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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JamieK
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#46 Post by JamieK » Wed Dec 22, 2004 2:19 am

Also, i just remembered a movie called: Battlefield Earth, when Aliens had defeated us in a battle that lasted 6 minutes. lol

But in the end, we rebelled and won, but the aliens were over-confident and that was their down-fall i guess.

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#47 Post by Ran Taro » Wed Dec 22, 2004 6:28 am

A simple solution to this would be to have empires pay a a percentage of their income (in resources or money) equal to the percentage of the Galaxy they control as an expense for Empire Beauracracy. The justification for this being that as empires expand, so do Beaurecratic costs and inefficiency. So smaller empires are somewhat more efficient, but still appropriatley less powerful overall.

This introduces a natural limit for empire expansion at 50% of the galaxy, as past this point, empires will tend to lose revenue by expanding, rather than gaining it (though they may still gain other strategic advantages). Perhaps a pop up warning would be advisable at this point.

To allow players strategies to expand beyond this somewhat arbitrary tipping point, some forms of government and technology advances (particularly communications, transport, infrastructure and efficiency advances) would reduce the expense of the Beauracracy, allowing for further expansion.

This mechanism has the advantages of being transparent, easy to understand, and providing a significant (but not overwhelming) impediment to the momentum of large empires.

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Bastian-Bux
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#48 Post by Bastian-Bux » Wed Dec 22, 2004 7:43 am

@Ran Taro And has the disadvantages to be totally artifical, unbelievable and fun killing.

Nah, if we have to stop players (and we do have to), then it should be natural, smooth. This would give the player the feeling to fight against entropy insted of beeing frustrated by an artifical "cap".
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Geoff the Medio
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#49 Post by Geoff the Medio » Wed Dec 22, 2004 7:45 am

Ran Taro wrote:A simple solution to this would be to have empires pay a a percentage of their income (in resources or money) equal to the percentage of the Galaxy they control as an expense for Empire Beauracracy.

[...]

This mechanism has the advantages of being transparent, easy to understand, and providing a significant (but not overwhelming) impediment to the momentum of large empires.
I strongly dislike any sort of off-the-top % or fixed amount deduction like this... in the name of "bureaucracy" or anything else. I'd much prefer a system in which each planet or system needs a certain amount of money / resources spent to keep it happy / functional / loyal at a given level, and the player has the option of paying this fee or not.

One advantage of this is that the player can understand and plan around and manipulate the various factors that influence how happy / productive their planets / system are. If they are having to pay lots of happiness money due to a particular cause, they can deploy fleets, build buildings or research technologies to compensate. To me, this is much better than the irritatingly arbitrary-seeming % penalty with no additional details about what's going on or why. Admittedly, % of galaxy controlled is something the player could understand and control, but it's not immediately clear why controlling X% of the galaxy would translate into Y% income lost, or how, on a more fluff level, the effects of the large empire translate into the localized increased costs for each planet / system. Researching a technology that "reduces bureaucracy costs by 10%" is much less interesting than reseraching one that "reduces bureaucracy costs on overpopulated, highly developed worlds" or increasing migration to reducing the population of the overpopulated words or somesuch.

The other big advantage is the player choice to pay, not pay or partially pay or perhaps overpay to keep planets happy / productive. It is difficult to predcit whether the increased complexity of deciding how much happyness money to spend in each system individually is worth the potential benefits compared to deciding for the empire as a whole (or some sub-empire but bigger than signle system administrative region)... but IMO there needs to be some degree of choice for the player in this. Even as little as is given for Civ or SMAC (Luxuries or PSYCH slider) is better than none.

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#50 Post by Ran Taro » Wed Dec 22, 2004 8:51 am

Bastian-Bux wrote:@Ran Taro And has the disadvantages to be totally artifical, unbelievable and fun killing.

Nah, if we have to stop players (and we do have to), then it should be natural, smooth. This would give the player the feeling to fight against entropy insted of beeing frustrated by an artifical "cap".
Actually I think it is both natural and smooth. It is neither artificial nor unbelievable to surmise that a space empire would incur large costs largely dependant on two factors: It's overall area and its GDP.

Governments provide infrastructure services (transport, health, education etc). More wealthy governments provide better services, which cost more. Larger States must provide them over a greater area, costing more.

