Here is a new video I had made to explain this part of the game, i hope you like it…
Here is a new video I had made to explain this part of the game, i hope you like it…
I have a lot of feedback that the game is too easy. I suspect some of this is because of the following factors:
1) People start with the UK< a fairly easy country
2) People are playing ‘to win’ not to actually mold the country as they wish to
3) People do not spot the difficulty slider :D
However, the simulation DOES need some difficulty tweaking, as it does seem to get into virtuous circles (or the reverse). From, a game POV, these are disasters, but the trouble is, they seem emergent from a dispassionate attempt to build an accurate simulation. Do they exist in the real world? I suspect so.
For example: I read a lot about how entrepreneurs are fleeing Italy and France. This is due to high taxes and corruption and incompetent government / bureaucracy. The net result will be more unemployment, and a brain-drain that guts French and Italian economies, leaving them with the less successful employees and businesses, thus reducing government income, meaning taxes need to go up…making the whole situation worse in a spiral.
On the other hand countries that are doing well, seem to get richer and richer.
What I am thus on the lookout for are ‘automatic stabilisers’. Not in the traditional government finance sense, but in an economic model sense. For example…
Pollution is a good one. if you have no industry, you have no pollution, but a booming industry (China!) leads to more pollution, which then affects health and eventually lowers productivity, thus reducing industry back down from it’s peak.
on the opposite side, look at wages. The economy collapses, so unemployment shoots up and wages drop to rock bottom, meaning business competitiveness shoots upwards allowing for an export boom and the economy bouncing back.
Yes. it’s MUCH more complex than that. Nevertheless, these sort of things are already in the game, but I suspect their effects are too weak. I shall experiment, in-between talking to reviewers, dealing with advertising, handling the vats rush of online discussions about the game, fixing bugs…and I’ll sleep at some point. BUSY BUSY BUSY.
Feel free to suggest stabilisers I have not thought of…
Democracy 3 has *some* support for different stances on what should be a nationalized/privatized industry, but I’d say not enough. Right now you can have State Schools, State Prisons, State Health Care and State pensions, or you can provide none of those and the private sector provides them instead (except to the very poor, who generally cannot afford them).
This is probably just a reaction to the situation where I live, in the UK. We have a national health system but optional private health care, and the same with all those other options, although AFAIK the prisons are all state run, at least in terms of overall management.
During my lifetime, a lot of old state enterprises in the UK got privatized. British Rail, British Gas, British telecom. They are now talking about the Royal Mail going the same way. I’m not going to argue the merits of the case here, that’s too partisan :D, although I will say that the ‘older’ you are, the less likely you are to have a rosy view of the old nationalized rail and telecoms businesses. BT used to take MONTHS to set up a new phone line for you, and you had no other option. they even owned your physical phone, which was rented, and you had no options there either. It sucked.
Not that I can make much of a case for rail privatization being a resounding success, but YMMV. ANYWAY….
How can I incorporate more of this stuff into Democracy 3? Lets take an example of the banking industry. Assume you are playing the UK. Should ‘nationalize the banks‘ be an option? If so, what should the implications be? We could argue all day. Off the top of my head:
Reduction in poverty. As an instrument of the state, the bank can cut out punishing overdraft rates and fees for the poorest, whilst also ensuring everyone is approved for a basic bank account, whilst also out-competing loan-sharks and providing banking to the poor at a loss.
Reduction in GDP? (ooh -controversial). Traditionally, state-owned banks have a bad track-record of ‘picking winners’ when it comes to financing business loans. There would be a tendency to support failing businesses because they employ lots of voters in marginal voting areas, or are politically sensitive. The lack of a profit motive will skew the bank to make worse decisions and thus reduce the effective access to finance for private enterprise, reducing overall competitiveness?
Fury by capitalists. Suddenly the government controls access to finance. that must scare the hell out of hardcore capitalists, who might fear the next step is *their* business being taken over by the government?
Joy by Socialists. The reverse of above, Happiness that the financial sector now has a social element.
Unhappiness (maybe) of self-employed. Government departments are well known for their bureaucracy. they like dealing with big multinationals, not someone who works as a plumber. The sheer incompetence of the UK tax office is already evidence of this. the idea of them being the sole provider of banking should upset small business surely?
