Large Empires-How they break apart

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utilae
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Large Empires-How they break apart

#1 Post by utilae » Tue Nov 23, 2004 9:19 pm

There's been some discussion about capping ships economically by cost and making it so that larger empires have to pay an expense 'empire management fee' to keep the cost of ships the same for small empires and large empires, so that a ship that is expensive for a small empuire will still be expensive for large empires.

Now I would like to extend from this, and bring in the goal of making it possible for a small empire to take on a large empire without it being impossible.

EMPIRE MANAGEMENT FEE
Basically each empire has to pay a fee for each system they control. This is to keep local governments from having there own agenda to the point where there agenda gets out of control and factions begin to form and before you know it the empire is not an empire any more, but 5 smaller empires.

So you should have to pay a fee for each system that the empire has. The fee could be paid with money, it could be a new meter, I don't know, but will think about it. If you don't pay the fee well enough, then you run the risk of a faction forming (named after the system). When the faction has formed you still have some control over it, through diplomacy. Though there is always the risk that the faction will spread its views to other nearby systems (another of your systems joins with faction X). Even then there is the risk that the faction will become a rebelion/pirate faction and start building ships and waging war (they have to build a shipyard for this, though if they expensive I don't know if they will afford it unless pirates lend them ships). Of course with proper diplomacy or spying (kill the enemy leaders) or even send troops to the planet, you can get systems back and nullify the faction.

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#2 Post by Prokonsul Piotrus » Tue Nov 23, 2004 10:15 pm

It looks to me like corruption in Civ games. The idea has some merit, but not much - I hated it in all games I played. It was very primitive and hampered the development of my empires with rather unrealistic assumptions (and made the game less playable). After all, if we make a cap on empire size - what's the point of it? I remember varius games in Civ and SMAC where I had to stop expansion because of that. Brrr.

First, we need to ask ourselves: why should we have a corruption/management penalty for larger empires?

I don't think that the argument 'small should take out big' is valid. Small is bad. Small is stupid AI or bad or unlucky player, all of which deserve their fate (i.e. destruction at the hand of bigger empires). I don't want to bring argument 'in Earth history, small always lost', but it should be kept in mind as well.

But I agree that in larger empires are faced by problems not faced by smaller ones. Again, history proves it (Roman Empire, Alexander the Great Empire, all colonial empires, Russian empire, Austro-Hungarian empire, Soviet empire, need I mention more?). But while looking at history, we also see some empires (using that term loosely) that are quite stable - China and USA are best examples. Now the reason for this has to deal with various cultural and technological factors, mainly:
*conquered - or simply diffrent cultural - population is often restless and will try to rebel and break away from an empire if it can
*slow comminication encourages all kind of ferment and rebellion, since it reduces the speed of reaction of central goverment
*not that revelant here, but rememer that many big empires have fallen with much help of outside agressors

Having said that, I'd like for such factors to play a role in FO, resulting in system rebellions like utilae proposed, or other solutions disussed previously or taken from other games (like Civ3 clutural speheres of infuences, love that idea). But number of systems should not play much factor here. The distances from central gov should be important only if communication technology is not instantenous. Imprtant factors IMHO would be:
* racial creation pics - how loyal is our race (hive vs individuals)? how does it react to other cultures - copy, indiffrent, assimilte, hate?
* type of goverment - how does it affect the above? how likely is it to grant antonomy and allow sececion (compare Chechny in Russia vs. various automic region in Western Europe)
* culture influence - did this empire conquere/assimilate some other cultures? are other cultures influencing this empire or is our culture dominant?
* population happiness - would they wont to revolt? are we winning or losing the war? how is our economy?

However please keep in mind that this idea is good if we use it to add strategic depth, but it can cripple the game if used for puprose of some arbitrary cap like 'an empire should only be this big cause we say so'.
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Small vs Big

#3 Post by guiguibaah » Tue Nov 23, 2004 11:35 pm

The problem with unlimited expansion is that it, too, is a positive feedback mechanism. You get bigger and bigger and eventually take over systems without the use of guile, technology, strategy, or whatnot, but though sheer numbers. Often enough, key battles are won or lost early game and that creates the "Aw crud, I lost that battle, now he's going to pour into my systems and it's game over. Bah, new game"

Starcraft was like this - the top ladder players would actually comment how a tiny battle at early game meant if they won or lost, because both were that good at expanding like mad.

