Simulating Citizens

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RonaldX
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Re: Simulating Citizens

#286 Post by RonaldX » Sat Feb 13, 2010 4:35 am

Bigjoe5 wrote:Your post
All well and good, but I still don't like growth rates (undefined period of time = instability), and you still don't like sum-of-parts (I still don't know why, really). Both systems work in different ways towards different ends. We disagree on what the final result should be, and either one solution or the other will be chosen by the guys actually programming the game. I don't have enough emotionally invested in the game that I'll feel heartbroken if they choose to go with growth rates.

I prefer set values with decay, you prefer drifting values. Again, both work, just to different ends. I don't care to argue it for another five pages. I consider the matter to be out of my hands.

-Ty.

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Re: Simulating Citizens

#287 Post by Bigjoe5 » Sat Feb 13, 2010 5:30 pm

eleazar wrote: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.
Is it really in that empire's best interests to go just exactly so far and no further? Who's to say that a Bloodthirstiness of 25 will be so much worse than a Bloodthirstiness of 20? Sure, the Pacifists comprise more of your empire, so their allegiance is more important, but a significant amount of espionage can still be done on a single world, and that extra happiness on the Bloodthirsty planets may come in handy. And if anything bad should happen on one of those planets, wouldn't it be nice to have a bit of a happiness buffer before massive riots, or even espionage-incited rebellions occur? My point is that the player can't predict exactly what alignment value will end up being the best - he just has to pick a general range that conforms with his strategy. This means that there is no nitpicky micro involved to get the most out of the system because what "the most" actually depends on are factors totally beyond the player's control, such as random happiness-modifying events and enemy espionage, which in turn means that keeping alignment in a specific range nearer to one extreme (20 - 30) is no more difficult or micro than keeping it around the middle (45-55), which is something you already said is OK if the player decides to do it.
eleazar wrote: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.
Since there is no way for the player to be sure that a "specific point" is always going to be better, since it is based largely on external events, are you still compelled to say that the tools the player has for manipulating the variable are insufficient for keeping it within an acceptable, desirable range?
eleazar wrote: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.
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
The problem with this, as Krikkitone points out, is that
Krikkitone wrote: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)
Aside from the "slippery slope" detail, it also makes the whole idea of allegiance/alignment somewhat pointless.
eleazar wrote: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.
That's exactly the problem. That kind of "resource distribution tradeoff" is already there. If the player chooses more technology over more warships, he's already making that choice of how to use his resources, and adding a further, very similar layer to that strategic decision is superfluous, even counterproductive. However, the additional strategic interest which is added by pairs of opposing alignments is very different and much more interesting.

Consider this scenario:

Blue empire contains a bloodthirsty xenophobic race with mining and industry bonuses. Early on in the game, he captures a pacifistic diplomatic race with research and farming bonuses. He now has a few choices:

-He can incorporate the new race into his empire, and use them for farming and research. If he chooses this option, he will lose strategic flexibility due to having to maintain a neutral bloodthirstiness and elitism, but he will also gain a different kind of strategic flexibility by having lots more food and research points.

-He can exterminate the new race. This option will allow him to continue with his militaristic strategy and maximize his allegiance from his bloodthirsty xenophobes, but at the cost of the extra resources he could have acquired. However, being able to keep happiness and allegiance at maximum in the later game may well be worth this sacrifice.

-He can enslave the new race (assuming enslaving the race makes it unhappy, but allows fewer rebel ground troops to be spawned for a given level of unhappiness, and decreases the probability of full-scale rebellion for a given level of allegiance, with the downside to the unhappiness being terribly low espionage defense. Unhappiness may be effected directly, by lowering the species-empire alignment, or both). This option will still allow him to get farming and research bonuses, but with the drawbacks that he probably won't quite be able to get all the way to extreme allegiance and happiness from his bloodthirsty xenophobes (not without some good happiness-boosting techs, or fairly high species-empire alignment with the pacifists, at least), he will probably have to keep extra troops garrisoned on the slave planets just in case, and the slave planets will be significantly more vulnerable to espionage than anything in his empire would have been otherwise (there's your tradeoff for lower statuses, btw).

These options are strategically engaging and offer a variety of interesting possibilities.

If there are no paired opposites for alignment though, look what happens to this scenario:

Blue empire contains a technological economic race with research and trade bonuses. Early in the game, he captures a militaristic expansionistic race with mining and industry bonuses. He now has a few choices:

-He can incorporate the new race into his empire. To keep them happy, he'll have to build a few more warships and capture a few more planets, but that's fine, since he can use his advanced technology and high trade level (either with diplomacy or espionage) to help him with this. The fact that he now gets a mining and industry bonus will also make this a lot easier, since he can just use his extra resources to build the warships.

-He can exterminate the new race. He's free to focus on espionage and research now, and go for the secluded tech victory, while keeping his opponents at bay with espionage, but of course this strategy wouldn't really have been hampered, and perhaps would have been enhanced by having a few extra warships around.

-He can enslave the new race. Again, he's free to focus on research and espionage, and plus he gets the added bonus of having a few extra warships around, since his industry-mining race is still very productive.

These options are strategically very similar, and the decision becomes very bland.

Why is this the case? The answer is that by incorporating a species into your empire, you're also receiving the additional resources you need to please that species, so the "tradeoff" is that when you get extra resources, you have to use them in order to keep the species that produced them for you happy. With paired opposites, it's always an interesting tradeoff between strategic flexibility, extra resources, or defense against strategies that prey on planets with low allegiance/happiness.

Since this is the case, and since the ability to fine-tune alignment with paired opposites is not really needed, as I explained above, I feel that having paired-opposite alignments would be much more interesting and worthwhile than having only monoscalar alignments.
Krikkitone wrote: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.)
My system doesn't "require" propaganda to fine tune. It can be fine-tuned just as easily as any system in which the values are a direct result of the player's actions. Nor does it require multiple policy changes to do so, since the growth rate is only one way of manipulating the system - the other way is through immediate actions which affect the current value of the meter. Because this is the case, ensuring that your alignment stays within a certain range is no more than simply ensuring that your strategy stays within a certain range, and is just as fine-tunable as any other system (though fine fine-tuning is quite unnecessary, as I've pointed out, and would lead to unnecessary restrictions and micromanagement in any system).

You are correct however, that a slow historical buildup of alignment is, to a certain extent, compatible with a target-current system for alignment. However, there are a couple of things that it doesn't do that I would really like to see happen, in terms of what alignment values tend to be throughout the game. One of them is illustrated nicely by RonaldX's example, a revised version of which I will reiterate here:

The player is controlling an empire with a bloodthirsty race, and is fighting two other empires. The first, he zurgs (zergs?)-over with fast fleets, but the second has been playing a developmental/tech strategy and has only a few planets with massively advanced defenses (or more likely, a small group of planets, separated from the rest of the empire by a choke-point system with massively advanced defenses) that stymie his fleets. His military strategy is now just slamming his head into a wall. He needs to approach this problem in a different fashion, but unless he continues to act warlike - and not just warlike, but extremely warlike - his target bloodthirst will drop instantly (a drop to 50 would be the equivalent of no change in a growth-current system), and his current bloodthirst will slowly follow until his planets start becoming less and less happy with him. Because he has incurred this penalty for trying to win the game, his planets are now more vulnerable to the secluded empire's spies, which will be used to wreak havoc in his empire. Essentially, the player has been worked into a situation where changing from a bad strategy to a good one is actually a bad strategy.

Admittedly, I'm making that situation seem a bit worse than it actually is. The penalty to happiness wouldn't be all that severe due to the slow rate of alignment growth, and it probably still would be more advantageous to change strategies, but I really don't think there should be that kind of inflexibility thrust on the player in the endgame, even if it is to a somewhat lesser (but still significant) extent.

The second issue I have is how insanely difficult it would be to max out allegiance in the first place.
Krikkitone wrote: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.
Well, the player can get max mining, max industry, max trade, max research, and max farming. By having lots and lots of different races in his empire. But if he does that, there's no conceivable way he's going to have max allegiance, and therefore max happiness/espionage defense, max ground combat (due to militia bonuses), etc. Also, it should probably be easier to boost species-empire alignment of species that aren't in your empire, so that diplomatic empires who have high allegiance from everyone won't also be able to have high mining, industry, trade, etc. That makes another interesting tradeoff. Since these tradeoffs are already there, it's pointless to have them reiterated for single-species empires, who have already made the decision to go without the bonuses of multi-species empires, and should therefore get to have the bonus of single species empires.

If a current-target system is used for alignment, then the player will have to act perfectly bloodthirsty for an extended period of time to get to max bloodthirstiness, which adds an unnecessary limitation to the player's strategic flexibility for the sake of creating a strategic tradeoff that's already implicit in having chosen a single-species empire. In a growth-current system, the player who acts bloodthirsty will inevitably get to max bloodthirstiness eventually, and get the allegiance and happiness bonuses that he deserves for putting up with the other inflexibilities of having a single-species empire.
Krikkitone wrote: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.
That really doesn't help the fact that the player still needs to stay extremely bloodthirsty to get to max bloothirstiness, which is an unnecessary strategic limitation.
RonaldX wrote:I get your thing on happiness being a classic meter, and presumably allegiance as well.
No. Allegiance is a purely calculated value, with only a current value, based on current alignment. A growth rate for allegiance might also be displayed to the player, derived from the growth rates of the alignment scales.
RonaldX wrote:The reason I havn't been defending the sum-of-parts method is because nobody is attacking it.

....

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 have explained above, just now, why the sum-of-parts/current-target system does not emulate all the benefits to gameplay which I propose will come from a growth-current system. This could be considered an "attack" on the sum-of-parts method, which needs to be defended against. Also, it's hard to tell what you mean by "continuity" between alignment, allegiance and happiness. Is it simply that they are all classic current-target meters? If so, I don't see that as a really great justification for the sum-of-parts method.

Essentially, you're saying that the main reason you're opposed to a growth-current system and would favour a current-target system for alignment is that the growth-current system is "unstable", and this instability is caused by the inherent uncertainty present in the amount of time a given effect on the growth rate will continue to be in effect. I would argue that since the amount of time that a given effect is effective is determined by the length of time it is present, and that this length of time is entirely under the control of the player (who may or may not be compelled to leave it or change it based on various strategic factors), this system is not significantly more unstable than any system which is under the control of the player. Mineral production for example, has an effect on the mineral stockpile for an undefined period of time, and other factors (construction of ships and buildings) can also affect it's rate of growth. In this sense, it is just as unstable as the growth-current model of alignment.

