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Stellaris Dev Diary #215 - Gameplay themes & Balancing considerations

Hello everyone!

First I want to thank you for the overwhelming support that you’ve shown us with announcing the Custodians initiative. It’s been really fun and motivating to see so many positive responses, and for that we’re truly thankful. At the same time, I must admit that it is also a bit scary in the sense that we shouldn’t have the expectation that this will suddenly resolve any issues you might have with the game, or that we’ll be able to deliver large amounts of significant changes with every update. Let’s appreciate this opportunity and make the best of it :)

Species Pack Gameplay Themes
Last week we already talked about what the Lem Update (honoring the author Stanislaw Lem) would focus on, but I’d also like to go into more detail regarding some things.

We mentioned that we would be adding gameplay to the Humanoids Species Pack and the Plantoids Species Pack, and although I won’t talk about the exact details yet, I do want to talk a little about how we approached it, and the themes we chose.

Plantoids was a bit easier, because there are some obvious fantasies. Going around the themes of growth and plants we’re adding some new traits, civics and origin. We felt like it made sense to open up these gameplay additions to both Plantoid portraits as well as for Fungoids.

Humanoids was a bit trickier, because there are no direct fantasies that apply to them in general, so we instead chose to focus on fantasies that align with things like dwarves, elves, orcs or humans. The Civic we showcased last week was an example of how we made something inspired by a traditionally dwarven fantasy.

Let us know about any ideas or thoughts you have regarding those :)

We will be talking more about these in much greater detail later, but that may possibly be in August.

Game Balance
We’re going to take a look at reworking some of the major outstanding balance issues that we’re having.

One example that I want to talk about is the issue with Research Booming, where power players can essentially outpace other empires due to focusing a lot on research. What enables this is usually Districts that provide Researcher Jobs, which is relatively easy to gain access to early on through Origins such as Shattered Ring or Void Dwellers (the latter not being nearly as strong).

For Shattered Ring we are looking into changing the start from a pure “end-game” Ring World, to be more of an actual “Shattered Ring” that you need to repair before you gain access to the powerful Districts of the Ring World. Putting additional emphasis on the fantasy of restoring this ancient megastructure to its former glory can be a fun addition to the Origin itself. Although we haven’t decided exactly what we’re doing, changing the start to be a Shattered Ring that you can restore with the Mega-Engineering technology is a likely route.

Unity & Empire Sprawl
Beyond Lem, we are also going to take a look at Empire Sprawl and Unity. The design for Admin Capacity was never really something that I felt worked out, and we never finished the design that was intended for it. Continuing to use Admin Cap as a mechanic also feels a bit like a dead end due to multiple reasons (ranging from design to technical), so we’re instead going to look into another solution.

I have a design for doubling down on using Unity as the resource for internal management, removing Admin Cap entirely, and to make Empire Sprawl something that you can never mitigate anymore. More sprawling empires will always suffer harsher penalties from Empire Sprawl, and we’ll instead focus on how Unity can be used internally to mitigate some of those penalties. Examples could be Edicts that have a Unity Upkeep Cost, and perhaps reduce the Research Cost Penalty induced by Empire Sprawl. Angry Pops could potentially also have a Unity Upkeep Cost, to represent the drain on your society.

Note that these ideas are very much in their infancy and very prone to change. We will probably start talking a bit more about that once Lem has been released, but I wanted to share some thoughts with you so that we could gather some initial feedback.

------

That’s all for this week folks! We’re in the middle of reviewing our dev diary schedule, so we’re hoping to be back with 2 more dev diaries before we take a summer break. We’ll keep you in the loop as we go.
 
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Species Pack Gameplay Themes
Last week we already talked about what the Lem Update (honoring the author Stanislaw Lem) would focus on, but I’d also like to go into more detail regarding some things.

We mentioned that we would be adding gameplay to the Humanoids Species Pack and the Plantoids Species Pack, and although I won’t talk about the exact details yet, I do want to talk a little about how we approached it, and the themes we chose.

Plantoids was a bit easier, because there are some obvious fantasies. Going around the themes of growth and plants we’re adding some new traits, civics and origin. We felt like it made sense to open up these gameplay additions to both Plantoid portraits as well as for Fungoids.