Warcraft 3 turns the tide a little, in that yes, you can go with that huge army, but you're not getting as much money coming in that could go to buy things like items, upgrades, or buildings. So there's a negative feedback mechanism involved, that brings the state back to balance.
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#4 Post by Ranos » Wed Nov 24, 2004 2:38 am

This is one area that, IMO, MOO3 handled well. It used Heavy Foot of Government or HFoG. Every empire started out with an HFoG of 1. As the empire expanded and the population grew, I think it was affected by number of planets, number of systems and population, the number increased.

This number was used to multiply the cost of construction for everything. It may also have affected the cost of research but I could be wrong. This meant that if empire A was 10% larger than empire B, it was costing empire A 10% more to build/research things than empire B. This could also be applied to maintenance fees in FO.

Based maintenance cost for ship type 5 is $100. Empire A pays $110 while empire B pays the normal $100. This solves the maintenance problem as well as all construction and research.
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#5 Post by utilae » Wed Nov 24, 2004 3:28 am

Prokonsul Piotrus wrote: First, we need to ask ourselves: why should we have a corruption/management penalty for larger empires?
This empire management penaly will apply to empires of all sizes, though the penalty will be bigger for larger empires.
Prokonsul Piotrus wrote: However please keep in mind that this idea is good if we use it to add strategic depth, but it can cripple the game if used for puprose of some arbitrary cap like 'an empire should only be this big cause we say so'.
I do not want a cap, so much as a means of keeping control of the empire. By keeping control I mean that the government keeps control over local governments and prevents them from making moves to gain power, etc.

If there was a cap, then going over the cap would be possible, but the empire would be at risk of breaking apart (of course you would have to be over the cap for a long time). The 'breaking apart' would start with one system becoming neurtral/hostile and they would name themselves (according to there system I guess). This system would be like a cancer, so it can spread and have other systems break off and join the existing faction. Eventually if things get really bad you either have a faction consisting of your former star systems or a few factions consisting of your former star systems.

What fun is war, if you cannot have a civil war within your empires borders as well as a war outside of your empires borders. It would make the game interesting. This system must be kept simple though (the Moo3 system was too complex) and even having too many factors in this could make it too complex.

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#6 Post by PowerCrazy » Wed Nov 24, 2004 5:57 am

I think the best way to prevent a run away snowball effect thing is to cap it by technology. Of course at the end of the tech tree the cap will be gone.

However in the early middle and late game there should be some transition techs. THese are a group of techs that allow your empire to grow larger/faster then it could previously. This could manifest itself as maximum number of colonies, a maximum number of colonists, or maybe even a maximum distance a planet can be from your capital.

The general trend would be that these techs will increase these limits and empires will more or less grow together. The only effect fast expansion will have is that a fast growing empire will gain a little bit more at its cap then a slower growing empire would. Thus it would get a small leg up on its rivals as far as production time is concerned.

But wouldn't they be able to research the next growth tech faster than everyone else? Yes. But if we coupled this system with the tech sharing idea from SMAC we take away some of the advantage of the large empire by not allowing them to keep it absolutely.

Also we are not trying to make a Small empire eqaul to a Large empire. We are tryign to get a Slightly smaller empire to not fall completely behind a slightly larger empire. Basically we want to make sure that if you lose a planet to an enemy early in the game you are not screwed forever, but the enemy will defintely have an advantage, however you will get an advantage as far as tech research goes etc.

There is a price for being the best and that price is what should balance our game.
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#7 Post by utilae » Wed Nov 24, 2004 7:18 am

Basically what happened to the roman empire should be able to happen to an empire in FreeOrion. That's what I am aiming for.

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#8 Post by Bastian-Bux » Wed Nov 24, 2004 7:47 am

Ahhhh SNOWBALL :).

