The core mechanic of Democracy 3 is going to take a lot of careful explaining in tutorials and tooltips and help windows. Essentially, it’s pretty simple, in that you implement policies, and you can adjust the intensity of a policy using a slider. So with a policy like income tax, the slider adjust the rate of tax from low to high. A series of bars show you the effect this policy has on everything, such as voter happiness, GDP, and so on. Sounds simple so far right? This is where it gets complex because there are three additional factors, which are implementation times, effectiveness and inertia. I’ll explain each one:
Implementation times is the amount of game time it takes to introduce a new policy. For a new tax rate, it’s instant, but for a space program, it might be five years. The policy effect fades in over those five years. So for example, if you set the slider to maximum, and the effect on GDP is +10% at maximum, then one year after introducing the policy, all the effects are still only at 20% of their maximums, and the GDP boost is thus 2%. Implementation rate is also the rate at which you can adjust a policy. Again, with tax rates it’s instant, with big infrastructure projects, you might move the slider from 0.5 to 1.0, but it will gradually make it’s way there over time, and the effects will scale accordingly.
Effectiveness is a general multiplier for all of the effects of a policy, and this is based on the minister in charge of that department. He can be bad, reducing its effectiveness, or good, which boosts it. Over time, all ministers get more experienced, so their effectiveness will go up.
Inertia indicates the extent to which policy effects lag behind implementation. For example free school meals increase total population health, but it’s a very slow effect, over time as school children grow up, and maintain those healthy eating habits. So the effect may have an ‘inertia’ of ten years (Should be longer, but for gameplay reasons…). This means that even though the policy is fully implemented, it’s full effects aren’t being felt yet, and also, when the policy is cancelled, the effects may linger on afterwards, slowly declining.
Combined together (and this is just part of it), it’s uber-complex and subtle. It means that at any one time a single policy may be becoming more effective as it gets more implemented, and more so as it’s minister learns the ropes, whilst at the same time be drifting towards lower values as the effects of a policy change since it was introduced take effect, and at the same time as all this, the various effects it has may all have different rates of ‘inertia’ and thus be shifting in different directions :D
Fortunately I’ve learned a lot of stuff about GUI design from earlier games. I’m sure it will be fine :D