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PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2008 7:49 pm 
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Space Dragon
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Here are some of my preliminary thoughts about diplomacy. The idea behind this is that, if I am not too actively around during the official diplomacy discussions I might still be able to contribute something useful. This is not a complete diplomacy system suggestion and it is more of a list of some ideas that might even be quite obvious. Also, some of these ideas have probably already been mentioned in the previous threads about diplomacy.


Transparency

In my opinion one of the most important things about diplomacy is transparency. And by this I mean that it should be relatively clear for the player after reading/hearing the message of the empire contacting him/her, checking the foreign matrix, keeping track of possible sitrep news and using commonsense why something is happening in diplomacy.

To achieve this, first of all the foreign matrices of both parties involved in a diplomatic negotiation should be visible in the diplomacy window where decisions are being made. They shouldn`t be hidden in some other part of the game or even be placed behind a clickable window in the diplomacy screen as was done in MOO 3. For example, it is perfectly logical that an empire, which is at war with many other empires, would try to search for allies. Now if you are the player and this empire proposes an alliance with you, you will need information about that empire’s current political situation with other empires to make an intelligent decision. And if the foreign matrix of that empire isn`t easily visible to you when you are making the decision, you probably can`t see why this empire might want to ally with you. And so you could end up with a bad decision, simply because the game doesn`t offer you enough information. Also it is good to know who your friends are before you make deals with an enemy of your friend, and so your own foreign matrix is important too.

Diplomacy should work as a network where your actions towards another empire or another empire`s actions towards you will influence other in game empires. This is most likely quite obvious, since this is probably how diplomacy always works. However this should also help to make diplomacy more transparent, since if you attack an empire the friends and allies of that empire most likely aren`t that happy with your actions, and so your relationship with them will probably cool down. But in some cases it might of course be in the interests of the friends/allies of the empire that you attacked to break their ties with that empire. For example in a situation where the empire that you attacked is militarily weak and/or the friendly empire is not that loyal.

Diplomatic options should have a clear function and they should be important. This is something that at least in my opinion wasn`t completely reached in MOO 3 for example as there were like a million different improve trade, research or some other treaty options without any clear indication of why such a new treaty is needed. If diplomatic options are important and they have a clear function it is much easier for the player to influence and communicate with other empires and so the entire diplomacy system is more transparent for the player/players.

The actual diplomatic message that the player receives should make sense and have something to do with the issue in question. This might seem quite obvious, but I remember reading a rewiev of MOO 3 where its diplomatic messages where criticized for being too vague. So if there is a specific reason in the game code for the diplomatic message in question, this reason should also be presented to the player. Now this could of course be done discreetly, so that the player would have to use his/her head a little, but the message shouldn`t be like: "Stop your things now!"

If citizens of the empires are going to have some influence in diplomacy, for example major unrests in your empire, if you suddenly become friendly with your age old enemy, then it would probably be a good idea to present the peoples opinion about an empire together with the official political relationship. This way for example, if an empire whose citizens hate your empire proposes an alliance with you, it would be easy to see that this alliance might be a short one.


AI

My basic idea of how the AI should function is this:

A. The AI should act like the race it represents.

So if the AI is a peace loving race then it shouldn`t be attacking your fleets and planets at every possible moment.

B. The AI should act like the military and political situation of the galaxy requires it to act.

This would mean that even a peace loving race could become quite aggressive if it needs, lets say more systems to protect itself from a growing hostile alliance.

Note that both A and B are important in this idea.

A couple more things that could be important to the diplomatic AI are: co-operation and military might. The idea behind this is that if you have for example a profitable trade agreement with your neighbour it reduces your willingness to attack that neighbour. At least compared to a neighbour that hasn`t got a profitable trade agreement with you. Also if you are considerably stronger than a neighbour of yours that neighbour will probably be less willing to declare war to you, at least if that empire doesn`t have allies. But of course there might be species that are for example so war hungry that a profitable trade agreement has only little weight in their decision making.

The AI should have some sort of a "survivor instinct". In many games that I have played the AI will always fight to the bitter end, even though it doesn`t have a change and you offer it peace. Now this is of course acceptable with some war hungry, honour driven species, but it doesn`t feel very believable that all races will always rather die than surrender. So it would be nice if the AI in some desperate situations would actually surrender or would accept your generous peace offer. Also as mentioned earlier AI in this sort of a situation could desperately search for allies as well.