Well, I think we need a dimishing return here. Even at the endgame holding the whole galaxy should be barely profitable. There are severall ways to achieve that, one of the most important beeing morale mali to backwater and new planets.

The bigger and more magnificent an empire is, the more it is a kind of penality to be send to that new colony, hundreds of light years away from "Rome".

Dont make it an hard cap, and not to many counteractors. I think morale is perfect.

The result would be like this:

in early game no player has to carry about the size of its empire.

In mid game the planets close to "home" will be bathed in its magnificent light. but those further out, will be slowly viewed as less desirable. The morale will drop, but that can be counteracted with morale improvments. Though "panem et circenses" will eat up a considerable part of that colonies budget. If outer pressure is added, those colonies will first experience a morale boost (common enemies usualy unite a nation), but will be VERY succeptible to morale lowering effects of the war. Like "oh, we lost that battle, soon our colonies will be invaded. This incompetent gouvernment at home gives a s... about us out here".

In late game this will be even stronger. Only incompetent and undesirable bureaucrats are send out into the cold to gouvern the backwater planets. Whoever is smart or good enough, will leave this area to flock to greener pastures. This will lead to a generationlong feeling of worthlessness and alienation, which must be fought heavily with morale increasing campaigns, and heavy build up of that planets. But thats the trick: to keep morale from dropping too low, you have to spend so much of that planets ressources that you don't have enough to build it up fast enough to keep it on par with the other planets. its a negative snowball on a regional level to counter the global positive feedback.

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#9 Post by utilae » Wed Nov 24, 2004 9:48 pm

Yes, that is true. When a system is further away from home, there is less police, etc then crime can lead to crisis. Local government overthrown. System becomes a rebelious faction.

Any new ideas for this thread? I was thinking an empire management fee could be used to keep your empire together, cause it fits in with also being an economic cap on ships. Of course some kind of management meter would be good as well. The management meter has to be equal or higher than the amount of management the system requires. Of course this management would include the unseen things, such as corrupt politians, crime, unhappy people, power grabbing oppurtunities.

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#10 Post by iamrobk » Wed Nov 24, 2004 10:35 pm

I think that the further a plent is from yourn homeworld, the more unrest (or whatever unit we use) is added to the planet. Star Wars was kinda like this, where the fringe colonies were a lo more rebellious (like Tatooine or whatever).

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#11 Post by skdiw » Thu Nov 25, 2004 12:11 am

We discussed the snowball effect and the butter principle already. In case you guys forgotten, the link is here:

viewtopic.php?t=268

If I remembered correctly, I think different government types have different amounts of penalty on their size.
:mrgreen:

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#12 Post by Bastian-Bux » Thu Nov 25, 2004 11:09 am

Oh, that one I didn't know. Yes skdiw, we discussed it severall times, and I suppose its slowly time to bring together our suggested counteractors:

social factors:

- morale
- unrest

economical factors:

- global hfog
- local upkeep
- reduction of income/production

Anything else?

Best would be if we got one general factor that influences the others. As long as we dont know how we implement morale and unrest, its hard to envision something like that.

But IF a lower morale leads to more unrest, and more unrest leads to lesser income/production. And IF low morale can be countered with buildings or focusing on morale, thus increasing upkeep or decreasing income/production. Then I'd choose to use morale as the counteractor screw. Its always easier to balance a system if you only change one element.

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#13 Post by Prokonsul Piotrus » Fri Nov 26, 2004 12:02 am

We are discussing, so far as I can see, two things: an economy penalty for being big (having many colonies) and a loyality penatly (i.e. increasing rebellion chance) for being far from HW. It is important not to confuse both thing (consider an empire with many colonies but all close to HW, and an empire with only 2 colonies but all on the far side of galaxy from HW).

Basically, yes, I agree that there should be a certan factor applied to all colonies, based on how far they are from HW. Let's call it 'HW distance factor'. I however see no reason for creating any factor based on 'colony number'. At least, I can't think of any negative factor here - I can imagine positive factors based on synergy (the more colonies, the more people, the more scientists, the more breakthroughs...ok, this is represented by the simple advantage for being big. But penalties for it? I don't see them).