As to being fun killing, I think this mechanism is actually fun enabling. True it is not fun in and of itself. However, I'm not sure a negative feedback mechanism is ever going to be, so the less obtrusive it is, the better. What it does do is provide a simple and effective mechanism, which allows you to concentrate on the real fun aspects of the game.

Note that it isn't actually a 'cap' at all, an empire can keep on growing until it bankrupts itself from over expansion. It's really just a smooth, soft limit.

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#51 Post by Ran Taro » Wed Dec 22, 2004 9:17 am

Geoff the Medio wrote: I strongly dislike any sort of off-the-top % or fixed amount deduction like this... in the name of "bureaucracy" or anything else. I'd much prefer a system in which each planet or system needs a certain amount of money / resources spent to keep it happy / functional / loyal at a given level, and the player has the option of paying this fee or not.
Which equals a large amount of micromanagement to circumvent a device which is meant specifically to inhibit the player, rather than interacting with other players. To me, this equals frustration and boredom. Gameplay should focus on playing with other players, not defeating frustrating game mechanics.
Geoff the Medio wrote: Admittedly, % of galaxy controlled is something the player could understand and control, but it's not immediately clear why controlling X% of the galaxy would translate into Y% income lost,
It's not really clear why anything would cost anything. An arbitary (as all costs in a game are) fixed cost has no more clarity than an arbitary percentage cost, except an arbitrary percentage cost has the advantage of clear, automatic scalability. It is clear that controlling and inhabiting territory has costs associated with the level of use of that territory, which is associated with empire size. Hence costs that scale with Empire area and GDP seem appropriate.
Geoff the Medio wrote: ...or how, on a more fluff level, the effects of the large empire translate into the localized increased costs for each planet / system..
Empires have to provide services to localities. An empire is going to count the cost of this globally (and as a percentage of total income) rather than locally in individual sums. Especially since local services are likley to be fairly equivalent.
Geoff the Medio wrote: The other big advantage is the player choice to pay, not pay or partially pay or perhaps overpay to keep planets happy / productive. It is difficult to predcit whether the increased complexity of deciding how much happyness money to spend in each system individually is worth the potential benefits compared to deciding for the empire as a whole (or some sub-empire but bigger than signle system administrative region)... but IMO there needs to be some degree of choice for the player in this. Even as little as is given for Civ or SMAC (Luxuries or PSYCH slider) is better than none.
You could still have a system where this can be done globally (choosing to underpay or overpay affects happiness globally). Microing it individually for many planets seems a headache anyway. Local factors would still counterbalance the global effect though.

Perhaps 'Empire Infrastructure' would be a better name for this cost.

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#52 Post by Geoff the Medio » Wed Dec 22, 2004 1:08 pm

"Fee % = Galaxy Ownership %" would be reasonably "smooth", in that there wouldn't be any unpredicable huge spikes or dips or overly rapid changes.

It is somewhat believable to have (part of) bureaucracy costs scale roughly linearly with empire size, but I have trouble accepting that there would be no smaller-scale differences that a player could exploit to get more benefit for less cost or less detriment for more savings. There are just too many different (and interesting) things that could be involved in upkeep / bureaucracy / inefficiency / corruption for such a simple top-down abstracted formula to be completely "believable".

However, this is essentially just a realism argument. There are gameplay reasons as well, though...

Mainly, I don't think a bureaucracy-type costs should be applied in isolation to act only as a negative feedback limit on growth.

In isolation, just managing bureaucracy costs probably would be completely unfun, and thus best kept as simple as possible. However, there is potential for the system to be rather more involved, and thus fun, and even for it to be a means, rather than an impediment, to interaction between players.

This also doesn't necessarily have to involve an unacceptably high amount of micromanagement. An obvious comparison is the ships design, movement and combat system. Few people claim that dealing with ships in a space empire game is too much micro and should be abstracted to the point of a single number for your empire's "fleet strength" based on the number of systems you control.