My system also has a great deal of stability at the extreme ends of the alignment scale, whereas in any other system, the player has to be locked into a specific strategy to keep alignment stable, which you yourself stated in your example, is a bad thing because it leaves the player "beating his head into a wall" with the same strategy, because changing it would have detrimental effects. In my system, the player has additional strategic flexibility because of the inherent stability of my system at the extreme values.
Krikkitone wrote: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
I assume you mean there need only be three distinct types of factors (which may or may not be measured by a "meter", even in the looser definition of the term). In terms of what you have there, my system has

1. Alignment is "Ethical Compatibility Alignment", i.e. what actions an empire has taken that could relate to a species' subjective ethical preferences.
2. Species Treatment is "Species-Empire Alignment, i.e. what actions have I taken for/against this species specifically that would cause them to like/dislike me regardless of their subjective ethical preferences.
3. Local Conditions is rolled into "Happiness", since I don't see a huge need to track it separately (since the "drifting target problem" doesn't exist in my system, it's simpler to just roll up happiness into one meter).

Allegiance is an average of ethical compatibility (calculated from ethos vs. ethical compatibility alignments) and species-empire alignment (perhaps not necessarily weighted 50-50; certainly subject to balancing). It has no target value, and is not a classic meter (essentially, it's what you said).

Happiness is a classic meter with a target by default equal to the allegiance of the inhabiting species to the owning empire, but potentially modified by regular old effects groups as well, just like any meter. I think that this is adequate, since the "drifting target problem" is not an issue when alignment is calculated using a growth-current model and allegiance is a simple calculated number with no target.

I'd like to point out that my system is adequately controllable without propaganda, simply by controlling the actions of your empire (since there is no need to have alignment stay at an exact point, and the player can take specific actions which affect current meter without having to change policies to affect growth. Propaganda allows additional flexibility, and even allows some empires to make a whole strategy out of keeping allegiance of all species towards them at high levels. Essentially, it allows greater flexibility and strategic variety, while still maintaining the idea of strategic tradeoffs and sacrifices, which is exactly what this game should have.
RonaldX wrote:Again, I know you are not going to back down come hell or high water...
I have been known to change my mind in the past, given sufficiently logical arguments in favour of an opposing position:
Bigjoe5 wrote:
Geoff the Medio wrote:Destroying a homeworld, specifically, is a pretty significant event for a species. Not being able to make that just go away doesn't seem like a problem to me. Instead, you'd need to do something significantly good for the species to get a counterbalancing bonus to their allegiance.
I agree that the effect of such an event should be significant, but that doesn't imply that it shouldn't fade with time. It only seems natural and intuitive that the effect of any event would fade with time. A planet's current population doesn't remain lowered forever after it's been bombarded, so why should their allegiance towards the bombing empire? If current allegiance growth is very slow, there can still be significant, long-lasting effects which aren't irritatingly irreversible. Also, what kind of "significantly good" thing did you have in mind that might have a permanent affect on allegiance?
Edit:
RonaldX wrote:We disagree on what the final result should be...
I'm not sure we do, and I think that the example you gave in your previous post illustrates this. We both want a system with strategic tradeoffs, but where the player still has flexibility to try to actually win the game. As for not wanting to argue about how to go about that, well that's your decision.

Edit2: fixed parentheses
Last edited by Bigjoe5 on Sat Feb 13, 2010 7:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Krikkitone
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Re: Simulating Citizens

#288 Post by Krikkitone » Sat Feb 13, 2010 7:04 pm

TLDR
The whole Point of Ethos/Alignment/Allegiance is to have a means of limiting your strategic options (while opening up other strategic options that involve either expanding your own options or limiting those of other empires).
If the limitation is too severe that is a Balancing issue for the numbers, not a 'model issue'
also
Any factor that regularly changes throughout time should not be a component of any 'Target' Value.. EVER.
also
Quick summary of the 3 major NonExclusive potential 'amendments' to the system
Bigjoe5 wrote:
Krikkitone wrote: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.)
My system doesn't "require" propaganda to fine tune. It can be fine-tuned just as easily as any system in which the values are a direct result of the player's actions. Nor does it require multiple policy changes to do so, since the growth rate is only one way of manipulating the system - the other way is through immediate actions which affect the current value of the meter. Because this is the case, ensuring that your alignment stays within a certain range is no more than simply ensuring that your strategy stays within a certain range, and is just as fine-tunable as any other system (though fine fine-tuning is quite unnecessary, as I've pointed out, and would lead to unnecessary restrictions and micromanagement in any system.

You are correct however, that a slow historical buildup of alignment is, to a certain extent, compatible with a target-current system for alignment. However, there are a couple of things that it doesn't do that I would really like to see happen, in terms of what alignment values tend to be throughout the game. One of them is illustrated nicely by RonaldX's example, a revised version of which I will reiterate here:

The player is controlling an empire with a bloodthirsty race, and is fighting two other empires. The first, he zurgs (zergs?)-over with fast fleets, but the second has been playing a developmental/tech strategy and has only a few planets with massively advanced defenses (or more likely, a small group of planets, separated from the rest of the empire by a choke-point system with massively advanced defenses) that stymie his fleets. His military strategy is now just slamming his head into a wall. He needs to approach this problem in a different fashion, but unless he continues to act warlike - and not just warlike, but extremely warlike - his target bloodthirst will drop instantly (a drop to 50 would be the equivalent of no change in a growth-current system), and his current bloodthirst will slowly follow until his planets start becoming less and less happy with him. Because he has incurred this penalty for trying to win the game, his planets are now more vulnerable to the secluded empire's spies, which will be used to wreak havoc in his empire. Essentially, the player has been worked into a situation where changing from a bad strategy to a good one is actually a bad strategy.

Admittedly, I'm making that situation seem a bit worse than it actually is. The penalty to happiness wouldn't be all that severe due to the slow rate of alignment growth, and it probably still would be more advantageous to change strategies, but I really don't think there should be that kind of inflexibility thrust on the player in the endgame, even if it is to a somewhat lesser (but still significant) extent.

The second issue I have is how insanely difficult it would be to max out allegiance in the first place.
.
It wouldn't be insanely difficult, In both the initial system and yours it would merely require following a particular strategy for a particular length of time.

Also, the fact that your system says "once you are at 100 alignment" 0 v. extreme doesn't matter, I view as a weakness.

The way I see it,
At EVERY point in the game, maintaining max allegiance, should be possible but requires you to limit your strategy. You must balance higher allegiance with a suboptimal strategy. The key is making sure that no "Allegiance" costs too much/too little to maintain.

If a player with a Bloodthirsty race wants to shift to a passive strategy to win the game
1. The decreased Allegiance from that is the Cost of them using that strategy (just like a massive tech push Costs diversion from other resources)
2. If a player cannot maintain Bloodthirstiness and win the game, then We need to balance the impacts on Bloodthirstiness
3. If a player cannot maintain Bloodthirstiness and win the game using any strategy they want... that is not a problem, that is the GOAL of the system

A big difference between the "Growth rate" system and the "Target" system is your 'reward' for historical activity

Assume you have that Bloodthirsty Species containing empire, that has fought enough wars to get Bloodthirst to 100
Compare to a Bloodthirsty Species containing empire that has not (Bloodthirst is at 50)
They suddenly both shift to the same strategy

In a Growth rate system, the Warlike empire's benefit is a 'permanent' benefit (its at 100 and it will stay there unless you are peaceful enough to make it start dropping)

In a Target system, the benefit you have gotten is TIME. The Warlike Empire will Eventually end up like the non-Warlike one, but they have Time for it to change.
In this case "Current" Alignment is like a Stockpile..."Target" Alignment is like your production.

Also, and this is VERY important, in Both systems the more Warlike Empire presumably has been conducting a successful war so they have a bigger empire.

So If Big Warlike Empire needs to suddenly shift strategy, they will be more vulnerable to spies, but they will have a lot more resources to "catch up" to the small Tech/Econ empire. They probably won't need to catch up all the way either.. if they have 3x as many ships, then their ships can be 1/2 as combat effective.
Bigjoe5 wrote: 3. Local Conditions is rolled into "Happiness", since I don't see a huge need to track it separately (since the "drifting target problem" doesn't exist in my system, it's simpler to just roll up happiness into one meter).
The "Drifting Target" problem exists if Target Happiness depends on Current Allegiance.

ALWAYS... Because Current allegiance drifts (especially in your model)
This gives the problems of needing High school level math to understand the behavior of the Happiness meter.
You should need nothing more than 5-6th grade math to understand and predict how it will move (exponential decay should be the MOST complicated way a Current value moves

Also I assume Species-Empire Alignment would be a classic meter (ie you take damage and then it decays)


General observation:

It seems like we each have one particular change we want to make to the system, and none of them particularly are exclusive

IF you can add less than 2 lines to these, either adding your own "Rationale" if you support it, your own "Cons" or "Alternatives" if you don't

Big Joe: 'Growth Rate' Alignment instead of "Target" Alignment
Rationale: allow strategic flexibility particularly early and late game
Cons: limited ability to Target a 'range' [particular system allows this], loss of distinction between various strategies [which ties directly into the rationale]
Alternatives: decrease the actual impact of Alignment (ie balancing), make current->target slow and exponential to give extra 'historic' benefits.


Krikkitone: No 'Moving Target'
Rationale: a 'Moving Target' causes Complicated movements of Current values making the game less clearly predictable for players and designers
Cons: Extra 'term' in the sense of Local conditions (not to display but part of the Happiness breakdown) [may be partially helped through proper naming]
Alternatives: Components of Happiness, ie Allegiance are Constant and change instantly and completely when situations change.

Eleazar: No "Opposing" Ethos/Alignments
Rationale: 'Alignment' should always be good
Cons: Alignment will still require 'resource' tradeoffs and if 'more'='happier' there is a slippery slope problem, Also it limits species Ethoses severely if we can't have species hating something another species loves.
Alternatives:.I disagree with the rationale, so I'd say there are tradeoffs inherent in the system. If you don't want those trade offs, then maintain 'cultural purity' and prepare to battle your 'natural enemies'

Technically the system could have ALL of these ("Growth rate" based "unopposed" alignments with Happiness and Allegiance as calculated values insted of classic meters)

TLDR
The whole Point of Ethos/Alignment/Allegiance is to have a means of limiting your strategic options (while opening up other strategic options that involve either expanding your own options or limiting those of other empires).
If the limitation is too severe that is a Balancing issue for the numbers, not a 'model issue'
also
Any factor that regularly changes throughout time should not be a component of any 'Target' Value.. EVER.
also
Quick summary of the 3 major NonExclusive potential 'amendments' to the system

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Bigjoe5
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Re: Simulating Citizens

#289 Post by Bigjoe5 » Sat Feb 13, 2010 8:24 pm

Krikkitone wrote:The whole Point of Ethos/Alignment/Allegiance is to have a means of limiting your strategic options (while opening up other strategic options that involve either expanding your own options or limiting those of other empires).
If the limitation is too severe that is a Balancing issue for the numbers, not a 'model issue'
The model that's used greatly affects how things will be able to be balanced, and partially dictates how the system in question will create strategic interest throughout the game. If the model itself has an issue that creates an undesirable result (creating a superfluous and limiting strategic "tradeoff" for example), that is a "model issue", not just a balancing issue.
Krikkitone wrote:It wouldn't be insanely difficult, In both the initial system and yours it would merely require following a particular strategy for a particular length of time.
No, in my system, you just need to follow a moderately bloodthirsty strategy for a long time to eventually reach max bloodthirstiness. In a current-target system, you need to follow an extremely bloodthirsty strategy for a long time to eventually reach max bloodthirstiness, and anything less than perfect bloodthirstiness will result in a sub-optimal bloodthirstiness alignment no matter how long you maintain it. "Merely" following a particular strategy for a particular length of time, in this case, means "merely" acting like a relentless warmonger for the entire game.
Krikkitone wrote:The way I see it,
At EVERY point in the game, maintaining max allegiance, should be possible but requires you to limit your strategy. You must balance higher allegiance with a suboptimal strategy. The key is making sure that no "Allegiance" costs too much/too little to maintain.
I agree completely. What we disagree on is where that strategic tradeoff should occur.

