Suggestions for Democracy 3

firepowerjohan
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Re: Suggestions for Democracy 3

Postby firepowerjohan » Sat Oct 20, 2012 8:40 pm

Cliffski, you have great game design skills shown in many of your games. The game balance in particular is very appealing and addictive. Since the games are single player the satisfaction is about completing "levels". I think you can improve in this section doing the following for Democracy 3 setting standards of meisuring success of a scenario.

- Have high score tables for each scenario
- The high score table is only used for the STANDARD setting for a scenario. This includes the political honeymoon and other general settings that as default should be set as the most difficult ones in the difficult scenario. Term length and number of terms should also be fixed for scenarios if you want to be on the high score table.
- Let players be hinted that a scenario is "Easy/Medium/Hard" in the description so that new players can choose an easy one for learning the game.
- Some scenarios should be super hard by default so that these settings get used for high score
- Anyone who thinks a scenario is too easy or hard can tweak diffculty level but then game is in CUSTOM setting and hence no high score

Having fixed length scenarios as default sets a standard and allows you to code in special scenario specific events. For example a certain scenario could have a trigger that a EU crisis happens after term 2 putting extra diffculty starting term 3.

- Add more negative random events for term 2+ so that after winning first election you are facing more and more challenging problems. Include extreme events that could threaten mankind for example tsunamis, meteorite crash, nuclear war, pandemic virus, etc etc etc.
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Re: Suggestions for Democracy 3

Postby cliffski » Sun Oct 21, 2012 1:57 pm

Yes agreed on all of these points, I would definitely consider them very carefully if/when I make democracy 3. It badly needs more online high-score style implementation, and attention spent on the longer game.
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Re: Suggestions for Democracy 3

Postby jeffryfisher » Thu Nov 08, 2012 1:48 am

I am brand spanking new to Dem2, so my initial thoughts might be rubbish. However, I have been around programming, game design, QA and economics for 25+ years, so I might hit on something usable.

1) When watching the positive and negative flows from policies to and among situations, I am wondering what is flowing. I imagine that different things (people, money or resources) are flowing on different lines. What I hope is that certain flows will obey rigorous conservation laws rather than appearing out of thin air. Only certain carefully defined policies/situations should be able to inject or remove conserved elements to/from the system. All other functions that truck those elements should take what they give and give what they take.

For example, except for births, deaths and immigration/emigration, the sum of all reservoirs of people should be finite. If middle class earners increases, then they must come from somewhere (e.g. an equal number of unemployed should vanish). If the unemployed labor pool runs empty, then there should be consequences like increasing wages that then draw stay-at-home moms, retirees, students and immigration into the available labor pool (relaxing wages somewhat). Policies like immigration restrictions and banning child labor would obstruct some of these, which could leave wages high, possibly triggering other economic effects. At the same time, birth rate might be affected by the (decreasing) number of stay-at-home moms.

Anyway, my point is that a model obeying real laws of conservation is more likely to have realistic phenomena emerge from it. Also, one's economic analysis becomes less foggy if one has a clearly defined "element" in mind for what each situation measures. You may realize that some situations are currently trying to measure two things simultaneously (like amounts of money and numbers of people), and that these elements need to be separated into two situations that have some connection to each other.

2) Perhaps I am thinking of too much fine detail for what can be displayed in the game. If that's the case, then perhaps D3 can create a new class of "situations" that are modeled but not displayed. This could separate the complexity of economic and population modeling from the simplicity of policy making. Like "fog of war", the player then would not be able to see all of the mechanisms by which policies generated their secondary and tertiary effects. This is something else that could be overridden by a game-option.

3) Is it possible to make a come-back after losing an election? If not (yet), then maybe it's time to design an AI. It could be hilarious to watch the computer try to manage the country after my departure, probably losing the next election back to me so I can resume my [s]reign of terror[/s] enlightened policies.

4) While ministerial experience makes sense for the speed and effectiveness of policy implementation, I am puzzled at having them as sources of political capital. Maybe because I am in America, I view Congressional (legislative) support as the font of pol-cap for new initiatives. Ministers might make sense in a parliamentary system.

Anyway, legislative support (quarterly pol-cap allowance) could be an independent variable set by a scenario and then fudged by difficulty level. In addition, a scenario could start a newly elected president with a predetermined number of turns worth of pol-cap in the bank. Finally, in the US (and other non-parliamentary countries, if there are any), the legislature could have a mid-term election to serve as a referendum on the president's success so far. As you no doubt know, a US president can find himself facing a Congress controlled by his opposition.

