Simulating Citizens

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RonaldX
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Re: Simulating Citizens

#271 Post by RonaldX » Fri Feb 12, 2010 6:25 am

Bigjoe5 wrote: My point is that balancing this aspect of the game will be no more difficult or complex than balancing any other aspect of the game. Of course it will require a bit of tweaking, but so will everything. Feel free to explain in detail though, why the dependency between alignment and propaganda and diplomacy is so much more complex than the relationship between industry production and focus settings and buildings and ship hulls/parts, and therefore massively complex to balance.
I did give you an example of this, before your introduction of Propaganda:
I am in a 2-player game, and half my planets are a warlike/elitist race, half are pacifistic/egalitarian. I want to keep my war/peace alignment scale neutral. The other player has declared war on me so we are in a state of war. My alignment meter then constantly drifts towards warlike because I am involved in a war. I need to offset this somehow, so I need to go into an entirely different factor and perhaps give the peaceful race a higher social status than the warlike one. I'm still getting more warlike, (and possibly also getting more elitist, which might actually be making my situation worse), but at least the peaceful race is staying relatively content because of their rank bonus. However, now I've set other scales into motion which are shifting away unchecked and could have other consequences later, for example I'm still getting more and more elitist so I need to offset this with something else, introducing even more runaway variables. Or perhaps one bonus isn't growing as fast as the other and I will eventually need to make more changes later to further offset this, adding in even more variables running off on their own as well. Now we're starting to get complicated, and we're only talking about 2 races.
Adding in propaganda is giving you another balancing factor to consider on top of that, and now you're involving trade in the equation as well. The point is that values that continue to change and change and change on their own is ugly. Straight up, the idea of constantly changing alignment, constantly changing happiness, and constantly changing allegiance is a bit much, so you throw in an additional factor as a way of now spending trade resources in an effort to keep it stable? Why not just use a system that is inherently stable to begin with and save all that hassle? The major qualm I have isn't with alignments or the definitions or how they are derived.. It's with using a system of unchecked growth rates to track them instead of a vastly simpler and more intuitive sum-of-all-parts method.
Integer based? I fail to see what that has to do with anything. You could multiply all my values by 10, and they'd be integers, but it would still be the same system.
By integer-based I just meant a system that relied on sum-of-parts instead of a growth rate. Poor choice of words on my part.
In other words, the complexity of a system is too great when the player has to repeatedly make decisions which have very little obvious bearing on the outcome of the game. In my system, the player only makes a very small number of decisions regarding the propaganda scale, which have an obvious and predictable effect, and are strategically very important in that they support and enhance the player's overall strategy.
I'll assume you mean "the player only makes a very small number of additional decisions regarding the propaganda scale", because they will still have had to make all their real decisions and are now trying to use propaganda in order to make them work. Now their strategy depends on whether they have enough trade to buy enough propaganda to enable them to enact that strategy.
I am sticking to my system, not because it is mine, but because it is the most clearly defined, well-defended and macro system out of any that has been proposed.
I would say it's no more clearly defined or better defended than the sum-of-parts method described 5 pages back. The devil is only in the details, not in the overall construction.
Your method of: Taking a factor, deciding how important it is, converting the weight into a growth rate, and modifying the parent attribute based on growth,
Is more complicated than: Taking a factor, deciding how important it is, and summing it into it's parent attribute.

The entire concept of propaganda used in this manner is only necessary because you need some way of stabilizing a system which is by design unstable.

Krikkitone wrote:Entire First Half
The only difference you really have proposed here is that you have summed up "all persistant effects" to mean "target", and "all one-time/diminishing effects" to mean "current". All I care about is the events that are summed up to make a meaningful happiness or allegiance value. Again, I'm going for as simple as possible:

Basic Model (using happiness as an example):
Every event that is currently affecting happiness on a world added together = target value.
Whatever happiness is on a world right at this moment = current value (used for gamplay purposes, ie rebellion)
Each turn, current happiness moves closer to target value at a (fixed, proportional, fibbonaci sequential, whatever) rate.
(major events requiring instant changes in current happiness are handled by special rules, though gradual = better imo)

Your system:
Persistant effects = target
Short-term effects = current
Happiness = target+current
(calculated instantly and applied turn by turn)

The important thing, in both systems is that the short term effects decay on their own and eventually go away. This in itself is going to cause happiness/allegiance/etc to change more or less gradually anyways. That being said, I see no reason to separate events into persistant and short-term. They have the same magnitude of effect on the final result, so why bother? It's like saying I want to add 2 and 2 together, but first I have to separate them into 1's and then add all four 1's together for some reason. It's just an extra step.

As far as "I want happiness/allegiance effects to be instantaneous", this is a really crappy situation for the player. If he loses his homeworld and takes a big hit to happiness, then he should be given a short period of time to try to get it back before he gets buried in rebellious workers, otherwise you have a potentially unbalanced conquest strategy of simply gunning for homeworlds to shut down an opponent's production. Every change to happiness should be at least a little gradual to represent species adjustment/assimilation periods.
Now there are a few remaining issues that people seem to disagree on
1. How should Alignments change.
Big Joe's model has the Target basically always be 0 or 100, and the rate of change is slow but manipulatable.
All other models have the Target Alignment possibly be anything and have the rate of change relatively fixed (either a fixed number or a fixed proportion of difference).
Both work, but in the interest of keeping it simple, a sum-of-parts system (5 more warlike for starting a war, 5 more expansionist for conquering a world, etc.) is just easier to implement. Designer's choice, I'm not the one doing the coding (though I am willing to construct mathematical framework).
2. How Empire Specific Diplomacy is plugged in.
Would depend on the exact action. I guess this kind of depends on your definition of diplomacy. Things might have multiple ramifications.

For example:
Starting a war makes you more warlike (+5 to warlike alignment)
Being in a war makes Warlike species like you more (+2 to allegiance for that race)
Being in a war makes Peaceful species hate you more (-2 to allegiance for that race)

My feeling is that ACTIONS should affect alignment. CONDITIONS should effect allegiance.
Slaughtering a race makes you more warlike (alignment).
Being slaughtered makes a race unhappy (allegiance).
Enslaving a race makes you more elitist (alignment).
Being enslaved makes a race unhappy (allegiance).

Yes, there is synergy between the two factors, so a single action might have two effects, because the Action causes a change in alignment, and the new Condition causes a change in allegiance. This follows logic.

***

I'm still not sold on one thing.. I don't really think it should matter to you how much the races in the other empires like their masters. This necessitates adding in factors like:

At war with an empire that this race likes more than you (-5 to allegiance for that race)
Trade pact with an empire that this race likes alot (+3 to allegiance for that race)

Which, again, makes sense, but complicates things considerably. I don't want to have to care about the allegiance meters of other races to other empires when I am making my decisions. I probably shouldn't even know what they are unless I'm spying on them. If you're set on the idea, the framework can accomodate it, but I'd consider carefully how much of an effect you want it to have, and if it isn't huge, is it worth the trouble of including it in the first place?

-Ty.

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Re: Simulating Citizens

#272 Post by RonaldX » Fri Feb 12, 2010 6:37 am

Let me give you a better and more direct example of why growth rates are funky: No equal and opposite reactions.