Huge Cost. Presumably existing bank shareholders will be the subject of compensation (I’m thinking consensus politics here, not a revolution with guns), which means the government pays out a good few hundred billion pounds (or trillion dollars) to buy up the banks. I’m thinking the net GDP impact here is negligible, as money people previously held in banking shares suddenly becomes cash, which presumably gets invested elsewhere on the stock market, meaning so sudden retail windfall?
The problem with Democracy 3 is you need to come up with policies and systems that are balanced, fun, understandable and also areas where there is at least some broad agreement as to the effects (if not the desirability). So I throw this out there. Does that sound like a reasonable reaction to nationalizing the banking system?
If I was to add this to the game, it would involve some coding, as it effectively means having a policy with a one-off implementation cost, and one-off cancellation income (privatize!), which the system doesn’t currently support, but is certainly do-able…
Happily there seem to be very few actual bugs or crashes in the Democracy 3 beta. I have already fixed the only 2 actual crashes I know about, pending the first patch, which I am aiming to release for PC tomorrow or Monday, with Linux/Mac to follow. Sales seem really good, and people seem happy, which is all excellent news.
What surprised me is how many people say it’s too easy. Nooo!!!! I didn’t think so, but you can’t argue with peoples savegames. Plus, there are a number of anomalies. parents making up 100% of the population, and 100% being retired too. Ooops, clearly that isn’t part of the plan D. I have a big long list of tweaks and adjustments already implemented for me to test today/tomorrow, but I also have some subtler changes to make…
Democracy 3 is essentially a huge web of interconnected things (‘neurons’ in code…) and each of those connections i governed by an equation, and an input/output throttle. The equation is where most of the magic happens. For example, with State Schools, the effect on education is “0.07+(0.3*x). Which essentially means a linear effect from +7% to +37% on education, in line with education spending. Obviously this is a bit simplistic, as well as making for less interesting decisions. Gamers have mentioned (and I agree) that too many policies are Min/Maxed, in that the actual slider is rarely set sensibly somewhere in the middle. It’s the linear nature of that equation that causes this. Ideally, the first few dollars spent on education should have the most effect, trailing off until you are eventually just throwing money needlessly at an already over-funded program.
The chart below shows my proposed solution:
The red line represents the original equation, the green line is the new one, which is 0.03*(x^0.6)+0.07. This is not possible in Democracy 2 because it couldn’t process that many variables in an equation, but luckily I added this capability as part of the re-write of the code for D3, so this sort of thing is now possible. I think this is a step forwards, and something I need to look at replacing a lot of the linear equations with. Does this make sense?
So my final Australian play through for democracy 3 had me feeling that a feature I had mused on, but quietly and subconsciously thought ‘that would be a nightmare to do’ was actually something it would be almost cruel not to put in, after I had the idea. You can just about spot the feature below:
That row under the chart with the icons is the new feature. Now you may be thinking you’ve seen these before, and you kind-of have, on the polls screen, where everything that happened gets added to this ‘timeline’ under the polling graphs, but this is different for two reasons. Firstly, it’s for a simulation value or situation and ONLY shows up if your monitor resolution is big enough to squeeze it in. Secondly it is actually ‘filtered’ to only show events that directly impacted the item you are looking at.
So in the example shown, there were loads of icons left out because frankly they had no impact on GDP, and here you are looking at the GDP screen, so it makes sense to think that you want a more specific and limited view of what could have caused those graph changes. Now the problem is, as hardcore Democracy players will know, the simulation is not that simple. There are a multitude of indirect effects. For example, tourism affects GDP, and tourism is affected by crime rates and air taxes. So if you change air taxes, that will change tourism which will change GDP, but this is indirect and so you will not see any icons for that here. If you did, the whole filtering idea would break down, because indirectly, everything affects everything. I did worry a bit about this, but decided that actually it would still be helpful. A lot of the major impacts, that would show up on a graph ARE actually direct, and if you want to be reminded that you doubled corporation tax the day that GDP chart nosedived, now you will be.
That’s the last code for the beta though. Now it is in the hands of the mac and linux porting gods, in preparation for beta release.