2 Minutes Research Material

As I work through the 2 Minutes to Midnight files archiving everything into storage, I thought it might be a good time to share some of the source material I collected in the early stages of game research and development which influenced my thinking.

This is a collection of graphs and graphics that I downloaded while researching - these are not my work and many of the images are uncredited simply because I don't know where they came from.. If you see an image that belongs to you, please email me to let me know and I'll add a credit. If you see an image that belongs to you that you'd like removing please email me and I will do so. This post is purely for interested cold war enthusiasts to see some of the numbers and so on behind the game, and isn't revenue generating.

Economic Comparison This image really puts the cold war into perspective doesn't it? the USSR's GDP is a closer match to the UK, rather than the USA which takes off and increases its wealth enormously from 1955.

It doesn't tell the whole story though, because of relative cost - for example, $1 of spend in the US might buy you $10 worth of equivalent goods in the USSR, labour costs differ and so on.

Military Expenditure A closer match this one - and look at 1977. How was this possible based on the first graph?

By making your military spending a very high percentage of your income, and leaving the people with less spent on them.

US spending As you can see overall spend compared to GDP is low - the cold war was basically won on 5-6% US GDP spend (estimates on soviet spend are anything from 20% to about 35% of GDP).

Overall Wealth of countries This one shows the massive economic growth experienced pretty much everywhere, and was one of the things I was trying to show with the game's trade mechanism

US Debt One of the key game mechanics - and here's a great image to demonstrate it.

Basically, the cost of the Cold war for the USA was en enormous pile of national debt, that might not have existed otherwise.

That big pile of debt does have to be paid for, and here's that graph

A no-doubt manageable cost, but a significant one.

NASA spend The NASA card in the game was influenced by this one. Big peak until the moon landing, and then steady spending thereafter.

Soviet Imports

The Soviets began to import wheat and corn from 1970, this gives an indication of scale. You can see the bad harvest years when the imports spike, but once the imports had started they kept on going - the Soviets became reliant on US food production.

This graph doesn't tell you much about the cold war itself, but it does show which countries have lots of excess food to sell, and that won't have changed a great deal.

Note that Russia only starts to export from 2000, and still has troughs worse that other countries. It's only really from 2011 that the export market there looks stable.

Black Gold

Soviet Oil production started to make its first steps around 1950, reaching 'peak oil' in 1980.

You can also see the crash at the end of the cold war very obviously here.

This one is more useful to work out how much of the oil the Soviets could actually export.

And here's the Oil price - pretty steady from 1881 to 1971, then it becomes something exceedingly valuable.

Here's the same thing, but zoomed into the Cold War and with annotations (not my work).

Look at those enormous price jumps from embargoes and wars.

All of this was the foundation of the oil system in the game - the slow, steady rise in Soviet production and the increasing value of oil.

Saudi production.

You can see the 'swing producer' effect where Saudi switched off the oil in ~1981

Romanian Production Interesting that Romanian production flipped to a net importer in around 1978.

So if you compare this to the Soviet production graph above, the Soviets were increasing their production but other block members were starting to use more of it as well.

UK Oil Only a little bit of the graph is relevant to the game - North sea oil in ~1980, and we'd spent most of it by the end of the Cold War.

Deployed Submarine-Launched Nuclear Weapons

Here's what all that debt and money spent went - submarine-launched nukes.

Notice that the big bad Soviets were consistently, and enormously, outgunned by the US arsenal at sea. This doesn't even include the UK and French weapons, though due to the size of the US force it wouldn't add all that much.

Timeline of Missiles

This shows all the ICBM/SLBM deployments.

Note the enormous number of Soviet designs compared to the much tighter US development programs.


Or more correctly, decolonisation in the game - this map shows who was and who wasn't occupied.

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