Category Archives: democracy3

So hey… I did another video, this time with better lighting. At this rate they will be watchable one-day :D

This one has me talking about, and demonstrating the way speeches work in the game. Also…I am on the hunt for beta testers for this DLC, just for a week or so, to see if there are any obvious bugs or balance issues. (I suspect not, I have played it a fair bit myself, but then I am obviously ‘too close’ to it to really know).

Anyway, if you already own Democracy 3, if you have played it a fair bit, and think you would be interested, then email me at cliff AT positech dot co dot uk, saying “I want to play test democracy 3:Electioneering”. To qualify, your copy of Democracy 3 needs to be 1.281. Thats automatic on steam, but if you bought from us at BMTMicro you may need to re-download a copy. I’m afraid we haven’t updated GoG or humble yet :(. (we will!). Please check your version number (top right of the screen) before you email me. Oh and if you are looking for steam keys to resell, not only fuck-off, but don’t waste your time because I wont be using steam keys for the beta :D.

To everyone else…Democracy 3:Electioneering is coming SOON, and you can read all about it here.

Press requests etc very welcome, although I’ll probably forward you to ‘my people’. I have people now. Oh yes.


Talking a bit about the new fundraising features coming to Democracy 3:Electioneering soon…

I really am stupid filming myself with a big bright window behind me. I must fix that next time. Still.. I got the hang of doing it with a decent audio track and no headphones this time which is a slight improvement. Watch out you-tubers, I’m a new star in the making. Maybe.

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So apparently now they have video or the internet, so I guess I better record a swanky video with me talking about electioneering. I’ve tried doing that hip thing where you have a second camera and your FACE on it. Thats what all the cool kids like me do these days. I’m often listening to Eminem, dropping some Es and keeping it real. Fleek.

Anyway…here is the video. Does this look ok? am I like grandpa simpson, or am I the next BIG THING to hit youtube?

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Tada! Hot on the heels of revealing Political Animals, I can now start talking about what I have actually been coding myself. (yes I remember how to code!) For quite a while (about six months), I’ve been tinkering with the idea of adding a new expansion to Democracy 3 that deals with the elections side of the game in greater depth. The result is finally something I’ll start talking about and reasonably enough, I’ve decided to call it…


Yay! New stuff! For a long time, the Democracy games have basically been ‘government’ games, not election games. Making electioneering work in the context of Democracy 3 was not easy, because frankly every country has a very different electoral process, and electoral system. The US is NOTHING like the UK (We don’t have primaries or caucuses, for starters), and the way elections are fought is very different over the various countries that Democracy 3 models. (Another example: in the UK we have no political TV advertising).  Eventually, I decided to take a few key areas of the election process, the ones that seemed universal, and model those, whilst letting the actual ‘mechanics’ of how an election is fought to remain abstract.



The elements I thought really represented electioneering were fundraising, speeches, manifestos and perceptions. I’ll quickly outline how each works, but I’ll be doing videos to explain them over the next few weeks.

  • Fundraising in the DLC will be split between party members and big-money donors. Those donors can cut their support if you upset the voter groups they support, leading to a lower campaign budget and worse election results.
  • Speeches can be given closer to the election, and the idea is that they allow the opportunity to win over support from voter groups without actually concretely *doing* anything :D
  • Manifestos are commitments to the electorate to do ‘X’ if you are elected. That promise then hangs over you for the next term, assuming you win. You *can* break them, but that causes anger.
  • Perceptions are the most fun :D. Basically the voters rate you on one of three values, based on your policies and dilemma decisions. You can attempt to bend those perceptions more favourably by carrying out media stunts, which may work, but may backfire.

Added to that, I’ve revamped the election screen for the DLC, and its way more jazzy now :D.


Anyway… I’ll be blogging, mostly in video form, about these new features over the next few weeks, and asking peoples opinions while I try to balance the DLC. I’ll probably grab a small group of keen D3 players to try out the DLC ahead of time, and then it will be release time. Wahey! Its feature complete and AFAIK bug-free already, I just anticipate a month or so of balancing and tweaking to get things just right.

Press people should be aware we have a website for the DLC already, release date is (Probably) Late July 2016, and I’m hoping for it to work on PC/OSX maybe Linux, and with a prevailing wind, it should also work with Democracy 3:Africa. Press people who are looking for an ‘angle’ might be aware that the UK has an upcoming referendum and the US has an upcoming election. WHAT A COINCIDENCE.

BTW we already have a steam coming soon page for the DLC. Feel free to wishlist it.

BTW I will be tweeting about this, and facebooking blah blah, but if anyone thinks this news is worthy of some social media submissions and love, I really appreciate it!


