Suggestions for Democracy 3


#1
  1. Instead of the hyper-analog scales in D2, where I can (if I have enough fine motor control of my mouse hand) make chances of 0.1% or less, e.g. to income taxation, divide all sliders into a large yet distinctly digital number of points, and allow only these to be chosen. For maximum smoothness, divide each slider that is currently an analog one into 19 value points, from nothing to everything. Or 21 points, from 0% to 100%. This solves a lot of problems, and nobody has any interest in making 0.1% changes anyway. It’s the opposite, rather. One goes onto the page, to see what the change would effect, and eventually concludes that one does not want to change. In that case, restoring the scale slider to its original value is non-trivial.

  2. Add an “implement” button to each such slider-control page. It is counter-intuitive that I have to close the page (click on X" and then select “yes” to actually implement the change.

  3. Add one more button, “implement when affordable”, to each such slider-conrol page. This means that the game queues up this change, and reserves all remaining political capital, and keeps reserving all political capital, until there is enough capital to implement the first change in the queue. Only then is it implemented (duh). After that, the game checks if there are other changes queued up, and if so implements them. Once the queue is empty, remaining capital becomes available for the player to use. Often I find myself wanting to implement a really expensive change, but can’t afford it, and the next turn I still can’t afford it, and not the next turn either, but only on the turn after that. Obviously players can engage in self-harming actitivy by queueing up several changes in this way, but it should still be available.

  4. As an extension of #1 above, alter the capital cost of making changes, so that a small change costs little capital, and a very small change costs very little capital. Keep the current values as base values, e.g. (IIRC) to raise Income Tax in the USA scenario is 34 capital. Fine, keep that, but if the income tax change is only raised by two scale steps (i.e. 10%) the cost is halved, to 17 capital, and if the income tax change is only one scale step (5%) then the cost is quartered (to 8.5 capital, rounds up to 9).

The current system, where the capital cost of making small changes to one thing is as large as making huge changes to the vary same things, is not at all realistic.

  1. Implement fractional political capital, at least in terms of how much each minister gives, even if the total amount from all seven is then rounded down to the nearest whole number. As it is now, the transitions are often very abrupt, e.g. a minister going from 2 capital per quarter to 1 capital per quarter. Adding an intemediate stage of 1.5 capital helps a lot.

  2. I can’t be sure if the game does this already, not having played much yet, but what about taking the physical ressources of the country into account? I hinted in my other post, at an old strategy game idea I worked a bit at in the mid 1990s, an Africa political/economic simulation strategy game. Part of the idea is that African countries could be much richer than they are, due to (often underground) ressources that aren’t exploited to the benefit of the nation, or sometimes haven’t been discovered yet (one element I wanted for this “Afrika” game design was the president being able to search for additional ressources, e.g. oil and minerals). At the same time, some countries may be very poor in underground ressources. Denmark, where I happen to live, famously didn’t have anything except farmland, until some limited offshore oil ressources were discovered a few decades ago. That should also be a possible scenario factor in D3, causing some industries to have a hard time, often to the point where they aren’t present in the country at all, forcing it to rely on other types of industries instead (and/or import the necessary raw materials).

  3. Same with infrastructure. Some of what the player could do in this (partly designed, but never programmed) Afrika game, was to build roads, and improve existing roads. Yet at least in the USA scenario, road construction doesn’t affect GDP at all. The game seems to assume that there already are the roads there need to be, and the only reason to build any more is to please certain voter segments. Yet in many third-world countries, much more road needs to be built, in order that the economy can thrive and grow.

  4. Also as I hinted at in my previous thread, I’d love to have the option, in scenarios, of starting as a dictator and then being given the choice of switching to democracy when I feel ready for it. That may seem as going contrary to the title of the game, but the end goal is still supposed to be to implement democracy, even if one does not start out that way. I think it could result in a richer game, with more possibilities for scenarios.

