July 29th

A crucial factor in the simulation is “Quality of Life”. It represents how good things are for people. There are two versions of this factor, one for the north and one for the south. For northerners, this boils down to just two factors: Industrial Production and Economic Growth. For southerners, there are three factors: Industrial Production, Economic Growth, and Food Production. This doesn’t seem right to me; the northerners and the southerners are indistinguishable except for the southerners’ desire to have an adequate food supply. What to do?

I certainly don’t want to drop Food Production from the southern list; that’s a crucial factor for these underfed people. Neither do I want to remove Economic Growth – it’s important to both northerners and southerners. Perhaps I should split it up to represent the fact that the south is enjoying higher growth rates than the north...

And of course Industrial Production is vitally important. If it weren’t important, players could strangle industry without any effect on their score. Should I hive off Industrial Production into components such as Consumer Goods (valued by the north) and Infrastructure (valued by the south)? If so, how would the player control the division between the two? I see no reasonable way to arrange that.

My problem here is that the south is merging with the north; they’re not as readily distinguishable as they were twenty years ago. So here’s a radical thought: why not eliminate the distinction? Treat humanity as a single unit? The problem with that is that it tears the heart out of one of the main points of the game: that saving the lives of the poor must be traded off against keeping the rich happy. A rich-world environmentalist might want to throttle pollution from a fertilizer factory, but the poor-world farmer really needs that fertilizer. That conflict between rich and poor is of vast import to the environmental problems we face. I sweep that conflict under the rug when I merge rich with poor. 

Perhaps, however, I should alter my nomenclature, replacing “north” with “rich” and “south” with “poor”.

Perhaps I could alter my point-weighting system. Instead of having differential points for northerners and southerners, I could place different weights on the types of death. Thus, deaths from malnutrition get short shrift, while deaths from radioactivity are given more weight. Does that make the point as effectively? Here is the current list of sources of death:
Lung Disease
Water Pollution
Wild Weather
Radioactive Emissions
Automobile Accidents

But it gets even messier: with Lung Disease, Automobile Accidents, and Wild Weather, rich people suffer only about 25% as many deaths as poor people. So we don’t get to shove people’s prejudices into their faces with these. There are really only two factors that really differentiate the rich from the poor: Malnutrition and Radioactive Emissions. In both cases, the distinction is black and white: no rich-world people die of malnutrition, and no poor-world people die from nuclear power plant accidents. 

I went off to lower the setting on the brush hog, and while doing so I came up with the solution to my problem: require the player to declare the point value of each type of death: lung disease, automobile accident, malnutrition. It’s not quite as correct as breaking deaths up by rich and poor, but I think this solution is neat and clean. Back to work.