Consider allowing more than one slider per policy

I noticed there are a few policies where it might make a lot of sense to modify them with a second input when it might be a waste to introduce a second policy for this.

A change to every single slider would separately count as costing political capital, just as it does now, although there might be some argument that modifying multiple sliders under a single policy at once would potentially give you a slight discount. Not sure about that.

Currently I have four examples in mind:

  • Income Tax / Flat Tax
    Instead of two versions of income tax which ought to be mutually exclusive, add a second slider to income tax which denotes the progressiveness of the tax plan.
    The first slider, which is a percentage, would simply be what percentage you tax middle income.
    The second slider, progressiveness would adjust poor and rich taxation thus:
    • at 0 it’s extremely regressive (rich actually pay less taxes than middle income)
    • at 1/3 it’s precisely what the current flat tax is (everybody pays equal portion of income)
    • at 2/3 it’s precisely what current regular income tax is
    • at 1 it’s a generous negative tax (poor actually get bonus money instead of paying)
      (NOTE: On another post I gave the exact opposite behavior but I think “progressiveness” makes more sense than “regressiveness” as a modifier on taxes)

This would simplify income tax calculation, get rid of some of the weirdest behaviors in the game today, and actually make things more flexible for players.

  • Every single state company
    Right now, these conflate two effects, namely
    • how much you spend on the infrastructure
    • how much you charge for usage

These should be separate sliders. You could extort people while barely even providing basic maintenance, you could fund massive infrastructure expansions and give away access entirely free, or you could just take a measured approach near the break-even point. But that break-even point could be reached both by massive expansion and massive access prices, and by basic maintenance almost for free.
This would also fix weirdness concerning the rail strike right now. Just because I charge my people for rail usage doesn’t mean I do this while letting the infrastructure go to crap!

  • Prison funding
    You added an uncancelable policy that concerns how prisoners are treated. Effectively, this is a tradeoff about how prison funds are actually being used. So it should just be subsumed as second slider into the prison fund policy!

These changes provide extra flexibility, keep directly related things together, and actually reduce clutter on the main screen, where individual policy symbols can get quite small if you implement lots of policies.

There’s actually at least one more candidate, though I’m not quite sure how to correctly pull that one off:

I know you implemented Selective schooling as a way to disentangle those effects from others relating to Tech Colleges.
However, actually it’d make sense for this policy, as well as the creationism vs. evolution debate, to be put as sliders into public school funding.

The only problem is, that you might want those two policies to also apply to school vouchers. So the only way I could see this working, other than keeping them separate as now, is to actually have a schooling policy with four separate sliders, combining public and private school spending, and schooling policies. And on top of that you’d need to be able to deactivate some of those sliders entirely.

Unless you want those two polices not to apply to private schooling which, actually, that could be fair. Private schools won’t have as strictly state-mandated curricula as public schools, usually. Iunno.

I am rather certain that the two-in-one policies above would be a solid improvement.
Less sure is, that the four-in-one variant is reasonable, but it might at least be worth trying out.

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I like the potential…

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I like this idea a lot. I remember in Democracy 3 thinking that income tax should have a second adjustment within the policy regarding progressivity. There was a mod that allowed you to separate out low, middle, and high income rates, but obviously that just added to the clutter. Hopefully it’s something that could potentially be done. :slightly_smiling_face:

I had this in mind when playing the Early Access just now. For a lot of policies it would make sense to have an X- and Y-Axis representing two aspects of the policies. The one where I got that idea was the Gender Reassignment policy. I would use the X-Axis for “Regulation” and the Y-Axis for “Subsidization” (In my case because I would want to set an age limit, but still subsidize it when they come to the decision)

Alternative for the slider change on (progressive) income tax, could you rename flat tax to “Flat Income Tax”, having as-is, and “Progressive Income Tax” have an option to move 4 staggered ‘bracket markers’ (the cost being to move one, or multiple at once). I know the devs seem to not like stating specific numerical earnings, so the sections created by the bracket markers could be for Low, Lower-Middle, Upper-Middle, and Wealthy earners. The top marker (showing the % paid on ultra-high earnings) would have to be lower than 100% minus the flat income tax rate of course.