  5. It is often suggested in Danish politics, that if the very high taxes on salaries were lowered, some people would choose to work somewhat more, as measured in hours per week (or seeking a higher level of education in order to earn more per hour worked). I don’t know how true that is, but it almost certainly isn’t 100% wrong, and the Democracy series of games seems well equipped to be able to simulate scuh “delayed effect” phenomena, such as a country’s population that has been “thoroughly trained”, by many decades of very high taxes on salaries, to believe that working more isn’t worthwhile, and therefore will need a long time, perhaps a decade or a bit more, to “unlearn” it after salary taxes have been lowered.

  6. Often I’m at a loss as to what to do with the amount of politicl capital I have, because it’s a medium-sized amount, and I’d like to do something, but I have to click into every single option there is, to see if I can afford to implement it. Some kind of switchable “overlay” would be nice, where I could turn on options to “highlight all scales which I can afford to increase”, “highlight all scale options which I can afford to lower” and “highlight all scale options which I can afford to cancel”. This gets even more useful if political capital costs for the same changes differ from scenario to scenario.

  7. Implement earmarked political capital, capital that can only be used for certain kinds of changes. In this way the capital gain can be slightly higher, but restricted in terms of what it can be used for. In British politics, the government will sometimes hire a particular person as a “tsar” with a special resort, a special task, such as improving social mobility. The government could have an eight slot, open for one such “tsar”, of the player’s choosing, which accumulates political capital at a faster rate than normal ministers, but with this capital being “locked” in to certain uses, such as one of the seven “areas” of the game screen (taxes, welfare, foreign stuff"). A variant on this is that instead of appointing a “tsar” person as a sort of government position, the government can simply make a public pledge to do something, and so as a result of this pledge gets bonus capital per quarter but locked in for a fairly specific usage. Maybe 15% of extra capital, ear-marked this way.

  8. Why do I HAVE to make two election promises? What if I only want to make one, or none at all? I can see why it should be limited to two, making three or four would probably be abusive, but why force the player to make promises? Making only one proise, or none at all, could simply be penalized at the polls, by a few percent for only one promise, and a few further percent for no promise at all.

  9. Steal from Tropico 3. I’m serious. Unlike in Tropico 1, the player can make election promises before each election (can - doesn’t HAVE to), each time able to do up to three things: (a) Talk down one issue, so that the voters will worry less about it and their voting won’t be as influenced by it (e.g. a lack of housing, or a lack of churches). (b) Make one promise (which is remembered, and will make the population unhappy if it isn’t kept. E.g. a promise that before the next election, Tropico WILL have a church). © And praise one political faction (e.g. a voter segment, of which Tropico has 7, with each voter being able to be a member of more than one segment although some are opposed to each other), so that this faction becomes slightly more likely to vote for a re-election.

  10. Allow the player to adjust the mouse cursor speed. D2 ignores the Windows setting, and has the mouse move very slowly, which is a bad idea in a game that is 100% mouse-controlled. Really. It, and dozens of other usability issues, makes D2 look like what it is: a one-man effort.


#2

Why in the game exists only USA as the real country but the rest are fictional? Would not be nice to include the countries with real names and with their characteristic and specific properties?

Here is a good source of info for real countries:

cia.gov/library/publication … /2010.html

Sincerely

Ismail


#3

The feature I would most like to see in Democracy 3 is variables that affect the effects, as opposed to only values, of other variables. That is, it would be great if an integration&minority policies would mean the difference between immigrants-as-social-problems and immigrants-as-assets. Or, to give another obvious example, programs to promote senior participation could make the membership count of the retiree demographic increase literacy or reduce crime. This should also extend to the dilemmas system, so that dilemmas could have different meanings in different social situations (an epidemic becoming impossible to eradicate given a large pool of drug users, for instance).

