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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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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?
Scooby-Doo style bodysuits.

80cqqyhuj7oz.png

Or more likely, very realistic remotely-controlled drones, like in Bobiverse.
 
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Envoys using intel is great but, with the envoys being more and more usefull can we hope them to get traits like all the others rulers? I will be looking for the details of the options espionnage will give but you get my interest.
 
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Will factions be looked at in this update? Will the support and oppress faction option use your espionage capacity? Kinda like building a spy network within your empire in order to buff or nerf specific factions. Are the different strata ever going to be involved in decision making in some way? Shouldn't the political goals of different strata be different? What if a faction caters to only one specific strata?

Can pirates also get a little more substance? Like being able to strike a deal with them or link the piracy and crime mechanics in some way?
 
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Will we get a tradition tree dedicated to espionage? It would be nice if we did.

Instead of just changing a few of our current traditions to benifit espionage.
 
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Okay, so.
Not really optimistic about this.
Why?
The devs say they'll try to balance it. That they'll try to make it fun.
Considering the dearth of engagement for midgame, the massive long-standing issues with Hives and Spiritualists, and the lengthy lists of civics that are useless beyond RP purposes (and not even mentioning how the AI is literally too stupid to run an economy)... I'm not sure this new system will be any different.

Anticipating the disagree horde in 5, 4, 3, 2....
 
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Will we get a tradition tree dedicated to espionage? It would be nice if we did.

Instead of just changing a few of our current traditions to benifit espionage.
A complete tradition rework is necessary. One of the reasons spiritualists are so bad is that everything new gets some new techs as requirements or techs that boost it. Traditions on the other hand are as useful or useless as they were years ago.
 
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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?

I'd assume the agents would discretely contact the disloyal natives in FP empire and then use those as agents in the empire itself.
 
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I wonder why Paradox is allergic to adding new tradition trees.

It would literally be the one thing needed to take the traditions system from shallow nothingness to meaningful choice. Add a bunch of trees but make it so you can only take a certain number of them, and boom, your empire can grow in a unique fashion.
 
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Okay, so.
Not really optimistic about this.
Why?
The devs say they'll try to balance it. That they'll try to make it fun.
Considering the dearth of engagement for midgame, the massive long-standing issues with Hives and Spiritualists, and the lengthy lists of civics that are useless beyond RP purposes (and not even mentioning how the AI is literally too stupid to run an economy)... I'm not sure this new system will be any different.

Anticipating the disagree horde in 5, 4, 3, 2....

With you 100%. This game has a long history of things having so much potential, but poor implementation/balance. On top of the examples you listed, I still can't stand being in a federation. This seems like its going to be exactly the same. Please prove us wrong and do better Paradox. :)
 
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Needless to say, the other empire will not be informed of your envoy's new position.

Will be tough to explain why an emissary is there doing nothing, tho!
"so what are you doing here? Improving relations, improving coalition strenght... what?"
"oh well... you now... just chillin'".

I loved this DD, the new mechanic promises to be very useful and abstract in just the right way. Congratulations, it is the most interesting DD I have seen in years.
 
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It would literally be the one thing needed to take the traditions system from shallow nothingness to meaningful choice. Add a bunch of trees but make it so you can only take a certain number of them, and boom, your empire can grow in a unique fashion.
I would like traditions being more like eu4 idea groups. You can take a limited amount, different combination effects, events can roll once a tree is finished, most of the unlocks are actually useful.
 
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This system looks amazing.
I am particularly excited for the Operations such as "Steal Technology" as it seems to provide an alternative to tech rushing.
Not to mention giving Psionic Empires, Hives and Machine Intelligences something to specialise in.

Thank you for this Dev Diary and I can't wait to see more about Operations next week :)
 

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I guess the space Karens will be flooding with calls the new espionage bureau offices when a cute starfish walks into their neighborhood now ;)
Seriously I like the new option, especially the Utopian sub-dermal chips that let the police catch all those secret liberals!
 
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We all know Spiritualists are pretty bad atm, but if they can be tailord more for the espinoage system and rely on the steal tech method with having an easier time, this would make them a more valid play option again beyond RP.
 
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This is super cool! I'm grinning like a child while drinking my coffee. Looking forward to this :)
 
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The time has come for agents HC-9 and MA-23 to infiltrate an alien empire.

Just remember that rubber skin is easy to spot even at medium range and stay away from the dogs/equivalent critters.
 
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Kaligoth

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Well looks like i can now make a classical eldritch hive mind that uses spy's to corrupt and over throw. :D

"you will all succumb to the whispers of the old ones..."
 
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Pale Blue

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This system looks amazing.
I am particularly excited for the Operations such as "Steal Technology" as it seems to provide an alternative to tech rushing.
Not to mention giving Psionic Empires, Hives and Machine Intelligences something to specialise in.

Thank you for this Dev Diary and I can't wait to see more about Operations next week :)
While this could help spiritualists I don’t like a playstyle that is inherently worse and can just survive by stealing tech, instead of being actually good in something themselves.
 
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mirco297

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It seems kinda odd to me that making it mandatory to get implants increases Authoritarian Ethic Attraction.
Wouldn't citizens (especially loyal ones) be less likely to support Authoritarianism when this edict shows that they are the target of surveillance and mistrust regardless of their loyalty?

Don't get me wrong, I like the concept of this edict and I think it fits really well with the Authoritarian ethic.
 
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