If an empire has only one species in his empire in the later part of the game, in my system, he would essentially have max allegiance consistently, but the tradeoff which forces him to limit his strategy is the fact that he only gets bonuses from that single species. What you're proposing is that an additional superfluous tradeoff be tacked on to that so that the player's strategy is further limited, even within the already limited scope of only having the bonuses of one species. The tradeoff of "single-species = strategic flexibility due to high allegiance vs. multi-species = strategic flexibility due to lots of bonuses" accomplishes everything that this additional tradeoff of yours does without placing unnecessary limits on the player's strategy, and is furthermore a very macro decision for the player, both of which, IMO, make this a much better strategic tradeoff than what you're proposing.

Basically, the role-playing aspect shouldn't dominate the system. The player should be able to win over a bloodthirsty race even without acting totally bloodthirsty all the time. The real goal of the system is to make multi-species empires interesting and adding interesting tradeoffs to having multiple species in the empire. The fact that this will give the player a little incentive to role-play to gain a strategic advantage is good and gives the game character, but the player shouldn't be locked into this role-playing aspect of the system.
Krikkitone wrote:The "Drifting Target" problem exists if Target Happiness depends on Current Allegiance.

ALWAYS... Because Current allegiance drifts (especially in your model)
This gives the problems of needing High school level math to understand the behavior of the Happiness meter.
You should need nothing more than 5-6th grade math to understand and predict how it will move (exponential decay should be the MOST complicated way a Current value moves
This isn't much of a problem if

-current happiness moves at a fixed rate (1 per turn, for example), and
-allegiance does not change quickly and more importantly, doesn't fluctuate, since there are no decaying effects.

Since happiness growth doesn't depend on target happiness, its movement is easy to predict. Since allegiance, which is a component of target happiness, is also easy to predict, and isn't subject to large, sudden changes, it's also easy to predict where the happiness meter will be going.

Most, or perhaps all of your examples of the drifting target weirdness are dependent on a single event which has a sudden, fading effect on allegiance. Since no such events exist in my system, I fail to see the problem.

The closest you can get to something like that in my system is an event which shifts current alignment in the opposite direction of current growth. Such a shift would have a magnitude of maybe 3 or 5 on average, corresponding to a shift in current allegiance (and target happiness) of about 1. This change won't drastically alter the player's expectations about the growth of the happiness meter. In more severe cases, a player might do something really drastic which results in say, -50 species-empire alignment. This would have a significant impact on target happiness, and if the species-empire alignment had positive growth, happiness would never end up reaching what was temporarily the new target (which I think is fine, since the player should have a short chance to "make up" with a species before he really starts to suffer). The fact is though, that these targets change in a very predictable way based on the player's actions, and if only the direction of happiness growth is dependent on the target value, there's nothing weird or unpredictable about it.
Krikkitone wrote:Also I assume Species-Empire Alignment would be a classic meter (ie you take damage and then it decays)
Species-empire alignment would work the same way as any other alignment scale - using a growth-current model. This has essentially the same advantages as using this model for Ethical Compatibility Alignment, and the fact that the scales act similarly is one reason why I continue to call both of them "alignment". Having a species in slavery for example, or having starving planets of a species in your empire would cause negative alignment growth, and having them as aristocrats would cause positive alignment growth. Bombarding a world would result in an immediate decrease in current alignment, and doing something comparably good for a species (such as the action of making them aristocrats) would result in an immediate increase in current alignment.

Krikkitone wrote:It seems like we each have one particular change we want to make to the system, and none of them particularly are exclusive

IF you can add less than 2 lines to these, either adding your own "Rationale" if you support it, your own "Cons" or "Alternatives" if you don't
Bigjoe5: 'Growth Rate' Alignment instead of "Target" Alignment
Rationale: allow strategic flexibility particularly early and late game, keeps the primary strategic trade-off as being "multi-species empire vs. single species empire", which is a significant, macro decision
Cons: limited ability to Target a 'range' [particular system allows this], loss of distinction between various strategies [which ties directly into the rationale]
Alternatives: decrease the actual impact of Alignment (ie balancing), make current->target slow and exponential to give extra 'historic' benefits.

I would also argue that the "loss of distinction between various strategies" really just means that the player isn't locked into a role-playing strategy that he's discouraged from adapting to fit the situation.


Krikkitone: No 'Moving Target'
Rationale: a 'Moving Target' causes Complicated movements of Current values making the game less clearly predictable for players and designers
Cons: Extra 'term' in the sense of Local conditions (not to display but part of the Happiness breakdown) [may be partially helped through proper naming]
Alternatives: Components of Happiness, ie Allegiance are Constant and change instantly and completely when situations change, make happiness growth an integer value which is independent of target happiness

eleazar: No "Opposing" Ethos/Alignments
Rationale: 'Alignment' should always be good
Cons: Alignment will still require 'resource' tradeoffs and if 'more'='happier' there is a slippery slope problem, Also it limits species Ethoi severely if we can't have species hating something another species loves, having an additional species in your empire will often give you the tools you need to please that species, eliminating the intriguing tradeoff between single- and multi-species empires
Alternatives:.I disagree with the rationale, so I'd say there are tradeoffs inherent in the system. If you don't want those trade offs, then maintain 'cultural purity' and prepare to battle your 'natural enemies'

Edit: quotation marks
Last edited by Bigjoe5 on Sun Feb 14, 2010 4:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Simulating Citizens

#290 Post by RonaldX » Sat Feb 13, 2010 11:38 pm

Bigjoe5 wrote:If a current-target system is used for alignment, then the player will have to act perfectly bloodthirsty for an extended period of time to get to max bloodthirstiness, which adds an unnecessary limitation to the player's strategic flexibility for the sake of creating a strategic tradeoff that's already implicit in having chosen a single-species empire. In a growth-current system, the player who acts bloodthirsty will inevitably get to max bloodthirstiness eventually, and get the allegiance and happiness bonuses that he deserves for putting up with the other inflexibilities of having a single-species empire.
Bigjoe5 wrote:No, in my system, you just need to follow a moderately bloodthirsty strategy for a long time to eventually reach max bloodthirstiness. In a current-target system, you need to follow an extremely bloodthirsty strategy for a long time to eventually reach max bloodthirstiness, and anything less than perfect bloodthirstiness will result in a sub-optimal bloodthirstiness alignment no matter how long you maintain it. "Merely" following a particular strategy for a particular length of time, in this case, means "merely" acting like a relentless warmonger for the entire game.
This is something I feel needs clarification from the other side.. I'm assuming that alignment is something which is effected by only a handful of primary actions, the fewer the better. If we could boil alignment change down to 2-5 significant actions per type, then it would be easy to manipulate and extremely predictable.

In this case, a current-target system would operate in this manner, if a player had to switch from a max egalitarian strategy to a max elitist one in a hurry:
He could go into his government type and change it from Democracy to Dictatorship.
He could promote one race and enslave all the rest.

If those are the only things important enough to affect alignment, then those two things will immediately cause target alignment to bottom out at the elitist end, and then it is only a matter of a few turns (depending on how fast the rate of change of current-to-target is, and I'd suggest that certain techs or policies ie. media blackouts, secret police, etc. might make this rate quasi-variable) until you start to see major effects from allegiance changing.

Ie. Rapid backlash from massively changed strategies is possible at any point in the game. I think this is desirable, rather than having a slow crawl towards an extreme at which point you are basically given a free hand to do anything you want, as long as you don't do it for too long. It really just depends on your point of view. Your model will allow increased flexibility at the beginning and end of the game (assuming it goes on long enough), while this model will preserve the same level of flexibility throughout the game. Both work, but again, to different ends.

The thing I find counterintuitive about growth rates is the preservation factor.. For example let's say I have a child in front of me who gets a bonus to his happiness the more jellybeans I put in front of him.
-In a sum-of-parts system, if he has 5 in front of him, and I put 5 more in front of him, he gets happier. If I then take those extra 5 away, he gets sadder.
-In your system, if he has 5 in front of him, and I put 5 more in front of him, he gets happier. If I then take them away, he doesn't get sadder, but stays just as happy as he was when he had 10. He only gets sadder when I start taking away from the 5 he already had to begin with.
Can you make the math work? Sure (heck, math can prove that one equals two). But I don't find the logic appealing. That's one of the bigger reasons I prefer sum-of-parts.

***

Krikkitone, I get what you mean about "target values shouldn't include any decaying factors, instead short-term effects should just be bonuses/maluses to current" (that's a paraphrase, obviously), and when I think more about it, I'm convinced that you are right. The target value should show the player where the scale is going to level out at for the sake of clarity. I'm sold.

-Ty.

Edit: Yes, I realize that the 2=1 example doesn't work in actual math because you're defining r and s to both equal zero and then dividing by (r-s), so there is a division by zero thing in there. I put it in as a joke.

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Re: Simulating Citizens

#291 Post by eleazar » Sun Feb 14, 2010 5:39 am

Bigjoe5 wrote:
eleazar wrote: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.
Is it really in that empire's best interests to go just exactly so far and no further? Who's to say that a Bloodthirstiness of 25 will be so much worse than a Bloodthirstiness of 20? Sure, the Pacifists comprise more of your empire, so their allegiance is more important, but a significant amount of espionage can still be done on a single world, and that extra happiness on the Bloodthirsty planets may come in handy. And if anything bad should happen on one of those planets, wouldn't it be nice to have a bit of a happiness buffer before massive riots, or even espionage-incited rebellions occur? My point is that the player can't predict exactly what alignment value will end up being the best - he just has to pick a general range that conforms with his strategy.
* I find this opinion odd coming from the guy who designed a Propaganda that is supposed to give the player the ability (at least if he has the cash) to target specific alignment values. So which is it? Is your Propaganda superfluous, or is control needed?