Although I realize the above change would denote greater complexity, I think the current essentialist and simplistically causal implementation is Democracy 2:s main structural flaw from contemporary social theory’s point of view. I think the new complexity could be alleviated by extending the game’s ingenious UI: have right-clicking on variables show their new secondary “effect-changing effects” as arrows spanning the entire causal complex. So if you right-clicked on a well-funded integration policy, you would get one green arrow from integration to immigration and another from immigration to, say, productivity. The left-click menu could have a new column called “secondary effects” or something similar.

A more casual gamer could, of course, still play Democracy in the old-fashioned way without caring about causal complexity, but this change would open a world of possibility for the true strategist, not to mention the modder. It would also enhance the significant emancipatory potential of the Democracy series - the Democracies are among the most important games I have ever played, as they truly show that games can contribute to people’s understanding of their surroundings.


#4

I definitely agree with suggestion 4. A drastic change of a policy shouldn’t cost the same political capital as a small tweak.

I also agree with 12. Too often have I been forced to promise to improve something that I can’t improve. Also, the manifesto screen locks you in, so you can’t check which promises are realistic to keep. I think manifestos should be an optional “gamble”, where if you choose to make a promise, you stand to gain popularity, but if you break it, voter cynicism increases.

Also, I would suggest implementing more realistic effects of policies, the most glaring examples to me being Narcotics and Gun Control. Why do marijuana and LSD reduce lifespan? Legitimate studies show that these are pretty much harmless (though I agree that heroin will **** you up badly). Also, stricter drug, alcohol, and possibly tobacco laws should increase crime, especially street gangs and organized crime. Reduced gun control should reduce crime, and the statistics back this up pretty well.

One last suggestion, and I’ve heard others say the same: There needs to be a way of dealing with Tax Evasion other than lowering taxes. Perhaps something similar to the near-useless Welfare Fraud Department. To make it balanced, though, maybe the hypothetical “Tax Fraud Department” should really tick off capitalists, the rich, and possibly liberals.

Other than those sorts of things, I think you’ve done a wonderful job with both games, and I look forward to more great games from you. : )


#5

A great game!
I managed after many attempts to “win” the hardest level which for me was Zambeezia with maxed out setting on diffculty, interest rate, cynisicm and with political honeymoon toggled OFF. I did not touch the economic volatility since I was not sure it would actuallky make the game harder.

Suggestions for Democrazy 3

  1. Have a “reset to default” for all options of the game! I do not wanna laborate with certain parameters such as oil prices and stuff if I need to backup scripts of reinstall the game

  2. Add some extra challenge to each new term. Why not put in Wars, global pandemies or even Huge natural disaster or even aliens. Some of them need to be ongoing instead of just one turn events. For me, period 1 was all about getting popular with certain groups to win the election. Period 2 it was about halting the deficit before reaching the bancrupty level. If I have a decent enough economy after period 1 the challenge in the game stops for me. Period 3 was more of a sandbox mode and I was playing around with trying to eliminate all debts and eliminating all problems. I did not succeed with all of that.

So , lets say
Period 1 : National focus, gain popularity is key
Period 2 : International focus. You probably have large debts after period 1 threatening bancrupty. Furthermore let each scenario have a Nemesis and have a trade war, war or similar. You need diplomacy, research weapons and stuff to Win this and get reelected. If you lose the war or feud you lose your popularity and lose the election.
Period 3 : Global Focus. Have amazing natural disasters like Meteorites or Comet and you need to get space technology and/or medicine techs in order to survive the events without going extinct. Perhaps also disasters with Pandemic viruses or other stuff
Period 4 : Crazy scientists or Aliens threaten the world. You need to research biology and weapons to manage

To the developer: All you need to do is to check out top-10 lists of threats to mankind and you get all the possible content needed for adding new content into this game. The gane system should be able to make parameters for all this and use the same mechanism as is used today with national politics.

Perhaps the game could also incorporate more real values so that you can say that there are 500.000 aliens invading, you have 20.000 air planes or you have x amount of plutonium and y amount of nuclear misslies etc.

