Announcing My Candidacy

If I want to do Camelot (and I do), I’ve got to get started. Starting tomorrow I’m going to have to re-implement the QuickGifter routine – up at 5 a.m., maybe 4, work for a couple of hours, and then off to the 925.

There are several areas I’ve got to focus on:

  • Finalize the design of the iPad user interface in broad strokes. Don’t know if I’ll do an iPhone/iPod Touch version. (Technically, what’s involved in doing an iPad/iPhone app from the same code base?)
  • Figure out how to create the user interface that I want. This will start with reading up on the animation systems available in iOS (Quartz vs. Core Animation vs. Open GL ES). I’m starting with Core Animation since I’ve already got a book about it – Core Animation for Mac OS X and the iPhone: Creating Compelling Dynamic User Interfaces.
  • Figure out how to model the country, the issues, the voters, and the candidates (maybe some of my experience with Storytron personality models can help me out here).
  • Play the old political games I’ve got to see if there are any ideas I can use. The one’s I’ve got on hand are:
    • The Doonesbury Election Game Campaign ’96
    • The Political Machine 2008 (and the 2004 manual, can’t find the 2004 game)
    • President Forever 2008 + Primaries demo
    • Election Day (from University of Washington)
    • 1960: The Making of the President (board game, but it might have some ideas)
    • Campaign Manager 2008 (also a¬†board game)
    • White House (iPhone)
    • Presidential Campaign BASIC game (from 1984 Big Computer Game book)

Originally I thought a schedule of six months was good, start in June; submit to Apple in December, but I’m going to shoot for three months. The race for the Republican nomination has started in earnest – Newt’s in, Ron Paul’s in, Huckabee and Trump are out; Romney’s giving speeches – and I want to get there sooner than later.

If I have any design goals for Camelot it’s this – it’s got to be simple to play no matter how complex the simulation is under the hood, more Flight Control than Civilization 5. Even without playing or replaying the political games I’ve got, I know that they’re complex beasts that expose all their bells, whistles, and levers to the player.

I want the game to be more about the campaign manager experience than resource management. I want a person with a minor to mid interest in the 2012 election to be able to sit down, run a campaign in a half hour, and come away with a good, gameful experience and maybe a better understanding of how the system we use to elect the President works.

I also need to start thinking now about how to market Camelot since writing the code is only a small part of success in the iOS ecosystem. Building awareness will be crucial to building sales.

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