* If at Bloodthirst 20 the player can't contain the rioting of some of his citizens, but he can at 25, he'll say pretty quick that 25 is better -- even if some unforeseen event may occur and actually make 20 more optimal.
Bigjoe5 wrote:...which in turn means that keeping alignment in a specific range nearer to one extreme (20 - 30) is no more difficult or micro than keeping it around the middle (45-55), which is something you already said is OK if the player decides to do it.
Yeah, i said that, but i question it now. It's non-obvious exactly how much slaughter would balance an empire between the two extreme. War isn't exactly like a light switch, something you can turn on and off at need.
Bigjoe5 wrote:
eleazar wrote: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....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.
  • 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: this is an old list, a more refined (but still provisional) list is here, but i leave this because it was quoted.
The problem with this, as Krikkitone points out, is that
Krikkitone wrote: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)
Aside from the "slippery slope" detail, it also makes the whole idea of allegiance/alignment somewhat pointless.
It doesn't seem that either you or Krikkitone read the list very carefully. Some of these might be described as a "victory condition" list, but i don't see how measuring kills (i.e. bloodthirsty) is any better in this respect than measuring ships. Still having a lot of tech or a lot of ships probably correlates noticeably to doing well in the game. But it's also quite likely that unless there is a runaway leader, the top few empires will vary quite a bit on these. In other words, one leading empire might have the biggest fleet, another the best economy, and a third the highest tech.

I would want to avoid alignment scales that are too closely indicative of being the leader. The scales should target a particular kind of imperial excellence, not general awesomeness. "Technological" is IMHO the most likely to have crossed that line, but as i've refined the definition : "having personally researched the most techs. extra credit for discovering a tech first", boughten or stolen techs don't count, so only a really research-oriented empire will be extreme on this alignment.

But the last 4 scales are clearly not synonymous with victory. The empire which has done the most exploring, or which has the most treaties or non-slave species could very plausibly be far from the most powerful, especially if it goes out of it's way to emphasize that aspect to please their citizens.



** BigJoe's next longer point comparing paired and non-paired alignments, makes points worth considering and deserves a more thorough answer than i have time to give tonight, so i'll have to leave that for later.

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Re: Simulating Citizens

#292 Post by Bigjoe5 » Sun Feb 14, 2010 4:49 pm

RonaldX wrote:This is something I feel needs clarification from the other side.. I'm assuming that alignment is something which is effected by only a handful of primary actions, the fewer the better. If we could boil alignment change down to 2-5 significant actions per type, then it would be easy to manipulate and extremely predictable.
This is something I think we all agree on. Having too many factors which can affect a given alignment - particularly the growth/target of a given alignment - would just make things confusing.
RonaldX wrote:e. Rapid backlash from massively changed strategies is possible at any point in the game. I think this is desirable, rather than having a slow crawl towards an extreme at which point you are basically given a free hand to do anything you want, as long as you don't do it for too long. It really just depends on your point of view. Your model will allow increased flexibility at the beginning and end of the game (assuming it goes on long enough), while this model will preserve the same level of flexibility throughout the game. Both work, but again, to different ends.
This is essentially the opposite of what you said earlier... do you want potential for rapid backlash, or do you want the bloodthirsty empire in the endgame to be able to rethink his strategy from a different angle? Also, I think you're forgetting about actions which affect the current value instead of growth/target. Rapid backlash from massively changed strategies will occur if the player actually takes an action which has an extreme effect on the current value of the meter (and I would propose that there be at least one such possible action for each alignment). If the player only takes actions which affect the growth of the alignment meter, then he should not incur large penalties for just adapting his strategy to fit the circumstances. In this way, the system in which only growth is affected by long-term statuses and where current can be modified directly by actions allows potential for rapid backlash, but also gives bloodthirsty empire some flexibility in the endgame.

I should also point out that my model gives the player flexibility in the mid-game too, since if he has a bloodthirstiness of 75, and he has to adapt his strategy for a short while so that growth is 0, his bloodthirstiness will stay at 75 until he can be bloodthirsty again, whereas in a current-target system, particularly with the rates of growth you're implying, he would have dropped back down to 50 in just a few turns. This is the huge advantage of using growth rates over target values: the important strategic tradeoff the player made when deciding to have only one species in his empire happens once, and the disadvantage is that he has lost the bonuses from having a multi-species empire. Yes, it's more advantageous for such an empire to stay bloodthirsty, because he will get to max bloodthirstiness faster, but he's not heavily penalized for straying from this path for a short period of time, because the main penalty for his decision is that he doesn't have a great variety of racial bonuses of which he can take advantage. This mild disadvantage of not continuing to climb towards bloodthirstiness when he ceases to act bloodthirsty is the strategic tradeoff for actually choosing bloodthirstiness instead of pacifism, which is a secondary decision to deciding in general to whether to choose extreme values or balanced values, and should therefore have only a secondary effect - just enough to give each empire character and make it strategically advantageous to role-play a bit, without really locking the player into a role-playing strategy.

Also, I think it's worthwhile to point something out about how actions that affect current alignment will interact differently with a current-target system than with a growth-current system. If I have a bloodthirstiness growth which is 50% of the positive maximum (corresponding to a target value of 75 in a current-target system), I'm likely to be taking some bloodthirsty actions which are also increasing current bloodthirstiness. In a growth current system, all this means is that I'll get to max bloodthirstiness a bit faster. In a current target system, this means that I get to the target (75) a bit faster, then overshoot it and hover around 80 or 85, where my negative bloodthirstiness growth (towards target) will approximately cancel out the bloodthirsty actions I'm taking. This means that as long as the empire continues taking actions which affect the current value of the meter, the "target" value isn't really a target at all, which makes the meaning of target alignment less significant.

I realize that effects like this can happen to other meters as well, but since they only occur when something special is happening, there's no cause for concern. If the player's target bloodthirstiness is 75, he almost certainly will be taking bloodthirsty actions which will be altering the current value of the meter. This could lead to weird situations where the player is trying to avoid bloodthirsty actions while maintaining wars with several other empires, for example, to keep alignment within a certain range of values (i.e. he would be balancing his actions against his long-term policies). In a growth current system, having a "target" bloodthirstiness of 75 means just having your bloodthirstiness there and acting neutrally, both in terms of actions that affect current alignment and in terms of long-term statuses that affect alignment growth. Essentially, whether the player wants a particular alignment value to increase, decrease or stay the same, it is advantageous for his policies to match his immediate actions. This is another advantage of the growth-current system over the current-target system.
RonaldX wrote:The thing I find counterintuitive about growth rates is the preservation factor.. For example let's say I have a child in front of me who gets a bonus to his happiness the more jellybeans I put in front of him.
-In a sum-of-parts system, if he has 5 in front of him, and I put 5 more in front of him, he gets happier. If I then take those extra 5 away, he gets sadder.
-In your system, if he has 5 in front of him, and I put 5 more in front of him, he gets happier. If I then take them away, he doesn't get sadder, but stays just as happy as he was when he had 10. He only gets sadder when I start taking away from the 5 he already had to begin with.
Once again, you are forgetting about actions which affect the current value of the meter. Giving him 5 jellybeans is an action which increases the current value of the child-candyman alignment. Taking away the jellybeans would have an equal and opposite effect on the alignment scale, so child-candyman alignment would end up being exactly the same as before, when he had 5 jellybeans. The scenario you're actually describing would be a scenario in which a child gets a bonus to child-candyman alignment growth when he has more than 5 jellybeans in front of him (i.e. the longer the child sits there with 10 jellybeans in front of him, the more he likes the candyman), which just doesn't make any sense at all, so it's natural that you would get weird results (i.e. you divided by 0).
eleazar wrote:* I find this opinion odd coming from the guy who designed a Propaganda that is supposed to give the player the ability (at least if he has the cash) to target specific alignment values. So which is it? Is your Propaganda superfluous, or is control needed?
Propaganda is still useful, but perhaps not in the way I first thought it would be. Even if it isn't essential for controlling the system (since keeping the system at a point value isn't necessary), it's still useful for allowing greater political flexibility for those who are focused on politics, which is very good, since being able to use one of the five resources to enhance a particular strategy brings it up to the same level of importance as any other strategy. In addition, it is still useful for controlling the alignment scale in that it can target a particular range of values. A player who is strategically compelled to take action over a long period of time which slowly moves him out from his desired range won't expend trade while he is in that range, but his empire will automatically spend trade to correct his alignment according to his settings if he has enough trade (so having trade allows slight deviation from a particular alignment, while still actually having the alignment value at the desired level; in other words, it gives you political flexibility, which essentially is the point of trade - you can get control over others through non-military means such as diplomacy and espionage). I suspect something like propaganda will be useful regardless of what method is used to calculate alignment, but it's not really as much of a tool to limit micromanagement as I first thought it would be (though it's definitely a useful macro-tool, nonetheless).
eleazar wrote:* If at Bloodthirst 20 the player can't contain the rioting of some of his citizens, but he can at 25, he'll say pretty quick that 25 is better -- even if some unforeseen event may occur and actually make 20 more optimal.
That wasn't the situation. If the empire can contain the rioting of some of his species at 20, then an alignment of 25 isn't necessarily worse than that due to unforeseen events which may occur to make 25 more optimal. In the situation you gave, yes, 25 is definitely more optimal, but I wouldn't mind if my Bloodthirstiness was sitting at 30, for example, to get the extra happiness buffer. Nobody said anything about having your species in a state of revolt being more optimal; that would take some pretty extreme circumstances. The point is that the most extreme value at which a species will not riot isn't obviously better any other nearby point at which the species will not riot, so in the scenario you mentioned, the player would only be compelled to keep alignment between 25 and 30/35, rather than maintaining it at a specific point.

