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General Observations and Critiques (President Infinity)


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@admin_270

I have to open by admitting that I have yet to play a full game of President Infinity, least starting in the primaries and ending in the election proper; often I only play within either the primaries or the election individually given I still find the way the game interacts between the two … odd at the best of times, which can upend what would normally be sensible strategies. Also I apologize if any points or observations I make are those I've made in the past.

That being said:

  • Crusaders as they currently stand are not well designed, in my opinion. As most crusaders have a very limited period of use (5 Campaign Points), you often trotting one out just as your on the cusp of expending one you've trained the week before. The player ends on concentrating on a small handful of powerful Crusaders at the expense of all the others, leaving the question of why they are available as crusaders in the first place; I personally don't use most of the Senators or Governors for example. At the same time, I'm aware from some edits that increasing the longevity of these crusaders is quite destabilizing to the game, as it is possible to reach a critical mass where the player can consistently achieve positive momentum, even into the double digits.
    • I'd still argue for making crusaders permanent, in that they don't need to be retrained, but to apply stricter conditions in terms of their use. The pool of points each Crusader has would function as their stamina, which would slowly regenerate over time to an established cap (whether that cap be 5, 10, 25 and so on). The point cost of an action however would vary from Crusader to Crusader, depending on their specializations (it would be more expensive points wise to get a "spin doctor" to barnstorm, as that would not be their preference), if they are alongside the Candidate or his running-mate (they'd rather be a part of major events rather than on their own), or they are "cool" towards the endorsee (they are less enthusiastic about their support and so perform fewer actions)
    • Certain Crusaders would also be restricted in terms of the regions in which they can aid their chosen candidate. The most obvious example are those candidates who are running for re-election, and so usually are unable to spend a significant amount of time outside of their State. As an added caveat however, the actions of "most" Crusaders would have a cost savings in their home states.
    • The cost of a Crusader's action is dependent on the level of the related skill. Part of me feels that the best system would be one that is something in this order, based on skill level; ($5k), ($10k), ($15k), ($20k), ($25k). That would allow weaker campaigns that are struggling financially to still put out basic Crusaders or Fundraisers. I'd also have the cost for a Crusader cut down by a percentage based on how well organized the candidate is in that particular State, and whether they are being bundled with the candidate themselves or the running-mate.
    • Crusaders should be allowed to participate in a Rally action, but the Candidate or Running-mate must be present at the Rally on that turn.
    • Crusaders should have an option allowing automated fundraising, or even a balanced approach between fundraising and barnstorming.
    • You should have an organizational list of your Crusaders based on their remaining action points, on each of their specific skills, and on their home regions.
  •  Campaign infrastructure costs make very little sense as they currently stand. It shouldn't cost the same to maintain campaign infrastructure (footsoldiers) in California as it does in Wyoming, else you are providing a significant advantage to smaller campaigns who are now able to affordably compete in larger States they wouldn't otherwise.
    • As an example, let us assume that the cost of maintaining a basic foot-soldier network in Wyoming, with a population of (577,737), at (Lvl 1) would be ($100). That means at the other various levels, as game costs currently stand, would be respectively ($200), ($300), ($400), and ($500). California on the other hand, with a population of (39,557,045), at (Lvl 1) should be ~($7,100), the subsequent levels being ~($14,200), ~($21,300), ~($28,400), and ~($35,600). While those costs may seem exorbitant, I'd add the caveat that those costs would also be dependent on how "active" the footsoldiers themselves are, explained below.
    • Footsoldiers would have a flat cost similar to organization, representing the leadership of that particular network or set, in addition to a cost and power modifier of (0.25); I've never understood why footsoldiers were turned off entirely before the (90) day window of the Election or the Primary, as you inevitably still have volunteers campaigning in the interim. The subsequent cost and power modifiers would respectively be (0.50), (0.75), and (1.00). As costs would rise and fall depending on their level of activity, they won't become money sinks throughout.
    • Footsoldiers provided by endorsers should also come with a cost savings, in that the first (25%) or (50%) of the maintenance would be "paid for", making them that much more advantageous to acquire. Possibly they should cover even more, depends on how it'd play out.
