Large Empires-How they break apart

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guiguibaah
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Raids

#31 Post by guiguibaah »

I would be interesting if smaller empires could use space privateers to conduct raids on larger empires. The bigger they are, the fatter and juicier they get....
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Geoff the Medio
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Re: Raids

#32 Post by Geoff the Medio »

guiguibaah wrote:I would be interesting if smaller empires could use space privateers to conduct raids on larger empires. The bigger they are, the fatter and juicier they get....
This could be encouraged by having lots of minor races on planets scattered throughout a large empire. There'd be some motivation not to wipe out / subjigate these races... but leaving them would allow other players the opportunity to use them as proxies to conduct raids from behind more defended borders between empires.

Having lots of uninhabitable regions might also help with this... as space pirate bases can spawn in uninhabited / unoccupied systems from time to time, much like space monster nests or barbarians in Civ.

Having hidden / invisible starlanes or wormholes that require exploration to uncover might also be good for this, especially if they connect into the middle of regions of uninhabitable planets. This would provide an explanation of how the space monsters or pirate got behind your borders undetected... and finding these backdoor entryways would be a major goal to ensure your internal security.

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#33 Post by Drakich »

utilae wrote:Basically what happened to the roman empire should be able to happen to an empire in FreeOrion. That's what I am aiming for.
This is actually pretty easy if you start from the ground up.

The Roman Empire fell from a combination of civil war and foreign invasion. Economic stagnation, plagues, and cultural drift all played rolls though (and can all be modeled in the game).

Civil war (in the real world) rises from unhappiness and competing polities (or political entities). Civil war falls into two general categories (probably more than that really): insurrection or revolution and succession crises. A revolution is easy enough to explain: the people get unhappy and decide to overthrow the empire. A succession crises requires a leadership system like Europea Universalis where your leader can die or be unelected. A succession crises is a great addition to a game, because it is something that can be fomented by external agents (spies).

The idea is to have an empire theoretically possible of expanding forever without degenerating into useless corruption or endless civil war, but make the margin of error for either one smaller as the empire increases in size. As organizations (including empires) get larger, centrifugal forces start to tear little pieces off.

The problem with most X4 games is either the artificial handicaps, or the exponential growth curve.

Unhappiness, as an example, shouldn't increase with distance from the capitol. In many cases, this would INCREASE happiness. Volatility, however, causes unrest. Large population movements. Extreme economic cycles. If one region of your empire is booming and as a consequence, there are large migrations of people from a stagnant region to a booming region, this will cause unrest in both regions.

Unrest is bad, unchecked, it leads to things like civil war. The smart emperor will put a tamper on unchecked economic growth and rampant expansionism. Then again, stagnation also leads to unrest (although, I will submit, not nearly as much as volatility does...booms and busts cause much more unrest than a general slow decline).

As an empire gets larger, more and more forces and empire resources will have to be devoted to unrest control, and in some cases, actually battling rebels, leaving less forces for conquering neighbors.
A plan is just a list of things that don't happen.

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#34 Post by Drakich »

utilae wrote:
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.
If you want to model the Roman Empire, then your frontier areas will actually be your most productive regions, and your core worlds after a point in time will become parasitic and actually drain revenue (they might be your industrial powerhouses, but are less efficient than your frontier areas).
A plan is just a list of things that don't happen.

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#35 Post by Drakich »

Bastian-Bux wrote:Prokonsul, ALL gouvernments are prone to those problems. A very strict centralized dictatorship might even have an easier time to gouvern a large populace.
A strict centralized dictatorship WILL have an easier time governing a large populace.

The problem with centralized dictatorships is the succession crises. Using a leader system like Europa Universalis (where you play the shadow ruler) is a good idea. That way, dictatorships where the dictator dies, or gets assassinated have a chance of having a succession crises, where a portion of the empire declares for a challenger. This is balances the empire having lower levels of general unrest compared to a democratic empire. Less chance of planets revolting on any given turn, but a much greater chance of a large scale civil war.
A plan is just a list of things that don't happen.

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#36 Post by JamieK »

Well, i know i haven't been paying attention here, since i prefer to play games instead of watching them being designed. lol

Anyway, i find it really stupid to balance it out so that a Small Empire can defeat a Large Empire because realistically, it is impossible.

I can't see how a Galactic Empire that spans 5,000 light years can be defeated by an enemy that only spans 1,000 light years or less, not even if the smaller empire had superior technology, the Larger Empire, which would have more resources for ship construction, research and stuff like that, while the smaller empire would have less resources.

Basicly, if you are so stupid to allow the AI to develop to such a size, you deserve to be conquered. lol :P

Just leave it as it is, realistically, it would be dumb to have such a massive empire if it doesn't give you any perks. (bigger fleet, more resources)

If you do it like the dude suggested, it would just be just as effective to just stick to 1 or 2 systems and build outposts (you know, outpost ships) and just bomb them.