One possibility might be to represent taxes (and similar policies that change over x) with bezier curves that players could adjust.

An example of a bezier curve.

A horizontal line would be a flat tax for all income earners. You could move and extend different points along the line to produce the curve you’d like: a linear curve, a sigmoid curve, etc. The coding for the game would generate the numbers accordingly.

One drawback is that it represents infinitesimally small tax brackets. One way to simplify the simulation might be for the player to enter in said bezier curve, and then for the game to figure out the averages for values below .33 (i.e. Low Income), .34-.66 (Medium Income), and .67-1. (High Income), and return that average value as the tax value for each.

And again, this concept of ‘bezier policies’ could play out across multiple policies that change over some other value.

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I completely understand why people want this, I agree that it would fix some anomalies in the game that are maybe a little bit strange, and I understand the ways people suggest this would work.
But
I think its a bad idea.

Its a GREAT idea for me, for anybdy posting in this thread, and frankly for the majority of the people posting in this forum, or for that matter, those who are playing the early-access build of a complex strategy game… because such people are the hardcore players who post on forums and discuss design improvements.

In other words, you people are the most experienced players, the hardcore players, the ones who are invested heavily in the structure and design of the game. I’m like that too, I totally understand.

But you would be AMAZED at how casual many gamers are. The casual gamers do not post in this thread or on any forums, and they dont give design changes to the game much thought. They are likely waiting for the full release anyway. A LOT of players will only actually interact with a small part of the game. They might not use the electioneering stuff much, they will never bother much with who is in the cabinet, they certainly wont use mods…

Democracy 4 is a VERY complex game and one that LOOKS even more complex at first glance because the UI is so inter-related. The thing that stps people flipping out on their first game is the fact that the ‘mechanics’ of the UI are super simple. You add policies, you cancel policies or you change THE slider in a policy. The minute some polcies have more sliders than other, this fundamental simplification is lost.

I’m happy to be argued out of this position, I just want people to know that I have given this a lot of thought. Its not through lack of will, or effort, or confusion that it has not yet been done :D. Of course, I could be TOTALLY wrong :smiley:

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Could an option be an “Advanced UI” option in the menu? (May need a “This makes it more confusing warning”)
It might lead to invisible or “wasted” effort for a lot of people but also could provide a lot of extra customization.

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I completely understand the philosophy and I commend you for thinking about the casual players and not just those that interacts the more.

That being said, what do you think is the best approach to situations like this?
Because Democracy 4 is a game that, by essence, will attract people who will be heavily invested in the game and its mechanics (like KSP), it’s not exactly a casual game.
So what’s the option for people that wants to push the simulation further?

Mods? I’m not sure it’s a good philosophy to say “the modding community will take care of it” especially if it’s a huge system and not just some minor thing.
Alternate game modes? Not sure if it fits the game either. And it can mislead people and what the game is really supposed to be, something simplified or something more complex?

What do you think would be the best solution for those kinds of good ideas that adds a level of complexity and depth to the game, I’d be very interested to hear your take on that.

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Well, ultimately, it’s not our place as the audience to demand anything of the artist - their vision is their vision, even if it doesn’t apply to us ‘hardcore’ players.

Though a ‘kids gloves off’ mode or something (even if it just makes the current gameplay more complex) could work. But making the game more complicated for us at it’s core would reduce the game’s worth outside this bubble and make it harder to access (my main thoughts is I always recommend this game to younger family, or those getting into politics).

Case and point, I started playing Democracy 3 as a fun-easy-political sim, it’s only now I’m more invested and been playing longer that I’m ‘ready’ for a ‘complex’ version as it were.

