A New Balance of Power
March 31, 2009 10:56 AM   Subscribe

Chris Crawford (previously) has released the beta version of his Storytron engine. The first demo? Balance of Power: 21st Century.

If the new BoP leaves you pining for the original, check out Crawford's old games on the rejuvenated Home of the Underdogs.
posted by Iridic (30 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
No Eastern Front ?

That's bogus, man.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:10 AM on March 31, 2009


BALANCE OF MOTHERFUCKING POWER???

AWESOME!

[note: the first balance of power was based on Windows 1.0, which the game embedded as a library as opposed to running from the windows 1.0 shell.]

The first Balance of Power manual completely blew my mind. Of course, that was 2/3rds of my life ago.
posted by GuyZero at 11:10 AM on March 31, 2009


from a screenshot on the how to play page:
Iraq is a country that never should have existed. It was carved out of the Ottoman Empire by the victorious allies at the end of World War I, who knew little about the political realities of the middle east and cared less. We have now suffered 90 years of conflict in that benighted region because of the stupidity of American, British and French leaders.
oh man, that's awesome. More games like this, please.
posted by shmegegge at 11:15 AM on March 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


*nukes Europe*

Oops.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:19 AM on March 31, 2009


The Nuclear War card game was much more satisfying.
posted by GavinR at 11:20 AM on March 31, 2009


Also, Balance of Power was the game that taught me the word "Finlandization".

The text to the 1986 book, "Balance of Power", that accompanied the video game. Also by Chris Crawford.
posted by GuyZero at 11:24 AM on March 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Dammit, I wanted to make an offer to Pakistan right off the bat in return for doing something to India. But I couldn't :(
posted by cimbrog at 11:24 AM on March 31, 2009


Also, I should correct myself: according to wikipedia, the game was originally on the Apple II. The first version I ever saw was the PC version which embedded Win 1.0 as the GUI library.
posted by GuyZero at 11:26 AM on March 31, 2009


I nuked China and retired. For this, history recognizes me as "competent".
posted by Donnie VandenBos at 11:28 AM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


A New Balance of Power? Sqeeee!

I once wrote a thank you note to Chris Crawford for writing Balance of Power. He wrote back.
posted by zippy at 11:51 AM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I _LURVED_ me some Balance of Power back in the day. It's the game that taught me that countries can "deplore" the actions of other countries without sacrificing any of the treaty benefits.

Off to the download site...
posted by Aquaman at 11:51 AM on March 31, 2009


Wow, what do you know? Intense airstrikes against Israel forced them to leave the Gaza strip with very little loss of prestige, and the only protest came from Kim Jong-Il. I think I'm on to something!
posted by Aquaman at 11:55 AM on March 31, 2009


Chris Crawford is awesome. It must have been disheartening to work for so long on this project, I'm so glad it's bearing fruit.

(I've traded a few emails with him, but I have no idea how to make something with Erasma/Storytron.)
posted by JHarris at 12:13 PM on March 31, 2009


Cool, I got a chance to interview Mr. Crawford in 2002 and suggested he do a new version of "Balance of Power" about the War On Terror. He said people were telling him that all the time, and he was thinking about it.
posted by Kirklander at 12:20 PM on March 31, 2009


I've mentioned this here before, but I was a QA tester on the original Balance of Power; it was the ideal part-time job for a graduate student (which I was at the time), sitting around playing computer games all day. Trained me perfectly for Real Life. I also got to beta test a game Crawford was developing that was very much like Sid Meier's Civilization, but I kept finding so many bugs that he threw up his hands and stopped working on the game.
posted by briank at 12:20 PM on March 31, 2009 [3 favorites]



Dammit, I wanted to make an offer to Pakistan right off the bat in return for doing something to India. But I couldn't :(


Ditto. I just don't know enough about international relations to be able to figure out which of the things you can do to try to gain Pakistan's favor will help given that doing something mean to India is off the table.
posted by juv3nal at 12:20 PM on March 31, 2009


Well, I achieved over half the available goals, usually by nuking uncooperative countries, but then it ended for no apparent reason; possibly they censured me to death? I don't really know.
posted by Caduceus at 12:45 PM on March 31, 2009


It's interesting to see how far Eras/StoryTron has come, and how it's recaptured the core ideas in BoP. It's as if BoP was just a specific instance of StoryTron.

