So I am still busy working away on Democracy 4. I am currently at the ‘play lots of games, find stuff that seems broken, or not correct, or improvable… …and just work through that list’ phase of development. The game is perfectly playable, but has the odd crash, and a lot of little tweaks that are needed to make it reflect the reality of politics in 2020 instead of 2013.
The majority of these tweaks are super-minor, but they make the game so much better. Some of them are tiny UI things that people will only subconsciously notice. For example, we have ’emergency powers’ in the game now (a boost to political capital), and during that mode the central political capital icon now turns red :D. Something I coded just an hour ago was a change in the UI color of the policy slider to remind you when you cannot raise (or maybe lower) a policy slider due to lack of political capital. Its right there in the UI on the right, but coloring the actual slider bar is also a nice reminder I think:
I’ve also been going through a lot of the policies and tweaking the starting values for the UK, and making sure the numbers make sense. We added a policy of ‘state broadcaster’ for the UK, and some research showed me that I was vastly overestimating how much the BBC cost in comparison to total government spending. Stuff like that all needs a lot of tweaking.
Another thing you can see in that screenshot is the background color for minister profiles now ALWAYS shows the color that represents how happy (green) or sad (orange, then red) they are, so you subconsciously are always aware of their loyalties.
Plus there are a ton of links between policies that need tweaking, adding or removing. I have concluded that foreign investor tax breaks should improve foreign relations. This makes sense. You tend to be fairly kindly disposed towards governments that are helping you grow your own economy, and giving your companies good deals on investment. I had to vastly alter the equations for the ‘air strike’ event too. I had too many playthroughs where seemingly randomly some foreign country accused the UK of having WMD and bombed us. Oh dear…
Some things come as sudden inspiration in a ‘Why didn’t I do this before way’ like adding illustrative socialist/capitalist characters to the political compass:
Anyway… something I need to consider very soon is what to do about some old data from democracy 3 that I might like to include, but worry about players response to. For example, one of the policies in the game is the governments approach to handling automated trading on the stock market. Basically this makes GDP go up a bit, capitalists love it…but there is a slight risk of a disastrous ‘flash crash’ if its too lax. This is already a policy in ‘clones & drones‘, part of democracy 3, and thus its now in democracy 4 too.
To include that, means it will HAVE to mean including the ‘flash crash‘ event. This would be (believe it or not) the ONLY event that I am copying from D3 to D4. All the others are new. I sort of worry about this, because some people are bound to complain about ‘re-using content’, but TBH I’m reusing a bunch of content in other areas of the game already.
Frankly, the dictionary definition of socialist has not changed since 2013, so why rewrite it? Same for the basic descriptions for stuff like income tax, or police force. We ARE adding a ton of new policies, and all the character and event art and UI art and so on is entirely new, as are all the SFX & music. The game is overwhelmingly new content… so I really shouldn’t feel bad about including just ONE event from D3…
I think the problem is that 1% gamers are louder than the other 99%. Its my belief that society online has become much worse in the last five years. Social media has ramped up peoples urges to be abusive, to criticize, to complain, to accuse, and to general act like a dick. Part of me really dreads being accused of just ‘reskinning the old game’, which is not what the last few years of work has been about… But on the other hand…
…I am clearly NOT re-skinning an old game. The OVERWHELMING majority of players will see that, and in any case, the really angry obsessed 1% who disagree can refund their steam game if they really genuinely are not going to play it… so why should I feel so worried about upsetting them? especially when even if every single byte and pixel of game content was created anew in a clean room, they would still cry #lazydevs! at me for daring to even release a new game ;D
I guess I am just sharing typical developer angst. Its a pity, because I LOVE early access, and player feedback, and sharing design debates and concerns and ideas with players. However, I am not someone for whom really angry criticism just washes over me. It *does* get to me, both depressing me and angering me, in a way I know it shouldn’t.
Not *that* long now until we have a playable alpha that we get into the hands of actual customers who can tell me what a horrible game i’ve made :D
BTW we now have forums for the game where you can tell me how much you hate me and everything I stand for. Here they are.