sven wrote:So I think the smart choice for now is probably just to tweak the AI voting rules slightly, keep an eye on how votes are playing out in real games, and not rush into coding up the refusal case unless/until we see some real evidence that it's needed.
Well, damn. I was looking forward to that update. Though I must admit, one of my previously voiced-out concerns was the unnecessary drag of the end-game as well.
Lets revise a bit, then. In my game (and in many of the preceding games) the issue was the lack of end-game: the sudden rise of total population through conquest, bringing an abrupt end through Council victory. I never get to duke it out with the remaining AI's, who in the narrative still might seem pretty strong (in our example game, the Orthin and the Gremak). It often doesn't FEEL like they could be subdued through politics alone, or that they should outright surrender, either. Because of this dissonance, I don't FEEL like the Chancellor when I get elected. But it might be ALMOST obvious that I've won at that stage, so we don't want to drag the game for too long.
How about we try to target the preceding stages of the conflict instead?
I've hit the "we're worried about your rapid expansion, so we're making a stand against you" event a couple of times (exactly two times if I remember correctly) - what are the exact trigger conditions of that these days? Because in my mind, it would make sense for the remaining AI's to take action against the player - or anyone who's about to win by council votes, for that matter - to mark the beginning of late-game. At that stage, we already have stable alliances, clear-cut borders, and everything boils down to that one final showdown between the remaining factions. The underdogs might unite into an alliance (I've had this happen in one game, followed by the "we're worried about you rapid expansion" event, and that was WAY cool!) if their history and current relations allows.
If that one event was more common in late game (or, as I suggested, the TRIGGER for late game, even), the narrative would probably make more sense even if the game did end at the exact same time. There would be SOME sort of conclusion through the formation of alliances (that could then be crushed in the end game), vassal states (that could merge into bigger empires) and independent states (that could stay neutral through being intimidating enough on their own, but having too bad/neutral attitude towards everyone else to be partners in alliance). If the political alignments of the board are then known, the only additional victory condition needed in the Council vote would be "assert dominance". This could have rather simple triggers, such as:
1) Have x% of the galaxy's population in your faction (this one's already in place)
2) Show-of-force (destroy n% of the opposing factions population, where n could be very small, and dependant on the relative fleet strength of the factions involved - just take a system or two and that's it)
3) Political power (pay n Influence to grease your opponents into believing you'll make a spectacular Chancellor. This would be a general diplomatic event or treaty available for the player, and it would affect the eventuality of the "we're worried about your expansion" event.)
And like the political power trigger, even the show-of-force trigger could already be hit earlier in the game by winning a war against said faction.
In my example game, I already triggered conditions 1 and 2, actually. The one that SEEMED to be missing was 3, or more precisely, the lack of political narrative. I mean, I didn't UNDERSTAND why I had won. Remember those video messages in MoO2 when the random aliens would just call you to tell you how much they like you and how impressive they find you to be, and we'll bang, ok?
Yeah, those. Your allies do that in SiS as well (offer technology and pop), but you don't get similiar info about your enemies. They don't gravel before you after successful campaigns, or send provoking messages to you when they're feeling strong (apart from issuing ultimatums, but that's different from what I'm talking about). If I'm to be elected Chancellor, I would want some sort of indication beforehand that I've somehow managed to subdue the rest of the galaxy, and not just hit some random percentage of pop in a game.
The obvious problem with my "assert dominance" victory triggers is that they could once again be just another redundant mechanism that just drags the game on for no reason, or adds arbitrary tasks for the player to accomplish before the eventual victory. When I think about it, we're not actually missing more complex rules, we're missing more coherent and visible NARRATIVE (and thus, back to the "I want to understand why I won" argument). I probably represent a rather small percentage of the playerbase, but I play SiS for the POLITICS!
Even the alliances in SiS are so unstable and so interesting that they actually involve meaningful player choice, unlike in other 4X, in which they are pretty much no-brainers with no real drawbacks. I want to FEEL like the Emperor before being elected as such.
Do you think there are ways to do that which don't actually require the addition of new rules - maybe just new/tweaked diplomatic events or options?