Let's say you have a planet with a stable happiness level of 50. It gets blockaded and the happiness drops while it is blockaded.

If the blockade is removed in a growth rate system, the negative growth from being blockaded goes away, but the happiness stays down in the gutter because there is nothing to bring it back up, unless you apply some sort of "reverse un-blockade" factor with the opposite growth rate to bring it back up.

Alternatively, say the planet has a decent happiness growth due to buildings or allegiance or whatever and gets blockaded.. Then maybe the blockade isn't as severe a penalty to growth as the planet is getting, and even though the people are starving, they continue to get happier and produce more than ever before. In a sum-of-parts system, they would get a direct, independant negative modifier that causes happiness to definately drop, reducing production when current values drop low enough. If the blockade is removed, the negative modifier is also removed.

These are examples aside from having constantly drifting attributes that will eventually float beyond where you would want them, despite the fact that you aren't doing anything to encourage them to, or maybe are not moving when you are encouraging them to.. for example:

I'm behaving neutrally, at war with one enemy and allied with another. My warlike scale growth rate is zero. If I go to war with both enemies, my scale shifts towards warlike. The war ends with one and I go back to being neutral.. I don't start tending back to neutrality, the growth rate simply returns to zero and I stay warlike (even though I'm acting neutrally), unless I end both wars and ally with both opponents until I get back to neutral again.

I'm just not a fan of designed instability. You're saying that "I designed this system to be unstable, and propaganda is the bandaid that makes it controllable", which isn't particularily appealing.

-Ty.

Edit: Improved examples.

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Krikkitone
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Re: Simulating Citizens

#273 Post by Krikkitone » Fri Feb 12, 2010 8:08 am

Just reviewing the TRULY simplest model

One-time Events affect the Current Happiness of some collection of worlds
Persistent States affect the Target Happiness of some collection of worlds

Happiness then has results of Rebellion and some positive impact (ie espionage defense)

That is the Base model... all other models are ways to make this model either
1. broader in impact
2. avoid wierdnesses
3. more understandable and accessible to players

The problem with this simple model is
1. The impact of any event was limited to your empire (creating additional problems with planets changing ownership).. ie low impact+wierd
2. There was no 'empire wide statistic'..even though some things would impact every planet in your empire...ie not easily accessible

So Allegiance was created...
Allegiance was the grouping of all "Happiness Effects" that would impact an entire species throughout an empire

so
One Time Events that impact an entire species->Current Allegiance
Persistent States that impact an entire species->Target Allegiance

... the problem came when that was going to be related to Happiness, since if it was Just Allegiance all worlds would revolt at the same time, so you still needed some local effects

One model was
Target Happiness=Current Allegiance+Persistent Local States
Current Happiness=One Time Local Events

Wheras what it Needed to be was

Happiness=Current Local effects + Current Allegiance (so that Targets didn't Drift)


The same problem came somewhat Allegiance had "Alignment:Ethos" pulled off of it in order to simplify it...
IE Current Alignment->Target Allegiance is NOT what it should be.




The problem is that if Targets Drift, they Aren't Targets.

If I have a Drifting Target, It is NOT easy to understand the movement of the meter... for the player OR the game designer.

The system should be Understandable for Both of them.

While the Fact that short-term effects decay is important, the WAY in which they decay is also important.

That method of decay needs to be understandable.


If Target Happiness is based on Current Allegiance, then a Short-term Allegiance impact will cause a VERY strange movement in the happiness

If Target Happiness is based on Current Allegiance, then a Short term boost in Allegiance will cause a Slow rise followed by a Slow drop in happiness.

This is NOT easily predictable behavior...I expect a one-time event to give a one-time effect that fades, not a slow delayed push that fades.

PS if you want losing the Homeworld to have a Gradual Effect on Happiness, then give it a Gradual Effect on Allegiance. Ie make 'having the Homeworld' a Strong persistent state.. make 'losing the Homeworld' a weak one-time event.


There are only 3 Meters needed
1. Alignment
2. Species Treatment
3. Local conditions

Everything else is just figuring out what actual EFFECT those meters have.

I think that 2+3 should be added to an Ethos comparison to 1 to detemine "Rebel Activity" or "Espionage defense" on a world in your empire

I think that 2 should be added to an Ethos comparison to 1 to determine "Espionage vulnerability" and "Local Resistance/support" to worlds in Other empires, as well as To help worlds decide

Since those combinations of the meters are so important, the player should be able to see at a glance what they are... The first sum (a convenient glance at the calculations for easy display) would be Happiness
The second sum (a glance at the calculations for easy display) would be Allegiance

PPS Empire Specific Diplomacy, is probably way too contentious when the base model has problems of opaqueness to players and game designers.

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Re: Simulating Citizens

#274 Post by Bigjoe5 » Fri Feb 12, 2010 6:18 pm

RonaldX wrote:I did give you an example of this, before your introduction of Propaganda:
I am in a 2-player game, and half my planets are a warlike/elitist race, half are pacifistic/egalitarian. I want to keep my war/peace alignment scale neutral. The other player has declared war on me so we are in a state of war. My alignment meter then constantly drifts towards warlike because I am involved in a war. I need to offset this somehow, so I need to go into an entirely different factor and perhaps give the peaceful race a higher social status than the warlike one. I'm still getting more warlike, (and possibly also getting more elitist, which might actually be making my situation worse), but at least the peaceful race is staying relatively content because of their rank bonus. However, now I've set other scales into motion which are shifting away unchecked and could have other consequences later, for example I'm still getting more and more elitist so I need to offset this with something else, introducing even more runaway variables. Or perhaps one bonus isn't growing as fast as the other and I will eventually need to make more changes later to further offset this, adding in even more variables running off on their own as well. Now we're starting to get complicated, and we're only talking about 2 races.
1) I provided a response to this, in the same post in which I introduced propaganda.
Bigjoe5 wrote: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.
The point of this response is that only actions taken by the player should ever affect alignment. This is true regardless of how alignment is calculated, and is not specific to my system. Once the initial, undesired "runaway variable" is taken care of, the rest of the problem ceases to exist.

2) Even if the player did somehow accidentally increase his bloodthirstiness (or more likely, was compelled for other important strategic reasons to take a bloodthirsty action), there should be ways to appease the pacifistic race that don't have an effect on any other alignment scales (again, this is true regardless of which system is chosen for calculating alignment). The empire can, for example, give a gift to an empire towards whom the pacifistic race has high allegiance, or build a happiness boosting building in that part of his empire, etc. None of these solutions will end up with any "runaway variables"

3) It's pretty obvious that trying to appease an egalitarian race by increasing their social status won't be a fantastic plan. Even if it increases the empire's species-empire alignment with that species, the increase in elitism alignment should be enough to cancel this out, meaning that an essential link in the chain of events you specified isn't even a viable strategy.

Consider that in order to lead to more and more "runaway variables" there needs to be a "quick fix" to the problem of the pacifistic/egalitarian empire's low allegiance which will ultimately end up hurting allegiance even more. If the action which will end up hurting allegiance doesn't help the situation to begin with, there's no motivation to take that action.

