When the Center Held: The Rescue of the American Presidency (Abandoned Project)

I’ve begun to work on a new game When the Center Held: The Rescue of the American Presidency. In it, you play a TBD entity affecting the Ford administration in the 895 days of his presidency.

In the game you’ll be able to:

  • Heal an injured America after the disaster of Watergate and Nixon’s economic policy.
  • Pass legislation to address the issues facing the Nation or change the very fabric of American existence with broad reaching policy like Universal Healthcare or the full employment act.
  • Rebuild a shattered Republican party and define what Conservatism will mean to Americans for generations to come.
  • Conduct diplomacy in the late Cold War and continue your predecessors work to thaw the tensions.
  • Campaign for reelection and maybe even win.


  • Intro - Done (may consider adding a way to skip)
  • Presser, Veep & Briefings - Done
  • Pardon of Nixon - Done
  • 1975 First congressional session - Done
  • 1975 First diplomatic efforts - Done
  • Crisis - Done - Mayaguez ship incident
  • 1976 Second congressional session - In Progress 3/6 new laws completed - Same as before work through the democratic congress to pass laws to improve the country also deal with potential swine flu pandemic
  • Primary campaign - This saw him entering the lame duck period of his presidency and will involve campaigning in the primary and defending dente with your conservative base who want someone more hawkish like Reagan.
  • Crisis - Panmunjom axe beheading incident
  • Reelection campaign - following Fords efforts to get reelected against Jimmy Carter
  • Ending and assessment - A writeup on how you did as president and the results of the election and your policies on America
  • Revise and edit story, fix perspective to chief of staff advising Ford, work on adding more historical context to foreign or domestic politics area players may be confused by ex. Arab Israeli Conflict

Feedback I’m looking for:

  • Historical mistakes I’m using Wikipedia and what I remember from a book I read a few months ago on the Ford presidency with a similar name to the title I probably made mistakes and feel free to correct me
  • Grammatical errors or odd sentence structure just let me know I’m not a professional writer so I’m happy to correct
  • Coding errors will be common and plentiful.
  • Feedback on options you would like to select.
  • Feedback on game structure or difficulty I’m using 1’s and 0’s for the Stat’s so just let me know if it’s impossible to balance the budget when I get laws implemented.

Aside from that, Thanks for Playing!

To play the demo, go here: https://dashingdon.com/play/ahunter/when-the-center-held-the-rescue-of-the-american-presidency/mygame/

Edit: Grammar & Formatting

6/27/2021: Game is still pretty broken and probably all of the grammar could use a editors red pen but the first chapter is finished although bugs abound.

6/28/2021: The first three chapters are done and the 4th is in progress lots of little changes to way code and structure of game also implemented to make easier to code.

7/15/2021: The 4th chapter is done and to an extent so is the 7th as a result.

7/28/2021:Bug fixes and tweaks and other miscellany.

8/2/2021: Bug fixes for the last bug fix and also the 5th chapter done.

8/12/2021: Chapter 6 update.

8/17/2021: Chapter 7 update and code rewrite as well as some bug fixes.

11/2/2021: Last Update - The code written for the new laws some still incomplete.


The game freezes with the error message “speech_and_setup line 70: Non-existent command’end’”.

This is a very original premise, but I am concerned you may not want to do this as a ChoiceScript story. It feels like you are having it be hemmed in by actual history to a point that readers will be turned off. I mean, the mere act of not letting readers name their character has been a point of controversy for years. Having them be a part of a presidential administration without allowing for the possibility of reelection is not likely to be well-received. At the very least, definitely make sure it is mentioned early in the story somehow in no uncertain terms.

I know that sounds negative, I just want to mention it now before others mention it in a less kind fashion. Still, wishing you good luck!


Good point, I will mention that I’m planning to allow you to diverge from history somewhat and you’ll have the choice of playing as a liberal, centrist or conservative republican domestically as well as having a lot more success in the foreign policy department such as preventing the downfall of south Vietnam or even negotiating a much more comprehensive peace treaty in the Arab-Israeli conflict. But yeah I will make an effort to clearly state what the guard rails are in terms of historical stuff.


Sorry about that code’s still pretty hot so let me finish the next part of it and I’ll get an update pushed to hopefully fix that.


I’m a political nut, so this should definitely be great


When I tried to see the statistics screen, I got the error message “choicescript_stats line 14: It is illegal to fall in to an * else statement; you must * goto or * finish before the end of the indented block.” And it froze.

I played game, but I got an error message “speech_and_setup line 229: invalid indent, expected at least one line in’if’ true block” and froze

Must be some hot code on my part I’ll take a look tomorrow and work on getting the code a bit more organized.

excluding the error that everyone got, I have to say that this game looks pretty good so far and as someone who’s very interested in history and politics im definitely looking forward to this!

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So far it looks great. I love politics and look forward to the remainder of the story. Thanks.

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Got an error. Hope you can look into it (image attached below).

I liked how the current story is, however there is one point which I was particularly intrigued was that we should be given the opportunity to focus on more issues. One topic is fine but a government usually focuses in 2-3 key issues which it wants to tackle in its current tenure. So, I guess you can include that part however you can list them in a particular order i.e. which issue we will give the most importance and which the least.

Further, I agree with Hustlertwo, I will actually like to have a customised name instead of running Ford Administration. Further, if it’s possible actually I think it will be great if we can win the election at last. My reason is that, you can surely take ideas from the Ford Administration but I think you should give a certain touches in the game which makes it unique rather than follow the same path which Ford Administration went… (I get it tho that we will have options to bring reforms which will give its own uniqueness in the game but even tho I think I will want that option in the game, if it’s possible.)

