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

Production line video blog & political Animals update

logo550Committing yourself to weekly blog update videos on the status of the game sure does make you feel bad if you don’t get much stuff done! So in that spirit here is a short video with me trying to spin a new GUI screen and a line of text on another screen into a weeks work:

I’m getting even more efficient at making those, almost like its own production line…


On other topic, Political Animals is getting updated today and tomorrow (depending if you are holding a steam or GoG/Humble copy), and the official list of changes from the bunch of cute animals in charge of the game are as follows:

Bug fixes
– Fixed crash on finish of North Island
– Fixed localization related bugs
– Pause after election such that players can take screenshots
– Settings are now saved (your language and sound/volume setting will be saved until you change them)

If you aren’t familiar with political animals, and like the idea of re-running a recent election campaign to get a result you prefer, you can grab political animals from here, and its worth noting there have been quite a lot of youtube lets play videos.

New Production Line Pie Chart thing

I’ve tweeted and facebooked it, so may as well add it here too. I’ll hopefully make a new video tomorrow, but in the meantime here is a screenshot showing the efficiency GUI for each slot. In this case you can see that fitting valves to the engine is massively held up by waiting for resources (valves one assumes!) to show up…


More details at

Donating revenue to War Child


So… I got introduced to a charity called War Child, at some speaking event on democracy I attended up London recently, and it seemed like a great thing. I won’t go into tedious detail, but I’ll quote from their website:

“We’re providing life-changing support to the most vulnerable children whose families, communities and schools have been torn apart by war.”

I’m lucky in that I live in the UK and have never been affected by war. Thats just temporal and geographic luck though. I grew up riding my bike around the rubble of a nearby munitions factory the Germans had bombed. My grandfather fought in WW2 in Burma and North Africa, I have a friend who remembers watching V2 ‘doodlebug’ bombs dropping from the sky. My Fathers family was divided when he was a child when London children were evacuated to the countryside. I live near an airfield that was used by spitfires during D-Day, and I hear British Artillery practice in a training ground near me from time to time. I’m surrounded by memories of something I so fortunately have avoided all my life, but obviously many people are not so lucky.

I cannot begin to imagine the traumatic effects of war on small children, especially those who lose their parents. It seems an admirable cause to help out people affected in this way, and I’m proud to say I’m doing a bit to help this month.

From the 21st November to 2nd December, all the revenue positech earns from Democracy 3 and its DLC on steam will be donated to War Child. We don’t have any noticeable ongoing expenses, so its revenue, not profit, as they are the same thing. I’m hoping to raise $15k doing this.

A bunch of other gamers are doing similar stuff, you can read more details here.

US politics thoughts. How to fix things.

Relatively non partisan thoughts incoming…

I was strongly against trump, he won, I’m not going into a debate about him, or individual policies, but thought I would try to articulate what I think is going wrong in the US (also the UK and Europe) and how (maybe) to fix it.

Most pundits are suggesting (I’d guess accurately) that trump won because of the disillusionment of  blue collar workers on low wages, or with no jobs. Putting aside a lot of the surrounding fluff that the campaigns were wrapped up in (personal accusations, talk of misogyny, who-slept-with-who, size of peoples hands and so on), I think it basically comes down to blue collar American workers saying that economically they are losing out and something must be done, and they are absolutely right about that, and have been for a while. Trump tapped into that, and has become president as a result, and although his identification of the problem is spot on, his remedies are absolutely wrong, and in my opinion will actually make things worse, for those very blue collar workers who see him as their saviour.

There is a fairly watchable film released way back in 1991 starring Danny De-vito called other peoples money. Its not comedy gold, but it has a very well articulated point about, bizarrely the US election in 2016. Here it is:

For people who don’t want to watch it, its basically a rant by Danny DeVito as an ‘evil’ wall street guy telling cable factory workers that fiber optics killed their industry, and the company is dead, and to deal with it. Its harsh.

It’s also true.

Fact: Kodak in 1998 employed 145,000 people worldwide. It went bankrupt in 2012. Its one of many companies that have been technologically vaporised. Facebook employs 14,495 people, almost exactly a tenth of kodak at its height, and provides a lot more than the sharing of photographs. Arguably facebook provides 10-20 times the ‘end consumer services’ that a mere photo printing company did, for 1/10 the staff. We are talking about a situation where we need 0.5-1% of the people now to do the same work in terms of providing value. And facebook lets me share a photo (for free) with the entire planet. Kodak gave me a blurry cardboard feeling thing at high cost that fades and was a fixed size (and only 1 copy).
Yay for technology.

