Empire alignment/orientation

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tzlaine
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Empire alignment/orientation

#1 Post by tzlaine » Wed Feb 04, 2004 6:20 pm

I read an interesting article today about cultural differences in globally distributed software projects. There was mention of two different sets of dimensions in which cultures differ:

Geert Hofstede's dimensions:
1 Revering hierarchy. What do people think about their relationships with supervisors and subordinates? Is there is a large gap or do managers expect subordinates to speak out? In Russia and China, rank and class are very important, whereas in the United States, Netherlands, and Germany they are less important.
2 Individualism versus collectivism. Is it the goal of individuals to enhance their own position or the advancement of the corporation or community? The United States and the Netherlands are very high on individualism, whereas China, West Africa, and Indonesia are collective.
3 Task- or relationship-focused. Is the goal to "take care of business" or to develop and maintain relationships or quality of life? Japan, Germany, and the United States are very high on task focus, whereas France, Russia, and the Netherlands are quality-of-life focused.
4 Risk avoidance. Do people want to control the inherent uncertainty of the world with rules, or can they handle the ambiguity and react flexibly? Japan and Russia are very high on risk avoidance, whereas the United States, India, and Hong Kong are more flexible in handling ambiguity.
5 Long-term orientation. What is the relative importance of here-and-now versus the future? China is very future-oriented, whereas Russia is focused on the here-and-now.


Edward Hall's dimensions:

1 Space. Natural social distances vary by culture. Americans have normal conversations at about two feet apart, whereas Arabs are more comfortable much closer. Japanese are very careful about where they sit, as seats connote rank and power; Americans sit wherever there is a seat available, frustrating the Japanese who misinterpret rank.
2 Material goods. How much status is conveyed by material possessions? U.S. managers battle to get the largest office and have expensive cars. Japanese managers have offices in the open office area; Danish CEOs are admired if they drive old, battered cars.
3 Friendship. In some cultures, like the United States, friends are transitory; people make and lose them frequently. In other cultures, like France, friendships and business relationships take a long time to develop, and people prefer to do business with those they know.
4 Time. Some cultures, like the United States, take time and deadlines very seriously. Others are more fluid in that they are more likely to conclude a conversation when it is finished, no matter how long it takes, and move to the next "appointment" when ready.
5 Agreement. Expressing disagreement and having formal contracts differ from culture to culture. Some deals conclude with a handshake; others require specific contracts. In some cultures, like the United States, disagreements are public, open debate. In Japan, disagreements are worked out one on one, with meetings used for ceremonial conclusions.


It might be nice to take some of these dimensions and make our own model of culture for the game. We could then base part of the diplomacy model on how close two empires are culturally.

For instance, all the race picks (if there are any) could be associated with one or more cultural dimensions, and the set of race picks could define your cultural alignment, which could make a big difference in who you could be friends with. If we combined this with something like a Bad Boy Points system, it could really add a lot of depth to the diplomacy system.

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#2 Post by Aquitaine » Wed Feb 04, 2004 7:00 pm

Interesting post.

This fits with something I've been thinking about lately - I was contemplating the 'advance' of progress in games like EU2 and the popular notion that, because MOO-ish races have achieved spaceflight, they automatically must be more advanced in some manner than we are.

I think this is surrendering something that can make the game accessible. After all, MOO2 had feudal cultures. What if we can mirror some of the struggles from 1066-2004 in our in-game progression?

With regard to tzlaine's culture post, some background: In EU2, your 'state' has a certain number of cultures associated with it. When you conquer a province that has a different culture, you get a -20% penalty on all production in that province. You cannot gain cultures in the game, except through a very small number of events; for example, the English begin in 1419 with Anglo-Saxon and French culture, and the Scots begin with Gaelic. If the English lose the Hundred Years War but pass the Act of Union, they will lose French culture but Scotland will gain Anglo-Saxon (and lose Gaelic).