  1. Ministers should eventually end up in a negative spiral and scandals should happen increasingly often to them. That means you have to sack them eventually. You already have this system in Rock Legends and it would be good for this game. Since this game is about political capital and changes it could even fit nicer than in Rock Legend where I was just mostly annoyed by that feature ;D

#6

I read some of the comments about adding communism to the game by adding communist voters and a wage voucher system. But i think rather then completely change the dynamics of the game their are ways to do the same thing and add to the gameplay. I think the complexities of economics are not well represented and i find it annoying that you can have a dynamic experience if you choose lets say democratic party as the primary party and say republican party as the rival or vise versa.
One suggestion is to make parties have distinct advantages with different voters. For Example Democrats could get a free 5% of liberal vote.Another would be to add additional types of voters: Laborer (which would simply be everyone - wealthy and retired), Liberterian (Conservatives that are Capitalist), Populists (Liberals that are Socialist), and Investors (wealthy and middle class that like high GDP, Subisidies, High Average wage, and hate any debt). communist would likely be heavily infleunced by laborers and populistsA third would be a larger role of money in elections and policies(low taxes, high gdp, low debt, high poverty, & high spending) their should be more policies concerning foreign trade and domestic trade.Possibly use gold, natural gas, and coal as commodities. (like how oil is used in the game)Have ministers impliment policies (like wage vouchers, state capitalism, free markets, and other policies like progressive/regressive taxes)


#7

Agreeing with Peter34 on some issues. I would definitely like to see more comprehensive policy decisions and a more complex fiscal and social situation. It would also be nice if we could just take maybe a ‘dictatorship’ role if you will, which would mean you never need any political capital to do anything. Also (and obviously) more options for Welfare, Public Services, Defense, etc as well as more control over taxation and (as I said before) POLICY.


#8

I’ve been trying to figure out what game this game reminds me of because its been bothering me since I started playing, and I think I’ve finally figure it out. The political and diplomatic component of either master of orion 2 and/or master of orion 3 are very similar to this game. It has similar components where there’s social unrest, political turmoil, budget allocation and even type/style of governance (dictatorship vs. liberal/free society). The main difference is you’re building an interstellar galactic empire and have a fighting component (although they toned that down and made it optional in the third one). Anyway, I think this game does need some more balance, but so far it looks like my policies are quite effective over the long run. :slight_smile:

I do think the demo is too limited and should be equivalent to the full game in functionality and length. Restricting the scenarios is probably the most effective to get folks to want to buy the full game.


#9

I still think that the game could be made much better if it was not only about winning the election. You could basically see each term as a level, so term 1 is level 1 and you need to win the election else game over.

Next term the economy is put in a perspective in a larger sense where surviving as leader of natural disasters, wars etc determine if you manage to the next level. Increasing, varying and temporary random threats could enable much more unique scenario creations as well.


#10

For Demo 3 I’d suggest an option to grant more power to the private sector. Sure the same strong are policies should be available for the government to try and solve every issue, but for instance investing in “private sector health care” or removing or increasing regulations and/or taxes on such. The “Conservative” views vrs the “liberal” views aren’t very consistent with reality currently, and I realize it’s challenging. I’ve tried to mod the game accounting for the private sector and the extent that it increases revenues and is for the most part helpful to every part of the country (hated by socialist of course) ends up breaking the game, so for entertainment purposes using the reality of it and keeping the game balancing is a challenge, I do hope to see a greater effort towards that though.


#11

I agree with Peter34 on some/many points, particularly the point with something to do with Foreign Relation, whereas on the Manifesto Point, I just want to remind you that you can easily turn off Manifestos in the Options Menu.

Personally, I find the real missing piece of the game, something that shouldn’t be excluded from Democracy 3, is other countries— neighbors, war threats, trade partners etc. etc. This can go two ways: to minimize the creativity in the process; (a) use the other selectable countries from the start as other nations or (b) make new ones up. Random names preferably.

