Large Empires-How they break apart

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Geoff the Medio
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#16 Post by Geoff the Medio » Fri Nov 26, 2004 4:13 am

I haven't read through the thread, but I'd like to suggest that whatever corruption system is used avoid the civ-like system of making all remotely located cities / planets lose all their production off the top. IMO, a better system is to give most of that money / resource production to the player, and let him / her decide how much to spend on the planet in order to keep it happy. Not spending money / resources on projects to make far-off planets loyal to the imperial government would tend to make them more prone to revolting or radical faction formation or whatnot. Point is that the player gets to pick what to spend money on, and doesn't feel annoyed that remote planets don't produce anything, like happens in civIII.

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#17 Post by utilae » Fri Nov 26, 2004 4:28 am

Geoff the Medio wrote: I haven't read through the thread, but I'd like to suggest that whatever corruption system is used avoid the civ-like system of making all remotely located cities / planets lose all their production off the top. IMO, a better system is to give most of that money / resource production to the player, and let him / her decide how much to spend on the planet in order to keep it happy. Not spending money / resources on projects to make far-off planets loyal to the imperial government would tend to make them more prone to revolting or radical faction formation or whatnot. Point is that the player gets to pick what to spend money on, and doesn't feel annoyed that remote planets don't produce anything, like happens in civIII.
Yeah, thats it. You have to spend money to make your systems happy. Each system has an amount of money it expects to get or needs. You can spend money on planets you want, that will be important to keep happy. If systems do not get the money or attention that they need then the risk occurs of a faction forming, etc civil war, etc. If you spread and colonise new planets too quickly without building up the economic capacity for all planets in your empire, then you will have to pick the planets you want to keep happy. In such a case you would neglect certain planets and they would start getting unhappy, etc.

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#18 Post by Bastian-Bux » Fri Nov 26, 2004 7:17 am

OK, so it seems most agree that some kind of social factor (morale/loyality/unrest) should be in, which the player can influence by spending money on it to reduce the negative outcomes.

Whats about the economical part? I agree that it shouldn't be a flat reduction of the planets production, as such things tend to be hard caps. Like in Civ, you can't build more then X cities, cause all cities past X will produce 0.

Do we need a second economic factor? The social factor will work exclusivly on a local scale, reducing either the happyness/loyality of a planet, or using up its production instead. Given enough of those planets (as will happen in large empires) will build up considerable economical strain on a big empire by it self.
So do we need a second, global economic disfactor like Hfog?

In MoO3 this was basicely a deduction of your empire income iirc. As we don't have money, we would have to apply it either on the global scale (reducing mineral treshhold and/or RP income), or locally on all planets.
I don't like to implement a global factor on a local scale, so I would suggest to either not use such a global factor, or find good ways to apply it globally.

Another possibility that comes to my mind is globalization of local problems. We could use the social problems of the backwater planets (which do have economic consequences), and let them spill on the established colonies.

An example: the empire has grown so big that it faces severe morale losses on its fringe colonies. It can either ignore it, risking unrest and open rebellion. Or it can invest lotsa money to surpress this unhappiness.

So how would the established colonies influenced by this?

If the empire ignores the morale loss, and unrest reaches a certain threshhold, it could spread to nearby colonies, this increasing the problem slowly into an empire wide morale loss with all its unfortunate consequences.

If the empire decides to start huge programms to get rid of that unhappyness, nearby colonies will react with greed and start requiring the same for themselves. Yeah, even if they don't need that theater as they are close to a planet with a huge opera. At least that would be how humans react. ;) If they don't get what they want -> morale loss. If they do: costs.

The threshholds for this would have to be choosen wisely, so that an empire will have early warning of overexpansion.

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#19 Post by Prokonsul Piotrus » Fri Nov 26, 2004 7:30 pm

utilae wrote: 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.
I am sorry but I still disagree. Sure, your poor shepard (centralised empire) may be having troubles - but my ship raising company (democracy federation) will have no problems cause we implaneted all the ships with GPS beacon :)