A player's alignment should represent his long-term strategy, and not be something that can be quickly and cheaply manipulated for a quick boost to some species' allegiance (it can be relatively quickly manipulated in this way if you have tons of trade, but that's only for empires who are focused primarily on diplomacy; in other words, his manipulation of the alignment meters is what represents his long-term strategy). There are no "runaway variables" because the player's decisions which affect the alignment scale are a deliberate part of a long-term behavioural pattern which conforms to his overall strategy. There are other ways to quickly appease a species by using happiness modifiers.

4) You seem to be under the impression that it should be easy to keep two species with diametrically opposed ethoi in the same empire. A significant part of the motivation for having an allegiance system at all is that the advantages of having a diversity of species within the empire (due to the greater variety of bonuses of which the player can take advantage) must be weighed against the limitations on the player's actions (due to being put in a position of having to please multiple species with different ethoi). A player whose actions are significantly different from the preferences of one or more species in his empire will have lower allegiance from that species, not because of accidental runaway variables, or because of circumstances beyond the player's control, but because of what the player chooses to do, and in certain circumstances, the player will have to make an important decision about whether or not keeping a diversity of species in his empire is really worth the limitations on his actions that comes from trying to please all of them, and he may have to exterminate one or two, and go without whatever bonus they gave him. This is a good strategic tradeoff.

Adding in propaganda is giving you another balancing factor to consider on top of that, and now you're involving trade in the equation as well.
Let's look at exactly how much additional balancing propaganda will require:

-If propaganda is overused, increase the cost
-If propaganda is too expensive to use, decrease the cost

In other words, "tweak numbers until propaganda costs the right amount". It doesn't interact in complex ways with any other aspect of the system, so the balancing will be simple, just as the use of the system will be simple. Undoubtedly, all diplomatic actions will have to have their usefulness balanced against their affect on the alignment meters in much the same way, and these will have to be balanced against one another, taking into account the available ethoi, which is obviously much more difficult to balance than propaganda. But this will have to be done in any system. What I've added specifically to my system is extremely easy to balance.
RonaldX wrote:The point is that values that continue to change and change and change on their own is ugly.
There are no values that continue to "change and change and change on their own". There are values which can be affected instantaneously by the player's deliberate actions, and that have a constant growth rate, which is entirely dependent on the player's own choices. The possibility of letting one alignment scale temporarily move away from the desired value is no greater than the possibility of letting your industry exceed your mineral stockpile so that it's wasted. The latter can occur when an enemy empire blockades or destroys the player's mining worlds, and the former can occur when an empire is strategically compelled to take action which is counter to the ethos of his species (going in and destroying those ships blockading his mining worlds, for example). Either way, the player knows what's happening and has options available to counter it.
RonaldX wrote:Straight up, the idea of constantly changing alignment, constantly changing happiness, and constantly changing allegiance is a bit much, so you throw in an additional factor as a way of now spending trade resources in an effort to keep it stable? Why not just use a system that is inherently stable to begin with and save all that hassle?
There is nothing inherently stable about any system that has been proposed. Even in a system with current and target alignment, the current value will still always be changing whenever an empire takes a relevant action (just as it does in my system), and the target value will change whenever the player changes policies/treaties/whatever (just as the growth rate does in my system). What you're describing as "instability" doesn't actually make it significantly more difficult to keep alignment at a stable value. Simply keeping the empire's policies at neutral levels is all that's required for that.
RonaldX wrote:The major qualm I have isn't with alignments or the definitions or how they are derived.. It's with using a system of unchecked growth rates to track them instead of a vastly simpler and more intuitive sum-of-all-parts method.
Unchecked growth rates? There's nothing unchecked about them - they're completely under the control of the player. I've already given a few reasons for using growth rates instead of target values:
Bigjoe5 wrote:I think it's good if alignments aren't as significant in the early game; it allows the player to be more flexible in the early game when he's still learning about the galaxy and developing his strategy. If, in the early-mid game, the player decides that the conditions of the galaxy call for a total reversal of one or more of his alignments, that should be possible without causing total upheaval.

Also, the fact that allegiance is usually closer to 50 in the early game means that even if happiness drops below threshold, there will be only riots, not rebellions, which is good, because the player can't have to worry about his planets rebelling against him when he only has five or ten. Instead, dealing with simple riots caused by low happiness (due to bombardment/espionage/whatever) is enough to worry about.
Bigjoe5 wrote:If growth rates are very slow, then in the early game, the empire's alignment will be more flexible, around the middle range, and able to potentially gain mild support from just about any given race relatively easily. Later in the game, the player will be more committed to the specific alignments he has chosen, and will be focused on increasing allegiance primarily of species in his own empire. In this way, the alignments of an empire will gradually be cemented over the course of a game, and will be very difficult to change in the late game.

This is better than having a target value, IMO, because in this case, if player has an elitism of 100, and changes some of his policies so that his elitism growth rate is 0, he'll stay at 100, because that's the alignment he chose for the majority of the game. This growth rate of 0 however, would correspond to a target value of 50, meaning that he would be able to get a significant drop in his elitism levels much more quickly, if such a target value existed. I think that making the decision to commit to a particular alignment should be significant and have long-lasting, not-easily-reversible effects, and this is accomplished by having just a current value and a growth rate for alignment, rather than a target value (having species-empire alignments also makes this a way to make the decision to align/alienate one's empire with/from a species more important and difficult to reverse).
Why aren't these good reasons for having growth rate instead of target value, and more importantly, what impacts would the sum-of-parts system have on the strategic game which are more desirable than the outcome I've described?
RonaldX wrote:
Bigjoe5 wrote:]In other words, the complexity of a system is too great when the player has to repeatedly make decisions which have very little obvious bearing on the outcome of the game. In my system, the player only makes a very small number of decisions regarding the propaganda scale, which have an obvious and predictable effect, and are strategically very important in that they support and enhance the player's overall strategy.
I'll assume you mean "the player only makes a very small number of additional decisions regarding the propaganda scale", because they will still have had to make all their real decisions and are now trying to use propaganda in order to make them work.
No, I meant "the player makes only a very small number of decisions regarding the propaganda scale". In other words, the player only has to set a very small number of propaganda settings. In fact, in the average game, the player won't make any at all, because he'll let the actions and policies that conform to his general strategy bring him towards the desired extreme (because for an average strategy that only involves pleasing species of a single ethos, the extremes are always more desirable). Naturally, the player still has to make all the other decisions which affect alignment, but those aren't really propaganda decisions, even though they may have an impact on how or if the player chooses to employ propaganda.
Now their strategy depends on whether they have enough trade to buy enough propaganda to enable them to enact that strategy.
You're talking as if the dominant strategy will always involve carefully balancing alignment scales at a specific value. No strategy will ever depend on that. A more diplomatic strategy will depend on keeping all the ethical compatibility alignments around 50, yes, but usually, small actions which affect an alignment scale will be countered later on by other actions, and thus, an empire which is acting diplomatically and neutrally will almost never stray very far from a value of 50. However, realizing that there are situations in which such a diplomatic empire may have to take a drastic action which significantly alters the current value of an alignment meter, or might perhaps be compelled to adopt a drastic policy which significantly alters current alignment growth, such empires should have the ability to spend trade to compensate for these rare instances, for the duration of their effect, thus giving such an empire greater diplomatic flexibility.

