Developer Blog #14: The Overton Window

Latest developer blog video. Enjoy :smiley:


Great idea but I think adjustments are needed. JC may have lost 2 elections but he and his party were routinely ahead of the Tories in the polls. Proving that at times, not only were his opinions inside the Overton window but had majority support. Also, I would suggest that there are more radicals than you are implying. Now, this isn’t to say that the Overton window needs to be bigger, just that people’s views are far more varied outside the Overton window than you are suggesting. Their voices are just ignored by popular opinion. Maybe there is a way to incorperate radical voices into the heat map without including them in the Overton window?


Overton Window could be standard deviation - like 60% - 99% voters always being in it, and then there would be outliers.

The game only simulates 2,000 voters in code, so the real extremist views are always likely to be underrepresented. Also there is a chance that the overton window has narrowed since jeremy corbyn was leader. I guess we could argue that starmer is enough to the right of JC that he sits just inside the window as depicted.

Also, this represents all voters, including those who dont actually turn out and vote except in really divisive elections, so there is an additional inaccuracy in there.

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How much performance would be degraded, if there was 5000 simulated voters?

You could try that out before and after activating all possible policies.

Actually not a lot… Next turn takes about 2.5 seconds on my i7 chip. 5,000 would double that. It would double the size of save games too.

Save is around 3 MB in Democracy 3 Africa (with all DLCs).
I have over half of policies activated in my playtrough without political costs.
I think even 20 MB saves are fine- other games can make similarly sized saves especially in late game.

Managed to get 180% Conservative in compass, as if normalization is wonky.
That is 0% capitalist/socialist and liberal/conservative should end up in middle of compass.
Is that fixed in Democracy 4?

There could be option to have 5000/10 000/20 000 voters - for those with good computers.

By the way Gaussian distribution would be much better for randomized opinions on game start as someone said on that video comment - less extreme values.
Also incomes should be distributed like in real world too - if you have lowest inequality, then you would end up with lets say 90% of voters in one of wealth classes.

Yup I agree that a 20MB save is no disaster, and frankly I can compress them down quite a lot even if it mattered.
Also I agree on the distribution thing. I should look into that this week. (Its one line of code, but I need to then do a lot of checking for all the things it may unbalance).

Regarding the 180% thing… yeah…interesting. Thats simply a bug TBH, all values in the game are represented the same way and should always be capped between 0 and 1, so it sounds like D3 just has a simple bug in there where we don’t do this. Some people found it amusing to be ‘off the charts’ so I never fixed it for that game, but will here.

For fake news, I would hope that this is not the only thing that causes polarization. People can be genuinely polarized on real issues stemming from instability and inequality that aren’t driven by russian or chinese bots. And becoming more educated would prevent someone being polarized by fake news but it would increase their polarization if they began to pay attention to real issues! Just look at the recent George Floyd protests for example… that video went viral on social media and sparked massive demonstrations, and it is 100% real.

I guess that arguably just social media in general, without fake news can be said to increase polarization, in the abscence of government regulation? Twitter definitely is designed to maximise engagement by maximising anger, and youtubes algorithmn blatantly pushes extreme opinions and conspiracy theory stuff.

I think a system where polarization is driven by certain simulation values (inequality, crime, racial tension, unemployment) and situations would make sense. People are more willing to look beyond the overton window when “politics as usual” doesn’t seem to be working.

Good point. We already tracks that through stability. I’ll check stability affects it.

I think it would be worth rejigging the compass. I think placing Keir Starmer on would be good. He’s not actually that much to the right of Corbyn, but he’s important. I feel like whoever you end up placing, Corbyn or Starmer, realistically, they should be a little bit closer to the centre economically and socially, since you want something that is more universal and holds up in the longer term for, say the next 5-10 years. To me that means placing Blair closer to the centre economically rather than as left wing as he is. But I’d also argue all the American ones should be slightly more right wing, except for a Warren or Sanders type. Mugabe and Hussein are perhaps still too centrist, ironically.

As the Overton Window changes, do the opposition parties change with it, so that they are more competitive against the player? This would simulate real life politics. For example, after three landslide consecutive presidential wins from 1980 to 1992 for the new conservative coalition of the Republican party, the Democrats got the message and shifted to the right with Bill Clinton, who promised to govern as a Third Way sort of candidate; and that is how he governed, making compromises with the Republican congress. Similar with Tony Blair, as Thatcher dominated the UK in the same period and Major carried it on, then the Labour Party changed with it. Today, it seems Boris Johnson is a softer kind of Conservative (correct me if I’m wrong lol) than would have arrived in the past and even Donald Trump (and I’m not trying to turn this into a huge argument about Trump :joy:) is a different strain of Republican than the old guard that ran a a decade before.

This could mean in-game that the new/shifting parties could become more extreme than even you want to be in your ideal world that you’ve created lol, or they are only slightly less libertarian or socialist or whatever you’ve shifted the public into. And it would add challenge to later stages of the game, when it feels more like you have unlimited political capital.

As far as I understand, right now the opposition parties seem to represent whoever are the blocs of dissatisfied people in your country. Except, at least in previous games, with social engineering and clever maneuvering, pretty much everyone becomes satisfied eventually (or entire blocs become extinct, and all the negatives go there).

Opposition parties in the game do not take explicit positions, but are locked as the opposite of your position. If a third party exists, then it sits between you and the opposition, as a sort of ‘moderate’ opposition, that theoretically could end up in coalition with either you or the main opposition.

So in a sense the opposition parties are just cotrarians, but I think that there is an argument that this is realistic. If the opposition moves too far towards your position, they will lose votes to you.

We dont explicitly model their political position because this becomes problematic for when the player themselves shifts or flip-flops their positions on issues over time.


Thanks for explaining; having a third party is exciting!