Balancing gifting with influence and stability

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Oberlus
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Re: Balancing gifting with influence and stability

#16 Post by Oberlus »

Ophiuchus wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 10:23 am
Oberlus wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 12:54 pm And also about keeping longer in game the differences in gameplay that comes with the different species. ...
Maybe there is a solution, maybe there isn't, but the problem is there.
You seem to think that this problem is not there for "regular" conquest, or acquiring natives.
We've mentioned three ways of acquiring a new species:
Oberlus wrote: Mon Sep 07, 2020 2:39 pm Ways to acquire another species and their costs: [...]
Real conquest of a planet involves expending on armed ships and troop ships, so a lot of PPs that could have been invested on new colonies. This takes a toll on the invader empire (specially if invasion mission fails). I take that as the base case for balance. Also, by lowering stability to zero on invasion, we delay output from the invaded colony and building of more colonies with the new species. Of course, the attacked empire also takes a toll regardless of the result, by losing a colony and/or armed ships.

Exchange by gifting involves no cost currently: each empire loses one colony and gains one colony, with no risk of failure, no need of armed ships or troop ships. This means that early game you are always better off dealing with a neighbour that has a species that complements well with yours: you and your neighbour become the same kind of empire (boring), both can speed up colonization and probably boost research/production with no extra investment or risks. Other players that go the hard route of invasion, or that do not have complementary species nearby (because similar to yours or because no good/adeq. planets for that species in your space), will progress slower. So it becomes a no-brainer to do species exchange early game. That is not good.
For those of us that think that species gifting is OP, for the reasons mentioned above and in the rest of this thread, it shall require some IP investment, I guess comparable to at least the PP cost of the troop ships to invade (something hard to measure, we could use first IP_cost = 10 + 2*population of gifted planet). It's not like we want to make it harder than invasion, just not absurdly cheap.

Exchange by fake conquest involves nearly no cost: each empire loses and gains one colony, no risk of failure, and only needed the cheapest troop ship. And we can't impose an IP cost here since that would also affect real conquest. This is rather bad:
- If game settings allowed gifting (that costs IP to balance it against real conquest), exchange by fake conquest would be an exploit since it could be used to bypass the IP_cost, and hence it would be used, making the IP cost for gifting just a silly rule that forces players to micromanage the fake conquests. I think that needs addressing for the same reasons than exchange by gifting.
- If game settings were "no_diplomacy-no_gifting", exchange by fake conquest is an obvious exploit since it allows to do something supposedly forbidden. So even if you don't buy any other reason, this should be enough to consider fixing fake conquest, regardless of giving gifting an IP cost or not.

I still dont think this is a real problem though. At least until we define a multiplayer-story which sais that early mixed empires should be expensive to acquire or another that sais all starting positions (and all possible alliances) should be equal. In board games at least uneven starting positions get evened out to a agree by the weaker ones banding together against the stronger ones.
It might be that this is different with FO because you do not have such a good overview (so you are not so sure who is strong) and its hard to strike somebody far away (so you cant really decide whom to fight).
In current game, with Magnate PP/RP skyrocketing (and with Omni-scanner researched), Hyperant was given the choice to recover its HW and the bunch of planets I took from him and granted alliance until he decides to break it, in exchange of joining me and o01eg against Magnate. He declined and proceeded to gift all his assets to Magnate, making any resistance from me and o01eg futile. Here there was a story of small allying with big to finish over the losing alliance of smalls.
In this game species exchange by gifting made Magnate-Hyperant powerful, but we have more examples on previous games. In one with Alleryn we two got fat thanks to early species exchange (Egassem+Laenfa). TheSilentOne, L29Ah and o01eg allied together and got the win; swaq was first with us, then with them, and (when Alleryn and I were falling down) finally with us again till the end. So in that game we have the opposite story regarding alliances: small ally against big.
Summing up, there is no clear patter for alliance movements, but there is for early species exchange being always a boost (and hence a nobrainer).
So I do think we have a multiplayer-story about mixed-empires should be equally expensive to acquire through the different means (conquest, gifting...), instead of clearly cheaper by one mean that becomes a nobrainer that also makes empires very similar.


