Geoff the Medio wrote:
Bigjoe5 wrote:is a better incentive to suck up to empires towards whom your species have high allegiance
Why do we need to add incentives for empires to "suck up" to other empires to boost species allegiance? This seems like it's trying to use the whole system backwards; players should be pampering or pandering to species that are present in or will come into contact with other empires, to manipulate what the other empires can do. If an empire wants to boost allegiance of a species to the empire, the empire should do so by being more like that species' ideal empire.
Also, having allegiance of a species to an empire depend on that empire's actions towards another empire and that species' allegiance to the other empire ends up mixing allegiances between empires in a complicated and confusing way. It also makes the conceptual meaning of allegiance less clear; allegiance should be an indication of a species' opinion of what an empire is or ideals the empire holds, or things the empire does that directly affect the species.
That's fine. After some thought, I have no objections to such actions affecting happiness directly. This still allows very interesting strategies, for example:
Black empire maxes out his diplomatic, espionage and trade production picks, at the expense of all other resource production. He keeps every race's allegiance to him at about 75, but has the flexibility to increase that to 80 or 85 in a relatively short period of time, at a similar expense of other species' allegiance.
Naturally, all other empires are infiltrated to some extent, but Green empire is the one into which he has been pouring trade, to really increase espionage. Nearly every world is infiltrated, and a small fraction of his fleet is sufficiently infiltrated for him to be able to take control of it at any given time. His spies have been stealing resources, to make up for his own lack of production, but now he changes them to focus on terrorism, causing massive decreases in happiness throughout Green empire. What does Green do? His own citizens are turning against him, so naturally he will boost happiness in whatever way possible, including, most notably, giving gifts of resources, ships and technology to an empire towards whom his citizens have very high allegiance: the Black empire. Black can accumulate and use these ships and resources until he thinks he can take Green. Green thinks all is well, since he can fairly easily provide Black with enough resources to keep his own people happy, but then, the unthinkable happens: Black stops accepting his gifts.
Green empire's planets' happiness plummets, and Black takes this opportunity to incite rebellions on Green's worlds (presumably, espionage can cause real rebel action to be taken even if allegiance is above 20). Green's empire is in shambles, with rebels everywhere, and Black chooses this moment to invade the Green empire and conquer what's left. During the decisive battle, Black's operatives take control of that portion of the fleet that they had infiltrated, and Green is soundly defeated.
Not a strategy without weaknesses and vulnerability of course - like all strategies, it can be countered and defeated under the right circumstances, but a very interesting strategy nonetheless, IMO.
So yeah, that's why I'm fine with (and would even prefer, after some thought) such actions affecting happiness directly rather than altering alignment scales.
RonaldX wrote:BigJoe offers a slightly different take on this in order to prevent players from shifting allegiances easily:
- Alignment is a tracked value with limits, it changes based on a growth rate defined by your decisions (how many empires you are at war with vs. at peace with, what governmental style you are in, etc.) It does not function asymptotically but pushes a player towards the extremes of alignments at all times unless they change their policies to reverse the trend.
- Allegiance is a tracked value with limits, it changes based on a growth rate defined by a combination of Ethical Compatibility and Species Treatment. It does not function asymptotically but pushes a player towards the extremes of Allegiance at all times unless they change their policies to reverse the trend.
- Happiness is a tracked value with limits, it changes based on a growth rate defined by a combination of Allegiance and Local Factors. It does not function asymptotically but pushes a player towards the extremes of happiness at all times unless they change their policies to reverse the trend.
Pros: Most realistic model, represents the trend of a generally well treated people to grow more enamored of a leader, and of a generally poorly treated people to grow more and more unhappy with a leader.
Cons: More complex, less intuitive. Values are never stable unless at one extreme or the other without significant micromanagement (note 1).
Could go either way: Players in the end-game are essentially locked into an alignment.
(note 1) I say significant micromanagement here because I'm not entirely sure on how the best way to handle this is, math-wise. The concept sounds good until I try to apply numbers to it. For example If I make the bloodthirst scale shift +1 for every race I'm at war with, and -1 for every race I'm at peace with, then I have to willingly invite more enemies than I can maybe handle just to keep my bloodthirsty people happy with me, and the inverse is true for pacifistic races. A system like this would require heavy duty balancing in order to make it actually functional. Keeping it simple programming-wise makes it extremely difficult for the player (tons of micromanagement), and keeping it simple player-wise makes it extremely difficult for the programmer (and hides the math, making it less intuitive for the player).
You're assuming that unwanted war will cause a change in alignment growth the same way as a war which the empire supports openly. The Federation isn't considered bloodthirsty because it's at war with the Klingons, is it? Only actions which the player chooses
should ever affect alignment.
Something like the following is necessary regardless of what system of allegiance is chosen, so I don't consider its awkwardness to be a reflection of the alignment system I'm proposing.