Diplomacy screens and general diplomacy

One important thing about diplomacy is to get your diplomatic messages. To ensure this, when a player receives a diplomatic message it should either automatically start to play when a turn starts/ the message is send or at least be the highest item on the sitrep that is presented to the player that turn. This way we can make sure that the player actually gets his/her diplomatic messages, because if info about them is placed in the end of the sitrep for example there is a risk that the player doesn`t read the whole sitrep through and so he/she will miss important information and/or opportunities.

What comes to the overall experience of the diplomatic encounter it is important that the species actually look, behave, sound and send messages like they are described to look, behave, sound and act. This way they can be easily separated from each other and they also feel like representatives of unique alien species. And if we will have a MOO 3 kind of an emphasis system this is also important, because if aliens are truly unique it is hopefully possible for the player to make decisions about the right kind of an emphasis for each encounter based on the actions of the alien representative. Also it would probably be a good thing if the diplomatic encounter with its menus and foreign matrices would fill the entire screen, so that it would be possible to reach the kind of an intimate interaction that was at least in my opinion reached in MOO 2.

I also prefer the MOO 2 kind of a direct diplomatic contact over the MOO 3 system of video, mail type messages, because in MOO 2 kind of a direct contact you are able to see the reactions of the alien representative instantly instead of waiting for the response for a couple of turns. And so the interaction is more natural in MOO 2 type diplomacy. This system also offers an unique possibility for the player to observe a living member of another race hopefully moving and doing things that are natural for it while the player thinks about his/her response, and so it offers a kind of an aquarium experience. It also speeds up diplomacy, although I am not certain if this is a good or a bad thing.

It would probably be good to leave some empty space to the screen where you choose the empire that you wish to contact, so that in cases of possible civil wars there is space for extra representatives.

It might also be nice to have some sort of an influence system, where you could bribe another empire to become slowly more friendly towards you. This way there would be a direct way to try to change other empires views about you (at least in single player), although the success of this kind of an operation might of course vary between species. However for this system to be of any use in a multiplayer game some rules would be needed. Perhaps a high enough relationship is required between empires to form an alliance or full alliance etc.?

I must also say that I have always liked the "Thank you for this profitable trade agreement" kinds of messages from the AI, because they make me feel that I am dealing with a live space empire that has the ability to actually say something else also, than what is in your, in game diplomatic options list.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2008 2:00 pm 
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In addition to the "diplomatic message notification" my idea would be to let the "Diplomacy" menu button blink.
Or colour its frame while new messages haven't been read...


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2008 11:00 pm 
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3 Big ideas for diplomacy

1. Diplomacy does not just involve the players
The way I see it, all diplomatic negotiations should involve at least 4 'actors'

Player 1, Player 2, Empire 1, and Empire 2

the "Players" whether Human or AI should act according to the Military and 'Diplomatic' position of the galaxy, they play the game to its maximum gamey potential

the "Empires" are what these Players control, (to a Certain degree). They have a 'flavor'. So if you Or an AI are playing a passive race, you can declare as much war as you like... but you will have unhappy people.

You, or an AI, can make a Trade deal immediately after peace with someone who slaughtered your people... but they won't be happy about it.

So some of your diplomacy might not be the 'best decision' but, once you take into account that your empire might go on strike... it becomes a better decision.

So peacefully trading with someone waging a successfull war on your ally of 500 turns might cause portions of your empire to revolt against you (it would also make your ally's empire less happy with you)

Also, this is how I would implement diplomacy race traits... if your Race has a high diplomacy, Other Empires are more happy when they are at peace with you, and have agreements with you.

You could give gifts not only to make another Empire like you,you could give gifts to make your Own Empire more Happy (if they really like the recipient)




2. Shared Win
Diplomacy should open the possibility of Merging Empires... for this to work, Both of your Empires must Really like each other or an attempt at Merger will go poorly.

The new Empire would be controlled by the Human Player of course (if there is one) but the Points awarded at the end of the game would be divided up, so if
Empire 1 ('Value' 5) + Empire 2 ('Value' 2) joined midway through the game, and the new empire Won with 1400 points, then
Player 1 = Won with 1000 points
Player 2 = won with 400 points

This is how a Diplomatic Win would be Handled, as a mass Empire Merger (if your Empire likes the Galactic Leader enough, they are Merged and you win... if your Empire Doesn't like the Galactic Leader enough, they are Annexed and you lose if you accept the ruling) So if your empire likes the Galactic Leader enough... Voting for him is a vote for your own win.


3. Balance of Power

My Strength v. Your Strength
Shouldn't be the only Power calculation involved in war
"Thier Strength" should be a significant factor
The AI Players (and Empires even) should have the idea of 'collective defense'... I'm more likely to attack someone that I think might attack me in the future, because they are attacking my neighbor now and are getting strong.

