The People's House (WIP) - Presidential Sim

Actually I would argue that street smarts is the thing the elected official needs. Politicians are generally just the head/public face for a network of staffers and administrators which does the actual governing. Book smart you can hire; think tanks and professors will throw themselves and their ideas at you and the president can hire from just about any policy shop on their political side. Personnel is policy, as the adage goes; no elected official can hope to thoroughly grasp all the issues they will encounter on a regular basis in our extremely complicated age. A politician is reliant on their staffers and advisors for technical knowledge and in some cases even background knowledge. What a politician really needs is stellar communication skills, the capacity to read people, and generally good instincts. The bookish rarely win elections in the era of broadcast anyways. One must appeal to the everyman.

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A lot of incredible comments and feedback I’ve gotten in the past 24 hours on this thread. I’ll do my best to get back to all of them!

I absolutely don’t mind the political discussion in this thread, it does help with writing. There is also an exclusive Politics Thread, though, which some people here may also be interested in checking out.

These are great ideas, I was planning on the ability to go on a Presidential Retreat (most U.S. Presidents take advantage of Camp David as a vacation spot). But the idea of adding more background to your character’s relationship with their spouse through an anniversary scene is a great one. I’ll be sure to write that in to one of the upcoming chapters.

Some Executive Orders will be challenged by the Supreme Court, not so much by the Congress (you’ll be dealing with them trying to get your chief piece of legislation passed during the first 100 days.

First of all, a huge thank you @Fredrick-No-E, detailed and thoughtful posts like yours really help to keep me focused and energetic about this ambitious little project of mine.

To address this first part of your post, I’m glad to hear it – I of course have my own political views but it was my goal from the beginning of writing this to write all points of view equally into the story. No matter what policies you pick, there isn’t always going to be a perfect option.

What I’ve been working on a lot since I released the demo was a huge re-write of Chapter 1 (more on that when I release my first ‘Writer’s Diary’ later this weekend. In it, I do add a lot of other options for you on your way up.

This is excellent feedback, while I wanted to write a more serious, realistic Presidential ChoiceScript game, I’ve been working hard to make sure there’s still some humor and wit written into the story. There was a great idea to include a White House Correspondents Dinner scene which I think would be a great way to keep that balance going.

To the point about the son being sick – that scene does go on to reveal that your son was just pretending to get a chance to see you. A huge update to your family options is coming with my re-write of Chapter 1, though, and I completely agree with you that customization adds so much to a story.

I’m glad to see this has been the general reaction from playtesters so far. I know that romance is usually a huge part of ChoiceScript games, so I was a bit nervous about writing a story where you exclusively begin with a character that you’re already married to. While you will have the option to divorce, have an affair, etc. the vast majority of the focus will be on family dynamics, not so much the romance part.

It is something I’m thinking over, but I don’t know if I’d be able to write it well enough. I also think, to go back to another comment, if I do write in an assassination ending, it’d only be for unpopular Presidents. While there might be an assassination attempt that’s unsuccessful, I didn’t want to penalize players for being too popular – even though it would make sense realistically.

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None of those are necessarily street smarts. The one thing Boris Johnson can do, when he feels like it, is communicate (how much of it is truthful is another thing) but really street smart he is not.
But it is true you can certainly hire book smart people too, still it helps to have a keen mind of your own to make sure you don’t get scammed either way.

A bit of both is probably best in the end but street smarts are really only necessary if you have been poor or lower class, otherwise they are optional and they also tend to be something the truly fortunate, of whom there are many among the rich and powerful due to generational wealth, tend to look down upon.

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That’s fair. By street smarts I suppose I mean strong intuition when it comes to evaluating people’s intentions, trustworthiness, and qualifications. Also, the ability to be a canny negotiator and play hardball without being impossible to work with.

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To clarify I didn’t mean to say book smarts were useless. They are Useful. I said that for a couple of reasons. 1. What the pompous pricks running most universities spread isn’t the only useful skill to exist, no matter how elitist they are. Anyone who read Starship Troopers (Which has basically nothing to do with the movies that shall not be named.) Knows that it is about philosophy. I don’t agree with all the points, but the part about the revolt of the scientists makes sense. They may be the smartest, but they don’t care about you, and they generally think they’re better than you. Meaning the only difference would be a change from suit jackets to lab coats. This is not to say no scientist should ever run for any position. I’m more than happy to get the Tyrant I don’t know over the tyrant I do. Though being a scientist in my opinion does not magically make them competent. As they say “Intelligence is knowing that a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is knowing that it doesn’t go in a fruit salad.” This brings me to my next point. Having a wider array of solving problems is always welcome. I didn’t mention business degrees because I was fond of CEOs, but because there is a president for that variety, and variety is the spice of life. I tried to have examples from both sides to show that both sides had it. Besides I already know which third-party bucket of bolts has my vote.

