February 28, 2013 | Filed under: democracy3 | game design009
Wealth is a complex thing in Democracy 3. far more so than before. I’ve been wrestling with bugs in it today which have reminded me how intricate the new income simulation is. How does it work? Well here is a rough synopsis.
Every sim voter in the world (defaults to 2,000 of them) has an ‘innate income’ which dictates basically where on a scale of 0 to 1, they sit on the big income spread. This is their best effort, in an unchanging world, to make money. If you implemented no policies, they had no characteristics, and the world was unchanging, this would be their level of income. Obviously the real world is more complex. The simulated voter is actually a fractional member of a whole bunch (maybe 5 to 8) different voter ‘groups’. For example, to keep it simple lets say the voter is 52% motorist and 33% parent. That might sound weird, but this just makes him an average car user, who maybe has teenage children, so not a ‘hardcore’ parent with multiple infants.
Now the player may have policies in place, or simulation values may exist in the world that affect income for the groups in which the voter is a member. For example, Child benefit may make parents better off, whereas Petrol tax may make motorists worse off. Because our voter is a member of these groups, we run the equations and work out the combined effect on their final income based on these changes.
But it’s not that simple… because we also have policies, situations etc which affect people based on their income. For example income taxes affecting the middle classes, or luxury goods taxes affecting the wealthy. The real complexity hits where someone may be middle-income by default, but the taxes levied on them due to their middle-incomeness actually makes them poor. With me so far?
What this means is that the income calculation has to essentially do this:
Step #1: Work out the extent to which we are poor, middle income or wealthy, based on our innate-income. Using this data, calculate the effects of the policies that affect those 3 groups on our actual income
Step #2: Calculate the effects of all the other groups, such as being a farmer, motorist etc, have on our income, to come up with a final figure for our new ‘adjusted’ income.
Step #3: Given the final income figure, place us in the poor, middle income or wealthy group accordingly, which *may* differ from our membership in step #1.
Why all this grief? Because it is possible, through social engineering to take people whose basic income would be poor, and raise them 9through state benefits) to be middle income, and then reap the benefits of their membership in that social group. For example, middle-income members may get a kick out of seeing a certain cabinet minister in office who sympathizes with them as a group (they like the speeches he/she makes…). This can work, despite the effect that only government policy has put them in that situation in the first place.
It’s a difficult effect to describe, but it’s a real one. Peoples final income differs from their earned income dramatically due to state policies, and you tend to ‘identify’ with the political view of the income group you are ‘effectively’ in. In other words, you base your views on your take-home pay, not your headline salary.
I’m definitely going to make a simple pong clone one day…