If the player actually does need to keep alignment at a specific point to avoid riots, he must have a really weird collection of species in his empire, and it's fine that he should have to expend a fair bit of trade to keep alignment at precise values (and propaganda enables this, should the matter ever come up).
eleazar wrote:
Bigjoe5 wrote:...which in turn means that keeping alignment in a specific range nearer to one extreme (20 - 30) is no more difficult or micro than keeping it around the middle (45-55), which is something you already said is OK if the player decides to do it.
Yeah, i said that, but i question it now. It's non-obvious exactly how much slaughter would balance an empire between the two extreme. War isn't exactly like a light switch, something you can turn on and off at need.
It's not obvious to us, because the values aren't being displayed to us on our computer screens. Hopefully it will be pretty obvious to the player. Also, the fact that war isn't something you can just turn on and off means that the relationship between bloodthirsty and pacifistic empires would be all the more volatile, and keeping them both happy would require more skill than balancing other alignments might. This means that the diplomatic player has the option to either

-try to really manipulate other empires and his own alignment scales so he has just about the right amount of war going on at all times (the ability to officially "denounce" a war (at the cost of trade) to remove its effect on alignment growth makes this somewhat less Herculean), or

-ignore what the bloodthirsty races think and only try to please the pacifists and those who are neutral towards war. This has the advantage that the player will probably have to expend less trade on propaganda, and he will actually be more favourable to pacifistic races, meaning that he will get more favours from empires with pacifists in them. In addition, he doesn't have to expend resources on constant, mild warfare. The significant disadvantage to this however, is that bloodthirsty races will dislike him, which means that bloodthirsty empires aren't going to be able to keep their citizens happy by giving him presents, which means that they'll have no reason to give him protection, and more to the point, no reason to avoid destroying his empire completely.

So it's really an important strategic decision for the player whether or not he's going to say "forget the bloodthirsties" and just try to please the other races, because while ignoring bloodthirsty races is easier and has significant advantages, it could have potentially drastic repercussions.

Trying to maintain a pacifistic race and a bloodthirsty race in the same empire usually wouldn't be a viable option, and the player would have to make a lot of sacrifices, either to trade (which he may have to sacrifice other resources to produce), or to allies or to his military objectives. This makes the decision of trying to keep high allegiance from these two opposing ethoi in particular quite interesting and significant. Other alignment scales are a bit simpler, since the player doesn't have to do anything drastic like go to war with somebody to manipulate them, but it's good and interesting, IMO, if some (or one) pair(s) of opposing alignment are a bit harder for the player to balance than others.
But the last 4 scales are clearly not synonymous with victory. The empire which has done the most exploring, or which has the most treaties or non-slave species could very plausibly be far from the most powerful, especially if it goes out of it's way to emphasize that aspect to please their citizens.
You can't really deny, though, that having more exploration is better, or that having lots of species in your empire is better, or that not getting caught in espionage is better. The point is that having a higher value on all of these allegiance meters really is getting you closer to winning the game, since they're all something good. It's much more interesting if both ends of the alignment scale represent a viable strategy, because then the diverse characters of the various empires in the galaxy are much more interesting, which will make the game as a whole more fun and engaging.
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Re: Simulating Citizens

#293 Post by RonaldX » Mon Feb 15, 2010 5:39 am

@ Bigjoe

I've read through your post and you've brought up some good points. You are right that I contradicted myself in previous posts, but I've been thinking through the issue and have changed my mind a few times and incorporated other ideas, not all of which I bothered to articulate here.. In any case the contradiction stands so I apologise for the confusion. I'll refrain now from going into tons of detail and just make a couple quick points in the interest of brevity:

- I'm not sure how much of a free hand you want to allow the player at any point in the game. Balancing strategy with happiness, if it's going to matter at all, should have a significant enough effect to be worth including. In most 4x games, citizen unrest is only calculated as far as: base % of population is unhappy, which gets worse as you increase taxes. If we're going to go through all the trouble of making people unhappy if you don't follow the strategy they prefer, then it should be an important factor at all times or it's just not worth including.

- I'm not sure that warlike/peaceful is a good alignment scale to even include, since it is tied so strongly and directly to strategy. Same with developmental/expansionist. War/Peace as a scale is determined so much by your opponents that you can essentially be forced into war, or put in a position where declaring war and/or begging for peace are your only options for survival. With developing/expanding, typically a player is going to expand as rapidly as possible in the early game and then build up as much as possible in the late game.. With a limited number of systems in a galaxy, expansion can only go on for so long before you simply run out of worlds, at which point you can no longer become "more" expansionist, aside from taking them from other players, a signifigantly more complicated undertaking and not one you can always control, short of rediculous strategies like purposely losing and retaking a world.

My new thought is that alignment scales should be effected by only a small number of major policy decisions (which we agree on) that the player can alter at any time, without dramatically changing his foreign policy..

ie. A democracy and a dictatorship can both attack an enemy, but they'll organize, recruit, and possibly fight differently. The factor effecting alignment should be government type, not just the fact that you are attacking.

Maybe government types themselves would provide the bonuses/maluses to races.. Ie a militocracy would give greater happiness to warlike races, less happiness to peaceful races, etc. etc.. Alignment could almost entirely be summarized by government type, and a varied enough selection of governments would provide all the variety and options a player could desire. This would make alignment changing incredibly simple because it would be controlled largely by the one variable, and you could discard scales and factors and decay and whatever else entirely. Races' allegiance would be a composite of the "Racial Treatment" factors, one of which is simply "how much that race likes your government type" (determined by their racial propensity towards war, peace, elitism, etc. and could be boiled down into a simple number).

That was all top-of-the-head thought, but it does have some logic to it (I think). If anyone is interested in it I could develop it further.

One question.. how would a race prefer "elitism"? I mean, it's all well and good to be nobility in an elitist culture if you like it, but what if you're in an elitist culture as a slave race? Would it kind of balance out? "I like that this empire treats minorities like crap, but I'm mad at them because I'm one of the minorities they are enslaving." Ehh.. Don't really follow the logic. That seems like either a special case rule or else something to avoid as contradictory.

-Ty.

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Re: Simulating Citizens

#294 Post by eleazar » Mon Feb 15, 2010 6:54 am

RonaldX:
The idea of replacing complex Ethos/Alignment with a few policy decisions such as civic choices would work, because it is pretty simple. Obviously that simplicity comes at the price of being less interesting, but at the very least something like this could be considered the fall-back position if we can't resolve the complexities.
But i also believe using my more focused and straight-forward non-paired alignments, some of the difficulties and complexities that have been argued over the past few pages become moot, or at least easier to deal with.

And you are right, the paired alignment scales themselves have received little scrutiny, and some we've bandied around don't make sense. I deal with that a little toward the bottom of the post.
Bigjoe5 wrote:
eleazar wrote: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.
That's exactly the problem. That kind of "resource distribution tradeoff" is already there. If the player chooses more technology over more warships, he's already making that choice of how to use his resources, and adding a further, very similar layer to that strategic decision is superfluous, even counterproductive. However, the additional strategic interest which is added by pairs of opposing alignments is very different and much more interesting.
* First off, the "limited resources trade-off" is a tried and true mechanic at the heart of 4X games and a lot of other strategy games. It's senseless to dismiss a new mechanic because it also operates within a well established framework.

* Secondly, you don't have to tell me that a mechanic i put together, and have been promoting for years is interesting. In fact i've promoted a similar mechanic in a couple of RPG FOSS projects. I like it a lot-- in theory, but once we got into the details, it looks like the mechanic would in FO be frustrating and tricky. So i'm willing to drop my own favorite mechanic and go with something a bit more modest, and less problematic.
Bigjoe5 wrote:Consider this scenario:

Blue empire contains a bloodthirsty xenophobic race with mining and industry bonuses. Early on in the game, he captures a pacifistic diplomatic race with research and farming bonuses. He now has a few choices:
A couple points that but need to be made:

* "Xenophobic" doesn't make sense in anybodies alignment/ethos system. Xenophobia can't be objective. If the Trith and EAWAX are xenophobic, and the Purple empire is acting xenophobic, by destroying anyone but the Trith, it makes no sense for the EAWAX to like Purple for xenophobia's sake. Xenophobia is subjective. It would lead the EAWAX to like empires that destroy everyone except the EAWAX. Xenophobia may be possible to include with the subjective side of allegiance.

* I highly doubt regular species will routinely have 2 resource bonuses. That makes species less unique and thus less strategically interesting. Having 1 resource bonus (or a non-resource bonus) per species also makes it less likely that the acquisition of a species in its self will provide all the resources needed to make them happy in a non-paired alignment setup.
Bigjoe5 wrote:...
-He can incorporate the new race into his empire, and use them for farming and research. If he chooses this option, he will lose strategic flexibility due to having to maintain a neutral bloodthirstiness and elitism, but he will also gain a different kind of strategic flexibility by having lots more food and research points.

-He can exterminate the new race. This option will allow him to continue with his militaristic strategy and maximize his allegiance from his bloodthirsty xenophobes, but at the cost of the extra resources he could have acquired. However, being able to keep happiness and allegiance at maximum in the later game may well be worth this sacrifice.

-He can enslave the new race (assuming enslaving the race makes it unhappy, but allows fewer rebel ground troops to be spawned for a given level of unhappiness, ... This option will still allow him to get farming and research bonuses, but with the drawbacks that he probably won't quite be able to get all the way to extreme allegiance and happiness from his bloodthirsty xenophobes (not without some good happiness-boosting techs, or fairly high species-empire alignment with the pacifists, at least), he will probably have to keep extra troops garrisoned on the slave planets just in case, and the slave planets will be significantly more vulnerable to espionage than anything in his empire would have been otherwise (there's your tradeoff for lower statuses, btw).

These options are strategically engaging and offer a variety of interesting possibilities.
Nobody is arguing that this would be boring. Sure it sounds cool. My complaint is that in practice it would be as fun as it sounds trying to keep both species as citizens with clumsy and indirect means of pushing the balance between the two specie's alignment back and forth.
Bigjoe5 wrote:If there are no paired opposites for alignment though, look what happens to this scenario:

Blue empire contains a technological economic race with research and trade bonuses. Early in the game, he captures a militaristic expansionistic race with mining and industry bonuses. He now has a few choices:

-He can incorporate the new race into his empire. To keep them happy, he'll have to build a few more warships and capture a few more planets, but that's fine, since he can use his advanced technology and high trade level (either with diplomacy or espionage) to help him with this. The fact that he now gets a mining and industry bonus will also make this a lot easier, since he can just use his extra resources to build the warships.

-He can exterminate the new race. He's free to focus on espionage and research now, and go for the secluded tech victory, while keeping his opponents at bay with espionage, but of course this strategy wouldn't really have been hampered, and perhaps would have been enhanced by having a few extra warships around.

-He can enslave the new race. Again, he's free to focus on research and espionage, and plus he gets the added bonus of having a few extra warships around, since his industry-mining race is still very productive.

These options are strategically very similar, and the decision becomes very bland.
You aren't allowing for the fact that various things would be tweaked to work better with an unpaired alignment. Of course, some of these optimization hadn't been posted yet, i don't exactly expect you to think them up for me. With some optimizations, appropriate to the non-paired system, it's not nearly so bland as you describe.

