Category Archives: democracy3

I’ve worked in two different AAA companies, so I’ve seen what game producers roles are like from the developers end. To a coder, a producer is that slightly annoying person who keeps asking you how long stuff will take, and when it will be done, and how sure you are about that, and fussing about task-lists and todo lists and ‘the schedule’ which is this almighty document that is basically like the 2001 monolith as far as they are concerned, such is its importance to them.


As a coder, I always entered thrilling and enthusiastic, occasionally even sarcastic debates about how long a feature would take. My best guess was always somewhere between a day and infinity years. Basically, we are always doing stuff we don’t know how to do. if we’ve done it before, we will just copy and paste or re-use existing code. If we have *not* done it before…then things get interesting. We aren’t just typists. A good coder is basically a researcher, who works out how to achieve things. Knowing how long that takes is HARD. It might not even be possible.

With gameplay design, its even harder. Nobody knows whats in the design document is fun. It might not be fun, and then the whole schedule turns quickly to bollocks.

Now thats all kinda fun as an employee coder, but as a producer/publisher, I realize now its fucking mayhem. For example, ShadowHand and Democracy 3:Africa are both appearing at the PC Gamer Weekender show. This is aiming to be close to when both games ship, but will they? I may need to book some advertising in advance, can I do that now? Will they definitely ship? Will the coders hit their targets?

I feel like the producers that I worked with must have felt, standing behind someone who is typing away, wondering if they are about to turn around and say ‘this won’t work’ or alternatively ‘it’s done’.

Publishing games is basically a bit of a roulette.


There was a time when the two buzzwords guaranteed to generate hype and news coverage were the words ‘procedural’ and ‘generation’. They were most popular as ‘procedural generation’, less exciting when describing people as the ‘procedural generation’…anyway…

I’m not sure it really lived up to the hype. There was a time when we really needed this stuff. Elite couldn’t have generated an entire universe within 16k without it. And when you are doing a small indie game on a budget but want a large world, it can make sense. the problem is, you hand over control over design not to designers, but to mathematicians. Sure, some of the best developers come up with hybrid systems, where the designers are still in charge, but I do worry that we have gone too far down the road of ‘look lots of randomly generated stuff!’ and not enough down the ‘this is a wonderful hand crafted world’.

I love big open-world games, but I hate it when I start to recognize the maths behind it. Yup, another little fishing village I haven’t been to before but…isn’t this just the last fishing village with the houses at different angles and positions? is that *really* all we can do these days?

I find myself thinking about this because of Democracy 3. If you have played the game you might recognize the ministers screen. It has randomly generated minister portraits like these:


Before that, in Democracy 2 they were individually drawn like this:


I think D2’s look way better than D3’s. I think the random generation thing went too far. The problem is, with D2, you kept seeing the same faces again and again. I couldn’t afford the variety.  It wasn’t exactly game-wrecking, but even so, it was annoying. For Democracy 3: Africa we are going with a hybrid. The artist created all the assets and we are selecting a big bunch of individuals:


I think thats a good compromise. D2 had 13 ministers of each gender. Democracy 3 Africa already has 70 each, and will likely have more, and I think they will still look better than the base game truly random ones. Am I right?



Its announcement day! Yay. And what do we have for you today…


Yup its Democracy 3:Africa announcement day! So whats all this then?

Democracy 3: Africa is a sort of ‘re-imagining’ of the original game, and also an ‘expandalone’, meaning you don’t need to buy the original game. This is not DLC, but a stand-alone game with new graphics, new music, and of course a completely new setting. The countries in D3:A have a different set of problems, opportunities and characteristics to those in the original game. That has meant a lot of changes and a lot of tweaking and re-modeling. There is more information, including a list of the countries modeled at the placeholder website here.

So in more blog-like terms…whats going on here then?
Democracy 3 is a pretty popular game, and actually, while I’m mentioning it, you can get it at 66% off RIGHT NOW on steam. Anyway…over the years it’s had 3 expansions, (Social Engineering, Extremism and  clones & Drones), and recently we revisited the game to tweak it with some GUI improvements and new achievements.  Because of its popularity, I’m able to ‘take a risk’ and make a version of the game that at first glance might not make commercial sense. When I told some friends about it they said, ‘why Africa? who is interested in African politics?’

And thats kind of the point. In the west, we tend to think of Africa as either the target of charity fund-raising concerts, or somewhere to go on a safari. We never think about the African economies, or African industry or exports. Lets not forget Africa is home to a billion people…

The problems, opportunities and characteristics of many African countries make for a fascinating experiment in political strategy. It also makes for perhaps more of a challenge. Some people claim that the USA is ‘hard mode’ for Democracy 3, but even in the USA, you aren’t dealing with the levels of corruption found in *some* African states. Poor infrastructure and low levels of literacy are not much of a problem in the west, but they are definite factors in Africa. The problems are different, making for different strategy, and hopefully, a very different and interesting gaming experience.