Honestly, it’s probably more user friendly than a lot of the contrivances that have to happen because this isn’t in the game. For example, prisons. Right now, there are two prison policies for prison funding and prison regime, and they affect each other’s properties (or at least, it would make sense if they did). I think it would be more intuitive for new players if those two sliders were on the same screen and you could directly see how they affected each other just from looking at the bars.

BTW, on the topic on modified effects, I’d recommend putting the icon for the node that’s modifying something under the bar for the effect.

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Disclaimer: I’ve played over 100 hours of Democracy games, so it may be difficult for me to put myself back into the mindset of a newcomer, but I will do my best.

As someone with an amateur interest in UI and other types of design, I absolutely understand where you are coming from Cliff. I truly must tip my hat to you in the design of Democracy’s interface.

The main screen of the game does a great job of showing the meat of what a new player needs to know about and interact with. While more complex mechanics such as detailed voters that belong to multiple groups, disposable income, and so on are fantastic features that really draw in players like myself, to a new or casual player the game can be a great deal simpler, if they so desire. The core of Democracy is the policies, and a casual player can get away with manipulating the game through those almost alone.

While I understand your fear that casual players may be confused by policies with multiple sliders, I don’t believe that it would represent a new layer of complexity so much as it’d be a simple extension of what is already present. When you open a specific policy, you can see all of its effects, right there. While multiple sliders would grant you more ability to manipulate that policy (and thus more difficult decision making), at the end of the day every output from that policy is a single value from -1 to 1, and you can see exactly what all of them are.

In this way, every policy in the game can be thought of as a “black box”: looking at the main screen, at all the bubbles and how they interconnect, the internals of any specific policy are irrelevant. From this perspective, a policy with a single slider and a policy with a gazillion gizmos inside it look identical. They all simply output effects on things. In some ways, multi-slider policies could actually simplify this view, as AvianOverlord points out.

That’s not to say there wouldn’t be some added complexity: you would presumably want the different sliders to be able to have different PC costs, for instance. And if this were implemented, it might create a desire for other new functionality, such as more complex equations (if you have an x and a y, having only two other operands is a bit limiting). But on the whole, I think this would be a great addition for hardcore players, and a neutral at-worst, slightly beneficial at-best addition for everyone else, even if you were limited to just two sliders.

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The Bezier curve version I agree is perhaps too complex.
A couple more sliders tho? I don’t think so. Sliders are a very common thing in games, and provided the different functions you combine in the same thing are sufficiently differentiable, it’s gonna be fine. People will figure it out.
In fact, for some specific cases, this multi-slider thing would be SIMPLER imo, than what you are doing now.
Less clutter on the main screen (those symbols are beginning to get awfully small and overwhelming when you have lots of policies), and more clarity that a few things are interrelated.

I would not suggest to have like five or ten sliders under a single policy. That would indeed be overwhelming I think.
But two or at most three? I think that would be workable usually.

What I see to be the biggest problem with this is actually certain assumptions you currently make in the UI (and no doubt behind the scenes as well) - for instance, you added the slider as an outline to see what policies can be changed how (which, btw, that probably could still be clarified a bit. I find it a bit hard to read where the maximum or minimum is, and where exactly the policy currently stands)
That would have to somehow be reworked to work with multiple sliders and that could geninely be a problem.

But the interface inside a policy is simple enough to handle a couple separate sliders.

Agreed!

Yeah that kind of thing is definitely, to my mind, the real problem with my suggestion. It’d be a pretty deep design change due to details like that.