Humanoids was a bit trickier, because there are no direct fantasies that apply to them in general, so we instead chose to focus on fantasies that align with things like dwarves, elves, orcs or humans. The Civic we showcased last week was an example of how we made something inspired by a traditionally dwarven fantasy.

Unity & Empire Sprawl
Beyond Lem, we are also going to take a look at Empire Sprawl and Unity. The design for Admin Capacity was never really something that I felt worked out, and we never finished the design that was intended for it. Continuing to use Admin Cap as a mechanic also feels a bit like a dead end due to multiple reasons (ranging from design to technical), so we’re instead going to look into another solution.

I have a design for doubling down on using Unity as the resource for internal management, removing Admin Cap entirely, and to make Empire Sprawl something that you can never mitigate anymore. More sprawling empires will always suffer harsher penalties from Empire Sprawl, and we’ll instead focus on how Unity can be used internally to mitigate some of those penalties. Examples could be Edicts that have a Unity Upkeep Cost, and perhaps reduce the Research Cost Penalty induced by Empire Sprawl. Angry Pops could potentially also have a Unity Upkeep Cost, to represent the drain on your society.

More gameplay options for the species pack is definitely a good idea, I would also add that I would definitely buy an "additionnal ship designs pack" since seeing all those incredible designs from the nemesis DD, there are some really great concepts there and more ship diversity feels really needed after all those years of playing.

About the unity and empire sprawl, I feel that the issue is not so much with the systems but that they are not really integrated to anything besides giving you bonuses via the tradition trees (and preventing your research + trad costs of going to much up). The resource sink of bureaucrats is still needed although I think it should be better tied to other parts of the game.

That's where internal politics come in, actually there is no real difference when ruling an authoritarian empire or a democratic one except from the leader change mechanic. The fact that your empire just does what you want whatever your ethics are feels a bit stale after a few playthroughs, factions are just an influence generation mechanic that you ignore 90% of the time and happiness is never really an issue (even for slaves). Revisiting unity and admin cap seems a good opportunity for me to actually integrate it all in an expanded "internal management" aspect of the game.
 

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Replying here to drive my point home.

[...]

The difference is PDS Green is going to need to add more files to improve the AI, not just edit what's already there. For instance, the AI doesn't resettle its pops. It can auto resettle pops, but it cannot force resettle. Doomsday Origin? Yep.
I am not arguing the AI doesn't need improvement. It definitely does.
But setting all devs on that is definitely not the solution. The more people work on a single issue the more communication is necessary and the more overlap is there in the work they do. Also, some things do take time. The time they need to test still stays the same, even if every iteration they had triple the devs altering the codebase.

Overall there will be more progress if the devs have multiple construction sites they aim to improve. Double the (wo-)manpower will not result in double the speed. That's just not how reality works.
 
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With regards to the beaurocrat / admin cap thing; i agree it's biggest problem is that it is so insignificant right now. There's a weird crunch about 50 years in-game where you've got a bunch of fledgling colonies but none of then are really doing well yet. Especially if you're robot, they might actually be making you a net negative and your economy is failing a little. Sometimes you are running over tour admin cap and you feel a little frantic trying to fix all your problems.
And then it passes.
Your colonies flesh out a bit more, your colonies are each a sources of pop growth and that's giving you pops to fill admin buildings with. The entire mechanic becomes a non-issue.

What if there were no 'admin cap' buildings. If 'admin cap'jobs didnt exist, where would you get admin cap from?
The capital building? Maybe, but what would actually the the point? More colonies equal more admin cap. Then colonies would fix their own problem.

Technology? That already does everything?

Unity? It would make unity generation - a currently underwhelming resource - more valuable.

Honestly, I started this post trying to find a fun role for admin cap and ended up thinking the best thing to do would be to fold admin cap in with unity instead, which is what the devs said they were thinking of anyway.

So i look forward to their take on it.
 
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The bottleneck for developing a feature is not the number of files involved, dude. It's how many developers can work concurrently on the feature without stepping on each other's toes and keeping up a decent level of coordination.

