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

Democracy 4 Update

YES! We are working hard on this, although its been mostly under-the-hood tech and background stuff so I haven’t been updating people much on progress because there has not been *that much* we wanted to show yet, but that is going to be changing a lot real soon…

So, for those in the dark about this, Democracy 4 is the upcoming sequel to Democracy 3 (what a shock!) which is positech’s best selling game so far. Its a politics strategy game where you play the role of President/Prime Minister of a real world country and have to keep the economy in decent shape while staying popular enough to be re-elected, AND presumably helping change the country for the better (in your opinion :D).

For people who have never played the original games, the user-interface is unusual because its basically just a complex connecting web of icons. here is a screenshot from the main screen in Democracy 3:

And here is the current (work-in-progress) equivalent for Democracy 4:

Obviously the general style, fonts and so-on have all changed, but also we have moved the voter groups from the middle to the left. This gives us some interesting options, because this is now a list that can be (at the players discretion perhaps) sorted by popularity, or by membership, or any other metric. Or sorted alphabetically even, none of which were options in the old UI.

its really hard to see in a static screenshot, but the big under-the-hood changes for D4 are that its unicode from the very start (hello Russian and Chinese!), and also most of the UI is being done with vector-art rendering, meaning everything is pixel perfect regardless of screen resolution or zooming/scaling. For a game that is mostly UI, this makes a BIG difference. basically no more blurry UI elements anywhere :D. Its also cross platform from the start.

So far we are still at the ‘getting the core engine working right’ stage along with the ‘commission loads of art’ stage, so although a lot has been done, there is not a LOT that we want to show you in terms of new events, policies or situations yet. However, that will be coming soon. We already have a bunch of new ministers and voters…

Once we are putting in new simulation content, I’ll start doing regular blogs (probably video ones too) that detail the progress made on the game. I’d love to be able to tell you an exact date for us to go early-alpha (likely direct sales), Early-Access beta and final release, but I just cant be sure about those dates just yet. Obviously I’m well aware that 2020 is a US election year and we want to be coming out before the election :D Stay tuned for more updates etc, you can follow me on twitter, or join our mailing list (see sidebar) if you don’t want to miss anything.

21 thoughts on Democracy 4 Update

  1. Any chance you will set it up so we can choose a different background colour for the main theme? White is horrible on the eyes especially for a data driven game – as teacher I try to avoid it for students.

    1. Interesting. That should be super-easy. Plus we are likely to have a less stark background in the final game, as it will need some way to indicate each policy area like democracy 3 does.

  2. I’d love to see more country options this time around, as last time it was fairly limited. Would be great to see countries like China, Japan, Sweden, Egypt, and so on. Just more options. Around 10 countries would be ideal for me. Just 5 got old really fast and I did not like using the Steam workshop mods as they were prone to crashes. Much love and can’t wait for the game.

  3. I’ve always thought it silly that radical policy changes cost as much political capital as incremental adjustments.

    Changing an income tax from 5% to 6% shouldn’t be as difficult as changing it from 5% to 60%.

    Not exactly sure what would be a good algorithm for this though.

    Affecting change is difficult so relatively speaking a small change should be more expensive than a large change per increment changed.

    Cost=log(increments changed) × a constant

    and then theirs still the rest of the formula you already used in D3

  4. it would be so good if the game release in nintendo switch too , is so handly and you have to press button only, it works great.

    i really loved democracy 3.

  5. I absolutely loved democracy 3 and I’m so excited for democracy 4. I know there was talk of this before, but I was wondering if there was anything planned in this new edition for collaboration between parties, coalitions etc.

    Keep up the great work!

  6. I’m so excited!! This is the only game my partner and I have stayed up until 4am playing. I make all the economists in my section play!

  7. I hope you’ll be taking a closer look at the interactions and making sure they make good sense. Most of them do make sense, but you also get some oddities here and there. For example, Canada’s starting situation should not have significant levels of State Health Service, and should instead have Healthcare Vouchers since it’s a singlepayer system rather than socialized. It also doesn’t make sense that even if you have Healthcare Vouchers, Private Healthcare still reduces equality.