If the empire did not have this flexibility, it would be liable to be destroyed by other empires as soon as it stopped being loved by their citizens. Being able to keep everyone happy with you shouldn't require a constant micro-managey balancing act, that limits the player's options so severely that he's essentially just going through the motions. The player needs to be free to have variety even within a strategy of pleasing everybody, and propaganda allows this.

This is the only case in which the player's strategy depends on whether he has enough trade to buy propaganda. But there's nothing wrong with that at all. If my strategy is to Zurg through the entire galaxy, then my strategy depends on whether or not I have enough minerals and industry to build all the warships I'll need. If I'm going for a technological victory, my strategy depends on whether or not I have enough research points to get there before my empire is Zurged-over. There's nothing wrong with a strategy being dependent on having a certain type of resource; that's what resources are for.
RonaldX wrote:I would say it's no more clearly defined or better defended than the sum-of-parts method described 5 pages back. The devil is only in the details, not in the overall construction.
Your method of: Taking a factor, deciding how important it is, converting the weight into a growth rate, and modifying the parent attribute based on growth,
Is more complicated than: Taking a factor, deciding how important it is, and summing it into it's parent attribute.
That's exactly what I've been hearing for the last several pages. My system is more complicated. I think I've addressed your concerns very directly, explaining why it's not that much more complicated, and why there's no micromanagement involved, and I've provided numerous strategic scenarios and justifications that express in clear terms why this system would make FO more fun. I have hardly seen any such scenarios or justifications from anyone else (except for your paragraph on how hard it would be to balance, which I think I addressed thoroughly and directly, and which wasn't strictly even a defense of another system anyway), so I don't see how you can say that my system is not better defended than any other system.
The entire concept of propaganda used in this manner is only necessary because you need some way of stabilizing a system which is by design unstable.
I've explained above in this post that my system is for the most part very stable, but there are certain situations in which an empire would be forced to take actions which would have a terrible impact on his alignments (which would be the case in any system). The fact that there is a constant growth rate does not make it significantly more unstable, because the growth rate itself is derived only from the player's own decisions, which he knew would have a long-term, predictable effect on alignment. Propaganda is simply a way to allow strategic variety within a highly diplomatic strategy, and to alleviate the strategic restrictions placed on empires who desire to keep an approximately neutral alignment. Essentially, it allows a greater variety of interesting strategies which would otherwise not be possible. Why is this a bad thing, and why does the fact that this enhances my system count as a strike against my system in general? More importantly, what decisions will the player have to make in my system that actively detract from the player's fun?
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eleazar
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Re: Simulating Citizens

#275 Post by eleazar » Fri Feb 12, 2010 6:27 pm

Measuring Imperial Actions so they can be Compared to Ethoi

The basic idea is that the empire will be graded on several scales so that each species can judge how well the empire's action match it's unique ethos. Empires that match an ethos well receive a large allegiance bonus from the species, while empires who are far from matching receive an allegiance malus, (or possibly no allegiance adjustment.)

We've been working with this idea for quite a while, and i see no need to change what's described above, and all the systems that depend on it.

However there's a specific detail that has normally been bundled with the above, which unfortunately causes problems i did not anticipate: The idea that individual alignment scales should be composes of paired opposites, like "Bloodthirsty <-> Pacifistic". I apologize for promoting this system for so long without realizing this significant implication, but fortunately it can be remedied without undoing the bulk of the progress which has been achieve in this thread. I will explain below.

Also note: though i won't use the "quote and reply" format, because i think it will be clearer for me to just lay it all out, but i have read the previous posts.


Problems with Paired Opposites Alignment Scales
The means we have for affecting alignments are indirect (with the exception of BigJoe's Propaganda). In other words, while an empire is attempting to do one thing, like conquer a planet, it may as a secondary effect alter one or more alignment scale. This means precise control of your alignment scales is not feasible. It was my intention that precise control would be totally unnecessary. An empire was supposed to simply figure out which extreme he wanted to shoot for, or decide to stay in the middle, and then, in as much as strategy permitted, choose actions which help him towards the chosen goal without too much concern weather he had met or exceeded a particular point on the scale.

However, in practice, more intense managing would have to be done in many situations:
  • Example: If you had both Bloodthirsty and Pacifistic species in your empire, even if you chose to favor the Pacifistic ones, you couldn't just blithely allow your empire's alignment to move toward the Pacifistic extreme. Half way towards Pacifistic from neutral you might have enough other means of gaining the allegiance of your bloodthirsty citizens, to keep them mostly productive, but if you went further toward Pacifistic, they would start to rebel. It's in this empire's best interest to go as far toward Pacifistic as he can without crossing the point where his Bloodthirsty citizen start getting out of hand.
This is a much more potentially frustrating system than i had intended, i.e. one that can penalize an empire for not having a variable at a specific point, but only provides indirect and clumsy tools for manipulating the variable. Especially since there should be several alignment scales, and this aspect of the game is not standard 4X fare, i expect players to find this part of the alignments unappealing, unwieldy and too abstract.

BigJoe's Propaganda seems in part to have been designed to solve some of these problems. But the fact remains that it is a patch on a flawed system, which while returning to the player some control, adds another layer of abstraction.

Solution
A better solution, however is to revise the underlying system so fiddly control is not needed. In short drop the idea that alignments are paired opposites. Instead use scales like, "Exploratory", "Diplomatic" and "Technological" that have no opposite. Species with a technological ethos would like empires the closer they came to the top of the technological scale, but there would be no species which hate empires for being highly technological. (Certainly we could theoretically make a "Luddite" scale, and invent species that hated empires with technological advancement, but this solution avoids doing that.) You can increase the allegiance of a species without automatically decreasing the allegiance of others. Thus there should never be a need to aim for a particular point on an alignment scale. More is always better. So fine controls over alignment are no longer needed.

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Re: Simulating Citizens

#276 Post by Krikkitone » Fri Feb 12, 2010 7:18 pm

TLDR

to Big Joe: a Slow 'Historical Buildup' of Alignment (similar to your system) is compatible with a Target/Current Alignment meter with a slow exponential decay, and it doesn't require Propaganda to fine tune (you can fine tune by fine tuning your strategy itself.)

to Eleazar: Even if Ethos aren't 2 directional, many actions will have opposing effects on different Alignments (because many Ethos are 'naturally' opposing)... meaning there will still be a need to fine tune, and having a seperate "Warlike" Ethos and "Pacifistic" Ethos just makes things more complicated.
Bigjoe5 wrote:large post
Big Joe, I think the primary issue with your system is that
1. It has some of the functionality of a Target/Current System, but only with systems tacked on (Propaganda)
2. It's High emphasis on Historical Factors compared to Current Factors (the slow continuous change)

Now
For #1, I feel a Target Current system works better (Propaganda is something we will probably have, but I'm not sure it is good to have it as a requirement for the system to have key functionality of targeting a certain point)

For #2, I feel would ALSO be better served by a Target/Current System, because we can simply Change the Basic Rate of change

ie, have a Target-Current System where only 1% of the Difference goes away... so it'll take ~70 turns to get from neutral to halfway extreme if the Target is Fully extreme.