Not to mention that a lot of AI work isn't going to be purely scripting, there's a lot more to it than "adding new files".

Yeah, what I said earlier, asked if it was in discussion or coding. Discussion is more than "adding new files." There's also how will these changes impact newbie players, veteran players, Stefan Anons, etc. "AI is being worked on" doesn't even mean any coding has begun.

Mythical Man-Month thinking detected. That you're basing an argument based on comparisons across sub-industries of software development indicates you're not familiar with the details of software development, only hearsay from other people who aren't going to explain details to someone outside the field. I appreciate you are highly concerned about the state of Stellaris' AI and I agree it needs (likely has) a high priority in dev time management. I do not recommend talking further on how it should be done. I have seen from the inside a big software company fail hard because management didn't understand the reality of software development and imposed policies based on factory assembly line metaphors.
I prefer The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. I am not a programmer. But I understand the basics of SDLC and some methodologies. Yes, one person can code everything, but that will make it take a lot longer. Spelunky, Cave Story, Undertale was one developer. I've hired qa, back end, front end, project managers, etc. I disagree that only one person can code the entirety of the AI. I do think the work could be split up where programmers are not stepping on each other's toes.

Mythical Man-Month is regarding a project behind schedule/late. There's no announced release date for a patch with AI changes. There may be an internal deadline, however.
Complex programming projects cannot be perfectly partitioned into discrete tasks that can be worked on without communication between the workers and without establishing a set of complex interrelationships between tasks and the workers performing them. - From the Wiki

Yeah, communication is important. 50 programmers would definitely be excessive. But 5 programmers would be what? 5(5 − 1) / 2 = 10 channels of communication.

Apologies if you genuinely want to learn the details but I don't sense that desire from what you've written so far.

I could care less. You may assume/sense what you wish. I could be wrong. I'll ask some game developers I know and if I'm wrong I'll retract my statement. I have no problem being wrong nor admitting to it.
 

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I disagree that only one person can code the entirety of the AI. I do think the work could be split up where programmers are not stepping on each other's toes.
Then we're in agreement. The debate was over 3 strategies: one dev only, all devs possible, some devs. In your initial statements you made it seem like you were pushing for 'all devs' when you wanted to refute 'one dev'.
 
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But why not remove the Empire Sprawl totally in the "Empire Sprawl rework"? Or just do nothing with it. Put a uncompleted mechanism into game isn't a good idea, now it just force players build more Administrative building.
A high "fixed" Sprawl base(like by tech or just the empire base), and increasable, but low Performance/Cost Sprawl(by jobs) at least perform better than the mechanism now, I think.
Building a planet full of Administrative building adds a true sense of scale to a galactic empire. I love it.

I also like the fact that "Empire Sprawl" is an issue to deal with.
I see 2 major issue at the moment:
1- I think that getting over Administrative Cap should give massive criminal issue / rogue drone plus the current malus. This malus should take time to recover. That would be a true push for the player to avoid going over even for a little time. (and add events where criminal mechanichs comes into play)
2- The more different species of POPs there are, the more the administrative cost should increase. This could put a heavy cost to fast growing xenophile empire (having many different species FREE POPs).

Bonus: increase Admin building consumption heavily when over admin cap. This should reflect "the effort" in covering the extra work they have to handle.

TLDR:
Like Admin Cap.
Over Admin cap should give:
1- criminal issue / rogue drone
2- More different species in an empire = more increased cost in Admin.

bonus: Added cost in Admin Building when over Cap.
 
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Then we're in agreement. The debate was over 3 strategies: one dev only, all devs possible, some devs. In your initial statements you made it seem like you were pushing for 'all devs' when you wanted to refute 'one dev'.

I have no idea how many people and their roles (how many designers, how many graphic artists, how many programmers, etc. etc.) are on the PDS Green team, let alone the Quality Team. I should have said as many coders as they can fit. If 10 reasonable partitions and number of coders > 10, still 10 coders, not more. But I assumed they have less coders than they have reasonable partitions. And I suspect this will take months. Though I'd expect internally there's many quick iterations that can go to QA to break it. I believe in the "fail fast" approach of Agile. They don't need to release an all-in-one AI patch. I'd prefer incremental. For example, they could implement improved pop_jobs like I started here one patch. Then ship_design another. In the end, they'll do what they're going to do. But until/if I get more information about scope of the Quality Team, I won't know how much they can actually handle.
 