Imagine an integrated economic, diplomatic, political, cultural and espionage system, based around specific, limited events, missions and policies the that player can manipulate and directly observe the effects of. There is no off-the-top no-choice bureaucracy tax, but there are costs in money, physical resources and use of limited number of agents, spies, leaders, etc. to cause or counteract events and exert, prevent or deal with influence on your own and other empires' systems. The interface to manipulate the various forces you can use would be similar to the movment of fleets, with some sort of token or icon to indicate the important spatial arrangements of events and individually player-controllable stuff. The various forces you could deploy would have varying degrees of continuous and pre-paid costs to determine or dependent on how strong they are, and what they can do. Some of the forces would work in localized (single system or area-effect) ways, and other would work on empire scale... but always under some degree of player (though not necessarily all the same player) control and choice. Bureaucracy could, rather than being an uncontrolled cost, increase the frequency or change the nature of the things that appear for you to deal with domestically, and make it easier for other player's forces to cause problematic events to occur in your systems (eg. bribes). The key thing is that the player always has the choice of whether and how to deal with problems that arise... including ignoring them, if some other use for the money / resources is more immediately pressing.

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utilae
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#53 Post by utilae » Wed Dec 22, 2004 8:00 pm

I think choosing which planets to give more money to (kepping them loyal and happy and crime free) is a form of bureaucracy cost.

Basically the player has a screen for 'empire management'. All systems are displayed. You can increase/decrease funding for systems that fit into a certain type of system, eg
inc/dec funding XXX% - for:
systems furtherest from homeworld
systems closest to homeworld
well developed worlds
poorly developed worlds
high crime worlds
low crime worlds
focus based, eg inc funding for science focused worlds
defense/ship presence, eg inc funding for worlds with heaps of millitary
present

Also in this empire management screen systems are color coded, green if happy, red if not happy, close to rebelion, etc.

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#54 Post by Impaler » Mon Jan 03, 2005 5:40 am

Theirs another Brainstorming Thead Dealing with Sector Goverment/System Goverment organization. It occured to me that it would be interesting if rather then having "Buracracy Costs" spread out as they traditionaly are it would be more interesting and realistic to actualy pay the Buracracy Costs AT THE CAPITAL!!

The System Capital pays acording to the Population of the system

The Sector Capital Pays according to the Sums of its Systems fees

The Imperial Capital Pays according to the Sums of all the Sectors fees

As you grow your empire the growth in the Cost will grow with your population and your administrative structures. Failing to pay the fees will generate unhappyness. Based on how the fees are generated (they need not be completly linear, if you exceed the "Buracracy limit" the cost could go up) we can do all kinds of interesting things.

A neat idea here is that late game your Imperaial Capital world could be spending most of its time and Energy administering your huge Galactic Empire just like Trantor in the Foundation novels. A whole planet covered in a city of 4 trillian Buracrates
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#55 Post by Daveybaby » Mon Jan 03, 2005 12:06 pm

Starting to sound like the Moo3 model of taxes to me. That was not a fun model.
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Geoff the Medio
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#56 Post by Geoff the Medio » Mon Jan 03, 2005 3:38 pm

Something similar to the effect you're wanting might be accomplished by having the "Imperial Capital" wonder building have some major negative penalty effects on the planet at which it is located. This planet would be rendered essentially useless for farming, mining, production or research, and would be dependent on food imports. However the capital would have various other benefits such that you'd want to have one.

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#57 Post by Ran Taro » Thu Jan 06, 2005 12:11 am

Geoff the Medio wrote: This also doesn't necessarily have to involve an unacceptably high amount of micromanagement. An obvious comparison is the ships design, movement and combat system. Few people claim that dealing with ships in a space empire game is too much micro and should be abstracted to the point of a single number for your empire's "fleet strength" based on the number of systems you control.
I think that is because most people who play a space empires game see space ships / combat as 'fun'. However I think mostly they don't see beauracracy /tax / negative feedback mechanisms that way. If you could make it fun that would be the best solution, failing that KISS.
Geoff the Medio wrote: Imagine an integrated economic, diplomatic, political, cultural and espionage system, based around specific, limited events, missions and policies the that player can manipulate and directly observe the effects of. There is no off-the-top no-choice bureaucracy tax, but there are costs in money, physical resources and use of limited number of agents, spies, leaders, etc. to cause or counteract events and exert, prevent or deal with influence on your own and other empires' systems. The interface to manipulate the various forces you can use would be similar to the movment of fleets, with some sort of token or icon to indicate the important spatial arrangements of events and individually player-controllable stuff. The various forces you could deploy would have varying degrees of continuous and pre-paid costs to determine or dependent on how strong they are, and what they can do. Some of the forces would work in localized (single system or area-effect) ways, and other would work on empire scale... but always under some degree of player (though not necessarily all the same player) control and choice. Bureaucracy could, rather than being an uncontrolled cost, increase the frequency or change the nature of the things that appear for you to deal with domestically, and make it easier for other player's forces to cause problematic events to occur in your systems (eg. bribes). The key thing is that the player always has the choice of whether and how to deal with problems that arise... including ignoring them, if some other use for the money / resources is more immediately pressing.
That sounds good in theory, however I'm having a hard time imagining it working without more detail. I can imagine a simple implementation being cheesy though (like I find the Gal Civ 'morality choices').
Geoff the Medio wrote: Something similar to the effect you're wanting might be accomplished by having the "Imperial Capital" wonder building have some major negative penalty effects on the planet at which it is located. This planet would be rendered essentially useless for farming, mining, production or research, and would be dependent on food imports. However the capital would have various other benefits such that you'd want to have one.
Thats a good idea, although it sort of goes against your idea of player choice. If the Capital is valuable enough to be 'essential', then its penalties are essentially an unmodifiable 'off the top' cost.