5) If you're not doing so already, dilemmas should be able to offer explicit political capital bonuses for choosing a certain way. You (the exec) can then get more of your own agenda by accepting some of someone else's.

6) I haven't looked deeply enough into the effects coding yet, but I am hoping to find both one-time and continuing influences. Some effects should be step functions (e.g. taking all children out of the labor pool suddenly) while others are ongoing. Repealing a law will usually reverse a step-function, but not always (e.g. the dead stay dead). Therefore, policies might benefit from having an independent set of one-time effects to execute on repeal.
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Re: Suggestions for Democracy 3

Postby cliffski » Sun Nov 11, 2012 10:36 pm

I like the idea of dilemmas providing political capital bonuses. That's excellent :D
Regarding conservation, and members of groups, this is already modeled. There is effectively a fixed simulated population, and those voters will move from one voter group to another depending on policies, with no new voters ever created. However, it is vital to an understanding of how the game is working to accept that single voters are members of a variety of voting groups *at the same time*. Only a few groups (capitalist/socialist etc) are actually mutually exclusive.
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Re: Suggestions for Democracy 3

Postby jeffryfisher » Mon Nov 12, 2012 1:49 am

cliffski wrote:it is vital to an understanding of how the game is working to accept that single voters are members of a variety of voting groups *at the same time*. Only a few groups (capitalist/socialist etc) are actually mutually exclusive.

Understood for voters. Is there conservation in the econ model? (Does there even need to be?) There are people in different income bands (LowIncome, MiddleIncome, HighIncome); there are people in and out of work (retirees, incarcerated, unemployed, employed...); and there's the allocation of a nation's productive output (consumption, export, gov't projects, capital formation etc). In each case, in reality, it's only possible to increase one slice by either decreasing another slice or growing the pie (e.g. immigration, importation or increased manufacturing).

Where real governments often get into real trouble is in building something that looks good at the point of application, but resources to build it have been diverted from elsewhere. It can be hard to peg exactly where, so we might not be able to model it. The critical scarcity could be as subtle as engineering talent or even the permits to build, but some scattered other parts of the economy lag because it went into the gov't project, and the economy as a whole seems to stand still in spite of all the dollars poured into the project.

I doubt anybody can connect all of the dots to say exactly why. However, if the game's economic model does not try to enforce some conservation of matter (if any part of it creates finished gov't projects out of thin air without diverting or importing resources), then it will tend to reward tax & spend policies according to flights of fancy instead of limiting them to the reality of scarcity.
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Re: Suggestions for Democracy 3

Postby cliffski » Wed Dec 05, 2012 7:54 pm

It is a limitation of democracy2 that it does tend to reward a tax and spend approach due to it's inability model private sector provision of services such as schools, healthcare etc. This would need to be addressed in any sequel...
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Re: Suggestions for Democracy 3

Postby jeffryfisher » Wed Dec 05, 2012 8:44 pm

cliffski wrote:It is a limitation of democracy2 that it does tend to reward a tax and spend approach due to it's inability model private sector provision of services such as schools, healthcare etc. This would need to be addressed in any sequel...


With income segments of the populace being modeled, each private acquisition becomes a function of "how much they can afford?" and "how many of them are there?"

For our purposes, the wealthy can afford anything. Middle class can buy everything they need, but they'll buy more and better when they're flush. It's the poor who may have to (or mistakenly) skimp on things like preventative healthcare and pay for it with poor health that then puts the whole population at risk of epidemic.

In my game, I simply replaced each government owned program with a tax-credit scheme. To keep them simple, each tax credit policy is defined to move just as much money as its analog (depriving the gov't of tax revenue is treated as a gov't expense), and each has the same direct benefit (even though a libertarian would argue that competition would drive quality to improve). What's different is in the happiness (or displeasure) caused to voting blocs.

For example, my edu tax credit would empower parents to choose their favorite school flavors, so parents are happier even if schools aren't intrinsically superior. Liberals and Religious are bothered by each other when they collide in public schools, one always angered by edu policies pleasing the other. Therefore, both gain happiness when allowed to go their separate ways.

