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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 11:18 pm 
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Bigjoe5 wrote:
I wonder now though, if it would be more interesting to make diplomatic contact only occur if two players both own objects which are present in the same system. My first impression is that it would be awfully limiting, actually...
That's basically where i'm coming from.
I'd not consider it "limiting" so much as giving the empire wants to stay hidden some advantages. Though we might tweak things so that an empire can at least detect the presence of a colony in an adjacent system. And of course the lonely empire can build a SETI broadcast beacon, which may or may not reveal a location, but should at least provide a phone number.

Bigjoe5 wrote:
eleazar wrote:
I'd rather do something a bit different from either, that plays up the classic sci-fi significant of various First Contact scenarios. This old post, and the following have some ideas, but they don't really take into account FO's disconnect between species and empire.

In general i'd like to see, First Contact provide both players some choices, including the choice not to initiate contact. Just having planets within a certain proximity shouldn't cut it, especially if one or more of the parties wouldn't otherwise know that the planets are inhabited.
My feeling about diplomacy is that it should be very non-restrictive. Sure, it may not make much sense for two empires with completely different species and cultures to just be able to communicate instantaneously, but it's certainly the simplest way. I'm not sure how a system that reflects the cultural significance of "first contact" could be achieved. It might also be unwise to have such discord between what is really significant to the player, and what he is told is "significant" by the game, or by his citizens; the player expects to find other empires, so it's not a huge surprise when he finds one.

That being said, there might be room to add some interesting features to first contact, if it could be done in a very simple way that adds strategic value as well, and provides significantly different options than could already be achieved through ordinary diplomacy and espionage...
Sure, we can't make something cool just by telling the player that "this is cool", but there are some significant game consequences we could hang on First Contact without boxing players in a corner. Here's the idea in a little more detail, though i admit there are rough spots. Let's just assume a MoO2-like species=empire setup, which isn't true for FO, but makes the explanation simpler (and glosses over parts i haven't figured out. yet.)

When 2 space empire meet for the first time, they can't communicate except in the simplest ways, and they have no means of guessing what the other will do. That's what this special First Contact dialog is for. Both sides choose an option without knowing what the other side picked.
    * Ignore
    * Attack (initiates battle unless the other self-destructs)
    * Attempt to Communicate
    * Self-Destruct (colonies probably can't do this)
So if one side chooses "Attack" and the other didn't he gets to take a free shot or something. A mutual attempt to communicate might provide both sides with the ability to communicate with each other by the next turn. "Attempting to Communicate" is kind of a gutsy act of faith, since it opens you up to a preemptive attack, and releases at least some of your language without any assurance that the other empire will give you anything in return.

Why choose "self-destruct" or "attack"? Because,
    * If you don't know a species/empire's language, your espionage is severely limited.
    * If you can capture a ship (or grab sufficient wreckage) you can make progress on learning that species' language, without giving it a chance to learn yours. It may require multiple ships to provide enough data complete the language.
    * Capturing a planet would be enough to learn the language, but the speed that you learn it may depend on how friendly the citizens are.
    * Self destruct is for those who absolutely don't want to risk the other empire learning their language, or who think their attack would fail.

No diplomacy would be possible until one empire knew the other's language. So the player who simply wants to blow up ships, and forget the diplomacy, or the player who wants to try to hide his existence for as long as possible, could refuse to communicate with any other empire, and thus in a very tangible way provide a shield against espionage.

Geoff's general idea about stealing techs is that you never get the whole thing, you might steal a lot of progress on a certain tech, but you need to put in some of your own RP to use it. Capturing ships, wreckage, and colonies would work the same way for the "language Foo" tech. You would need something to start. Wreckage might be worth a few RPs, a captured ship would be worth more, an unfriendly colony worth even more, while a happy captured colony, as well as a cooperating planet or ship could provide the whole thing in one turn.


So this shouldn't be just another hoop the player has to jump through, but a potential "weapon" players might wield against each other. It doesn't really get in the way (unlike some of the other ideas i linked to in my previous post), unless one of the empires wants it to get in the way. And hopefully it subjectively increases the mystery in meeting an unknown ship around an uninhabited star, by making it more significant and unpredictable, and recalling to mind some of the coolest moment in sci-fi.

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Last edited by eleazar on Wed Feb 24, 2010 11:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 11:32 pm 
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eleazar wrote:
First contact.


I like the idea, but I wouldn't have it as a "language tech" but a "Contact Level".

Ie the higher your contact level with the X empire the better you can initiate trades, espionage, etc.

