Influence Discussion

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

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labgnome
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Influence Discussion

#1 Post by labgnome » Tue Apr 23, 2019 11:54 pm

I am interested in the upcoming influence mechanic and thought I would like to start some discussion on the topic. Firstly I wanted to start out by listing out potential influence projects. I have splat them up into internal influence projects, which would apply effects within your empire, and external influence projects, which apply effects to native planets and other empires.

Internal Influence Projects
  • Outpost Colonization: creates colony of one of the species in your empire on the target planet
  • Propaganda: boosts happiness on the target planet
  • Suppress Rebels: decreases the number of rebels on the target planet
  • Research Grants: boosts output of research focus on the target planet
  • Production Subsidies: boosts output of production focus on the target planet
  • Counter-Espionage: counters sabotage research, production and influence projects on the target planet
External Influence Projects
  • Diplomatic Mission: peacefully converts target native planet to your empire
  • Broadcasts: lowers happiness on target planet
  • Support Rebels: increases the number of rebels on the target planet
  • Sabotage Research: lowers research output on the target planet
  • Sabotage Production: lowers production output on the target planet
  • Sabotage Influence: lowers influence output on the target planet
The way I am picturing these influence projects working is that after you spend your influence on the project the targeted planet gets a tag that applies the effect of the influence project. I am thinking that the outpost colonization should be changed to an influence project, and cost influence instead of production. The mechanics should otherwise remain the same. For the other influence projects I think that they should require a supply connection to the capitol, and have their costs scaled by the number of jumps away that they are. Supply groups disconnected from the capitol might be able to build an administration center building, that will function like a "local capitol" allowing internal influence projects in disconnected supply groups. Anyways I was wanting to put this out there and see if it would generate any discussion around influence mechanics.
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Re: Influence Discussion

#2 Post by Krikkitone » Wed Apr 24, 2019 2:08 am

Some thoughts...Most internal influence projects (and many of the external ones) should probably be Empire wide.

Otherwise we get into a "build it everywhere" issue.

a way some of those might work if they are not empire wide
1. bonus to all in range (# jumps/supply)
2. bonus to one, but prohibited from building others in range for a time
3. a bonus to one planet, but increasing cost per build
4. a bonus to one planet, but a penalty to all others in range * this might be good for a Suppress Rebels/Propaganda...you are giving one area special benefits/penalties...that might make other worlds jealous/afraid.


External influence projects:
Diplomatic Prestige: increases/decreases happiness of target empire's planets based on whether they are your ally/enemy
Prestigious line of work, with a long and glorious tradition (aka Start a War): target 2 empires, their planets' happiness decreases as long as they are not at war..if they go to war their happiness will increase

Internal influence projects:
Hermit kingdom: Remove Diplomatic Missions+Incite a War targeting your empire, your planets get a happiness bonus when you have no allys or enemies
Last edited by Krikkitone on Wed Apr 24, 2019 3:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Influence Discussion

#3 Post by labgnome » Wed Apr 24, 2019 2:48 am

Krikkitone wrote:
Wed Apr 24, 2019 2:08 am
Some thoughts...Most internal influence projects (and many of the external ones) should probably be Empire wide.

Otherwise we get into a "build it everywhere" issue.

a way some of those might work if they are not empire wide
1. bonus to all in range (# jumps/supply)
2. bonus to one, but prohibited from building others in range for a time
3. a bonus to one planet, but increasing cost per build
4. a bonus to one planet, but a penalty to all others in range * this might be good for a Suppress Rebels/Propaganda...you are giving one area special benefits/penalties...that might make other worlds jealous/afraid.
I would say I like the ideas of 3 the most but also 4. Basically the more influence projects you have going the more they cost is I think it;s good way discourage building them everywhere and also making sure influence costs scale with your growth.
Krikkitone wrote:
Wed Apr 24, 2019 2:08 am
External influence projects:
Diplomatic Missions: increases/decreases happiness of target empire's planets based on whether they are your ally/enemy
Prestigious line of work, with a long and glorious tradition (aka Start a War): target 2 empires, their planets' happiness decreases as long as they are not at war..if they go to war their happiness will increase
This would probably require a public opinion modifier. IE: a meter of how much they like or dislike you. Also it will be confusing to call the empire happiness manipulation project and the get a native planet peacefully project the same thing. Do you have an alternate name proposal for one of them?

