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

Changing the voters opinions (long term changes)

So…democracy 3…

There are a whole bunch of voter groups. here is a nice shiny image showing what they are.


My current dilemma is adding enough effects that determine the changes over time in the membership of these groups. Some are pretty obvious, as in the three income groups membership is determined by the underlying economic simulation regarding income / redistribution / your policies on tax etc. But many are more subtle. For example, what would increase the number of liberals in your country? I already have a bunch of ‘membership’ effects, but I think it would be cool to add more, without it requiring adding tons and tons of new policies. Here are my current ideas, and I welcome more, or criticisms of my reasoning:

  1. motorists should be increased/decreased by traffic congestion (more pleasant way to travel)
  2. commuters increased by bus subsidies and rail subsidies (presumably making it cheaper / nicer)
  3. liberals increased by race discrimination act and community policing? Also boosted by teaching evolution.
  4. Environmentalists boosted by recycling, hybrid cars and micro generation grants. (daily routine or economic benefits to being green)
  5. Retired boosted by pensions (afford to quit early)
  6. State schools and childcare provision should boost parents membership (having kids less expensive or hassle)
  7. Vigilante mobs should boost conservative membership (fear of the mob!)
  8. Winter fuel subsidy should slightly boost the retired, as they live longer!

Like I say, I’m looking for long term effects on membership of a group, not just happiness of existing members. For example, car tax pleases environmentalists, but I doubt it persuades anyone to take up the green cause who wasn’t already persuaded.

The re-using old content dilemma

Where do you stand on content from game A turning up in Game A: 2 The sequel? I really do not know where I stand myself. Generally,  I don’t care. if it turned out that the tree models in Company of heroes 2 were the same tree models from COH 1, I wouldn’t mind. Ditto some of the sound effects. A tiger tank gun sounds the same as it did when the original game was released, and sound playback technology is the same now as it was then.

But what about the same music? Is that ok? I suspect not. And some of the same text somewhere? hmmmmm

I ask this because I built democracy 3 on top of the data for Democracy 2. With the exception of the new events, dilemmas and voter groups and policies, existing data is currently being carried straight over to the new game. obviously it might be re-balanced, but I’m not sure I need to re-write from scratch the descriptions of all policies or voter groups. That seems silly.

I *have* totally binned all the sound effects, and got brand new ones, because I think that makes things sound newer and fresher. All of the policy icons are the same, but totally re-done in 4X the resolution so it’s all much crisper. That was definitely worth doing.

but I do worry that somewhere, someone will rant on reddit that D3 is a rip-off because the description for income tax is the same as Democracy 2, and thus the game is just a ‘re-skin’. Obviously it isn’t, the underlying sim was dramatically redesigned and works very differently, but you can’t tell that without stepping through all the source code. Am I wrong to panic about a tiny percentage of pedants who might feel that way? or do you expect sequels to games to be done completely from the ground up in terms of data and artwork?

Cynical Blog Post (Democracy 3)

Ahahaha. See what I did there? I’m blogging about cynicism in Democracy 3. It’s much better than cynicism in democracy 2, or at least the developer claims it is, it probably won’t be…amirite?

Enough sad puns. Anyway, cynicism in democracy 2 worked like this: If the player raised taxes just after being re-elected (or at the game start, which is the same thing) or dropped them just before an election, the level of global cynicism went up, and this was a factor in deciding who to vote for at the next election. Simple.

The trouble is, it was too cynical. if you cut inheritance taxes just before an election, the middle classes and wealthy may well find it cynical, but will people unaffected by the change (the poor etc) really even notice? And there are other policies than tax. If you introduce armed police just before an election shouldn’t patriots and conservatives be a bit cynical about that?

So Democracy 3 introduces 2 radical changes to the way cynicism is calculated. Firstly, it is per-voter group. So you are only made cynical by changes which actually have some effect on your beliefs and situation. As a non parent, you won’t care if child benefit goes up or down or when it happens, you ignore it. Secondly, cynicism now acts on all decisions, not just tax. So laws, government spending…anything that has a noticeable effect on the opinions of a voter group will trigger a rise in cynicism for that group.

That’s the theory. Right now it’s buggy as anything, but I will fix it today. No seriously…I’m sure it will get fixed today.

It’s all coming together…I think.

Sooo…there is a lot going on in positech land these days, partly because Redshirt and Democracy 3 are both coming together at the same time. At the weekend I also had a sudden revival of adding indie games to, which is my much neglected side project.

A bit of stats crunching in google analytics persuaded me that my homepage was slightly slow loading, but thankfully there are tons of sites that will test and analyze this sort of thing, and free utilities to minify your javascript and losslessly compress png’s and jpgs, so hopefully that’s all much faster now.

In the land of actual game development, I’ve been working on both gameplay stuff for Democracy 3 (adding in new policies such as Fossil fuel subsidies, Privately run prisons, Mansion taxes, Foreign Investor Tax breaks,  Fuel efficiency standards…) and also some graphical stuff, which included importing all the art assets for the achievements, which are new to the game. That also meant I needed to actually code the achievements system (which is separate and independent from steam, but which I’ll link to steam if they accept the game).

I’ve also been doing a bunch of playtesting, which has shown that I’ve now made ministers actually *too* cynical and bitter and destructive, with most current test games descending into a wave of resignations and widespread public indignation at my incompetence :D

In other news… I have started up a very bare-bones for now, but nevertheless to-be-promoted facebook page for Democracy 3. Please go and ‘like’ it if you are interested in the game. (There will also obviously be a proper non facebook page in due course…) I’ll try and post more stuff there over the next few months. I’ve bought a video camera, which I’ll be carrying about to gaming events like Rezzed to film people trying my games, and also capture the magical ‘boothness’ for the first time. Plus I’ve grabbed a ticket to the ‘Bit Of Alright’ event in London next month, just as a visitor.

In between all this, I’m madly trying to open a high street business bank account, despite them all being idiots, and clueless, and annoying, because only a big name high street bank will give me a US dollar account that everyone in the US (publishers,portals) are happy to make payments into. The way I do things currently means I lose a chunk of cash on poor exchange rates, and I’m fed up with that. However, the bureaucracy so far is testing my will to continue with this process. bah!