Do you often think that politics doesn't matter and that your vote means nothing? Are you yearning to make a difference? Fear not! We welcome you to a new development diary for the politics of East vs. West, where the major political choices are yours to make!
The purging flame
Your story begins in 1946, in a world recovering from the horrors of World War 2. In politics, as in nature, there are many plants that take advantage of wildfires to grow out of the ashes into new, wider spaces. Quickly seeds and ideas take root in the purging flames, and blossom following the devastation. Ash and decay rapidly turns into a fauna of diversity but also one of tense competition. Will you be able to adapt and take control or will you just be another witness to a freshly burning world?
Embody the nation
All things need a beginning and the first thing we did when we started designing the politics of East vs West is that we set out to transform the role of the player. We wanted a system that could reflect the pragmatic cunning but also duplicitous and cynical system of conducting politics in the Cold War, where all means including the destruction of humanity are on the table. Looking at countless designs and many months of research we picked up a book from a writer that would transform how we understood political systems. In came the ideas of Niccolò Machiavelli, a man from 15th century Florence, who in politics has personified the realist instead of the idealist. Some consider his teachings as merely cynical disregard for morality, with a focus on self-interest and deception, so much so that his name itself is a byword for opportunistic scheming. Excellent!
We had made a breakthrough and with our brand new Machiavellian view we started reshaping the political system and its application for obtaining and keeping power by all means. In East vs. West you play as the NATION, the embodiment of all that your country has to offer as a statesman, a general, an economist, a scientist, a master spy or as a citizen. You are the essence of your people, their father, their mother, their past and their future. The aims of the nation are yours, may it be glory or survival, and you decide what methods you are willing to consider for your country and your people. We made a design that lets you explore the swirling world in the borderland between madness and genius, politics and ethics.
Every nation is built on its citizens and in East vs. West we have introduced population into the game. Give them care and attention and they will reward you with their hard toil in the factories, the service sector or in your armed forces. The population of each nation is divided up into age brackets and children are born regularly in your nation as long as it’s prosperous and safe. These children will later enter school and, if you finance their schooling properly, they will be productive citizens, form families, have careers and, as they draw closer to old age, they will retire requiring pensions. Your citizens also are a central part of the political system.
Culture - Blood is thicker than water
As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the souls of the people" and to that we added "- as modable cultural traits that so many have yearned for”. This we made true in East vs. West and to give you a sense of the people of your nation we have added nine base culture types:
-Sub Saharan Africa
Yet, Gandhi as mentioned also talked about the souls so we thought we would do one better. Introducing our eight base religious types:
- Folk Religions
These are the inner cultures and souls of your people and cannot be changed during the course of the game via politics except that religion can of course be made less of relevant by using laws to move your nation in a more secular direction.
Identities and Attitudes
People now have a culture and a religion, but what would they wish from their nation? What would they want you as to focus on and how? Some nations aspire for territory, like for example Israel in 1948 and thus have a national identity linked to territorial expansion, while at the same time your people could also have an attitude towards the rest of the world which can range from imperialism to non-interventionism. Combined with culture and religion, these factors make up for a quite detailed description about how the country will appear and act in the game world. Once again, your ethics and your ability to form a political strategy will be tested. Will you be a loving parent or a monster or perhaps both? We supply you with the tools to make the laws to discipline your people’s desires or help them achieve their ambitions.
You laws – your policies - your nation
So now you have your people, their wishes and their preference in parties, and you just held an election resulting in the formation of a government. This might be a good time to set new laws. In East vs. West, laws are not always easy to change. In fact they can be quite troublesome. The laws in East vs West are a broad abstraction of your constitution and major legal positions, setting the basic rules that apply in your state. They usually deal with matters like national unity, neutrality in foreign affairs, and matters dealing with big picture topics like civil liberties, election laws and the status of organized religion. Changing a law can, therefore, have major impact on how things will function in your nation.