If you make it so that All alignments start out at 0 (on a -100 to +100 scale), then that essentially models your system*. But it allows the "Target" to be -20, +70, etc. Without requiring a Propaganda system

*The elements it models are
1. Slow buildup of Alignment over time, History very significant compared to current situation
2. "Less extreme" settings (+20 Target instead of +80 Target) will result in slower movement towards that target from neutral (although they will "reach" both targets in the same amount of time)
3. Propaganda spending Could still be used to Fine Tune Alignments (or probably better Species Relations directly)... but Propaganda would not be required...(you can also fine tune your strategy itself) if we wanted to we could put limits on it (ie Propaganda is limited to +-10 to the Target)


PS I do like the Idea of spending Propaganda to speed up change towards target as well as altering the Target itself.



eleazar wrote:2 directional alignments require fine tuning, which is bad
As for the idea that "Your means for controlling Alignment are Indirect"
I thought that was the idea...Alignment is a Cost/Characterization of your strategy.

There are many possible strategies in FO
some will be highly "bloodthirsty" some will be highly "pacifistic" some will be "middle of the road"

If you diplomatically want to aim for any type of a "middle of the road" (ie you actually care what more than one species thinks) Then you must choose a strategy that fits with that.

If Ethos are never paired, then If there is a Warlike Ethos, and a 'seperate' Pacifistic Ethos (which there Should be), any action that adds to one should probably subtract from the other... so it is effectively the same just more complicated.
(ie I want 100 Warlike and 100 Pacifistic, but that is impossible.. so I have to balance them, is 60 Warlike and 40 Pacifistic what I need, or is 20 Warlike 80 Pacifistic what I need, etc.)

I can see the possibility for some Ethoi values that Are unpaired, but there is no need to unpair all of them

(If you want the Alignment:Ethos effect to always be positive then just do that...)
Affect on Allegiance = (200 - |Empire Alignment-Species Ethos Value|)/X
(assuming the scale runs from +100 to -100)

Note: Propaganda (on the other hand) should probably not affect Alignment, instead it should affect Species Relations (ie so more Spending is always good)

Also: I do think that Most of the time the best benefit will be to go for the extremes.. since generally empires are primarily populated with a single species, and The opinion of your own species is usually more important than the opinion of the species of another empire.

So the essence of the system still holds.

As for Fine tuning Alignments, I think that means you Need to Fine tune your strategy itself
This is the key idea, that the species in your empire (and in your neighbohood) restrict your strategy

Now you should have Some Flexibility in that strategy ie you have some "base happiness", and things like Propaganda can give you additional Flexibility (basically Spending to get Allegiance rather than manipulating your Alignment to get Allegiance)



TLDR

to Big Joe: a Slow 'Historical Buildup' of Alignment (similar to your system) is compatible with a Target/Current Alignment meter with a slow exponential decay, and it doesn't require Propaganda to fine tune (you can fine tune by fine tuning your strategy itself.)

to Eleazar: Even if Ethos aren't 2 directional, many actions will have opposing effects on different Alignments (because many Ethos are 'naturally' opposing)... meaning there will still be a need to fine tune, and having a seperate "Warlike" Ethos and "Pacifistic" Ethos just makes things more complicated.

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Re: Simulating Citizens

#277 Post by eleazar » Fri Feb 12, 2010 8:48 pm

Krikkitone wrote:
eleazar wrote:2 directional alignments require fine tuning, which is bad
As for the idea that "Your means for controlling Alignment are Indirect"
I thought that was the idea...Alignment is a Cost/Characterization of your strategy.
Indeed it is the idea.
I don't have a problem with indirect control itself-- just with a system in which indirect control is all you have, and it is inadequate.
Krikkitone wrote:If Ethos are never paired, then If there is a Warlike Ethos, and a 'seperate' Pacifistic Ethos (which there Should be), any action that adds to one should probably subtract from the other... so it is effectively the same just more complicated.
Yes, that is effectively the same thing.
I disagree that we "should" have particular alignment scales, like Bloodthirsty and Pacifistic, even though they cause problems. It's hard to get away from the idea of those two because we've been using them as examples for so long. I believe that it is entirely possible to make an good alignment system where none of the scales are natural opposites of any other. And for the reasons in my previous post, i believe it is necessary.

Just to show that we don't need to use pairs of opposites at all, i've created a quick list of alignments, which no doubt could and should be improved:
  • Technological: having the most and highest level techs
    Economic: producing and having the most trade
    Militaristic: having the most powerful and numerous troops, ships and defenses
    Expansionistic: having the most planets and/or the highest population
    Exploratory: having explored most of the systems, especially having been there first
    Diplomatic: having the most treaties especially major treaties like alliances
    Diverse: having the most number of species, especially if not slaves
    Trustworthy: breaking the fewest treaties, and being caught in the least espionage
Note especially that "Militaristic" and "Expansionistic" would work for species that might have formerly got the "Bloodthirsty" ethos, and "Diplomatic" and "Diverse" isn't too far off from the flavor of "Pacifistic", though none of these are opposites.
Krikkitone wrote:(If you want the Alignment:Ethos effect to always be positive then just do that...)
That's not what i mean. If every scale is composed of opposites, i.e being more bloodthirsty alienates all pacifists, then any alignment shift will have both a positive and negative effect. That's what i want to avoid.

Krikkitone wrote:Also: I do think that Most of the time the best benefit will be to go for the extremes.. since generally empires are primarily populated with a single species, and The opinion of your own species is usually more important than the opinion of the species of another empire.
It is likely that most empires will have a majority of one species. But that doesn't mean you can blithely incite the rest of your empire to rebel. Especially since in FO the benefits of multi-species empires are greater than in MoO. Consider our EP system where a variety of species make your corner of the galaxy much more easily colonized


PS. The TLDR blurb is a good idea for these long posts.

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Re: Simulating Citizens

#278 Post by Krikkitone » Fri Feb 12, 2010 9:51 pm

TLDR
You Always have to fine tune Everything in a 4X game if you want to be 'analoptimal', there is no way we can reduce that (every system that is in the game will be something players want to fine tune..if we don't want them fine tuning it, it shouldn't be in the game at all. Period.)
However, you Can have a degree of flexibility so that if you are Close to the 'ao' point you still get Most of the benefits. (by having things be continuous and carrying over rather than hard thresholds)
There is no reason Alignments/Allegiance/Happiness should be any different from Economic management/Ship building/Tactical combat in that sense.


eleazar wrote:
  • Technological: having the most and highest level techs
    Economic: producing and having the most trade
    Militaristic: having the most powerful and numerous troops, ships and defenses
    Expansionistic: having the most planets and/or the highest population
    Exploratory: having explored most of the systems, especially having been there first
    Diplomatic: having the most treaties especially major treaties like alliances
    Diverse: having the most number of species, especially if not slaves
    Trustworthy: breaking the fewest treaties, and being caught in the least espionage
Note especially that "Militaristic" and "Expansionistic" would work for species that might have formerly got the "Bloodthirsty" ethos, and "Diplomatic" and "Diverse" isn't too far off from the flavor of "Pacifistic", though none of these are opposites.
Krikkitone wrote:(If you want the Alignment:Ethos effect to always be positive then just do that...)
That's not what i mean. If every scale is composed of opposites, i.e being more bloodthirsty alienates all pacifists, then any alignment shift will have both a positive and negative effect. That's what i want to avoid.
Anything that Affects Alignment SHOULD involve a trade-off.

