Democracy Released: Democracy Fails!

By Kieron Gillen on December 10th, 2007 at 9:31 pm.

Look, we have a graph to prove it and everything.

The New Scum do us in AGAIN.

So, yeah, playing my first game of Democracy 2 and things went awry. The National Front’s got a landslide, so it’s Jackboot stomping on a human face forever time. Pah. Anyway, if you think you can do better, the demo’s over here, but there’s a little post-match analysis and some more on Democracy (And its prequel) beneath the cut.

Here’s the voting turnout statistics, broken down by demographic.

Old people and soldiers. I wish them all dead.

As you can see, Socialists and Smokes dig my shit while the conservatives and the religious hate me. And in the game. I’ve no idea why the Smokers stayed on side with me, as one of my things was to introduce a tobacco tax in one of my many (completely futile) attempts to solve the budget deficit. That the religious hate me is perhaps a little more predictable – I legalised prostitution in another of my hare-brained schemes to try and balance the books and completely banned schools even mentioning creationism whatsoever. And increased funds into stem-cell research. And… well, lots of stuff. That the liberals deserted me is a little more disappointing, which I’d put down to me increasing funds to the police massively and infringing on a civil-liberty or two in my attempts to battle the organised crime, riots and lynch mobs which were crippling the country upon my arrival. In fact, put like that, I don’t think I did that bad. Yeah, we’ve even more awesomely in debt than when I walked in, but history will judge me kindly. I’m sure. Yes.

Fucking electorate.

As the first Democracy, it’s either a game you’ll immediately find yourself scratching your head over the possibility of why anyone would even want to play it or have downloaded it already. For anyone who gives a damn about the state of the nation, a game about trying to govern the (primarily internal) politics of a place is an appealing one. It’s also an appealing one cross political spectrum – while I’ll want to put my English Centre-Left-left-llleeeefffft policies (translation for Americans: Probably Counts As A Communist) into action by legalising everything bad in the world, people from the right can bring back national service. We’ll both want to bring back milk for kids though. When I played the original, I found myself boosting the budget by legalising and taxing everything, and then spending it all on health care. By the time I was voted out by pissed off conservatives, I’d raised the life expectancy by years. Which was worth it. Walker, who makes me look like Oswald Mosley managed to get himself assassinated by an unholy alliance of military, big-business and religious groups. Meanwhile, Dan Gril – friend of RPS, Ex-housemate and now glorious PR whore – put the time he spent hanging around MPs into practice, went fully Keynesian and made a paradise on earth full of flowers.

So, if the opportunity ever arises, vote for Gril, yeah?

I think Democracy is my favourite of Cliff Harris’ – Positech’s one-man dynamo – games. I suspect because it’s the one which fits best with his design style and presentation. For something like Kudos, his stats-heavy games can feel a little cold in their presentation. It lacks Glamour. Conversely, this approach is absolutely perfect for modern politics – that sense of adulthood and seriousness adds to it. And Democracy 2 is probably, in its details, the most attractive of Harris’ games.

That said, most of the times you’ll be looking at screens like this:
Aieeeekkkkkk!!!!.

And when you hover a mouse over one of the nodes, something like this’ll happen…
Aieeeekkkkkk!!!! Mrk 2

Which can be a little intimidating, but in practice is a clear way of showing how factors relate to each other. What influences – say – Crime? Move over crime, and it’ll tell you. Click on the connected police node, and fiddle with spending – or, at least as much as your political capital will allow.The main game-like feature is the capital, which is generated every-round and allows you to alter legislation or bring in new stuff. The main changes for the new version is a more sophisticated modeling of the demographic, so individuals are scaled in their sympathies to the various groups rather than “just” being a Liberal Car-driver or whatever. The addition of your cabinet ministers adds another level of things to worry about. For example, my highly talented minister dealing with Welfare threatened his resignation over my complete alienation of religious groups. Also, the game’s moved away from trying to simulate real countries – which was never its strongest point – instead dealing with abstract nations, which can be personalised by altering various sliders. Obviously, trying to – say- abolish faith schools in a fundamentalist nation is a little trickier than doing the same thing in a Secular one.

The demo’s a couple of Peggles big and there’s more information on the site. And, as a final note, it’s the first game I’ve ever played which features a slider to alter the level of “cynicism”.

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37 Comments »

  1. Evo says:

    Got to have a look at this :D

    I study History and Politics at University….wonder if I can use this in an essay!

