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 the empire defending against espionage have any agency beyond building up decryption and Counter-Espionage values?

I'm thinking of things like deciding, if they found a spy, whether to take them out to reduce enemy spy network or try their luck at converting them into an Asset, or perhaps taking the opportunity of a botched attempt to steal tech to spread some subterfuge about the sort of tech you have?

One of the things that makes the scheming of CK2 and CK3 so fun, IMO, is how you can turn exposed plots into excuses to imprison troublesome vassals or gaining hooks to use for your own schemes. A system where the only reward for defense is "nothing happens" tends to be ignored until something bad *does* happen and the player gets frustrated about it.
 
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pliznobn

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Will the AI know how #TODO any of this?
 
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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

This introduces a problem, envoys used as spys. From a roleplay perspective that means that a nation with diplomatic corps civic will be better at spying, which i don't see how it makes sense (functionally it works well, im only talking about roleplay).
 
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grommile

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From a roleplay perspective that means that a nation with diplomatic corps civic will be better at spying
sounds plausible.

like, having your diplomatic corps' nicely polished leather shoes on the ground is an important part of conducting intelligence operations in foreign territory.
 
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LystAP

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sounds plausible.

like, having your diplomatic corps' nicely polished leather shoes on the ground is an important part of conducting intelligence operations in foreign territory.
The text of Diplomatic Corps indicates your empire has a history of convincing people via words - "This society has a long tradition of rhetoric and debate and celebrate those who are able to get their way using only words." So it's not necessarily meaning just formal communication., although the civic's name can create confusion.
 
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That was the thought there.
And yet You made bonus to authoritarian attraction...

See you *think* that, but if it makes your life easier you'll grumble at first but soon enough it'll just seem natural and totally normal, the only sensible option.
Maybe, but after goverment change at least.
 
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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 would make a lot more sense for this to have a high impact on faction approval (like, +25% auth) or similar, offsetting the direct happiness penalty for some of the populace. There are lots of people (especially of certain mindsets that authoritarian states encourage their citizens to have) who are "fine" with living in a surveillance state, in the sense of considering it a valuable tradeoff. Even egalitarians wouldn't actually necessarily be upset - this is a division much better addressed by the old Collectivism (approves) vs. Individualism (disapproves) axis - but I think it's fine in general for it to have a happiness penalty for most folks.
 
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While there are some operations with (sometimes pretty big) negative effects, we were trying to be pretty careful with what they can do, while simultaneously make sure they're worth pursuing. I'll likely go into more of that next week when we talk about burning Assets.
Would this include stealing Relics?
 
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Would this include stealing Relics?
Would make it easier to get the Galatron achievement. Now you don't need to war declare and purposefully lose to get the AI to steal it from you. They steal it, and you beat them in to steal it back. Now I imagine this peaceful galaxy map with no wars, but all the empires are busy stealing relics back and forth.

But would this also make the Contingency more insidious? Of the three crises, it's the only one that 'infiltrates'.
 
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Would this include stealing Relics?
That would be way too strong. We don’t even got a Wargoal to steal a relic and defending in a war is a much more active thing you can do.

Even stealing tech seems way too strongly. Research agreements that hand out your research results to other empires willingly just gives a research speed bonus to the tech.
Salvage that most likely has a working version of the tech just gives it as a research option.
I can’t see how it would then be justified to give a spy system a tech steal option.
 
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Cool, now pacifist empires will be able to wage another type of war.
And like the other types of war already ingame (Looking at you, galactic community), I'm certain this, too, will be infinitely weaker than actual war.
 
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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
I'd add to that, can the whole system around primitives be overhauled, at least somewhat? The current state of primitive interactions is pitiful, and they've been left out of all diplomatic advances of the 2.x release. Indeed, I'm not sure anything has changed with regard to primitives since... Utopia?

  • Why does enlightenment have to result in them becoming a new empire? Why can't we diplomatically offer to modernize their standard of living, etc. at the price of peaceful annexation?
  • Why are we able to do various covert activities (passive study, active study, indoctrination) without gene modding, but none of those offer any avenue towards conquest/annexation/enlightenment?
  • How the heck do they just... forget... about us if we stop an enlightenment effort, or presumably if we (somehow) fail an invasion? Starting a planet-wide enlightenment project should cause a big, basically irreversible change to a primitive society, right?
  • Why can't we trade with primitives, outside of a niche GC resolution? Comparative advantage means even the most advanced society can probably find something useful for the hut-dwellers to do, if you're willing to let them know you're out there (and offer them some trivial trinkets or other compensation in exchange).
  • Why can't we conquer the planet by proxy, providing one nation with the weaponry it needs to take over the world (but not enough to fight us) in exchange for an elevated role for themselves within our society?
Having diplomacy, and now intrigue and espionage, expansions, completely fail to interact with primitives... that's not cool!
 
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I feel like all the people complaining about diplomatic corps being better at spying are missing the point. An empire with the diplomatic corp doesn't get any actual direct bonus to espionage, since you can only assign one envoy as spy master. What they will be good at is spying on a couple empires while still having some envoys free to act as diplomats, or maybe more spies if there are half a dozen empires you need to keep tabs on for some reason? But either way, being able to reach out on more fronts sounds exactly what a diplomatic corp would do. Personally, I really like envoys being both diplomats and spies, it makes a lot of sense flavor wise and it also make gameplay more interesting, as a friendly empire can direct all their efforts into diplomacy, while a xenophobe can go full espionage.
 
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"you doesn't give you any intel about their strength" - I don't see that nearly as valuable as making someone your BFF.

"oesn't make them like or hate other nations, doesn't give you any tech boost, etc." - I must've missed the part where this new spy network does that.

I'm not saying that making an empire your BFF isn't strong, obviously you still want to do that. But it's important to make sure that the empire you are trying to buddy up to isn't a Fanatic Purifier first :p. And while effecting how empires feel about each other hasn't been confirmed, it makes WAY too much sense as an espionage mechanic for Paradox to forget about it.

Personally, I'm a strong advocate that envoy effectiveness should be tied to ethics matching/clashing. That way you while you can mitigate the penalties for an ethically opposed empire, you can't just instant friends with them, unless you get some other factors at play (trust via treaties, mutual friends or rivals, or maybe even espionage?)
 
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Oscot

King of Space Portugal
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Oct 14, 2014
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This introduces a problem, envoys used as spys. From a roleplay perspective that means that a nation with diplomatic corps civic will be better at spying, which i don't see how it makes sense (functionally it works well, im only talking about roleplay).
What do you think an ambassador does? His JOB DESCRIPTION is intel-gathering. Go to this other country, learn the language, make friends, tell us how they're thinking, are they likely to sign this trade treaty or not, do their internal political discussions talk about us very much, what are their newspapers saying, maybe go for lunch with your buddy who's brother's working at the Defence Ministry, have they been ordering additional arms lately..."

And that's even before we get into the point that for the vast majority of human history, most of the straight-up unironic-black-ops spies were recruited from / placed in the diplomatic corps. Spy operations ran out of embassies as a rule rather than an exception during the Cold War - the only legitimate reason for an American to be running around Moscow in the 1960s was for him to be a diplomat, nobody else was allowed in!

TL;DR this mechanic is 100% historically accurate, you just don't know any history.
 
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