East vs West vs Supreme Ruler vs Geopolitical Sim

On the three moves ahead podcast I got to hear how Victoria 2 does a good job of telling the story of its time through its time and the politics of rising consciousness during the industrial revolution. I would like to see the same craft put into a more modern political game.

Although it’s a fork from the Hearts of Iron series “East vs West” holds some promise for a Cold War geopolisim. An emphasis on espionage and hopefully the inclusion of a form diplomatic crises engine will make the Cold War as exciting as shepherding armies through WW2.

But still something more modern would be nice right? How about 2010 or maybe even 2020 if you were some kind of supreme ruler. I have been trying to get into those games, 2010 mostly, but the obtuse diplomacy and international relations make this game not really work like I’d like.

There is some strange game with a few different titles, I know it by Geopolitical Simulator, that looks like it’s really trying to be the modern geopolisim. It goes so far to attach personalities to the heads of various interests who you schedule meetings with as you consider policy and action. It really seems like it would be THE game but it apparently breaks down really badly and the engine is fundamentally broken.

Is this it for modern Geopolitic? Do we have others? I’ll also add games like Shadow President or Balance of Power as good earlier games heading towards a modern grand scale sim in the style of Victoria. How about ‘Margaret’ from Paradox ;) ?

Tom M

Balance of Power was a good game? Because that’s sure not how I remember it.

You’re right there. Balance of Power was good example of an early attempt but not a particularly good game. When Twilight Struggle for PC finally shows up we will have something that Balance of Power could only hope to have been.

I mentioned it because those political sims seemed kind of rare for me, I never wanted to play the election games.

Tom M

The biggest problem with the Supreme Ruler series (from my point of view, and likely yours as well) is that they are designed first and foremost to be war games. Diplomacy and international relations are mere stepping stones on the road to eventual global military subjugation. I’ve personally always found the military controls in the game to be needlessly obtuse and counter-intuitive, but have also always held a sense of respect for what the devs are trying to do.

Geopolitical Simulator is a joke, so don’t even waste your time with it. I picked up a cheap copy of the last incarnation and the moment you try to make any changes to your budget you end up with motorcycle gangs or the elderly staging armed uprisings throughout your country because you increased the fuel tax or the retirement age. It’s amusing the first time it happens and then gets old really quick. I know some of you out there will laugh and just say that it’s trying to communicate a message about modern politics, but every single aspect of the game is a bloody mess and not worth anyone’s time.

I still say the best “geopolitical sim” I’ve played is Shadow President from back in 1993, but it suffers from being quite old and only allowing you to play the United States. It was also a bit too heavily scripted for my tastes, starting immediately before the Gulf War and the collapse of the USSR, so it tended to play out the same way every time you tried.

We seem to have close to the same opinions. I agree with your added points on Supreme Ruler’s military interface being clunky as well. I played the first geopolitical sim and it’s sad to hear they still haven’t made the game work. Shadow President was interesting but I don’t know if it was just the age I played it at or what but I could never figure out if it was really a open sim or confined like you said.

Tom M

I had a good deal of fun with a game called “Supremacy 2” when it came out, I doubt it has aged well though. Like pretty much all geopolitical sims it’s ambition was greater than its competence, and the way to play the game well was to do very unrealistic things. For example, playing Iran I had a massive budget deficit and the way out was to reduce social spending to zero and gradually pay off the debt. This had some consequences, but nowhere near enough to make it an unattractive way to fix my problem. It’s like the game was designed by Paul Ryan himself.

I eventually gave up on the genre after playing a bunch of other attempts, and found a home in Paradox’s historical simulations. My first love will always be the modern period, however, and that is why I am really looking forward to the release of East vs. West.

I wonder if it’s easier with hindsight. With Europa Universalis we think we have a handle on the motivations of the time and can make an attempt to examine the very interesting dynamics of Exploration, Reformation and National Identity. With Victoria we can see how rising consciousness affects political ideology in the industrial revolution. What are the driving forces facing us today? We’re still wrapping up figuring out the Cold War and now we have a whole new set of issues and they’re still global ones at that. Then again making a political game set in the present can very easily be targeted for controversy. We tend to accept differing views of history than the present.

I guess that’s why Supreme Ruler gives up and turns into a wargame ;)

Tom M

Edit: check that. Upon reflection of the paradox forums we don’t accept differing views of history either. :)

Whats with the BoP hate? I thought BoP 1990’s was a great game, and the original BoP was pretty good (particularly against the competition back in 1989).

Hidden Agenda just came to my mind. It seems to play more like a choose your own El Presidente than a full on simulator. The interface also reminds me a bit of Floor 13 in that you make decisions out if the office rather than looming over a virtual map. I don’t know how deep the sim goes and I think as far as Banana Republics go Tropico replaces Hidden Agenda but the focus does shift from a more political story in favor of Tropico’s more economic approach.

Tom M