Although on the subject of war, do you think being at war should cost influence to simulate "war exhaustion"?
Krikkitone wrote:
Wed Apr 24, 2019 2:08 am
Internal influence projects:
Hermit kingdom: Remove Diplomatic Missions+Incite a War targeting your empire, your planets get a happiness bonus when you have no allys or enemies
I might not get what you are going for here, but that might be more of a policy idea than an influence project idea.
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Re: Influence Discussion

#4 Post by Krikkitone » Wed Apr 24, 2019 3:21 am

labgnome wrote:
Wed Apr 24, 2019 2:48 am

This would probably require a public opinion modifier. IE: a meter of how much they like or dislike you. Also it will be confusing to call the empire happiness manipulation project and the get a native planet peacefully project the same thing. Do you have an alternate name proposal for one of them?

Although on the subject of war, do you think being at war should cost influence to simulate "war exhaustion"?
I agree with the name, forgot which one you used, changed it.

As for a "public opinion modifier" I think that would be a good idea, but this would just depend on whether or not that empire was at war with you or allied with you (one gives them saddness, the other happiness... if this project is active)

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Re: Influence Discussion

#5 Post by labgnome » Wed Apr 24, 2019 3:32 am

Krikkitone wrote:
Wed Apr 24, 2019 3:21 am
As for a "public opinion modifier" I think that would be a good idea, but this would just depend on whether or not that empire was at war with you or allied with you (one gives them saddness, the other happiness... if this project is active)
Maybe something like "Foreign Delegations" for a name?

FYI: we will need a rebellion mechanic in place to make running out of influence meaningful. Maybe allow influence to create a deficit, and when you go into the negative happiness starts to drop on all planets with rebels eventually being generated.
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Re: Influence Discussion

#6 Post by Oberlus » Wed Apr 24, 2019 6:27 am

It would be useful to make a synthesis of what was talked about Influence in this thread.

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Re: Influence Discussion

#7 Post by labgnome » Wed Apr 24, 2019 10:35 am

Oberlus wrote:
Wed Apr 24, 2019 6:27 am
It would be useful to make a synthesis of what was talked about Influence in this thread.
I think so. This thread seems to be focusing more on what influence projects there might be and less on influence mechanics. Which is a useful topic to have. I will post some of my ideas about influence mechanics in the other thread if you like.
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Re: Influence Discussion

#8 Post by Oberlus » Wed Apr 24, 2019 10:47 am

labgnome wrote:
Wed Apr 24, 2019 10:35 am
This thread seems to be focusing more on what influence projects there might be and less on influence mechanics. Which is a useful topic to have. I will post some of my ideas about influence mechanics in the other thread if you like.
No, here is fine (IMO). But "what influence projects there might be" is strongly related to "influence mechanics", and that's why I made that comment.
So rewording myself, it would be useful to make a synthesis of anything in that thread related to influence mechanics (actual mechanics), and bring it here, so that nothing that was already discussed is missed or repeated here.

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Re: Influence Discussion

#9 Post by Oberlus » Wed Apr 24, 2019 12:10 pm

Krikkitone wrote:
Wed Apr 24, 2019 2:08 am
Most internal influence projects (and many of the external ones) should probably be Empire wide.

Otherwise we get into a "build it everywhere" issue.
Indeed.

IMO:
Inciting revolts, decreasing happiness or sabotaging R/P/I output should be Empire-wide projects that affects all targets under range of your influence. And if buildings are required for certain projects, they should be unique buildings or that only one is required for each supply-group (like a Industry Center or a Solar Generator).

