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Fireball1244

My PF+P Critique

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Hello, everyone. Former lurker and longtime player of PF here. I've run through a couple of games in PF+P, and I've got some thoughts. Many of these have been shared by others on the board, but a little pile-on regarding important stuff is never a bad thing.

I like the game quite a bit. It feels more "solid" than the old version, in terms of the work involved to win. And it feels long -- like a presidential campaign should.

THINGS I LIKE:

1) The new vice president controls (but please do a find and replace and lose the "leader" stuff). Being able to control my Veep and have him build the campaign, barnstorm, debate prep, etc, is fantastic.

2) Election Night is wonderful, with a few caveats.

3) The primary play feels very real, with a few caveats.

4) Far fewer "Scandal on XXXX!" events, which always drove me nuts in the old version.

5) The "plan a week" functionality during the primaries. Though I agree the news recaps are overwhelming.

6) Federal Spending Limits during the fall campaign.

THINGS I'D LIKE TO SEE IMPROVED:

1) The money is all messed up. I'm Hillary Clinton, and I have a fund raiser, and I raise $45,000? WTF? That should be $450,000. There should be a reciprocal relationship between how well you're doing in the polls and how much money you can raise. Candidates polling at over 10% should be able to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars with one fundraiser. Candidates polling at over 20% should be able to raise over a million. That's reality.

Also, after our conventions, the Democrats get $70 million, and the Republicans $75. That's not right. Both parties receive the exact same amount of money.

2) Withdraw! Withdraw! No one ever seems to withdraw! There needs to be a stick-to-it-ness rating for each of the computer candidates (some would call this a "rationality rating"). Every computer candidate should have a threshold where if they fall below a certain percentage of delegates won for more than two or three turns, they should drop out, and offer to endorse either the frontrunner, if there's a clear one, or the best-performing candidate they like the best. Remember, a month in to the 2004 Primaries, it was down to Kerry, Edwards, Dean, Sharpton and Kucinich. Even the player's candidate should be encouraged to drop out if things go badly -- money should dry up. Footsoldiers should vanish (this might only be a "hard" setting idea).

3) Election Night is wonderful, and frustrating. It looks gorgeous, but the speed is frustrating. At the beginning, things move way too fast, and I can't keep up with the changing numbers. At the end, things move way too slow, and I spend minutes just waiting for the last votes from California and Alaska to trickle in. The speed of Election Night should be user-configurable, from twice as fast as it is now to one half as fast.

Also, what do the three different electoral vote counts mean? There's the big number and the small number, and then the number off to the side. There should be a formula for determining when a state is called (say, when the closing the vote lead would require the losing candidate to perform twice as well among remaining votes as he/she has performed in the counted vote), and only then should the votes be allocated to one candidate or another. With the three wildly different numbers, it's hard to make sense of the race.

I like the difference between the dark-color and bright-color states on the map, but I'd prefer that they have more logical meanings. Dark-color states should be those that have been called, bright-color states should be those that are leaning one way or another but have not yet been called.

4) Ummm, how do I fly from one state to another without barnstorming? If I'm in New York, and I want to give a speech in California, how do I get there to give that speech next turn? In the old game, I could have a fundraiser in New York, and set my "next turn" to be in California. Next turn I'd be in California, where I could give a speech. Why can't I do that anymore? When my energy gets down, I don't want to barnstorm, because I make so many gaffes. Yet I can't travel without barnstorming.

5) I've won the primary in May, so now what do I do until September? In the real world, I would start running a pre-federal financing general campaign. So I try to do that, but it doesn't seem to work. I go around the country giving speeches or running ads, but it never seems to effect the R v. D tilt of any of the state. It should.

6) Please put back the status of my campaign in each state in the ad buy window. I want to run ads in my "Fair" or "Poor" states. There's no easy way to do that anymore. Like the travel issue above, this makes gameplay clumsier than in the old version. I should never have to write a bunch of states down on a piece of paper to know where to put my ads!

THINGS THAT MUST BE FIXED:

1) I'm Hillary Clinton. I just slogged through a tough primary, but won a majority of delegates. On the GOP side, their primary continues into a contested convention. Things should be going my way, right? Well, then why am I losing in New York, Massachusetts, California, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire????? The same thing happened after I won the 2004 primary as Kerry -- I was losing New York by 45% and Massachusetts by 40%!!!!

This is absolute nonsense. Events in the primaries should have an impact on the situation going into the Fall, but it should be REALISTIC. If the Dems have a grueling primary, then I'd expect to be behind Bush in most of the swing states. Maybe even have a lot of my Democratic supporters be undecided in my base states. But 68% of folks in Massachusetts voting for Bush? That's absurd. The post-primary landscape needs to be far more rigid than that, until September 1, if only to reflect that most people aren't paying attention and will just give their default partisanship when questioned by pollsters.

In my 2004 example, I spent most of my money and time running ads, making speeches and barnstorming through these EASY TO WIN STATES FOR A DEMOCRAT, and still lost them ALL handidly. Despite the fact that I had huge momentum in them the entire general campaign. I was SO FAR DOWN at the start, that there was no coming back.

THIS SHOULD NOT HAPPEN. It ruins the realism of the game, and so frustrated me that, as much as I like most everything else (my minor caveats above aside), I don't intend to play the game anymore until this clear problem is fixed.

So please please please fix it.

Most everything else about the game is great -- but this staggering lack of post-primary realism is devastating to the gameplay experience.

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I wonder, would a quick fix to the general election issues be to radically decrease the amount of undecided voters in the percentages file?

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It's very easy for third party candidates to win states. In 2008, the Constitution party made history when I decided to stay in Texas and campaign there. I winded up making Texas "Constitution Country".

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I think undeceideds are way too high. Everything in the game starts out realistically, but in the general election too many states switch colors. Way too many news briefs each turn in th eprimaries, that is relaly overwhelming.

I would stick to many undeceideds in the primaries though. John Edwards came out of nowhere last year, and Kerry came back from the dead.

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