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Centralization Slider

#58 Post by Black_Dawn » Sun Jan 09, 2005 5:29 am

A lot of complex game mechanics have been discussed in this thread, so I thought I'd chime in with an idea that could be easier (or much, much harder): a Centralization Slider.

History seems to suggest that the more decentralized a large empire is, the longer it will last. China, Rome and The US are good examples of this. However, highly decentalized nations/empires find it much harder and more expensive to coordinate public poilicy, taxes, etc.

On the other hand, highly centralized empires often don't outlast their orginal dictators, but are much better at expanding and coordinating. The empires of Alexander the Great, Ghengis Khan and Napoleon are good examples of this.

Therefore, I suggest a "Centralization" slider.

A perfectly centralized empire (far left of slider) would be great early in the game for cheaper ship production, tax collection and the high morale of nearby planets. however, "centralized" governments would face morale that falls off quickly with distance from the homeworld, and would require a higher proportion of each planet to be put aside for military use (to maintain tax/production/morale levels).

A perfecly "decentralized" empire (far right of slider) would be very good late game, with no morale dropoff for farther planets and increased research production. However, all government programs would be much more expensive (due to red tape) and would take much longer to implement.

The difference between my proposed slider and other in-game sliders is that the any change in slider position will not happen instantly; depending on government type it could take between 5 and 20 turns for your empire to change from completely centralized to completely decentralized or vice versa. Completely changing government type will give you an "instant" shift to a particular point on the slider, but will have its own costs. The slider will automatically "drift" to the right (towards decentralization) as your empire grows.

Any planet other than the homeworld and sector administrators that has its leader assasinated at 100% centralization has a 25% chance of rebelling (and leaving your emipire) that turn, regardless of planet morale. If the emperor is assinated, all planets other than the homeworld and sector administrators have a 25% chance of rebelling. (reduce chance by 1% for each 2% slider is lower than 100% centralization). Planet morale decreases the farther from the home system it is (and of decrease determined by slider position). A military victory will give a temporary morale boost to all planets if the slider is within 15 points of 100% centralization.

Any planet that is not the homeworld and that is not the sector administrator at 100% decentralization has all cost (one-time and continuous) increased by 25%, regardless of distance from homeworld. (Reduce costs by 1% for each 2% slider is lower than 100% decentralization). Gaining a diplomatic treaty of any kind will temporarily reduce costs on all planets if the slider is within 15 points of 100% decentalization.

Some government limitations: "Dictatorship" government types are limited to the left 25% of the slider. "Feudalism" government types are limited to the right 25% of the slider. Events and "cards" can instantly change the slider by the event/card's amount. Races have "preferred centralization settings", and will recieve penalties if not within their preferred zones. Some races will be limited to 100% centralization (Klakons) or 100% decentralization (Those gas-giant dudes?) but will have mitigating bonuses. Certain social techs will only function withing certain slider ranges.

Tell me what you guys think.
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Bastian-Bux
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#59 Post by Bastian-Bux » Sun Jan 09, 2005 6:28 am

@Black_Dawn:

Yes, most designers know the diea you describe from the paradox games. So centralisation will be part of the game I think. Though just one little hint: never ever use here the word that starts with an s, and ends with lider. :twisted:
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If you had the power to change history, where would you start? And more importantly, where would you stop?

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#60 Post by pd » Sun Jan 09, 2005 12:45 pm

well, let's call it 'meter' and everyone is happy :p

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