Also, too funny how Chris loves the Mac and that Chicago font :)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 12:49 PM on March 31, 2009


Caduceus, maybe you shocked the computer, ala Hacktar?
posted by JHarris at 12:51 PM on March 31, 2009


Dammit, I wanted to make an offer to Pakistan right off the bat in return for doing something to India. But I couldn't :(

same here. what's more, I couldn't figure out how to get anybody to do anything I wanted, short of violence or intense threats. what i was disappointed not to be able to do:

1. ask people what they want in exchange for what i want, a la civ 4. (e.g. "what can i give you so that you'll tell afghanistan to give me osama bin laden.")

2. use the U.N. for anything other than largely ineffective Sanctions. (I know. I know. but I would have liked to form military alliances, or in some way create UN authorized military units to accomplish things like hunting bin laden down.)

3. offer military support as part of "offer a deal." in fact, it would have been nice to be able to offer anything besides "asking someone else to do something unrelated."

4. frankly, i would have liked to be able to act militarily in theaters outside of my stated goal. but it seems like I can only nuke, invade or make air strikes against one target at a time.

if i'm mistaken about any of this, please let me know. it's entirely possible that I just don't know how to do these things.
posted by shmegegge at 12:54 PM on March 31, 2009


Bad news: It's not very well written and the interface is ugly as sin.

Good news: It's totally fucking awesome.
posted by Damn That Television at 1:03 PM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


It really is a peculiar kind of AI programming that is the opposite of the Dan Bunten / Sid Meier school of thought, which is that a good game comes from only a few moving parts and options, but it's an interesting feel.
posted by Kirklander at 1:03 PM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Kirklander, you see, that's the kind of thing I have to deal with. Every time I hear someone talk about how all games should be doing this, there springs to mind an example of a game that did that, really well, and would have been ruined or at least entirely different if it had been tried differently.

It's made me nervous about making hard pronouncements about game design, and callously dismissive of other people who make them.
posted by JHarris at 1:18 PM on March 31, 2009


1. ask people what they want in exchange for what i want, a la civ 4. (e.g. "what can i give you so that you'll tell afghanistan to give me osama bin laden.")

This. The game needs it badly as an "easy mode" or something for the not-uncannily-politically-aware like myself.
posted by juv3nal at 1:38 PM on March 31, 2009


Saddam Hussein censured me for sending weapons to the Palestinians.
WTF?
posted by bashos_frog at 2:50 PM on March 31, 2009


"[Nuking] Israel [succeeded in getting] Ariel Sharon to remove the settlements"

Err...
posted by Luddite at 3:22 PM on March 31, 2009


How to win the game in 10 minutes:

1. ask afghanistan for Osama nicely once.
2. nuke afghanistan. (again: only once.)
3. set your next goal to whatever you want.
4. spend the next however many turns pressuring every country in the world intensely (the highest setting) to vote against each of the 6 or more censure votes that will be taken against you in the U.N. this will take about 48 individual actions, if not more.
5. once all censure votes fail, pressure (intensely) each culpable country for each of the possible goals and goals to prevent. they should all agree at the first sign of intense pressure.
5.a. if you want to, you can ask the countries that still miraculously like you (such as Israel) grovelingly for whatever you want, instead of pressuring them. they may refuse (Israel refused, when asked grovelingly, to remove their settlements) but will surrender when pressured intensely afterward.
6. Marvel as, at the end of the game, you are told that you've accomplished every single goal and goal to prevent in the game without earning a single failure, and that for this singular accomplishment history will view you as "Competent."
posted by shmegegge at 3:38 PM on March 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Admittedly, I always did like the idea of being recorded in the annals of history as Shmegegge The Competent.
posted by shmegegge at 3:39 PM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I keep on expecting to be able to negotiate / put pressure on Saudi Arabia, which is where most of the 9/11 hijackers were from.
posted by zippy at 12:46 AM on April 1, 2009


is it just me or do airstrikes achieve everything a nation could ask for? (HUGE airstrikes, of course)
posted by jcruelty at 12:57 AM on April 1, 2009


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