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Hello everyone!

First I want to thank you for the overwhelming support that you’ve shown us with announcing the Custodians initiative. It’s been really fun and motivating to see so many positive responses, and for that we’re truly thankful. At the same time, I must admit that it is also a bit scary in the sense that we shouldn’t have the expectation that this will suddenly resolve any issues you might have with the game, or that we’ll be able to deliver large amounts of significant changes with every update. Let’s appreciate this opportunity and make the best of it :)
My concern (as a modder) is if we're going to have 3 or 4 new versions a year (hypothetically speaking) mod compatibility is going to be a nightmare to maintain.
Species Pack Gameplay Themes
Last week we already talked about what the Lem Update (honoring the author Stanislaw Lem) would focus on, but I’d also like to go into more detail regarding some things.

We mentioned that we would be adding gameplay to the Humanoids Species Pack and the Plantoids Species Pack, and although I won’t talk about the exact details yet, I do want to talk a little about how we approached it, and the themes we chose.

Plantoids was a bit easier, because there are some obvious fantasies. Going around the themes of growth and plants we’re adding some new traits, civics and origin. We felt like it made sense to open up these gameplay additions to both Plantoid portraits as well as for Fungoids.

Humanoids was a bit trickier, because there are no direct fantasies that apply to them in general, so we instead chose to focus on fantasies that align with things like dwarves, elves, orcs or humans. The Civic we showcased last week was an example of how we made something inspired by a traditionally dwarven fantasy.

Let us know about any ideas or thoughts you have regarding those :)

We will be talking more about these in much greater detail later, but that may possibly be in August.
One word: Aquatoids.
Game Balance
We’re going to take a look at reworking some of the major outstanding balance issues that we’re having.

One example that I want to talk about is the issue with Research Booming, where power players can essentially outpace other empires due to focusing a lot on research. What enables this is usually Districts that provide Researcher Jobs, which is relatively easy to gain access to early on through Origins such as Shattered Ring or Void Dwellers (the latter not being nearly as strong).

For Shattered Ring we are looking into changing the start from a pure “end-game” Ring World, to be more of an actual “Shattered Ring” that you need to repair before you gain access to the powerful Districts of the Ring World. Putting additional emphasis on the fantasy of restoring this ancient megastructure to its former glory can be a fun addition to the Origin itself. Although we haven’t decided exactly what we’re doing, changing the start to be a Shattered Ring that you can restore with the Mega-Engineering technology is a likely route.
I think you've missed the problem here and how it's worse under 3.0.

The tech rush problem comes from four factors:
  1. There's no longer a limit to researcher jobs. Admittedly you can fill a ring-world or habitat with research districts easier than you can fill a planet with housing and build 10 research labs on the one world.
  2. Since 2.2 there hasn't been a choice between which to tech to concentrate on. Pre 2.2 when upgrading a basic science lab you had to convert it to a physics, society or engineering lab forcing you to choose which way to prioritize or try to strike the middle ground. Post 2.2 You get equal amounts of all three.
  3. Research gets you research bonuses. You can spend you physics points on technologies which makes your physicists and you research stations produce physics faster giving the empire with the fastest research faster research before those with the slowest.
  4. The number of stackable research speed modifiers is ridiculous. +70% research speed isn't unusual towards the end of the game.
Unity & Empire Sprawl
Beyond Lem, we are also going to take a look at Empire Sprawl and Unity. The design for Admin Capacity was never really something that I felt worked out, and we never finished the design that was intended for it. Continuing to use Admin Cap as a mechanic also feels a bit like a dead end due to multiple reasons (ranging from design to technical), so we’re instead going to look into another solution.
Admin Cap worked fine before we had bureaucrats and linked the edict system to it.
Nerf the bureaucrats and give everyone +1 edict limit and make edict limits a hard limit. Job Done.
I have a design for doubling down on using Unity as the resource for internal management, removing Admin Cap entirely, and to make Empire Sprawl something that you can never mitigate anymore. More sprawling empires will always suffer harsher penalties from Empire Sprawl, and we’ll instead focus on how Unity can be used internally to mitigate some of those penalties. Examples could be Edicts that have a Unity Upkeep Cost, and perhaps reduce the Research Cost Penalty induced by Empire Sprawl. Angry Pops could potentially also have a Unity Upkeep Cost, to represent the drain on your society.

