Abstract Currencies, Agent-Mechanics, "Realistic" Currencies

Abstract Currencies, Agent-Mechanics, "Realistic" Currencies

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Johan

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This is a bit of a rambling of my thoughts, take them as you like.

My definitions are, and I hope you can agree with it enough to use it in this thread.
  • Abstract Currency - Monarch Power in EU4, Imperator
  • Agent Mechanics - Council in CK2, Diplomats/Colonists in Eu4
  • "Realistic" Currencies - Gold, Stability, Manpower.
Some "currencies" tend to float between abstract and realistic, depending on your personal opinion, like prestige in CK, Diplomatic Influece in Vicky, etc.. Most importantly is that people are far more accepting of abstracted currencies and view them as realistic when they have ways to impact their gain, and they fit the flavor of the gam,.

I guess we can all agree that abstract currencies solves quite a few gamedesign problems, but they worked better in Eu4 than in Imperator.

What worked well with "abstract currencies" in Imperator
- Some decisions between short term and long term decisions. I personally liked how you could promote, convert and assimilate pops manually, but it was insanely cost inefficient but quick, and the other option was the policies over time that was far slower, but far more cost efficient.

What did not work well?
- Most of the usage were instant, making the game feel less like a world, but more like a boardgame.
- Not enough major choices between what to spend your currencies on. Some you use way too much, some you just stockpile for your next tradition.
- Gold to Power was a stupid design decision.


We are currently talking lots about this, but I am not happy with the current situation, and while I believe abstracted currencies makes for a better game-design, they need to become realistic currencies for a great design to become a great game.

thanks for listening to my rant.
 

Amyntas

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This is a bit of a rambling of my thoughts, take them as you like.

My definitions are, and I hope you can agree with it enough to use it in this thread.
  • Abstract Currency - Monarch Power in EU4, Imperator
  • Agent Mechanics - Council in CK2, Diplomats/Colonists in Eu4
  • "Realistic" Currencies - Gold, Stability, Manpower.
Some "currencies" tend to float between abstract and realistic, depending on your personal opinion, like prestige in CK, Diplomatic Influece in Vicky, etc.. Most importantly is that people are far more accepting of abstracted currencies and view them as realistic when they have ways to impact their gain, and they fit the flavor of the gam,.

I guess we can all agree that abstract currencies solves quite a few gamedesign problems, but they worked better in Eu4 than in Imperator.

What worked well with "abstract currencies" in Imperator
- Some decisions between short term and long term decisions. I personally liked how you could promote, convert and assimilate pops manually, but it was insanely cost inefficient but quick, and the other option was the policies over time that was far slower, but far more cost efficient.

What did not work well?
- Most of the usage were instant, making the game feel less like a world, but more like a boardgame.
- Not enough major choices between what to spend your currencies on. Some you use way too much, some you just stockpile for your next tradition.
- Gold to Power was a stupid design decision.


We are currently talking lots about this, but I am not happy with the current situation, and while I believe abstracted currencies makes for a better game-design, they need to become realistic currencies for a great design to become a great game.

thanks for listening to my rant.
Thanks Johan. I think a lot of us feel this way too. Anything in the direction of making the game feel more alive is the right move. I want to feel like i'm stepping into an ancient world.

I still think tying everything about a functioning state to the monarch power of the character in power is a mistake overall. It's abstracted, yes, but it just doesn't make any sense. Pyrrhus' military score being higher allows him to build more roads. That feels gamey, nonsensical and more like a phone app than a real ancient strategy game. This can be fixed, and I hope you guys move in that direction.

Also, you say in your post that you think promoting pops manually worked well -- I just want you to know that the vast majority of people completely disagree. Pressing a button and converting a pop from Freeman to Citizen is completely immersion breaking. People want a gradual promotion. It works perfectly in Victoria 2, and it would work perfectly in Imperator.
 
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cerapa

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Some decisions between short term and long term decisions. I personally liked how you could promote, convert and assimilate pops manually, but it was insanely cost inefficient but quick, and the other option was the policies over time that was far slower, but far more cost efficient.
In my case the game became "better" once I realized that using mana directly wasn't the intended way to convert pops. When you pull up the macrobuilder or just look at the pops there are these large "convert" buttons. In comparison putting on the two policies is more hidden. So i think a large reason for people's unhappiness might be some wrong signalling about what things are important and what the trade-offs are.
 

