A Modest Proposal, or Why Cities Should Eat Pops

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HFY

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Trigger Warning: history, capitalism.

This thread is not a Xenophobe cookbook, but it does advocate for Pops getting eaten.


Cities Eat People

Throughout much of history, urban areas have had birth rates significantly below their replacement rate -- cities have consumed more people than they produce.

Later marriage, more dangerous working conditions, a constant influx of new dating options, more expensive real estate limiting child-rearing amongst those responsible enough to make a choice, more pollution, more distractions ... and you have whole planets like that.

If the modern urban landscape is a population sink -- a place which consumes more people than it produces -- why not use that mechanic in Stellaris?


Sources and Sinks

A source for a thing is where that thing comes from, for example Ohio is a source for humans. Humans just love to leave Ohio. That's okay because there are places for those humans to go, like Los Angeles, which will chew those poor kids up and spit out the gristle to be used as a movie prop.

This is effectively the proposed mechanic for Stellaris: pops grow on "rural" worlds, and feed their excess growth along with their Minerals and Food to the industrialized / urbanized planets, which don't grow pops.

Basically, if your planet is specialized in alloys or research, the pops on that planet do not contribute to your empire's growth.

The industrial planet behaves like a modern city, and acts as a sink for population, accepting immigration but not usually producing emigration pressure.


Why This Should Work

This should work because you want research and alloys, but also you want growth.

You can have all the growth you want -- the game should just remove the empire-wide malus and give a generous per-planet logistic curve -- because you will reduce your empire growth rate yourself, when you make those pops generate the two resources most useful in the game: alloys and research.

You want alloys and research now, so you will build as many research and industrial planets as you can, but they are the things which limit your pop growth, so you can't just slam all your pops into one and expect to remain ahead -- or, well, you can, but it's either a risky short-term gain type of plan, or it's you turning into a Fallen Empire -- and I expect AIs will do this organically, which is a bonus, but also a digression.

Anyway, the proposed mechanic in a nutshell:
- Research and Industry planets grant a hefty bonus, perhaps +30% or +50%, to the production of your key resources.
- This bonus comes with a penalty: the planet does not grow pops (either not at all, or just not efficiently).
- Finally, a new mechanic is added which occasionally kills a pop, usually an industrial job, a Worker, or a Slave.

The game becomes a balance of using pops to expand feeder colonies, vs. using pops to feed the engines of industry with blood. (And the engine of R&D.) The exponential growth is constrained voluntarily and deliberately by the player, because exponentially growing pops who don't make Alloys or Research are not useful.

I would expect this balancing act to not just be a viable way to slow-down galactic development to make it last a few hundred years, but also an interesting and satisfying mini-game in itself.

Pop assembly would work nicely in this set-up -- of course there are clone vats near the factories, we'd run out of workers otherwise.


Fine-Tuning

Instead of each pop on a planet contributing equally to planetary logistic growth, it might be possible to get desirable emergent effects by making their contributions predictably unequal.

For example, if founding species Worker pops had a particularly high growth contribution, you'd naturally buff those who avoid both robots and slaves (non-slaver Spiritualists and Xenophobes in particular).

I'm not sure this is necessary, but it might be useful.


In Summation

- Desirable jobs should kill pops; desirable planetary designations should kill pop growth.

- Migration being automatic in 3.0 means it's viable to create lumpen proletariat planets which breed pops and job-planets which employ and consume those pops.

- This mechanic ought to be able to satisfy both gameplay goals and realism goals.
 
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Just a minor flavor thing - I'd like for my Ringworld(s) to not eat the pops that go there, thank you very much, I spent the better part of two hundred years getting that thing up and running :eek:

Other than that though, adding actual sinks to population making it a resource like any other ... why not. Certainly not as bad as an arbitrary increase in pop growth cost xD

This would still have the issue that in theory the population capacity of a medium galaxy can easily reach 20k+ pops (lategame lag territory), though.
 
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Yeah I agree :)

Here I proposed a pop growth mechanic, which will eventually lead to negative pop growth on densely populated planets

 
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Just a minor flavor thing - I'd like for my Ringworld(s) to not eat the pops that go there, thank you very much, I spent the better part of two hundred years getting that thing up and running :eek:

Other than that though, adding actual sinks to population making it a resource like any other ... why not. Certainly not as bad as an arbitrary increase in pop growth cost xD

This would still have the issue that in theory the population capacity of a medium galaxy can easily reach 20k+ pops (lategame lag territory), though.
Your Ringworld could easily have a number of segments (Agricultural & Mercantile for example) which feed pops into your Alloys & Research segment.

You would not be able to use any of the growth-killing designations on your Empire Capital so if that's on a ringworld it will always produce growth.
 
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Once your capacity: pop ratios converge you actually get a decrease on the logistics curve bonus. Maybe this could be increased to push you into negative growth without enough immigration pull. I don't really like when a pop magically disappears such as we have in certain events already.
 
