One of my design concerns is that the game is too easy after the first term. This is something that is very hard to get right.
Fundamentally there is a design problem because you have to be popular enough to win an election, yet also be in a state where winning the second election is not guaranteed. I’d like to lay out some of my thoughts on this design dilemma and solicit feedback from players who are interested in this topic.
- Long-term external factors like climate change and terrorism could automatically get worse
- Cynicism of voter groups could build up until they demand a change.
- Complacency of voter groups could build up making them harder to please
- Long term negative feedback effects of early game policies could cause problems- a booming economy causing house price issues, maybe high wages driving away business etc
- Opposition parties move closer towards you so that your unique selling point as a party is less valuable
These are the existing systems. I think they need refinement and balancing, possibly expanding, and new suggestions are welcome. Some details on each one:
Long-term external factors
These are effectively scripted, in that they progress as the years go on. Currently this affects the following variables: Terrorism, Industrial Automation, Lifespan, Internet Currency Adoption and OilSupply (decreases). It seems it does NOT affect GlobalCO2. Maybe this should rise steadily? I’d suggest none of these currently seem to be rising enough.
The year variable also affects Rare Earth Shortages, Water Shortages, Anti-biotic resistance, Mineral Wealth and Oil Wealth.
This is a weird one because I wonder if it should be rolled into the trust perception instead… Anyway, Cynicism is boosted when the player carries out a policy u-turn (cancel then implement or vice versa) or cuts taxes just before and election or boosts spending just before an election. Also, cynicism is boosted when an election pledge is broken. This is all in the game but we do not draw attention to it anywhere outside of the voter group charts, which likely needs changing…
Happy voter groups get complacent over time,. This is all data controlled. If a voter groups happiness is above COMPLACENCY_INCREASE_LEVEL it raises by COMPLACENCY_ACCUMULATOR (or falls by a different amount, below a different level). Its max value is COMPLACENCY_MAX plus COMPLACENCY_TERM_ACCUMULATOR for each term up until COMPLACENCY_ABSOLUTE_MAX. Currently thats from 20% to 75% with 1% per term, so would take 55 elections! clearly wrong. Plus I think this should all be scaled a bit by difficulty surely?
This is where the real complexity should come in. We likely need to add a bunch of super-long effects, although the code does limit the total lag of an effect… The big question is what are the negative impacts of success? Maybe GDP growth leads to longer term gridlock, and low unemployment leads to higher wages and reduced competitiveness… house prices being unaffordable for the young as wealthy foreigners buy up desirable property? Maybe stability and democracy leads to house price boom (such as happened in London). Maybe homelessness should trigger more severely due to high house prices?
Opposition parties (opportunism)
This is newly modelled in the game. Basically the opposition parties will move towards the center-of-gravity of the electorate (opportunism). That means that if you have high poll ratings and win a lot of elections by a high margin, the opposition parties will move towards your position and ‘steal’ your policies, taking votes directly from you.
I welcome all suggestions, feedback and ideas on this issue. I want the game to maintain long-term playability for all players, in all play styles. I think even writing this down helps me identify some clear areas where some auto-balance or responsiveness to difficulty settings is required