The general trend seems to be to make individual threads for feedback/ideas, so here’s my experience and ideas so far.
First off, awesome game. Saw it on steam at it looked to be right up my alley (though I bought the direct version 'cause I hate steam. Who doesn’t?), I wasn’t disappointed.
FAIR WARNING: Massive wall of text below!
I’ve played a few games now, though my first (few) was (were) as Australia (Not even a choice, really). Thanks for Including our fair land by the way, saved me from having to make a mod
My first few quarters were spent raising taxes pretty much across the board. By a lot. That was my first mistake. The benefits (crap loads of cash)seemed to outweigh the negatives (pissing of a relatively small number of voters that my radical socialist agenda was inevitably going to outrage anyway), I left income tax reasonably low because that seemed to piss off the rather sizeable middle class by a rather sizeable amount at higher levels (perfectly realistic, not complaining).
Obviously I was in for a rude shock. I got hit very rapidly and almost simultaneously with some of the worst economic situations (Corporate Exodus, Brain Drain, Tax Evasion and petrol protests, plus the starting uncompetitive economy). Needless to say this absolutely wrecked my economy, and I decided to restart (shameful, I know).
The problem here is not so much the effects, they are realistic and appropriate (though I think some need a little balancing), but more in the fact that they are completely invisible until they kick in - after which they can take years to rectify.
This does eventually become less of an issue, as one plays the game more and develops a ‘feel’ for how high one can push taxes and the like before triggering these effects. As a novice, however, these effects can be rather arcane and frustrating.
My solution would be to make it so that situations show up (but are not in effect) as soon as the triggers are above the green end situation line, giving you a window of opportunity to react before they get out of hand without clogging up the UI by having them all show up at once. You could also colour the bubbles differently (maybe yellow for good, orange for bad) to make it easy to differentiate between active and potential situations at a glance.
I can understand that this might be a somewhat difficult change to implement, requiring actual coding changes rather than tweaking of the csv’s. It would also potentially make the game easier by making it easier to balance everything on a knife edge, though it’s already possible albeit more time consuming (in real and game terms) to do this in game. Simply balancing your policies just under the line whilst the effects are active, followed by reducing them until the effect clears then returning them to your previous values.
As a solution for that problem, I would recommend tying some of the more police based situations into various simulation values that are out of the players direct control. As an example Corporate Exodus is entirely policy based, so once a player has balanced all of the policies at the desired level they never have to worry about another corporate exodus (unless they forget and modify a policy). By tying things like gdp, currency strength, wages and any other appropriate simulations into the trigger calculations it would make it essentially impossible to balance policies right on the edge as a sudden economic downturn or even normal fluctuations would come along and drive you right over it.
SInce this is in danger of becoming a rather lengthy essay I’m going to move to more of list format, and try to be more succinct.
Various Points/Ideas, in no particular order:
See above paragraphs
Things need to be tied together more and effects need to be less direct. The income level sims in particularly seem to be woefully underused. As an example, I think that rather reducing poverty directly things like food stamps, school meals, pensions etc should increase poor earnings instead. Most of them already do just that, the problem is that earnings have almost no affect on anything (minor - negligible even - effects on various travel modes that are completely outsripped by the effect of gdp alone). Income should also have a fairly significant effect on gdp, Income directly impacts spending which is the driving factor of a modern consumer economy.
Population class should be fluid (fluid like tar, not fluid like water). Higher education and increasing technology levels should raise more of the poor into the middle class, and to lesser extent allow some of the middle class to enter the ranks of the wealthy. Repressive taxation on the other hand should gut the middle class, and maybe even the upper class depending on the forms of taxation being used. These changes should take place very slowly, but they should happen.
Population in general should be a little less dynamic. At the moment changes are too rapid and too extreme. It didn’t take long at all to turn my Australia into a communist paradise full (and by full i mean 100%) of Patriotic, Socialist, Commuting, State Employed, Irreligious Farmers. WIth the right policy changes I could have probably turned them all into bleeding heart liberals too. Generally speaking demographic changes should be less extreme and should take place over decades. Obviously there should be some exceptions, at least in terms of speed. The retiree population for example should continue to fluctuate quite rapidly as they are forced back to work/able to retire based on pensions etc.
Socialism seems to be far too prevalent. Even the US where socialism is apparently some sort of dirty word starts out majority socialist and anything short of an ultra right wing throw-money-at-the-rich approach only makes it worse. The Socialist/Capitalist divide should not be directly effected by policies. Something like Capital gains tax that is disliked by capitalists and liked by socialists should not mystically turn a bunch of said capitalists into socialists. That doesn’t make any sense.