I ain't sure if i am making sense, i just don't see the point in penalizing the AI or player for having a big empire to make the smaller empire have more of a fighting chance, if the smaller empire allowed the other player or the AI to get to such a size, he/she/it should be conquered with extreme violence. (bio-weapons) *laughs evily* lol

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#37 Post by Bastian-Bux »

JamieK, the problem isn't to allow the Ai to grow to such a point.

The problem we try to tackle is the snowball effect:

in most games, success is breeding even more success, and loss is breeding even more loss.

So if you have a lead in technology, you usually get better in researching, increasing your lead.

Thats partly ok, BUT:

if there ain't any counter mechanisms, all those boni add up into a lawine like movement. Thus once you accumulated enough vector (speed*mass), your snowball grows bigger and bigger all by it self, and is impossible to stop.

In reality that isn't the case. There have been many empires that where expanding real fast (speed), and aquired thus real much territory and people (mass). But no empire ever managed to keep that speed, or even hold for a prolonged time what they had.

Actually if you look at history, each such expansion phase usually last not more then 75-125 years. Each and every empire experiences a civil war or is conquered after that time. Quite a few manage to recover, and are allowed a 2nd equally long time of expansion.

So this thread is looking into the reason for this cycles.

Why didn't any empire succed in snowballing the world?

If we are able to find those reasons, and adopt them into the game, then we are able to develop a game that is open for real long gaming.

Then you won't experience this:

"Oh, I conquered half the galaxy, now I have to do the boring clean up".


About your 5000:1000 comment:

could a group of tribes destroy a century old technologicaly AND military superior empire?

Yes, it happend at least twice large scale: Rome vs. germanic tribes and China vs. mongolic hordes.

Believe me, under the right circumstances a 5.000 star empire is no match for a 1.000 star wild federation.

PS: if someone now wants to say: realism isn't an argument: No, it isn't . But playability is. And balancing snowball by counter meassures allows for long term playability.
Wenn du die Macht hättest die Geschichte zu ändern, wo würdest du anfangen. Und viel wichtiger, wo aufhören?

If you had the power to change history, where would you start? And more importantly, where would you stop?

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#38 Post by JamieK »

well that was scary.......i accually understood all that. *shivers*

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#39 Post by Drakich »

Bastian-Bux wrote: Yes, it happend at least twice large scale: Rome vs. germanic tribes and China vs. mongolic hordes.
Using the Mongol hordes is a good example. Not just their successes, but their defeats. Once the Mongols reigned from the Sea of Japan to Poland. Using the "never should be defeated by a smaller player" idea, we should all be ruled by the Mongols today.

But the Mongol Empire was done in by succession crises, military defeats (by the Egyptian Mamelukes), and eventually, superior technology (guns) which made their type of warfare obsolete.

Big empires have to spend most of their time and energy keeping the empire together, not expanding the empire even further.
A plan is just a list of things that don't happen.

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THEORIZING AOBUT SPACE

#40 Post by guiguibaah »

Carl Sagan once said that if we humans could have colonies established on places such as the moon and on mars, and have enough people living there to develop a culture, that culture would look remarkably different from anything seen on earth today.

For example - how much would a garden cost on Mars, where everything around you is desolate sand and rock? Would they view clearcutting as blasphemous and criminal? Their values on ecosystems would make today's most "eco-hippie" look pale in comparison.

Or to someone living on the moon, where nearly everything has to be recycled (including the water out of one's feces) to survive. What would they think about the way we mount layers and layers of garbage into piles to be incinerated?

Or a colony living on a world that has the occasional visit of a benevolent sentient species of giant Ants. Would their values change in regards to human cultures and mores?

I think as empires grow and new colonies are formed, values begin to change in respect to the environment one lives in. When differences in values works to aid the empire, the system works. When differences in values are mutually exclusive, it fosteres resentment and dissilosionment.

"The strugging empire that suppresses divergent values with force has put iteself between a rock in a hard place. The Followers see the rock. The moderates see a hard place. The Extremists see neither. They see an opportunity."

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Re: THEORIZING ABOUT SPACE

#41 Post by JamieK »

guiguibaah wrote:Carl Sagan once said that if we humans could have colonies established on places such as the moon and on mars, and have enough people living there to develop a culture, that culture would look remarkably different from anything seen on earth today.

For example - how much would a garden cost on Mars, where everything around you is desolate sand and rock? Would they view clearcutting as blasphemous and criminal? Their values on ecosystems would make today's most "eco-hippie" look pale in comparison.

Or to someone living on the moon, where nearly everything has to be recycled (including the water out of one's feces) to survive. What would they think about the way we mount layers and layers of garbage into piles to be incinerated?