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What could be done is for example with military traditions is to use EUIV military tradition points which you get it from battles, sieges and such. It would give a passive bonus like in EUIV but you could also spend alot of it on a military tradition like you currently spend military power which would represent the army having to adopt to the new military tradition.

What this would do is
  • Make development of your military more tied to warfare rather than passive point generation which feels more realistic
  • Make a strategic choice between storing military tradition for a passive bonus or spend it for a long term benefit
Province development, instead of spending points you could tie it to governor policies, such as encourage commerce for extra trade route development over time instead of its effect disappearing instantly once changed which works very poorly with how governor works because if they change policy they break the trade route. The no brainer governor policies are the ones that give long term benefits, especially the culture conversion one because it work very well against AE.

Tyranny and AE could be used in more ways as cost because unlike gold they don't snowball and the penalties they give are serious no matter how large you are. I don't use increase legitimacy much if at all not because of power cost but because of tyranny cost.

The main issue I have with power is not that power is bad but what you can spend it on is very unbalanced. Civic power could be called invention power because 100 civic power for one permanent instant global buff is just such obvious choice, trade route have some uses and move pop have about zero use past the early game or colonization. Religious and military power have limited use while oratory power is used for alot of actions.
 

Nikolai

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Vicky3 confirmed.
 

Nikolai

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In all seriousness though, thanks for making this thread Johan.
 

Denkt

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- Gold to Power was a stupid design decision.
I would be careful about that, it is currently like the only reason beside technology that give some reason to stay small as you can use gold gained from peace deal and make them into power, that atleast offer some opening strategy besides going on massive conquest right from the start. Yes it is not realistic but everything in patch 1.1 is anti tall and 400 power development wont make tall any better than now even if everything else stay the same because 400 power to a very small benefit in one province is not worth it (not to talk about all current power unbalances in current version).

The main issue with patch 1.1 is outside the powerbase mechanic it feels like it will turn the game more into a mindless conquer simulator as expansion have no real cost or issues in the game, culture conversion is super quick making AE feel irrelevant once your culture group is large enough.

Both tech and governor change in patch 1.1 is anti tall while nothing is done to contain or make wide and the conquest game more interesting.

Some stuff such as the republic government actions should not use power since you already have a system with favor with the faction in the game and a bonus for a favor is a strategic tradeoff.

I think a much bigger issue than how power work is how to make the game interesting, currently you can expand mindlessly which don't make for a good strategy game. Now we should not have EUIV style cores or corruption to fix it as we don't need an anti fun system to combat this. Instead what if for example you needed to pay a gold cost per controlled city in order to implement an innovation, this would make small but populous empire have an advantage in ability to develop innovations (could be done in better ways I suspect). Stability should be an issue for large empire as there should be powerful characters to challange you which keeps the game a challange even as a major power (but in a different way as a city state).
 
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Sigwald

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You sound like you're mentally exhausted, Johan.

I'll keep my opinion to the game to myself, as I'm more worried about you that about debating game design choices. The game is here, the shitstorm will come to pass, then you'll be able to think about it peacefully and improves it, if the resources available to you are enough.

As to why the shitstorm happened, your playerbase has just become more demanding, because they have played your games a lot and the novelty wears off, plus they expect not to pay for features, quality of life, AI and balance they have paid for with DLC the previous games.
 

Oracel

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First of all, thank you for this thread :)

With regards to pop promotion/conversion/assimilation I think it would be best if we had a system that is already somewhat dynamic in itself and which can then be steered in a specific direction by governor policies and monarch power.

So cultures and religion may automatically spread a little bit beyond the border of their origin cities and pops may at times be promoted or demoted, depending on influences like the city's wealth. This would imo already very much help to make the game feel more alive. But now, if the player wants to interfere with this system and set own priorities, he or she can use government policies to steer pops in a specific direction and spending monarch power could then accelerate this process.
 

EpicProGamer76

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I happen to agree with the original poster of in his points but would like to expend on them in how I feel personally. (wait what the original is Johan is what i'm doing even legal? ahh well its far too interesting to pass up on.)

