Arrest The President: Neocolonialism Is Out Now

By Graham Smith on November 7th, 2013 at 9:00 am.

Make money not war.

Just as Soren Johnson founds a company to produce competitive, economy-driven strategy games, along comes Neocolonialism. It’s a turn-based, competitive strategy game about dominating the planet through economic means: by buying votes, extracting wealth via factories and mines, and backstabbing your opponents.

I’ve just had a quick go of it, and it seems very smart. It took me about 20 minutes to blast through the texty tutorials, and the basic mechanics seem straightforward enough. Each match is made of 12 turns, and each of those happens in 3 stages. The first involves buying votes in different regions of the world, like Europe or Central Asia, and electing players as Prime Minsters of those regions. The second stage involves Prime Minsters proposing policies, like the building of factories and mines, and players voting on those decisions to reject or ratify them. The third stage sees one player – everyone gets a turn – take control of the International Monetary Fund and respond, or not, to a region’s disaster. The aim is to have the most money in your Swiss bank account by the end of the game.

From there, I imagine it’ll spin out into a world of dodgy dealings, with players – the game is designed for between 3 and 6 – making secret deals to get themselves into power, collaborating in their political policies, and looking to exploit the cheap labour of the developing world as much as possible. I am listening to this on repeat while I play, but I am always listening to that on repeat.

If you can wait till later in the week, the RPS’ congress will give it a whirl together and report back with our findings. If you can’t wait, it’s available to buy from the Neocolonialism site now, and up on Greenlight for people who stubbornly refuse to do anything without Steam’s permission.

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29 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge

    Gap Gen says:

    This game looks amazing, and at the same time, I can see the developer’s frustration in trying to find screenshots that look at all different in a tiny embedded video.

  2. karthink says:

    My clearest memory of this game’s Kickstarter is the section that explained what the money would be used for. Basically: Rent.

    But I passed on the KS, and now I’m itching to try it.

    • FF56 says:

      Is rent a bad way for an indie to use Kickstarter money?

      • karthink says:

        Of course not. It was amusingly straightforward and to the point.

    • Premium User Badge

      Gap Gen says:

      If you’re just developing on your own on kit you already own, I imagine living costs are the main development concern.

  3. Didden says:

    Or you could just watch the news and watch the real thing unfold?

  4. Porkolt says:

    How does the multiplayer work? You explained it’s turn-based, but does it support play-by-e-mail?

  5. Fhoenix says:

    Fantastic trailer. “Negotiate” it says. Now if only the resolution was high enough to actually see what is been negotiated. Those 30 seconds of logos and quotes from RPS and others? Okay. Those other 30 seconds showing the game itself? Not so okay.

    The idea sounds interesting, though.

  6. James Allen says:

    Here is my video review of Neocolonialism, if you are so inclined. It’s in HD :)

  7. Premium User Badge

    strangeloup says:

    I’m sure I had a version of this (demo? beta?) about a hundred years ago. At the time it was basically unplayable, because it was multiplayer only and no bugger else was playing it.

    I remember the upside-down map! And, er, that’s about it.

    • Lev Astov says:

      I saw it at MAGFest this past winter and it had a really basic AI. It was one of the more fascinating games in the indie section, though, so I’m excited to try the release.

  8. Shadow says:

    Looks interesting, but… why oh why is the map upside-down? I suppose they’re trying to communicate some message like “the real world is upside down too”. But it’s not worth the aesthetic sacrifice: the message is redundant, already made obvious by the rest of the game. In the end, the result just looks disproportionately ugly.

    • JakeTheTall says:

      Peter’s Projection.

      XKCD

      Explained by The West Wing

    • nebnebben says:

      The map is not upside-down. The world is not any way up and I can’t see how switching most peoples normal perceptions of something is a bad thing. Nor do I think it is ugly or a sacrifice because it has been switched. It’s quite arrogant to presume that there is only one correct way of looking at the world’

      • DatonKallandor says:

        Useability and playability is why it’s a bad thing.

