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Stellaris Dev Diary #196: [REDACTED]

-ðsžšåÞя©Â£ŠŘ§Ů½æآé-
Attn: Spymaster Utra, daughter of Roba,


Our operatives have provided information on the activities of the vile Paradoxians. Despite their attempts at secrecy, we have managed to acquire some intel. The images our agents have taken appear to be of crude prototypes that they are still refining, but we thought it best to pass this dispatch along now so you can better prepare for the future.

Agent Tiny Sorbet signing off.

-‚ا© ŘŮ æ¢Ã£»£æ¢Ã -•

Hello and happy new year!

In Dev Diaries 193 and 194 we explored the mysteries of first contact, hidden information, and intelligence gathering through diplomatic means.

It may come as a surprise to many, but sadly there are starfaring civilizations out there with whom peaceful co-existence and mutually beneficial diplomatic ties are simply not an option. Against these threats, it may prove useful to utilize the more intrigue-oriented members of your society, and turn to espionage.

Espionage and covert operations are a frequently requested feature that seem to be natural extensions of the intel system that we’ve described in the recent dev diaries. With the obfuscation of knowledge, naturally there should be systems to acquire that information.


Envoys and Spy Networks

Envoys will have a new diplomatic task available to them called Build Spy Network. They will take their place as the Spymaster of a network of covert operatives and agents that they will grow in power over time. Needless to say, the other empire will not be informed of your envoy's new position.

1610463889475.png

Build Spy Network diplomatic action

1610463907045.png

Baby steps.

While an envoy is managing a Spy Network as Spymaster, the Network will grow over time - quickly at first, but slower as the Network gains in strength. Networks are far faster to build in large, sprawling empires, and if the target empire’s Encryption rating is much stronger than the spying empire’s Decryption, growth may also slow to a crawl. (Machine Intelligences have a natural knack for Encryption and Decryption, while Hives and psionic empires tend to excel at Counter Espionage.)

Unmanaged Spy Networks (those without an envoy directing them) pause all ongoing activities and rapidly decay.

Spy Networks initially cap out at a maximum level of 50. Several things such as civics or edicts can increase it, and if you have acquired (disposable) Assets within the target empire they also provide a boost - each Asset increases the Spy Network cap in that empire by 5.

Assets are useful pawns, hacked backdoors, deviant drones, or other resources that could come in useful to your Spy Network. An Asset could be a disgruntled Bureaucrat that's been passed over promotion one too many times, a faulty Pheromone Emitter that your operatives have found a way to manipulate, or even a Logistics System that you've hacked into. More details about the acquisition of Assets and their uses will be in a future diary.


Changes

Here’s a non-comprehensive sample of some civics, ascension perks, and edicts that have been updated during this espionage pass. Several new Encryption and Decryption related technologies have also been added. (Numbers are still subject to change!)

1610463931398.png

1610463939944.png

Some civics lend themselves nicely to covert activities.

1610463949200.png

1610463957215.png

Others can modify Counter Espionage, making the lives of enemy Spy Networks easier or more difficult.

1610463963720.png

Tell us your secrets.

1610465981889.png

No, really.

1610463971674.png

1610463977936.png

More of the new Edicts.


Putting Your Spies to Work

Now that you’ve built up your Spy Network, what can you do with it?

Back in Dev Diary 194 we had a redacted value shown in the Intel breakdown tooltip - Spy Network level is that third hidden value alongside Diplomatic Pacts and Trust.

1610463984843.png

No more redactions here.

While your Spy Network passively provides intelligence, you can also have them be more active. Your Spymaster envoy can send agents out, using the Network's bandwidth ("Spy Power") to run Operations within the targeted empire while they stay safely at their base.

Operations exist in the following major categories:

* Subterfuge - Information gathering and operations that improve the spy network itself
* Sabotage - Ruining things (physical or immaterial)
* Manipulation - Replacing the truth with your own improved version
* Provocations - Don't do these, they're bad

Most Operations also have a subcategory of Government, Diplomacy, Economic, Technology, or Military, matching the Intel Categories.

More details on how to perform Operations (and how Assets can be used to improve them) will be the focus of next week’s diary. See you then!

ops.png
 
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Perhaps tune up the other stats up a bit or add some other positive effect, like an offensive advantage in espoinage, as a compensation?
This sounds rather good. I support this.
Yes keeping an open door policy will allow others to send in imposters seeking to harm you.
But you will also gain loyal new citizens who might be eager to bring their uniqe talents to take down their former homes
 
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So....how is the AI going to manage this? History would tell us not well, or not at all.

Hope some thought and manpower has gone into that.
 
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One of my biggest concerns with the game at the moment is that once you hit midgame, the galaxy becomes very, very static. I'm wondering... in your playtesting with the espionage features, does it tend to open up new possibilities? Is the balance of power more dynamic when the AI can run Operations against each other? Is there a bit more of a "rise and fall" feeling to things?

Also... do Fallen Empires use Espionage features, ever?
 
