On the topic of voter happiness in 3 party countries

I’m currently balancing Australia, and its tough as almost any starting condition seems to result in a depressingly small number of people supporting the current party. I have been fiddling with the numbers for this for hours, and its occurred to me that its SO much harder in a 3 party system, and the game may be having trouble conveying this…

Take this screenshot:

Thats the current voter breakdown at the start of the Australia mission. Actually a few people are quite clearly over the 50% mark (to the right) and thus are more happy than unhappy, and in a 2 party election, things here would be looking bad…but not catastrophic.

But in a 3 party system, only people who have happiness of 66%+ are going to vote for you. Your polling numbers are going to be an absolute nightmare. But on the other hand, you do NOT need 50% of the vote to win, only >33% in order to be the largest party in a coalition.

This leads me to another conclusion… The current system has the opposition party taking a 100% opposed view to you on all issues. A 3rd party, if it exists, will take a position between the two, meaning its generally going to be trying to please socialists & capitalists plus liberals & conservatives.

Put another way… the 2nd opposition party will always be pretty moderate. That gives them a bit of an advantage, as they can vacuum up votes from all over the spectrum.

I do NOT plan on actually modelling all the political stances of opposition parties. This is a HUGE undertaking and outside the scope of this game. However, I would like to improve the current situation.

One thought running through my mind is that the 3rd party perhaps should be assumed to be suffering from some sort of ‘small party disadvantage’. So instead of happiness mapping onto votes like this:

0-33% opposition
33-66% 3rd party
66%-100% player

It could map like this:
0-40% opposition
40-66% 3rd party
66%-100% player

…or something similar. I am just brainstorming this right now. I think that there are basically 2 problems apparent here:

  1. The game is maybe a bit too hared for the player in 3 party systems
  2. The simple display of voting intentions on the main screen is perhaps a bit pessimistic in 3 party systems.

Feedback and suggestions are most welcome.

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It may be too hard to code, or break the vision for the 3 party system. But what could potentially help balance out those elections is if you have each of the AI parties have one or two random groups that they are advocates for, similar to the party donors and cabinet members.

Or, to make it simpler, the Opposition could always be the general opposite to the player as it is currently, but Third Party could be 2 or 3 random population groups, and it becomes a battle to appease those groups more than the 3rd Party can?

It would make it easier to have a clear strategic path to reelection, but this may have some negative consequences that I’m not seeing yet.

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I actually think this could be solved by making the parties smarter. The opposition party wants the exact opposite of everything you stand for, which means if you enact a lot of popular policies, they will stand against it entirely even if there are no voters backing them. I think giving them some ground to accept popular policies but offer other alternatives to the player would solve the issue. Perhaps targeting groups the player hasn’t pleased or having an influence over membership of certain groups (e.g. increasing the group of socialists like Bernie Sanders has).

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The way it’s set up, yes.
But a 1D representation is just terribly reductionist. In actuality, people will have more than a single issue to care about and rank political parties by.

Anything above 2D would be hard to visualize, but you could totally have parties be distributed in a 2D space somehow, allowing more than one way to be close to any given party.

I know this would require big restructuring, but that’d be how to fix this issue properly, I think

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I do think that it could help if it was something like 0-40, 40-60, 60-100. I do concur with most everyone here that maybe having the Third Party advocate for one or two otherwise ignored voter groups.

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Have you considered making the approval threshold for a voter to support your party dynamic?

Voters currently make a yes/no evaluation based on whether they are more/less than neutral on your policies. But the opposition has no ability to outflank you on issues- if you have 60% approval with liberals, the opposition cannot say “we will please you liberals 70%”. If socialists are >50%, then a voter being socialist always makes them more likely to vote for you- in fact, no matter how moderate you are, the more extreme the voter is, the better. Irl, if that was a swing group you were vulnerable with in that way (being barely preferable), an opposition would try to entice those voters by having more socialist policies than you. If real oppositions ran on “delete every policy” like Democracy’s oppositions do, they would get obliterated in every election too.

You don’t necessarily need to code an AI, but if your country’s political environment changes and certain politics become normalised, it makes sense voter expectations/standards would change too. Anything along these lines would go some way to challenging players who have already won an election, because right now once you have done that the challenge disappears. The other mechanism that jumps to mind is having exogenous social engineering events (culture changing).

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Right, as it stands, this game is essentially about Winning That First Election.
Once you’re firmly in power, all challenge is gone and arriving at your dream government is only a matter of time. Unless you intentionally throw in a curve ball such as starting with one kind of regime and then, once people like you for that, dramatically shifting towards the polar opposite kind of regime.

So it can very much be true, that this game is too hard and too easy at the same time: It may be punishingly difficult to get that first election victory. But once you’re over the hump, it’s very nearly a sandbox game.

I guess the only other challenge is assassinations, which persist for a little while longer than your victory in elections. But eventually, those subside too, and then you have no worry in the world.

Real life just absolutely doesn’t work that way.

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Well good news is here!

I did a lot of studying the code, and outcomes and data from the party system and basically recoded some chunks of it yesterday. All I need to do is some playthroughs today before updating the game tomorrow. I had a bit of an epiphany about how it should all work…

There is a lot of talk about the ‘position’ your party takes and how it would be cool if the other parties took different positions and how this would be more realistic. Then a lot of excuses from me about how modelling that is both undesirable and impossible. Then I realized its actually SUPER EASY.

I do not have to model the rival parties positions to move them towards yours. I can just model political opportunism and move the parties positions, without knowing what they are.

Lets say that you are doing super well and the electorate have become super happy. This represents a shift upwards on the electioneering screen as the voters shuffle up towards the top, towards 100% happiness where the players party lives.
0-40% happiness are voting for party A, 40-60% for party B, and > 60% for the player…

Well if we just, over time, move the party-happiness thresholds towards the ‘center of gravity’ of the electorate (which I can calculate based on happiness), then over time those 40% and 60% lines will go upwards and people will leave the players party and join the opposition!

Because I use the same values for party-approval AND voting, this also affects votes too.

So for example, if the player is an extreme socialist, and the country is doing super well, the other parties effectively slide a bit towards socialism (opportunism!) in order to capture some of the voters. And if the player is a capitalist, and things are going well, the same will happen. PLUS it works in reverse. If things are going super badly in the country, the other parties will shuffle away from the players position, because they can afford to do so, as the electorate now agrees with them.

This is all in, and coded, and entirely transparent to the player. I’ve tested it a bit, and will test more today, but I think its a MUCH better system. I also found some bugs in the earlier party code which will explain some prior weirdness.

TL;DR: New system lets the thresholds for supporting each party adjust over time to take into account the collective view of the electorate.

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That sounds like an excellent change!
It might turn out that the assassinations framework will become less necessary then too. Because, honestly, assassinations also seem quite unrealistic, currently. They should have a lot to do with stability. In reality, modern day first world countries rarely see even the attempt, let alone somebody managing to pull through with that.

Politically motivated attacks tend to be less killing the top person (which, btw, wouldn’t work that well anyway: While that person may disappear, the rest of the party is still there, and it’s likely that they wouldn’t follow too different lines. At best it’d cause them to be more authoritarian in their approach in the name of safety), and more projecting power / instilling fear (which is also silly for a number of reasons, but the kinds of folks who do such attacks don’t tend to be the most long-sighted of people, I feel)

Isnt this more or less what I was recommending two posts beforehand lol

Pretty similar actually yup. I found a few bugs when i was doing it which should mean the latest version is even better.

Hurrah!