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Dev Diary #80 - Law Enactment and Revolution Clock in 1.3

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Happy Thursday and welcome to the first of several diaries about improvements and changes in Update 1.3! Today we will cover changes made to the process of enacting laws, political machinations by your ruling Interest Groups, and the build-up to revolution.

First off, why are we making changes here? Well, while the core mechanics of law enactment and political movements agitating for legislative change and/or revolution work well and in accordance with the design vision, there are a number of issues that has bothered us and many in the community since release:

  • The feeling of excessive randomness in law enactment mechanics, where you might have only a 5% success chance but could hope for a "critical hit" that wasn't particularly rare, or repeatedly failing and getting stuck when at 80% success chance

  • The risk of getting stuck with "bad rolls" early on in an enactment process leading to repeated frustration until you cancel enactment and start over

  • Exploits related to repeatedly starting/canceling law enactment to prevent revolutions from ever getting off the ground

  • The ability to disarm a revolution by inviting a supporting Interest Group to the government, only to then ignore their desires

  • Interest Groups in government actually having less political agency than those in opposition

  • Revolution buildup not feeling particularly flavorful or engaging as a simple progress bar

  • Several confusing user experiences and tooltips relating to law enactment and revolution

We've tackled these issues with two larger and several smaller features or tweaks.

Law Enactment Changes​

Laws now need to progress through three phases in order to pass, instead of simply having a percentage chance to be enacted once the clock fills up. What is not changing here are the underlying mechanics of Success, Advance, Debate, and Stall chances, which are based on the relative endorsement and opposition of the law from the Interest Groups in your government. However, when the result is a Success, you will progress to the next phase instead of immediately enacting the law. If you then achieve success in the third phase, the law will pass.

To compensate for the additional time requirement, we've increased the pace of the enactment clock - which also means more twists and turns during each law enactment. Previously it was not uncommon that if you had 40% endorsement of a law you want to pass, you might succeed on the very first checkpoint, which makes the whole thing mostly a waiting experience. By requiring a number of successes, we can compensate for the random factor and create more interesting challenges.

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While this is, in the words of Alex in QA (who originally conceived of this feature), "just three EU4 sieges in a trenchcoat", it solves the problem of excessive randomness and feels a lot better: giving you a clearer sense of progress and increases the stakes of each decision made. Choosing to get a +5% Enactment Chance out of an early event now doesn't just give you a +5% bonus to a single roll, but effectively a +5% bonus to each of the three phases, which is a much bigger deal. You're also much more likely to experience a variety of events before the enactment is concluded.

Events spawned by the enactment process are now categorized in association with the UI element that tracks your progress, and identifies the outcome that spawned it to give you more context. They will also time out automatically (selecting the default option) when the clock fills up, so there's always only one enactment event pending - no more delaying taking action on negative events until the next cycle to try to improve your better outcome!

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One issue with the current (1.2.x) build is that after dealing with a few negative events you could end up with a net negative enactment chance, a hole you'd have to try to dig your way out of in order to even have a chance to progress. But of course, the lower the enactment chance the lower the chance of getting a positive event, so this often turns into a self-perpetuating cycle of digging a deeper and deeper hole. The "correct" action at this point is to cancel enactment and try again after a cooldown period, but this feels very bad.

To address this, in 1.3 we have introduced a concept of setbacks which can be taken to recover from a situation like this. Each enactment process can take up to three setbacks, but when it has taken its third it will automatically and irrevocably fail. For as long as you have taken less than that, events will permit you to reset your current enactment progress if you've taken too large of a hit, or in some cases trade a setback to turn an negative outcome into a marginally positive one.

When enactment chance drops below zero, the Legislative Failures event will automatically spawn and let you reset back to a clean slate at the cost of a Setback.

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Many law enactment events have been backfilled with new options that let you take a setback in return for avoiding a more negative repercussion, letting you gamble a bit to try to get your bill passed.

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However, Stall outcomes can also sometimes generate Setbacks without your input, so be wary of pushing your luck too much!

