Updated: Mar 9, 2020
Hello again! It's been a couple of weeks since my last post. Some of that time has been spent on app design, but I also managed to fit in an early break, heading down to the south coast to join what has become a bit of a family tradition - the February half-term trip to Butlins! Any plans I had to fit in some app work while I was there were quickly dispelled by the packed itinerary. With batteries suitably topped up, I'm now back into it once more.
I'm now coming up to the halfway-point of the six months put aside for the app. After nine weeks of full-time effort I've made big progress, nailing down the underlying logical design and architecture, and it's now time to start focusing upon a first release.
With that in mind, one of the big design questions that I have been wrestling with ever since I had the idea for the app has been "do you start the game as PM, or do you have to win an election first?"
My original driver for building Number Ten was because I wanted a game where the player had the role of Prime Minister, and I was less interested in the actual rise to power than using it. My prototypes have always begun with the player just having won the election, starting off in power rather than having to win it. This initially seemed ok - after all, football manager games don't demand you interview for the job at the outset - you just pick your team and off you go.
The problem with this approach is it throws up other questions, such just how big should your PM's majority be? And should you have to make manifesto commitments first?
The alternative approach is to start the game at the outset of the election campaign, with the player having to win power before they can use it. My worry with this approach has always been, what happens when my player doesn't win power? does he just give up and uninstall the app? Think of all the lost advertising revenue!!
As I've delved deeper into the design, I've come to the view that the game has to start with an election. A key part of politics is about delivering upon promises, and without that commitment the game loses a lot of its allure. For sure, some players will get annoyed at not winning power, and go back to lining up candy bars and fruit, but the election mode is a great way of showing off the features and flavour of the game.
Most importantly, it provides me with a much more manageable scope for the first release. For a long time I've thought to myself, "how come nobody else seems to be building a politics simulation game? Surely it's a great idea!" Well, the last few weeks have maybe given me the answer. Building a game engine to mimic the running of a country is a big task! And indeed, I've always known it's a big task, but it's only through starting the detailed design that I've really come to appreciate just how big a task it is - and it's certainly not a "one person for six months" job. Starting with just the general election instead cuts out a huge amount of work.
So, my focus for the next three months has become clearer - the initial version of Number Ten will include the general election only. The aim of the game will be to win the election, when that is achieved the game ends. I now need to make a game that is enjoyable enough to create anticipation for the full release.
Oh, and one more thing - in the initial release, you'll be able to create your own political party, and choose the name, colours, symbol and slogan you want. I'll add in the traditional political parties at a later stage.
I'm now about 80% complete on the design and prototyping for the election mode, and will be complete at some point in the next few days. I'll include the prototype link in the next update, but in advance I've attached a couple of screenshots to give you a sneak preview.
Have a great weekend all, and speak soon!