    • National endorsers, when it comes to footsoldiers, should favor certain regions more than others. Certain multipliers should be in place to make sure that there is a more balanced layout of footsoldiers across all the regions, that footsoldiers placed are more liable to be in regions that are close to their political views, and so on. As the Republican candidate, it can be a mite annoying to have your endorsers place (5) footsoldiers in D.C., and none in Ohio or Pennsylvania.
  • Advertising as currently implemented is a bit of a core to manage, especially if you are trying to manage them on the Regional level in combination with the National level.
    • There should be an option to immediately renew and keep running any advertisement that the player has set up. If I have televised advertising in Iowa extolling my candidates views on gun control, I don't really want to go back to Iowa week after week to delete the old advertisement, scroll through the options to pick myself and then the issue, set the budget, and so on; if the setup is never going to be different, why can't the player automate it? It would save a significant amount of time.
    • Web advertising is far too easy to take an advantage of given it just has a flat cost of ($1k), and can be spammed. I'd argue that a Web Ad should be able to run for the normal seven day period as any other Ad, but that the running cost should be ($0.01) per person (assuming we are using a pay-per-view model akin to Google). That would be ~($3.3m) a turn nationally, or a rate of ~($32k) per turn in a State like Iowa, making it a viable alternative for smaller targeted campaigns.
    • Super PACs need a much larger presence in the campaign as they did a lot of advertising on their own, and at the moment I just don't really see it. Many of the endorsers should come with their own Super PACs, such as the National Rifle Association, which then work to support the candidate from their particular direction (the NRA would be running Ads centering on Gun Control for example).
    • Direct Mail should be one of the types of advertising available to Candidates given its rather common usage; honestly surprised it has never been included. It is also a potent means of fundraising, but I'm not sure how best to represent it beyond it also providing a boost to background fundraising.
  •  The scale for Issue Familiarity and Debating skill should be flat, rather than gaining points at each level. While I understand this was done with the intention of making it harder to for a candidate to progress to the next skill level, it has the unfortunate side-effect of making it easier for low-level candidates to lose their skill. I'd argue this gives a major advantage to candidates who start a scenario with higher skill levels.
    • I've also noticed that you can max either skill to (10), and then continue training to (80/80). Once you do so it "locks", meaning you never need to practice either skill again.
  • If a candidate is available as an endorser, they should immediately start with the benefits of their own "endorsement".
    • Governor Larry Hogan places a free footsoldier in Maryland for whomever he endorses; therefore, if running, he should start with said footsoldier. I'm less sure though how best to apply this to candidates or endorsers who place footsoldiers on the national level.
  • There still seem to be major problems when it comes to maintaining support for the candidates. Committed voters almost never appear to actually be "committed" to their candidates, and with enough negative momentum their support will plummet far below where it should be. This extends to the General Election as well with Party support, though it is only really apparent when played from the Primaries.
  •  Regional Candidates and Parties: These are rather important for a number of historical elections, and there are a number of ahistorical scenarios I have in mind that require them in some form. However these require the ability to restrict a candidates actions and AI stratagem to certain specific regions, which at the present can't be modeled.
  • There should be a way to set preferences when spinning, as while the auto-spin is useful it doesn't always pick the most useful story to spin, and it also tends to bunch all the points into a single story, even when the spin would still be guaranteed success with fewer spin points. If there were a way to target certain candidates or stories, while also allowing the establishment of limits on the number of points or percentage chance per story, it would reduce a lot of micromanaging.
  • I ask for this every time, but I really wish that I could use percentages other than whole numbers. When working with smaller parties that struggle in the single digits, it can be really awkward to round out their support, especially at times when it can cut their support in a region in half, or so much as double it. Being able to put in a percentage like (1.42%) would make some scenarios far cleaner in my opinion.
  • There remain serious stability issues running the game, though I imagine it is a matter of the sheer amount of data the game needs to keep stored. Running a vanilla 2020 scenario from July for example is impossible as the game eventually has a data storage error of some sort and just crashes, and saving some turns before that point returns the same error. Cutting down on the number of candidates does allow for the game to last longer, making me feel that there is just some sort of "ceiling" in terms of data storage, especially as increasing the voter detail also seems to shorten the games' "lifespan". Don't know what the happy medium is yet.

