I suck so much at Political Animals Ryan even sent me a save game from half way through to ensure I didn’t humiliate myself, and you can see the results below:
Making a video of a game like PA is very difficult, because its one of those *very clever* games where you find yourself staring at the various options, thinking ‘hmmmm’ quite a lot. Now I know I’m not tom cruise and don’t have a TV coffee advert voice-over voice at the best of times, but I’m wary of uploading a whole video of me stroking my chin going ‘hmmm’ for an hour and a half, so I maybe took a few rash decisions in that video
Ultimately though…that’s the sign of a good strategy game. Games are all about emotion (at least the good ones are), and Political Animals feels a lot like Democracy 3 in the way you find yourself constantly thinking ‘hmmmm’ and suffering from the fear of making the wrong move. Thats basically the sign of decently balanced strategy, and chess is the ultimate example of it. The only question is does the agony of tough decisions come across in a video? possibly not, and its obviously much harder to make a hit indie game when your game is less ‘youtube friendly’ than the average indie title. As a result of that drive towards ‘streamable fun’ games, we get a lot of ‘wacky’ titles featuring goats, or people in showers, or silly farm machinery getting stuck, and whilst all of these are good fun, and the videos can be truly hilarious, I wonder if the experience of play really lives up to the experience of watching from afar. Ultimately you earn money from customers, not from people watching streams.
Look at it this way, would you sit and watch a three hour chess game on youtube? Me neither, but its clearly a brilliant game, and 100% absorbing as a player. Thankfully, Political Animals does not look like chess, in fact I love the way it looks, but in this day and age as a publisher you always have to be carefully balancing the ‘video and screenshot appeal’ of a game (which gets it noticed) against the ‘actually fun to play’ appeal of a title. I think PA gets it about right. Democracy 3 looks less fun than it is, and I suspect, if peoples opinions and purchase decisions are accurate, GSB2 looks more fun to watch than to play? It certainly makes for some very pretty videos.
In any case, its one of those things that an indie in 2016 has to worry about, which an indie in 2010 never cared about. This industry is always changing, with business models, prices, distribution channels, and ways to reach potential buyers in a constant state of flux. Its not for the feint-hearted.
Political Animals is coming out on November 2nd, On Humble Store, GoG and Steam, and direct from our website at www.politicalanimalsgame.com