So I think we need a range for influence. For visual simplicity, it could be tied to supply range (something like you can influence any system that is at most at X hops away from your supply, probably just 1), or to detection range (if you can see it, you can influence it).
But for greatest versatility of strategies, it should have its own range (otherwise you need detection or supply range to better use your influence, which is rather awkward). It could be visualised with an alternative galaxy view, something similar to what you can do in Simcity 5 (that crap of game, yes, waste of money even if it was a present), where you have buttons to change what is displayed in the map (water distribution, fire coverage, etc. in Simcity, detection range or influence range in FreeOrion). However, I don't think that will get any support.

And so I think we need ways to define valid targets, considering the relationships among empires and species. And therefore we need to represent and monitor those relationships. I'm sure there is some interesting discussion about that subject (relations among factions) somewhere in the forum...
Edit: in this old, locked thread.

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Re: Influence Discussion

#10 Post by Oberlus » Wed Apr 24, 2019 1:47 pm

labgnome wrote:
Wed Apr 24, 2019 2:48 am
Krikkitone wrote:
Wed Apr 24, 2019 2:08 am
Some thoughts...Most internal influence projects (and many of the external ones) should probably be Empire wide.

Otherwise we get into a "build it everywhere" issue.

a way some of those might work if they are not empire wide
1. bonus to all in range (# jumps/supply)
2. bonus to one, but prohibited from building others in range for a time
3. a bonus to one planet, but increasing cost per build
4. a bonus to one planet, but a penalty to all others in range * this might be good for a Suppress Rebels/Propaganda...you are giving one area special benefits/penalties...that might make other worlds jealous/afraid.
I would say I like the ideas of 3 the most but also 4. Basically the more influence projects you have going the more they cost is I think it;s good way discourage building them everywhere and also making sure influence costs scale with your growth.
I like 1, mostly for external influence projects, and I specifically dislike 3, because it will be impossible to balance its cost to avoid the built it everywhere while still making it a viable strategy for empires of all sizes. It's the same that happens with orbital drydocks and the such. Maybe I'm wrong and there is a way to balance influence production and influence project costs for empires of all sizes, but for sure it won't be easy to find. Way easier to aim for mechanics that won't hit that wall.

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Re: Influence Discussion

#11 Post by labgnome » Wed Apr 24, 2019 2:32 pm

Oberlus wrote:
Wed Apr 24, 2019 12:10 pm
So I think we need a range for influence. For visual simplicity, it could be tied to supply range (something like you can influence any system that is at most at X hops away from your supply, probably just 1), or to detection range (if you can see it, you can influence it).
But for greatest versatility of strategies, it should have its own range (otherwise you need detection or supply range to better use your influence, which is rather awkward). It could be visualised with an alternative galaxy view, something similar to what you can do in Simcity 5 (that crap of game, yes, waste of money even if it was a present), where you have buttons to change what is displayed in the map (water distribution, fire coverage, etc. in Simcity, detection range or influence range in FreeOrion). However, I don't think that will get any support.
I agree, maybe have influence range be both supply and detection. Maybe have it start out supply range then with a tech unlock (something like "Tachyon Ansebles") it also includes detection range. I don't want to gt bogged down by something like trying to do multiple galaxy views. It might also make scout and stealth ships more valuable as you will need them to get your influence in-range of your desired target.
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Re: Influence Discussion

#12 Post by labgnome » Wed Apr 24, 2019 3:13 pm

Oberlus wrote:
Wed Apr 24, 2019 1:47 pm
I like 1, mostly for external influence projects, and I specifically dislike 3, because it will be impossible to balance its cost to avoid the built it everywhere while still making it a viable strategy for empires of all sizes. It's the same that happens with orbital drydocks and the such. Maybe I'm wrong and there is a way to balance influence production and influence project costs for empires of all sizes, but for sure it won't be easy to find. Way easier to aim for mechanics that won't hit that wall.
I think that the Research Grants and Production Subsidies should be planet specific boosts, otherwise they are better as policies. Similarly the Diplomatic Mission needs to target a specific native planet. One of my concerns is that we might run into the opposite problem, having influence to spend, but nothing to spend it on once we finish all the available influence projects. And no, I do not want more stockpiling. I don't know that we can come up with that many meaningfully different influence projects for us to always have something to be spending influence on.