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This sounds really interesting so far. :)

I do have a question though: If you want to build a spy network in the realm of a fanatic purifier, how do your agents stay hidden? Wouldn't they notice people from a different species right away?
 
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-ðsžšåÞя©Â£ŠŘ§Ů½æآé-
Attn: Spymaster Utra, daughter of Roba,


Our operatives have provided information on the activities of the vile Paradoxians. Despite their attempts at secrecy, we have managed to acquire some intel. The images our agents have taken appear to be of crude prototypes that they are still refining, but we thought it best to pass this dispatch along now so you can better prepare for the future.

Agent Tiny Sorbet signing off.

-‚ا© ŘŮ æ¢Ã£»£æ¢Ã -•

Hello and happy new year!

In Dev Diaries 193 and 194 we explored the mysteries of first contact, hidden information, and intelligence gathering through diplomatic means.

It may come as a surprise to many, but sadly there are starfaring civilizations out there with whom peaceful co-existence and mutually beneficial diplomatic ties are simply not an option. Against these threats, it may prove useful to utilize the more intrigue-oriented members of your society, and turn to espionage.

Espionage and covert operations are a frequently requested feature that seem to be natural extensions of the intel system that we’ve described in the recent dev diaries. With the obfuscation of knowledge, naturally there should be systems to acquire that information.


Envoys and Spy Networks

Envoys will have a new diplomatic task available to them called Build Spy Network. They will take their place as the Spymaster of a network of covert operatives and agents that they will grow in power over time. Needless to say, the other empire will not be informed of your envoy's new position.

View attachment 669526
Build Spy Network diplomatic action

View attachment 669527
Baby steps.

While an envoy is managing a Spy Network as Spymaster, the Network will grow over time - quickly at first, but slower as the Network gains in strength. Networks are far faster to build in large, sprawling empires, and if the target empire’s Encryption rating is much stronger than the spying empire’s Decryption, growth may also slow to a crawl. (Machine Intelligences have a natural knack for Encryption and Decryption, while Hives and psionic empires tend to excel at Counter Espionage.)

Unmanaged Spy Networks (those without an envoy directing them) pause all ongoing activities and rapidly decay.

Spy Networks initially cap out at a maximum level of 50. Several things such as civics or edicts can increase it, and if you have acquired (disposable) Assets within the target empire they also provide a boost - each Asset increases the Spy Network cap in that empire by 5.

Assets are useful pawns, hacked backdoors, deviant drones, or other resources that could come in useful to your Spy Network. An Asset could be a disgruntled Bureaucrat that's been passed over promotion one too many times, a faulty Pheromone Emitter that your operatives have found a way to manipulate, or even a Logistics System that you've hacked into. More details about the acquisition of Assets and their uses will be in a future diary.


Changes

Here’s a non-comprehensive sample of some civics, ascension perks, and edicts that have been updated during this espionage pass. Several new Encryption and Decryption related technologies have also been added. (Numbers are still subject to change!)

View attachment 669528
View attachment 669529
Some civics lend themselves nicely to covert activities.

View attachment 669530
View attachment 669531
Others can modify Counter Espionage, making the lives of enemy Spy Networks easier or more difficult.

View attachment 669532
Tell us your secrets.

View attachment 669543
No, really.

View attachment 669533
View attachment 669534
More of the new Edicts.


Putting Your Spies to Work

Now that you’ve built up your Spy Network, what can you do with it?

Back in Dev Diary 194 we had a redacted value shown in the Intel breakdown tooltip - Spy Network level is that third hidden value alongside Diplomatic Pacts and Trust.

View attachment 669535
No more redactions here.

While your Spy Network passively provides intelligence, you can also have them be more active. Your Spymaster envoy can send agents out, using the Network's bandwidth ("Spy Power") to run Operations within the targeted empire while they stay safely at their base.

Operations exist in the following major categories:

* Subterfuge - Information gathering and operations that improve the spy network itself
* Sabotage - Ruining things (physical or immaterial)
* Manipulation - Replacing the truth with your own improved version
* Provocations - Don't do these, they're bad

Most Operations also have a subcategory of Government, Diplomacy, Economic, Technology, or Military, matching the Intel Categories.

More details on how to perform Operations (and how Assets can be used to improve them) will be the focus of next week’s diary. See you then!

View attachment 669541

Impressive, looking forward to the execution.

Remimber to not over-rely on dumb modifier like you did with the galactic community.

And fix shadow council, that % output doesn't apply on trade or amenities.

I also hope you have something in store for democracies...
 
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Love it, though it feels as if the we don't have enough envoys problem will only increase.
Most of the time I need at least 2 envoys to keep my federation going, 1 to boost me at the GC, one to do the advertising task with other empires and now I would need at least 2 more to run 2 spynetworks.
Please increase the number of envoys. The spy agency is nice but there needs to be more.

Also would it be too much to ask for envoys to have traits?
Mercedes Romero being great at making friends so send her on good will missions.
Blorg, James Blorg, managing spy operations?
Especially hives and machines suffer from this. Is there any reason why they are locked out of the envoy and diplomatic weight increasing techs? Normal empires get 2 more envoys and 20% dip weight.
 