For mid game I don't think we need any special mechanic: empires are big enough by that time to be able to engage in invasion missions and have got time to suffer/enjoy their lack/abundance of planets to colonize during early game.

For early game...
Once we get species-integration-into-empire mechanics, we can make integration from conquest harder than from gifting, so that (when allowed) gifting is better than fake conquest, which would address my concerns for games where gifting is allowed. We already have some sort of colony-integration mechanic, stability, that even with (moderate) IP costs makes gifting better than conquest.
But that does not solve the problem when gifting is not allowed, since species acquisition by fake conquest is cheaper than by real conquest.
The only way I can think of is your idea about increasing troops (not for mid game but from start): The fake conquest involves attacking with an armed ship and troops a colony on the turn it gets established. A partial solution would be to set troops meter to target meter when established. Not working for rushers that do the exchange before getting first defense troop tech. So... what about adding a base number of troops from start to every inhabited planet? 6 could be the number (to force using more than one medium-hull troop ship). The first defense troop tech could be nerfed to give another 6 (down from 10).


Natives are not a concern (and do not need being addressed here). We can give them (more) planetary defense and troops to make them not free, at least for CanColonize natives. But the minimum 6 troops patch could work for them too.



The equal-starting-positions is something that would be great to have as an option at game settings (you might want it or not). That's a different subject though.

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LienRag
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Re: Balancing gifting with influence and stability

#17 Post by LienRag »

Ophiuchus wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 8:50 am
I think the underlying "problem" is that acquiring a trait with huge leverage needs only minimal commitment (e.g. one population of good pilots to build a better fleet).
So the solution to that problem is that in order to benefit from a species trade one must invest in that species e.g. in terms of population-space, rare-resource allocation or similar.
Indeed. And that is a problem whose scope extends far beyond the disequilibrium brought by easy gifting of species.
After reading this article (and also the allusions Brett Devereaux often makes to the Roman military system where socii troops played an important role, providing specialists that complements efficiently the Manipule system) I thought that introducing Tributes would be really neat.

Each conquered planet would have to pay a Tribute in pilots, and ships would not be able to leave the shipyards without the right number of pilots.

By fixing the number of pilots each Hull type needs, we also help differentiating Hulls and Hull lines (Small hulls would require one pilot as would Flux and Bubble, Titanic Hulls would require 20 pilots – that would make other Hull lines more competitive if Sentient Hull would require only 10 and Scattered Asteroid Hull only 15).

That is, if one has two Mu Urshes planets in the same Supply Group with Tributes of 10 and 15 pilots respectively (depending on their population, closeness to the Capitol or whatever) could only produce on a Mu Ursh planet ships totaling 25 pilots each turns (so one Titanic and 5 small, for example). Unused pilots would stay in the mess and be used for later ships, of course.

Ships build without enough pilots would not join a Fleet, they would stay completed and grayed in the Production Queue until enough Pilots would be available.

This allow also to modify the Tribute required either by direct choice (the Empire can be more or less greedy, impacting population happiness) or through Policies or even via Influence Projects.

After a while and with enough Happiness on a planet, the planet can also generate Volunteers : additional pilots (with a better morale if ship morale is implemented) that join by themselves, without being compelled by the Tribute system (that would be the starting option for the starting specie). Maybe a Military Academy or a High Salary For Specialists military policy could boost that.

With this Tribute mechanism, giving away the planet that a Specie occupies doesn’t give unlimited pilots, only the defined Tribute. We can even develop Diplomatic mechanisms that will impact this Tribute : planets given as a « slave trade » would produce very small Tributes, planets given with the consent of the population (through Influence or whatever) would produce big tributes.


Ophiuchus wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 8:50 am
Another solution would be tying both stability and the use of a trait to population representation (like in my government institutions/seats idea).
What i mean by that:
  • some way of marking representation. Representation leads to stability for such species. So usually you would want species with the most population to be represented to have less stability issues.
  • without representation eaxaw wont build (war-)ships. (This could be the same for all good pilots or different for species)
  • without representation of a telepathic species, telepathy is not cheaper to research..
Very interesting indeed.


