February 9th

Well, everything is just completely screwed up. The addition of High Technology has reduced the entire simulation to nothingburgerness. GDP mushes along with a bit of growth; energy prices inch upward; technology oozes upwards; carbon inches creep upwards; total energy output falls; and the world seems pretty much the same at the end as it was at the beginning. Max out carbon taxes and the world is a little different, but it’s hard to tell the difference. Max out radioactive emission taxes and the world is a little different, but not much. All in all, the whole thing is just gray, drab, boring, and unresponsive. There’s too much buffering: negative feedback against strong growth, positive feedback against weak growth.

What’s wrong? Technological progress is definitely hurting the simulation, but if I rip it out, I’m back to my earlier problem that there’s no reason for the economy to grow. I could just revert to a standard discount rate that gets pinched by rising energy prices. This would produce an economy that grows as limited by the energy prices. I’m so confused that I can’t think of anything better.

So I ripped out Technological Progress and got things running more smoothly. I must say, I’m really sick of all this tuning. Yes, tuning is central to the task of making any game fun. Yes, it’s got to be done. But I am spinning my wheels; it’s time for me to start making hard decisions, ripping out complexity, and getting this thing operational.

A new problem rears its head: Energy Conservation. As an experiment, I ripped it out and achieved much better performance. The problem is that conservation acts as a buffer, providing negative feedback that muddies the causal relationships. As energy prices rise, conservation rises, dampening the effects of rising prices. This holds energy prices so low that not much happens.

The obvious solution is to reduce the power of energy conservation to maintain GDP in the face of rising prices, and the way to do this is to reduce the price elasticity of demand. Currently, a 10% rise in energy prices triggers only a 4% rise in conservation, implying an elasticity of demand of about 0.4. I tried reducing the elasticity to 0.1, and it completely ruined the results. The problem here is that energy conservation is applied globally to an incrementally derived price. I tried a different algorithm that applied it incrementally and it seems to be better now. That, along with doubling the elasticity to 0.2, seems to have gotten us back into the ballpark.

So now my next step is to insure that there’s an optimal policy somewhere in the middle of the various ranges of options. That in turn requires some adjustment of the point structure to get positive values for that optimal policy.