* As mentioned before species wouldn't get super-charged with 2 resource bonuses

* Getting a high alignment wouldn't be as easy as you assume.
I haven't had time to keep up with the great volume in this thread, so for several pages, i've only been skimming that which doesn't pertain to this subject. What i've gotten as the idea of how you think alignment meters should move -- once they start on a direction, they keep going until reversed -- does not make sense for my non-paired system. I haven't nailed it down, but the general functioning should be so: If you stop exploring, your "Exploratory" meter stops advancing (unless we want to smooth it out with a target and lagging current, in which case it would soon stop advancing). It might even start decaying back to nothing. In other words you can't rest on your laurels.

* There may need to be an additional counterbalance to the "gotta-catch-em-all", such as a small negative to the allegiance of all species, with each additional (free?) species added to the empire. The rationalization is that it is easier to keep everyone happy when you only have to cater to one group, as many human nations have trouble keeping multiple ethnic groups happy.

* Slave/prison species shouldn't be "very productive", just more productive than a planet that is rioting/rebelling, in other words less productive than a full citizen. The main advantage of that state is that they can't break away. Making it increase production makes it too strong. The rationalization is that the unfree are not motivated to do more than the minimum required, and such a situation doesn't allow much innovation -- and security costs a lot.

So the scenario would really play out something like this:
  • Blue empire contains a technological economic race with a research bonus, the Yee. He's been following a tech-heavy strategy, so the Yip have a moderately high allegiance. Early in the game, he gets lucky and captures a militaristic expansionistic race with a industry bonus, the Raxor. He now has a few choices:

    -He can incorporate the Raxor into his empire. Unfortunately since blue has been neither very militaristic nor expansionistic, the Raxor have a rather low allegiance to him, and are rioting/rebelling. To make them happy enough to be productive citizens, he'll have to shift a significant fraction of his effort towards fleet-building and expansion. It will take some time before Blue can build up those alignments, and in the mean time the Raxor won't be of much use, and will quite willingly be re-conquered by any more militaristic or expansionistic empire. But given time and luck, he may have a more flexible generalist empire, with neither species as loyal as one could have been, but with some extra industrial power to hopefully make up for that.

    -He can enslave the Raxor. This gives him more ability to focus on a Yee-friendly strategy than citizen status would, and he has less need to worry about the Raxor successfully rebelling. He won't however get as much benefit from the Raxor industry as he would if the Raxor were happy citizens. If he doesn't want the Raxor to be a ticking time-bomb of rebellion, he may want to work a little on upping their allegiance, while still making the Yee his main priority. If he doesn't divert any effort to making the Raxor somewhat less disloyal, the Raxor planet(s) will remain a weak-spot in his empire.

    -He can repatriate the Raxor back to their original empire. This allows him to keep the planet for himself. But it doesn't hurt relations with Raxor on other worlds as much as if he exterminated them

    -He can exterminate the Raxor. This prevents other empires from grabbing the species, and allows him to focus on keeping the Yee highly loyal, with a highly tech focused strategy. Also he avoids a period of weakness the initially very disloyal Raxor would cause. Their planet might even be worth colonizing with his Yee. But Raxor on other worlds will hate Blue.
We still got plenty of strategically interesting choices-- more than MoO had in this area, and without the problems that come with paired scales.
Bigjoe5 wrote:Since this is the case, and since the ability to fine-tune alignment with paired opposites is not really needed, as I explained above, I feel that having paired-opposite alignments would be much more interesting and worthwhile than having only monoscalar alignments.
I think you may have an overly-idealized idea about how cool these paired scales will be. "Bloodthirsty<>Pacifist" is a good one, but what else? My first rumblings of discontent with the paired system came as i tried to nail down some additional scales, but couldn't come up with anything nearly as good.

"Hierarchical <> Egalitarian" is clear, but only hooked into the game in one or two places, "rank", and maybe civics/social engineering.

"Expansion<>Development" is pretty lame, which i can say freely since i made it up, it's not really an opposite.

You list "Diplomatic", but what's the opposite of that? And then what else do you have?

Bigjoe5 wrote:
eleazar wrote:But the last 4 scales are clearly not synonymous with victory. The empire which has done the most exploring, or which has the most treaties or non-slave species could very plausibly be far from the most powerful, especially if it goes out of it's way to emphasize that aspect to please their citizens.
You can't really deny, though, that having more exploration is better, or that having lots of species in your empire is better, or that not getting caught in espionage is better. The point is that having a higher value on all of these allegiance meters really is getting you closer to winning the game, since they're all something good.
So? The player is not going to be engaging in inherently useless actions-- anything we let him do should at least potentially take him closer to victory. None of the scales anyone has proposed consist of inherently un-useful or even harmful actions. It's all stuff that potentially is on the path to victory.
Last edited by eleazar on Mon Feb 15, 2010 7:06 am, edited 2 times in total.
Reason: removed massive duplication of content

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Krikkitone
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Re: Simulating Citizens

#295 Post by Krikkitone » Mon Feb 15, 2010 5:33 pm

RonaldX wrote: One question.. how would a race prefer "elitism"? I mean, it's all well and good to be nobility in an elitist culture if you like it, but what if you're in an elitist culture as a slave race? Would it kind of balance out? "I like that this empire treats minorities like crap, but I'm mad at them because I'm one of the minorities they are enslaving." Ehh.. Don't really follow the logic. That seems like either a special case rule or else something to avoid as contradictory.

-Ty.
You say that because you are confusing Xenophobia (they should squash the other) with Elitism (there needs to be people on top and people on the bottom)

See "Great Chain of Being", "Confucian Order" "Hindu Caste system", "Opiate of the Masses", "Divine Right of Kings"
ie
I'm at the bottom and that stinks -10, but that's the way it Should be, the Natural order= +5

Elitist Species would make great slaves, because they accept that slavery is a natural thing. (also their empires wil consist of themselves... and slaves.)
Egalitarian species on the otherhand won't get quite as much of a boost from being overlords
I'm at the top, I crush them under my feet +20, but it all feels wrong, aren't they 'just like me'? -10

ie If all your species are Elitist, make one overlords (since it gives a big bonus) and make the rest slaves (since it has a small cost)
If all your species are Egalitarian, keep them all equal

If you have a mix... well then it depends on balance.... keeping them equal will have some unhappy elites, but if you enslave those elites the egalitarians will revolt... (and then there are the neutrals who don't care about the overall order of things, just where they are in it.)

-----------------------------------
As for the Scales, I see no problem with 'paired' scales that isn't also there with 'unpaired scales'... (in paired scales something you do can cause a species to be more unhappy with you....but that happens in unpaired scales as well... presuming some actions can cause the alignment to fall/be lower)

Nonetheless I don't think all scales should Necessarily be paired

And some Ideas for scales: desired for Story reasons, justified for Strategy reasons


War/Peace: Should be in there, exactly what would be involved depends closely on balancing (it is probably the scale with the most 'Current' effects)..... but here is an idea to avoid that [jumping militarism based on battles]

"Military Events" impact Happiness across your empire... the WAY they increase Happiness across your empire is dependent on a "Civic option" and THAT is what Affects the War/Peace Alignment

ie a Militaristic Government-> makes the Target Empire Alignment more Militaristic, gives a bigger 'Happiness' bonus from military Victories, and smaller 'Happiness bonus' from peace treaties... possibly a bigger 'happiness penalty' from Losing battles... and probably gives additional military effectiveness (either experience or production)
(Pacifist government=opposite)

Pacifist government would have to conduct very Limited wars, because the collateral damage would hurt their people's happiness
(But a Pacifist government would get additional Happiness from Pacifist species)

So an empire with a Pacifist Species can fight a war in one of two ways
1. Adopt Militarist civic options: which will really annoy your people long term because you are betraing their ethos, but will minimize the happiness issues from the actual war, and probably make your war machine more effective

2. Adopt Pacifist civic options: which will cause massive unhappiness with the events of the war, and not be all that effective at it, but will maintain your people's happiness to you because you are staying true to their ethos

So an empire with a Militarist Species can 'work the peace' in one of two ways
1. Adopt Militarist civic options: which will not be all that effective at peaceful development/happiness, but will maintain your people's happiness to you because you are staying true to their ethos

2. Adopt Pacifist civic options: which will really annoy your people long term because you are betraing their ethos, but will be much more effective at peaceful development/happiness


Equality/Elitism
fairly obvious,
Slave/Overlord species
"Monarchy"/"Democracy" should have seperate bonuses/effects
"Union" v. "Colonies of the HW empire" (how important the capital is.. ie unhappiness from large numbers of worlds v. unhappiness from distance to capital)


Freedom/Security
"Totalitarian"/"Libertarian" also seperate bonuses/effects.. mostly to do with Espionage vulnerability v. ?Happiness?productivity bonuses?... Happiness effects from discovered spying?
"Confederation" v. "Centralized government" (?"Happiness" v. "Productivity"... or one type of productivity v. others.. chance of a world surrendering?)

Unity v. Diversity aka Xenophobia v. Xenophilia
Multispecies and Diplomatic Relations
Unity governments=extra species alignment if it is a high % of population, decreased species alignment if it is a low% of population..doing good for one species="damage" to others (because this government is 'supposed to have a favorite') and vice versa
Diversity governments=species alignment less dependent on % of population in the empire (extreme case majority species is less aligned and minorities are more aligned)
..note this could also apply to species that are at 0% in the empire so a "unity government" would have diplomatic problems that a "diverse government" would not.... but the "unity government" would have greater happiness internally

Some one-sided ones..resource based mostly
Social (bonus from Trade increasing governments, treaties)
Technological (""research"").. not from being the most technological but from focusing on technology
Environmental (bonus from Terraformed worlds, pop boosting choices, Health boosters)

Industry and Mining are mostly captured in 'Military' as that appears to be its primary use

Spying should probably fit in somewhere... possibly "Social" and/or "Security" would be a 'high spy' Ethos



In any case, the idea is that the Primary Effect on the Ethos Alignments would be your "Civics" choices.. Events would not have as much impact.. Although they would on the Species Alignment

some strategies and story wise interactions that I like with those Alignments
Militarist Unity=exterminate your neighbors
Pacifist Unity=surpass your neighbors/Isolationist
Elitist Diversity Militarist=conquer and enslave multiple species
Elitist Diversity Pacifist=diplomatically dominate your neighbors into vassals
Equal Diversity Militarist=forcibly assimilate multiple species
Equal Diversity Pacifist=draw species into your productive empire to make it even more so
Equal Freedom= 'Liberal' Democracies
Elite Freedom=Constitutional Monarchy, Corporate Republics
Equal Security=Totalitarian Democracies ie Athens, Group Minds
Elite Security=standard Police State/Theocracy
etc.


