they ended up selling it for 35 million four years later. Yup…these things happen eh?

This acquisition seems to me to be the kind of thing massive tech CEOs do in order to feel big and important. Its not a sensible purchase, its a bullshit valuation (oh BTW have I mentioned that linkedin makes NO money. All ikts done so far is burn through investors cash. Literally you would be better off owning Positech than Linkedin), and I’m not at all surprised Microsofts stock dropped a bit on the news. This is a case of big tech having surplus cash and not having a clue what to do with it.

I have a suggestion for all the tech CEO’s who don’t know what to do with the spare cash.

Pay some tax.

Or actually build something tangible with it. Facebook and Apple are at least investing in some physical infrastructure in the form of their own renewable energy to power their datacenters. Tesla is investing in a big battery factory (very big!). 26 billion dollars can achieve a hell of a lot. You could build the severn barrage in the UK, a renewable power source that would last roughly 120 years. You could develop a 76 acre urban complex in Las Vegas:  TWICE.

But no, why not buy linkedin, they have a big email list. Thats way easier, their offices are just down the street.

Is this the ‘big thinking’ that CEOs get their big salaries for?


Democracy 3:Electioneering video blog thing #1

So apparently now they have video or the internet, so I guess I better record a swanky video with me talking about electioneering. I’ve tried doing that hip thing where you have a second camera and your FACE on it. Thats what all the cool kids like me do these days. I’m often listening to Eminem, dropping some Es and keeping it real. Fleek.

Anyway…here is the video. Does this look ok? am I like grandpa simpson, or am I the next BIG THING to hit youtube?

Announcing Democracy 3: Electioneering

Tada! Hot on the heels of revealing Political Animals, I can now start talking about what I have actually been coding myself. (yes I remember how to code!) For quite a while (about six months), I’ve been tinkering with the idea of adding a new expansion to Democracy 3 that deals with the elections side of the game in greater depth. The result is finally something I’ll start talking about and reasonably enough, I’ve decided to call it…


Yay! New stuff! For a long time, the Democracy games have basically been ‘government’ games, not election games. Making electioneering work in the context of Democracy 3 was not easy, because frankly every country has a very different electoral process, and electoral system. The US is NOTHING like the UK (We don’t have primaries or caucuses, for starters), and the way elections are fought is very different over the various countries that Democracy 3 models. (Another example: in the UK we have no political TV advertising).  Eventually, I decided to take a few key areas of the election process, the ones that seemed universal, and model those, whilst letting the actual ‘mechanics’ of how an election is fought to remain abstract.



The elements I thought really represented electioneering were fundraising, speeches, manifestos and perceptions. I’ll quickly outline how each works, but I’ll be doing videos to explain them over the next few weeks.

  • Fundraising in the DLC will be split between party members and big-money donors. Those donors can cut their support if you upset the voter groups they support, leading to a lower campaign budget and worse election results.
  • Speeches can be given closer to the election, and the idea is that they allow the opportunity to win over support from voter groups without actually concretely *doing* anything :D
  • Manifestos are commitments to the electorate to do ‘X’ if you are elected. That promise then hangs over you for the next term, assuming you win. You *can* break them, but that causes anger.
  • Perceptions are the most fun :D. Basically the voters rate you on one of three values, based on your policies and dilemma decisions. You can attempt to bend those perceptions more favourably by carrying out media stunts, which may work, but may backfire.

Added to that, I’ve revamped the election screen for the DLC, and its way more jazzy now :D.


Anyway… I’ll be blogging, mostly in video form, about these new features over the next few weeks, and asking peoples opinions while I try to balance the DLC. I’ll probably grab a small group of keen D3 players to try out the DLC ahead of time, and then it will be release time. Wahey! Its feature complete and AFAIK bug-free already, I just anticipate a month or so of balancing and tweaking to get things just right.

Press people should be aware we have a website for the DLC already, release date is (Probably) Late July 2016, and I’m hoping for it to work on PC/OSX maybe Linux, and with a prevailing wind, it should also work with Democracy 3:Africa. Press people who are looking for an ‘angle’ might be aware that the UK has an upcoming referendum and the US has an upcoming election. WHAT A COINCIDENCE.

BTW we already have a steam coming soon page for the DLC. Feel free to wishlist it.

BTW I will be tweeting about this, and facebooking blah blah, but if anyone thinks this news is worthy of some social media submissions and love, I really appreciate it!