So recently I’ve been -rebalancing Democracy 3, my political strategy game for the PC. It looks like I released that game in October 2013, so not quite three years ago. Why would I be balancing it now? First of all, some context and the results so far of my re-balance. the game is an indie ‘hit’ by the standards of solo-developer-owner, having sold (according to steam spy) 485,000 copies. Its currently $25. if you guessed, you’d probably guess that the developer earned $3million ish from the game. Lets say $2,500k profit, which is very nice. Before we go further into strategy, numbers, and the ‘resource curse dilemma’, lets look at what I did.

Part 1: The changes:

Essentially the game was too easy, and a lot of its content remained unseen, untriggered. Some anon gameplay stats showed me that 86% of elections resulted in victory. Thats an easy game. And at election victory, only 1% had the ‘vigilante mobs’ problem, with 12% having it when they lost. There are many other situations, but a lot of them were just not being encountered enough.


So I did some re-balancing, tested it on beta players, then rolled it out, and collected some initial data. The data needs a few days to bed in and to eliminate the bias from beta-opt in players (whom I assume are more hardcore). Anyway,. initial results show that…

Percentage of election victories dropped 8.39% to 79.3%

Average debt level on victory is now up 22.59%

Percentage of games where poverty has been eliminated at election has dropped 10%.

All of these are deliberate. My results in some areas were not so good, maybe even contrary to my plans. For example, the blackmarket situation has gone DOWN, the OrganisedCrime has gone DOWN, the only negative event which is now more likely at elections is TaxEvasion. Technological Advantage has dropped 9% and high productivity dropped 10%, both of which I consider good news in terms of re-balancing the game. So TL;DR: Its moved in the right direction, but not enough. I may have to do another patch.

So part 2: Why fucking bother?

Lets look again at that not official guess of a profit of $2.5 million. Thats fucking cool, but more interestingly, that means if I was to boost sales by 1%, thats worth $25,000 in profit. Thats fucking amazing. Thats more profit than a lot of indie games will make in their lifetime. Holy crap. So if I can spend a week collecting data and analysing, a week re-balancing, a week observing beta, and a week deploying the update (4 lazy weeks), and it makes ONE PERCENT increase in sales, thats $25k / month or $300k a year.


In practice thats bollocks. Will my change make the game 1% better? I suspect it will make it roughly 3% better, but this will only apply to people who come to the game now. A lot of people will have heard of it and discounted it, its only really going to apply to people hearing 3% better reviews from recent players. Say 90% of the games potential audience already have bought or rejected it, then that means there is $250k of potential sales out there, and my 3% boost will be worth $7,500. Of course, thats still a bloody good month. Also, there is the issue of what that 3% boost in game ‘quality’ does. I am assuming a linear distribution of current satisfaction among potential buyers, but what if its skewed with 90% of the potential buyers evaluating the game between 97% and 100% of the quality required to prompt a sale? In that case, a 3% quality boost results in 90% sales increase. Buying a game is a pretty binary decision. TL:DR: Its probably a very good use of my time, but might not be.

so Part 3: How could this possibly be bad.

This is something people occasionally called the resource curse. Country A has fuck-all. Country-B has bananas. Country B just throws the bananas into a ship and exports them everywhere. Job done. Country A is fucked, and cannot afford bananas unless it comes up with something worth trading for bananas, so it invents ipads, and swaps them for bananas. Country B, once a happy smug banana-owning paradise is kinda fucked, because it turns out ipads are worth more, and they never set up the ipad factory because they were eating bananas all day.


I typed that last paragraph purely because I like the idea that my old economics professors are yelling at the screen in agony at my gross simplification.

Anyway, having a big success can be a huge curse. If Democracy 3 makes me enough money that I can keep tweaking it by 1% in order to earn a decent living, why ever take a risk on making something new. This is a problem a lot of companies face. Microsoft are cursed by windows. They cant create a new O/S or office suite from scratch, it makes no economic sense, because windows & office are such cash cows. Its not so much a sunk-costs issue, but a sunk-profits issue. This is a real issue for a lot of developers and entertainers in general. A new series of the big bang theory, however desperately played-out, unfunny and now repeating itself like crazy, is so profitable it doesn’t make sense for the actors or writers to create anything that might potentially be better. he same is true of all fads. Why bother making an interesting new movie when you can dig up some crappy superhero from obscurity and monetize that?


I know this may read as ‘woe is me!, my game sells too well’, but forget finances and think about creativity for a minute. The aim of game development is to make cool stuff, and enjoy doing it. Anything that lures you away from that might be profitable, but is it really the right thing to be doing?

(FWIW, I am working on other stuff, I did months and months of work on a potential new game that I will return to next year, plus I have a new expansion I’m working on).