Policies, on the other hand, can vary from government to government or perhaps even more frequently than that if your current regime finds a policy change isn’t working as planned. They are usually quite easy to change, but don’t tend to have as big of an impact as laws. Policies are broader in terms of the sheer amount of issues they cover and can touch on all aspects of the game, from nuclear policies to internal affairs and education.
Fight for your right to party
The people of a country will favor certain parties in an election, usually those that they think might bring them well-being for the future. The parties themselves are standardized. Each one represents a political affiliation with its particular color and, just like in other games of the genre, can be viewed in the popularity chart. The popularity chart gives a quick look at the current situation and is continuously updated to show the player where his population is heading for the next election, indicating which party is going to rule once the votes are counted.
Voting – the results are in
Democracies hold regular elections, so it is vital that you listen to the will of your people. If your morals are more flexible, chose the path of statesmen like Richard Nixon and try to undermine the parties you don't like.
You might be swayed to use your player prerogative to support a party (clicking the green + button next to a party’s name). By adding your backing, you risk infuriating the public and breeding new dissent, but you have made your choice. If all else fails, you ban a party and stop them from participating in the upcoming elections but expect the streets to be lined with angry supporters. A ban will prevent them from participating in the division of power but could enhance their popularity. Are you perhaps a little less short sighted? Try to change the voting laws and avoid letting those pesky hippies from taking home the election by introducing laws like Gerrymandering which gives a nice boost to the ruling party or why not try to aim for a single party system?
Still not nearly Machiavellian enough for you? What if there was a state that worked for its people instead of dealing with the squabbles and troubles of a decadent western society wasting the time of its citizens with meaningless elections bought and paid for by corporations or the upper 1 percent? You can always provide the people with the illusion of a choice and suspend free elections to stop the spread of counter-revolutionary ideas. After all, a wise prince knows what is best.
All positions and all political parties except for the Communist and Maoist (bottom two red ones) and Fascists and Paternal Autocrat (top two parties in grey and dark blue) are considered democratic/semi democratic forms of government and cannot suspend elections. If your nation ends up in any of the two dictatorial corners after a winning election, elections will be suspended indefinitely. Immediately these parties will start taking over virtually all aspects of your countries politics and finally bring order and structure. Should you at some point have doubts about where your nation is politically, fear not!
Luckily there are three ways to return to democracy, unfortunately all involve selling your soul to Mossad, or perhaps the CIA because returning from dictatorship to democracy can only be done via a successful revolt, a coup, or an invasion. So a word of advice: be careful what you wish for with elections!
Head of State and Head of Government
In any case, the elections have one major purpose and that is deciding who will be the Head of State or the Head of Government of your nation. These politicians represent the ruling party and the state as the most important of statesmen in your country and will be a familiar sight to those who have played the Hearts of Iron games before. They have traits that influence particular aspects of the game, some political others economical or military. Some are a blessing, others are a nuisance, restricting the policies or the laws you might want to enact or forcing you to adopt policies that will cause dissent amongst the population.
Dissent and National Unity
With regards to citizen behavior, we also revisited the way dissent and national unity works. In East vs. West, dissent represents how happy the people are with their government and its decisions. National unity, on the other hand, is how well the fabric of society holds your nation together. If you know that your nation consists of several cultures or nationalities, beware of running a low national unity as you will soon find your nation on the verge of a breakup. Different nationalities will exploit their opportunities and, just like you would, will start to plot for power and a road to independence.
Last but not least we want to mention, we are proud to announce a complete rebuild of the politics AI. We hope our AI friend, who we named Niccolò after our inspirational mentor will keep you challenged and most of all entertained.
Thank you very much, happy easter and keep an aye out for We are the World!
Gellert F. Keresztes – GFK (Game Designer and Head of Soft-coding)
Andreas Luntchens – Chromos (Politics developer and Lead AI Developer)
Davide Benedetti – DVD (Nations OOB)
Grega Trobec - lutenet99 (GFX art and Interface)
Ruud van Putten - maverick87 (GUI Implementation)
Jamie Li - (GUI Implementation)
Jorge Martins -(GUI Implementation)