Maybe getting more Bloodthirsty will make one of your species rebel
Maybe getting more Bloodthirsty will encourage your neighbors to cut of trade with you
Maybe getting more Bloodthirsty requires you to enact a strategy that you see as suboptimal

All of these are Trade offs that involve an Alignment shift

PS a big problem with that list is its a "Victory Conditions" list... in all of those cases you are making your population more happy by getting closer to winning the game. (very bad slippery slope wise)

Also, those still involve tradeoffs...If I cut research spending to build more ships, to please the militaristic race, then the Tech race will be mad at me...
Well it looks like I have to fine tune my Tech rate v. my Military production.....

Fine tuning is already in the game, you have to fine tune the balance between 5 different resources to fit your strategy.
I don't see what's wrong with having to fine tune your Internal Political and Diplomatic actions to fit the Ethos of the races in and around your empire.


If the Balancing act required is too difficult, then make Happiness less powerful, or provide some extra source of Happiness

Difficulty Level seems best... Easy game=+50 Target Happiness to all worlds, Impossible Game=-50 Target Happiness.
In the Easy game you can be conducting continuous war and your pacifist species might have a minor riot on a minor world occasionally.
In the Impossible one, Keeping both a Pacifist and a Militarist species in the same empire is practically impossible, unless one of them is crushed under the iron boot, or you are spending MASSIVE amounts of trade)



Note: Happiness=/= just "do not rebel" it also gives Espionage resistance when High...
so if I have a Pacifist and a Militarist in the same Empire

+20 Militarist makes the Pacifist Rebel
-20 Militarist makes the Militarist Rebel

But Just because they are Rebelling doesn't mean I have to avoid that point, maybe I'll go +25 Militarist and then keep Garrisons of my troops on the Pacifist worlds.... It means I have to replace those Troops, but I'm willing to live with that expense.

Indeed it should be possible to operate with your Whole Empire in Low-level Rebellion (although Very dangerous because you would be more vulnerable to enemy espionage)... Basically a mass military state

If you want to talk about Fine tuning, talk about the fact that worlds have two different Economic Focuses... what on earth is that about?...36 different possible economic settings for a single world, Dozens of worlds in an empire... Way too much fine tuning needed.
But Thats OK because we talk about Stockpiles (although Industry+Research can't stockpile) and all sorts of other methods of keeping "1% error" from being a major game changer.
Because Change is slow, you choose a set of economic settings that fit with your overall long term strategy instead of rebalancing for right now, each turn.
The same thing with Alignment, you chose an Alignment setting that fits with your overall long term strategy (both diplopolitically and game victory wise). Because it changes slowly..its 'OK' not to fine tune it. You just get it approximately what you want, and rebalance it every dozen turns or so.. or more likely when a new option comes up...same as Economy.

TLDR
You Always have to fine tune Everything in a 4X game if you want to be 'analoptimal', there is no way we can reduce that (every system that is in the game will be something players want to fine tune..if we don't want them fine tuning it, it shouldn't be in the game at all. Period.)
However, you Can have a degree of flexibility so that if you are Close to the 'ao' point you still get Most of the benefits. (by having things be continuous and carrying over rather than hard thresholds)
There is no reason Alignments/Allegiance/Happiness should be any different from Economic management/Ship building/Tactical combat in that sense.

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Re: Simulating Citizens

#279 Post by Bigjoe5 » Fri Feb 12, 2010 10:54 pm

I havnn't had time to go over everything after my previous post - this is just a response to something before then which should have been included in my previous post
RonaldX wrote:Let me give you a better and more direct example of why growth rates are funky: No equal and opposite reactions.

Let's say you have a planet with a stable happiness level of 50. It gets blockaded and the happiness drops while it is blockaded.

If the blockade is removed in a growth rate system, the negative growth from being blockaded goes away, but the happiness stays down in the gutter because there is nothing to bring it back up, unless you apply some sort of "reverse un-blockade" factor with the opposite growth rate to bring it back up.
This isn't what happens in my system at all. Happiness is still a classic meter, so if a blockade reduces happiness (presumably by decreasing target happiness), then happiness will recover to its original value after the blockade has been lifted (due to the current moving towards the renewed target). This is what should be expected to happen in this case, because specific planets shouldn't be subject to drastic and permanent changes which are different from those which affect other planets of the same species. If this were the case, and unhappiness from a blockade (and other temporary happiness modifiers) was permanent, the player would have to pay far too much attention to each individual planet, and managing the details of each would amount to a lot of boring micro. This is in contrast to alignment scales, of which there is only one of each kind per empire, so keeping track of each one is not a repetitive micro-hassle. This response also applies to the other happiness example you mentioned.
RonaldX wrote:These are examples aside from having constantly drifting attributes that will eventually float beyond where you would want them, despite the fact that you aren't doing anything to encourage them to, or maybe are not moving when you are encouraging them to.. for example:

I'm behaving neutrally, at war with one enemy and allied with another. My warlike scale growth rate is zero. If I go to war with both enemies, my scale shifts towards warlike. The war ends with one and I go back to being neutral.. I don't start tending back to neutrality, the growth rate simply returns to zero and I stay warlike (even though I'm acting neutrally), unless I end both wars and ally with both opponents until I get back to neutral again.
1) As I mentioned, if the player didn't either declare war himself or actively endorse the war, it will have no effect on his alignment (and this should be the case in any system). This means that the empire can maintain a neutral level for that alignment even if one of his allies declares war on him. If the empire in question is strategically impelled to declare war on the ally himself however, it is good that he should have to weigh the benefits of starting this war with the potential shift in alignment and the corresponding drop in one or more of his species' allegiance, as well as what he'll have to do to get his alignment back to where he wants it. This is comparable to an empire changing some of his trade foci to industry so he can quickly build some warships - is the cut to espionage worth the extra ships, and how can I maybe get another source of trade to compensate?

2) You're implying that the only way for the player to get back to the neutral level after a brief war is to make peace for a similar amount of time. This is not the case, since the player has several options. He can, for example, actively do pacifistic things, which will lower his current bloodthirst alignment directly. You're also assuming that the player's previous position in the middle was simply due to a growth rate of 0. More likely, it was a slight negative growth, accounted for by Bloodthirsty actions the empire took in his war. Now that he's a bit above 50 bloodthirstiness, he needs to cut back on those bloodthirsty actions to appear neutral again. Having to weigh the benefit of military action against its effect on alignment is part of the strategic interest of the system, and part of the limitations which are (and should be) naturally placed on the player when he decides to have species of incompatible ethoi in his empire.
I'm just not a fan of designed instability. You're saying that "I designed this system to be unstable, and propaganda is the bandaid that makes it controllable", which isn't particularily appealing.
What I'm saying is that I designed this system so that an average empire will gradually shift to one end of the alignment scale or the other, and propaganda is the macro-tool that allows greater flexibility for empires who want to stay near the middle of the scale. I don't think of this as "instability" - it is just stable in a different way than if there was a target.