But, the edu tax credit is not all sunshine and lollipops: Rabid unhappiness appears among socialists and unions. For socialists, whose raison d'etre is reshaping society, centralized indoctrination is one of the essential cornerstones. For unions, who have the public school system wired, privatization is a political dagger to the heart.
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Re: Suggestions for Democracy 3

Postby General Goose » Mon Dec 24, 2012 5:10 pm

Hey, have a few ideas.

FOREIGN AID
Foreign aid can be both sent out and received. Receiving foreign aid comes in three forms; NGOs, the IMF and World Bank, and national governments. The IMF and World Bank would provide loans for economic stabilisation and development respectively, but would attach various conditionalities, some of which may not always be in your best interest. An example might be repealing a subsidy program, reducing regulation, or changing your tariffs. Sometimes, for example if you don’t have the funds to invest in healthcare or you are dangerously close to the debt ceiling, you’ll have little choice but to run to them. The World Bank has, to its credit, a lot less of a “one size fits all” approach than the Monetary Fund, and will not always require economic liberalisation, but can carry the same drawbacks as foreign direct investment and may leave a project half-way through, forcing you to either pick up the cost or let the program fail. Foreign governments also often provide loans with conditionalities, although these are more likely to involve trade and military policies than the internal reforms pursued by the IMF and World Bank. NGOs give indirect aid and are very helpful in the response to crises, but are very minor and completely beyond your control (they can also call attention to your less savoury policies.)

ECONOMIC SPECIALISATION
Each major section in your economy has its own “progress” level and own degree of prominence, running all the way from a developing economy with a mostly agricultural economy that is unable to compete internationally, to a developed “jack of all trades master of none” economy, to an economy specialising in one or two particular industries like banking or manufacturing where it excels. Depending on the natural resources, climate and skill set of the country, as well as the demands of different population groups, it is your choice how to go forward. A highly specialised economy brings its own advantages (that sector will be very prosperous, for example, boosting GDP and making that industry’s workers and investors happy) and disadvantages (for example, if that sector crashes, you’re boned).

In order to develop a specific sector, you can invest in it, provide tax breaks for it, encourage foreign direct investment, protect it with tariffs and barriers on foreign competition while it grows, or simply let the market do its work. Each of these choices has its own strengths and drawbacks; for example, the free market option pleases capitalists, the IMF and encourages foreign investment independently and requires no direct costs, but is very unreliable, while foreign direct investment both brings new skills and assets to your country and improves foreign relations, but do not invest in the struggling sectors of your economy (a rural-urban gap is likely), try and push for weakened labour and environmental laws, and ship most of their profits back home.

TAX CREDITS
Tax credits are an excellent way of pushing for free-market solutions to problems. Want to promote energy independence? Tax credits for micro-generation, clean energy research, and energy conservation. Want free-market solutions to healthcare? Tax credits to employers to give their employees coverage. Want to promote educational choice? You get the picture. These tax credits are not without drawbacks though. Firstly, there is the cost. Secondly, they contribute to tax evasion. I would like a system where tax evasion is made more likely by the complexity of your tax code. A simple tax code with few credits would not leave many opportunities open for off-shore tax havens, while a convoluted mess of loopholes, levies and fees would both encourage and assist tax evasion. I also think tax evasion should be made a “permanent” variable (like oil demand, poverty and the like.)

TARIFFS
Instead of just a single tariff policy, nations will be able to adjust the tariff rates on specific products. Most nations will start off with at least a few tariffs. Tariffs are a double-edged sword; they protect and promote the growth of the domestic industry being protected by tariffs, please patriots and trade unionists, and raise revenues, but still harm international trade, anger capitalists and hurt international relations.

OMNIBUS BILLS
If there is a major issue facing your nation (poor education or healthcare, a terrible tax code, a struggling economy), you can propose an omnibus bill to sort it out, fixing it all in one swoop. Omnibus bills allow you to implement or change several policies at once in one large package. Due to their power, omnibus bills have several drawbacks; firstly, they magnify any negative opinion impacts (imagine the anger at Obamacare compared to smaller healthcare steps like the SCHIP expansion or the HITECH Act), secondly you can only do two every three years or term (whichever is shorter), and finally they carry a large political capital cost. It is possible to go into the negatives with omnibus bills (leaving you impotent for some time) or to curry support to reduce that cost. Receiving the support of legislators to reduce the political capital cost might require all manner of concessions: sunset provisions on key sections, exemptions or breaks for certain industries (coal-friendly legislators might request tax relief on a new carbon tax for coal mines, for example, and the sugar lobby might request subsidies in exchange for supporting a free trade deal exposing them to new competition), or anything else. They might even request plain and simple pork barrel spending.
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Re: Suggestions for Democracy 3

Postby jeffryfisher » Tue Dec 25, 2012 12:30 am

There's also the "rider": Similar to the omnibus bill (that may pass several policies for a cost less than their sum), the rider is something that would never pass on its own. Instead, it's buried deep within a popular and vitally necessary bill that may be completely unrelated.