Since we can't have Earth cultures, what's to say we can't build cultures using mechanisms like what tzlaine mentioned? You have a bunch of choices (or sliders, similar to EU's DP sliders) that indicate your culture's preference towards hierarchy, individualism, task/relationship focus, and risk avoidance, and the summary of those choices form your culture. Every new planet you assimilate has its own set of these that cannot be changed, but over the course of many turns they will gradually shift towards yours.
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#3 Post by PowerCrazy » Thu Feb 05, 2004 2:08 am

I like it. Another dimension to add to your race to make it a truely custom race. And it would be better then MoO3s seemingly arbitrary race relations. You could easilly choose to be hated by everyone for production bonuses. Similiar to repulsive in MoO2, or the harvesters in Moo3.

Sounds good.
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#4 Post by Sandlapper » Thu Feb 05, 2004 2:31 am

This presents me an oppurtunity to shamelessly plug my race offering - The Trayeggadora - in the story thread, because of their ongoing cultural differences.

Their history (in the story provided in said thread) is one of constant strife and clan bickering/fighting, and they still will fight among themselves today (in storyline). As presented in said thread, they can be in battle with another race, and have victory within their grasp, and then throw it all away with fighting amongst themselves, if one clan thinks another has sustained severe losses relative to their clan, in battling the other race (this would be a random determination).

You can conclude a treaty with the Trayeggadora, then ten years later a new clan takes power, and it's a new ball game (not to mention the special trait inherent to this race).

Other races spies will have a lot fun provoking one clan against another.

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#5 Post by Aquitaine » Thu Feb 05, 2004 2:39 am

This isn't really the board for that sort of thing. I know it's brainstorming and almost anything goes, but there's no point in talking about races here since it's way too early to deal with them.
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#6 Post by Sandlapper » Thu Feb 05, 2004 3:21 am

I was merely pointing out a present example of CULTURAL differences, since this was a thread about implementing CULTURAL differences among potential FO races. I would think the discussion of how one FO (potential) race's cultural differences can affect another FO race would be within the scope of this FO CULTURAL implemetation thread.

The example was provided for cultural content within the scope of the thread, and NOT to generate discussion about the pro's and con's or strength and weaknesses of this race. I DID mention in the first sentence that it was provided for cultural differences.

At any rate, I'll leave this thread for others to discuss.

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#7 Post by Ablaze » Thu Feb 05, 2004 11:12 pm

What's to keep every human player from just choosing the middle ground and therefor either getting an advantage over the AI or forcing everyone to ignore that aspect of the game?
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#8 Post by Aquitaine » Fri Feb 06, 2004 3:24 pm

Who says the middle ground is best?

In EU2, anyway, there is rarely a 'best case' - it depends on the size of your empire, the nature of your military, and a few other things. Also, you can only adjust those settings once every ten years of game time (a full EU2 campaign lasts 400 years) although they will get changed through events.

One example: there is a slider for what MOO vets might call 'creativity.' One extreme is 'innovative' and one extreme is 'narrow-minded.' An innovative society receives a large bonus to their research but a large penalty to their stability costs; it's harder to keep your peasants cowed when you allow the free exchange of ideas. Stability is one of the most important factors in an EU2 game, so you almost never want to be completely innovative.

Likewise, sometimes your Empire has grown too quickly and your stability is taking a lot of hits, so you need 'narrow-minded' to control your costs. Narrow minded also produces more colonists and more missionaries.

They do have to be balanced properly, and even in EU2 the AI has great difficulty with these (as it is not usually clever enough to know when to adjust them; people get around this by writing AI-only events that change them at predetermined places).
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#9 Post by krum » Sat Feb 07, 2004 12:36 pm

That's definately one of the better aspects of EU that we can steal. The difficulty the AI has with it is kinda worrying, but maybe with as few as four or five cathegories it will not be so much of a burden to it; IIRC in EU2 they are as much as eight or ten.

(btw, I thought that generally Americans respect hierarchy, at least that's the impression I have with the few Americans that I've met here; or maybe it is just that we respect it even less around here)

1 Revering hierarchy.
2 Individualism versus collectivism.
3 Task- or relationship-focused.
4 Risk avoidance.
5 Long-term orientation.

I like these better, they seem more primary and look like they can have actual game effects. The attitude towards meterial good for example can be derived from how the culture is about individialism and long-term orientation. Individualist and Short-term cultures would be the most Material goods orientated.