Consider the end of the game, when the majority of the players have species in their empire all of the same ethos (or at least not of opposing ethoi, i.e. having some ethical preferences which are the opposite of what the other has). Naturally, this late in the game, the allegiance of all of those species will be very high - at this point, higher than their allegiance to diplomatic empire (who will therefore be using diplomacy in a different way than simple extortion at this point). What you're saying is that any fluctuation in the super-elitist-bloodthirsty empire's policies should move them away from maximum allegiance. A few fewer wars, changing a few status settings for whatever reason (which really should be a viable option at this point), and suddenly, bam - an allegiance of 75 instead of 100. That's going to make his planets easy pickings for other empires with similar characteristics, towards whom his citizens will now have a higher allegiance, and therefore give militia support. In addition, he'll have much lower happiness than everyone else too, making him a prime target for espionage.

Are you saying that an empire shouldn't have the flexibility to act only mildly according to his alignments in the end game? The fact is that my system based on growth rates is more stable in the endgame than a sum-of-all-parts system, and that stability allows empires in the endgame more flexibility to carry out their strategies without being forced into a rigid going-through-the-motions strategy that maxes out their allegiance, but doesn't really allow for a lot of interesting strategic variety. What I'm saying is, it should be fairly easy to keep alignment maxed out in the endgame, because this gives the empire more strategic flexibility, which I would argue he should have without any additional cost (in trade, or to allegiance) if he is only trying to please a single species.
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Re: Simulating Citizens

#280 Post by Krikkitone » Fri Feb 12, 2010 11:26 pm

Bigjoe5 wrote:I
Consider the end of the game, when the majority of the players have species in their empire all of the same ethos (or at least not of opposing ethoi, i.e. having some ethical preferences which are the opposite of what the other has). Naturally, this late in the game, the allegiance of all of those species will be very high - at this point, higher than their allegiance to diplomatic empire (who will therefore be using diplomacy in a different way than simple extortion at this point). What you're saying is that any fluctuation in the super-elitist-bloodthirsty empire's policies should move them away from maximum allegiance. A few fewer wars, changing a few status settings for whatever reason (which really should be a viable option at this point), and suddenly, bam - an allegiance of 75 instead of 100. That's going to make his planets easy pickings for other empires with similar characteristics, towards whom his citizens will now have a higher allegiance, and therefore give militia support. In addition, he'll have much lower happiness than everyone else too, making him a prime target for espionage.

Are you saying that an empire shouldn't have the flexibility to act only mildly according to his alignments in the end game? The fact is that my system based on growth rates is more stable in the endgame than a sum-of-all-parts system, and that stability allows empires in the endgame more flexibility to carry out their strategies without being forced into a rigid going-through-the-motions strategy that maxes out their allegiance, but doesn't really allow for a lot of interesting strategic variety. What I'm saying is, it should be fairly easy to keep alignment maxed out in the endgame, because this gives the empire more strategic flexibility, which I would argue he should have without any additional cost (in trade, or to allegiance) if he is only trying to please a single species.
"Maxing out" allegiance Should limit your strategies at ANY point in the game, from early to late.

For any Species, Certain strategies will allow the player to "Max allegiance" other strategies will have an Allegiance Cost if done with that Race.

That Allegiance cost will Often be worth it, sometimes it will not.

The point is that Allegiance is not the End all and Be all of the game.

Max Allegiance is nice, but Max Tech is nice too.
Max military size is also nice, as is Max population.
Max Trade output would be good as well.

If I do something to change my Target Alignment so that Allegiance from an important race goes down
1. That change will take time (Target has been changed not Current) to have effect so if I only deviate for a short while, then it wn't be a problem
2. If I am doing that thing, presumably it has an advantage... that advantage should balance out the cost (in terms of getting closer to the finish line) or I should not do it.

IF you really want a system that only reaches extreme alignments in the End game, then give the change ~1% exponential decay instead of 5%, or have it move 0.5 per turn instead of 1.

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Re: Simulating Citizens

#281 Post by Bigjoe5 » Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:05 am

Krikkitone wrote:"Maxing out" allegiance Should limit your strategies at ANY point in the game, from early to late.
The tradeoff is between allegiances of different species, which further leads to trade-offs in resources, population, etc. It would be nice to have the Luff in my empire for their mining bonus, but their ethos is totally incompatible with the Psilons', so I can only end up having two of the three advantages: Increased mining, increased research or increased allegiance. There doesn't need to be a trade-off between keeping races of compatible ethoi happy, vs. increasing production/diplomatic flexibility/whatever, because all of that is already an inherent trade-off in deciding which species to have in your empire. Duplicating a strategic trade-off which is already present doesn't contribute to the strategic game at all, but only serves to purposelessly limit the players options, thus decreasing strategic variety.

edit: clarity
Last edited by Bigjoe5 on Sat Feb 13, 2010 3:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Simulating Citizens

#282 Post by RonaldX » Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:49 am

Bigjoe5 wrote:All your most recent post.
The reason I havn't been defending the sum-of-parts method is because nobody is attacking it.. It's logical and easy to follow on it's own. Your objection to it is that it doesn't gradually reinforce your strategy as the game progresses.. More on this below.

I get your thing on happiness being a classic meter, and presumably allegiance as well.. So only alignment is affected by growth rates? That simplifies things considerably in my eyes, but I still have a major objection to growth rates. I know you're going to disagree with it so I'm hesitant to even say it, because the problem I have is the whole reason you want to have them in there in the first place.

In both a sum-of-parts and growth rate system you'll have penalties/bonuses to allegiance for changing your alignment scales, but in a sum-of-parts system you can do it signifigantly easier, and in a more intuitive fashion, because a certain action will effect a defined change over a defined period of time, as opposed to effecting a defined rate of change over an undefined period of time. The whole "undefined period of time" thing is why I consider it unstable.

By having a player's alignment stabilize at the extreme at the end game, you aren't just locking them into an alignment, you're locking them into a strategy. Sure, it's the strategy they chose early on, but what if it isn't working anymore? What if they are fighting against two empires, and the first one they zerg over with vast fleets, but the second has been playing a developmental/tech strategy and has only a few planets with massively advanced defenses that stymie your fleets? Your military strategy is now just slamming your head into a wall.. You need to approach this problem in a different fashion, but your alignment is locked into militarism so you get to eat major penalties for trying to win the game, at least for the 200 turns it takes for your alignments to slowly crawl towards values that support your new strategy.

You actually limit their strategic options by having the alignments stabilize at extremes, or force them to expend resources in order to counter their alignment "drift" throughout the game. A player should have the flexibility to alter his alignment scales relatively quickly by changing his behaviors if the situation calls for it.

Again, I know you are not going to back down come hell or high water, but I honestly believe a sum-of-parts system is easier for a player to grasp and control than a growth-rate one, and it gives continuity to alignment, allegiance, and happiness. Since they all end up effecting the same things in the end, I think continuity between them is important. All the benefits to gameplay you propose will come from a growth-rate system can be emulated in a sum-of-parts system through use of decay, which I considered central to the concept of sum-of-parts from the beginning anyways, without the uncertainty of the "undefined period of time" that I personally object to.

I've said my piece on this matter, and I believe at this point it's up to the programmers to decide which they prefer to use.