Note that these ideas are very much in their infancy and very prone to change. We will probably start talking a bit more about that once Lem has been released, but I wanted to share some thoughts with you so that we could gather some initial feedback.
  1. Make influence exclusively a diplomatic and external relationships resources (Claims, foreign policy, fed, GC and pacts only)
  2. Swap anything internal to your empire cost or grant Unity. (Reforming governments, martial law, unpopular planetary decisions, embracing/suppressing factions, edicts)
  3. Make factions produce influence and unity.
Those with a hands off approach to government get traditions faster, changing the direction and internal politics slows tradition gain.

------

That’s all for this week folks! We’re in the middle of reviewing our dev diary schedule, so we’re hoping to be back with 2 more dev diaries before we take a summer break. We’ll keep you in the loop as we go.
 
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Darklight731

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Unity & Empire Sprawl
Beyond Lem, we are also going to take a look at Empire Sprawl and Unity. The design for Admin Capacity was never really something that I felt worked out, and we never finished the design that was intended for it. Continuing to use Admin Cap as a mechanic also feels a bit like a dead end due to multiple reasons (ranging from design to technical), so we’re instead going to look into another solution.

I have a design for doubling down on using Unity as the resource for internal management, removing Admin Cap entirely, and to make Empire Sprawl something that you can never mitigate anymore. More sprawling empires will always suffer harsher penalties from Empire Sprawl, and we’ll instead focus on how Unity can be used internally to mitigate some of those penalties. Examples could be Edicts that have a Unity Upkeep Cost, and perhaps reduce the Research Cost Penalty induced by Empire Sprawl. Angry Pops could potentially also have a Unity Upkeep Cost, to represent the drain on your society.
How is this going to work for hiveminds? By nature, they don`t have happiness on their pops, and in general gain unity slightly differently.
 

Nismo500

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First time I have written on here having been someone who has closely followed the forums for while

For my two cents... I appreciate everyone has their preferred play style and I am not trying to paint over all aspects of the game with a broad brush, I am just trying to keep my points at a high level.

I am no mathmatician or game designer so no doubt there will be things I have not thought of here and to implement what I am discussing maybe easier said than done.

From what I can tell, there seems to be a constant issue between all of us in the ability to play a Tall vs Wide style and a Materialist (research) vs Spiritualist (unity) style. Each time balancing is discussed, such as in the case of this dev diary, this kind of discussion seems to come to the forefront.

Perhaps the way forward for Stellaris without changing the game in radical ways (removing systems, nerfing, buffing to counteract some previous update) is to use the current systems and mechanics in the game to achieve something where the four styles mentioned are each feasible and unique, but one is not 'left behind' or easily outmatched by the end game.

Perhaps the Admin cap system could be retained, fleshed out and used to balance the Tall vs Wide playstyles in a way that rewards Taller empires with some sort of meaningful efficiency boost to resource production when under the cap and harsher or more damaging system to those wider empires going over the cap but retaining the ability to conquer the galaxy if properly managed (I know people have already alluded to some of what I describe in earlier posts).

In terms of the materialist vs spiritualist (or unity vs research) debate, perhaps unity could be utilised to combat research 'booming' or rushing by having its own clear distinct benefits via amended or locked civics, edicts, policies, changes to the shroud or expanding the psionic ship components - this way, playing as materialist I can still heavily invest into research production and gain the benefits from this but on the other hand, playing a civilisation that is spiritualist or unity focused can still match this power via other means.

This would really provide some unique and more flavorful play-throughs, would keep role playing aspects but would not leave any one type of play at a loss to the other.

In short - If I play as Tall I know I get 'X' advantage but 'Y' negative via admin cap / likewise for Wide empires. Equally if I play a unity focused game I get 'X' advantage but 'Y' negative compared to research game and so on...but ultimately I know regardless of how I play I can compete at the mid to end game with others regardless of what they have chosen - it will be my skill that ultimately determines the outcome of the game.

