Dev Journal #2: Primary Focus - The Political Machine 2024

Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2024

In The Political Machine 2024, we wanted to challenge ourselves by including a new game mode outside of Presidential by introducing Primaries! The United States primaries are a series of state-level elections held by political parties to select candidates for the general election. It may not get as much attention as the general election, but is a significant part to shaping how the general election looks like. Especially with how the 2024 primaries season is shaping up today, we wanted to give players a chance to play out alternative primaries scenarios.

In initial design, we wanted to see how we could make primaries play out in game-wise. What we saw immediately is that the different flow of our priority that candidates take in primaries added interesting gameplay.



For example, in my playthrough of Republican primaries, I wanted to explore a playthrough with the 4 runners that were in the race. Here I started as Nikki Haley and selected Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Doug Burgum as my opponents.

The first 3 states that resolve in U.S. primaries are Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada. Right before I even made my first move as Haley, I already see Ramaswamy and Burgum making buildings and speeches in Iowa while DeSantis starts setting up in Nevada. Seeing them setup on both of those states, I decided that Haley should start setting up for New Hampshire since it hasn’t been touched yet. I put down a couple ads supporting Second Amendment Protections before flying down to Iowa to get a speech in about supporting Agricultural support to stay in the race of the first resolved primary.


I then make a rush to stay ahead in Iowa while setting up Texas with a Fundraiser building to make sure I can keep running my ads on both Iowa and New Hampshire. Couple turns later, looks like Iowa is resolving in 3 more turns. I need to keep focus to be sure I stay in the lead to win the state!


I managed to solidify my lead in Iowa right before it resolved by making a few more speeches and placing a Spin Doctor card to increase my issue score.



Winning the Iowa caucus spread enthusiasm for Haley across the country. With the ads I put in New Hampshire at the first turn, it’s bearing its fruit as now a chunk of the north east region is for Haley now!


What we liked about implementing Primaries is that states that often did not get emphasized as much in Presidential Mode now do because of the inherent order of them in Primaries. The game mode also does a great job in reflect how much a primary can lead to snowball effect even upon winning just the first caucus alone. That being said, it’s not over until it’s over - Ramaswamy, DeSantis, and Burgum can still be in the race if they take Nevada which I didn’t put any focus on.

That being said, the path to improving Primaries in our game isn’t over either. With your help, we are getting good feedback to improving the mode and hope to improve other elements of The Political Machine 2024! Please look forward to more content updates and improvements soon!