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PostPosted: Tue Dec 22, 2015 7:11 pm 
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EDIT by Vezzra:

The Influence and Happiness game mechanics have already been discussed before, the last thread dealing with that topic has been Happiness, Influence, & Allegiance. However, that thread is already quite old, and has become quite large.

Recently another discussion sprang up on the Other Game Design forum, which finally deals with an actual implementation. Because of that, it should be moved to this (the Top Priority Game Design) subforum. However, instead of moving this thread into the old Happiness, Influence, & Allegiance one and inflating that old thread even more, I decided to open a this new one, moved all the posts of the recent thread here, and close the old Happiness, Influence, & Allegiance thread.

/EDIT



Currently winning the game requires the player to expand massively; I find myself haphazardly colonising every planet and system I can without any strategic consideration. Very quickly I get to the point where I lose track of my planets; I hardly bother to look at them after I have first set their focus. Recently, there has been some consideration how this explosive expansion can be slowed (http://freeorion.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=9816&p=81263#p81263), but the changes to infrastructure that were made don't suffice imho.
In short, I think expansion should be limited more to 1) make picking of systems or planets more of a strategic choice, and 2) to keep the map less crowded.

A way to achieve this would be to introduce economics into the game. I'm not aware what is planned at this point, so I'll just spill out my ideas ;)

To slow expansion, I would introduce a "starlane upkeep" that is charged for every jump between colonies of an empire (illustration see below). [[I would also introduce a ship upkeep instead of reducing production, but this is another matter.]] This would make it feasible to colonise systems with many or important planets, but unfeasible to colonise systems with few planets or systems that are very distant from your other colonies; keeping empires compact.

Money could be treated similar to production. It could be produced by setting a planet to "economic focus" or acquired by trade, but not be stockpiled, so it had to be used on the same turn. See below for an example how that would work:

The green empire has an income of 10 (say, 8 homeworld bonus, 2 for tax on 23 population). It has 3 active starlanes and 4 ships, so expenses are 7/10. It could afford to build 3 more ships or colonise a systems 3 jumps away; superceding the cap would be possible, but lead to a percentual reduction of production and research.

What do you think of it?


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 22, 2015 7:50 pm 
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There are already vague plans and numerous discussions about adding influence as a resource, which basically involves renaming "trade" to "influence".

My vague plan now is that adding new colonies will cost influence at first, and only specialize influence-generating planets or resources or buildings will make a planet a net positive influence generator. Having influence to spend lets players manipulate species-empire relations, incite rebellions / unrest, might be required for getting ones own planet populations to do stuff their species isn't inclined to do (eg. get on a colony ship), etc.

Under no circumstance will I support adding "money", and especially never "setting tax rates". It makes no sense for a huge galactic-spanning empire to have any concept of "money" in the sense that an individual living on earth has to worry about balancing their wages and expenses, or "taxes" that directly impact an empire's "bank balance". "Money" is merely one of various economic tools such an empire could use (or not, eg. Star Trek / Federation) to run its economy, and it would never have to be concerned about how much it is "making" each turn or adjusting a slider from 4% to 5% and whether that will fix the imperial defecit. But more so, it's a lazy trope that too many empire games include thoughtlessly / by default, comes with a bunch of built-in expectations from people's household economics considerations that don't need to be giving people expectations about how a game resource will work, and is pretty much never much fun to have to worry about as a player controlling an empire in a new / different game.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 22, 2015 8:46 pm 
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The Silent One wrote:
Currently winning the game requires the player to expand massively;

A game of galactic conquest involves spreading out and conquering the galaxy. :-D
Quote:
I find myself haphazardly colonising every planet and system I can without any strategic consideration.
I don't, normally, but there are players that like to colonise everywhere and that's fine.
Quote:
Very quickly I get to the point where I lose track of my planets; I hardly bother to look at them after I have first set their focus.
Game of galactic conquest succesfully reduces micromanagement to a minimum and allows players to concentrate on big picture :-D
Recently, there has been some consideration how this explosive expansion can be slowed (http://freeorion.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=9816&p=81263#p81263), but the changes to infrastructure that were made don't suffice imho.[/quote]
There's an open Pull Request currently that I need to review and cherry pick some work from
Make some techs, buildings and planets detection depend on Infrastructure
that implements a fair few more that I think will work well, but aren't balanced as currently coded, there's some good ideas in there.
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In short, I think expansion should be limited more to 1) make picking of systems or planets more of a strategic choice, and 2) to keep the map less crowded.