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#10 Post by Starrh » Tue Feb 17, 2004 6:04 am

I am trying to read through all these posts and I may have missed it but how much detailed are you planning have in race creation :?:
Stars allowed for very elaborate race creation. You could change all sorts of characteristics but it would change your point total.
i.e If you wanted your race's population to increase by 19% every year you might lose 10 points but you sacrifice the number of planets your race can inhabit by changing their sensitivity to radiation and gain 10 points. Before you could save the race you had to have a zero as your ending points. The trick was balancing out the aspects of the race to your playing style. If you where a warmongering race you could build weapons cheaper but you where not allowed to research the defensive mine layer tech. I am not entirely sure that this game wants to go into that kind of detail though.

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#11 Post by Aquitaine » Tue Feb 17, 2004 3:37 pm

We're not at a point yet where we can really deal with race creation. We have to create the variables first, and then once we have the model, figure out how to make the races.
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#12 Post by tzlaine » Mon Apr 12, 2004 5:54 pm

I've been thinking more about this since my first post, and I like this approach more the more I think about it.

My overarching goal with the diplomacy system is to make it really important. I almost never use diplomacy for anything except temprary appeasement in most 4X games, because the AI is way to capricous. Who knows, form one turn to the next, when they'll declare war or offer an alliance; sometimes this happens on two consecutive turns!

Basing the empire relations on something real means that the diplomacy game has more depth and holds the player's interest better. When one nation invades another, it has political repercussions. It would be nice if our diplomacy system was rich enough to reflect this.

I would like to incorporate decisions that the player makes into the alignment of his empire, similar to what happens in GalCiv, without the goofy GalCiv mechanism. Researching certain techs, or attacking certain foes, should move you along your different axes of alignment.

When you go to negotiate with another empire, or when you start a war, the deal you are able to make or the reaction of the galactic community should be affected by these factors (there may of course be more):

- Relative sizes/strengths. You should be able to get a better deal out of a weaker trading partner, and you should be able to attack a stronger or equally strong neighbor without the galactic community crying foul (by contrast, they should be upset when you attack weak nations, especially if they are small).

- Physical proximity. The US relationship with Mexico is more important than its relationship with the UK. Though the US has more in common with the UK linguistically and culturally, it interacts with Mexico to a much greater degree, since they are neighbors.

- Cultural proximity. The US relationship with the UK is more important than its relationship with non-english-speaking countries in the EU of the same size, due to the fact that the US is a former British colony, speaks the same language, etc. In FO, this would be represented by the multidimensional alignment system proposed above.

- History. How you treat other nations that are allied with your current trading partner/military adversary will dictate what kind of deal they will give you, and how others will respond to your attacking them. Obviously, your history with the nation itself will have an even greater effect.

- Current agreements. Someone who is getting a lot of trade from you may decide to give you a better trade deal in the future, to make sure you stay happy with the arrangements. This is especially true when the current trade arrangements are very important to their economy. Similarly, a nation that cannot really compete with you militarily might be more willing to overlook your aggressiveness towards others as long as you maintain good relations with them, since they really have no other choice.

Notice that this last decision by a small neighbor to overlook aggressiveness is at odds with what I previously mentioned about small countries getting upset when you attack other small countries, since they think they'll be next.

Which decision will they make? Consult their alignment for answers. For instance, a good alignment dimension to use might be Idealogical vs. Pragmatic. An Ideological culture will stick up for others, even when doing so may bring about their own destruction, whereas a pragmatic culture will do anything to save itself, no matter how low. So that small, ideological neighbor may go to war with you out of sympathy if you break a treaty and invade another small neighbor, and that small, pragmatic neighbor might just ignore the war and hope they're not next. As an aside, I should point out that this would also be a good dimension to use to determine when someone will break a treaty with you; ideologues never break treaties, whereas pragmatists do it whenever they think it will help them.

The idea is to make the decisions of each empire make sense, at least as much as possible.

EDIT: Also, such a model may make the AI a little easier to write, considering that the AI will have a way of predicting player and other AI reactions to their actions.

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