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Anytus

Interacting with secret police - ideas thread

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I really think there is a lot of design space to leverage with the secret police here. I'd like to give my ideas about what you can do with the secret police in Dear Leader and I'd like to hear the ideas of everyone else who is really into this game.

In my view the game is really about your relationships and decisions interacting with 3 groups of people:

1) Your citizens/nation

2) Your ministers

3) Your secret police

Each group wants to satisfy its needs and be your best bud so that you will favor them in your decisions. I really want to see the secret police share the spotlight with these two other groups because I think it embodies a lot of what Anna is going for in being a despot and feeling what they might feel.

Examples:

1) The secret police can provide additional and sometimes conflicting information about important events. Your citizens love the fact that the minister of agriculture is touring the country to announce your new collective grain subsidies, but the secret police claim he has also met with local criminal bosses. How do you figure out what’s really going on?

2) The secret police can recommend actions that run counter to the goals of the other groups. The minister of education wants the top scientists to be free to work on their own research at the universities. However, the secret police urge relocating the scientists to a secure government facility because they believe some of the scientists will sell information to rival nations.

3) The secret police can act as an extension of your despotic power, but there is a cost; do you trust them? The ministry of peace vehemently disagrees with your plans to shift military funds to the agricultural sector and they have threatened to leak sensitive information to the press if you continue. The secret police can ‘take care’ of this dissent for you, but it will require replacing an honorable military hero with a gestapo lackey. Do you brand the hero a traitor and replace him? Do you trust the secret police with more direct power over the military? Do you try and persuade the minister of peace directly?

4) Despots face threats both internal and external. The secret police could also act as a foreign intelligence service, providing you with information about your allies and enemies. Wars, both cold and hot, are a natural part of a large totalitarian state. If you act on the intelligence and capture a small border country you could secure key resources. But how reliable is the secret police information? Are they simply using war as an excuse to consolidate power?

Ideally, the secret police could gain enough power to overthrow you. I think its important that there isn't just a meter than fully describes how much power they have. Part of this game could be that you don't have 100% reliable information, which also fulfills the design goal of not 'playing the UI.' The player can infer when the secret police are close to a coup by how well they follow your orders and whether they take to acting autonomously.

With unlimited time, I would have the secret police leader basically be another AI player with its own set of private information and beliefs about how powerful it is. After a certain threshold, the AI would launch a coup which could be successful or fail. This gives the player an opportunity to out think the secret police by separately securing the loyalty of key individuals and preparing for their treachery. It could also be a scenario where the player goes into crisis mode and has to try and stop the coup as its happening. Unfortunately, I think this kind of complicated AI and backend work is out of the scope for a 2 week prototype.

It seems like both having a tight inner circle and yet still never knowing who to trust embodies the essence of this kind of rule. The secret police give you an avenue to interact with that uncertainty directly, constantly questioning what you think you know and balancing your direct influence against that of those beneath you.

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That got me thinking about having some relationship with the outside world. Perhaps one of the end states could be invasion and your removal by some UN taskforce if your human rights fall too low. Something that your secret police could influence by bribing UN inspectors, or dealing with foreign journalists who have some unfortunate photos or video.

Oh, as time goes on perhaps you have to start dealing with the influence of the internet and bloggers. Do you filter content, or allow people free access? :D

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Dig your writeup!

Anna can elaborate on her vision for the secret police, but we've had a whole bunch of discussion about this group. It's definitely a great opportunity for paranoia and scrutiny by the player/Leader. They'll play a major role.

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Are you guys planning on covering it more in a standup or will you guys post about it in here?

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We may cover the secret police along with details about the other ministers / departments (and you'll likely see us talk about it in the streams / videos!), but the team may be wary of spoilers. I'll check with them.

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I can see it already, interacting with the secret police.

"Mr. Chairman, we've found evidence that a prominent factory owner has been slipping horse meat into our citizens' lasagna. What do you want us to do?"

A) "Lasagna? How unpatriotic! Shut down the factory and execute the owner on live television. We must put a stop to this devolution of the motherland's values, starting with the basics like food."

B) "What a clever idea... Tell him he can continue to do so after he makes a donation to the party fund. Also, find me more factories we can persuade to substitute in alternative meats."

C) "And nobody noticed this before? Bring this man here, it's time I elected a new minister of propaganda."

True story.

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