It was a gloomy Winter day in 2018. A café in Helsinki, Finland. We sat there, discussing ideas for a game project. The idea that came up was that of a distant island where big personalities the likes of Donald Trump and Bill Gates would live as neighbours to each other. Where the big leagues would come down to earth on the scene of an idyllic village with a dozen people.
We started working on a draft. The draft culminated in a game called Björnholmen. The player would play as the village chief of a village located on an unknown island. The experience would consist of meeting the villagers, listening to their gossip about each other and following their everyday life.
Björnholmen was a promising project which we really liked. The problem was that we experienced the game as playing the player rather than the other way around. In the end we ended up agreeing to stop developing Björnholmen as taking it to a more participatory direction would’ve meant changing the game so much that it would be a different game altogether.
It was the Spring of 2019. This Spring happened to be the time when there was the election to the European Parliament. Inspired by this, we decided to start developing a game focusing on the life of a member of the European Parliament. This work got a great start with a worktrip to Copenhagen, Denmark where we visited the coveted Church Bar from which the bar in Mobocratic got its inspiration from. We decided to include the possibility of hiring criminals and taking money from lobbyists. This was to happen from a bar.
The project ended up under the name Parlamentator. Parlamentator was an ambitious project where we simulated the economies and politics of several European countries as well as gave the player many opportunities to advance their politics, involving hiring a good staff, criminals and keeping good relations with the lobbyists.
The project culminated in our trip to the European Parliament in Brussels where we met Finnish MEPs and one assistant to a MEP. The plan was to use the interviews as material for the game. We got lots of interesting information about the function of the European Union and had some interesting conversations. The trip had the extra quirk of us being pickpocketed by a person playing a clown nearby the famous Grand Place.
The parliamentary simulation ended up in a dead end due to the incomplete and blocky user interface. It just wasn’t possible to make it into a viable game without it then becoming a totally different game. We felt bad for not taking the project to completion as this was the reason for us having taken the MEPs precious time.
At this point it seemed like all hope was lost. We had worked on two projects for two years already. Both of them ended up being scrapped. We were had made a bad game. The everyday life kept going.
Then the idea came to us. To create a new game in which we combine the things we liked about the two earlier attempts. To take the map and the intimate community feeling from Björnholmen and combine this to the policies and social interaction of the European parliament game. There were many things we were happy about in both projects but these things just weren’t able to save them. If we would take the things we liked about each project and mold them together, maybe this would work.
The result would be what now is called Mobocratic. A political and economical simulation with an element of satire in it. The game would be placed on an island and it would have a city builder –element to it.
We are happy with the end result but even more is to come. We are committed to improving the user experience and thus have an update guarantee for one year. We also keep our ears open for feedback and try to be flexible in fixing the problems our players take up.
Let this be a beginning of a long and fun journey!