Plus… When do you ever see Africa in a video game? I have no memories of it ever being anything but a destination where pirate bases or criminal gangs roam. Gaming seems to have a very distorted view of Africa, just like Hollywood does. I am under no illusions that this game will sell many copies in Africa, the gaming market is tiny, but I think it still makes sense because its such an interesting setting for a strategy game.

Also… I am not the designer this time. Modeling Africa was my idea, but in terms of all of the research, balancing, re-modeling, tweaking and any re-coding, this is all being done by Jeff Sheen from Stargazy Studios. Look at me! I’m expanding (a bit).

So there you go…Democracy 3:Africa. And yes…I am going to get even more white supremacist spam. (I got a bit after announcing the school we are building), and yes, we will probably get the tone of some of this wrong, and people will accuse us of misrepresenting African countries and people, and we expect to learn a lot, and to be in full-on listening mode. We are two white guys in the UK making a game about Africa. I’ve never even been there. I get that. I know we will make mistakes, but they won’t be intentional. If we have any ‘agenda’ here at all, its just to develop a game with an unusual and interesting setting, and to learn a little about Africa in the process.

Oh and shipping date? Errr. not sure. Q1 2016? We have been working on it secretly for a while…

So don’t forget…Democracy 3 is 66% off this week on steam :D

As you may know we recently updated Democracy 3 to include 12 new achievements. Here is some information on some of them, for people getting stuck…

ach_dividedsociety Divided Society.
0.2% of players have achieved this (so far). You need Equality to be below 10%, and keep it there for six turns
ach_educationalfailure Educational Failure.
0.1% of players have achieved this (so far). You need Education to drop 10% its initial level and stay that bad for 6 turns.
ach_narcoticeconomy Narcotic Economy.
0% of players have achieved this (so far). You need 10% or more of your state income to come from recreational drugs taxes…
ach_lonelyatthetop Lonely At The Top.
0.1% of players have achieved this (so far). You have to fire more than six ministers in a single term (not reshuffle).
ach_economicstability Economic Stability.
0.5% of players have achieved this (so far). You need GDP to vary by no more than 15% over the course of 16 turns (4 years)
ach_dividedsociety Apathetic Electorate.
0% of players have achieved this (so far). You need to win 2 or more elections with less than 50% overall voter turnout.
ach_bananarepublic Banana Republic.
0.2% of players have achieved this (so far). Maintain poverty above 45%,50% of people farmers and >50% trade for 4 turns.
ach_truepatriot True Patriot.
0.3% of players have achieved this (so far). You need 75% of people to be patriots, and them be 75% happy for 2 years.

So how are you getting on? finding the new achievements a bit tough? :D You can grab a copy of democracy 3 from the links below…

bmtmicro gog humblestore steam

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Democracy 3 Updated after over a year!

September 30, 2015 | Filed under: democracy3


So… As I’ve talked about in the past, I came to the conclusion that I should release a new patch to beef-up the quality of Democracy 3, fix some long standing issues, improve and re-balance some features, and so on. (Right now this is for Windows…other formats coming in a few days…). Here is a run-down of everything thats changed in video form:

And here it is in non-video form for people who prefer screenshots :D

First big change is new achievements. We added 12. We also put an achievements link button on the main menu for a change, so you can now get to it from there as well as the in-game button:


We then revamped that page that tells you about security threats to your government. Rather than leaving you to ‘guess’ about how that ‘security effectiveness:poor’ value is calculated, we now show icons that link to all the contributing policies, and show how strongly they are implemented:


The voter group screen got some reformatting, so it extends vertically if needed, plus it also now has an extra window, when needed showing which pressure groups and terrorist groups are being fed into by anger among the selected voter group. This should make the link between angry voters and security threats a lot more obvious and clear.


The finance screen now shows information at the bottom that illustrates how effectively your government money is being raised and spent, which is directly tied to the minister in charge of each department. This was always the case, but we make it clearer how much of an effect this has now…


…And we also have added a bunch of new events… not going to tell you what they are…but here are the images :D


The screen that shows the popularity of policies is now totally re-coded to the calculations make a ton more sense…


And we have also done a fair bit of tweaking the GUI here and there, and made a small number of minor balance changes. Hopefully this has made the game better in small but noticeable ways./ I hope you like the patch :D If for some CRAZY reason you don’t already own a copy of the game, you can grab it from BmtMicro, GoG, the humble store or steam:

bmtmicro gog humblestore steam