The ability to alter pops roll with monarch points seems like good design as it allowed smaller nations to easily specialize to me however it being only available through these means is not as it prevent the ability for large empires to proportionally change pops to what is needed.

Gold to power in the way it is implemented, does not work because the whole point of monarch points is to make the game more challenging for larger powers (I think) making vast wealth not as powerful a thing by having it tied in this way it undermines monarch points purpose. And the ck2esk having it more expensive the more income you have does not work as income can fluctuate greatly. And the problem of having to wait for monarch points to do important actions should not exist in the first place so hopefully dere will be no need for this button if they fix the issues with power. (Advisers in EU4 handled the power conversion well.)
 

Cardolam

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Regarding abstract currencies that increase depending mostly as real time pass they have a place in the design of a game as a side feature. Placing these type of currencies at the base of the design and introducing them in so many "flavours" was one of the mistakes committed. It also turns the game too dependent on the monarch and not on the guy playing the game.
One thing is to have one abstract currency to add variety to the gameplay, another is to base all the gameplay in several currencies of this type.

Regarding your opinion about promoting pops manually working well... It's not my take on it. It should take time (with a random aspect added to feel more like a real world), it should have its own event pool to come up with surprises and have a chance of turning a promotion unique, generating a small side story for the player to experience and face unexpected consequences.

Finally the simple concept of waiting real life time to be able to press a button to - PLINK! - achieve a result is total immersion breaking.
 

Atour Bet Khaya

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Brilliant to hear! So much respect for answering the heart of the criticisms of mana, and huge hopes for the game going forward now that this is honestly being looked at!

edit: Actual Suggestions

a key way to introduce "realistic" currencies imo:

- Use the trade goods! Make them important resources for a range of things, like buildings, roads, upkeep of provinces, armies, maybe even omens etc.

Also "agent" interactions should take a larger role in proportion to currencies:

- for fabricating claims
- for increasing stability (more loyal characters = increasing stability and vice-versa)
- for passing laws
- for inventions
- Internal politics like faction power etc.

And some things should have their own mechanics I think:

- religious and cultural conversion shouldn't be related to spending currency. Antiquity is not EU4-times, make some mechanics around syncretism, creating and promoting cults (maybe like Holy Fury?) to keep pops happy and loyal, and cut out most of conversion entirely.

- pop migrations and resettlements. Migrations I think should be entirely dynamic, with the player able to influence by stacking food etc. Resettlement should have a mechanic with settling legions in newly conquered territories to secure them - losing soldiers but gaining right culture/religion pops.
 
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cristofolmc

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I find it hard to believe you are having a hard time replacing mana when you have designed games like victoria or CK2. Im not saying this has to have same levels of depth and complexity as victoria, but you can take the same philosophical approach, such as many mods do (Gladio et Sale for I:R, Meiou and Taxes for EU4, Stellaris, etc).

And I think you should listen to some of the ideas @Lambert2191 has given you on how you could replace many uses of mana with characters. You yourself mention that as agent mechanics. Well, there are very little of those outside the ruler and governors in this game. There should be a lot more. Diplomacy should be replace by characters and done away with mana. You have two amazing feature core systems such as pops and characters and they feel completely underused.

Pops are basically development from EU4 that feel dead because you can manipulate it instantly by spending mana that doesnt rely on any type of gameplay you do or strategy of the player, just solely by the luck you get when getting a ruler. And the pop system could be so much more (you could get inspiration from Victoria, Stellaris, Meiou and Taxes mod...). Just to have more deeper and dynamic pop and wealth systems, that feel more like real life to the player, and thus more rewarding if you focus your strategy around them instead of conquering. Clicking on a button and turning a wretched poor freeman into a wealthy citizen feels immersion breaking and not rewarding AT ALL. I want freemen turning into wealthy citizens because Im focusing my game on trade, fullfilling their needs, increasing civilization, urbanizing, staying at peace or at least keeping their lands away from war zones, and get the rewarding feeling overtime of turning all those poor people into wealthy citizens. Or moving pops. Why do it with the click of a button and some mana when you could have a deeper dynamic system where pops from poorer cities move slowly overtime to wealtheier ones? The player could influence how fast this happen with an abstract currency or a policy. Clicking a button depending on an abstract resource I have no say whatsoever in how I get it is no fun at all. That is something Stellaris does much better. Resources are mana. But how you get those resources is up to the player stretagy, and how he plays and what he wants to focus on. And depending on your strategy you will get more or less of each type. THAT is fun. Spending mana you get because your random heir gives you 8 monthly on a button that instantly turns a poor man into a wealthy man or a german into a punic carthagenian is NOT fun at all. And Im glad you acknowledge there needs to be improvement. But I get the feeling you dont understnad the problem I just explained by what you gave us in the last Dev Diary. Giving the players buttons to spend mana on and get some modifiers is not fun even if you put a fixed timer of 2 years for it to come into effect.