Even with the extra agency provided by the Setback mechanic, you may find that enacting a certain law is so difficult it's just not worth it. When you cancel enactment in 1.3, you will find that the cooldown has increased to 2 years instead of 1 (and is applied even if you have not yet reached the first checkpoint), but also an entirely new effect: if there is a Political Movement currently agitating for this law to pass, and you cease trying to enact it, the movement's Radicalism will shoot up considerably, in many cases all but guaranteeing they will revolt as a result.

Cancellation confirmation box explaining the impact of your decision. Laws redacted to not spoil the fun for next week's dev diary, but feel free to speculate in the comments!

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This closes the door on two (unfun) identified exploits: starting to enact a law a movement demands, but canceling it before it succeeds, keeping the movement teetering just on the edge of revolution without giving in to it; and canceling enactment just before the first enactment cycle is up, thus avoiding cooldown and penalties altogether.

But what about the exploit where a revolutionary Interest Group is invited into government, thus removing them from their Political Movement? In one sense, this is working-as-designed; inviting a populist faction to try to execute their politics in a more respectable fashion is a not-infrequently utilized tool for declawing a revolutionary movement. The problem with this in Victoria 3 is that a human player will be in full control of which laws are being enacted, so inviting a group into government doesn't actually give them more power to make change - it only takes away their ability to threaten consequences.

Enter Government Petitions.

Government Petitions​

Petition events commonly appear a few months after a new government has been formed. They can be issued by any of the Interest Groups in government and for any of the law changes they endorse the most.

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The event produces a Journal Entry that you may pursue if you wish, or ignore at your peril. Passing the desired law will of course have the effect of improving the Interest Group's Approval as usual, but it will also improve your Legitimacy for a long time, as you're showing responsive governance. On the other hand, if you don't pass the law on time, or by some other means disenfranchise the petitioning Interest Group, they will become very disappointed with you.

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In effect, this creates a kind of "government agenda" that the player is rewarded for pursuing and penalized for ignoring, further incentivizing building a government constellation of groups whose politics you actually want.

For the modders out there, Government Petitions are implemented entirely in script, and can serve as a good example and pattern for Journal Entries that can be more dynamic and responsive to circumstances.

Finally, what happens when things go sideways and your population demands something you can't (or won't) give them? In the current live build, a Political Movement with high Radicalism will become Revolutionary, triggering a countdown until they rise up against you, taking one or several of your states with them. In 1.3, these fundamentals remain but the countdown has changed drastically.

Revolution Clock​

When a Political Movement becomes Revolutionary, a clock will start ticking. Similar to the enactment clock, every time it fills up the Revolution meter will (usually) increase, with a revolution event triggering alongside it. The event frequently provides some options for how to deal with the revolution. All in all there are 40 such new events in 1.3, many of them contextually triggered based on who is supporting the revolution, what law is currently being enacted, and so on.

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With the support of the Rural Folk and a Political Movement led by the Intelligentsia and Trade Unions (all of them individually weak) we're attempting to ban slavery in early game Afghanistan. The reaction from the Landowners was quite severe. Not only did they leave the government in protest (causing Legitimacy to drop to a level where we cannot make progress on the law enactment), but they also started their own movement to preserve Debt Slavery and, on account of their considerable strength, went straight into plotting a revolution against their former Rural Folk co-rulers.

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On the new Political Movement panel, we can get a good overview of where the support is actually coming from and why they are as strong and radical as they are.

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On the Supporting Pops tab in the same panel, you can find out exactly who is providing the most support and radicalism to the Movement. Perhaps you could temper some of these strong feelings by increasing dividends in their industries or providing some targeted reduction in prices of certain luxury goods?

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The Revolution Clock events usually adjust the revolutionary progression up or down, but can also apply other conditions, some which may upset your country's political balance for quite some time. This can of course also impact revolutionary progression indirectly, as Clout heavily impacts the conditions of the movement.

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Revolutionary movements have also been given their own animated map marker, to make it clearer where the revolution is brewing and what territory is likely to go along with it when it erupts. And yes, once again I've had to redact part of the UI to not spoil some surprises we have in store for you!

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That's all for today! As you can see we're putting a lot of focus on making internal politics more dynamic and fun to play with in Update 1.3, and there's much more to come in subsequent dev diaries. Next week Victoria will present new laws we have introduced in the mix, to fill some late-game gaps and enable new early- and mid-game conflicts between your political factions!

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