Also, just so I don’t need to worry about the length of te game I’m playing, I always maximize the length of my term(s) (10 terms of 10 years— unrealistic; totally!), but of course, at one point, I’ve no more policies to enact, and I’ve an overwhelming quarterly surplus. What is also missing, and has to be in D3, is many more policies, which you can plagiarise from SimCity (Ordinances: Pro-Reading Campaigns, Anti-Drug Campaigns, Rehabilitation Centres etc. etc.), and I also recommend Peter34’s Point (4, I think) about the “overlay” addition.

Oxford


#12

This would be a bit of a job, but it would be really interesting to have time frames in which the game is set, each with different policies, situations, voter groups and so on. For instance, one could set the game to 1900 and have an trains as a critical part of public transport, have research in different areas that might provide breakthroughs and have voter groups such as Marxists, Anti - Monarchists for some countries and supporters of Manifest Destiny.


#13

You can have unlimited capital in Democracy 2. XD


#14

I’d like to see pops, like in Victoria II. Now you can see that patriots might consist of 64% of the population, but at the same time something completely unrelated, like parents, might be 43%. It really doesn’t say anything now if you got full support of patriots, because they might also be parents and parents give you no support at all, for example. With pops you’d be able to pick a certain pop, say one was adult male atheist patriot parents. This exact pop might be 400,000 in numbers, while elder female conservatives might only be 80,000 people, showing you where to properly focus everything.


#15

All very interesting comments that are being considered very carefully…


#16

Cliffski, you have great game design skills shown in many of your games. The game balance in particular is very appealing and addictive. Since the games are single player the satisfaction is about completing “levels”. I think you can improve in this section doing the following for Democracy 3 setting standards of meisuring success of a scenario.

  • Have high score tables for each scenario
  • The high score table is only used for the STANDARD setting for a scenario. This includes the political honeymoon and other general settings that as default should be set as the most difficult ones in the difficult scenario. Term length and number of terms should also be fixed for scenarios if you want to be on the high score table.
  • Let players be hinted that a scenario is “Easy/Medium/Hard” in the description so that new players can choose an easy one for learning the game.
  • Some scenarios should be super hard by default so that these settings get used for high score
  • Anyone who thinks a scenario is too easy or hard can tweak diffculty level but then game is in CUSTOM setting and hence no high score

Having fixed length scenarios as default sets a standard and allows you to code in special scenario specific events. For example a certain scenario could have a trigger that a EU crisis happens after term 2 putting extra diffculty starting term 3.

  • Add more negative random events for term 2+ so that after winning first election you are facing more and more challenging problems. Include extreme events that could threaten mankind for example tsunamis, meteorite crash, nuclear war, pandemic virus, etc etc etc.

#17

Yes agreed on all of these points, I would definitely consider them very carefully if/when I make democracy 3. It badly needs more online high-score style implementation, and attention spent on the longer game.


#18

I am brand spanking new to Dem2, so my initial thoughts might be rubbish. However, I have been around programming, game design, QA and economics for 25+ years, so I might hit on something usable.

  1. When watching the positive and negative flows from policies to and among situations, I am wondering what is flowing. I imagine that different things (people, money or resources) are flowing on different lines. What I hope is that certain flows will obey rigorous conservation laws rather than appearing out of thin air. Only certain carefully defined policies/situations should be able to inject or remove conserved elements to/from the system. All other functions that truck those elements should take what they give and give what they take.

For example, except for births, deaths and immigration/emigration, the sum of all reservoirs of people should be finite. If middle class earners increases, then they must come from somewhere (e.g. an equal number of unemployed should vanish). If the unemployed labor pool runs empty, then there should be consequences like increasing wages that then draw stay-at-home moms, retirees, students and immigration into the available labor pool (relaxing wages somewhat). Policies like immigration restrictions and banning child labor would obstruct some of these, which could leave wages high, possibly triggering other economic effects. At the same time, birth rate might be affected by the (decreasing) number of stay-at-home moms.