People complain about unemployment in the US. The US unemployment rate is 4.9%. There will also be an issue of under-employment and low wages, but still…thats actually not *that* bad. When every company does a Kodak and gets replaced by a Facebook, that 4.9% will be a far off dream, a paradise that people think back to.

Technology vastly improves and transforms our lives, but its killing jobs, and replacement jobs are not being created fast enough. The BIG problem, (and here is where it becomes relevant to the US election), is that when it does create jobs it only creates very highly skilled, high pay ones. If you do not have an absolute familiarity and understanding of computers, and preferably some computer programming knowledge, engineering knowledge, or maths/science skills, the future economy is not going to work out for you.

Trumps blue collar jobs are gone. They are not coming back. Its not the Mexicans who took them, or the Muslims, its these dudes:



Stuff can be made anywhere. Trump bemoans outsourcing to India/China, but with global trade, stopping that is impossible, and walling the US off from its biggest markets will only accelerate the death of the US economy, and encourage facebook, google , apple etc to relocate outside the US. Trying to stop global trade or automation / technology is liking trying to stop the tide. The only solution for trumps voters is to find a way to be useful in the post 2016 automated high-tech economy. That means skills, that means education. (I know some people think that means universal basic income instead. Personally I’m not a fan, but thats a whole different topic).

If I had to pick one single policy that would fix the problems in the US in the medium to long term, it would be adult education. Not schoolkids, they already understand and use computers. They aren’t scared of them, they will eventually realize that they need to knuckle down and ensure they study hard enough to get a job programming or high tech engineering/science. Young people in the US are pretty tech savvy. The people who need education NOW in the US are the age 40+ blue collar workers who used to work in factories, on assembly lines, or in warehouses. They need to skill-up, NOW.

They have no money, because tech killed their jobs, so they need help, and the government HAS to step in and fix this. I refuse to believe that you cannot re-skill at that age. I refuse to believe that you cannot transition from manual work to complex tech work. When I was 24 years old I hammered rowing boats together for a living. It was the technological opposite of what I do now. I’m 47 and work as a computer programmer. Transitioning from one to the other is HARD, but it can be done.

When I wanted to learn programming, I qualified for free evening classes in C and advanced C programming, paid for by my government here in the UK. I also attended a 2 week crash course on C++, paid for by the government because I was unemployed. I also studied my ass off, spent a LOT of time in libraries and the few books I could afford, and it worked out. The government could have made it a LOT easier, but at least they did something.

Despite my hatred for him, Trump DOES know what is wrong in America, and identifying the problem is actually very helpful. Now is the time to help focus on the real long term solution, not short term knee-jerk misdirected anger.

The USA does not need a wall, it needs a program of adult education & training.



Production Line blog#3: Upgrades, Layouts & Visual Style

Here is my latest fun-packed laugh-a-minute ‘you won’t believe what cliffski did next‘ videos with me showing off Production Line and talking about what is new:

I’m going to try to keep to weekly videos (at least) as I think its popular, and also I’m finding doing them really easy now I have a set workflow for it, and know all the productivity tips :D. I decided to do this one without wearing glasses, or shaving, just to give it an air of ‘danger’ and maybe even some ‘rugged masculinity’.

It amazes me what this ‘handbrake’ software does. it seems to leave the quality of an mp4 unchanged but shrinks it by 60%, just awesome. Of course, uploading even a 400MB file is still like Chinese water torture when you live where I do, but thats life. In fact, in exciting news I have been invited to a specials secret meeting of the village cabal to discuss broadband upgrade options. I wonder how my ‘for fucks sake lets just bite the bullet and dig up the whole fucking road and pay for it ourselves’ suggestion will go down? Probably badly, but OMG, a maximum upload speed of 80k is NOT fun when you are trying to carve out a reputation as a sexy young youtube personality.

Anyway…enough waffle. Unless you have been trying hard to ignore me, you will already know that we released Political Animals this week. Its a fun election strategy game featuring incredibly cute animals, who are far more corrupt, cunning and tricky than they at first appear. It was developed by Squeaky Wheel in the Phillipines, which is a studio I really cope can go on to do other games. It’s 10% off in launch week, so grab a copy now if you like that sort of thing. Here is the trailer: