Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Political Machine 2008

Thanks to's ( ) Computer Sim Games Guide for alerting The Konformsit of the following game.

The Political Machine 2008

Description: The Political Machine 2008 puts players in control of the 2008 presidential campaign. Play as the campaign manager for a host of candidates including Barack Obama, John McCain, Hillary Clinton, historical candidates or design one from scratch. Players then choose their campaign battlegrounds and are off on the campaign trail to face a host of challenges including fund raising, talk show appearances, hiring spin doctors and winning endorsements. The game is won on Election Day by the player who gets the necessary electoral votes to become President. The Political Machine is both a single and a multiplayer game - players can either compete against the computer or against others online.


Welcome to the new Political Machine!

Ever thought you could run for President? Now's your chance with The Political Machine. Pick a candidate (real or imaginary) or design your own from scratch. Then choose a political party and start your campaign.

The Political Machine is a strategy game that takes the real world mechanics of political campaigning and uses it to create an award-winning strategy game. Raise money, hire spin-doctors, win the endorsements of important groups, go on TV interviews, take out ads, fight off smear merchants and much more in your quest to win the 270 electoral votes you need to get into the white house.

Your opponents can be controlled either by human players over the Internet or by a diabolical computer AI designed by Stardock's renowned artificial intelligence team. With multiple maps and scenarios to choose from, a candidate editor and much more, The Poliltical Machine is not just a timely bit of fun during the campaign season but a strategy game that will stand the test of time.In between your gaming exploits, hang out here on, discussing the issues of the day on a non-partisan site where people of all political persuasions can advocate their positions.



Presidential candidates


Fmr. President Bill Clinton (D-AR)
Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY)
Fmr. Sen. John Edwards (D-NC)
Fmr. Vice President Al Gore (D-TN)
Sen. John Kerry (D-MA)
Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL)
Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM)
Fmr. President Jimmy Carter (D-GA)
Fmr. President John F Kennedy (D-MA)
Fmr. President Lyndon B. Johnson (D-TX)
Fmr. President Woodrow Wilson (D-NJ)
Fmr. President Thomas Jefferson (D-VA)
Fmr. Senator Mike Gravel (D-AK)
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)


Lord Kona (fictional)
President George W. Bush (R-TX)
Vice-President Dick Cheney (R-WY)
Fmr. New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R-NY)
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX)
Fmr. Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA)
Fmr. President Ulysses S. Grant (R-OH)
Fmr. President Richard Nixon (R-CA)
Fmr. President Ronald Reagan (R-CA)
Fmr. President Theodore Roosevelt (R-NY)
Fmr. President George Washington (VA)
Fmr. President Abraham Lincoln (R-IL)
Fmr. Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR)


The Political Machine 2008 Q&A: Tackling the Issues
The election simulation and satire is back in 2008. Who wins?
May 23, 2008

The Political Machine was a tongue-in-cheek look at North American politics released just in time for the 2004 presidential election. Using John Kerry, George W. Bush, or any number of fantasy candidates such as Ulysses S. Grant, you didn't simply tackle the issues; using spin doctors, PR machines, celebrity endorsements, and negative advertising, you ran right over them. Now The Political Machine is back, revised for 2008 with a new list of issues, a new list of candidates, and some pleasant surprises, like the 1860 election, which was informed by slavery and the Civil War. For the latest on The Political Machine 2008, we sat down with Brad Wardell, the lead designer as well as the president and CEO of Stardock Corp. Here's what he had to say (and mud in your eye).

GameSpot: The 2004 election was intense, to be sure, but nothing in American history rivals what we've seen in 2008 in terms of media coverage, political trickery, and outright passion. Have you intensified the action in The Political Machine 2008 to capture such a charged political climate?

Brad Wardell: Definitely. Players can bring in spin doctors, smear merchants, media consultants, fixers, and more to help get themselves elected. We've created a custom candidate maker, scenarios, better multiplayer, more operatives, etc.

GS: In addition to creating your own candidate, which real-life candidates will we see? You also had a great cast of fictional candidates in 2004, including Arnold Schwarzenegger. Is there any chance of an unlockable Al Gore, John Kerry, or Bob Dole?

BW: Absolutely. One of the nice things about a game like this is that it lets us do some fun things with the release. For instance, as the political season heats up this summer and fall, we'll be releasing free candidates up on for users to download and add in. The game comes with most of the big names, either as default or unlockable, but we plan to continue to add more and more as the election nears.

GS: Any candidate-specific special attacks in the Machine? A Hilary "crying button"? A McCain war-story dialog tree? Huckabee dancing minigame?

BW: Haha. No, we have tried to stay away from anything that might give the impression that the game is rooting for any particular candidate.

GS: Certainly many of the issues in 2004 have changed, while many have sadly remained the same. What are the hot-button topics candidates will touch on this election, and what are some of the best strategies for handling them?

BW: There are some interesting topics that have come up this time. You still have the war in Iraq, and the economy is right at the top too. But this time we have things like alternative fuels being a hot topic, as well as freezing mortgage rates and other things in which the political parties differ on.

One of the biggest changes is that we have scenarios. So we not only have the 2008 US election, but we include a Civil War scenario with the issues from 1860. We also include "Europa," which is Europe as seen by a typical American tourist (i.e., highly politically incorrect satire); "Germania," "that little country by Poland"; "Australia" (as opposed to Austria), with the issues being, well, let's just say not accurate.

And of course, this time you can finally run for Emperor of the Drengin Empire. Are you pro slavery or pro genocide? These are the tough issues that Drengi politicians have to deal with.

GS: Aside from the issues, The Political Machine was a great satire on political media coverage, featuring fiery talk-show hosts and endorsements from celebrities. How have you updated this for 2008?

BW: Big time. This time we have a satire on the Colbert Report. It's a big upgrade.

GS: One issue we had with the original game is that the AI candidates didn't always focus on the most important states. Tell us how you've updated the AI and some of the different political strategies we'll see from them.

BW: This is one of those things where time helps. We've had a lot more time to focus on the computer AI to master the strategy. When I program computer AI, I'm playing the game and learning the game, and then incorporate those strategies into the computer players. When we did the 2004 edition, I hadn't had much time to play the game, so my strategies weren't as far along as they are now.

GS: The 2004 edition was somewhat of a crystal ball in that it predicted 48 of the 50 states, and also George W. Bush to defeat John Kerry. What factors are you looking at, and why do think the game predicted the outcome so accurately?

BW: For the most part, it's all about demographics and issues. The election is really decided by issues and turnout. It's not as sexy as the media might like it to be, but at the end of the day, it's really just about a) getting your base out to vote, and b) getting independents to care about an issue that makes you different from your opponent. Last time, the game got every state right except for Ohio and I think Iowa (and that was in June of 2004, prior to the Swift Boat advocacy).

This time it's a lot more complicated because the candidates are not quite as different as they were in 2004. McCain has a number of atypical positions for a Republican. There is also a significant difference in financial resources between the parties this time. On the other hand, Obama has weaker demographic support in key electoral states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, which the Democrats have to win.

GS: We haven't seen many blue states go red in the general election, or vice versa. How can a candidate like Obama win Texas? Is it even possible?

BW: In The Political Machine, anything's possible. In the real world, candidates play as true experts. But in The Political Machine, players can do gambits that just would never happen in the real world. For instance, with enough spin doctors, advertisements, and other operatives, I've won California with McCain, which is certainly not going to happen in November.

GS: Thanks for your time.


PC - Simulation - The Political Machine 2008
By Andrew Dagley June 30, 2008
We take a look at Stardock's latest political sim!

Political junkies have had one hell of a ride these last few months. The recently concluding primary season has been perhaps the most bitterly contested, but still vicariously entertaining spectacles of the last few decades. So it comes as no surprise that when The Political Machine 2008 landed on my desk I was more than a little excited - what exciting matchups could I concoct? Barack Obama vs. John McCain? Bill Clinton vs. Richard Nixon? Woodrow Wilson vs. Theodore Roosevelt? Sufficed to say, The Political Machine doesn't disappoint, offering an excellent improvement over the last version released four years ago - but it's ultimately hamstrung by some nagging issues and the lack of full-fledged improvements.

The Political Machine ships with four full scenarios - the 2008 campaign, 1860, a hypothetical (and highly amusing) European Union scenario, and a scenario based of Stardock's successful Galactic Civilizations series in which you play as a candidate for the highly militaristic Drengin Empire. It is a nice mix of scenario's and does give players an interesting mix of potential what if's. These can often manage to descend into the realm of pure amusement that comes only when you can pit Bill Clinton against Dick Cheney in 1860, where Clinton makes speech after speech supporting slavery, or Al Gore setting up TV ads across Europe extolling his hatred of America and love of partying.

Most campaigns take place over a period of 41 turns - one turn per week - you'll select your candidate who has their own specific statistics (McCain is old for instance, and has less stamina, and therefore can't do as much per week), and thereafter begin attempting to sway individual states over to either the Democratic or Republican parties. While many of the states are swingable the game does keep many safely in the realm or either party - it's unlikely you'll ever get Massachusetts to swing Republican for instance. Each turn candidates can make appearances in individual states, giving speeches on individual issues, fund-raising, creating ads, or gaining endorsements. During the scenario for this years election you'll find just about all current issues popping up on the campaign trail, allowing you to take positions on subjects such as the War in Iraq, Health Care, Climate Change, and smaller (often state specific issues) such as farm subsidies or Katrina relief. Each candidate has his own values for each specific issue - Obama is naturally going to have the upper hand on McCain on the economy for instance, and vice-versa when it comes to Iraq and the War on Terror. You'll find different issues in all four of the scenarios, and each time you play a campaign - even with the same candidates - things such as the importance of issues in each state are randomized just enough to keep things interesting. One election the topic of high gas prices might be the key to winning, but attempting to do that a second time might backfire as the important issues have changed.

This all works fairly well and creates its own dynamic campaigns. As noted, you'll never experience the same campaign twice, but the AI has some significant limitations. For one it frequently manages to ignore the most important swing states or states in which its human opponent is paying the most attention. Moreover computer candidates often pay too much attention to areas in which you're not going to be competitive or aren't visiting - Republicans paying visits to Alaska every four or five turns to name one such oddity. Besides this there are a few other disappointments. Only the top candidates of either party this year are represented in the game - it would be nice to play a campaign as Mike Gravel, Tom Vilsack, or Sam Brownback. More importantly, after this years important and highly engaging primary season the lack of a primary season, no matter how short, is a disappointment in game. Endorsements, gained through political clout, while a good idea - giving candidates bonuses to certain issues - are also little used, being too few and so cheap as to limit their effectiveness to early in the campaigning season only. Vice Presidential running mates also don't feel as fleshed out as they could have been.

These issues are, however, ultimately minor. As it stands The Political Machine 2008 is a fine follow-up to Stardock's earlier political gem. Though most games only last an hours or two, the game offers enough to keep potential candidates coming back from just one more campaign. Political junkies will almost certainly find themselves sucked in, along with those who have only a smattering of knowledge about the American political process.

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