You would get it by
1. Initially Attempting to communicate (increases contact level the other side has with you)
2. Capturing wreckage (increases the contact level you have with them)
3. Capturing a planet (increases the contact level you have with them)
4. Intercepting signals (observing) if you both "ignore" (increases the contact level you have with them)
5. Spending Trade once you already have contact (increases the contact level you have with them...or that they have with you)

So a simple peace treaty may require the Contact level to be 20, a Trade Treaty may require 30-70 depending on the Level of the Trade Treaty. A Full Alliance would require 90 or so. Diplomacy would require that the contact level hit the minimum on Both sides.

note: successful espionage would require One sided 'contact level' (ie we understand you... you don't need to understand us.)


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 11:58 pm 
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Krikkitone wrote:
eleazar wrote:
First contact.
I like the idea, but I wouldn't have it as a "language tech" but a "Contact Level".

Ie the higher your contact level with the X empire the better you can initiate trades, espionage, etc...

Why? It might be more realistic, but it doesn't sound any more fun. There's more for the player to keep track of, and it may prevent players from doing what they both want to do. If both parties want to trade or form an alliance, i don't see the point of throwing more obstacles in their way.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 1:59 am 
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K, here's how this might work:

Each empire has a starting technology related to their language and culture. If one empire possesses the cultural technology of another empire, those two empires can engage in any diplomatic activity whatsoever, without restriction. An empire which does not possess another empire's cultural tech will have a large espionage penalty in that empire.

By default, cultural techs are not researchable. However, certain circumstances can change this:

"Empire X Ship Components" is a strategic resource. Collecting any of this resource will make that empire's cultural tech available for research, in much the same way acquiring "Space Monster X" makes techs related to that particular space monster available for research, or acquiring "Xentronium" makes techs related to Xentronium available for research.

"Empire X Ship Components" could potentially be used for the following purposes:

- They can be turned into minerals at a fixed ratio (1:1?)
- They can be spent to speed up researching that empire's cultural tech
- They can be used to speed up certain espionage projects, such as stealing enemy ship designs
- They can be used in lieu of Trade when creating a ship disguised as that empire's ship

"Empire X Ship Components" might be accumulated automatically by destroying enemy ships, or they might be acquired by damaging enemy ships with a particular very-short-range weapon, designed particularly for the purpose of scavenging strategic resources from enemy ships (so if the ship happened to include Xentronium, attacking it with the "Wrecking Claw" would net you some Xentronium as well). Either way, it should be the same method used to get "Space Monster X" from the space monster in question.

Other methods of acquiring an enemy empire's cultural tech include:

- Espionage. Since there is a big espionage penalty for not having the tech you're trying to steal, this is obviously a lengthy and expensive process.

- Diplomacy. Ordinary diplomatic action cannot be taken if neither empire has the other's cultural tech. Therefore, this can only occur through Tactical Diplomacy (I am definitely opposed to making this the only type of diplomacy btw - just because I think all system action should occur on the tactical map doesn't mean I'm some nut-job who thinks all diplomacy should happen on the tactical map as well!).

On this page I discuss a little bit the distinction between Combat and Non-Combat Objectives. There could also be "Diplomatic Objectives" (which under the strict definition and the purpose with which I used it in that page, would be a Combat Objective, but it obviously would be separate from anything that would be called a "Combat Objective" to the player), which would involve making diplomatic contact with an empire and acquiring their diplomatic tech. Tactical Diplomacy would normally involve only very basic negotiations, for example "We will restrict our Combat Objectives to 'Defend Against Enemy Forces' and select 'Auto-Resolve' for the rest of the quantum if you do as well," and if the the other player accepts this offer, the defined action takes place automatically. The extent of the type of diplomatic negotiations that should be allowable in combat is debatable, but at the very least, players should be able use tactical diplomacy to

- Demand, give or exchange access to another player's stargates, or activation of starlane-synthesizing technology
- Demand, give or exchange deactivation of warp-dissipation technology or other types of starlane-inhibiting technology
- Give, demand and exchange cultural tech

So now, there are 4 ways to access an empire's cultural tech:

- Acquire "Empire X Ship Components" with your "Wrecking Claw" weapon (or just by destroying their ships, but that's kind of boring), which will make the tech available for your empire to research and can be sped up using "Empire X Ship Components"
- Steal the cultural tech through espionage, which is extremely costly and time consuming due to the espionage penalty implicit in not having said tech in the first place
- Tactical Diplomacy
- Regular diplomacy with some other empire who has the cultural tech you want, or from that empire itself, if it has your cultural tech and can communicate with you that way

Bear in mind that everything I said earlier about being able to turn diplomatic contact on and off at will based on having visibility of an object belonging to the other empire still stands - that can be considered the "phone number" aspect of things, whereas the cultural tech represents the "language" end of things. Even if everyone in the galaxy has your cultural tech, they still can't contact you unless they can detect an object belonging to you, or you can detect an object belonging to them and have diplomatic contact turned "on" for that empire.

