Large Empires-How they break apart

For what's not in 'Top Priority Game Design'. Post your ideas, visions, suggestions for the game, rules, modifications, etc.

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Ran Taro
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#76 Post by Ran Taro » Sun Feb 20, 2005 11:36 pm

Ok while I've been away, I've had a further think about this.

My ideas go beyond what I think the scope of this thread should be, so I will post it in a new one called "Internal factions".

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Krikkitone
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#77 Post by Krikkitone » Sat Mar 12, 2005 6:07 pm

The player could deal with the events and unrest by spending lots of money on the planet, which could be a major penalty in of itself... So much so that at times, it might be more desirable to let a planet rebel than to keep paying to keep it happy.
I think this is an excellent idea to keep the "morale penalty" form being purely economic. After all, you can highly subsidize one system to keep them happy, but the very fact that you are doing that makes the Unsubsidized systems unhappy.
(ie California sends more money to the federal government than it gets back...which itself causes resentment of the federal government aside from the actual taxation itself)

The only possible disadvantage is that this should not be Easily solvable by letting the planet rebel, Nuking it and then recolonizing.

The centralized/decentralized idea is probably good in terms of a larger empire putting in penalties for your diplomatic and internal actions, because any action or inaction might upset some planet just a bit too much. This would mean that maintaining an empire would always involve a balancing act.. you have to make each planet see that the things it gives up for the empire are worth it in benefits that the rest of the empire provides (even if those benefits are not being vaporized by the Imperial fleet)

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utilae
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#78 Post by utilae » Mon Mar 14, 2005 12:57 am

Krikkitone wrote: The only possible disadvantage is that this should not be Easily solvable by letting the planet rebel, Nuking it and then recolonizing.
I think you'll receive more than a few penalties for that.

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Dreamer
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#79 Post by Dreamer » Tue Mar 15, 2005 7:59 pm

I just wanted to issue a warning about game complexity. There is a reason why RISK is still a very entertaining game and Moo3 a failure. Chess for example is relatively simple but even then there is a LOT of people that don't like it because they have to keep too many things in their heads. In fact if you look at the history of 4x games IMO the older (simplier) games are better by far.

The problem is that most of us would like to model almost every event or feature existent in every movie or book in this topic. But I really think the objective should be to create an entertaaining game.

If you ask me I wold do this:

1.- Make morale influence all colony production of resources, the posibility of rebellion and resistance to cultural influence (like galciv).

2.- Adjust morale not in retrospect to HW (it's a pain in the ass when your HW is in a corner or too far, etc) but by the nearby presence (or cultural influence) of external civilizations. In most cases you are only unhappy when you know there is something better in comparisson. If your culture is clearly dominant you can have heavens (luxury colonies for vacation, etc) far from HW.

3.- Skip factions, leaders and stuff altoghether. Or at least give the player the option at game creation.

4.- Aout empire size: Put a burocracy and logistics cost asociated with the number of colonies. This represents everyting from the cost to transport resources and made them avariable to the empire to goverment administration costs. Of course this is dependant of number of colonies (more routes, distances, etc.) but it's not a hard cap (fixed caps are the worst ever, they are frustrating and injust).

5.- For the fleet the same. A cost on maintenance, refueling and administration like the one in War3 or Moo2. The bigger the fleet, the more its cost to maintain. Making a new ship cost of course the same (as logical I think) if you are big or small. But soon you just won't want another ship.

Only my opinions, but please keep it as simple as it can be with interesting play. that is the beauty.

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#80 Post by herbert_vaucanson » Wed Mar 16, 2005 6:13 pm

My two eurocents:

A) keep the system as simple as possible, for gameplay reasons;
B) found the difficulty of building large empires not on socio-economic indicators but on the abstract, fundamental root of the problem: organisational overcomplexity.
The reason for B) is twofold: first of all, it couples well with A). Secondly, it helps identify intuitively (in the game) the problem and look for solutions.

There should be a complexity score and a organisational capability score for each planet, system, sector and for the entire empire. If the former is greater than the second, efficiency drops proportionally and at a certain point a progressive rebellion chance kicks in.