***

On the point of having Alignment scales be individual attributes rather than paired opposites, I have no objections, and I see the benefit from it, but a trade-off is typically implied. This would require a rethinking of the ethos system.. If "more is better", then races who are pacifist would just "not care" if you acted more warlike. It would give a bonus to your warlike races, and not effect the pacifist ones. I'm alright with that, but then your actions are going to give a plus/minus to different scales, which effects the same result, rendering the whole thing a big step up in complexity to no different end.

I'm just not sure on how it would be implemented.

As far as indirect vs direct control of alignment factors, the easiest way to handle this is to limit which things actually affect your alignment. If your elitist/egalitarian alignment is composed of only 3 different decisions (% of races enslaved, % of races endorsed, government type), then it becomes a simple job to adjust one thing or another to change your alignments. The more junk you add into these determinations, the more difficult your alignment becomes to consciously control, because it will be running all over the place based on decisions you make which are only peripherally related to alignment. Ie. If my warlike/peaceful alignments are changed slightly every time I start a battle, in the end game that could cause a huge swing in a single turn if I decide on a cheap fighter rush of multiple planets, while I could pound through an entire empire with a single death fleet doing 1 fight per turn and still be considered peaceful. Have only a few, significant factors which are the most important for determining alignment actually be counted, and the system becomes pretty easy to control.

-Ty.

Edit: clarity.

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Re: Simulating Citizens

#283 Post by eleazar » Sat Feb 13, 2010 3:13 am

Krikkitone wrote:
eleazar wrote:
Krikkitone wrote:(If you want the Alignment:Ethos effect to always be positive then just do that...)
That's not what i mean. If every scale is composed of opposites, i.e being more bloodthirsty alienates all pacifists, then any alignment shift will have both a positive and negative effect. That's what i want to avoid.
Anything that Affects Alignment SHOULD involve a trade-off.

Maybe getting more Bloodthirsty will make one of your species rebel
Maybe getting more Bloodthirsty will encourage your neighbors to cut of trade with you
Maybe getting more Bloodthirsty requires you to enact a strategy that you see as suboptimal

All of these are Trade offs that involve an Alignment shift
This is not much to the point. What is the trade off of having more ships? What's the trade off when you research a new tech or build a new wonder? Over all (some specific instances may be exceptions) the trade off is the fact that you have limited resources, and you have to choose weather to build ships, buildings or do research, or whatever else.

The non-opposite alignment system is just like that. There is no automatic trade off to doing a lot of exploration (i.e. increasing your Exploratory Alignment), but the effort you put into that can't be put into increasing other alignment scales. The player is free to divide his effort between the various alignment scales however he wishes, but he won't have the resources to max out all alignments, even though the system theoretically allows any number of alignments to be maxed.

RonaldX wrote:On the point of having Alignment scales be individual attributes rather than paired opposites, I have no objections, and I see the benefit from it, but a trade-off is typically implied. This would require a rethinking of the ethos system.. If "more is better", then races who are pacifist would just "not care" if you acted more warlike. It would give a bonus to your warlike races, and not effect the pacifist ones. I'm alright with that, but then your actions are going to give a plus/minus to different scales, which effects the same result, rendering the whole thing a big step up in complexity to no different end.
As i told Krikkitone, yes, if we had a "bloodthirsty" and "pacifistic" scale even if technically separate, it would be effectively the same thing as the original paired-opposite two-ended alignment scale. That's why my proposal requires that alignments scales be chosen that include no inherent opposites. I.E. there is either no "bloodthirsty" or there is no "pacifistic" or both of these are not included. Fortunately that pair is the only really compelling example of natural opposites, some of the others were rather forced.

To allow easier editing i'm putting my work in progress of non-paired alignment scales on a wiki page. Note that i currently have 11, not all of them will make the cut, but none are opposites.

RonaldX wrote:As far as indirect vs direct control of alignment factors, the easiest way to handle this is to limit which things actually affect your alignment. If your elitist/egalitarian alignment is composed of only 3 different decisions (% of races enslaved, % of races endorsed, government type), then it becomes a simple job to adjust one thing or another to change your alignments. The more junk you add into these determinations, the more difficult your alignment becomes to consciously control, because it will be running all over the place based on decisions you make which are only peripherally related to alignment.
This is a valid point, factors chosen to effect alignments should be distinct and obvious.
RonaldX wrote:If my warlike/peaceful alignments are changed slightly every time I start a battle, in the end game that could cause a huge swing in a single turn if I decide on a cheap fighter rush of multiple planets, while I could pound through an entire empire with a single death fleet doing 1 fight per turn and still be considered peaceful.
I think that is an example of a badly designed (i.e. easily exploitable) alignment scale. Two scouts fighting should not weigh equally with the destruction of a huge battle fleet and the glassing of 4 planets, though they both could be a single battle. While the factors that effect the scales should be as easy to understand as possible, it shouldn't make you just through arbitrary hoops which are counter-intuitive to the common-sense meaning of the alignment lablel.

RonaldX
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Re: Simulating Citizens

#284 Post by RonaldX » Sat Feb 13, 2010 3:32 am

@ Eleazar

I'm with you on the non-opposite alignment deal now. Persistant effects would just push up the relevant alignment scale, while one-time effects would bump it up temporarily and then it would decay at some rate.. In essence, you have to act persistantly warlike to be considered warlike. The only thing to be careful about is deciding which effects push up the relevant scales and making them, as you said, distinct and obvious.

No problems with this.

-Ty.

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Re: Simulating Citizens

#285 Post by Bigjoe5 » Sat Feb 13, 2010 3:55 am

Probably big huge post coming in the next 24 hours, addressing just about everything on this page, but I just really wanted to point something out first:
RonaldX wrote:By having a player's alignment stabilize at the extreme at the end game, you aren't just locking them into an alignment, you're locking them into a strategy. Sure, it's the strategy they chose early on, but what if it isn't working anymore? What if they are fighting against two empires, and the first one they zerg over with vast fleets, but the second has been playing a developmental/tech strategy and has only a few planets with massively advanced defenses that stymie your fleets? Your military strategy is now just slamming your head into a wall.. You need to approach this problem in a different fashion, but your alignment is locked into militarism so you get to eat major penalties for trying to win the game, at least for the 200 turns it takes for your alignments to slowly crawl towards values that support your new strategy.
I'd very much like to point out that this example doesn't make any sense, and when the underlying fallacy is corrected, it's actually an effective argument in favour of my proposal:

You state that the player will suffer penalties for using a strategy that counters his alignment, until the 200-odd turns have passed for his alignment to shift to the other end. Exactly the opposite is true. The player will not "eat major penalties for trying to win the game" because the penalties you're talking about don't come from having a strategy that's counter to your alignment. They come from having an alignment that conflicts with the ethos of the species in your empire. Because the player's alignment is so stable at the end of the game, he isn't forced to just slam his head against the wall, and he is free to approach the problem in a different fashion, without incurring significant allegiance penalties (which as you've said, is as it should be). At least for the 200 turns it takes for his alignments to slowly crawl towards values that reflect his new strategy. The opposite is true when alignment is governed by a current-target system, because current values will start to drop towards target as soon as the player stops being fanatically warlike, whereas in my system, the player in question can choose anything between fanatical and neutral without being penalized (the strategic tradeoff as always, being that he can't get any non-zurg (zerg?)-like species to work effectively in his empire and take advantage of their bonuses).
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