Review Fix Exclusive Q & A With The Political Machine 2012 Producer Chris Bray
Review Fix chats with Stardock’s Chris Bray, producer of “The Political Machine 2012,” a PC strategy that makes running a political campaign enjoyable, without the need for ethics, morals or flip-flopping. In this Q & A, Bray discussed the game’s engine and options, as well as how it forces gamers to think like a politician and balance their own ideals with those that will get them elected.
Review Fix: When was the moment you guys thought this game would be possible?
Chris Bray: With as heated of a political season as this one, there was a ton of inspiration for a 2012 version of the series. We’d planned on it for a while.
Review Fix: What was the development process like?
Bray: As polarizing as politics can be, we wanted to create a game that was as unbiased as possible. This can be a bit tricky when balancing things like a candidate’s “Intelligence” stat. We were lucky to have a diverse mix of political viewpoints and a lot of people who weren’t afraid to give their opinion. It led to a lot of good political debates, but ultimately we hit an equal balance.
Review Fix: Have any developments in Obama and Romney’s campaigns changed the way you developed the game?
Bray: Definitely. Throughout the development process we were constantly keeping our eyes on the political news cycles. Conservative issues like a hardline stance on Iran came to the forefront during the Republican primaries. Gaffe’s and debate performances had a direct impact on candidate stats. Even after release we’ve updated the game with new issues and balance adjustments to account for major current events (ex. Chick-fil-a controversy, Romney’s tax returns, “You Didn’t Build That” statement).
Review Fix: In a press release, Stardock CEO and President Brad Wardell said , “The algorithms involved in this simulator are frighteningly accurate. When playing the game as true to reality as possible, the last two presidential election results came very close to what the game ultimately predicted.” How were these algorithms developed?
Bray: The algorithms were developed and improved upon since the original Political Machine release in 2004. We did a lot of research to account for populations, party stances, state demographics, past election results, and voter behavior. All of these factors come into play to different degrees based on what type of campaign the player runs.
Review Fix: How does the game take advantage of multiplayer?
Bray: Online multiplayer can make for some interesting match-ups. We did a lot of work to make sure the custom-candidates worked well online to allow players to create bobble-head versions of themselves, any personal favorite
candidate we didn’t already include, or characters from pop culture.
Review Fix: What’s your favorite part of the game?
Bray: I love how it recreates the ethical experience of being a political candidate. If you’re role-playing in accordance to your own political beliefs and values, you end up making hard decisions on whether to stick to your core beliefs or pander to what voters want to hear. That moment when you decide to sell your soul for a few more votes, or ignore the tough issues and stick to “I favor cheap gas” really makes it click in your head how our political process really works.
Review Fix: Any chance for a port on a major console?
Bray: We feel the game is best suited as a PC experience, so this isn’t likely for 2012.
Review Fix: How do you want this game to be remembered?
Bray: If players come away from the game having a great strategic experience, as well as thinking a bit more critically about the ‘mechanics’ of our democratic system I’ll be happy.
Patrick Hickey Jr.
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