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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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Will Fallen Empires be able to build Spy Networks even while they're asleep? Like how the Shadows and Vorlons from Babylon 5 would sneak their agents around, even before they officially re-introduced themselves to the galactic scene.

Would Rogue Servitors be able to use organic agents, like with the Culture's Special Circumstances?
 
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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.

Lore-wise, I'd imagine it's because it increases the Government's ability to crack down on dissenters. If you can track everyone, it's a lot easier to crush rebel movements or groups. Therefore, overall, your citizens become more willing to accept authority because you root out those that don't.
 
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Eh, I'm not really convinced it's going to play out well. Especially if the AI isn't taught to use the espionage system properly.
 
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Idk how different the values are and it’s mainly a minor change but introspective should probably give encryption and decryption instead of counter intelligence. Encrypting and decrypting devices in stellaris will probably be computation based algorithms so it makes sense that the robots that are fascinated by their own algorithms are much better at using those algorithms to make themselves harder to hack. Just a minor suggestion, I have been playing since the beginning and have been hoping for an espionage update since than. Can’t wait!
 
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It was quite predictable that this dev diary was about espionage, but I love the rework to old civics and the introduction of new thematically fit techs.

Is it possible to have a boost in espionage when the Gene Tailoring tech is discovered? I don't see why Covert Infiltration must be used only on pre-FTL species :p
 
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I can't help but feel like it may end up like Civ 5, where from some point on, I would be constantly at war with most of the world, because they would keep stealing my technologies.
 
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The spy missions seem fun and aggravating, as they should be.

I just hope the steal technology doesn't give technology straight up and wholesale, when you can't just trade technology freely.
I would prefer if it either gave out research points, or gave partially researched research alternatives (maybe as two different missions: one to coup research facilities for your own use, and another to outright steal research results).

...or just give players the option to trade for technology instead of just the research agreement that is in the game currently, but I'm sure that's not allowed for a reason.
 
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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.
Yeah, such a playstyle would be less fun.
Though to be fair, we don't know yet the full extend of what Espionage and Operations can do for an empire.
Maybe Espionage will be something worthwhile to the point that it counts for "being actually good in something themselves.".
Or maybe stealing tech simply allows an empire to focus less on research and spend more resources on military without falling behind too much.

We can only hope that the playstyle will be fun and engaging for now I guess :p
 

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Will we be able to do some form of misinformation operation? It would be cool if it could be possible to discover a spynetwork and allow it to continue but feeding it with false information. For instance a weak empire could do a counterspy mission that could exaggerate information about their fleetpower etc.
 
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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.

What measurement do you use to determine whether or not something is good?
 
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What measurement do you use to determine whether or not something is good?

Does it make a difference? Does it significantly help you to achieve your goals?

Currently, Research helps you with a lot of things you might want to do, including unlocking them in the first place. Unity doesn't really, or at least not not after you have unlocked all the tradition trees, which happens pretty fast even without having a single priest or culture worker.
 
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I don't know if I have missed something yet, but is this a free feature update or a paid feature part of a new expansion?
 

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Does it make a difference? Does it significantly help you to achieve your goals?

Currently, Research helps you with a lot of things you might want to do, including unlocking them in the first place. Unity doesn't really, or at least not not after you have unlocked all the tradition trees, which happens pretty fast even without having a single priest or culture worker.
Yes non unity focused empires can’t gain an advantage over other empires compared to tech. Not to mention that technocracy let’s you produce so much unity that you are a tech and unity focused empire at the same time.
 
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Morfane

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Eh, I'm not really convinced it's going to play out well. Especially if the AI isn't taught to use the espionage system properly.

Your bio conflicts with this statement. It's kinda funny.
 
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Kaligoth

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Does it make a difference? Does it significantly help you to achieve your goals?

Currently, Research helps you with a lot of things you might want to do, including unlocking them in the first place. Unity doesn't really, or at least not not after you have unlocked all the tradition trees, which happens pretty fast even without having a single priest or culture worker.

That is a really bad way to measure the positives and negatives "Does it make a difference?" Yes it does to determine something bad with no bases of positive or negative will always be inherently bad when determining something like that its like entering the lottery on blind luck and then complaining the system is bad because you lost and not because the system is purely based on chance.

Wile if you looked at say the lottery on the bases of negatives and positives aka how many combinations and value of chance and then determine that the chance being too low is bad so you don't inherently enter it wile if the chance is more in your favour you see it as a positive.

The idea that research only applies to the empire makes no sense ideas are free flowing and should in reality be able to be taken by someone else after all if they are developing say missiles stealing the tech to also make the same missiles would make sense the idea you can't boggles the mind.
 
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Ezumiyr

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I have to admit that it looks much better than I thought it would be. Congrats.
 
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Pale Blue

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The idea that research only applies to the empire makes no sense ideas are free flowing and should in reality be able to be taken by someone else after all if they are developing say missiles stealing the tech to also make the same missiles would make sense the idea you can't boggles the mind.
Thats handled ingame by increased draw chance for key techs like better starbases or ship hulls if you know an empire that has them. It is already in the game, just not super obvious and in a more decent way and in the end you still need to do your own thing and research the tech and make it work even if you know the idea of a battleship and what it is.
 
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Methone

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So Spy Networks are the opportunity costs of an Envoy. Which leads me to ask, assuming you're not Genocidal, why even bother with that when you can instead just Improve/Harm relations for a total value of +-400 total?

(Also how is Bureau of Espionage an edict? Wouldn't it, ya know, be a building? Might need a name change)

I do appreciate the ability to go full 1984, though.
 
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