In this particular case, the player would have to specify, for each war he enters, whether or not his empire approves of the war, or if they are only acting in self-defense. The default would be for the empire who declared war to start with the bloodthirsty setting and the empire upon whom war was declared to start with the self-defense setting, but either player could switch from one to the other, perhaps at the cost of trade, or perhaps it would cost trade to switch to the self-defense setting, but not to the bloodthirsty setting. This way, the defender gets a little political advantage, since he can put whatever spin he wants on the war without cost. As I've said, this might be a little awkward, and I suspect that this wouldn't completely solve the problem you have with my system either.
However, I have a solution that completely removes from my system the cons you mentioned, and even helps swing the "Could go either way" towards being a pro.
Yes, I am adding another feature to my system, but this will not add complexity - on the contrary, I expect this to make things extremely easy on both player and programmer. Here's what I have in mind:
Alignments have a very low growth rate. Under normal circumstances, I would say that they should never exceed 1 or 2. Propaganda allows the player to manipulate the growth rate of his alignment meters, up to a value of (tentatively) 1 per turn, at the cost of Trade. There's no need to constantly check and micromanage all of your imperial policies to keep your alignment meters balanced - you can just use Propaganda to make up the extra .1 or .2 of unwanted growth, and the problem vanishes.
Now you're going to say, "but now I have to micromanage Propaganda instead. Every time I change a policy, I have to go into the alignment screen and set new Propaganda values to keep my alignments level. That's not really much better..." However, that won't actually be necessary. A simple system of Propaganda like this would allow the player to actually set a "Target" level for their alignment scales, so that The amount of Propaganda being used automatically changes when you change a policy. Here's a quick example:
Yellow empire has a Bloodthirstiness of 45, but wants a Bloodthirstiness of 40. His current alignment growth is + 0.1. He chooses
-The target value for his Propaganda for that meter, and
-The maximum change in alignment growth due to Propaganda per turn (Max Propaganda Level)
So first, he sets the target to 40. Then, if he's a big spender, he'll set the Max Propaganda Level to -1, costing a great deal of Trade per turn, but getting him down to 40 in just 6 turns (0.1 - 1 = -0.9, 45 -> 44.1 -> 43.2 -> 42.3 -> 41.4 -> 40.5 -> 40). As you can see, as soon as the target is within range, the Propaganda Level decreases from the player defined maximum so that it's just enough to reach the player defined target, then further decreases so that it only just cancels out alignment growth due to other factors. No fuss, no micro, just a simple, one-time setting. Now if the player is a cheapskate, he'll set the Max Propaganda Level to -0.2, spending less Trade overall, but spending a good 50 turns getting to the target, barring any events which shift away from target, or changes in policy which change the growth rate (perhaps, if alignment growth began moving away from the player-defined target due to natural growth surpassing Max Propaganda Level, the player would be prompted to review his Propaganda policies). Once again though, no fuss, no micro.
Other relevant points:
-The amount of Trade expended for 1 point of Propaganda should be significantly more than 10 times as expensive as 0.1 points of Propaganda. First of all, this will make just .1 or .2 points of Propaganda extremely cheap, which will allow essentially any player to easily make up for a few decimal points of alignment growth using Propaganda, so the player only has to move to the extreme end of the alignment scale if he really chooses to. This has the added advantage that players in the end-game who are "essentially locked" into an alignment are there because they deliberately chose that alignment, not because they accidentally drifted there due to not micromanaging enough. Secondly, this means that since a whole point of Propaganda is extremely expensive, only players with lots and lots of Trade will be able to make up for significant inconsistencies between what they do and how they want to appear, which is good, IMO.
-The amount of Trade expended is based on the Current Propaganda Level, not the Max Propaganda Level (note that I'm using the terms "current" and "max" in a very different way than current and max meter values). This means that in the above situation, Yellow would be paying for 1 point of Propaganda for each of the first 5 turns, then for 0.6 points of Propaganda for the 6th turn, then 0.1 points of Propaganda for all the subsequent turns, to hold the alignment value in place. If something in the Yellow empire changes which increases Bloodthirstiness growth by .1, then Yellow will subsequently have to pay for .2 points of Propaganda each turn, but he will not have to do any additional management, nor will his alignment scale shift from the target value of 40.
-Trade should not be expended if the Propaganda has no effect. For example, if a player has Bloodthirstiness of 100 and a natural alignment growth of +0.5, the any amount of Propaganda equal to or greater than -0.5 will not cost anything. Propaganda of -0.6 or lower though, would still cost the same as it always would; even if the net change is only -0.1, the player is still charged for 0.6 points of Propaganda.
Does anyone have any objections to this system now that any annoying difficulties in managing alignment scales has been removed by Propaganda?