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Scenario Creation Articles


EGaffney
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I have lots of experience designing scenarios - mostly historic elections for Prime Minister Forever, but also fictional scenarios. Different situations pose different problems for designers. I think those of us who have experience of fine-tuning certain areas should share it, both for new designers and for experienced users who want to branch out into a new area. This can be for all the TheorySpark games.

I'll post some articles. Discussion is quite welcome, so we as a community can explore all the possibilities for solving problems that arise in design. If anyone wants to either contribute an article or request a topic for discussion, post it here.

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Managing Minor and Regional Parties in Prime Minister Forever

When considering a Prime Minister Forever scenario, we can generally break parties down into three groups:

1. Major parties: the two, or rarely three, parties with a significant presence everywhere on the map and have a good chance of winning. e.g. Labour or the Conservatives in a UK scenario.

2. Minor parties: the parties with lower polling numbers that have a presence across the map and aren't going to win. e.g. the Liberal Democrats or smaller parties in a UK scenario.

3. Regional parties: these have polling numbers like major parties, but located within a single region. e.g. the Scottish National Party in a UK scenario.

The poll numbers for minor and regional parties tend to trend upwards during the course of a game for the following reasons.

1. The AI tends to only attack major parties in attack ads. Minor parties don't have as many votes to lose and regional parties aren't worth the cost of ad production.

2. Parties can choose to only barnstorm the areas in which they are strongest. Minor and regional parties will generally have their most winnable seats concentrated in a smaller number of regions than major parties.

3. Some bonuses are similar for all parties regardless of size or budget, e.g. seat targetting in barnstorming or in the Seats list. Small parties with fewer seats to contest get a disproportionate bonus.

4. Regional parties in particular often use their CP to target seats. This helps them build a presence and pull off surprise wins.

This can cause big deviations from real results. For instance, when designing the UK - 1979 scenario, the SNP consistently won 4-8 seats at first, when in reality they won two. If you win 2-6 seats more as a 400-seat party, that's not too serious, but it's a problem as a 2-seat party.

The question is: how do we cripple the AI if we want realistic results? Here are some things to try.

1. Reduce establishment bonus. Fewer CP means fewer targetted seats and events.

2. Reduce party budget. Fewer ads; also, less likely to fund lots of targetting.

3. Use the electorate_trends.p4e file to reduce the overall vote for the party in its regions by the amount of the vote that they tend to gain.

4. If the problem is limited to specific seats, reduce the minor/regional party's share of the vote specifically in those seats.

5. Reduce candidate strength (i.e. stars) in the ridings_data.p4e file. This means targetting is necessary to just bring candidates up to normal strength.

6. Create an event that reduces momentum for the party at the last stage of the campaign. This reduces overall numbers and turnout.

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  • 3 months later...

How many parties/players should be in my scenario?

Option 1

All of them. Even give an Independent candidate a seperate party status.

In reality, few people play a scenario to be the smaller/insignificant parties or solitary Independents. Furthermore, the effort of creating sperate player status for all the smaller parties is probably not worth the time and effort that goes into creating your scenario.

Option 2

Four. Regardless of how many parties there were, the right answer is 4.

In their infinite wisdom, 80soft designed the game as a '4 player' game. All the game views show no more than 4 parties at any one time. Any more parties involves frequently scrolling up and down pages to see what is going on which is a hassle for any player. There is no reason why smaller parties can not be grouped together with all their leaders as candidate options into one player.

Option 3

Four - or more in certain circumstances.

In some countries, like the UK, political parties in Northern Ireland are different from the rest. This means that Northern Ireland is in reality, an election within an election. This means that as long as the Northern Ireland parties all appear on the same page, it does not matter if they are not on the first page. Northern Ireland parties in UK elections should ideally always be the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th party listed.

Option 4

No hard and fast rules.

Some scenario subject matter refuse to fit neatly into 80soft's design and can't be grouped into just 4 players. Take Canada for instance; Conservative, Lib, NDP and BQ is okay for the 4 but in the historical scenarios where there are PC/Reform you should use 5. Unless of course you combine NDP and BQ as the 4th party since the NDP didn't feature in Qc. It may not look as stylish but if you are campaigning in Qc it makes life a lot easier whichever party you are playing.

Option 5

I'm just not bothered.

If you just want to get your scenario out there and for it to be as easy a task as possible, you are probably taking someone elses scenario as your starting point. In which case, you are better off using the same number of parties as they did as it requires less work to change things. However, accept that some people may criticise your scenario for being too off the peg rather than tailor made.

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I have lots of experience designing scenarios - mostly historic elections for Prime Minister Forever, but also fictional scenarios. Different situations pose different problems for designers. I think those of us who have experience of fine-tuning certain areas should share it, both for new designers and for experienced users who want to branch out into a new area. This can be for all the TheorySpark games.

I'll post some articles. Discussion is quite welcome, so we as a community can explore all the possibilities for solving problems that arise in design. If anyone wants to either contribute an article or request a topic for discussion, post it here.

-

Managing Minor and Regional Parties in Prime Minister Forever

Regional parties: these have polling numbers like major parties, but located within a single region. e.g. the Scottish National Party in a UK scenario.

The question is: how do we cripple the AI if we want realistic results? Here are some things to try.

Another thing to try is to change the status of the regional party, by making it a national party.

This will have 2 effects

1. They will be able to compete for national endorsements, but in reality will have little prospect of securing them. [This won't help nobble them.]

2. They will put out adverts and will send their crusaders and their leader to parts of the country where they don't have candidates to no useful purpose whilst using up limited resources. [This will seriously nobble them]

Which leads me to a key campaigning factor. To use the SNP example again, if the SNP is a regional party then in an election where Scotland has only 2 areas, eg Gaffers 1979 scenario [North Scotland and South Scotland] then the crusader and leader will continuously bounce back and forth between those two areas apart from the occasional rest. If however, Scotland is broken down into smaller chunks, their effect will be lessened.

When I play a scenario I usually decide how much I will barnstorm/use crusaders depending on how many areas there are in a scenario. For instance, in the 80soft BC scenarios there are only 7 areas which means crusading is more useful to do than in their alberta scenarios.

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Another thing to try is to change the status of the regional party, by making it a national party.

This will have 2 effects

1. They will be able to compete for national endorsements, but in reality will have little prospect of securing them. [This won't help nobble them.]

2. They will put out adverts and will send their crusaders and their leader to parts of the country where they don't have candidates to no useful purpose whilst using up limited resources. [This will seriously nobble them]

Another thing you can do to nobble the regional parties is to tell them they have candidates running in regions where they have no candidates running. The AI is fortunately dumb enough that it will waste money putting up Scots Nats billboards in London, if you tell it that there are lots of potential voters there.

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  • 3 months later...

Someone (I think GOP progressive) posted a tip on converting a PM4E scenario to a C4E scenario. Does anyone know how to do this? Good articles so far btw :)

There was also a checklist on "what to make sure is in place before you design a scenario"

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