January 15th

The difficulty I have had tuning the system has been eating at me. If I can’t tune it, then how in the world do I expect anybody else to understand it enough to play it? This thing is too damn complicated, and I have to simplify it.

This is difficult for me – I always hate ripping stuff out, especially when the stuff has genuine educational value. I’m still not 100% certain that I want to do this. But all my designer instincts are screaming “Kill! Kill! Kill!” so I suppose that I’ll have to do it.

I already know where to cut: Education. That has caused me major headaches, because Education feeds into both Services and High Technology, both of which feed into GDP, which is crucial to success in the game. Education provides a positive feedback loop with GDP because some GDP spending automatically goes to Education. This cycle is virtuous when you’re winning, and vicious when you’re losing. It just makes the knife edge of the game sharper, making it harder to balance. So Education goes out. It takes with it the Educational Subsidy. While I’m at it, I could cut out two of the intermediaries consequent to Education: High Technology and Services. I’d like so demonstrate that the global economy will be shifting from manufacturing toward services over the next century, but I suppose that this is a secondary lesson.

I realized that there’s another place to simplify: emissions. Right now I have sulfur dioxide emissions, NOx emissions, and particulate emissions, all of which feed into pretty much the same consequences. There are a few distinctions between them, but those distinctions are small. I could collapse all three into a single factor: Airborne Pollutants.

Right there I have six factors removed from the game. I wonder if I could design it so that these factors could be plugged back into the game. I doubt it: the equations in the model are not modular, so they couldn’t be plugged in and out at will. It’s something to think about for the future.