I agree with option 1, I tend to pick strategically as much as possible, but I don't know/understand what you mean by the second. It's almost certainly a playstyle thing but I tend to win most of my games before the map gets really crowded, I hate it when the game starts to lag, more colonies means more lag so early conquest is better than constant colonising.
Quote:
To slow expansion, I would introduce a "starlane upkeep" that is charged for every jump between colonies of an empire (illustration see below). [[I would also introduce a ship upkeep instead of reducing production, but this is another matter.]] This would make it feasible to colonise systems with many or important planets, but unfeasible to colonise systems with few planets or systems that are very distant from your other colonies; keeping empires compact.

How do you square 'keeping empires more compact' with galactic conquest as a victory condition?

I don't want a compact empire, I want a galaxy spanning empire, and I'm completely with Geoff on the "no money" thing, even with FTL/starlane travel most economics is going to be local, intersteller trade is something we deal with by supply lines and letting the planets get on with it.
Quote:
The green empire has an income of 10 (say, 8 homeworld bonus, 2 for tax on 23 population). It has 3 active starlanes and 4 ships, so expenses are 7/10. It could afford to build 3 more ships or colonise a systems 3 jumps away; superceding the cap would be possible, but lead to a percentual reduction of production and research.

What do you think of it?

The idea of having that as a basis for influence/trade/whatever is fine by me, but I think we have different objectives about what we want to get out of the game which means we're going to have different ideas from the beginning.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 22, 2015 9:40 pm 
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I like ideas that will change the end-game grind into something more strategic.

First question though, why limit expansion? There is no wrong answer here but the reasons you list actually highlight areas of the game that could be improved (or are being improved).

The Silent One wrote:
I find myself haphazardly colonising every planet and system I can without any strategic consideration.

Currently bonus/malus for colonising a system fall mostly on individual planets with the exception of the Sun colour for phototropic species or the presence of Asteroid Belts/Gas Giants for industry boosts. You'd want to add more system-wide economic and military strategic elements. It could even go further into constellation-wide effects - for instance a group of stars in a nebula that has a certain combination of positive or negative effects.

It could be that these effects (randomly generated for each instance) are only known to empires who have studied its effects (Science Vessel anyone?). You could lure enemies who do not know the effects in order to destroy a larger enemy fleet.

The Silent One wrote:
1) make picking of systems or planets more of a strategic choice, and 2) to keep the map less crowded.

Great points, although I don't think upkeep is the only way of achieving this.

On your second point, the problem I find is that I always want my planets to be linked by their jump lanes. There is no other way to expand or, Geoff alludes to, gain influence. Although here Geoff why not have both trade and influence? I like trade as it implies a diplomatic solution to empire relationships. I might not want to invade a planet - perhaps I just want to trade. They have something I want, I have something they want and we barter for it.

Influence is great though - you can work off concepts like "sphere of influence" which can be both a physical border (so many AU from your systems) or a diplomatic agreement. Instead of only having the choice of conquering you could force empires, parts thereof or single planets/systems to fall into your authority or become independent. Protectorates are a good real-life example of this where the country will exchange you safe passage and allow military bases in exchange for protection. Protectorates administer their own country (less "upkeep" to you) while you benefit of not having to invade - and you can add lucrative trade into the mix.

As a closing note though most of these issues can only be addressed with diplomacy/trade in place. So much work devs, so much work... :cry: But so much to look forward to :mrgreen:

By the way, I do have to say I like The Silent One's mockup detailing upkeep. It would be great to know what our current multipliers are for ship and colony upkeeps are.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 22, 2015 9:57 pm 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
My vague plan now is that adding new colonies will cost influence at first, and only specialize influence-generating planets or resources or buildings will make a planet a net positive influence generator.
This is something I would like to see, although (for reasons stated) above I would rather have starlanes instead of colonies cost influence.

