A new thread for a new model version. Just to keep things organized.
The govt model v.3.1 can be found here:
The old forum thread is here:
More old threads can be found listed in the govt model page in the Clash web site.
At the end of the old thread I said:
OK, here it is: important things that aren't clear enough and should be kept in mind:I suggest a completely new approach for [the discussion about the 51%rule vs the negotiated system]: Tell me what the model can't do. Much of the discussion goes around the processes inside the model w/o considering the model's output (which is all that really matters). If you show me an historical framework where the model produces a wrong, unrealistic output, then we'll be on the right track for a discussion. If we find there's a long enough list of things the model can't represent correctly, I'm all for changing it. But please, please, please, before you start throwing examples of the model producing wrong outputs, give me a chance to make a post to clarify a couple of things some of you are getting plain wrong. I can't do it now because it's almost 3AM and I want to go to bed. In a day or two I'll do it. ok?
1) The model was conceived to handle "strategic" political decisions. The ruler and the people (by people I refer to all social classes) are called to decide on things like the type of economic system for the civ, a gross level of civ's aggressiveness in the international field, gross levels of religious and ethnic discrimination and a couple more other grand scale decisions. Because they're strategic decisions, the list of decisions is, therefore, small. It was never my intention to allow decision-making over a long list of policies and laws covering a multitude of topics. There're 3 reasons for this: A) to stay in line with Clash philosophy of avoiding micro-management. B) because it'll be simply tiresome for players to have to obliged to deal with a long list of decisions, many of them related to one and other (therefore demanding a more detailed player understanding of how each policy affects his civ); and C) because every time you add a new policy to decide upon, you have to generate a method to define what is what the people think about it, in order to simulate what they'd do with the policy if the current regime allows them to take part in the decision-making. And doing this is tough because there's no "general method" to simulate people's opinion about any possible decision, so each existent policy adds complexity to the model.
Why I'm saying this? because in examples of decisions presented in the thread, some of you have used low-level or very specific decisions that the model is not intended to handle. Although I understand some examples are just that, simple examples, do keep in mind the model wasn't meant to deal with a vast variety of decisions.
2) The interaction between the player and the model (the govt "window") will be, in general terms, infrequent. Don't imagine the player taking govt decisions every game turn or something like that. The ruler uses the govt window to introduce the values for policies and political structure he desires and then forgets about it. He needs to go back to the govt window only when he has changed his mind about the values he initially entered. This is so because once the model knows what the player wants, it simulates, from that moment on, the politics between the ruler and the people leading to the definition of policies and political structure. In other words, the model plays the ruler based on the info provided by the player. The govt model is most of the time working in "cruise mode", demanding player intervention when it's really needed.
3) Changes take time. In a given game turn, the model takes all the info needed for decision-making (polpowers and preferences of social classes and ruler) and computes "final" values for policies and the political structure. But they're not applied immediately. The model smoothly moves the current govt profile to the new one as game turns pass, simulating the actual implementation of decisions. So, if one player wants to increase the PrivateProperty value and assuming he has enough power to do so, the new PP value will be a reality a few turns from the moment of player's intervention, simulating the process of selling State owned economic activities to the private sector.
4) It's important to not misinterpret the concept of "political power" (or just "power"). It indicates one's degree of influence over decisions. Just that. It doesn't represent how much political support or how many "votes" someone has. Imagine a civ where people vote for parliament representatives and where the "democratic faction" gets the majority of seats. You can't, out of that, take any conclusions about polpowers because the parliament in time may have nearly null power over the govt if the ruler is mostly despotic. A ruler may have no support at all from social classes and yet have all political power (and vise versa). The concept of pol.power has a very specific definition and cannot be freely interpreted.
5) To simulate how the ruler and the social classes interact to determine the govt profile, the model uses what I called the "Negotiation System". The NS represents all sorts of interactions between the actors taking part in the decision. All sorts. It includes negotiations ("support me on this one and I'll support you in that other thing"), threats, extortion, alliances, etc. If you try to compare how well the NS resembles a voting situation, for example, you'll find the NS useless. And that's ok, because what the NS is simulating is the voting event plus all what happened between actors before the voting. What I'm saying is the model acknowledge that, as long as there's more than one actor taking part in a decision, there's always some degree of interaction between them leading to some level of compromise between positions, regardless of what is the specific process of decision-making.
6) FSmith asked if the NS could handle "yes/no" type of decisions. It's a good question because as the NS tends to compromises, yes/no decisions admit no compromise. Although the model currently doesn't include binary type policies, it's important to discuss it because we might want to add one. The NS has no problem dealing with binary decisions once you treat variables correctly. For example, if the govt needs to decide on a treaty with other civ facing the options "Peace" and "War", then, in terms of modeling, you have a variable called TREATY that can take a value of zero (peace) or one (war). Since the NS works in a continuos space, it'll return a value between 0 and 1. Assume it returns 0.7 (that would be the case if the actors supporting war have more power than those supporting peace). But since TREATY can't take such value, the number would have to be rounded to the closest integer. In this case, "1" (war). And there you have it.