The main way for this to work is with multiple players. The more players the more easily power can switch back and forth between two sides in a conflict in small chunks... 5 empire v. 5 empire wars (with 10 on the side) are more susceptible to diplomacy than 2 empire v. 2 empire wars (with 2 on the side)


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 8:08 pm 
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Cosmic Dragon
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I have another thought to add to diplomacy.

There exists the problem that racial diplomacy bonuses only work for single player, ie only 'makes AI Players like you more'.

The solution, is for each race to have an AI Diplomatic Ambassador. It will still be under your control, ie you decided what techs to swap or how much money to give, whether to declare war or whether to attempt a trade treaty.

The AI Ambassador (yours and theirs) will together work as a success chance to whatever diplomatic action your are attempting. So your AI Ambassador may have a diplomacy bonus. Theirs may have a penalty. They may have stats and character, ie be like Moo2 leaders.

Regardless of whether it is human vs AIs or human vs human, a player with an AI Ambassador that has a diplomacy penalty will get less out of a trade deal for example, cause the other player whoose AI Ambassador has a diplomacy bonus talked circles around your AI Ambassador.

This would be imo the best way to have racial diplomatic traits carry over into human vs human games.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 10:37 pm 
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sounds attractive, but has the ambassador the chance to "level up" in skill?
if yes, how? if no, can you kick his ass out if you find a better one? CAN you find a better one?
if yes, how? ^^ if no, it's an unfair thing....even if its random who got the "diplomatic-boons" at startup.

but i like this idea, in the style of you give your ambassador an aim and a race to deal with,
an he presents the "fruits" out of his talks, that you can accept or decline.
but in every way, direct diplomacy should be playable, makes the multiplayer feel "closer".

so there should be an option to directly make a call to the other emporers, or at least take control
of the ambassadors. otherwise much of the gameplay is gone, as i think 8)


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 6:12 am 
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Amenhotep wrote:
sounds attractive, but has the ambassador the chance to "level up" in skill?

No, cause it's not a roleplaying game. It's a reflection of your races diplomatic abilities. If your race sux at diplomacy, then your ambasidor sux, and thats that.

Amenhotep wrote:
if no, can you kick his ass out if you find a better one? CAN you find a better one?

No.

Amenhotep wrote:
if no, it's an unfair thing....even if its random who got the "diplomatic-boons" at startup.

Diplomatic bonuses or penalities would be based on race picks. And the ambassador a reflection/representation of those diplomacy race picks.

Amenhotep wrote:
but i like this idea, in the style of you give your ambassador an aim and a race to deal with,
an he presents the "fruits" out of his talks, that you can accept or decline.
but in every way, direct diplomacy should be playable, makes the multiplayer feel "closer".

so there should be an option to directly make a call to the other emporers, or at least take control
of the ambassadors. otherwise much of the gameplay is gone, as i think 8)

It wouldn't be an AI in the sense of decisions being made, rather just a success mechanism for the diplomatic actions you are trying to achieve, noting that you would decided all diplomatic actions.
eg
Trade Treaty.
If you have bad ambassador you get 50bc per turn while other race gets 100bc, it is the reverse if they have a worse ambassador then you.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 9:05 pm 
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utilae wrote:
Trade Treaty.
If you have bad ambassador you get 50bc per turn while other race gets 100bc, it is the reverse if they have a worse ambassador then you.



That would be a good thing since then Diplomacy wouldn't be strictly combative

2 High diplomacy races make a Trade Treaty
150 + to each side

1 High 1 low diplomacy make a treaty
100 to high side, 40 to low

2 low diplomacy races make a treaty
25 + to both sides


I do think the idea of 'Public Diplomacy' helps with this idea... peaceful relations with a high diplomacy race make your empire better, and your empire is worse when you have peaceful relations with a low diplomacy race


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 12:30 am 
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Just throwing out ideas, but those of you who have played Medieval II Total War would know what I'm talking about:

In addition to having the Foreign matrix up on screen, there should also be a comparison shown between your empire and the other one you're communicating with. It shouldn't just show military strength but also things like the empire's financial disposition, a snapshot of what the people of each empire think of eachother and for AI players there should also be a short guide to what the empire in question wants from you.

Also it would be nice if when you offer a deal or exchange, the game should predict to an extent how good the offer is as well as it's side-effects on each empire (Though it should have a reasonable level of error, it needs to be an educated guess, not an exact prediction of what the game is about to do.)