At the risk of de-railing this: the problem with drydocks is repairing ships is something that you do need that capability in a lot more places. Having multiple repair sites is just going to be necessary. I actually want them to no longer require a shipyard, so that are free to build the drydock (repair facility) wherever you need, and work on placing more restrictions on shipyards, say make them have to be a certain number of jumps apart, or restrict them to one per species.
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Re: Influence Discussion

#13 Post by Oberlus » Wed Apr 24, 2019 4:05 pm

labgnome wrote:
Wed Apr 24, 2019 3:13 pm
I think that the Research Grants and Production Subsidies should be planet specific boosts, otherwise they are better as policies
Agree. I think making influence projects to boost research or production (i.e. trading influence by production or research) is a no-no. One of the purposes of Influence is to tame the exponential growth in this 4X game, that is, to hamper expansion and exploitation and slow down growth, and especially to hamper research and production. Thus, influence should be something scarce, you will have to sacrifice production or research for extra influence.
One of my concerns is that we might run into the opposite problem, having influence to spend, but nothing to spend it on once we finish all the available influence projects.
If this ever happens, then the implementation would be completely wrong, and it should be fixed by producing less influence, not by giving more stuff to spend influence into.

Regarding other projects that are better targetted than empire-wide, indeed there are some. But others can do both (so better empire wide). For example:
Diplomatic Mission needs to target a specific native planet
Or we don't add such a project and we have a Imperial Propaganda project that affects all foreign planets under range. Each approach has its pros and cons. If making it non-targetted is possible and not objectively worse for gameplay, that's what I would go for.

the problem with drydocks is [...]
that from a certain point in game and onwards you can afford to build it everywhere, while it should (as per FreeOrion design principles) be something that is seldom built. See this thread for the relevant discussion on that matter (you can disregard OP's suggestion, the interesting discussion begins later). And add there your comments on that issue if you like (can't remember if your suggestion of imposing a minimum number of hops is in there).

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Re: Influence Discussion

#14 Post by Oberlus » Wed Apr 24, 2019 4:21 pm

This is from an old post I was sketching but never published and got down my list. I've reread it and seems nothing is off topic or outdated. Anyway, it is not a compilation of the previous discussions linked above in this thread (sorry). It is mostly in line with labgnome proposals, and makes no consideration on micromanagement issues (which now I am quite concerned).
____________

I envision three general categories of influence projects depending on its function:
  • Espionage: to get info from others or to avoid others getting info from you.
  • Sabotage: to destroy assets or hinder production of your enemies.
  • Propaganda: to incite revolts on enemy colonies or to repress them in own colonies, and for peaceful assimilation of natives or foreign colonies by improving the opinion they have on your empire.
For all sabotage and espionage operations there are chances of discovering who was conducting the operations. Only if, or more so if, stopped (countered) by the enemy.
And that would affect relations among the involved factions. Sabotage operations will also lower public opinion of the empire from the affected species, so no good for influence conquest of the affected planets/species and can be counterproductive for your own Empire if it also has the affected species (e.g. if you terrorise an enemy Abaddoni colony using mass destruction weapons, your own Abaddoni colonies could get lower happiness).

The influence projects I can think of:
  • Investigation/Recognisance (espionage): report of planet facilities, armies and activities (beyond current detection capacities), and grants the vision from that planet as long as the project is online.
  • Steal technologies (espionage): gets PP for a given tech you are researching that is owned by the enemy.
  • Counter-espionage (espionage): makes harder to finish or even cancel enemy espionage/sabotage projects.
  • Building destruction (sabotage).
  • Ship/fleet destruction (sabotage).
  • Assassination (sabotage): lowers influence production on that planet by killing influential figures.
  • Terrorism (sabotage): lowers happiness, cheap and effective but can't be used to conquer the planet (it does not raise public opinion on you, and if countered it will greatly decrease that public opinion).
  • Mass-destruction weapons (sabotage): lowers happiness and kills population without the need of orbital domination (can eradicate and revert the colony to outpost if intense enough), but it is harder to achieve than terrorism.
  • Incite revolt (propaganda): lowers happiness, chances to destroy buildings, armies and/or population depending on how much the happiness approaches zero (intensity of the revolt) and the presence of order forces in the planet. If the owner can't counteract the enemy influence and the happiness reaches zero and stays there for long enough, chances for the planet to become independent increases. If that happens, it becomes a "native" planet.
  • Imperial marketing (propaganda): slowest influence project that lowers the affiliation of the planet to its empire and substitutes it for affiliation to the influencing empire. "Affiliation" is a concept here, I don't know how the effect of this project could be implemented, but I assume the happiness meter alone can't do this. This could be a general project that works both inside and outside the empire, i.e. at the same time getting new planets for you and stopping others from influencing your planets.
  • Incite desertion (propaganda): targets a fleet/ship and, if it succeeds, changes affiliation of that fleet.
____________