Or a colony living on a world that has the occasional visit of a benevolent sentient species of giant Ants. Would their values change in regards to human cultures and mores?

I think as empires grow and new colonies are formed, values begin to change in respect to the environment one lives in. When differences in values works to aid the empire, the system works. When differences in values are mutually exclusive, it fosteres resentment and dissilosionment.

"The strugging empire that suppresses divergent values with force has put iteself between a rock in a hard place. The Followers see the rock. The moderates see a hard place. The Extremists see neither. They see an opportunity."

Senator Ce Vlatt
A Treatise on Meta-Sociology
Well, i don't know how much it would cost to have garden on mars, but we would need an air tight dome or just terraform the planet, i ain't sure about mars, but on the moon, there is ice on moon.

I just find it silly to limit the AI or the player because they are doing good in the game.

Its like on Need for Speed Underground 1 & 2, the AI have this thing called 'catch up' algorithum and if you are ahead of them a certain distance, they get a massive speed boost to catch up to you or if they were a certain distance ahead of you, they would slowly considerably or stop entirely to let you catch up. (now that is a really craply done AI)

I just hope you don't do the AI like that on this game, it will kill the game like it killed nfs:u to me.

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Geoff the Medio
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Re: THEORIZING ABOUT SPACE

#42 Post by Geoff the Medio »

JamieK wrote:Its like on Need for Speed Underground 1 & 2, the AI have this thing called 'catch up' algorithum and if you are ahead of them a certain distance, they get a massive speed boost to catch up to you or if they were a certain distance ahead of you, they would slowly considerably or stop entirely to let you catch up. (now that is a really craply done AI)
There's a difference between obvious "cheating" like this, and reasonably logical and predictable differences in the way large and small empires work. Nobody's suggesting intentionally making small empires always better than otherwise equivalent large empires, such that they are always able to destroy the large empires... (which doesn't make sense anyway, since if you start destroying a small empire by capturing its systems, you'll eventually grow larger and them smaller, until the situation is reversed). The idea is to make the increased benefits of being larger less than linear with size... so twice as many systems isn't twice (or more) as powerful.

Another part of the issue is the time-dependence of the benefits / penalties. It's not enough just to look at how powerful an empire is in terms of the number of systems it controls. How long those systems have been controlled, and how fast the empire is expanding can also play into things. Perhaps expanding too fast, or not expanding fast enough, have severe economic consequences... Perhaps you start to have problems after expanding the economy at unsustainable rates gets your populace used to an unsustainable lifestyle, meaning when you have to slow down expansion due to running out of habitable planets, interference from other empires, or just sheer size of your empire being too much for your current level of transportation technology to allow rapid growth or timely internal communication and cohesion of the empire. While you were expanding, everyone got used to the good life of an economic boom, but after, when things settle down and people loose jobs, you're much less popular than you would have been if expanding slowly but steadily.

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Re: THEORIZING ABOUT SPACE

#43 Post by utilae »

Geoff the Medio wrote: Perhaps expanding too fast, or not expanding fast enough, have severe economic consequences... Perhaps you start to have problems after expanding the economy at unsustainable rates gets your populace used to an unsustainable lifestyle, meaning when you have to slow down expansion due to running out of habitable planets, interference from other empires, or just sheer size of your empire being too much for your current level of transportation technology to allow rapid growth or timely internal communication and cohesion of the empire. While you were expanding, everyone got used to the good life of an economic boom, but after, when things settle down and people loose jobs, you're much less popular than you would have been if expanding slowly but steadily.
The expanding thing is interesting, maybe certain governments or races allow faster expansion, maybe some require slower expansion.

I think overall there could be a few factors that help to remove the snowball effect and also make managing a larger empire more fun, ie don't let it fall apart (more fun because if you have to win a civil war to retain control of your own empire, than that is cool).

A list of factors that could influence the break up of an empire, reduce snowball effect, etc:
-expanding too fast (effects economy, border worlds have lower morale)
-morale (leads to chance of corruption)
-corruption (system become factions, turn other systems, civil war, etc)
-crime (leads to chance that planet becomes a pirate haven, civil war, etc)
-distribute funds to favourite systems (those that don't get enough money become unhappy, especially when some systems get more than they need, alot of investment in a system keeps the system loyal and improves its strength in whatever its focus is set to)

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Expanding

#44 Post by guiguibaah »

I think that perhaps the rate of expansion can also be fettered with the amount one can improve their own planets. You could opt for a strategy which involves spreading out a lot of small colonies through a 10 system empire... Or, devout most of those resources to creating a strong and unified homeworld and core colony.

I think it could depend on the amount to which one could improve their colonies. The more resources and benefits you derive from improving your colonies, the less of them you will make.
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#45 Post by iamrobk »

I was reading a short story about a large empire attacking a small one. In the end, the large empires technology ended up killing themselves. Cool story.

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