Today's topic is a number of changes coming to ethics in the 1.5 update. Everything in this diary is part of the free update. Please note that values shown in screenshots are always non-final.
Authoritarian vs Egalitarian
One of the things in Stellaris I was never personally happy with was the Collectivism vs Individualism ethic. While interesting conceptually, the mechanics that the game presented for the ethics simply did not match either their meanings or flavor text, meaning you ended up with a Collectivist ethos that was somehow simultaneously egalitarian and 100% in on slavery, while Individualism was a confused jumble between liberal democratic values and randian free-market capitalism. For this reason we've decided to rebrand these ethics into something that should both be much more clear in its meaning, and match the mechanics as they are.
Authoritarian replaces Collectivist and represents belief in hierarchial rule and orderly, stratified societies. Authoritarian pops tolerate slavery and prefer to live in autocracies.
Egalitarian replaces Individualist and represents belief in individual rights and a level playing field. Egalitarian pops dislike slavery and elitism and prefer to live in democracies.
While I understand this may cause some controversy and will no doubt spark debate over people's interpretation of words like Authoritarian and Individualist, I believe that we need to work with the mechanics we have, and as it stand we simply do not have good mechanics for a Collectivism vs Individualism axis while the mechanics we have fit the rebranded ethics if not perfectly then at least a whole lot better.
Pop Ethics Rework
Another mechanic that never quite felt satisfying is the ethics divergence mechanic. Not only is it overly simplified with just a single value determining if pops go towards or from empire ethics, the shift rarely makes sense: Why would xenophobe alien pops diverge away from xenophobe just because they're far away from the capital of a xenophobic empire? Furthermore, the fact that pops could have anything from one to three different ethics made it extremely difficult to actually quantify what any individual pop's ethics actually mean for how they relate to the empire. For this reason we've decided to revamp the way pop ethics work in the following way:
- Each pop in your empire will now only embrace a single, non-fanatic ethic. At the start of the game, your population will be made of up of only the ethics that you picked in species setup, but as your empire grows, its population will become more diverse in their views and wants.
- Each ethic now has an attraction value for each pop in your empire depending on both the empire's situation and their own situation. For example, enslaved pops tend to become more egalitarian, while pops living around non-enslaved aliens become more xenophilic (and pops living around enslaved aliens more xenophobic). Conversely, fighting a lot of wars will increase the attraction for militarism across your entire empire, while an alien empire purging pops of a particular species will massively increase the attraction for xenophobic for the species being purged.
- Over time, the ethics of your pops will drift in such a way that it roughly matches the overall attraction of that value. For example, if your materialist attraction sits at 10% for decades, it's likely that after that time, around 10% of your pops will be materialist. There is some random factor so it's likely never going to match up perfectly, but the system is built to try and go towards the mean, so the more overrepresented an ethic is compared to its attraction, the more likely pops are to drift away from it and vice versa.
So what does the single ethic per pop mean in terms of how it affects pop happiness? Well, this brings us to the new faction system, which we will cover briefly in this dev diary, and get back to more in depth later.
One thing we feel is currently missing from Stellaris is agency for your pops. Sure, they have their ethics and will get upset if you have policies that don't suit them, but that's about the only way they have of expressing their desires, and there is no tie-in between pop ethics and the politics systems in the game. To address this and also to create a system that will better fit the new pop ethics, we've decided to revamp the faction system in the following manner:
- Factions are no longer purely rebel groupings, but instead represent political parties, popular movements and other such interest groups, and mostly only consist of pops of certain ethics. For example, the Supremacist faction desires complete political dominance for their own species, and is made up exclusively of Xenophobic pops, while the Isolationist faction wants diplomatic isolation and a strong defense, and can be joined by both Pacifist and Xenophobe pops. You do not start the game with any factions, but rather they will form over the course of the game as their interests become relevant
- Factions have issues related to their values and goals, and how well the empire responds to those issues will determine the overall happiness level of the faction. For example, the Supremacists want the ruler to be of their species and are displeased by the presence of free alien populations in the empire. They will also get a temporary happiness boost whenever you defeat alien empires in war.
- The happiness level of a faction determines the base happiness of all pops belonging to it. This means that where any pop not belonging to a faction has a base happiness of 50%, a pop belonging to a faction that have their happiness reduced to 35% because of their issues will have a base happiness of only 35% before any other modifiers are applied, meaning that displeasing a large and influential faction can result in vastly reduced productivity across your empire. As part of this, happiness effects from policies, xenophobia, slavery, etc have been merged into the faction system, so engaging in alien slavery will displease certain factions instead of having each pop individually react to it.
- Factions have an influence level determined by the number of pops that belong to it. In addition to making its pops happier, a happy faction will provide an influence boost to their empire.
We will come back to factions in greater detail in a later dev diary, going over topics such as how separatists and rebellious slaves will work, and how factions can be used to change your empire ethics, but for now we are done for today. Next week we'll be talking about another new feature that we have dubbed 'Traditions and Unity'. See you then!