Seriously, as I said - some races/governments may be vulnerable to size. But others should not! Need I mention stability of USA and China once again? Not everything that is big is automatically unstable (nor are US ships more expensive then UK I think...). Some systems don't deteriorate with size, it is as simple as that. Yes, they are bigger, more complex, but they are able to compensate for it with their culture/technology/etc, without any loss in quality.
Yeah, thats it. You have to spend money to make your systems happy. Each system has an amount of money it expects to get or needs. You can spend money on planets you want, that will be important to keep happy. If systems do not get the money or attention that they need then the risk occurs of a faction forming, etc civil war, etc. If you spread and colonise new planets too quickly without building up the economic capacity for all planets in your empire, then you will have to pick the planets you want to keep happy. In such a case you would neglect certain planets and they would start getting unhappy, etc.
Now you are making more sense :) Still, let's not think in terms of 'treshold after x colonies'. My solution:
a) 'distance from HW' negative factor is applied to all production and/or loyality of a colony based on its distance from HW. It can be HOWEVER reduced TO ZERO given appropriate race picks, government or tech (like regional seats of power/palaces thingies). This is the primary factor that would penalise *some* larger empires (of course, this should be compansated by some other factors or nobody would play them)
b) 'colony number penalty' is trickier. Let's split it into several things discussed here.
b1) 'number of economy capacity that must be dedicated to keeping population happy' - as in Civ or SMAC. The bigger - more developed - given world is, the more luxury goods it requires, so while a colony is growing, the returns are diminishing, using eco-speak. Note that it would not not make colonisation and expantion less profitable - it would still be useful. Some special races could have special penalties to colony number, but this must be compensated somehow! I can imagine some interestign races that does not need - or cannot - colonise more then few systems, but can keep in the economic and scientific race by havng ultra-efficient planets. This would have the advantage of not needing to colonise other systems, but the disadvantage of being limited to a very small part of galactic map (at least as far as production centers go)
b2) 'new colony effects' - now creating a new colony requires two things: equipment and people. Equipment is represented by colony ships and investment in buildings/specials, that is simple. But I think we can use the people factor to control speed of empire growth. There are always some people willing to go to settle in dangeorous places, motivated by various reasons. But many others DO NOT want to go there. Bascially, we can have sth like empire wide 'colonist pool' (based on 'cadet pool' idea :>). Up to a certain level it is free - people want to go to the border. But it should run out and to increase it - to be able to move people from more developed world to less - you must PAY in economic capacity (money incentives) or some other things. This of course should be modified by race/gov pics (for example, evil empire can force people to relocate using ground troops for forced resettlement).
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#20 Post by Bastian-Bux » Sat Nov 27, 2004 5:49 pm

Prokonsul, ALL gouvernments are prone to those problems. A very strict centralized dictatorship might even have an easier time to gouvern a large populace.

If you look at the major terran nations, they are all barely withstanding civil unrest. And it doesn't make any difference if its a communist state like China, an interessting kind of democracy like India, or a federal corpocraty like, well, another very big country. ;) All of them have very serious civil problems, which will prove fatal in a matter of decades.

Actually it seems that some astronomical laws can be transplanted into sociology as well: the larger a sun, the hotter and faster it burns, and the bigger the bang.

On the other hand it seems that technology can increase the "critical mass". Where Rome reached critical mass with less then 10 mio inhabitants, a modern country can have 100 mio and be pre-critical.

It is very difficult to find real good numbers, but as far as it looks atm, with our technology the critical mass seems to be somewhere larger then 100 mio inhabitants.

PS: who told you that the USA or China are stable? Actually they are two of the countries that probably wont survive 2030 intact. The USA due to overexpansion -> economical breakdown, and China due to the inability to fullfill the growing expectations of its inhabitants.
Actually if you know a bit bout "psycho history" (yeah, its a fictive term, but a similar science is starting out), you would be very impressed how instable especially those two nations are.

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#21 Post by oolon » Wed Dec 01, 2004 11:51 am

Personally I always hated "corruption" in civ3 it made the game unplayable particularly on island maps. Having read though some the posts on here I can see it has some virtue. The discussion however is how to prevent the snowball effect. Corruption is not the only way (it could be used in conduction with other systems). Most stratigy get won some how due to tech, making this more consumable would be useful, i.e use an edge while you have it rather than wait for your 5 favourettes ship techs before using any of them. This would help with the "No empire gets left behind" program as well. What I would suggest is research of any one peice of tech becomes (slightly) easier the more races (percentage of total) that have already researched it. This is not unrealistic, this is not spying, its not free tech, its idle conversations in bars, papers, conferences, even just knowing its possible! This means that a catch up empire will aways find it easier than the leading one.

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#22 Post by utilae » Wed Dec 01, 2004 8:10 pm

oolon wrote: The discussion however is how to prevent the snowball effect.
Actually this thread is about corruption more than the snowball effect. The snowball effect is important, but it is the corruption/rebellious faction idea that started this thread. :wink:

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#23 Post by Ranos » Thu Dec 02, 2004 8:31 am

My understanding is that there are two aspects being talked about here. One is the production effect that a large empire causes i.e. the larger the empire, the more pp something takes to build. The other is the loyalty of outlying colonies in your empire. These should work in two separate ways but be co-dependant on each other.