        • The Random One says:

          Only if you presume that needing to know what real countries the areas in the game map to is necessary to play effectively. That doesn’t seem to be the case, so the map could be represented by random splotches of color without affecting useability.

      • SillyWizard says:

        Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

        If you’re being serious here, you were just waiting for an opportunity to spring this, weren’t you?

        Otherwise: nice troll.

    • Lightningproof says:

      ‘Normal’ map projections tend to foster a subconscious assumption that the countries at the top are more important than the countries at the bottom. The map used in Neocolonialism is meant to combat that assumption. It is jarring, I agree, but I like the intent.

      Basically, this is what happens when Marxists make vidjagames.

      • SillyWizard says:

        By pretty much any qualifier, generally the countries at the top are more important. Re-orienting the map isn’t going to change that.

        Blah blah blah we’re all beautiful children yadda yadda, no I don’t think that some individuals are better than others. The US is still more economically/politically/militarily/culturally important than France > Greece > Egypt > Qatar > Botswana.

        Also, that Guns, Steel and Germs dude was a hack of Mythbusters proportions.

        • tormos says:

          I’m really confused about what your first two paragraphs have to do with your third. In addition to not being true, it seems to be trying to cast Diamond as a Marxist which he explicitly is not. And even if he was, I don’t see how that would be relevant to the argument about upside down maps, which is not anywhere close to what is discussed in Guns, Germs, and Steel.

    • Shadow says:

      There’s no arrogance in my comment. Especially in western culture, north has been up (and east is right, for that matter) since the times of Greek astronomer Ptolemy, and maps are generally organized to follow that convention.

      More importantly, it’s just what we’re used to and feels comfortable to see. If you want to convey the real world is screwed up, all the other mechanics of the game already do that, so adding visual discomfort to the mix seems ultimately pointless to me.

      I understand the need for precision and good proportions in maps, and that the Mercator projection exaggerates sizes in the Northern Hemisphere, I’m all for correcting that. The reasons for flipping north and south, however, seem to be much more subjective and perhaps finicky. If anything, the connotation of top-bottom needs to be amended, as opposed to flipping the -entire rest of the world- to suit it. Because the issue goes way beyond cartography.

      • Premium User Badge

        AndrewC says:

        ‘Don’t change the small picture until you change the largest picture possible’ – such arguments are always used by conservatives resistant to change, but that’s OK.

        Inverting the map is a disruption. It removes the comfort of familiarity and makes us react to the information in new ways. This is a good, exciting thing.

        And if it annoys conservatives, all the better.

        • Shadow says:

          I suppose you’re trying to shoehorn me into some generalizing political stereotype that’s resistant to change. Like pretty much everyone else, I’m conservative in some areas and liberal in others. But I’m not trying to make a political argument here.

          I’m talking about this game, in which flipping the map won’t make me “react to information in new ways”. It’s only making me think “why did you have to go and do that?” Jarring, and would definitely be thought-provoking if it weren’t for the fact it’s terribly redundant considering the context. That’s my artistic opinion.

      • MrUnimport says:

        You think the developers should spend time infiltrating the public subconscious and performing Inception-style feats of mental/cultural reprogramming instead of just flipping the map?

        Who cares? Unless your brain is made from rusty clockwork, just get used to it and move on.

        • subalterngames says:

          On the contrary, MrUnimport, I can assure you that the devs are indeed hard at work “infiltrating the public subconcious”. We have so far gotten people to belive that there is such a thing as left and right socks, and that bagels are the same thing as frisbees. Manifesting acceptance of the upside down map has proven to be trickier.

          –Subaltern Games

          • MrUnimport says:

            If you were on Kickstarter, I’d have a snide comment about use of budget. But you’re not, so I’ll have to go back to spreading cream cheese on this frisbee.

  9. Kubrick Stare Nun says:

    “…and up on Greenlight for people who stubbornly refuse to do anything without Steam’s permission.”

    Fuck off, I buy from Steam because it’s cheaper.

  10. tobascodagama says:

    This game makes me angry. The Civ genre needs its “Spec Ops: The Line”, but this game is not it. It isn’t nearly as clever as it thinks it is.