    Downloading time…

  2. Janek says:

    Must order this at some point – I enjoyed the demos for both Democracy games immensely. Poor bank balance.

    Still, Christmas soon I guess.

  3. twb says:

    Unfortunately, the demo’s a bit short to determine if it’s got replayability value, though I did have fun trying to implement my corporatist panopticon state (“Freedom is a two way street: the poor should have the right to sell their bodies to the rich, and the rich should have the right to do whatever they want to them.”)

    Hrm. Perhaps I’ll find my old “Shadow President” disks and see if I can get that running again.

  4. Cruz says:

    As usual, thank you RPS for pointing out gems like this that I would have missed otherwise.

  5. Evo says:

    Had some fun in the demo…sending everyone annoyed and the country into debt :D

    Will have to get this after Christmas

  6. Thesper says:

    How did you manage to get 50% of socialists to vote for the National Front?

  7. Freelancepolice says:

    this made my brain melt when I started the demo. Looks nice and involving and perhaps has the same appeal of Civ and controlling your country?

    Tell me it’s not as complicated as it looks?

  8. Kieron Gillen says:

    FreelancePolice: It’s really not. Mainly, if it’s red, it means “this is a problem”. If you hover over the red thing, it shows you the things which are currently influencing it. You then, by either selecting them (if it’s a policy) or hovering over them and working out what’s influencing THEM (For example – if it’s organised crime causing crime, you follow up the chain and find out that organised crime is being influenced by – say – gambling).

    That’s the basics. The other main thing is that one of the buttons at the top allows you to put entirely new policies on the map, but it’s pointed out in the tutorial.

    Thesper: Dedication.

    KG

  9. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    It seemed fairly straightforward in the demo to me, and suprisingly I didn’t cock everything up within two turns. Although for some reason half my ministers hate me. Perhaps banning Creationism with spare political capital while leading the Jehovah Party wasn’t the wisest move.

    It’s a shame the demo is so short as I never felt I quite grasped the game, but it’s certainly got me interested. Cheers for the heads up.

  10. Pod says:

    I played the originals demo twice and found it very easy. At one point i had 90% of ALL the groups, pretty much. (Except the conservatives I think…was a while ago). Mayeb I should go into politics?

  11. Pod says:

    I wish I could delete comments….. this game is a lot harder than I remember. Maybe I wimped out and turned down the difficulty? :o Some of their other games look ace, by the way.

  12. Thesper says:

    Well my plan to slash defence spending to pump up more health, education and policing was going fine. But then the demo ended :(. I didn’t even have time to enact all the anti-foreigner policies I was planning on to appease the my patriot/conservative base.

    Guess I’ll have to buy it.

  13. Pidesco says:

    I’ll have to give this a go.

  14. simonkaye says:

    My god this is brilliant. I’m going to be up all night with this.

  15. Pidesco says:

    It crashes when I try to start a new game…

  16. Mickiscoole says:

    Pidesco:
    I got around that by running windowed.

    Wow. This is hard. I managed to get the defecit down to about 3 billion because I massively increased taxes and spending got massively cut. Then my cabinet ministers quit.
    And Then I got kicked out because of the debt

  17. simonkaye says:

    And here I am, at 4am. Somehow, over the last three hours, I achieved a socialist utopia. Something about wholesale replacing income tax with environmental taxes. Maybe I should write a letter to the economist or something.

  18. Pidesco says:

    Actually I was already running it windowed. Fortunately, like on my 5th try at starting a new game, it worked.

    This is a lot of fun. I didn’t do too badly. Everyone liked me except for the capitalists and the conservatives, and I was solving problems almost every turn. I still hadn’t turned the finances around, but I had already gained some 30% in the polls, and so I’d probably would have stayed in office if the demo hadn’t ended before the election.

    Unfortunately the demo is really short, and I spent my gaming money, yesterday. This is on my buy list though.

  19. Kieron Gillen says:

    It’s definitely harder than the first one, I think. Which isn’t a bad thing. I probably should try and talk Gril into having a more in depth look.

    KG

  20. Fleacircus says:

    I don’t know if it shares a single thing in common but this post made me think of http://www.nationstates.net/ – a clever little game to promote a clever little book. It surely isn’t as in depth as this game but it was still fun to poke at and make my left wing utopia.