As said before, I think all projects, when possible, should be empire-wide.
However, projects like "building/fleet destruction" seem clearly a targetted project, I mean, aimed at a single object (planet, fleet) instead of at anything under range. Because it could be OP or hard to balance if empire wide, and because the "size" and resistance of the target should be considered against your own influence power (so that bribing huge fleets with cutting-edge technology to join your ranks costs more than bribing a lonesome, outdated scout; same for getting for you a foreign planet, it should be harder to get a colony with huge population well within its supply lines and thriving in its Empire's trade, than a small, isolated and underdeveloped colony in the verge of the Empire).
Therefore, despite my reluctance, I think it is better to make those projects targetted, and make them cost enough so that having a few of these online depletes all your spare influence. As long as huge empires don't have increasingly available influence points, this could work charms.

So, I would make targetted projects all espionage (except counter-espionage, empire-wide), all sabotage projects, and the Incite Revolt/Desertion projects. That is, most of the projects in that list :s
But I would keep Imperial Marketing/Propaganda as an area-of-effect project (everything under range, including allies, so you could be getting planets from your allies, which could then start a war against you to combat your treacherous influence conquering). Or... have two versions of the "influence-conquering" projects, one empire-wide and one targetted (with smaller overall influence cost, but greater influence-per-planet-conquered cost).
BTW, diplomatic mission seems like something to stablish alliances between governments (empires), more than changing allegiances of a population. But dunno what could be a better name.

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Re: Influence Discussion

#15 Post by labgnome » Wed Apr 24, 2019 5:02 pm

Oberlus wrote:
Wed Apr 24, 2019 4:05 pm
Diplomatic Mission needs to target a specific native planet
Or we don't add such a project and we have a Imperial Propaganda project that affects all foreign planets under range. Each approach has its pros and cons. If making it non-targetted is possible and not objectively worse for gameplay, that's what I would go for.
I think it should be targeted. You should have to put work into each planet you get. Influence as a mechanic should keep your empire from snowballing, and I could see your empire snowballing really fast in a galaxy with a high concentration of natives.

Also, alternately, given that it's been suggested that having more species in your empire should cost more influence I don't think we want players to shoot themselves in the foot just because they have one species with good traits or an environmental preference they want, by making them take whatever other species are in range. I like this idea and taking it a bit further think that maybe the metabolism types should play into the cost increase, as a sort of factor of "alienness".

Going a bit further, one idea I have is that the Moderate Tech Natives and High Tech Natives specials should work the opposite for peaceful acquisition. You should be able to more easily get higher technology natives through diplomacy, and have a harder time using it on lower technology natives. We could maybe even have a "Technological Uplift" project to apply the specials to planets that don't already have them to help "make them ready" to join your interstellar civilization.
Oberlus wrote:
Wed Apr 24, 2019 4:05 pm
that from a certain point in game and onwards you can afford to build it everywhere, while it should (as per FreeOrion design principles) be something that is seldom built. See this thread for the relevant discussion on that matter (you can disregard OP's suggestion, the interesting discussion begins later). And add there your comments on that issue if you like (can't remember if your suggestion of imposing a minimum number of hops is in there).
I didn't see that suggestion going over it, so I think I will give my thoughts there.
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