Geoff the Medio wrote:
Under no circumstance will I support adding "money", and especially never "setting tax rates". It makes no sense for a huge galactic-spanning empire to have any concept of "money" in the sense that an individual living on earth has to worry about balancing their wages and expenses, or "taxes" that directly impact an empire's "bank balance".
I don't share all of your objections against "money", but I agree that I wouldn't want a tax rate, or a stockpiling money resource that lets the player buy production, etc.. When I talked about "tax", I had in mind that the empire's population could create the "influence" or "economic" resource; so that the player would only be able to establish a new colony after his earlier colonies have reached a certain population. What I am thinking of is something like MoO2's command points.

MatGB wrote:
The Silent One wrote:
Currently winning the game requires the player to expand massively;

A game of galactic conquest involves spreading out and conquering the galaxy. :-D
The emphasis is on massively here ;) ... What I don't like so much is that, right from the start of the game, the player can (and to win must) spread exponentially. If you do not colonise everything you can, I believe that at least in a multiplayer game that would put you in a severe disadvantage. Also, it's good if the player rarely needs to change focus, but not at all? Granted, there may be more foci later on and with them more strategic options, but as it is now, at least I only change foci after I researched everything.

MatGB wrote:
There's an open Pull Request currently that I need to review and cherry pick some work from [...]
Oh, looking forward to this. :)

MatGB wrote:
How do you square 'keeping empires more compact' with galactic conquest as a victory condition?
I was thinking about the game start and maybe the first half of the game, of course at some point empires should be able to spread out (also unevenly); but even then it would be a good idea to put some limit on how fast the player can conquer an enemy and how big an advantage he will get from that. Not having to spent "influence" to control conquered planets could be an incentive for system or planet destruction, ... or it will create a short-term influence malus ...

MatGB wrote:
The idea of having that as a basis for influence/trade/whatever is fine by me, but I think we have different objectives about what we want to get out of the game which means we're going to have different ideas from the beginning.
Glad you see some merit in it; I'm not fixed on getting "money" into the game, I just wish to discuss if and how the "expansion explosion" can be mitigated. I'm also not sure that our ideas about the game are differing that much, I want more strategic depth in choosing my systems/planets to colonise/conquer, which you obviously do as well. :) ... I guess I don't mind the map being crowded, but it should happen at a slower pace.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 23, 2015 12:00 am 
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To me it's not much of a problem. I kind of like colonizing, although I have to get myself to focus on other things sometimes. At the end of the day, to build the forces needed to conquer the AIs you need resources, and the place to get resources is by colonizing.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 25, 2015 3:47 pm 
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The Silent One wrote:
A way to achieve this would be to introduce economics into the game. I'm not aware what is planned at this point
As Geoff already pointed out, the current plan (which is still at an very early brainstorming state) is to introduce a resource type called "Influence", in addition to the two basic resource types we already have, "Industry" and "Research". I don't count "Trade", as this one doesn't do anything yet, and will probably be replaced by "Influence".

My rough idea what that resource should be is more or less what Geoff already said, I'll try to sum it up (a bit differently maybe) in my own words:

"Influence" represents an abstraction of several concepts/aspects that make up what maybe can be called the "exertion of power", in a very broad sense. It subsumes all the resources, efforts, structures, organizations you need to govern, adminstrate, organize your empire and everything within it, to influence your citizens (propaganda, policing, etc.) and other empires (the entire diplomacy thing as well as intelligence, espionage, sabotage etc.). Like "Industry" abstracts and subsumes everything industry and production related, and "Research" everything research, science, development of technology related. Your idea of an "economy" or "money" would be included in (in the sense of being a subset of) that concept of "Influence". IMO the idea of "Influence" works much better for that purpose, because it's more abstract and generalizes the underlying concepts more that "economy" or "money". The latter are very specific to current day humanity and its societies, but, as Geoff pointed out, may be very different for a distant future interstellar empire, even a human one, not to speak of empires of races as alien as intelligent plants, crystals etc.