But gameplay-wise, imo, it just makes the most sense. Right now you’re jumping through weird hoops to make some policies interplay nicely (or, in case of the income/flat tax, not so nicely) and some changes you are actively avoiding because it’d mean even more policies when there already are so many, even if they would, imo, make quite a bit of sense. - And would have made sense to me right away. (I’m admittedly perhaps not the average player though. But I’d think that the Democracy games already cater to a certain audience)

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To be honest I had not even started to think about eh implications for political capital costs for each slider, and the main UI element that shows what sliders can be adjusted. I would hate to lose that, as I personally feel thats a major usability improvement from democracy 3.
The only thing that occurs to me as a theoretical (very theoretical for now) solution to the competing UI pressures would be to have 2 distinct policies but have them linked. Maybe there is a parent policy that exists in the UI, and there is a link to a second slider (the less important one) effectively as a second ‘hidden’ policy accessible only from the main one…

but then there is the nightmare of people knowing that poicy exists but being unable to find it and getting annoyed… There is no easy solution that keeps both casual and hardcore players happy :frowning:

Might be a nightmare to maintain two systems side by side but I guess that’s where the above-mentioned ideas of display modes would perhaps come into play…

It’d also be possible to provide multiple ways to arrive at the information. So the linked thing is apparent both on the main screen (basically you’d get “dumbbell” shaped policies which are two policies that are always together) and when you click through (inside you see sliders for both policies, or perhaps a direct link that goes “also relevant”)

Imo the current search for policies should be expanded anyways: It should be possible to search for any policy in the game. At least for the country. Whether it’s unlocked or not. If it’s unlocked, it puts you directly to the given policy’s screen rather than to the policy shop.
And such multi-policies could have links inside, like a “plus menu” suggesting something extra could be unlocked here, and it’d automatically take you to the policy in question.

It could also help as further information. For instance, if you are searching for, say, Helicopter Money while playing France, the result could come up but instead of allowing you to implement it, it’d link you to a short explanation as to why France can’t have that policy.

Similarly, if you have a policy that depends on another policy being around, have a similar popup explaining the prerequisite.

That would also cut down on the fairly sizeable number of people who are confused by some policy not being available in some country.

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@cliffski, I agree that the ability to see which sliders can be adjusted from the main screen is a great addition that should be kept. Perhaps interlocking rings of colored bands might work to show everything you can do, if the number of sliders is capped at two or maybe even three? Something like this:

D4-Multislider-Concept

@kram1032, I love that idea of dumbbell-like connections for policies that are strongly linked. Could be used for policies conditional on having another policy enacted, if that’s added, although one downside is that it wouldn’t really work for policies in different sectors. Here’s how that could look with a bunch of policies dependent on a major one:

D4-Dumbbell-Concept

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the multi-ringed icon is one variant and probably the clearest. Another possibility would be to keep just one ring but split it into subsections per slider.

What I like about the multi-ringed variant, though, is that it immediately symbolizes a very clear visual difference between policies with just one slider or ones with more. The split ring variant wouldn’t as clearly show this.

I support the ideas in this thread.

Maybe by using things like “little side effect” to one major policy, just changing one side effect. Like an option to an actual policy.

Example :

  • There is a policy to give free meal to students. You can adjust if it’s meat based, vegetarian or vegan, affecting the “plant based diet” stat

To keep it efficient and easy, i think it should just be a description of “how” the policy is implemented. And be something that is also directly related to the core of the policy. Something that can’t exist without this policy.

For a bad example of this idea :

  • There is a policy to make “bus lane”, this could also be used as bicycle lane. But if you do this, you can be in competition with a “build bicycle lane” policy where the lowest option is “Use bus lane as bicycle lane”

I also think that if finely crafted, this idea can also removed some “visual pollution” from the UI.

The fact that this must a “case by case” choice make it a time consuming work, and i not sure that the advantage match the time needed to do it.

But i agree with the fact that we need something to show links between some politics. For example “prison regime” and “prisons”.

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After some thought I made this mockup of what a two-slider policy screen could look like, doing my best to prevent it from being overly cluttered.

The bottom-right info display has been reduced to just your current PC, with the lower/raise costs moved to below the edges of each slider. The cancel cost has been put on its button, and the apply button now shows the total cost of all your changes.

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