  21. Flint says:

    Yeah, I was reminded of NationStates too. Might download the demo for this because I really liked the idea of shaping a nation according to my whims yet NationStates got really really repetetive after a while + it’s quite superficial anyway. Plus this has statistics, which makes a statistics geek like me excited.

    The UI scares me though, based on the screenshots.

  22. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    The dilemmas at the end of each turn reminded me of NationStates actually. Aside from that though the games have very little in common, not least because you’re always pandering to the needs of the masses to stay in power in Democracy versus being able to create whatever kind of crazy governance style you want in NationStates.

  23. Kast says:

    Well that was a short demo… didn’t even let me get to the next election. Though my punitive taxes on fuel and tobacco products helped turn around the country’s debt problem even with my vastly increased spending on public services and community enforcement. I managed to obliterate gang culture while maintaining civil liberties. So what if the middle class conservatives hated me? I’d made the country a better place for all. That’s what leadership means!

    It’s completely overwhelming at first, even with the tutorial, but with a little experimentation it’s possible to get a fair grasp of how to bend the country to your will. I didn’t fancy playing around with ministers but I imagine that they’re quite important to long-term play. I don’t care – I’m in charge! A bonevolant dictatorship is what this nation needs and that is what it is going to get!

  24. roBurky says:

    I bought the original, and had some fun with it until I felt the numbers underneath were beginning to show and the mystery was lost.

    What exactly has changed for the sequel? Superficially it looks identical.

  25. Matt says:

    Pidesco says:

    It crashes when I try to start a new game…

    I had the same problem. It stopped after it stopped showing the “tip” in the new game screen, however now it crashes further into the game (around 15-20 min). Are you running Vista X64? I’m guessing that that’s the culprit for me.

  26. Pidesco says:

    No, I’m running XP SP2.

    Although the problem also disappeared after the tip window stopped showing.

  27. Pidesco says:

    Also, it doesn’t crash after 20 mins. It ran perfectly stable after that early snag.

  28. Garth says:

    Although I think the demo should be longer, I really am likely to buy it based on the play I had. My God is this fun. I don’t even know why, it just is.

    I was really proud of myself too. I got the deficit from 15bil to 3.5bil, raised the GDP significantly, made sure the Church would assassinate me, put a dent in crime, lowered the jobless rate, removed the drinking age…

  29. Alex Hopkinson says:

    Bought it last night. On the train this morning the global economy went into recession at the same time as my chancellor resigning and said recession has caused a sudden outbreak of binge drinking and lost me 4 points on my approval rating! Goddamn voters.

  30. Janek says:

    Yeah I caved as well.

    I was doing pretty well on my first game, winning the first election, up until the global economy went into recession, causing debt to start piling up again. Then a major employer went bust and due to the recession I couldn’t afford to bail them out, leading to a surge of unemployment, which made the debt even worse. It just spiralled out of control until I got the boot.

  31. Piratepete says:

    Janek:

    Was there no opportunity to do what Politicians do these days and deny all responsibility, sack some poor sap of a subordinate and then blame it all on the previous administration. Shame.

  32. Alex Hopkinson says:

    I got the boot for extreme levels of national debt as well, but not until I’d won a second term by a landslide and turned Freedonia into a one party state. This time around it’s money first, politics second… which is causing my approval rating to drift below 50%. Maybe it’s time for Import Tarriffs to fund better schools & hospitals.

  33. Shawny D says:

    I can tell you all, in case it’s been said already, Brad Wardell, while I like him on his pro-consumer stance, is a righty from reading his personal blog. It just so happens that “The Political Machine 2008″ is much easier to win on the right, then the left..just something I realized after playing with a it a bit.

    Mostly, the beginning stats of who favors what is stacked in favor of the right. For instance, the game has the Indie’s favoring conservative republican issues, which for the most part just isn’t the case this year, especially in this election here in the States. In fact, the game seems to go overboard to favor the right, straight from the beginning.

    IMO, we’re right of center compared to Western Europe in many cases, but definitely left of center compared to the rest of the world, by far. I know this is a different game, but I figured I would throw that out…

  34. Robyrt says:

    I really liked Democracy 1, so I’m excited to see what improvements he’s made. Hopefully the game isn’t so easy (basically any country could be beaten by ramping up grants and tariffs, then cutting military spending, for a massive GDP surge that let you buy 50% of the vote).

  35. weirwood says:

    Sometime, ou really should take a look at Hidden Agenda.