A very fundamental application/use of that resource would be to "pay upkeep" for all your colonies. So the "influence cost" for your colonies represent all the resources and efforts your empire (or its government/administration) needs to spend to rule and administrate all the worlds under your control, organize all the logistic required to transport resources etc. around, to police the population, keep everything in order, etc. This should nicely achieve what you want to do with your idea of "economics"/"money".

Factors that could affect the "influence" upkeep cost for a colony might be:

  • Size of population
  • Distance to capitol
  • Distance to homeworld (of the same species as the colony of course)
  • Wether or not the species of the capitol is the same as that of the colony
  • Allegiance of the species of the colony to your empire (empire/species relationship mechanics come into play here)
  • Population happiness

Just some ideas off the top of my head.

If you don't have enough influence points to pay the total upkeep costs for your empire, depending on how big the shortage is and how many turn it already lasts more and more detrimental effects will occur, like drop in population happiness, species allegiances to your empire, colonies going into riot, or something along these lines.
Quote:
I would introduce a "starlane upkeep" that is charged for every jump between colonies of an empire
Hm, interesting idea, but I'm not sure about it, especially the strong preference of systems with more planets. If you want to keep empires "compact", factoring in distance to the capitol into the influence upkeep costs for a colony (like I've suggested above) would be the simpler and more straightforward way IMO.
Quote:
I would also introduce a ship upkeep instead of reducing production, but this is another matter.
Yep, that's an idea I already had too. We'd have to think through all the repercussions (production costs and upkeep costs not being paid with the same type of resource might create some difficult hassles), but that would be something I'd definitely prefer over the current mechanic.

Influence would also be the resource you need to pay for intelligence/espionage/sabotage action against other empires, there could be "influence projects" like winning over an independend native planet to join your empire instead of invading it (advantage: the species will be much more loyal to your empire from the beginning than if invaded, disadvantage: takes more time than military acquisition). Improving the allegiance of member species to your empire could also be such an influence project. Some things that are now implemented as buildings might make more sense as influence projects, I'm thinking of the evacuation and concentration camp buildings (working a population to death is more a matter of logistics and organization than having an actual special building complex) for example.

The influence resource would be generated much like the other two, by setting a planet to a respective resource focus (thus becoming the net positive influence contributer Geoff was talking about). Also, just like with industry and research, the resource output for influence would be improvable by certain techs that unlock direct boni, or buildings that help increase influence "production ", there could be influence boosting specials.

My idea would also be to make the whole telepathy thing influence related (telepathic races requiring less influence upkeep, be harder to sway via influence projects, telepathy techs grant influence production boosts, etc.).

So these are my current ideas about influence, sorry if I'm got carried away a little bit and went off-topic ;)


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 25, 2015 3:59 pm 
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Crius wrote:
why not have both trade and influence? I like trade as it implies a diplomatic solution to empire relationships. I might not want to invade a planet - perhaps I just want to trade. They have something I want, I have something they want and we barter for it.
The idea is that "Influence" could include all concepts that otherwise would be subsumed by "Trade". So, influence would also be the resource you need to "spend" on trade relationships with other empires to get something out of it.

Of course, we can always decide to re-introduce "Trade" and use it as the resource type required for any trade-related interactions with other empires. That's subject to subsequent design discussions.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 25, 2015 4:28 pm 
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The Silent One wrote:
When I talked about "tax", I had in mind that the empire's population could create the "influence" or "economic" resource; so that the player would only be able to establish a new colony after his earlier colonies have reached a certain population. What I am thinking of is something like MoO2's command points.
Hm, I think it would be more consistent with how the other basic resource types work if we just generate influence the same way - via colony focus settings. That way you need to "sacrifice" some of your colonies to produce the influence required to maintain your empire. Those influence focused colonies would be the administrative/organizational/logistic centers of your empire, so to speak.

