General Stars in Shadow Discussion Forum
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harpy eagle
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Postby harpy eagle » Wed Apr 18, 2018 4:30 pm

A little while back I saw some posts on the steam forums about how the game's diplomacy system in its current state can be a bit exploitable for the player. I've been sitting on an idea about how the existing system could be modified slightly to make it harder to buy up all the AI empires as allies for a council victory.

Now I've heard that sven and arioch are planning to revisit this part of the game in the near future - and I don't want to intrude on anything they might have planned - but I could probably make it into a mod if as a kind of holdover in the meantime if anyone is interested. Though this sort of thing is a lot more subjective than changing how the AI uses it's resources.

The basic idea is that when showing the menu of possible agreements to the player, in addition to checking their relationship with the player, the game also checks the relationship with any allies the player might have.

If they're at war with or simply dislike any of your allies, then an alliance is out of the question. Alternatively, if they dislike any of your allies then getting an alliance could just be prohibitively expensive instead. I think an important detail would be to make sure to indicate which ally is the point of contention in the menu, so that the situation is always clear to the player.

Also, I think in order for this to be fully fleshed out I'd have to handle AIs breaking alliances with the player in the case that one ally wants to declare war on another.

The end result is that the player is restricted to buying alliances with only groups of AIs that mutually like each other.

Another idea I had, that would probably require creating a bit more npc dialogue text, would be to make it that if the player buys an alliance with an AI that has more votes, that AI now expects the player to vote for them. If the player doesn't, they break the alliance after the council meeting. So for the player, buying an alliance with a stronger empire is not about buying votes, but giving up votes for guaranteed good relations with a potentially dangerous neighbor.

It could also be a fun situation if the player has multiple allies that are expecting votes from them - and the player has to choose.


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Re: Alliances

Postby Arioch » Wed Apr 18, 2018 7:07 pm

This is something we're working on right now.

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Re: Alliances

Postby zolobolo » Wed Apr 18, 2018 8:04 pm

The first suggestion sound interesting but as you have pointed out, it would need to be clearly communicated to the player when and why an Alliance option is not available else it leads to frustration

Having to vote for the most powerful alliance member would work better - and offer the option for the player to break the alliance to avoid this right there and there before the results are counted for. This way the player can avoid giving victory to an ally but also loose the ally and get a huge relationship penalty on top of that as a side effect

Something I have proposed a couple of times my self and hope that it will be considered is to have each alliance cost influence to maintain
It would be its nature:
- Prevent players for allying with many large empires (the more pop they have compared to the player the more the alliance cost)
- Make influence actually valuable and saving it for later alliances meaningful (The player is expected to constantly loose influence from mid-game on if they have a couple of allies unless they expand quickly and increasing their pop to lower the influence cost = motivation to fight)

I think the above would lend it self well for a mod as it does not require a new event per say but giving a minus influence effect for the alliance treaty each turn based on relationship of total pop.
It would also make sense to issue a massive relationship penalty towards allied empires that have more pop but the player did not vote for them along the lines of: "You did not support our Galactic dominance - 25"

In the end the Devs need to take a full punch on the system for sure as all of the above only serve to keep the player from winning too easily and in the end the AI would need to use the system as well to truly make the mechanic interesting

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Re: Alliances

Postby zolobolo » Thu Apr 19, 2018 8:21 am

Example to alliances costs:

Currently each faction can provide max +3 Influence / Turn
Upkeep of alliance with a faction with less then 50% pop then player: 3 Influence / Turn
Upkeep of alliance with a faction with identical sized pop: 4.5 Influence / Turn
Upkeep of alliance with a faction above 150% pop compared to player: 6 Influence / Turn
If influence hits 0, the most costly alliance(s) are to be automatically canceled and relationship penalty towards the affected empires issues

On the Pro side of the above, it balances out the game dynamically as it prevents alliance with everyone, the rush declaration of alliances, as well as late game stacking of them and causes a major decision point before each alliance treaty is made not only due to its upkeep cost vs benefits but also due to the potential risk of the ally becoming stronger over time and the upkeep increasing considerably (doubled in worst case)

Due to the considerable upkeep cost it would also not be a viable option to keep the main competitor as an ally until the player is strong enough to surpass them in pop without a fight and then automatically harvest all their votes. In this case the player would need to cancel the alliance, and since the AI empire is stronger, is now angry at the player, and is not prevented from declaring war - excitement occurs :)

Also notice that it wouldn't be cost effective to have small allies. Having allies of around equal pop is more cost effective but from this level on each ally needs 1.5-2 other very friendly empires to maintain so need to choose carefully and adapt to the changing balance of power

Its inherited drawback is as mentioned its patch nature as it does not necessarily translates over well to the AI: In theory the AI of course could also have upkeep costs on their "budget" tracked by the player on the diplomacy screen, but if they fell out of the alliance due to their own resource shortage, the player might not be amused by that, and there would also be the question of moral penalty being applied from the side of player which is not possible - so the AI (in theory) can exit an alliance "cheaper" as the player
Last edited by zolobolo on Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:06 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Alliances

Postby fonzosh » Thu Apr 19, 2018 8:45 am

I really like the idea of having a expanded diplomatic options and I know the devs are working on it, but what I would really like to see is also a sort fo graph that shows all the factions realationship to you and to each other. This, coupled with other espionage options (like sabotage an installation and blaming it on someone else and scramble communication lines) would be just great. This would open up a whole new part of the game were you really have to check your standing in the community and be able to use it to your advantage. Of course I would also like some racial emmity between certain races (for example the phidi and the tinkerers have according to me a diametrcially opposed world wiev and would be hardpressed to get into an alliance).

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Re: Alliances

Postby CapnDarwin » Fri Apr 20, 2018 1:27 pm

One thing that would help in the diplomatic arena is have some of the plus and minus effects decay or grow over time. Currently, it makes no sense to be 200+ turns into a game, but have a faction still - 25 to you because you blocked a colony in a system you were in, even though you have been at peace with them all this time. I can see these dynamic values working both ways on positive and negative effects. The increases and decrease can be slow and should be weighted on your overall relationship with that faction and the traits of that faction (like the Phidi forgive faster, but might be tougher/slower to improve positive events). Just a few thoughts on a Friday morning.

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Re: Alliances

Postby AMX » Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:58 pm

One idea I've been pondering was that you could have a certain "base influence" - say, 100 points - that you naturally return to.
So if you have >100 influence (for example because you just helped a starving neighbor) the excess will slowly decay until you're back at 100 - use it or lose it!
OTOH, if you're below 100 (maybe you just spent it all to make somebody sign a treaty), it'll slowly regenerate.

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Re: Alliances

Postby fonzosh » Mon Apr 23, 2018 6:37 am

I would also like to see some sort of alignment issues. For example, some AI are considered "Good" (phidi for example) and some AI have an evil disposition (I would say Tinkerers). The actions you do during the game actually give you good ( for example negotiating peace) and evil points (bombing a planet into oblivion) and allows you to handle the relations with different factions. A good faction wil be hard pressed to enter any sort of deal with an evil faction and vice versa. A neutral faction (where good and evil points are aproximately equal) can enter a deal with any faction but it costs more if the faction has a different aignment than you.

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Re: Alliances

Postby wminsing » Mon Apr 23, 2018 1:57 pm

While I would caution against assigning races to arbitrary 'good' or 'evil' alignments, I do agree that being a consistently bad actor (excessive planetary bombardment, buying slaves, etc) should count for something in diplomacy.


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