Sorry, I maybe repeating what everyone else is saying and stating the obvious but just a thought from someone who loves to play tall sometimes and equally loves to conquer the entire galaxy at other times!
 
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DrNukeLear

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First time I have written on here having been someone who has closely followed the forums for while

For my two cents... I appreciate everyone has their preferred play style and I am not trying to paint over all aspects of the game with a broad brush, I am just trying to keep my points at a high level.

I am no mathmatician or game designer so no doubt there will be things I have not thought of here and to implement what I am discussing maybe easier said than done.

From what I can tell, there seems to be a constant issue between all of us in the ability to play a Tall vs Wide style and a Materialist (research) vs Spiritualist (unity) style. Each time balancing is discussed, such as in the case of this dev diary, this kind of discussion seems to come to the forefront.

Perhaps the way forward for Stellaris without changing the game in radical ways (removing systems, nerfing, buffing to counteract some previous update) is to use the current systems and mechanics in the game to achieve something where the four styles mentioned are each feasible and unique, but one is not 'left behind' or easily outmatched by the end game.

Perhaps the Admin cap system could be retained, fleshed out and used to balance the Tall vs Wide playstyles in a way that rewards Taller empires with some sort of meaningful efficiency boost to resource production when under the cap and harsher or more damaging system to those wider empires going over the cap but retaining the ability to conquer the galaxy if properly managed (I know people have already alluded to some of what I describe in earlier posts).

In terms of the materialist vs spiritualist (or unity vs research) debate, perhaps unity could be utilised to combat research 'booming' or rushing by having its own clear distinct benefits via amended or locked civics, edicts, policies, changes to the shroud or expanding the psionic ship components - this way, playing as materialist I can still heavily invest into research production and gain the benefits from this but on the other hand, playing a civilisation that is spiritualist or unity focused can still match this power via other means.

This would really provide some unique and more flavorful play-throughs, would keep role playing aspects but would not leave any one type of play at a loss to the other.

In short - If I play as Tall I know I get 'X' advantage but 'Y' negative via admin cap / likewise for Wide empires. Equally if I play a unity focused game I get 'X' advantage but 'Y' negative compared to research game and so on...but ultimately I know regardless of how I play I can compete at the mid to end game with others regardless of what they have chosen - it will be my skill that ultimately determines the outcome of the game.

Sorry, I maybe repeating what everyone else is saying and stating the obvious but just a thought from someone who loves to play tall sometimes and equally loves to conquer the entire galaxy at other times!

This is the best summary of what the design aims should be! Can we give him a job on the Custodian Team?
 

SilverBurst23

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I hope Custodians will do what isn't possible in agile/scrum frame: solid and efficacious backend. It will not be a cure for design flaws and balance issues, but probably will produce clear and stable API for game's frontend and modding.
Where did you get the impression you can't have a solid backend using scrum? Oo. That's simply not true
 
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SilverBurst23

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Sprawl is kind of a delicate thing to touch. Giving more uses to unity sounds great, but should be possible for a player, given enough ability and a bit of luck, to conquer the whole universe :) (except for a small rebel base in Yavin IV, but what can a bunch of badly equipped rebels do?)
 
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SilverBurst23

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Mythical Man-Month thinking detected. That you're basing an argument based on comparisons across sub-industries of software development indicates you're not familiar with the details of software development, only hearsay from other people who aren't going to explain details to someone outside the field. I appreciate you are highly concerned about the state of Stellaris' AI and I agree it needs (likely has) a high priority in dev time management. I do not recommend talking further on how it should be done. I have seen from the inside a big software company fail hard because management didn't understand the reality of software development and imposed policies based on factory assembly line metaphors.

Apologies if you genuinely want to learn the details but I don't sense that desire from what you've written so far.
"all permutations possible" detected o_O. One of the most surefire signs that the person saying it has never touched coding with a ten feet pole
 

Qymaen

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I do have one suggestion: Big, honking, organic ships. Perfect for fungoids and plantoids (and other species).
 