Sure I've forgotten something, but then I always seem to forget something.

Edited by Lahbas
Finished my Thoughts
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  • 2 weeks later...
On 9/2/2019 at 7:55 PM, admin_270 said:

@Lahbas

Thanks for this - just a note that I'll look at this.

 

No problem.

Now I've been actively working on a scenario, and I've picked up on a few other issues mentioned elsewhere on the board, so the following are my thoughts and observations since my last post:

  • The scenario I have been working on has (15) candidates in it, and I was worried it was going to be a fairly slow game as often it seems to lag when there are that many candidates. To my surprise though there wasn't any lag at all between turns, almost to the point where it was as fast as if there were only (2) candidates or so. The difference in my scenario though is that it starts in the General Election, whereas in the Primary you often have that same number of candidates sticking to the Primary Calendar, and so a selected few States (particularly in the beginning). It is just a theory, but I believe that the game is presently struggling to math the results of a day of campaigning in a single State when hit by a host of candidates and their crusaders. I don't know if there would be anyway to work around that though.
  • A "How-Well-Known" or "Recognition" scale of some kind should be reimplemented:
    • It has been mentioned that lesser candidates should be weaker, and I think that we could tie in their "recognition" with the strength of their actions. Barnstorming would be weaker for someone who is not well known in a State compared to someone who is familiar to voters, and the same would be the case for Speeches, Fundraisers, and so on.
    • Building up "recognition" would be fairly difficult, especially on the national level, as it would largely depend on a candidate making the news or through paid advertising. Barnstorming and Rallies are well and good, but a candidate can only reach so many people, assuming they know to show up or who they are, so it would be subpar compared to targeted advertising; that being said, it can also be useful for generated stories, but those aren't guaranteed.
    • Candidates would have "recognition" divided between the various regions (or States in this case), and that score can rise and fall over time. If a candidate spends a lot of time campaigning in Iowa and paying for adverts there they should probably be recognized, but that doesn't mean their name should have anymore pull in Florida, when narry a dime has been dropped there.
    • Debates would be the biggest single increase in recognition (though not by net, that'd still be Media stories), tied in with their performance score in the debate. A candidate shouldn't have to win a debate earn recognition, so long as they perform admirably enough in comparison to the winner. I don't have a set formula in mind, but it would also make boasting a stronger strategy for weaker candidates as they need to make themselves known.
  • Debates:
    • As debates are currently set up, there is currently little chance for a frontrunner to win a debate once you have a certain number of candidates present, as a sizable number of them will be throwing punches, and you only need so many of those to land before their score is wrecked.
      • To counteract that I think there should be a modifier on the candidates "action scores", their boasting or attacking, based on the number of candidates present in the debate; this would represent the amount of time each candidate has available, so they have less time to make these actions.
      • Alternatively, or possibly in combination, you could tie the success of an attack against the Stats of the one being attacked. In short, the Charisma, Issue Familiarity and Debating Skill of the Attacker would be rolled against that of the Defendant, and would determine whether it backfires, is neutralized, takes, and so on.
      • I apologize if this is already the case, I just may not have noticed, but I believe that any attack that lands should add points to the performance of the Attacker, and any attack that backfires should add points to the Defendant. That might also help to balance things.
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