The previous diplomacy models
Having not played MOO1 I can't comment on that, however I find in both the MOO2 and MOO3 models I see some problems:
What the hell is going on?
A big problem I have is trying to work out why a certain empire hates my guts and won't seem to like me no matter how much shiny stuff I throw at them. A much more concise method of keeping track of this is needed, more on that later.
How should I act?
A big one in MOO3 is that there seems to be no clear way of deciding if you should be nice or pleading to an empire, or if you should be argumentative and mean. The only way I see is to try different things and see what result this has, but it seems a very backwards way. From looking at the race and learning things about them your advisors should be able to give you SOME indication about how to act.
No matter how good an offer I make to a computer player (especially in MOO3) they won't accept it. Even my most glorious allies who have relations with me at +170 won't let me have heavy armour in return for dreadnoughts, plasma cannons and phaser beams. Why? Not a clue. It seems the AI is completely thick, one good tech for 3 good/better ones is a no, since when?
An altered diplomacy model
What I think would be good is an altered diplomacy model broken down as follows. Please note that a lot of actions can be sweetened with praise, gifts, a reminder or 'encouraged' by a threat.
- Threat - threaten the target, this will require you to set an emphasis as well as a reason. Reasons would include things like 'Stop spying', 'Stop oppressing members of my race', 'Stop consorting with my enemies' down to 'I just don't like you'.
- End trade - breaks trade agreements, you may specify a single agreement to break, or just end all trade altogether
- Trade sanction/embargo - this has a negative effect on the target's trade of money, intelligence and research with other empires. If you are friendly with someone who is also friendly to the target empire then trade with them will be strained. Similarly if two trading empires are situated on opposite sides of your territory and you begin sanctions/embargoes with one then trade will be significantly damaged as you over tax freighters for passing through or outright blow them out the sky, this may damage relations with the other empire(s) hurt by this action.
- Downgrade pact - Drops a full alliance down to a defensive one, a defensive alliance down to a non-aggression pact or a NAP down to a peace-treaty
- Declare war - declare war immediately, this should only be done if you have a peace treaty with the target empire, if you have a NAP or an alliance then the diplomatic and unrest penalties will be large
- Demand - demand something from the other empire, this is not always negative depending upon the relations you have with them already. This includes items like declaring war on your enemies in addition to giving you tech, money, tribute etc
- Economic Treaty - invest in business in each other's empire, the set-up fee for this is low and the returns are initially low. This agreement however improves over time through a number of levels, returns getting higher each time
- Research Treaty - a free trade of ideas, set-up for this is low but increases RP's per turn. This can improve in the same way as an econ. treaty
- Trade goods - a high set-up fee but the resulting trade can bring about much larger monetary returns overall than an economic treaty. An mid-level econ. treaty is required first. This also has a positive effect on unrest. Only available in a NAP
- Trade knowledge - a free trade of knowledge. If you are researching something the other empire already has then your research into it will be significantly sped up and vice versa (cutting time down by say up to 20%?). Only available in a NAP
- Diplomatic treaty - put in good words for each other. This agreement slowly improves your relations with empires that the target is friendly with and vice versa. Only available in a NAP
- Intelligence treaty - share intelligence with one another. This initially just shares the map so you can see what they see. As it progresses through levels you start to see one another's ships and worlds, then ultimately can have your spies work together to greater effect against a common target. Only available in an alliance
- Exchange items - just like MOO2 and MOO3, you pick things you want, and choose what you will give in return
- Cease-fire - when at war this ceases hostilities for a short period of time (usually only a few turns)
- Armstice - a longer form of cease-fire, there are minor penalties to unrest and diplomacy if you break this one early
- Peace-treaty - the lowest form of pact. Both empires agree to keep forces away from one another (if a ship does enter a system then you can freely issue a threat or chase it away).
- Non-agression Pact (NAP) - allows two empires to freely move around in one another's territory. Empires will not attempt colonise one another's systems (i.e. if I have a planet in a system and there are a few good ones available then a NAPed empire will not try to colonise them), if they do then relations will be strained and threats may be issued
- Defensive alliance - your forces will aid the other empire's forces if they are attacked and vice versa. The other empire may colonise your systems if they want to
- Full alliance - if the other empire is at war with someone then they will expect you to declare war. Your forces will automatically aid one another in all combats (even if one of the allies has good relations with the 'enemy' empire, in the event of both sides having a common ally the ally will not fight)
- Praise - you shower the target with praise for their actions, emphasis is very important in how this will affect your relations. You may specify a recent action of theirs which you were particularly thankful for, or you may praise them in general
- Gift - give them something shiny to make them happy, you can give worlds, technologies, task forces or lump sums of money. Other things include sanctions and embargoes, cancelling a pact or declaring war on an empire that your target does not like.