This would slow down expansion more or less the same way as your suggestion. You can only expand further if you've enough surplus influence production.
Quote:
MatGB wrote:
The Silent One wrote:
Currently winning the game requires the player to expand massively;

A game of galactic conquest involves spreading out and conquering the galaxy. :-D
The emphasis is on massively here ;) ... What I don't like so much is that, right from the start of the game, the player can (and to win must) spread exponentially.
I definitely see your point, what you're getting at, but is it really that bad? Considering my own play testing experiences, I always found that you definitely have to select your colonizing targets strategically. Just blindely colonizing everything you find doesn't sound very effective, especially in the beginning you've to make some careful decisions what to colonize first, or if you colonize that small adequate planet now or wait a few more turns if your scouts find something better etc.

Originally we had the problem that colonizing was too expensive compared to conquering, and although we did some rebalancing AFAIK Mat still thinks quick conquering rushes (if the opportunity offers itself) are more effective than to do massive colonizing. Looks like it's quite difficult the get the balance right if you guys perceive the current balance so differently... ;)
Quote:
I was thinking about the game start and maybe the first half of the game, of course at some point empires should be able to spread out (also unevenly); but even then it would be a good idea to put some limit on how fast the player can conquer an enemy and how big an advantage he will get from that.
Yeah, we definitely need to do something about the steamroller effect you get once you reach a certain point. Part of the problem is that the resource output boosts granted by techs and buildings are much too high, and we had already several discussions about the need to cut that down substantially. That will certainly mitigate much of the problem. Introducing influence upkeep costs for colonies should take care of the rest.

However, we need to get around to actually implement the basic framework for that to see how well that really is going to play out. I'd like to see the implementation of influence and related things as the next big step on the roadmap, as that would improve gameplay a lot IMO.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 26, 2015 8:35 am 
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Vezzra wrote:
Hm, I think it would be more consistent with how the other basic resource types work if we just generate influence the same way - via colony focus settings. That way you need to "sacrifice" some of your colonies to produce the influence required to maintain your empire. Those influence focused colonies would be the administrative/organizational/logistic centers of your empire, so to speak.


Maybe each colony contributes some influence and a focus setting to increase this? Also perhaps some special that increases the influence of influence focused colonies.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 26, 2015 6:37 pm 
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Vezzra wrote:
Originally we had the problem that colonizing was too expensive compared to conquering, and although we did some rebalancing AFAIK Mat still thinks quick conquering rushes (if the opportunity offers itself) are more effective than to do massive colonizing. Looks like it's quite difficult the get the balance right if you guys perceive the current balance so differently... ;)

Correct, and yes it does. I know that this is close to the type of game I'm best at that I can get hold of, and I've worked out the best way to min/max my way to outwitting/speeding past the AI in most circumstances, early conquest isn't as all conqueringingly easy/optimal as it was before, it's actually gotten to the point where I actually build my own Industrial Centres (I used to time the research to end at roughly the point of my first conquest).

I think part of the problem is the way we do Fleet Upkeep isn't working well enough, it definitely needs to switch to a per-part cost, not sure at what rate, and it possibly might need to switch to a cost per turn instead of a multiplier, but again not sure on it. Effective military beats conquest and explore prettu much guaranteed at the moment.

I'm also toying with both upping the cost and changing the upkeep of troop pods so they're costed by colony upkeep not fleet upkeep, not sure if it'll work but it might.
Quote:
However, we need to get around to actually implement the basic framework for that to see how well that really is going to play out. I'd like to see the implementation of influence and related things as the next big step on the roadmap, as that would improve gameplay a lot IMO.

Definitely, I'm not actually sure I'll like it in the way it'll change the way I have to think about things when playing but I think it'll make for a better game.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 26, 2015 6:50 pm 
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MatGB wrote:
I think part of the problem is the way we do Fleet Upkeep isn't working well enough, it definitely needs to switch to a per-part cost, not sure at what rate, and it possibly might need to switch to a cost per turn instead of a multiplier, but again not sure on it. Effective military beats conquest and explore prettu much guaranteed at the moment.