Another trick: The legislature passes a bill that is so vague that its victims don't realize until too late that they should have opposed it. The executive branch (in a smoke-filled room behind closed doors) later "clarifies" the law by issuing "regulations" to implement a profoundly unpopular policy.

Vague laws are really abdications of power from the legislature to the executive. In the US and other constitutional republics, a strict reading of the Constitution would void such laws, but Constitutions are old-fashioned and obsolete, so nobody enforces them anymore.
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Re: Suggestions for Democracy 3

Postby General Goose » Tue Dec 25, 2012 2:58 am

Riders would be a good idea. And yeah, in order to recognise that unpopular bills can get smuggled through, there will be a "buying in bulk" discount in terms of political capital with omnibus bills, that increases as more items are included. Of course, the bigger it gets the more it'll be hated.
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Re: Suggestions for Democracy 3

Postby General Goose » Fri Jan 18, 2013 12:22 am

With Democracy 3 announced, let's get this thread going again.
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Re: Suggestions for Democracy 3

Postby jeffryfisher » Sat Jan 19, 2013 1:49 am

Some of the policies in D2 (such as stem cell research) are already "dated". D3 might try to generalize a bit more. Try "pure research" (things that edify without having a target invention in sight) and maybe "human experimentation", which would cover all those moral dilemmas that offer miracle cures at the possible cost of (sometimes embryonic) human lives.

However, if you really want to ignite controversy in the life sciences, then look into cloning (both organ replacement and human replication). How about legalizing "baby sales" (somebody deliberately conceiving on behalf of another)?
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Re: Suggestions for Democracy 3

Postby cliffski » Mon Jan 21, 2013 4:49 pm

Just posting to point out that I moved this to the new D3 forum, and that yes, a more general research policy would make more sense...
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Re: Suggestions for Democracy 3

Postby idealpragmatist » Tue Jan 22, 2013 5:21 am

Some Miscellaneous suggestions

I second the idea of not having to "x" any screen. "ok" or "cancel" buttons near the sliders, anything to reduce the need for repetitive large diagonal mouse movements (sounds lazy i know but ...)

integrate cabinet screens with policy screens.

have an overall score which takes into account progress on all your national stats plus current popularity

show projected trendlines on your national stats.

Have an actual start date (chosen at the start of the scenario) and then show the current date instead of turn number.

have a cabinet putsch as one way of losing the game (variation on the assasination), make the link between pressure group>cabinet members sympathies> loyalty stronger

party membership could be explicitly tied to available cabinet members. (i find party membership not very useful/interesting as is)

cabinet members effectiveness should be fixed, and the loyalty of highly effective ministers harder to keep.

have a more events and dilemmas based game, where advisors/cabinet ministers/pressure groups compete for your attention, and you spend most of your time deciding who to favor. Be able to play through without going to the upper right menus at all.

i generally dont agree that the policy simulation needs to be more complex. i would like to see it more accessible to 12 year olds - it is a great educational game.
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Re: Suggestions for Democracy 3

Postby jeffryfisher » Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:30 pm

idealpragmatist wrote:I generally don't agree that the policy simulation needs to be more complex. i would like to see it more accessible to 12 year olds - it is a great educational game.


I think that there can be a gap between the visible UI complexity and the "real" underlying game-model complexity. When playing in a mode simulating "the fog of war", much of the modeling should be hidden from players just as it is hidden from real-world presidents. A player would be able to see the direct effects between policies and measurable (visible) stats, but all indirect and unmeasurable effects would simply happen without any visible linkage.

If such a fog mode is developed, then the game will need a debug (analysis) mode so that developers / modders / advanced students of socio-economics can "see under the hood".

Having a debug mode also suggests having a replay feature whereby a player can stop at the end (or in the middle of) a game and then use debug mode to re-watch from the beginning and see what was really happening behind the scenes. It might also help debugging to allow pausing, and to allow a player / designer to resume play from any point of a recorded game (repeatability).

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