I just bought the game last night and am enjoying it so far (other then the crashes I mentioned in another post, and the quickly falling difficulty after the first election, that I understand is already being addressed), but I have noticed some things the could improve the experience:
First and foremost, the main reason I am not playing the game right now, is the sound effects volume. I usually play similar games (turn based with nothing important going on in the sound department) muted while listening to music, but currently I have to do it with very loud applause, explosions and other unrelated noises getting in the way. Please, for the love of wasting-hours-in-front-of-your-game, add a sound effects volume slider.
While we are on the topic of the sliders in the options menu – they don’t appear to have tooltips. They aren’t obscure or anything, but if the “Quit Game” button has one…
Two very minor issues that make the interface feel a bit clunky and unprofessional - the drop down party name list doesn’t scroll normally, and the save game name text box behaves oddly – you can’t use capital letters although the “Default name” is capitalized, backspace can’t be continuously pushed and you can’t select the text.
The election screen could be a bit more informative – a report on how you handled the manifesto (succeeded, failed and by how much) and possibly what kind of an effect it (presumably) had on the voters. Percentage of the votes instead of just absolute numbers, and some explanation about the second screen, since I don’t really understand what the hell is going on there.
In the quarterly report screen the main five sections could be links to the appropriate screens (the economic forecast section could be linked to the GDP, which would also help new players understand where they can see the actual influence of the economic cycle). The budget report should mention the debt/reserve and not just balance. If I have a huge reserve but a slightly negative balance it shouldn’t urge me to raise taxes, and vice versa. Also, it would be nice if the notifications about a situation starting or stopping looked different, so it would be obvious at first glance.
In the budget report screen the pieces in the pie chart are links, the entries in the list to the right should be too. When you click on a link and get to the desired screen, it might be better if on closing it you would return to the budget report, not the main screen (this would make it easier to look for places to cut expenses or increase income). Finally, all policy screens give the cost/income per month, but I am pretty sure this is actually per turn.
I think it makes sense to have the debt/reserve status effect voters in some way. Running an efficient budget is appreciated by the public, especially the more economically minded, and accumulating debt will cause discontent.
Dropping income tax by 10% after you committed to doing so is a little more difficult then it should be. Maybe you can add buttons for a 5%, 10%, and 20% shifts on each side of the slider.
Some voters are both capitalist and socialist. Is that a mistake? Also, in the tutorial, after you click the environmentalist voter group the text refers to the membership tab, although you are in the happiness tab.
I noticed several typos (the only occurrence I actually wrote down was in the “policy dilemma: foreign presidential visit”), do you want that reported or is it too soon to care about that?
On the more sensitive subject of demos and prices: I don’t know how the rest of your customers (and perhaps more importantly, potential customers) see this, but I find computer games to be severely overpriced. I don’t pirate games, so I almost always wait for at least two years for the price to drop under 30$ before buying a game, and many I buy only when they hit 10$. For someone who considers 50$ to be a reasonable price for a triple-A title 23$ for an indie game makes sense, but when I first say that price tag I just closed the window. The fact that I ultimately bought the games kind of hurts my argument, but that was a close call (and also influenced by the… business conduct you present). Regardless, I would have bought Rock Legend as well if the prices were lower or if there was some kind of a discount for buying more then one game, and maybe Kudos as well. I understand that I don’t see the whole picture, but I just thought I’d offer my point of view, for your consideration.
The demos are also slightly problematic. I played the Kudos demo twice and couldn’t get promoted, buy anything important, find another job or, obviously, finish an evening class. In other words – I still don’t know what can or can’t be done in the game, what it feels like, or what is it about. The Democracy demo is better, but I think that being able to get to the first election, and off course win it, could make it a much more satisfying experience without harming the attractiveness of buying the full game. The Rock Legend demo is much better, although that one can also stand to be a bit longer. Having the venues that are unavailable for you appear grayed out on the list could give a better sense of the scope of the game.
With all that said I must add that Positech is really a much needed, refreshing and even exciting alternative to the big developers and publishers, and I appreciate it both as a gamer and an aspiring developer. Finding out about this company so soon after the Blizzard-Activision merger, and the acquisition of Bioware-Pandemic by EA not long before that was actually encouraging.