And moving on to characters. You have inspiration from CK2 on how to make the most of it while you still play the state and not a dynasty. Make more of the characters. Not just some stats that affect how big the modifier is. Give mechanics to the offices. Make the characters feel more alive. Ask things of you, push you around, ask for law changes, I dont know. Many possibilities. The War Council youre introducing in 1.1 is a VERY good step in the right direction. Characters that ask you to do things or you ask of them, and those decisions and petitions affect the world depending on your/their response. But following on that, the abilities for republics are absolutely terrible because of that. Spending some mana to get a bonus with no interaction between characters, you and the world, is not fun at ALL. You mentioned the CK2 council. Why not have mechanic like that in game? The Council/Conclave in CK2 has more depth than the Senate in I:R. Its sad.

The game has the potential to be the best of the PDX titles. But it will never be if you keep basing it on mana, buttons, and modifiers. For that, people already have EU4, which has 5 years of development on its back and a much more popular time period.

I hope you listen to the people and achieve on reaching the games full potential. People don't want EU4 based on the roman era. People want more, and thats why they are playing CK2 and EU4 instead of I:R. I myself Im not playing I:R anymore, instead Im playing Meiou and Taxes for EU4. Ill give the game another try when 1.1 comes along. Because the mods are fixing all that stuff the team refuses to (the assimilation system of the I:R mod Gladio et Sale is so much better than vanilla I:R system... for instance).


Cheers Johan. Im glad youre keeping a somewhat open mind or at least listen to the peoples grievances. Best of luck. I really want I:R to be a success. It has more potential than EU4 or CK2
 

Denkt

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One change I would like to see is the capital region becoming alot more important, currently it feel like any other region but in reality an empire strength probably come from how strong its core is, not how much land it is able to control. I think culture and religious conversion should be much harder if not impossible outside the capital region and it should generally be alot easier to get stuff done in the capital region as other regions is further away and under governor control so the ruler should have less influence here.

For example you could allow pop actions like now but only in the capital region or even just the province which would still give some control but not anything like you can change the religion of the pops in a city miles away as soon as you conquered it and large empires should not be able to be cultural or religious uniform as it is really not just unrealistic but also remove alot of the potential challanges of playing as a large empire.

Like the smaller Roman republic or Byzantine Empire should not be far weaker than the Roman empire of trajan like how they would be with the current game rules.
 
Last edited:

Lord Lambert

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What worked well with "abstract currencies" in Imperator
- Some decisions between short term and long term decisions. I personally liked how you could promote, convert and assimilate pops manually, but it was insanely cost inefficient but quick, and the other option was the policies over time that was far slower, but far more cost efficient.
Personally I think this is the part of the game that works the least. I think the instant gratification conversion/assumilation/promotion is kind of awful. The game would be better if this was removed, imo.
And I think you should listen to some of the ideas @Lambert2191 has given you on how you could replace many uses of mana with characters.
Much appreciated :) I have half a script written so far for a video I will do expressing my full thoughts on what could/should be changed, but just for clarities sake I will paste what I have written thus far on the subject on twitter/reddit:

Lambert but elsewhere said:
I think the game would be better if for every use of monarch points, the actions were instead tied to your characters. 200 scrolls to fabricate a claim is not immersive at all, making a character unavailable for a few months while he gets that claim for you based on his stats is.

The characters system is an amazing resource in Imperator that I believe is underutilised. Offloading a lot of the monarch point costs onto character interactions would have the double benefit of making the characters feel more alive, and removing shallow abstraction points.