Also, Big Joe
an "integer movement" of Happiness does Not solve the problem of moving targets (the target is still moving on a continuous basis)... the key issue is understandability..
The player (and the game designer) is mostly concerned with Happiness, so that should be the Easy thing to see.

so
X gives +10 to Current Militarism->? what is the effect on current Happiness
X gives +10 to Target militarism (or +0.1 to Militarism growthrate)->what is the effect on current Happiness

If Current Happiness=Current Allegiance/A+Current Local 'Happiness'/B
If Current Allegiance=Ethos Alignments/C+Species Alignment/D
A-D are constants

Then the answers are Really simple
X gives +10 to Current Militarism-> -+10/(C*A) to current Happiness

X gives +10 to Target militarism (or +0.1 to Militarism growthrate)-> -+10 to Target Happiness(assuming the Target-Current relationship is well understood) or -+0.1 to current Happiness growthrate

-+ because the Species may be Militarist or Pacifist

I prefer the Target because the player knows what it will be in a shorter time frame instead of waiting for a long time for the effect to take hold (like it does with growth rate).

Basically, if you want to use growth rates instead of Targets for Alignment, do the same for Happiness (that solves the moving target)... Happiness Growthrate=Alignment GrowthRate+"Local" growth rate

PS Ethos always forces you to role play... the difference is for a "Growthrate model" you either Role play Intensely for a short amount of time ore roleplay slightly for a long amount of time for the same end reward. "Target" rewards you now based on how you've been roleplaying recently.. so in each phase of the game you look at "Allegiance Benefits medium term" v. "Costs from roleplay strategy medium term"

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Bigjoe5
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Re: Simulating Citizens

#296 Post by Bigjoe5 » Mon Feb 15, 2010 11:43 pm

RonaldX wrote:- I'm not sure how much of a free hand you want to allow the player at any point in the game. Balancing strategy with happiness, if it's going to matter at all, should have a significant enough effect to be worth including. In most 4x games, citizen unrest is only calculated as far as: base % of population is unhappy, which gets worse as you increase taxes. If we're going to go through all the trouble of making people unhappy if you don't follow the strategy they prefer, then it should be an important factor at all times or it's just not worth including.
IMO, the player should never make an individual, small decision that pits alignment against strategy. The other strategic aspects of the action should always win out so that the player doesn't have to weigh it against alignment each time he makes a decision. Instead, his big decisions that affect his overarching strategy should be such that by making good strategic decisions for the strategy that he's chosen, he will reach the extreme values for the alignment he's chosen. This applies similarly to empires who want to stay near the middle of the alignment scale, but they will have to be a bit more careful. I suspect that the strategic importance of a single smaller decision should always outweigh the amount of propaganda it would cost to correct the alignment scale. The important thing is that the player chooses an overarching strategy that supports his neutrality and therefore minimizes the cost of propaganda. In other words, the player shouldn't have to balance every single decision with his alignment, but should rather balance his strategy as a whole against it, so that actions which support that strategy automatically support his alignment, but occasional necessary deviations from that alignment will not have a devastating effect on his alignment. That is what I believe.
RonaldX wrote:- I'm not sure that warlike/peaceful is a good alignment scale to even include, since it is tied so strongly and directly to strategy. Same with developmental/expansionist. War/Peace as a scale is determined so much by your opponents that you can essentially be forced into war, or put in a position where declaring war and/or begging for peace are your only options for survival. With developing/expanding, typically a player is going to expand as rapidly as possible in the early game and then build up as much as possible in the late game.. With a limited number of systems in a galaxy, expansion can only go on for so long before you simply run out of worlds, at which point you can no longer become "more" expansionist, aside from taking them from other players, a signifigantly more complicated undertaking and not one you can always control, short of rediculous strategies like purposely losing and retaking a world.
I've already suggested that for each war in which the player is involved, he has the option to either endorse or denounce the war. A war which was declared by the player would be automatically set to "endorse" and a war which was thrust upon the player would automatically be set to "denounce". It costs trade to switch from "endorse" to "denounce", but not to switch from "denounce" to "endorse". I do agree with you about development vs. expansion though, and one of the alignment scales I propose is a question of how the empire expands, rather than on whether it does or not.
RonaldX wrote:Maybe government types themselves would provide the bonuses/maluses to races.. Ie a militocracy would give greater happiness to warlike races, less happiness to peaceful races, etc. etc.. Alignment could almost entirely be summarized by government type, and a varied enough selection of governments would provide all the variety and options a player could desire. This would make alignment changing incredibly simple because it would be controlled largely by the one variable, and you could discard scales and factors and decay and whatever else entirely. Races' allegiance would be a composite of the "Racial Treatment" factors, one of which is simply "how much that race likes your government type" (determined by their racial propensity towards war, peace, elitism, etc. and could be boiled down into a simple number).
Does have some logic to it yes, but I'd rather not go that overly simplistic route unless there's really no other option. Plus, I don't like the ability to switch between government types on-the-fly, and I don't want it in the game.
RonaldX wrote:One question.. how would a race prefer "elitism"? I mean, it's all well and good to be nobility in an elitist culture if you like it, but what if you're in an elitist culture as a slave race? Would it kind of balance out? "I like that this empire treats minorities like crap, but I'm mad at them because I'm one of the minorities they are enslaving." Ehh.. Don't really follow the logic. That seems like either a special case rule or else something to avoid as contradictory.
It wouldn't balance out. If an elitist race was enslaved, the penalty for being enslaved would overpower the bonus for being elitist. If an egalitarian empire was made an aristocrat, the penalty for having aristocrats at all would overpower the bonus for them, specifically being aristocrats. This is explained in more detail later.
eleazar wrote:
Bigjoe5 wrote:That's exactly the problem. That kind of "resource distribution tradeoff" is already there. If the player chooses more technology over more warships, he's already making that choice of how to use his resources, and adding a further, very similar layer to that strategic decision is superfluous, even counterproductive. However, the additional strategic interest which is added by pairs of opposing alignments is very different and much more interesting.
* First off, the "limited resources trade-off" is a tried and true mechanic at the heart of 4X games and a lot of other strategy games. It's senseless to dismiss a new mechanic because it also operates within a well established framework.
My point is that you're just reiterating a strategic tradeoff which already exists in the game as it is now. If that's all the alignment system will do, we're almost as well off without it.
eleazar wrote:A couple points that but need to be made:

* "Xenophobic" doesn't make sense in anybodies alignment/ethos system. Xenophobia can't be objective. If the Trith and EAWAX are xenophobic, and the Purple empire is acting xenophobic, by destroying anyone but the Trith, it makes no sense for the EAWAX to like Purple for xenophobia's sake. Xenophobia is subjective. It would lead the EAWAX to like empires that destroy everyone except the EAWAX. Xenophobia may be possible to include with the subjective side of allegiance.

* I highly doubt regular species will routinely have 2 resource bonuses. That makes species less unique and thus less strategically interesting. Having 1 resource bonus (or a non-resource bonus) per species also makes it less likely that the acquisition of a species in its self will provide all the resources needed to make them happy in a non-paired alignment setup.
I don't think those points need to made at all. They're just nitpicking at the details of my example without really addressing the core of the argument. In addition, you're making some assumptions about the nature of "Xenophobia" and imposing some arbitrary restrictions on race statistics which aren't realistic (or really relevant to the point I was trying to make).
eleazar wrote:Nobody is arguing that this would be boring. Sure it sounds cool. My complaint is that in practice it would be as fun as it sounds trying to keep both species as citizens with clumsy and indirect means of pushing the balance between the two specie's alignment back and forth.
I would argue that it would be no more fun to try to keep both species as citizens with clumsy and indirect means of pushing several different alignment meters upwards and trying to keep them all above the riot threshold with limited resources. If the problem you describe exists in a system of paired alignment scales, it certainly exists in a system of unpaired alignment scales. The main difference is that the relationship between two opposing ethoi is more clearly defined in a paired alignment system, which makes the balancing act less annoying (because it's more direct and easier to see how his actions are favouring one species over another) and the strategic tradeoff more intriguing. Basically, an 8-way free-for-all is harder to manage and keep track of, as well as being less interesting than 4 separate duels, but they're still using the same clumsy weapons. (Since this is your main (only?) reason for preferring unpaired alignments, this point probably deserves quite a bit more discussion and clarification.)
eleazar wrote:* As mentioned before species wouldn't get super-charged with 2 resource bonuses
This, as I mentioned above, is an unrealistic and unnecessarily restricting edict. Besides, races are going to be customizable anyway. It seems silly to impose that kind of restriction on the player when he's designing a race.
eleazar wrote:* Getting a high alignment wouldn't be as easy as you assume.
I haven't had time to keep up with the great volume in this thread, so for several pages, i've only been skimming that which doesn't pertain to this subject. What i've gotten as the idea of how you think alignment meters should move -- once they start on a direction, they keep going until reversed -- does not make sense for my non-paired system. I haven't nailed it down, but the general functioning should be so: If you stop exploring, your "Exploratory" meter stops advancing (unless we want to smooth it out with a target and lagging current, in which case it would soon stop advancing). It might even start decaying back to nothing. In other words you can't rest on your laurels.
That doesn't change the fact that getting that alignment back up there will be greatly assisted by having a species with a resource production bonus which complements its ethos. It essentially adds a positive feedback loop to getting new species.
eleazar wrote:* There may need to be an additional counterbalance to the "gotta-catch-em-all", such as a small negative to the allegiance of all species, with each additional (free?) species added to the empire. The rationalization is that it is easier to keep everyone happy when you only have to cater to one group, as many human nations have trouble keeping multiple ethnic groups happy.
I don't think an additional rule like that would really feel natural... it's better if such a counterbalance were somehow a part of the system itself, for example having a species in your empire that likes only technology and exploration would get a slight penalty to all the other alignment scales as a natural consequence of having that species in your empire. That seems more natural to me. Either way though, balancing factors are always going to be both necessary and available, regardless of what model is used.
eleazar wrote:* Slave/prison species shouldn't be "very productive", just more productive than a planet that is rioting/rebelling, in other words less productive than a full citizen. The main advantage of that state is that they can't break away. Making it increase production makes it too strong. The rationalization is that the unfree are not motivated to do more than the minimum required, and such a situation doesn't allow much innovation -- and security costs a lot.
That point is still very much undetermined, but either way, the other species would still be producing resources needed to raise its own allegiance to its owners. Also, the happiness penalty, and therefore significant espionage vulnerability is a very strong counterbalance to having slave planets - increased productivity wouldn't necessarily be an overpowered advantage.
eleazar wrote:So the scenario would really play out something like this:

...