I would like, however, to stress that I am strongly opposed to some global empire size limits for everyone - i.e. I am opposed to saying that *every* large empire must be penalized in the same way.

I think that the effect of 'HW distance factor' should be depenent on:
a) race picks - for example a telepathic hive race must be close to HW queen
b) goverement type - obviosly a heavy foot, centralised empire will have problems, but I don't believe that for example a democratic federation should have any penalties (anybody hear of corruption and separationist on Hawaii and Alasca?
c) other stuff I mentioned in my previous post (cuture, loyalty, etc.)

Basically I see this as a strategy tradeoff for a player in the game - do you want an empire with penalties for 'HW distance factor' compensated in some other way (ex. empire bonus (compared with democratic federation) to cadet pool and counterintellignce), or not?

In addition, while we digest the possibilty that 'HW distance factor' may be a disadvantage to some - let's consider that for others, it may be an advantage (Wild West, New World, colonisation economic boost...).
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#14 Post by utilae » Fri Nov 26, 2004 12:19 am

Prokonsul Piotrus wrote: We are discussing, so far as I can see, two things: an economy penalty for being big (having many colonies) and a loyality penatly (i.e. increasing rebellion chance) for being far from HW.
I would like both. The economic penalty for managing your empire, to help create an economic cap on ships. Effectiveley a ship that is expensive for a small empire should be just as expensive for a large empire. Not paying the management fee, does not necesarily mean you need to pay it next time, it means you have paid less then you should to effectively manage your empire. Since you have not paid enough you increase the risk of corruption. Think of management fees as paying your spies or political allies to keep an eye or keep control of far off worlds that consider themselves to be not under the governement eye. They think they are free to do what they like, etc.
Prokonsul Piotrus wrote: I however see no reason for creating any factor based on 'colony number'. At least, I can't think of any negative factor here
Think of one person trying to herd one sheep. The person can do that well. When the person has to herd 50 sheep, especially in a larger paddock, the person needs a few dogs, needs a horse, maybe some more herders. Managing more sheep requires more management skill, money, etc than managing one sheep.
Prokonsul Piotrus wrote: I would like, however, to stress that I am strongly opposed to some global empire size limits for everyone - i.e. I am opposed to saying that *every* large empire must be penalized in the same way.
The same penalty would apply to everyone regardless of size. But the size would increase the cost, eg Fee*Size. Of course you could go beyond the size limits, but it is at that point where risks can occur, corruption, etc.

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#15 Post by Ranos » Fri Nov 26, 2004 1:18 am

Another way to look at it is with terminology used in a couple of games. The economic one is Heavy Foot of Government or HFoG which is from MOO3 maybe another game used it first but that is the game I know of that it came from). The other is corruption which the Civ series used. Instead of corruption being applied to production, research and income as it was in Civ, it is applied in a loyalty fashion. The further from your Imperial Seat of Governement, the less control you have over the system. Think of Star Wars, you know, the scene where Padme starts to talk about the Republics slavery laws and Shmea interrupts her to say that the Republic doesn't have control out here or whatever she says. It is so far away from the capital that the government has little to no effect on the planet.

HFoG effects the economics. The bigger your empire, the more governemnt is going to interfere with the economics. When a new weapon is needed, the government of a big empire is going to appoint a committee to find a bunch of different manufacturers. Then that same committee, or maybe a different one, has to decide on which of the manufacturers to use. Then that committee's findings get reviewed by another committee. Then that decision has to get reviewed by somebody else, etc. Because of all of the work going into this, the cost of an item getsdriven up.

On the opposite hand, a small empire is going to say, "Hey we need a new weapon go and find some," and the people who were told to do it are going to go out and get the first weapons they come across because they need them so desperately.

HFoG would be effected by race picks, government type, technologies and anything else we can think of.

Corruption or Loyalty or whatever else we want to call it, is effected by distance from your Imperial Seat of Government. This part has been explained above by other people.
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