In other words, you simply need to ensure binary variables take binary values at the end of the process and you can still use the NS. The binary variable is really a particular case of discrete decisions. The NS can work with discrete decisions as long as the options can be sorted using a given criteria. In the case of our example, an "Alliance" third option may exist. Here the sorting criteria should be "friendship level" and the resulting order would be 0:Alliance, 1:Peace, 2:War. By applying the NS you'd get a value between 0 and 2 that rounded to the closest integer would give you the winning option.
However, if the sorting criteria for discrete options is difficult or impossible to define (for example if the govt has to decide on where to spend money in, with options: "building a hospital" vs "investing in tech" vs "buying military hardware"), then the NS fails.
7) Not only the NS can deal with discrete options. It can also produce more realistic results than a voting system. In our last example, let's assume we have 4 actors: the ruler and 3 other actors with powers and preferences:
ruler: 20% power, preferred option: Alliance (binary value=0)
actor A: 10% power, preferred option: Alliance (binary value=0)
actor B: 30% power, preferred option: Peace (binary value=1)
actor C: 40% power, preferred option: War (binary value=2)
A voting system would lead to "war" because actor C has majority. But what would really happen in real life? The pro-peace and pro-alliance factions would had anticipated they were going to lose to the pro-war faction. But together they can beat the pro-war faction. Therefore, the pro-alliance faction, since it wants at least a peace treaty, would had voted "peace" in order to avoid having war declared. The real voting would had been Alliance=0%, Peace=60%, War=40%, leading to a peace treaty. "Peace" would also had been the result if we'd had applied the NS: In the NS you make a weighted sum of positions (excluding the ruler), so a "preliminary decision" is made. The weighted sum in our case is 0*10%+1*30%+2*40%=1.1. Now the ruler changes this decision using a "modifier" (M). Since he wants a value of zero, the NS uses the modifier to reduce the value of the preliminary decision in order to move it as close as possible to zero. Having only 20% of power the ruler has a small modifier. Let's assume M=0.4. Then the final decision is 1.1-0.4=0.7. That's "1" rounded, i.e. "peace".
This is a good example of what I said earlier about the NS simulating interactions between actors (in this case a joining of factions). And that's something the voting system can't do by itself.
8) In the above example you can see that if M is high enough, then the ruler can simply override any preliminary decision and do what he wants. You can compute M any way you want, as long it's an increasing function of ruler's polpower. The higher ruler's polpower is, the higher M is. A rather simple manner to compute M is rulerpower*(U-L), where U and L are respectively the maximum and minimum values the policy can take (U=2 and L=0 in the case of the Alliance/Peace/War example). But note you can define the function relating M and ruler's polpower in other ways to incorporate other things. For example, FSmith has said that having 51% power should be enough to drive policies any way you want. Although I profoundly disagree with this, we can implement this philosophy within the NS if we want. You only need to define the function in such way that when ruler's polpower takes the value 51%, M takes the value U-L.
9) Another NS characteristic is the ruler doesn't play with exactly the same rules as any other actor (the ruler plays at the end, modifying a preliminary decision of others). I think it was Yoav who said this shouldn't be so. That the player should play in equal conditions. Although I agree that would be great, I don't care much about "purity" in models. I only care models give you the right outcomes. In terms of game-play, what the player should experience is that the higher power he has, the more he can impose his view and vise versa. And when he has low power, the resulting govt profile should be more sensitive to those actors with highest power, yet incorporating interactions with less powerful political forces through different degrees of compromises as it happens in real life. The NS provide these things.
10) The govt model tries to simulate politics. And in real life politics you rarely get a white or black solution. You always get shades of gray. Even if the decision itself or the decision-making mechanisms implemented in a given regime seem to polarize things and restrict politician options, there're always interactions between political actors, many of them behind scenes, allowing greater flexibility than it appears to be. And that's valid for a modern democracy and for elder tribal leaders around a fire.
11) Finally, consider how amazingly simple in computing terms the NS is. In order to achieve similar results with other systems like the voting system, you'd have to "teach" social classes how to strategically vote, who to join forces with and when (remember the Alliance/Peace/War example). And that can become a tough work.
Ok. Sorry for the long post. I know some of you may remain unconvinced with the system. Repeating what I said before, I'd like to see all criticisms in terms of examples of historical frameworks where the model would not produce the right outcomes. Let's try to make a concrete list of situations where the model fails. Otherwise this discussion will just go on and on endlessly.
On the other hand, I'd also appreciate comments on the "Administrating the Empire" chapter of the new model version.