    Some of the costs of policies don’t make sense in the original game, especially for the U.S. Military spending, which is around $400 billion per quarter or so even though the U.S. actually only spends about $600 billion in an entire year in real life. The game also has the space program cost the U.S. $80 billion or so per quarter even though NASA’s funding is only $20 billion for an entire year. It would also be nice if we could get hard numbers on GDP for example. You can infer it from the debt and debt as a percentage of GDP but it’d be good to see it, and the game should start with it being at real world levels. It would also be nice if we could see population numbers and have population grow depending on whether you have pro-natal policies such as Child Benefits/Childcare and pro-immigration policies such as reduced border controls. Having numbers like GDP per capita would also be nice to see, to get an idea of what effect you’re actually having on the nation’s wealth and development level.

    Some policies that countries like the U.S. have in real life are not reflected at the start of the game. For example, the U.S. starts with strangely low police funding compared to real life, and also doesn’t have school meals (subsidized for the poor in the U.S.) and

    Also, the debt interest rates are ridiculous and should be less punishing IMO. In real life Japan has a Debt/GDP ratio well above 200% yet is still able to borrow very cheaply thanks to its stability. If you keep the stability mechanic from Democracy 3 Africa then I think it would make sense if the debt interest rate was based more on that in addition to the Debt/GDP ratio. I realize you need to have something to create difficulty in the game, but the debt mechanic seems unrealistic to me. I also think there needs to be more consequences to having a budget surplus. In real life high taxes or low spending to maintain a surplus naturally reduce the amount of spending and investing money people have to stimulate the economy. It’s the opposite of fiscal stimulus. If you raise taxes, GDP should go down. Some of the taxes like the Carbon Tax already do this, but not enough. The income tax strangely has no effect, and neither does the property tax.

    I don’t know how many of these changes are realistic to implement, but those are just my two cents.

    1. Oh, and population growth should also increase GDP growth naturally since it explains a large part of GDP growth. If GDP growth is occurring but is less than population growth this should cause GDP per capita to go down and should be considered a recession with increasing unemployment rate and increasing poverty.

    2. many of the numbers in the game do not map directly to the real world because we have to do a LOT of fudging to make a single simulation model work for every possible country, given cultural and geographical differences and history etc, so we end up adjusting things until the situation looks right, even if the numbers are wrong. This is always going to be really tough to get right.

  8. I would love if the game had more complex voting system – many more parties (also being created dynamically when some group is not well represented), parliament with seats, different election rules (majority, proportion), ability to have election sooner, ability to create coalitions and also a option that the game doesn’t end when you won’t manage to create coalition – to either play in opposition or switch parties and play for the victorious :D

    This is probably the weakest part of D3 and also what always made me abandon the game after 3 terms or so – I basically dominated whole election and it became one-party state.. That should never happen IMO.

    Also, there could be a option to use old election model for casuals if you fear that it would be to complex..

  9. Brit here. Will there be a Brexit scenario? And will the game be automatically unwinnable if you play as The Labour Party and impossible to lose if you play Conservative?

  10. Brief suggestions: the ability to change the voting system (if there’s going to be more than 2 parties) and the ability to make voting compulsory after game start.

  11. To be honest, my biggest problem with D3 was the population. It did never grow. Immigrants came in and yet it did not increase population. It was like a big “wtf” which made me quit.
    The other is the voting system. It was simply silly. Back in the days I made pictures: I raised incomes of ppl under 1 term by 200-300%-s, had tons of other positive increases, dropped unemployment to 0, and yet people voted me out… like…
    Also the opposite, when everybody voted for me, which is just unrealistic.

    The game should not end when you lose the elections.

    Even though I consider myself a liberal, the game just swings it too much there. In the long term the game basically says: if you make liberal laws and move your country that way, everything will be fine, but if you do the opposite and go to the conservative one, everything will just blow.

    One more thing: happened to me several times: the population became 100% farmers :D this is jut very-very-very unrealistic.

    What I expect from D4 is to be much more realistic. I do know a country in real life works very differently, and I know you cannot make everything realistic. I do not expect 10000 types of laws… but I expect the game to be replayable 100 times, if you know what I mean. I expect moddability, so those smart guys will be able to mod it (don’t forget: games like HOI IV are only alive because of moddability).
    Also I expect D4 to be more detailing.

    Erm… maybe foreign policy? A map where you can select other countries to trade and other things? Idk, surprise me! <3

  12. Democracy, to me, is the perfect game to play on iPadOS. Please consider releasing it in the iPadOS App Store.

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