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Sorry, I maybe repeating what everyone else is saying and stating the obvious but just a thought from someone who loves to play tall sometimes and equally loves to conquer the entire galaxy at other times!
Sometimes it takes a certain choice of wording to get a point across succinctly. You set up good expectations in the opening disclaimers of your post and you met them in the rest of your post.
ultimately I know regardless of how I play I can compete at the mid to end game with others regardless of what they have chosen - it will be my skill that ultimately determines the outcome of the game.
This is the ideal to arrive at. Right now the rewards for going hard-research and wide-with-enough-bureaucrats is overwhelmingly good compared to the other quadrants. The thought experiment occurs of "what if there were repeatable traditions too? What if some current research techs were instead traditions?"

The other note besides playstyle choice is RNG-based opportunity. Right now when you start (normal empire, mundane origin) the first 10 or so in-game years is seeing how wide you Could go before bumping into other empires. In principle you can go Tall 'everytime' but you can only go Wide if the RNG has blessed your starting location with lots of empty space. So people without a strict playstyle choice will feel like going Wide just because it's a somewhat 'rare' opportunity. That and the act of filling in all that empty space with your flag is a reward mechanism that Tall play does not have an alternate experiential mechanic to compete with.
 
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fourteenfour

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Admin cap is not this game's problem and is being used to redirect people's ire from the real issue, the AI makes horrible choices and recent updates have made the choices even worse. When a single mod (go look for popular AI mods) can make a better and more responsive AI than what the game provides without artificial cheats for it then you know the issue is solvable.

The idea that expansion should have artificial instead of natural penalties is anti-ethical to the very nature of a 4X game.

However a short list of ideas

  • Remove the percent bonus for completing the discovery tree and add a permanent +1 to technologies to choose from
  • Any event which grants a percent research bonus must decay

As for limiting the science rush without silly limitations like "your empire is so big it just all slows down" the easiest way is that your admin cap also sets your research cap. The two jobs are intertwined. It is a hard cap meaning you cannot exceed it. So if your admin cap permits 100 researcher points and you have researchers for 110 points that last ten points is lost; we could put it in a bucket for later consumption if found necessary. Now this does not affect temporary percent based research bonuses, this is a limit on base research points. This keeps the rest of the game relevant.
 
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When a single mod (go look for popular AI mods) can make a better and more responsive AI than what the game provides without artificial cheats for it then you know the issue is solvable.
Agreed, but it isn't much of an assessment. All game-ai problems are solvable with enough dev time and computing power - the latter being a constraint by the market as not everyone has a powerful pc. The more you burden your games with complex ai the more these players will be annoyed by the lag.
So even more so than good the ai needs to be efficient, which is an unfortunate constraint.

I don't know whether the popular ai mods have a vast increase in processing requirements, but considering the sheer vastness of code included in them it's likely they take a lot more things into account and calculate way more steps of the decision-making. And potentially doing so more frequently.
If anyone has data on the CPU consumption of popular AI mods vs vanilla AI that'd be pretty helpful.
 

SilverBurst23

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Agreed, but it isn't much of an assessment. All game-ai problems are solvable with enough dev time and computing power - the latter being a constraint by the market as not everyone has a powerful pc. The more you burden your games with complex ai the more these players will be annoyed by the lag.
So even more so than good the ai needs to be efficient, which is an unfortunate constraint.

I don't know whether the popular ai mods have a vast increase in processing requirements, but considering the sheer vastness of code included in them it's likely they take a lot more things into account and calculate way more steps of the decision-making. And potentially doing so more frequently.
If anyone has data on the CPU consumption of popular AI mods vs vanilla AI that'd be pretty helpful.
Also those "single mods" are usually built for advanced, competitive players that knows all the systems by heart. Imagine the new player experience having starnet installed, and being inmediately rolfstomped by its pacifist, democratic neighbor because he didn't do a "perfect" alloy build, and all AI empires now have the "bloodthirsty expansionist empire - builder" personality.

You can't take an AI that purposely ignores everything but pure meta playing for the purposes of pure competitive single player style of playing, and say "omg why they don't do this". It does ONE job. Really well, but one
 
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