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 11:52 am 
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To get information about another empire would include that you have used your spies (or actually have one in use) on the
empire you are dealing with. because it's not so realistic to make a first contact and then get all information displayed...
I quess you mean it like the diplomacy in "imperium galactica 2" where you can choose a racepic in the dip screen,
and get all information displayed you know! so, if you discovered one fleet consisting of 10ships and 50 interceptors and 2 planets
you get this displayed as the empireinformation. the same in techs, you just can use spies to find out what tech
they have researched but that is not displayed in the small information table. you won't even see the techs in diplomatic
affairs, because its like that, that you offer a tech and ask "what would you give me for this?" and the other race choses a tech
worth to give you in exchange (maybe an RP comparison).

The model is better than the one of ME2, i think. But what will be included in the game is written in the stars.^^
I think the idea of the prediction is a nice thing, that would be funny and even interesting for the player to see how
his diplomatic picks would have effect on trade.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 10:41 pm 
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Actually that's a pretty good idea you've got. The screen should only show you what intelligence and observation can tel you, and if there is more to the empire than the game can estimate the empire's total strength in various things.

The idea in ME2 would be that because Europe is a very closely knit place it would be very easy to know a lot about your rivals and opponents. Whereas in a 4X in space like FO there would be tons of delays in translation and stuff, although neutral traders and mercenaries and pirates would probably be able to let out the info anyway by accident by getting too drunk in your bars and taverns (or where ever else someone with no home would spend their time in the FO galaxy)

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 3:23 am 
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Only being able to see what your spies can tell you is a good idea. BUT! What if before entering negotiations, the player chooses what info about his empire appears to his opponent to try to give him a picture of his empire that will have the desired effect. But if the other player has too much other information, he may not get the desired impression of your empire so in this way, espionage plays a fairly significant role in negotiations. Here's an example:

You are playing as the Humans. Your opponents, the Krulnigs, desire an audience with you. You have preset the information package that you present to the Krulnig empire to include only your lower level technology. You enter negotiations confident that your deadly Zorlok Ray technology is unknown to all other races. Your plan is to lure the enemy empires into war with you and crush them with your mighty technology. Little do you know that the spy report to the Krulnig ambassador included the newly acquired info that you possess the Zorlok Ray. You had expected him to declare war on you for pillaging his ally's border world, but instead he offered you trade agreements.

In this scenario, the Humans used a clever plan to take down their enemies. The Krulnigs were saved by their spys. This shows how many layers of trickery and deceit can be implemented into FO diplomacy by the players themselves if we allow it. I like using realpolitik on my enemies, but it doesn't really work in MoO2. I hope we can really expand upon diplomacy in FO.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 7:16 pm 
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I like that idea, but a simpler thing might be some settings

Magnify Power v. Hide Power
Subdivisions: Military, Industrial, Territorial/Population, Technological, Social (public support)

Show Public Friendliness v. Show Public Antagonism

[this would be based on the idea that your people have a feeling about the empire... do you want the other empire to think your people like them... or that your people hate them]

If the Settings are the same for all empires it is easier to maintain.. (if you want Everyone to think you are strong that is easier than getting 1/2 to think you are strong and 1/2 weak)

So that way it would be their spies v. your spies+government internal propoganda

You might have the same settings for your own people


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 7:59 pm 
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Space Dragon
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Bigjoe5 wrote:
Only being able to see what your spies can tell you is a good idea. BUT! What if before entering negotiations, the player chooses what info about his empire appears to his opponent to try to give him a picture of his empire that will have the desired effect. But if the other player has too much other information, he may not get the desired impression of your empire so in this way, espionage plays a fairly significant role in negotiations.


Some sort of small deception in diplomatic negotiations might be nice, for example the other party can`t see your latest techs or all of your colonies unless he/she/it uses spies or you reveal this information to him/her/it.

However in my opinion vital information for making successful diplomatic decisions and for "reading" why something is happening in the diplomatic map of the galaxy, should be visible to the player without using spies. This would include things like the foreign matrices etc. This way we could avoid the problem that at least in my opinion exists in many strategy games, that is, there isn`t enough information available for the player to make an intelligent decision or to understand why a certain AI empire acts in a certain way. And this again leads to frustration, because the diplomacy system doesn`t seem to make any sense.

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What is your favourite alien species and WHY?
Preliminary thoughts about diplomacy
Some unfinished ideas for specials


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 9:58 pm 
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Of course we don't want to go the opposite way either like MoO3 and let all the players see each others tech trees.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 6:33 am 
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Cosmic Dragon
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Bigjoe5 wrote:
Of course we don't want to go the opposite way either like MoO3 and let all the players see each others tech trees.

Hmmm Moo2 also did this didn't they.

I guess it is a matter of both parties choosing the techs they want to display to the other player. Then the trading can occur.


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