This could also lead to some races being better at some things, like have no upkeep costs for certain parts. Not sure if it would be good to add that or not. Though could see some races having so many fleet upkeep points or whatever to use.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 26, 2015 7:04 pm 
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AndrewW wrote:
Maybe each colony contributes some influence and a focus setting to increase this?
That doesn't really make much sense. As each colony will have an influence cost, making each colony also produce influence would just change the net influence balance of a colony, which needs to stay negative anyway for non-influence focused colonies, otherwise an influence upkeep cost mechanic for colonies won't work.

Meaning, any base influence production would be cancelled out, so why complicating the whole calculation by introducing a factor that doesn't really change anything in the end? IMO it's much simpler, straightforward and transparent to just make influence focused colonies positive net influence generators. That way influence would also work the same way as the other basic resource types, making the whole system more consistent and easier to comprehend for players. KISS :D
Quote:
Also perhaps some special that increases the influence of influence focused colonies.
Yep, like the Computronium Moon acts for research. Definitely something we should add.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 27, 2015 11:45 am 
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Vezzra wrote:
So these are my current ideas about influence, sorry if I'm got carried away a little bit and went off-topic ;)
Thanks for the detailed explanation. I find the idea of "influence" as a resource appealing, and imagine it will be useful to finetune the speed of expansion.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2016 12:10 pm 
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I'd like to sum up and discuss some ideas about influence that have been brought up here:

Quote:
Influence Concept
"Influence" represents an abstraction of the empire's ability to "exert power". It subsumes all the resources, structures, organizations
required to govern, adminstrate, organize the empire and everything within it, to influence its citizens (propaganda, policing,
etc.) and other empires (diplomacy as well as intelligence, espionage, sabotage etc.).

How is influence acquired?
- by the planetary focus "influence"
- factors that modify the output of the influence focus: species attributes (telepathic?), planetary specials (gaia, world tree?), buildings (palace, ...?), techs
- can influence be gained by or spent on diplomacy/treaties?
- should influence be stockpiling or not?

What can influence be spent on?
- colony and/or starlane upkeep (colony upkeep may vary on distance to homeworld)?
- fleet upkeep (per ship, per hull-type or per part?)?
- diplomacy, species interaction?
- intelligence/espionage/sabotage/special-op projects?

How is influence presented to the player?
- "influence screen" similar to production screen, as below?
- "influence projects" planet panel?
- influence output displayed together with production and research on the resource panel?

How could "influence projects" work?
- projects "produced" similar to production and research = "being prepared"?
- preparation only continues if complete amount/turn is available? (prevents that upkeep can't be paid if the player has too many projects)
- projects become "active" after production and require an upkeep each turn they stay active?
- more gameplay mechanics of projects (chance of detection, diplomatic effects of detection, defense against enemy projects)?

Ideas for project types:
- investigate: grants vision of foreign colony including resource production, supply lines and fleets in sensor range
- sabotage: disrupts resource production and has a chance to destroy buildings each turn
- terrorize: kills population
- incite revolt: reduces happiness
- disrupt supply: reduces or completely disrupts supply
- destroy ships
- steal technology
- propaganda: increases reputation with the colony's species
- boost colony: increases local resource production
- spy defense operation: has a chance to remove enemy spy activities

I agree with Vezzra that influence should play similar to production and research, and also not be stockpiling, but spent continually like the other resources. I would like to see it used as a colony and fleet upkeep resource, as well as the basis for "intelligence projects" as outlined above. I also agree that Influence should mainly be created by setting a planetary focus, as production and research are; influence could also be acquired by diplomacy, maybe as an incentive for a peaceful playstyle, or spent on it - paying tribute to an enemy!?
Influence should have its own screen like production and research, with the purpose to show where influence is created and spent, and to provide an interface to interact with influence projects. There should be some indication of the projects on the sidepanel, maybe a new "influence project panel" that only is visible if there is a project at a colony.


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Influence-Screen.jpg
Influence-Screen.jpg [ 321.31 KiB | Viewed 1784 times ]

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