It might be a little difficult to implement, but I think it would make more sense if it were based on a combination of the policies you implement (essentially the position of your government on the political compass) combined with the current strength of the economy (GDP). If your policies are perceived to be working, it will drive more people over to your side, if they aren’t people will become disillusioned and there will be a swing in the opposite direction.
Unemployment doesn’t seem to matter much. It feels like a bar that you reduce for the sake of it, but it doesn’t really have much effect on things. Various programs that you implement to reduce unemployment (like road building) don’t actually seem to stimulate the economy much. This kind of ties in with point no 2, these policies should increase poor and middle income, which should in turn stimulate the economy.
I also think it would make sense to split unemployment up into Blue Collar (Poor) and White Collar (Middle Income) unemployment. Policies would change to affect the relevant class, so Road Building would lower Blue Collar Unemployment (and increase low income), whilst increases in Health and education spending would predominantly affect White Collar levels.
Increasing Technological development would drive the economy towards a white collar focus, lowering their unemployment and increasing Blue Collar unemployment (With associated income changes)
No brainer policies. For many policies (particularly the linear ones), the slider is more or less irrelevant. You either max it out or you don’t bother with it at all. Some policies are too good to pass up (Like rural development grants, all bonus negligible cost), regardless of what your trying to achieve (unless your aim is to destroy the country), others are the opposite (I’m looking at you internet tax). I suppose some policies are just bad ideas, but these should probably have some use in opinion terms, even if they don’t make sense economically.
The Fix: Pretty much everything should have diminishing returns. The upper bound of a lot of policies should be increased. The amount of money one can throw at a problem shouldn’t be limited by arbitrarily low hard caps, but by soft caps imposed by the aforementioned diminishing returns. Ideally the diminishing returns should be set up in such a way that the most effective level of funding changes based on your countries circumstances.
Progress happens too rapidly. Political capital accrues too rapidly and it is far too easy to get things done. You can do as much in a few quarters as happens in entire terms in real life. I found that the political capital cost of a policy wasn’t much of a factor in any of my decisions, though that may have just been poor playing on my part.
I have a few thoughts on what to do here. The simplest and easiest is a reduction in the rate at which political capital accrues. I played a Germany game with accrual halved, and the pace of change felt quite a bit more realistic. I also found myself paying a lot more attention to political costs, favouring the politically expedient options even if the effects weren’t precisely what I wanted.
An far better (and more difficult to implement) option would be to scale the political cost of slider changes with the amount moved along the slider. All policies would default to the lowest level when implemented and the more funding you want to give to a program the more it should cost you politically.
Foreign policy in general feels rather bland. I don’t have much too to say on immigration as in my numerous games as Australia I never got around to changing the realistically draconian starting policies. Generally though, immigration seemed to be a bad thing on the whole, but again I haven’t toyed with it much.
I think international trade should be split into imports and exports. High currency strength would drive imports up and exports down and vica-versa, tariffs would drive down imports but not directly affect exports and so on. Generally speaking I think that International trade should have a much larger effect on your economy, and the extent to which your economy is dependant on trade should determine how much the global economy impacts your gdp.
Bad foreign relations and poor military investment should lead to things like trade sanctions and wars.
It would be great if ‘The Economy’ (The idea, rather than the category itself) could be separated out into different industries/sectors with appropriate simulations,situations and polices (taxation/subsides/oversight/etc). Such industries would include Manufacturing(possibly split into low/high tech, or even more categories), mining, financial services, tourism(already in, but would likely need an overhaul to bring it in line with the implementation of other industries), agriculture (like tourism), energy(power, gas, oil would be in a similar boat to tourism and agriculture) and anything else worth adding in. All of this industries would of course be affected by the appropriate current game variables. Different countries would have different affinities for the industries, Australia for example would have a dead manufacturing sector and a relatively strong resource industry.
The drug system could use something of an overhaul This thread here has a pretty good list of the sort of change needed
Well, I guess I failed at that whole succinctness business. Sorry about that.
I’m going to stop now because I swear I could write a paragraph for every policy in the game. And all the policies I wish were in the game. And then some.
I am aware that many of these ideas are likely too complex, either from a coding or gameplay perspective to be included in the base game. I may well make a mod that implements some of the changes so it would be nice to know which if any you have plans to implement (in some form or other), that way I can avoid working on changes/balancing that your going to make/do anyway.
Thanks for reading!
TL;DR: Game good. Make many good change, game better.