I also agree that having a scalar "Contact Level" is overcomplex. The cultural tech is essentially a binary "Contact Level", and accomplishes everything that a scalar one could without a lot of the complexity involved - I'm trying to make this work while adding as few extra rules as possible, tying everything in to some other aspect of the game. Adding an extra "Contact level" meter is almost certainly beyond what I would be willing to add for the sake of making first contact more interesting.

Edit:
eleazar wrote:
Geoff's general idea about stealing techs is that you never get the whole thing, you might steal a lot of progress on a certain tech, but you need to put in some of your own RP to use it.
My perception if his idea wasn't that you can never get the whole thing, just that you don't get it all at once - an espionage project for "stealing" a certain tech would simply add research points to the tech in question until it's completed, which seems like a reasonable way to go about it. This wouldn't imply that you can't get the whole thing from espionage, or that you can't potentially get it in a single turn, if your espionage meters are high enough, and the opponent's happiness meters are low enough.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 3:02 am 
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Bigjoe5 wrote:
Bear in mind that everything I said earlier about being able to turn diplomatic contact on and off at will based on having visibility of an object belonging to the other empire still stands - that can be considered the "phone number" aspect of things, whereas the cultural tech represents the "language" end of things. Even if everyone in the galaxy has your cultural tech, they still can't contact you unless they can detect an object belonging to you, or you can detect an object belonging to them and have diplomatic contact turned "on" for that empire.

The stuff about empire's needing to maintain proximity to communicate still stands?
I agree that possessing a "language tech" isn't enough on it's own. You gotta find a ship or planet and try to open communications. But after that i don't see why proximity should need to be maintained.

Come to think of it being able to trade phone numbers and language techs is too close to redundant for my tastes. Should be one or the other, and i'd prefer language.

I still don't think your "contact on/off" toggle is worth it. If only one side sees the other, then it's totally up to him weather to communicate or not (no toggle needed). But after communicating, breaking communication seems pretty pointless and fiddley, especially if there's no proximity requirement for continued communication. Anyone would still assume the empire exists, and "communicator off" is functionally the same as taking the phone off the hook. Especially since IMHO major events like an empire's demise should get broadcast over GNN (or whatever, the player should be informed). It gives the player some sense of what's going on and how well he's doing without tipping anyone's hand too much, and gives some context to his actions.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 9:26 am 
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eleazar wrote:
Krikkitone wrote:
eleazar wrote:
First contact.
I like the idea, but I wouldn't have it as a "language tech" but a "Contact Level".

Ie the higher your contact level with the X empire the better you can initiate trades, espionage, etc...

Why? It might be more realistic, but it doesn't sound any more fun. There's more for the player to keep track of, and it may prevent players from doing what they both want to do. If both parties want to trade or form an alliance, i don't see the point of throwing more obstacles in their way.


Then why should there be any obstacle to their talking in the first place?

For example, the ability to perform certain diplomatic actions in Civ was based on certain prerequisite technologies.

This means that pursuing espionage/diplomacy against a certain empire would require some investment... (although just time would allow it to grow slightly, and maintaining relationships during that time.)

By having a general "Contact Level" then it becomes more than a one-time thing.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 2:58 pm 
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eleazar wrote:
The stuff about empire's needing to maintain proximity to communicate still stands?
I agree that possessing a "language tech" isn't enough on it's own. You gotta find a ship or planet and try to open communications. But after that i don't see why proximity should need to be maintained.

Come to think of it being able to trade phone numbers and language techs is too close to redundant for my tastes. Should be one or the other, and i'd prefer language.


If nothing else you should be able to maintain proximity through third parties (with their consent of course).

"Humans, this is the Psilons, I've got the Bulrathi on the line for you. Transfering the call now.".


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 3:03 pm 
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eleazar wrote:
The stuff about empire's needing to maintain proximity to communicate still stands?

...