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Once your capacity: pop ratios converge you actually get a decrease on the logistics curve bonus. Maybe this could be increased to push you into negative growth without enough immigration pull. I don't really like when a pop magically disappears such as we have in certain events already.
The trouble with this is that it's just too easy to game the losgitics curve by over-building housing.

In fact that's basically half the meta now thanks to the empire-wide malus. (The other half of the meta is Nihilistic Acquisition.)
 
It's an interesting proposal.

Unfortunately, the tone of this approach would undermine my suspension of disbelief about how large a fraction of the population is engaged in primary industry (resource extraction) in an electrical civilization ostensibly 200 years more advanced than ours.
 
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It's an interesting proposal.

Unfortunately, the tone of this approach would undermine my suspension of disbelief about how large a fraction of the population is engaged in primary industry (resource extraction) in an electrical civilization ostensibly 200 years more advanced than ours.
It's currently realistic that urban living reduces birth rates to below replacement.

For your verisimilitude, would it help if there were more things to do with planets than just extracting and converting resources?

For example, if tourism were a thing, and you could make tourist / cultural / more kinds of resort planets in order to gain more Trade Value, and to have places where your breeder pops could do their thing without just being resource-extractors.
 
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I do think there can be events to occasionally cull pops throughout the game (increase devastation from wars and occupation, a chance that resettling pops get abducted into the slave market, espionage to kill pops or abduct them, plagues, using pops for colonization or soldieres, etc), but I don't think a system as you described will work.

Flavor wise, the 'lower curve' from reality due to comfort has to already be done away with in Stellaris for human Empires (cultural change due to New Frontier, technology and productivity that makes child rearing easier and people fertile for longer, etc), and for non-Human Empires it might make no sense. A drone or a robot isn't going to have the same pressures from a city as an organic pop would. Significantly automated empires aren't going to have the casualty rates of production we associate with the Industrial Revolution. And lets not forget that people constantly move from the city to the suburbs when it comes time to have children and reproduce, which probably skews the original stats you pull from, which in Stellaris is reflected with net migration being zero ('younger' people move to city worlds, adults move to rural worlds with their savings, etc).

Mechanics wise it feels like an awkward, clunky system, and sort of hits back to pre 2.2 when you were just 'done' with planets (which I do hit in 3.0 more often again, due to the building cap reduction, but at least I have the idea of building more Ecu districts if need be).
 
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Mechanics wise it feels like an awkward, clunky system
What's awkward or clunky?

If want the most alloys from a planet, you can get them by sacrificing a planet's worth of growth.

That's putting two things you really do want -- alloys and pop growth -- in direct competition with each other, and it's not a heavy-handed forced mechanic like the current empire-wide penalty.


Are you honestly saying you think the current 3.0 mechanics are LESS awkward & clunky?
 
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Honestly, I would love this... if it were accompanied by the game overhaul and AI rework required to balance it with everything else, which, based on the 3.0 growth changes, it wouldn't be.

Now I just want a touched up 2.8 system with habitat restrictions, scaled down pops, and more performance optimizations, since at least 2.8 AI worked and the game was fun until the lag hit.
 
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What's awkward or clunky?

If want the most alloys from a planet, you can get them by sacrificing a planet's worth of growth.

That's putting two things you really do want -- alloys and pop growth -- in direct competition with each other, and it's not a heavy-handed forced mechanic like the current empire-wide penalty.


Are you honestly saying you think the current 3.0 mechanics are LESS awkward & clunky?
I don't like the current system, but I don't particularly like the proposed system either. :p (I'm on the 'lets just get true pops cause growth' and overhaul the emigration attraction system train).

I don't like the idea because its adding another system when it could be using systems already in place, for example. Some mods had a 'Designate Forge World' decision that you could unlock which would drastically reduce habitability in exchange for extra production, I don't mind those because its using a system already in game and that makes a certain flavorful sense for why it happens (less regulation, concern for housing and pollution, etc). Rather than a drastic 'now you will no longer grow, but become much more productive'.

The trade offs would also be very awkward to balance. Assuming we're removing Empire Pop Penalty then it would be more suited to situations where you REALLY need the production now (an urgent war, an initial tech rush), increase the abuse of the resettlement system via incentivizing more immigration sources if the production is too good, or being pointless if the production penalties aren't good enough for the cost of population growth (because you have more production bonuses than you can swing a stick at in Stellaris). And for cases where a planet is 'finished' (you've filled all the jobs you want on it) you're encouraging just ticking something and being done with the world like pre 2.2 days, rather than now when you have housing and incentives to upgrade it to an Ecu for continued growth (or use the resettlement system if you really are not wanting to do more for the planet).
 
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I don't like the current system, but I don't particularly like the proposed system either. :p (I'm on the 'lets just get true pops cause growth' and overhaul the emigration attraction system train).
The trouble with that is naive exponential growth exponentially rewards colony spam, which isn't much different than blobbing out by conquest. (And which kills your CPU, but my point is it's a boring no-brainer even before the smoke escapes from your computer.)

There are no interesting decisions -- you ALWAYS get rewarded for spamming another colony, and these exponential rewards ALWAYS reward the bigger empire with even more growth both relative to others, and in absolute terms.