I’d also like to add that beating the average politician is a very low bar. In fact you could probably find a random shmuck off the street and they’d probably pass them. Probably wouldn’t go down in history as the greatest leader ever, but they’d probably at least mean well. That’s more than any American president barring only a couple of debatable exceptions can say. Like I said we’re talking about an average of a very low bar. I’m not saying that we should be plucking off random shmucks. We should be making me the empower of all. Vote for me and Poverty global warming will no longer exist, unemployment, poverty, corruption, inequality, and taxes will be things of the past.Because I’m gonna blow up the world.

I should also add that the other side of this argument isn’t one I can fully get behind either. Not because they need both, but because either one can be good. Even if someone had neither it would mean that any attempt to screw us over would be severely hampered. If I had to choose one over the other, I’d be looking at other factors because both have pros and cons. For instance strength, charisma, morality, etc. All of which would be more important, not that they’re the only things, but the street vs book smart dichotomy is neck and neck, aside from the fact that those with street smarts tend to not be from as rich a background.

In a fictional context such as this, however, by far the most important part is options.

You are welcome. Also, I feel like I should share that This is what Democracy 3 is. It’s also what I imagine the Vice President to sound like. The trailers are all very good, and if you want to know more Pravus did some very good lets plays. For I think all countries in Democracy 3, Democracy 3 Africa, along with a couple Democracy 4 playthroughs, and a few moddedplaythroughs.

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The First Writer’s Diary!

Welcome to my first “Writer’s Diary” for my WIP ChoiceScript game The People’s House! For anyone who may be new, The People’s House is a simulation game focused on your term as President of the United States – and all it entails. For more of an overview, see the first post on this thread here!

Before I get into the writing bit, a huge thank you. To think that in just a few weeks we’ve gone from just a concept to having a demo released that has 930 clicks, 3.3k views, 76 replies, and a total of 443 likes as of the time of posting this is absolutely incredible to me. Now, enough of me blabbing on!

Schedule Going Forward
Going forward, I’ve decided to do my best to send out regular updates to you all. I do my best to stay as active as I can on this thread – I read and like every post and do my best to respond to as many as possible, and hope to continue to do that as I write.

The purpose of these “Writer’s Diary” entries will be to update everyone on what I’ve done in the past week. These entries will, almost always, be released on a weekly basis (if I’m able to) and will contain new features, minimal spoilers, and any new information about updates coming to the demo.

As for updates to the demo, I really can’t assign a set timeframe for it. While the writing portion takes long enough, I have the additional struggle of going through and bug-testing it which can take days depending on how much new code I’ve worked on.

One last thing: as this first Writer’s Diary is only being posted three or four days after the release of the first demo, this will be a much shorter one. With that being said, let’s get on to the updates I have.

Writer’s Diary: May 20th, 2022
The biggest thing I’ve been working on the past two days has been a massive re-write of the Prologue and Chapter 1. Obviously, not everything has been changed, but I have added an additional 6,000 words worth of storyline to just the prologue. Here are a few of the features I’ve added so far:

  • The masses have persuaded me! All 50 states are now in the game for you to choose from. While I decided to keep the regions (Northeast, South, West, and the Pacific West) to make some math easier for me in the future, you now get to choose a specific state!
  • More options for your character’s backstory. You will now be able to be commissioned as an officer in the military or to be a lawyer before you run for public office.
  • An update to your character’s backstory. Now, as opposed to automatically being made a member of Congress, you instead run for State Senate and get to choose what you run for next; Mayor of a city (yes, the name of the city is unique to the State you pick at the beginning), Congress, Governor, or Attorney General of your state.
  • The State and Party you select will also have a unique dialogue. Running for Governor of Idaho as a Democrat will result in a different story than running for Mayor.
  • A more customizable family. Now, you’re able to pick the names, genders, and ages of your two children, with every option coming with unique scenes and interactions for you to discover.
  • Started developing the outline for Chapters 2 and 3; Chapter 2 will be almost entirely focused on getting your legislation through Congress in the first 100 days, and Chapter 3 will see you shift your focus to issues abroad with Midterm Elections
  • Fixed a few (embarrassing) typos

Progress Update: 15% → 17%
Mostly just additions made to the Prologue and Chapter 1, but I have done a lot of helpful work in outlining future chapters.

I likely will be releasing an updated demo of the Prologue and Chapter 1 in the next few days. It’s almost entirely written by now, I just need to go through and hammer out some bugs in the coding before I feel comfortable enough to upload it. Future demos will be released much less frequently but this first update is just a re-write which is why it’ll be out so quickly!

Updated Word Count: 26,000 words

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The 50 state thing is probably the part I’m the most excited about… This should be fun

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Oh yes very cool. Especially the backgrounds. The fact there are options makes this much better, though the fact there are no actors is slightly disappointing, and no business degrees is just confusing.

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Being a TV reporter is probably the closest to an actor I’m including since the stats would be about the same, as for business, you do have the option to serve as an assistant to a CEO.