I still don't think your "contact on/off" toggle is worth it. If only one side sees the other, then it's totally up to him weather to communicate or not (no toggle needed). But after communicating, breaking communication seems pretty pointless and fiddley, especially if there's no proximity requirement for continued communication. Anyone would still assume the empire exists, and "communicator off" is functionally the same as taking the phone off the hook. Especially since IMHO major events like an empire's demise should get broadcast over GNN (or whatever, the player should be informed). It gives the player some sense of what's going on and how well he's doing without tipping anyone's hand too much, and gives some context to his actions.


Geoff the Medio wrote:
...we may allow diplomacy to resurrect players who have been eliminated...
or something like that.

Point being, a GNN message for a player being eliminated might be premature. Even if he has no more planets and ships, he might still have spies infiltrating enemy planets; theoretically, if he infiltrated the location where the enemy stockpile is, he could steal enough trade to maintain a small amount of espionage without actually producing any trade of his own. Even if this isn't the case, there might still be some incentive for another player to give him a colony ship, perhaps because his citizens have very high allegiance to that empire. So really, even if a player is "eliminated", he isn't out of the game until he actually surrenders to someone, or until another player gets a sole-survivor victory (just sitting around without any assets doesn't cut it in terms of being a "survivor"), so a player being "eliminated" wouldn't be a GNN-worthy event.

However, since a player can engage in diplomacy even after being eliminated, that kind of defeats the purpose of being able to turn diplomatic contact on and off at will, so yeah, I guess if you meet an empire, either by detecting him or being contacted by him, he stays on your diplomacy screen until he surrenders to somebody, or the game is over.

Krikkitone wrote:
Then why should there be any obstacle to their talking in the first place?
There isn't (aside from proximity). If the players want to, they can just exchange cultural techs using Tactical Diplomacy during First Contact.

Aussie Mick wrote:
If nothing else, you should be able to maintain proximity through third parties
It might be possible to allow players to acquire proximity through third parties, for example by sharing visibility, should that be desirable.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 6:20 pm 
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Krikkitone wrote:
eleazar wrote:
...If both parties want to trade or form an alliance, i don't see the point of throwing more obstacles in their way.


Then why should there be any obstacle to their talking in the first place?

For example, the ability to perform certain diplomatic actions in Civ was based on certain prerequisite technologies.

This means that pursuing espionage/diplomacy against a certain empire would require some investment... (although just time would allow it to grow slightly, and maintaining relationships during that time.)
You should notice i've proposed that there be obstacles to talking only when at least one of the sides doesn't want to communicate.

The Civ situation is different. It streamlines the game by simplifying diplomacy a earlier tech levels. I wouldn't necessarily be opposed to that kind of thing, though i'm not sure it makes sense for FO.

But that's quite a bit more simple and straightforward than requiring that you go through a whole sequence of "contact levels" with each new empire you meet.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 1:06 am 
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You wouldn't go through "contact levels"

You would have a meter-like value.. starts at 0.

Successful 'First Contact'->gives a bonus
The other levels would allow increasing benefits From relationships (ie say Trade Treaties are possible at 30.... but they won't give as much benefit as a trade treaty when you are at 32)

Perhaps make 20 the cutoff to do most diplomatic/espionage things, increasing levels 'increase the effect' of Trade Treaties, Research Sharing Treaties. as well as improving espionage.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 5:24 am 
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Krikkitone wrote:
You wouldn't go through "contact levels"

You would have a meter-like value.. starts at 0.

Again, how does this improve the game?

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 7:32 pm 
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eleazar wrote:
Krikkitone wrote:
You wouldn't go through "contact levels"

You would have a meter-like value.. starts at 0.

Again, how does this improve the game?


It makes diplomacy a strategic investment, not Just "getting them to like me", but investing in getting the benefits from that.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 21, 2010 12:17 pm 
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Hi Everyone, I'm new so please forgive any double posting or talking too much.

I like the contact level idea, as this could be combined with some kind of political or cultural influence. It's a pity the governments are much later in the FO roadmap, since it has a lot in common with diplomacy.(diplomacy = outward, governments = inward)
For instance a government emphasises on openness and inclusiveness might give extra options or bonuses for working together with other empires. On the other end, a gov that is based on tirany would also reflect that in dealing with other races, having only master-servant relations with stronger or weaker empires.

To me diplomacy is all about alliances. This is the one thing in a game that prevents the strong players from only increasing their lead.

Also maybe a stronger race, or an alliance of other races could force an un-equal aliance, like a vassal state, by using their influence on the other's population. For this reason a race could try to avoid letting the other races get to know you, and remain neutral. Otherwise you could get dragged into wars or have to pay tribute.

Hope this is at all useful and not repeating something already posted in other threads.


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