P3 Reflection

Our systems game primarily generated fun through challenge, as each individual level acted as a unique puzzle to solve. Our primary mechanics were mainly through menu and UI interactions – players could manipulate different aspects of their money and assets to create an optimal combination that would reduce the total taxes and maximize total liquid funds, using techniques that were largely based off of real life examples of tax evasion. There was no way to model the entirety of the tax system (then it would just be a tax simulator), but we wanted to express a few key differences between different types of taxes, as well as different methods to write off taxes, and how some of those could lead to legally gray or financial risky outcomes. We condensed the idea of tax auditing to a “risk meter” which would increase depending on certain actions, with it corresponding to a percent chance of a fail state when the player attempts to go to the next stage. We then decided to go with a simplified version of certain writeoffs like itemized deductions for donations and donable assets, where a donation amount would correlated with a fixed writeoff amount (the real system depends on how the donation ends up being used alongside a fixed cap at 60% AGI), and focused primarily on capital gains tax, income tax, and property tax. I think the main struggle that was imposed in our system game was seeing how much abstraction we wanted to do with respect to different elements of the system – we wanted to make something enjoyable but also wanted to give a proper explanation of these tax evasion techniques, so we wanted to avoid heavy abstraction. Given that our entire team had spent a lot of time researching different tax codes and corner cases we felt like our simplified system left too many things out, but it was a consistent theme that players were informationally overwhelmed. I do think that these issues could have been alleviated with a bit more planning and focus as to what our system aimed to do and the level of abstraction we wanted to hit, as it did feel a little bit bloated and fell into a weird dead spot where it was a bit too complex to be enjoyable, but actually too simplified to give a true to life expert understanding of the subject. Overall I felt like creating this game was very different from any game I’ve worked on before and it was interesting to see how players reacted to the level of complexity that they were presented with.

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