What I'm proposing creates an interesting decision: do you use these pops to grow more pops, or to generate the resources which will win the game?

You must keep balancing those two factors throughout the game, adapting to changing conditions with respect to other empires.

IMHO that's a lot more interesting than colonization has been since 2.2, and might be a sufficient scaffolding to build a lot of interesting mechanics and choices upon.
 
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The trouble with that is naive exponential growth exponentially rewards colony spam, which isn't much different than blobbing out by conquest. (And which kills your CPU, but my point is it's a boring no-brainer even before the smoke escapes from your computer.)

There are no interesting decisions -- you ALWAYS get rewarded for spamming another colony, and these exponential rewards ALWAYS reward the bigger empire with even more growth both relative to others, and in absolute terms.


What I'm proposing creates an interesting decision: do you use these pops to grow more pops, or to generate the resources which will win the game?

You must keep balancing those two factors throughout the game, adapting to changing conditions with respect to other empires.

IMHO that's a lot more interesting than colonization has been since 2.2, and might be a sufficient scaffolding to build a lot of interesting mechanics and choices upon.
Not really, actually. Making growth entirely dependent upon pops, rather than having base growth, means that colonies are more spreading your population's growth from one planet to multiple planets. You can argue it even hurts, because you're not growing that next pop a few months sooner to get its growth bonus. With everyone starting at roughly the same population, growth would be relatively even before technology, species traits, or other factors that modify it get involved, regardless of how many colonies one has access too. You'd only have to look at stealing pops from other people (Nihilstic and Warfare) and how it can give someone a lump of more pops to speed up their growth, and other factors (like I said, I don't mind some events reducing pop count via war, resettlement, or plagues).
 
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Not really, actually. Making growth entirely dependent upon pops, rather than having base growth, means that colonies are more spreading your population's growth from one planet to multiple planets. You can argue it even hurts, because you're not growing that next pop a few months sooner to get its growth bonus. With everyone starting at roughly the same population, growth would be relatively even before technology, species traits, or other factors that modify it get involved, regardless of how many colonies one has access too. You'd only have to look at stealing pops from other people (Nihilstic and Warfare) and how it can give someone a lump of more pops to speed up their growth, and other factors (like I said, I don't mind some events reducing pop count via war, resettlement, or plagues).
Do you want early game to be extremely slow, midgame to be fast, and endgame to go in the blink of an eye in-universe but an eternity IRL? Do you want early conquest rushing to not only be the most powerful strategy, but the most powerful by a truly absurd margin? Because that's what pops growing pops would get you, without another entire game-wide overhaul. I can't speak for anyone else, but after 3.0 I'm tired of massive game-wide overhauls; the benefits don't seem to be worth trashing the previous x-years of development, modding, and AI work.
 
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The premise of your idea does not hold water. Urban areas do not fail to hold their population.
Not sure what "hold their populations" is supposed to mean -- urban area births certainly don't tend to meet the replacement rate.

Cities remain viable because people keep moving into them.
 
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Do you have a source for that? My understanding is that, while this was true in the past, thanks to modern medicine it no longer is. But I don't have any actual evidence for this belief, so I might be wrong.
Yes, a number of sources.

Here's one from the CDC talking about data from 2007 to 2017: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db323.htm#section_1 -- no surprise the data shows a widening gap between rural and urban birth rates, with urban being much lower.

Graph from the above:
RojFDK9.gif


Here's one from the UN about China's fertility decline and a bit about how that's related to urabization: https://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/events/pdf/expert/24/Policy_Briefs/PB_China.pdf

Here's one which might surprise you: Indian census data has recent total fertility rate at 2.4 in rural areas, 1.7 in urban. Replacement TFR is somewhere between 2.1 and 2.3, so that's a pretty stark contrast.


Modern medicine does a great job of saving mothers and infants, reducing infant mortality (and maternal mortality), but you need to get that zygote viable before any of that matters, and urban populations -- in spite of their proclivity for engaging in sexual activities -- do not seem to induce viable zygotes nearly as often as rural populations.
 
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Yes, a number of sources.

Here's one from the CDC talking about data from 2007 to 2017: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db323.htm#section_1 -- no surprise the data shows a widening gap between rural and urban birth rates, with urban being much lower.

Graph from the above:
RojFDK9.gif


Here's one from the UN about China's fertility decline and a bit about how that's related to urabization: https://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/events/pdf/expert/24/Policy_Briefs/PB_China.pdf

Here's one which might surprise you: Indian census data has recent total fertility rate at 2.4 in rural areas, 1.7 in urban. Replacement TFR is somewhere between 2.1 and 2.3, so that's a pretty stark contrast.


Modern medicine does a great job of saving mothers and infants, reducing infant mortality (and maternal mortality), but you need to get that zygote viable before any of that matters, and urban populations -- in spite of their proclivity for engaging in sexual activities -- do not seem to induce viable zygotes nearly as often as rural populations.
Interesting. I was not aware of any of that. Thanks for sharing!
 
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