Anyway, my point is that a model obeying real laws of conservation is more likely to have realistic phenomena emerge from it. Also, one’s economic analysis becomes less foggy if one has a clearly defined “element” in mind for what each situation measures. You may realize that some situations are currently trying to measure two things simultaneously (like amounts of money and numbers of people), and that these elements need to be separated into two situations that have some connection to each other.

  1. Perhaps I am thinking of too much fine detail for what can be displayed in the game. If that’s the case, then perhaps D3 can create a new class of “situations” that are modeled but not displayed. This could separate the complexity of economic and population modeling from the simplicity of policy making. Like “fog of war”, the player then would not be able to see all of the mechanisms by which policies generated their secondary and tertiary effects. This is something else that could be overridden by a game-option.

  2. Is it possible to make a come-back after losing an election? If not (yet), then maybe it’s time to design an AI. It could be hilarious to watch the computer try to manage the country after my departure, probably losing the next election back to me so I can resume my [size=85]reign of terror[/size] enlightened policies.

  3. While ministerial experience makes sense for the speed and effectiveness of policy implementation, I am puzzled at having them as sources of political capital. Maybe because I am in America, I view Congressional (legislative) support as the font of pol-cap for new initiatives. Ministers might make sense in a parliamentary system.

Anyway, legislative support (quarterly pol-cap allowance) could be an independent variable set by a scenario and then fudged by difficulty level. In addition, a scenario could start a newly elected president with a predetermined number of turns worth of pol-cap in the bank. Finally, in the US (and other non-parliamentary countries, if there are any), the legislature could have a mid-term election to serve as a referendum on the president’s success so far. As you no doubt know, a US president can find himself facing a Congress controlled by his opposition.

  1. If you’re not doing so already, dilemmas should be able to offer explicit political capital bonuses for choosing a certain way. You (the exec) can then get more of your own agenda by accepting some of someone else’s.

  2. I haven’t looked deeply enough into the effects coding yet, but I am hoping to find both one-time and continuing influences. Some effects should be step functions (e.g. taking all children out of the labor pool suddenly) while others are ongoing. Repealing a law will usually reverse a step-function, but not always (e.g. the dead stay dead). Therefore, policies might benefit from having an independent set of one-time effects to execute on repeal.


#19

I like the idea of dilemmas providing political capital bonuses. That’s excellent :smiley:
Regarding conservation, and members of groups, this is already modeled. There is effectively a fixed simulated population, and those voters will move from one voter group to another depending on policies, with no new voters ever created. However, it is vital to an understanding of how the game is working to accept that single voters are members of a variety of voting groups at the same time. Only a few groups (capitalist/socialist etc) are actually mutually exclusive.


#20

Understood for voters. Is there conservation in the econ model? (Does there even need to be?) There are people in different income bands (LowIncome, MiddleIncome, HighIncome); there are people in and out of work (retirees, incarcerated, unemployed, employed…); and there’s the allocation of a nation’s productive output (consumption, export, gov’t projects, capital formation etc). In each case, in reality, it’s only possible to increase one slice by either decreasing another slice or growing the pie (e.g. immigration, importation or increased manufacturing).

Where real governments often get into real trouble is in building something that looks good at the point of application, but resources to build it have been diverted from elsewhere. It can be hard to peg exactly where, so we might not be able to model it. The critical scarcity could be as subtle as engineering talent or even the permits to build, but some scattered other parts of the economy lag because it went into the gov’t project, and the economy as a whole seems to stand still in spite of all the dollars poured into the project.

I doubt anybody can connect all of the dots to say exactly why. However, if the game’s economic model does not try to enforce some conservation of matter (if any part of it creates finished gov’t projects out of thin air without diverting or importing resources), then it will tend to reward tax & spend policies according to flights of fancy instead of limiting them to the reality of scarcity.