So organisational complexity could be increased on all scales (imperial, sector, system, planetary) by:
1) size (number of planets at the large scales, population at the planetary scale);
2) different races (with a quadratic weighting formula, so that two roughly equivalent subgroups are more likely to cause trouble than a small minority to a majority)
3) different unsatisfied needs. The needs should be very few and intuitive, like:
- economic development;
- security-military;
- social develompent: arts, entertainment, politics, rule of law...
The need should be relative, of course, to a termin of paragon. This could be the average of the empire plus the neighbouring systems, regardless of who owns them.
The idea is that, if parts of an empire, sector or system have different needs, then the organisational complexity of the aggregate will increase. maybe we could use again a quadratic formula to penalise more split-in-half aggregations. The more unsatisfied needs a planet has, the more complex it is to manage.

Countermeasures come with technological or sociological development, in the 3 possible direction:
1) enanced organisational capability;
2) homogenisation, harmonisation of the races (enlightened or violent...);
3) solving the immediate needs :D
To satisfy the economic development need, one could lower taxes or invest in economic infrastructure. To satisfy the security, have more ships around. To satisfy social development, tweak social engineering, build the necessary socio-political infrastructure.

Events can change these scores at any level. For instance, my idea of transcendence through assumption of templates (proposed in another thread in braistorming) would couple well with this: after the acquisition of a template, complexity hikes up a bit, for good - unless a rebellious part secedes and refuses the template. Random events, piracy, enemy blockades or internal political instability, as well as economic crisis, would fit easily too.

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Krikkitone
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#81 Post by Krikkitone » Mon Mar 21, 2005 12:06 am

I like that, although I would still include factions (or something like it) as a dynamic equivalent to races (since races in FO apparently will be one per planet and so will not mix or flux or be generated within an empire)

And I would still include leaders, but not as a part of the morale system (more of a way to give your empire semi-temporary government related bonuses and penalties)


Distance should matter but more as a way to balance Local 'culture' against Imperial culture (essentially a big planet far away would be more at risk than a small planet far away because the big planet generates more local culture)

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#82 Post by herbert_vaucanson » Mon Mar 21, 2005 8:41 am

Krikkitone wrote:I like that, although I would still include factions [...]

And I would still include leaders [...]

Distance should matter but more as a way to balance Local 'culture' against Imperial culture [...]
Ok to all three. I hope the faction thingy does not make the game too complicated (I still have these Moo3 nightmares). I like the leader idea to spice up the sociopolitical setup, and not as a RPG in 4X games. And distance was something I did not think of in the first place, but it fit in well in weighting somehow the difference/eccentricity to "imperial culture".
- Well, what about this: a lot of empty space, colored balls spinning around, the occasional nifty exlosion, and some infestation here and there to give it the "lived in" feel?
- It shouldn't take more than a week... ok, I am in.

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#83 Post by Ran Taro » Mon Apr 25, 2005 4:51 am

herbert_vaucanson wrote:My two eurocents:

A) keep the system as simple as possible, for gameplay reasons;
B) found the difficulty of building large empires not on socio-economic indicators but on the abstract, fundamental root of the problem: organisational overcomplexity.
The reason for B) is twofold: first of all, it couples well with A). Secondly, it helps identify intuitively (in the game) the problem and look for solutions.

There should be a complexity score and a organisational capability score for each planet, system, sector and for the entire empire. If the former is greater than the second, efficiency drops proportionally and at a certain point a progressive rebellion chance kicks in.

So organisational complexity could be increased on all scales (imperial, sector, system, planetary) by:
1) size (number of planets at the large scales, population at the planetary scale);
2) different races (with a quadratic weighting formula, so that two roughly equivalent subgroups are more likely to cause trouble than a small minority to a majority)
3) different unsatisfied needs. The needs should be very few and intuitive, like:
- economic development;
- security-military;
- social develompent: arts, entertainment, politics, rule of law...
The need should be relative, of course, to a termin of paragon. This could be the average of the empire plus the neighbouring systems, regardless of who owns them.
The idea is that, if parts of an empire, sector or system have different needs, then the organisational complexity of the aggregate will increase. maybe we could use again a quadratic formula to penalise more split-in-half aggregations. The more unsatisfied needs a planet has, the more complex it is to manage.

Countermeasures come with technological or sociological development, in the 3 possible direction:
1) enanced organisational capability;
2) homogenisation, harmonisation of the races (enlightened or violent...);
3) solving the immediate needs :D
To satisfy the economic development need, one could lower taxes or invest in economic infrastructure. To satisfy the security, have more ships around. To satisfy social development, tweak social engineering, build the necessary socio-political infrastructure.