But apart from that, great game and great topic :smiley::+1:

Sorry, that’s not a bug it’s just the end of the demo I have quite gotten into the more professional habit of putting a end of demo screen yet.

Thanks for the feedback! On the issues I have two answers First your going to get an opportunity to pass specific legislation when you get to the congressional sessions like universal healthcare or the full employment act, at the moment though the demo mostly has the administration dealing with Watergate and it’s aftereffects. Secondly the issue’s facing America at this time is inflation and the economy and I guess kind of the debt & deficit although we never actually fixed that one. The administration is going to have some time to focus on other stuff but ultimately those are the problems of the day so historically that’s going to be the focus.

On the customization debate I’ll say that I see where people are coming from on this but personally I just tend to enjoy more controlled experiences when I play RPG’s and that’s sort of what I want to be writing. Also this is meant to be an easy to write sort of starter game for me in part to teach me choice script and also to hopefully be finished relatively quickly. On that note if I do manage to finish this and don’t feel so burnt out as to never touch choice script again I’ll definitely keep the customization preference in mind. As for winning the election and such that’s the second time I’ve heard that so I might actually change my opinion on that if I hear more about it, My thoughts on it at the moment though are that ultimately Ford will never really manage to win the presidency because of the Nixon pardon. He’s supposed to be able to win his party primary a lot more easily and could even win the popular vote but ultimately the electoral college will work against him and he’ll lose enough where it counts. But as anything it’s subject to change aside from all that stuff thanks for playing!


A quick update to any following this I’ve finished the 3rd chapter following the Ford administration through the Nixon pardon and his testimony in front of the House Judiciary committee. I’ve also figured out quicktest and random test so you should encounter a lot less broken code moments. Aside from that I’ll warn you that the more I write the rougher my grammar seems to get and this update change’s the perspective mid sentence enough times to be a crime against the English language. Aside from all that though let me know what you think.


True, true, this may be a little too historical and if it just a look at history without being able to change anything may be better to explore in a novel.

The big one with Ford is, imho, to go for alternate history and try for reelection as Ford getting reelected has a high probability of butterflying Reagan and having the 80’s be a Democratic decade under Teddy Kennedy (or another Democrat). 1976 was, as far as I can see in retrospect, a poisoned chalice of an election and having Ford, who would be term limited in any case swallow it may lead to a better future.

Not necessarily, imho, have Ford be more himself, same advice as for McCain really and go radical centrist and according to enough scenario’s on alternate history he may be able to eke out a win.
You can always add a way to an extra Carter gaffe or two while avoiding one or two Ford made on the campaign trail.
From what I’ve learned from the Campaign Trail game the way to have Ford win on hard is getting Howard Baker into the VP slot and tack mostly moderate with one or two bones to the conservatives/Reaganites. Dole is too much of a drag.
On normal Anderson is a minor boost too, but only if you more or less go for a party realignment and really stick to the moderate and occasional progressive positions. My preferred Ford win in that game, though I have yet to do that one on hard. Point is get him someone better than Dole, or rather if you want to have an in-game way for the player to do so.


AH! A fellow traveler I see, I would be lying if I said that the Campaign Trail game wasn’t one of the big influences in me deciding to try my hand at writing this that and a love of alternate history games. As I see it at the moment their will be a few key variations on the endings to give people sort of an idea of where I’m trying to head and hopefully clear up a bit in terms of how historical you have to be versus how ahistorical you can get.

  • First is Ford’s performance in office his ability to fix the issues like the economy, inflation the debt & deficit as well as to an extent heal the country after Watergate. My hope is to judge the player on how well they’ve managed to address these issues and hopefully do a short write up on it’s effect in the long term.

  • The political faction of the Republican party that Ford can choose to work with and support throughout his term in office either allowing it’s Liberal, Conservative or Centrist wing to ascend and dominate the party for years to come.

  • His performance in his reelection campaign and how close he comes to actually winning it. I’ll admit that I was actually operating on some pretty poor historical knowledge here I had misremembered it as being a lot less close than it actually was. The only account I had read on it was quite a few years ago and the Ford focused book I read just brushed over it. Given this new information I think it actually is quite plausible that he could have won the 1976 election and I’ll change my plans accordingly. That doesn’t mean the game will get any longer though I think that I’ll just stick with his first term in office and then give a write up based on the players performance to give an idea of his legacy.


That’s fine. You don’t have to have the second term as a part of the gameplay (though it wouldn’t hurt), but it would be a cool endgame state either way.

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Lmao! That’s definitely a professional way of putting an end of a demo :joy::+1:

It’s all my pleasure 🙇‍♂️

Well, I have question here, if we focus of our administration say economy then what is going to be the consequences? I guess it is likely that we will have more choices we can make on economy of the nation but I would like to confirm it, so I would love to hear your thoughts here :slight_smile:

I will definitely love that! Thanks for the consideration :blush:

Whoops meant to say haven’t, lol.

Uh you know I had just thought of it as being a one time stat boost but it could be a good idea to have you be able to pass executive orders addressing some of this stuff either if congressional laws fail or towards the beginning of reelection having the focus pop back up again and give an extra stat boost I’ll put it on the list.

I don’t know much about Ford and Kennedy administration but whatever I have read throughout the topic in this forum, I can conclude that if the players don’t want to have much alternative changes in the history then customisation could be an option which will let the creator of the game a breathing space for alternative history such as winning the election.

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