First, the production aspect. As I said earlier, this should be an HFoG type system where the larger your empire, the more it takes to build something. This should be a multiplier as it was in MOO3 (one part of the game that was good and actually worked well. All empires start out with the base HFoG at 1. As the empire gets larger, the number increases. So an empire with 5 planets has an HFoG of 1 and an empire with 10 planets has an HFoG of 1.1. (NOTE: These numbers are not actual suggestions for in the game, merely numbers for examples)

There should be some things that can lower your HFoG, but it should never get below 1. There should be a race pick or maybe two that increase the threshold number. Instead of 10 planets leading to an HFoG of 1.1, it takes 15. Governments and technologies should also effect these numbers.

The loyalty aspect works the same way corruption does in Civ. The farther away a colony is from your capital, the lower it's loyalty. This could actually be a combination of two Civ3 systems, corruption and culture. A colony that is 15 jumps away from your capital isn't going to be as affected by your government and culture as a colony that is one jump away. If there is another empire which has it's capital only 5 jumps away, that empire's culture will effect your colony more. There would be a possibility that that colony would either break away from your empire and form their own empire or they could possibly join another empire, i.e., the one with the capital only 5 jumps away.

This should of course be effected by race picks, Governments and technologies as well. A race that is more loyal would be less likely to have a colony break away. The actual races should also have a bearing on how much another empires culture has an affect on a nearby planet. This would be based on the race itself as well as past relations with your empire. If the nearby empire is a race that your empire finds repulsive in looks, government, relations, etc, then your planets will be less affected by their culture. So if this empire was at war with you, the less likely your colony will be to convert. The longer the war lasted, the more negatively that empire will be viewed, but the farther in the past it occurred, the less negatively it will be viewed.

This could get to be a very complex system depending on how in-depth it becomes.

These would be interconnected by the fact that the less loyal a colony is, the less production and money you see from it. The higher your HFoG, the more dissatisfied with your government an outlying colony will become.
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#24 Post by Bastian-Bux » Fri Dec 03, 2004 8:28 am

I dislike that flat HFoG as it suggests that all colonies are afflicted in the same way. Thats not right, but if we gonna use both ways, hfog and morale, I'd still ok a flat hfog (to keep it simple).

About morale and culture:

Ranos, real great idea. I was all the time talking about backwater provinces, without naming what makes them backwater. They ain't as "civilized/cultured" as the central planets.

So that might be another way to achieve the counter:

Each colony builds up culture over time. Some buildings (opera, musee but also to a lesser degree a high population and industry) increase the growth. If the culture of a colony is significantly different from the average culture of your empire, morale changings will occure. A colony that has a much higher culture will have a slight morale bonus, while a colony with a much lower culture would experience a decent morale malus.

Even worse, if the next colony is from another empire and has a significantly higher culture, then your morale drops again.

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Its more complex, thus I'd include culture only if we deem it essential enough. Its nice to explain that backwater effect, for my "feeling" the amount of calculation for this difficult variable is not justifed by that alone.

Anyone an idea? I realy like the idea of having those three variables (hfog, morale and culture) though ain't sure if its too complex or not.

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#25 Post by Ranos » Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:19 am

When you use the word 'morale,' are you talking about morale from another thread, can't remember which, where defeats and victories influence your poupulation or are you talking about loyalty?

IMO, morale, as in morale from the other thread, should be one factor based on victories and defeats in battle, HFoG should be another factor and loyalty/culture should be a third. The loyalty and culture of a colony should be rolled together for easier implementation and explanation.

Of course another possibility is that culture and loyalty are two different things. Culture would be a minor one where you construct buildings that increase your culture and possibly have some kind of shipments of goods that are culturally related and the size of the population also influences it. Culture has an affect only on loyalty which is what I was talking about in my last thread.

Loyalty should also be affected by buildings and other things. If you give the people things, buildings maybe and luxuries (which I would like to be based off of resources like in Civ3), that make them happy, they will be less likely to listen to a governor who is against you. Military bases would affect it and the size of any garrisoned troops or fleets would affect it too. That unruly governor will be less likely to attempt to cede from the empire with a fleet in orbit. The governor will also accept bribes.

So, HFoG affects the ammount of production required to build things and the ammount of research needed to complete a tech. This ONLY affects your global build queue, ship building and research, not infrastructure on a planet. Loyalty determines how much a colony likes you and follows you. A lower loyalty means the colony won't be sending as much minerals, pp, rp, etc to the global queue. If it gets low enough, the colony could break away from your empire and form it's own, or join another empire. Culture could be another thing that affects loyalty.
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#26 Post by Ablaze » Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:56 am

I'm not big on the idea of charging the player for stuff. I find that most games tend not to tell the player about all the things they are being charged for. GalCiv is a good example of this.. many of the buildings charge upkeep, and even some of the ones that increase your income by some percent can actually be costing you money every turn. Most people I have seen play GalCiv just build buildings anyway and then don't have any idea why they have to keep exploiting the game's bugs just to stay out of the red.

