The Smartly Dressed Games Forum is one of the most complex and entertaining games out there; with years of AI coding and development as well as a completely original backstory with one of the most talented names in video game writing and plot behind it, the degree of success the game has earned both with the critics and on the shelves is not a surprise.
However, the complexity of the game is something that newcomers struggle with at the beginning, so I’ll explain how to properly play the game, what the end goal is, and what strategies to use to get there the fastest.
Part One: How to play the game
These are the “Like” and “Reply” buttons. They’re used to get to the first rank of progress, “Regular”. One of the strategies with the “Like” button is to bombard every post you see with it; but be careful, you have to “like bomb” in short controlled burst, since the adaptive AI will put a stop to the behavior by temporarily removing your ability to make progress on the save, forcing you to either wait it out or start again. In most situations, adhering to the ratio shown below is ideal. Reply is used to either attack another AI’s post, or defend your own. You can choose one of three argument styles to “Reply” with; an example is shown below. (Side note, the photo was taken in the Campaign mapmode, the “grand overlay” of your progress in the forums. You can access it by pressing ctrl-m.)
A standard example of the Reply interface using the Campaign mapmode.
In this photo, I am currently defending my “Suggestion”-type post from three different invading AI posters that seek to debase my argument as to force me to lose overall Prestige (an important scoring mechanic that is key to winning the game). As you see below, I can choose one of three argument styles to defend my post; a “Protective” argument style, symbolized by the shield, will mean that my replies are more defensive and focus on defending the points of the post rather than counter-replying and debunking their arguments. A “Balanced” argument style will dually focus on debunking their arguments and defending their own, symbolized by the sword and shield, while the “Aggressive” argument style will solely focus on debunking the attacking poster’s arguments and discrediting their ideas. 9/10 times, it’s good to go for balanced as you don’t want to risk too much in just a normal post. However, there’s exceptions; at exceedingly low prestige, it’s recommended to use the Protective argument style. An unpopular, but effective strategy is to continue to only use Protective well into the mid-game, as it provides a steady and risk-averse buildup of Prestige. You pretty much don’t want to use aggressive at all unless you feel confident risking the Prestige; Aggressive comes with a lot of risk and if you overuse it you begin to run the risk of permeanently being removed from the forums by the AI. Important side note: you don’t ever get to write your own responses. These are AI-generated posts that go accordingly to the argument style you’ve selected; the formatting, grammar, and tone of these posts is mainly determined by your Prestige.
Part Two: Winning the game
So, how do you go around winning the game? What you need to do is to advance as quickly as you can through the Prestige-determined progress ranks, going from Basic, to Member, to Regular; there’s an additional Leader rank, but that’s unobtainable without console commands. Each of these gives you a Prestige bonus, going from a small amount at basic to a quite hefty package at Regular. The higher your prestige the more the AI will respect you, and over time you’ll eventually run into the three main high-level AI that you need to win an argument with (and as such, get higher prestige over any other AI in the game, which means that depending on your actions you’ll see one of three endings). To advance through the progress ranks, you need to post as much as possible, like as much as possible, and reply as much as possible. The optimal Post:Like:Comment ratio, after a lot of playtesting, seems to be 2:25:10 per in-game day. Going over this risks your posts degrading in overall quality resulting in a loss of potential prestige, and going under this simply means you won’t be getting as much prestige as you could possibly get.
Part Three: Strategies
A common tactic among more experienced players is to boost up to member in a few days by spamming posts, likes, and comments above the ideal ratio, and then boss-rushing the three high-level AI marked by a golden heart.
An example of what type of AI you can expect to see in the High-Level position
Each of the three high-level AI have a unique Argument Style that nobody else in the game has, and it can be a bit hard to counter if you don’t know what you’re doing. For the first AI, (which in my game was the Aj_Gaming bot), they will almost always have the “Contrarian” debate style; they will vociferously contradict any of your arguments, and will almost always leave the argument if you don’t defeat them quickly enough, which combined with a fast post/reply rate makes this high-level rather hard for new players. However, there’s actually a secret strategy you can use that makes this boss fight incredibly easy; just spam aggressive until he starts responding with it. At this point in the game, you shouldn’t have to worry about too much prestige loss since you’re just about to fight a high-level AI that can very easily recoup all of your losses and more; however, since the high-level AI is very prominent and noticeable as well as well-known, the “Leader” AI will be far faster to pick up on any violation of the in-game “Rules” system that the AI commits, allowing you to take the prestige without spending too much time in lengthy debates that you might not even get a resolution to anyways.
After the “Contrarian” AI you run into the, for the lack of a better description, “Heavy-Debater” AI. The one real special strategy of this AI is that it takes a very, very long time to wear this AI out, and it will never back down from an argument. The only real way to beat this AI is through a balanced mix of Balanced and Aggressive argument styles; use aggressive right up until the point where you’re nearly going to be noticed by the “Leader” AI, and then use balanced while the aggressive penalties cool off. After a while, you should be able to get them to just concede defeat, although this usually takes a bit.
The next high-level AI, the “Moderator” AI, that is the one you want to take on last, as it’s the hardest to defeat by far. The central AI, termed MoltonMontro in my game as shown above, is both a high-level AI and a “Leader” AI, meaning that any violation of the “Rules” will instantly be detected and will also mean you cannot manipulate the AI behavior to get them to violate the rules themself. As of such, the only real way to win against this AI is to play very turtle-like; use aggressive in the beginning and then spam protective until the AI eventually wears itself out enough for you to use aggressive to take it down. However, this takes a while, and if the AI doesn’t accidentally leave itself any argumentative openings or flaws for you to assault then it’s going to take a while to wear it down. It’s doable, but it’s not that hard to lose; which you should be careful about, since the prestige loss involved means that you have to AT LEAST win two more posts to be able to challenge the main high-level AI again.
However, once you have out-argued all three of the high-level AI, bar the fact that you’re intentionally trying to not win and doing the worst possible on all of your posts, you should have enough prestige to be able to win the game and see one of three unique endings. I’ll omit the endings for now, as they really don’t make sense if you haven’t played the game to see all the small bits of lore and backstory that it gives you, and I don’t want to spoil them for others.
Part Four: Side Notes
At any time, you can check a leaderboard to see how high your prestige is compared with the AI.
You will always be displayed at the top, and bar a few variations as the game progresses, the top section of the leaderboard will more less contain these specific AI-controlled bots. The high-level AI bots are almost always one of the bots shown here, since they have to have a minimum amount of Prestige that is around 1k or so to be able to be randomly chosen for it by the game. The leaderboard also displays all the bots in the game; it’s not really important since you’ll really only need to worry about most of them once or twice, but it’s there if you’re curious.
Some of the “Badges” that are available for collection; this does not show all of them.
In the game, there’s an in-world achievement system titled “Badges” that you can get for doing various tasks. Most of them will give you a small prestige bonus, but the badges that take a lot of effort to get, such as Great Topic or Famous Link, will give you a medium-sized prestige bonus that can be very helpful in the early game.
This guide is not all-inclusive; there’s a lot of features that are too in-depth for a catch-all guide to cover, and you can always find more in-depth guides for the more esoteric parts of the game. However, this guide should be good enough for teaching the basics and how to get around the biggest hurdles for newcomers. As has been oft-said; the greatest teacher is experience.
this is, of course, satire and no offense is intended to the people featured in this “guide”; most of them are there either randomly or because they’ve just got the big boy badge