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Introducing 1972: Peace With Honor
The official release of one of the best projects I've ever worked on.
If any of you follow my twitter account, you’ve probably seen me post about The Campaign Trail before. For those of you who don’t know about it, The Campaign Trail is a browser game made about 10 years ago as an addition to a history website that allowed you to play as Presidential candidates across several elections throughout American history. Each game consisted of 25 questions, with the results varying based on your choices. While this core gameplay was and is fundamentally very simple, the countless unique variations and strategies you can try in each run makes it unthinkably repayable. Can you manage to win as Al Gore in 2000 or Hillary Clinton in 2016? What would it have looked like if Nixon ran on a liberal platform in 1960, or if Dukakis never took the infamous tank picture in 1988? You could do all of this and more.
But for as fun as these original scenarios were, they were far from the full potential of the game, which mostly languished in obscurity until a few years ago. Then, Tex, the very man who was on our show last week, discovered that its source code is actually very easy to modify, allowing not just for tweaks of existing scenarios, but the creation of entirely new ones. Ever since then, the site has seen a still-ongoing explosion in popularity and community activity, with entirely new scenarios being released on a near-weekly basis. Some of these mods are quite good, combining fun gameplay, good writing and deep research to evoke the spirit of entire eras of history. Others are…not quite that, which is largely a consequence of large segments of the player base lacking much historical knowledge. For me, it was always a fun pastime, and while I got to know and become friends with many people who also happened to be top mod-makers, I had never been truly involved in any of their projects, absent some tips and suggestions here and there.
That is, until now. Here, 49 years to the day after the resignation of the 37th President of the United States, I am proud to help introduce 1972: Peace With Honor.
Over the past few months, several major innovations have been discovered in the game’s code with the potential to revolutionize it completely. Branching question paths have been created, allowing for far more dynamic scenarios where past decisions directly affect future questions. Switching out running mates, candidates, and even entire parties mid-game has become trivial, allowing for far more variety in each scenario. Endings, once repetitive and simplistic, have been honed into a fine art, with nearly every decision you make having a chance to effect the ultimate outcome.
1972: Peace With Honor represents the culmination of all of these innovations into a truly singular experience. In the mod, you begin as Richard Nixon at the start of his Presidency in 1969 and go through the major events he faced in office, from Watergate to Vietnam to radical movements at home. Nearly every choice you make has consequences as to the course of Nixon’s legacy and, of course, the ultimate 1972 election, which the mod is centered around. Depending on your decisions, the Democrats can nominate one of eight different candidates from all different wings of the party, each of which provides their own unique challenge. There are dozens of different endings depending on who you face, how much you won or lost by, and your actions during the campaign, each of which show, to varying degrees, how the world was made different due to your decisions.
To play, all you have to do is go to this link on the new showcase site. If you’re interested, don’t hesitate to check out the other mods as well. All of the ones on the showcase site are very much worth playing. Feel free to share the results and endings you get on twitter or in the comments here—I’m very curious as to what you all make of it!
It’s important, however, to get across that I was not the main force behind this mod—not even close. Most of my work was in a limited capacity at the end, where I helped playtest, gave balancing tips, and wrote 10 of the mod’s endings (I’m very curious if you all can find which ones are mine!). The creator of this mod, who goes by CTA, did all of the research, came up with the core concepts, did pretty much all of the writing and most of the coding. She is the one who deserves the credit this accomplishment. Other contributors include obummer, on twitter here, who did the Lord’s work with coding; RouteVenus, on twitter here, who helped with coding and made the mod’s fantastic visuals; Tex, from last week’s podcast episode, who also helped with coding; verbluffen, on twitter here, who provided assistance throughout, as well as many others credited in the Further Reading section at the end of the mod.
For now, though, just have fun, and remember: he was a liar and a quitter, and he should have been buried at sea, but he was, after all, the President.