Changing bribes from scrolls to characters wealth is a great start, and I mentioned fabricating claims, but just from the top of my head...

Support Rebels - Send a character to target country with periodic events occuring as he does his work. The character could ask for some coin to purchase weapons and armour, events telling you about a governor that he could potentially turn to your side, if you support them. Perhaps a governor in the target country can sabotage something in return for asylum etc

Improve Opinion - Pretty obvious, we've had this interaction in EU4 without a mana cost. Just copy from there.

Send Insult - Again, you send a character to the target country and said target has the option of what to do about it. It could be that the character you send ends up imprisoned or executed, giving you a CB to rescue them/avenge them.

With some creative thinking, I don't think there are any mana costs in Imperator that couldn't be made more immersive and interesting. MEIOU & Taxes has shown that stability doesnt need to be mana based, Imperator shows that tech doesn't have to be. The game doesnt need mana

...


Promotion and moving pops for the most part should be an organic, automatic thing that the player should have no control over... except in 1 case: Slaves.

I think you should have control over slave pops but not at the cost of mana, and instead at the cost of cash. This would be the state purchasing the slaves themselves and moving them where they wish them to be, rather than them being moved by... some leaves.
 

Denkt

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I personally liked how you could promote, convert and assimilate pops manually, but it was insanely cost inefficient but quick, and the other option was the policies over time that was far slower, but far more cost efficient.
This is just wrong, a culture conversion policy can convert around 4 pops per year per province. To convert 4 pops directly you need 80 power which is alot. And now add in culture conversion policy on every province you own and you can convert several hundred pops a year. It is possible to turn Seleucid Empire into Macedonian majority in like 50 years which simply remove all challenges with culture. The other governor policies are generally quite poor so culture conversion policy is pretty much a nobrainer.

The only thing instant culture conversion do for you is to waste power, it is not quicker as you have to look at empire scale.

I would not be against culture conversion policy being removed completely as that would make large empires a bit more interesting but it would still not solve other issues such as the lack of challenge from the ai.
 

Jorlem

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Most importantly is that people are far more accepting of abstracted currencies and view them as realistic when they have ways to impact their gain, and they fit the flavor of the gam,.
I very much agree with this. I think the game would be helped by looking at how the more abstract resources in Stellaris are generated, and perhaps take inspiration from them.

While I admit that the faction system in Stellaris has its issues, I think the way it is used a a source of Influence generation could work well in I:R, especially with the far higher number of characters in I:R. Factions could demand/request different things, and boosts to MP generation could be rewards to completing them, in addition to things like loyalty boosts for faction members. And while Republics already have a faction system that lines up with MP types, there's no need for factions demands in other gov types to match up like that. For instance, in tribes, each clan leader could also be the leader of their own faction, and be able to issue any type of demand, based on their traits, with rewards being tied to the type of demand, or even how you fulfill the demand. (So if a faction wants you to stop trading with another country, you might get diplo MP gen for cancelling trade routes, but get military MP gen for declaring war on the country.)
 

General Pepper

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Thank you for this post.
In my opinion, Many actions could be replaced by agent mechanics just as @Lambert2191 has post. Moreover, the limits of the agents could be tied to your monarch's stats, which I have post before. Different actions could be divided into several types, executed by diplomats, missionaries and so on. For example, a diplomat could be sent to improve opinion, fabricate claims and support rebel, while the limit of diplomats depends on your monarch's dignitas and government rank.
 

Manic Eskimo

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My idea for how assimilate could have worked better would be instead of manually assimilating pops individually you could have had an expensive "grant citizenship" option. Where you would grant citizenship to an entire province at a time. Maybe an entire culture. Similar to the accept culture in EU4. This would cost more, but perhaps your primary culture doesn't like being expanded. So some primary culture provinces lose some loyalty.
 

CanOmer

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Realistic currencies are not limited to money and manpower. Metal, coal, rare materials and supplies are very good real currency examples from HoI3. There are a lot of trade goods in IR which can be used as currencies similar to HoI3 (that can be produced in provinces and fills the resource pools, and even production chains). For example, when constructing a building it may require not only gold but some amount of wood, stone and marble as well.