We still got plenty of strategically interesting choices-- more than MoO had in this area, and without the problems that come with paired scales.
Somewhat interesting, yes, but not as interesting as if there were paired alignments, and as I've pointed out, certainly not without whatever problems might come with paired alignments.
eleazar wrote:
Bigjoe5 wrote:You can't really deny, though, that having more exploration is better, or that having lots of species in your empire is better, or that not getting caught in espionage is better. The point is that having a higher value on all of these allegiance meters really is getting you closer to winning the game, since they're all something good.
So? The player is not going to be engaging in inherently useless actions-- anything we let him do should at least potentially take him closer to victory. None of the scales anyone has proposed consist of inherently un-useful or even harmful actions. It's all stuff that potentially is on the path to victory.
Unpaired alignment scales make it extremely difficult to follow a diplomatic strategy. Suppose there are 8 scales. In your system, a player who is only trying to please one species will always be 4 times higher on the alignment scale than the diplomatic empire, from the beginning of the game, right up to the end. There's no way the diplomatic empire is going to get his species-empire alignments to compensate for that. In a paired alignment system, the diplomatic empire will start with an advantage to species-empire alignment possibly due to racial picks, techs and other factors. This will more than cancel out the small (but gradually increasing) differences between his empire's ethical compatibility alignments and those of his opponents, and should keep his overall allegiance from just about every species quite a bit higher than their allegiance to their owner empire, until fairly late in the game, at which point the diplomatic empire should be at a decisive advantage from having accumulated enough resources and weakened the other empires by playing them against each other (if his strategy was successful). In your system, you've forced the player to balance all of the ethical compatibility alignments against each other, rather than just pitting them against each other in pairs, which means that there's no way he's ever going to get a decent value for any of them unless he focuses on just a few specifically. And there's no way to fix it, because the very problem I've just described is the whole point of the system of unpaired alignment scales, and it doesn't work unless it really is difficult to get high alignments in everything.

I've thrown together a quick example of what a system of paired opposite alignments would look like, which includes 4 alignments, what will affect their current and growth values, their strategic tradeoffs, and how they interact with the diplomatic strategy. This allows 24 possible ethoi, assuming two ethical preferences per species, though I suspect that only about 5 or 6 really good combinations will be chosen.

Paired Alignments wiki page

Edit: number of possible ethoi
Last edited by Bigjoe5 on Tue Feb 16, 2010 2:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Krikkitone
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Re: Simulating Citizens

#297 Post by Krikkitone » Tue Feb 16, 2010 12:35 am

Not that I agree with all those scales but....
Quick note: Instead of Diplomatic v. Xenophobic, Call it Diplomatic v. Isolationist

Xenophobic has the potential implication of hating other species... wheras you are strictly talking about other empires
ie Diplomacy v. no diplomacy

(also that one has potential trouble early in the game.... the "natural decay" towards the isolation side should probably only take place when you have the potential for diplomacy with another empire)

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Re: Simulating Citizens

#298 Post by Bigjoe5 » Tue Feb 16, 2010 1:35 am

Krikkitone wrote:Also, Big Joe
an "integer movement" of Happiness does Not solve the problem of moving targets (the target is still moving on a continuous basis)... the key issue is understandability..
The player (and the game designer) is mostly concerned with Happiness, so that should be the Easy thing to see.

...
It's hard to tell if you're arguing for a composite happiness value, or a target alignment model. If it's the former, I'm not sure that the difference is really significant enough for there to be a really significant reason why not; moving target or composite happiness are both different types of complexity which are both fairly trivial and difficult to weigh from a theoretical standpoint (I say that the moving target is trivial because even with all alignment meters moving at maximum, assuming maximum is +1 per turn, that's the most that target happiness will ever move in a turn, and usually it will be moving at a far slower rate than that). If it's the latter, then the point you're arguing is trivial compared to the bigger question of what the growth-current model does for gameplay.
Krikkitone wrote:PS Ethos always forces you to role play... the difference is for a "Growthrate model" you either Role play Intensely for a short amount of time ore roleplay slightly for a long amount of time for the same end reward. "Target" rewards you now based on how you've been roleplaying recently.. so in each phase of the game you look at "Allegiance Benefits medium term" v. "Costs from roleplay strategy medium term"
It's definitely a stretch to say that alignment scales could ever be maxed out in a short amount of time. Also, with the growth model, the player only has to weigh "allegiance benefits long-term" vs. "costs from role-playing strategy long-term", and he only has to evaluate this decision once at the beginning of the game, and again later on only if the strategic situation changes drastically. This is more significant and interesting than having to re-evaluate this decision more often just because alignment can shift away from the extremes more easily, and therefore a smaller shift in the strategic situation can throw the player's alignment choices into question (because it will take less deviation from his strategy to reverse his alignments, so to maintain allegiance he needs to have a less flexible strategy, and therefore analyze it with a more critical eye).
Krikkitone wrote:Not that I agree with all those scales but....
Why are the alternative scales you suggested preferable? At the moment, mine appear to be better, since I've identified exactly which gameplay factors will affect them, what the strategic implications are of each pair, and how each pair relates in a desirable way to the diplomatic strategy, and in all of these things, the scales I've devised show an ability to create strategic interest while being affected by a very small number of significant factors.
Krikkitone wrote:Quick note: Instead of Diplomatic v. Xenophobic, Call it Diplomatic v. Isolationist
That's probably a good idea.
Krikkitone wrote:(also that one has potential trouble early in the game.... the "natural decay" towards the isolation side should probably only take place when you have the potential for diplomacy with another empire)
That's not necessarily a bad thing. This is what drives the diplomatic empire to reach out more quickly and contact other empires. Such an empire would probably use outposts and long-rang scouts to make contact with other empires the most quickly, before their isolationism starts to have a significant effect on allegiance. Bloodthirsty and Appropriative empires would probably do something similar. In contrast, Isolationists would probably want to fill out their own little section of the galaxy as much as possible before reaching out into the rest of the galaxy.
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Re: Simulating Citizens

#299 Post by RonaldX » Tue Feb 16, 2010 4:46 pm

Bigjoe5 wrote:Does have some logic to it yes, but I'd rather not go that overly simplistic route unless there's really no other option. Plus, I don't like the ability to switch between government types on-the-fly, and I don't want it in the game.
Easily remedied by using a civ-3 style period of revolution and anarchy where all production grinds to a half for x turns until the new government finally takes control. Players would have to seriously consider changing government types, knowing that they will be virtually defenseless for the turns it takes to switch.

In any case, I might whip up some numbers and just see if a government type alignment system is even feasable. I don't expect it to be used, but again, as a fallback it could work, and I have some time off this week. The mental exercise will do me good.

-Ty.

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Re: Simulating Citizens

#300 Post by Krikkitone » Tue Feb 16, 2010 5:31 pm

Bigjoe5 wrote:
Krikkitone wrote:Also, Big Joe
an "integer movement" of Happiness does Not solve the problem of moving targets (the target is still moving on a continuous basis)... the key issue is understandability..
The player (and the game designer) is mostly concerned with Happiness, so that should be the Easy thing to see.

...
It's hard to tell if you're arguing for a composite happiness value, or a target alignment model. If it's the former, I'm not sure that the difference is really significant enough for there to be a really significant reason why not; moving target or composite happiness are both different types of complexity which are both fairly trivial and difficult to weigh from a theoretical standpoint (I say that the moving target is trivial because even with all alignment meters moving at maximum, assuming maximum is +1 per turn, that's the most that target happiness will ever move in a turn, and usually it will be moving at a far slower rate than that). If it's the latter, then the point you're arguing is trivial compared to the bigger question of what the growth-current model does for gameplay.
I'm arguing for composite Happiness, which is in all ways simpler
Whether the "persistent" portions are based on Targets or Growth Rates, the player needs to be able to Easily tell in the next 10-20 turns what their happiness will do.
That is not possible with a Target Happiness based on a moving target.

If Happiness is moving at 1 per turn to Target and Target moves +0.3 per turn
Current Happiness=27
Current Target Happiness=18

Then what do the next 20 turns look like... how low will my current Happiness go... not easy to tell.

If Happiness is a composite value,
Then it is EITHER (Target system)
Hapiness moves as X/turn (however current moves to target)
Current Happiness=27
Target Happiness=18
I know my Happiness will move down (and only down) until it reaches 18, unless I do something.

OR (Growth rate System)
Happiness is moving at +0.3 per turn (based on Alignment+Local movements)
Current Happiness=27 (somehow you got a boost that moved you ahead of Alignments.. good for you)

My Happiness will eventually reach 100 (at +0.3 per turn) unless I do something

Composite Happiness is Needed and LESS complex (especially as we are 'compositing it' through Addition/Averaging)
We have composite production (Population x Resource Meter, and that is through multiplication)

Ask why we don't have Production as a seperate Target?
Target Production=Current population x Current Resource Meter/10
Because that would be an unnecessary complication
Instead we just have the two factors multipliy to give it directly
Production=Current population x Current Resource Meter/10

So do the same with Happiness
Happiness=Current Allegiance+Current Local Effects (maybe divide them both by 2 or subtract 50 or something but keep it simple)
Bigjoe5 wrote:
Krikkitone wrote:Not that I agree with all those scales but....
Why are the alternative scales you suggested preferable? At the moment, mine appear to be better, since I've identified exactly which gameplay factors will affect them, what the strategic implications are of each pair, and how each pair relates in a desirable way to the diplomatic strategy, and in all of these things, the scales I've devised show an ability to create strategic interest while being affected by a very small number of significant factors.
You do realize that of our 4 scales only 1 is truly different right?
my Freedom v Security and your Acquisition v. Expansion
In that case I feel mine is better since it doesn't require a new thing to be kept track of, and it is potentially broader

Same with my Unity v. Diversity and your Diplomacy v. Isolationist/Xenophobia
Mine encompasses broader aspects besides just diplomacy. (although admitedly it leaves diplomacy behind when you and your neighbors all have the same species... but that can be modified by modifying the Civics that affect those alignments)

Note: "The" diplomatic strategy should depend on your environment, if you are surrounded by all 24 of the different Ethoi, then the diplomatic strategy will consist of you leading one group of allies to crush another (ie some empires you "get" as friends when your actual friends conquer them.)

Also, if there is going to be some sort of "Elected Galactic President Diplomatic Victory" Then it needs to be a multi-player win (ie If I vote for the winning side, I 'win' too.... otherwise there is no reason to do Anything but abstain, because a vote for someone else is a vote for a loss. Perhaps the one Actually elected gets a large point bonus.)



Also, Especially for Alignment I think the "Civics" option is probably the best. (Some "Civics" options should be more flexible than others..ie more Temporary Settings, others should be Harder to change ie Anarchy, massive loss of Efficiency or Happiness that slowly builds back up.)
You are right in that Ethos Alignment should probably be something that doesn't change often over time, and I think that having the "Persistent" effect (Target or growth rate) dominate (by having Alignment relate predominately to Civics that affect Actions rather than directly to Actions) would be a good solution.
Species-Empire Alignment can be dominated by the "Current" effects (ie this is where the 'you killed someone' shows up..ie when the someone is us.)

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