Ophiuchus wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 8:50 am
We could try first to use only stability:
  • some restricted way of adding stability to a species. e.g. imperial palace and maybe a second building with a lower effect. Or adding stability for a species based on species-population/all-population ratio in the empire.
  • below a certain threshold of stability a planet cant build ships. maybe a higher threshold for military ships (troop, fighters and weapon parts)
Interesting idea.
I would even have different thresholds for differents Hulls (the bigger the higher the threshold). Maybe even have a preferred Hull Line (like Robotic for Robotic metabolism, Asteroid for Lithic, …) and have higher thresholds for non-preferred Hull Line.

Ophiuchus wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 8:50 am
[*]telepathy is cheaper to research based on sum-over-planets(telepathy-population * stability), so it becomes cheaper (or simply apply the ratio of telepathic-population/all-population to the reduction)
I see your point and it’s not a bad idea, but I really like the way getting at least one planet of a Telepathic specie is a boon to fight for right now. It’s not like getting a Good Pilot specie, it’s a one-time boon, I think it’s not a problem (except with the specific problem of planet gifiting) and should be kept.


Ophiuchus wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 3:36 pm
wobbly wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 2:23 pm I'd like to see the mix of pilots be a closer match to the mix of species in the empire. Not just for balance reason, but for atmospheric reason. Vast fleets made up of all the races of the empire sort of thing. Trouble is I can't think of a clean mechanic for it, due to the way freeorion lets you spend all your production in 1 place.
I suggested different target preferences for different species. Differing in: proud species likes to take down dangerous enemies, efficient species does not like to waste shots,...
So you could lure proud pilots to shoot at the wrong ships (putting the best shields on the dangerous ships).
It’s a bit out of topic, but I really like this idea...

wobbly wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 2:23 pm
I could see empires ending up with allied races naturally through civilian lines. Traders, workers etc.
That would be very nice, but I also agree with you on the fact that I can't see how to make it possible with the current game mechanisms.

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Re: Balancing gifting with influence and stability

#18 Post by Oberlus »

LienRag wrote: Fri Sep 11, 2020 2:11 am I thought that introducing Tributes would be really neat.

Each conquered planet would have to pay a Tribute in pilots, and ships would not be able to leave the shipyards without the right number of pilots.
[...]
Unused pilots would stay in the mess and be used for later ships, of course.

Ships build without enough pilots would not join a Fleet, they would stay completed and grayed in the Production Queue until enough Pilots would be available.
That means
- tracking how many unused pilots you have for each species, and putting that somewhere in the UI,
- dealing with players confused about why their 10 titans are stuck in 100% completion in their newly acquired Misiorla world,
- a new window for species management (also required for species-empires relations) to set tributes, unused pilots could be shown here.

A priori I don't like the idea of having only a few pilots from a whole planet, but I see the benefits.

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Re: Balancing gifting with influence and stability

#19 Post by Ophiuchus »

Oberlus wrote: Fri Sep 11, 2020 8:25 am
LienRag wrote: Fri Sep 11, 2020 2:11 am I thought that introducing Tributes would be really neat.

Each conquered planet would have to pay a Tribute in pilots, and ships would not be able to leave the shipyards without the right number of pilots.
[...]
Unused pilots would stay in the mess and be used for later ships, of course.

Ships build without enough pilots would not join a Fleet, they would stay completed and grayed in the Production Queue until enough Pilots would be available.
That means
- tracking how many unused pilots you have for each species, and putting that somewhere in the UI,
Actually, you must track on every planet the number of available pilots and sum that up and present it somewhere. Also you must decrease it on use.
Oberlus wrote: Fri Sep 11, 2020 8:25 am - dealing with players confused about why their 10 titans are stuck in 100% completion in their newly acquired Misiorla world,
It would also have to be considered in production queue forecast. Number of available pilots would be a second resource next to PP and you would need both to finish your ships.


I think the costs in implementation and UI are high for even the most KISS version - every planet or amount of population simply adds a fixed amount of available pilots.
Any code or patches in anything posted here is released under the CC and GPL licences in use for the FO project.

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Re: Balancing gifting with influence and stability

#20 Post by LienRag »

Ophiuchus wrote: Fri Sep 11, 2020 6:31 pm
I think the costs in implementation and UI are high for even the most KISS version - every planet or amount of population simply adds a fixed amount of available pilots.
I reluctantly agree to this conclusion...

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