Friday, March 28, 2014

How to Win an Election: Winnability vs Votes

I've been researching local elections lately. We're still tweaking the game design a lot and the last thing we want is to mis-represent our subject matter. So my next few posts will be about how to win a local election followed by how it translates into gameplay.


Before you even think about running for office, the first thing you should do is gauge your winnability.

"Do you have a realistic chance in winning this election, Mr. President?"

If you don't think you can win, then chances are the voters won't either.

The winnability question is important because it becomes the basis of your campaign strategy. Is it because a lot of people like you or a lot of people hate your opponent or you have a massive war chest or a command of a large block of voters?

Consider Pichay's senatorial bid. He had a massive war chest but he was relatively unknown so most of his ads are aimed at getting him into people's radar (the cheesy pechay ads).

Ryan: A little explanation here.  The Chinese Cabbage framing Pichay is called "Pechay" in the Philippines, hence the humor.  Also, I'm rather amused that Pichay, whose first name is Prospero, had a massive war chest.

Why else would you compare yourself to a vegetable?

Voter Awareness and Trust

A more scientific measure for winnability is a combination of voter awareness (do they know you?) and trust (do they trust you?). Surveys to answer these are conducted before a campaign starts. Don't even think of running for office with a <60% awareness rating.

Throughout the campaign, you resurvey the voters to measure your effectivity.

Self-fulfilling Prophecy

In the 2013 elections, one of the reasons the senatorial candidates made a big deal out of the TV surveys is because of the self-fulfilling nature of winnability. The more voters think you are going to win (regardless of issues or platform) the more likely that they'll vote for you. Most people don't want to waste their votes on a weak candidate.

Majority of your ground campaign is focused on creating an aura of winnability. Your campaign posters have to be bigger, campaign jingles catchier, and your sorties more packed. Candidates will even bring in audience members from other districts just to fill the seats.

Everyone is a winner, the printers specially

Winnability can also result to defection. Some supporters might switch sides if they doubt the chances of their candidate.

Winnability != Votes

While increasing winnability is the driving force of your campaign, it might not translate directly into votes come election day. Because 3rd world!

Certain districts might have historically low voter turn out. Your opponent might actively discourage voter turn out in one of your districts (ex. by bribing public transport to go on strike, or inviting them to a beach party with a sexy starlet, whatever stops people from going to the precinct).

This is why "special arrangements" is a big item in a candidate's budget. The last two days before the election is all about making sure winnability translates into votes (or the reverse if you're on the losing side).

Even with a clear advantage, the winnable candidate must defend his voter base against intimidation and bribery. While a losing candidate must be prepared to do everything he can to win. Because even if you cheated, the election court is so slow you'd have served your full term by the time they reach a verdict! Because 3rd world!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

We're on the Tigsource Devlog Magazine!

We are super excited to be part of the latest Tigsource Devlog Magazine.  It's actually a little funny how I found out about it.  I got a tweet from @Bandreus telling me to check out the new Tigsource Devlog Magazine.

I didn't pay the tweet much attention because I already knew about the magazine and decided to check it out in the morning.  And that's when I saw this:

Not only are we included in the Tigsource Devlog Magazine, but we're included with such IGF luminaries like Papers,Please, Risk of Rain, Forogoa, Device 6, and Luxuria Superbia.  Given that Papers, Please was one of the games that convinced us that there was a market for games that dealt with more serious topics, this is a great honor indeed.

I nearly jumped out of bed when I saw this, and was frantically thinking of ways to maximize this exposure.  As indies you have to jump on every opportunity you can, so I was definitely not gonna let this go to waste.  I arranged for Julius to get a blog post ready for next week, and for my part I finally got off my ass and made some animated GIFs to add to our Devlog.

This is the basic sortie, where you match voter's concerns to the issues you talk about.  In this case, they're interested in employment but not in birth control.

If you're losing their attention, bring in the entertainers!

Or if you're feeling cheap, call in some goons to scare them back to the pulpit.

We're definitely pumped to keep working on the game so watch this space for more updates soon!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Lizard and Pelican Concept Sketches

Behind the scenes we are madly restructuring the game mechanics of Party Animals.  It's very exciting for us, but also frustrating that we cannot share anything yet since everything is in such flux.  I have been on a roll with these concept sketches though, so I here are some more characters that may find their way into Party Animals!

Pirate/merchant/smuggler Lizard.  This character draws on our complex relationship with successful Chinese immigrants, and a semi historical pirate that tried to create his own kingdom in the Philippines (he failed, btw).

Chieftain Pelican.  He represents the interests of the tribal villages outside of the city.  He constantly worries about how modernization is affecting their way of life, and where he is going to get his next fish.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tortoise and Otter Concept Sketches

I arrived from Bitsummit last week ready to get back to work, instead I got Patellar Bursitis so I spent the past week or so recuperating and writing about some tips on attending Bitsummit here and here.  Events like Bitsummit are great for getting your team into gear and producing something on short notice.  But it's also nice to be able to relax, take a look at what's going on, and reassess everything.  We're still tinkering with some of the key game design concepts of Party Animals, and since I can't participate in the face to face meetings I'm working on some worldbuilding stuff that I'm SURE will be useful at some point down the line.  That includes sketching out some new characters, including the tortoise and otter I'm sharing with you today!

The tortoise is the head of the Stevedore's Union, and he represents the interests of dock workers in the capital city.  Given tortoises generally live to a ripe old age, I wanted the character to look old but tough.

The otter is a pearl diver who represents the interests of her water-based community.  She worries about the effects of big business on the pearls that her livelihood depends on.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Party Animals' "Manual"

Well I'm off to Bitsummit in Kyoto tomorrow and I am both excited and terrified all at the same time!  We'd been planning on going for the past two months and working like crazy t make a decent prototype...but we basically failed.  We have a prototype of the sortie system in the game and a basic wrapper for a strategy game but not much else.  This was due to a variety of reasons, one of which Julius pointed out with his Loom discussion in the past post.  There's no backing out of Bitsummit though, as tickets and accomodations have been booked, and in any case the networking and handshaking I'll be doing there will be more than worthwhile.  But just so that we could present something to interested reporters, I worked on an explainer PDF of sorts that I could show off to reporters while I'm there.  In essence it's like a Kickstarter marketing pitch in PDF form, but I also imagined it as an SNES-style manual for the game.  I realize now that we probably haven't done a good job of explaining how the game in our heads would work, so I'm happy to share this with all of you ahead of Bitsummit.

If you want to download a PDF version of this head on to our presskit at


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