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The Global Dilemma: Guns or Butter (aka Guns & Butter)

Game screenshot
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Year released:
[www].se [ftp].se [mirror].us (36.78 MB)
MD5: 80c0397326467f62a772f6d4eed87977
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I looked at Empire and saw a stupid game that said nothing about how the world worked. I wanted a game that would allow the player to explore the interplay between economics and military power. I was sick and tired of games that emphasized clever generalship. Didn't gamers realize that World War II was won in the factories of Detroit, not the battlefield of Kursk? I wanted to show that economic power is the true source of military power.

- Chris Crawford on Game Design (2003)

In the resulting game, players must outproduce and overpower such kingdoms as "Tigar," "Flanel," and "Gillig" to be the last nation standing on a procedurally generated continent. Crawford called it Guns & Butter, after a term for the trade-off between defense and civilian spending.

Mindscape, however, insisted on pitching it as a successor to Crawford's hit game of Cold War geopolitics, Balance of Power. On the front cover, they reframed the trade-off as a "global dilemma," illustrated by a globe that at a passing glance might be mistaken for our own. The back cover name-dropped ten contemporary world leaders who faced the dilemma, declared that the author of Balance of Power would now "add an economic dimension to global politics," and finally tucked the words "fictitious continent" into the last paragraph.

Unhappily, mismarketing was the least of the game's problems. Crawford points to a four-month publication delay as the critical factor in Balance of Power's success, since he used the extra time to further playtest, tune, and polish. The Global Dilemma was rushed by a comparable period in favor of a push to get Balance of the Planet on shelves for Earth Day. To him, what shipped all too early was "a collection of clever, occasionally brilliant ideas crammed together with insufficient integration" that added up to "the worst game I ever designed." It was a commercial bomb that failed to earn its author a penny of royalties.

In the 2000s, Crawford's website hosted a free download of Guns & Butter—its rightful name restored—for "collectors of Macintosh antiquities." Surprisingly, it seems to be an earlier version than the retail copy also included in this archive. There are no obvious differences beyond the title; both copies carry word lookup copy protection that kicks in after the first turn.

Versions: Guns & Butter 1.10, Global Dilemma 1.12

Architecture: 68k