- Reminder - remind the empire of a particularly good deed you have done for them such as declaring war on their enemy, a big gift you gave them, the huge amount of profit made in trade with you and so on. You may also remind the empire of a particularly bad deed they have done to you such as spying, past war etc. This action if used carefully can greatly improve relations by causing them to think higher of you, or by prompting them to feel guilty and want to make amends for past misdemeanours. This would require each empire to keep a list of good and bad things another empire has done.
- Conditional surrender - you will surrender to the empire but only if they accept conditions that you lay down. These will be things like retaining control of your empire (by far the most important one), keeping control of your military forces etc. In most cases the other empire will add their own conditions like large tributary payments, total obedience (their wars are your wars or you die) etc, there is more on this later.
- Unconditional surrender - your empire essentially merges with theirs and you are out of the game. If the other empire is particularly merciful they may leave you with your home-world and any defence fleet it may have left and cancel war status with you.
These are things you can do when threatened, have sanctions/embargoes placed upon you, pacts downgraded, treaties broken or war declared upon you. Some of these will be useful, some not so useful, and some more fun than anything else. You may wish to note that a number of these can be countered themselves.
- Gift - attempt to make the empire rethink their action by giving them something distractingly shiny
- Reminder - just like the reminder in the positive actions. This is by far the most powerful method of making an empire re-think things
- Counter-argument - if you are accused of something (e.g spying) then you may make a counter-argument. These include outright denying something, claiming that your empire needed to, that the other empire did the same first, or that another empire told you to. These may be outright lies but they can be effective at making an empire rethink. If you were accused of spying but in fact did not and made a point of saying so then the other empire may become less susceptible to other empires trying to frame you for such acts and as a result relations with you will improve, and if they catch the perpetrator then relations with them will decrease. If however you lie and they find out, or you are simply not convincing enough then relations may be harmed further.
- Counter-attack - do something mean back to them, if they threaten you, put embargoes on them, if they put embargoes on you then declare war on them. This shock-tactic can often push an empire hard enough that will do almost anything to repair the damage they feel that is their fault. Against more aggressive enemies this can be an impressive gesture earning new-found respect for you. Or it will simply make matters worse.
- Insult - tell them exactly where they can shove their mother. This is the most negative action you can take and for most races this will ruin any hope of repairing the situation. However, an aggressive empire may respect your attitude toward threats, especially if you stolidly remain foul-mouthed at the threat or act of war.
When offered something such as an alliance, a treaty, or when demands are made of you then you will have a number of options available to you. These haven't changed much from the MOO3 model
- Refuse - the answer is no, you will not accept whatever has been asked
- Stall - hold off on making a decision, this may encourage the other empire to make a better offer, or simply give you time to decide. When you do this it is treated as an offer to the other empire so they can propose a different offer, allow you to stall, request an answer or cancel the original offer
- Counter-offer - request more from the deal, you may sweeten your counter offer by offering something in return for their accepting the counter offer, just in the same was an exchange.
- Better offer - outright ask the other empire to make a better offer if they want their original one to be accepted.
- Accept - simply accept the offer with no further requests to help you 'decide'
Exchanging items is often a very frustrating action as I rarely seem to get anywhere. It seems to me that the method of weighting an offer so far is poor as the computer players do not appear to recognise a good one when they get it. Further to this, relations with an empire do not seem to greatly improve the chances of getting anything. With a system of counter-offers it should be possible to have the AI put other things onto the table till the exchange is fair to them, that is if the offer is not a good one to begin with. Close friends such as allies should be willing to accept an unfair exchange from time to time, while empires you are on good terms with (but not necessarily allied with) should haggle for a better deal.
It should always be as clear as possible why an empire is doing something, especially when refusing an offer, threatening, declaring war etc. It is frustrating to receive a threat with no idea why you have been issued with it.
I like the emphasis system in MOO3, it adds an extra level to diplomacy and it allows you to make your offers that extra bit appealing. However, it needs to be clear which emphasis affects empires positively and which ones negatively. I want to know that being overly nice to the Sakkra will make them think me weak, but also would like to know roughly how mean I can be to them before they take offense. Trial and error is not how I picture diplomacy.
Surrender is an ultimate end to war and having a rich set of surrender options would be nice, even if it may not get used a huge amount.
Conditional surrenders especially should give you a lot of options, if for example you demand to remain in control of your empire and the enemy says yes then you get to stay in the game. You will have all your worlds, technology etc but you will be a subordinate to the empire you surrendered to. This may mean that the enemy starts putting their population on your worlds, take control of your offensive military (so you don't try anything) and will use your research to fill in any gaps they may have.
Other surrender options may leave you in control of your military but may cause you to declare total war against your best friends and suffer penalties if you don't act like you mean it.
Others may leave you in total control of a few worlds with a portion of your offensive fleets. In essence a full but much smaller empire.
Some may disallow all diplomatic contact except with your masters.
Others still may remove all of your worlds, but leave you with a fleet and any colony ships and troop ships you may have so that you can go find a new home-world.
So I've gone into WAY more depth than I intended to, a lot of this actually interesting. Thoughts? Comments?