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If tracking implants made people angry, it should decrease authoritarian atractivness, not increase. Its not that unhappy people being forced to authoritarian method are more likely to became authoritarians... or are they?
It makes the criminals unhappy , loyal citizens are fine with it.
 
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Will empires be able to figure out that you are spying on them, and will this harm relations? (purely talking about building a spy network in the first place here, I can imagine those provocations will be more likely to expose you)
 
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I am more worried than glad about this did. Sabotage and stealing tech sounds very annoying. I am not particularly fond of modding it out or banning it in mp right away like it is the case in other games, but so far I haven’t seen anything that looks like the spy system would work different in stellaris.
 
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How much emphasis is being put on balance changes nowadays? Hiveminds and Spiritualists have been a joke since around 2.2 compared to the updated Synth Ascension and Machine empires. The game is still all about pop growth and will continue to be even with your (2nd attempt) of the pop and economy rework.

The truth is that Spiritualists and Hiveminds are a joke compared to a standard Materialist empire going for Synth Ascension. This has been the case since 2.2 and even with recent balance changes, has not changed much. The power gap is simply too large. And no, promises of "Spiritualists will be great at Espionage" and "Hiveminds will be good against Espionage" are not magically going to change this.

What the game needs is a big, a reasonable balance pass. You should consider knowledgable players who have been working hard on making their own balance mods. After all, having a game where all the different empires and playstyles are more or less equally viable should be your goal, don't you agree?

If you don't put more effort into balance, then players are going to play one round of Spiritualists or Hiveminds with Espionage, and then default back to Materialist.

And not just balance. The amount of content that is unaccessible for Gestalts is absurd.
They are locked out from starting on Habitats. They are locked out from starting as a Scion. Hiveminds cannot make any special Federation types. They are locked out from Horizon Signal event. That means Hiveminds can never obtain the extremely powerful Tomb World Habitability with 60% minimum habitability on any planet type. Hiveminds cannot compete with making as strong organic pops as non-Gestalt empires can, because non-Gestalt empires get rapid breeders + strong for free. They also get a new species event which can obtain tomb world habitability. And ontop of that you can easily incorporate cyborgs and psionics to your pop as non-Gestalt due to migration treaties.

The biggest joke is how you excluded Hiveminds from Necrophage. A playstyle like that has been requested for years!

Its about time that you treat players of different empires equally. Give Gestalts and Hiveminds equal amounts of content and anomalies.

Why is The Nivlac event Chain blocked for Hiveminds, but accessible for Rogue Servitors or Driven Assimilators?

I do agree with some of your points, but this comment is way too specific and hard to understand for others.

What Tech is complaining about is the lack of interactions and overall things to do with Gestalt and non-research focused empire. Espionnage is supposed to be one of the answer, but i do myself doubt it will be enough.
 
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This all looks interesting :) Are there any plans to develop civil wars and rebellions in this patch? It’s seems like a natural part of espionage that an empire might be able to light any social powderkegs in an empire. Empires are extremely static other than war by the mid game as its trivial to obtain high happiness. Being able to see that a slaver empire has some instabilities and using espionage to fund a slave uprising is exactly the kind of thing the mid game needs.

Providing that it is balanced so that stable, well run empires are resistant/immune, ensuring the player won’t constantly be putting out AI caused fires
 
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If tracking implants made people angry, it should decrease authoritarian atractivness, not increase. Its not that unhappy people being forced to authoritarian method are more likely to became authoritarians... or are they?

Well if we look at China and what they're doing they definitely anger some people but on the whole it makes it easier to trend people towards people seeing things the government's way.

Will empires be able to figure out that you are spying on them, and will this harm relations? (purely talking about building a spy network in the first place here, I can imagine those provocations will be more likely to expose you)

If it looks like they're improving relations you could probably look at the relations and check to se if they increase or not, that might give it away
 
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Wonderful read @Eladrin . It's great to see expansion of features and content without the gutting of others. Hiding data hardly counts as such, and is not compromising the existing game afaiac. May this DLC direction continue.

I'm really looking forward to plugging all this into my own content and seeing what other modders do with it too. Please make it as exposed for modding as possible sir, and don't forget those script handles ;)
 
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I would love to be able to work against other empires relations. Like forcing them into diplomatic isolation, working against trade pacts, etc. Even to a point, where someone is kicked out of a federation. Of course, the ai should do similar things against the player aswell.
 
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Does this spying system interact with the galactic community or federations as a whole, or is it strictly empire-by-empire?
 
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Will there be an Ascension perk change with Enigmatic engineering? That could provide some bonus against stuff like Military intel gathering and sabotage.

Sabotage - Ruining things (physical or immaterial)
How extensive will this be? Will it be a whack a mole situation where you're fixing random buildings that have been ruined, or is it something deliberate you can prepare against with counter espionage? Will resources be taken, or are those okay?
Manipulation - Replacing the truth with your own improved version
Can we turn allies of ours who hate each other into allies themselves so we can invite both of them into a Federation? Can we turn members away from their Federation, or weaken it?
 
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