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True, alright den.

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Wow, loving and appreciating the time you took to show some transparency!

The biggest new feature for me is the new choice of backgrounds. A former lawyer or even Attorney General is perfect for my Democratic Centrist MC, who will be focusing on criminal justice reform and improving healthcare as his first priorities.

Those choices will really add some much needed depth and roleplay opportunities in the beginning of your game, allowing for you to set the stage and begin focusing on what challenges you’ll throw at us as fictional Presidents (fingers crossed for a realistic war scare, as that will really hit home on immersion right now and allow people to express themselves on that troubling issue in a fun way).

Your prose and structuring are impressive thus far. Your writing has an easy, breezy kind of flow while still taking moments to express the surrealism of becoming a leader of an entire nation. Hope we get more of those points as things march on, as they are important to allow the pressures of the scenario to breathe for a bit and let the player be a leader in other ways than just making speeches and passing legislation, such as spending time with family or even recouping after a pressing matter.

Thank you, @RFKramer!

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Should’ve included this in my Writer’s Diary (link) but I forgot to include it.

If you’ve played the demo, you know that one of the first things that happens in Chapter 1 is your meeting with Jackson, your Chief of Staff, in the Oval Office where you receive your schedule for the day.

As I begin writing Chapter 2, I wonder if you liked that system, having a rough idea of what to expect out of the day, or if you’d rather me switch it up for future chapters and have you be guided through your day without seeing the schedule ahead of time.

Not every chapter will be just one day in office obviously, but for those that do I’d be happy to have your input.

Do you enjoy the idea of starting every “day” or chapter with you reading your schedule in the Oval Office?
  • Yes, keep it!
  • No, switch it up!

0 voters

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TBH I just sort of glossed over the schedule itself when reading, but I do like it since I imagine a President would be getting a schedule every morning.

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Yes, I like it, really makes me feel like I’m large and in charge. Plus, you could use it to spring a surprise. For example, do you think JFK’s morning report included the part where he became target practice for the CIA? No because that was a twist ending. Now maybe dying would be a bit far, but the idea is the same.

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I dunno, I always put the exact date of my death on my schedule.

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Really, that’s it? I even write my cause of death in.

A schedule needs to be clear and concise, especially a president’s.

For instance, my MC will be assassinated on January 13th, 2038, while riding through Paris to a meeting. Cause: blunt force trauma induced from projectile baguette launched directly at cranium.

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Absolutely outstanding.

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Just got the chance to play through this. My only real concern so far is the Russia issue. You can choose a Russian ambassador to open the door to the Russian Federation, but even if you don’t, they still offer you a bribe. Just makes that earlier choice feel empty.

I’m not crazy about the “attributes,” which is basically just charisma. That is important, but hardly the only important attribute. I’d personally rather see more attributes or get rid of that one and change it to a general “likeability” rating?

Aside from that, I’m not entirely sure what the tone is (sim/strategy, or story). Some of the commentary seemingly comes more from the narrator than the advisors, and some comments are unnecessarily opinionated, despite this seeming for a more impersonal feel.

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Interesting feedback, I’ll try and go through things point by point for some clarity!

I can promise that this choice isn’t an empty one, picking the ambassador to Russia to serve as Secretary of State combined with cooperation directly with Russia will provide additional choices that just weren’t in Chapter 1.

To this point, I do understand but wasn’t sure what other attributes to include. Charisma will come in to be important for major speeches, campaign events (in the future), and for other dialogue options. I haven’t really found the need for other attributes as likeability is just your approval ratings. I suppose to get around this I could just make charisma a hidden attribute, meaning you don’t see how charismatic or uncharismatic your character is. I’ll think about it some more I suppose.

It’s my hope for it to be both a simulation game while also telling the story of your character. As for why much of the commentary comes from the narrator – the only parts of the demo are the Prologue, where you don’t even have advisors yet, and then Chapter 1 which is largely focused around you building up your team of advisors. After Chapter 1, once you have more advisors and your Cabinet picked out, commentary and advice will be coming from that Cabinet and will change based on who you picked to lead each department.

I’m not entirely sure what you mean here, would you mind elaborating or providing an example so I could better get an idea of how to improve? I’d appreciate it!

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Glad to hear. Maybe a quick dialogue insert of “even though our options aren’t as vast as if you’d appointed [ambassador] as Secretary of State, we can still work together”? Just something to show that there is a difference. In CYOA games, it’s important for choices to both feel and be impactful.

The only thing that comes to mind is to have “familiarity” bonuses based on background choice. Right now, all presidents are former senators, but you could change that. Could be a military background, perhaps former secretary, investor? Those backgrounds might have lower charisma, but grant larger bonuses when speaking on specific issues.

Out of curiosity, have you played Suzerain? Kinda sounds like you are going for that structure and pacing, but could be wrong.

I’m sure I’ll be going through this again as it’s updated, and will definitely do that.

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