Events can change these scores at any level. For instance, my idea of transcendence through assumption of templates (proposed in another thread in braistorming) would couple well with this: after the acquisition of a template, complexity hikes up a bit, for good - unless a rebellious part secedes and refuses the template. Random events, piracy, enemy blockades or internal political instability, as well as economic crisis, would fit easily too.
To me that seems complicated. And worse - not fun.

I'd much rather have to try to negotiate the rivalries of two compelling factions (say, the Atriedes and Harkonnnens) than the needs of a complexity score and an organisational capability score. The former sounds like fun, and the latter like work. And worse, like boring work.

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#84 Post by Raghar » Tue Apr 26, 2005 9:39 pm

herbert_vaucanson wrote:My two eurocents:
A) keep the system as simple as possible, for gameplay reasons;
As every game designer knows simple system is quickly boring and nonextensible.
There should be a complexity score and a organisational capability score for each planet, system, sector and for the entire empire. If the former is greater than the second, efficiency drops proportionally and at a certain point a progressive rebellion chance kicks in.
So organisational complexity could be increased on all scales (imperial, sector, system, planetary) by:
Ir shouldn't be one dimensional number. First it will kill any balancing, second it would pawn just one types of strategies.

It might be better to imagine a real empire what it would do how it would look and why. Then make some type of computer possible model.

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#85 Post by Raghar » Tue Apr 26, 2005 9:54 pm

Ran Taro wrote: To me that seems complicated. And worse - not fun.

I'd much rather have to try to negotiate the rivalries of two compelling factions (say, the Atriedes and Harkonnnens) than the needs of a complexity score and an organisational capability score. The former sounds like fun, and the latter like work. And worse, like boring work.
It's hard to say what is fun for everyone. Not "fun" isn't argument if used too much often.

Such negotiation could be created by above mentioned system. It would be pain it the ass to implement in any case.

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#86 Post by Ran Taro » Fri Apr 29, 2005 3:48 am

Raghar wrote: It's hard to say what is fun for everyone. Not "fun" isn't argument if used too much often.
I don't think it's an argument at all - just a subjective opinion. An opinion only becomes a good argument for something if people share it.

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#87 Post by herbert_vaucanson » Wed May 04, 2005 10:09 am

Well, the score is only a way to have an immediate glimpse on what the general situation is like. Of course, you should be able to see what are the reasons behind it (there could a partially random event like "die harconner die" which, left unchecked, could affect the stats of your leadership) but ONLY IF YOU WANT to do so. And think also to the poor AI... one number would help them to quickly identify troubled systems and counteract - as we should do ourselves.

And about the general complexity issue: you two Ran Taro and Rhagar are surely waiting for "Rise of Complexity 4" to hit the shelves, are you? :P
- Well, what about this: a lot of empty space, colored balls spinning around, the occasional nifty exlosion, and some infestation here and there to give it the "lived in" feel?
- It shouldn't take more than a week... ok, I am in.

Ran Taro
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#88 Post by Ran Taro » Thu May 05, 2005 2:05 am

herbert_vaucanson wrote: And about the general complexity issue: you two Ran Taro and Rhagar are surely waiting for "Rise of Complexity 4" to hit the shelves, are you? :P
Not at all. Like Geoff, I just think that the socio political part of the game could use a bit more attention. If you think how complex the tech / ship design/ combat sections of most space 4X's are and then compare them to the diplomacy / internal politics / culture parts it's kind of sad. I can see the latter category being much more involving that it usually is.

I think that you only have so much complexity to spend, and it's worth kicking around the idea of spending a little more here, even at the expense of some there. Plus you've got too remember that one of the best ways to get a good simple system is to think of all the crazy cool stuff that 'could' add to it, then pare it down to the best bits.

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yaromir
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#89 Post by yaromir » Fri May 06, 2005 6:45 pm

Reduced efficiency and/or higher production/research costs and/or higher upkeep costs.

If empires will expand in a liniar fashion, the inefficiency should increase in a liniar or maybe very slightly exponential fashion.

My expansion in MOO2 was never liniar, btw, but I would like it to be in FO.
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Krikkitone
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#90 Post by Krikkitone » Sun May 08, 2005 10:02 pm

I don't think it should be a matter of efficiency. The issue with large empires should be a chance of breakup (with multiple possible solutions...ie more internal police, more happiness spending...those only working as temporary measures unless you have the proper government/society techs.)

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