I could easily see fringe colony penalties ending up like this.

I also don't like the idea of a hard cap on the number of colonies. It's defiantly more visible, but it has even bigger problems. I saw this system at work in ferion and the results were not good. Large empires ended up keeping farms of smaller empires who could own a few dozen planets without a penalty and would donate most or all of their income to the larger empire. Alliances became like mafias, and it was not fun.. believe me.

I do have another idea, but it’s a little complicated. Population is allowed to grow, and to increase exponentially if there is enough room. In order to collect taxes from the population, however, governmental infrastructure must be built, which you only get a constant amount of each turn no matter your size. Technology and racial picks can increase the rate of growth of your government. No other player would be able to see how much governmental infrastructure you had on a planet (except perhaps through spying.)

This could create a rather interesting strategic situation in which you could have a heavily populated planet which looks like its loss could cripple your empire, and another powerhouse sitting innocently a few systems away.
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Military Reasons?

#27 Post by Tichy » Wed Dec 08, 2004 6:04 pm

Hello,

my first post here, and I don't even know FreeOrion very well yet, but I can't resist. I wonder why nobody is thinking of the military reasons? It's just harder to defend a large aera. The attacker can concentrate his forces on one point, whereas the defender has to spread them out a bit? It seems to me that perhaps no artificial brakes for large empires are needed.

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#28 Post by Bastian-Bux » Thu Dec 09, 2004 7:44 am

Tichy, the military is usually the strongest parts of large empires. Guess how they became large?

Actually its also only a question of geometry. A larger body has a smaller surface compared to its volume.

So in a large empire there will be much less border areas, and much more "safe" areas" thus decreasing the risks of invasion.

And as another part to reduce military risks for a large empire: the only military power that can become dangerous to an internal strong large empire is another large empire, or an aliance of medium sized empires.

But both becomes more unlikely as an empire grows, as there are usually less large empires then small ones.

Look at Rome for an example. The destroyed Carthage, very victorious over Persia, incorporated Egypt. Once they reached all this, the next "big" empires where in India and China, so out of the way for a real war.

So what tore Rome down? Wasn't it the military might of the Hunns, Goths and Turks?

Yes and no. They where militarily successfull because Rome destroyed itself internally first.

The only two "Empires" that I can recall to be destroyed militarily are Napoleons France and Hitler-Germany. And both where as much destroyed by overstretching and internal exhaustion as well.


Nope, Military isn't a countermeassure to an large empire. Actually its the fuel that keeps the large empire growing.
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#29 Post by Geoff the Medio » Thu Dec 09, 2004 9:01 am

Bastian-Bux wrote:Actually its also only a question of geometry. A larger body has a smaller surface compared to its volume.

So in a large empire there will be much less border areas, and much more "safe" areas" thus decreasing the risks of invasion.
One thing we could do to reduce this is to make the empire's borders "porous" by making lots of regions in space that are uninhabitable. Much like the alveoli in lungs, these regions would greatly increase the surface area of an empire, by providing uninhabited, and possibly undefended, conduits into the centres of large empires. These regions would need to be made prohibitively expensive to defend in some way... perhaps due to increase support costs for fleets stationed away from large population centres... or due to damaging effects (that could be associated with the reason the regions are uninhabitable...).
Last edited by Geoff the Medio on Thu Dec 09, 2004 9:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

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#30 Post by Ablaze » Thu Dec 09, 2004 9:12 am

You're right Tichy, in most cases it is harder to defend. In order to build size faster then the empires around you in this sort of game you have to be constantly making an effort to expand. Once all the available planets are occupied this means constantly being on the offense. In other words, large empires tend to be on the offense rather then the defense.

With a large offensive army and a large empire you don't really need a defensive fleet. If someone smaller then you is foolish enough to attack you then you just make them your next target. Medium strength empires tend not to mess with the larger empires because they are just likely to hasten their own demise. They instead pick on the smaller fish in an attempt to catch up to the large ones.

The only way to break this hierarchy is if a smaller empire can manage to grow to the size of a large empire, or with an organized alliance. Alliances tend to be difficult to form and easy to break. In order to break an alliance all the large empire has to do is devastate one empire at a time, preferably the most active supporter. This makes every member fear being the next target. Every prudent member of the alliance thinks, "I'll have the greatest chance of coming out ahead if I quietly withdraw my support now." To be effective, the total strength of the alliance must be significantly greater then the strength of the empire they are attacking.
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