Art, Culture, and Prestige: A New Peaceful Victory Type

Art, Culture, and Prestige: A New Peaceful Victory Type

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Philadelphus

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Introduction
So at the moment the three victory conditions for Stellaris are pretty militarily-focused. Okay, the federation one is potentially possible to get without fighting by getting everyone to love you and join your federation, but I can't see this happening all that often in practice without an end-game crisis to conveniently de-populate a bunch of non-federation worlds. The point is, I'd like to suggest a new victory condition based on a whole new set of systems: something akin to Civ V's Brave New World culture victory.

For those who haven't played it, BNW's culture victory was an actually fun and engaging peaceful victory type based on making your country such a cultural hegemon that everyone else is essentially subordinate to your culture. Confusingly, Civ V already had "culture" as a thing so they invented a new resource, "tourism," as a sort of "offensive culture". (Offensive as opposed to defensive.) You win by getting your tourism higher than everyone else's culture (sort of, there were modifiers and such in place and the actual amount you generated was never anywhere close to the amount of culture other countries were generating, but those are implementation and balancing details).

Actually generating tourism wasn't too difficult (though it did require a little work and wasn't entirely passive), as you could get it by generating great works of art and finding artifacts, but optimizing its generation was a whole mini-game in itself, and one that I found very fun and compelling. Basically, you could build buildings like museums and wonders that could "house" or "display" multiple works of art/artifacts, and depending on the building and type of artifacts you'd get bonus tourism generation. The mini-game of "Do I put this artifact in this museum, or the Louvre? Do I put this piece of art in my palace or the Uffizi?" was an interesting exercise in optimization as sometimes you'd get a new piece and realize you could re-jigger everything around to get more tourism.

Thus, I'd like to propose adding something similar to Stellaris. This would probably be a whole expansion's worth of work to add all the systems necessary and get it balanced, but I think it has the potential to improve the game massively by giving peaceful players something else optional to do without it being a necessary thing that more warlike players have to balance as well. And it could be much more than "another victory type", as I think the systems of culture could tie in with a lot of the game.

A New Resource: Prestige
First: we'd need a new resource similar to tourism. I'll use the name "Prestige", but it could be something else. I think unity in the game already maps well to Civ V's culture, you'd just need to keep track of how much of it total has been accrued per empire to get an idea of how strong their internal culture is. (Thematically this works pretty well too; you're winning by getting the prestige of your empire so high that it overcomes the cultural unity of all the other empires.)

Generating Prestige
Next, we'd need systems for generating prestige. This could be done multiple ways in game: building megastructures could enhance prestige, slaying leviathans, or other particularly noteworthy actions could all generate some. Following Civ V's model I'd suggest that it isn't generated passively much (though a little is fine, maybe building the new Mega-Art Installation gets you some passive prestige genaration), but is instead primarily generated synergistically through player action in matching up artifact/artworks with conditions to generate bonus prestige.

Speaking of artifacts, Stellaris' anomaly system would be fantastic to utilize here. In Civ V you eventually gain the ability to make archaeologist who run around to ancient ruins on the map and find artifacts. In Stellaris, you're basically doing that from the very first day! Plenty of existing anomalies could be reworked so they either give you a bonus (as they already do) or some sort of artifact or artwork. (Ideally, it should be a strategic choice: do I get a useful bonus now, or an object that doesn't help me much at the moment but could be indispensable further down the line?) Once you get them they'd go into some sort of empire-wide holding bin where they'd generate some very minimal amount of prestige just for owning them, but the real significant prestige output would come when you decide to display them.

Optimizing Prestige Generation
So let's talk displaying them, for me the most fun part of the entire system. (This is being written a few days before 2.2 comes out so I only have so much knowledge about the new planet system and if I make a mistake please point it out.) Displaying artworks/artifacts should require building some sort of district, perhaps one that already exists in the game, perhaps a new one added for the expansion. They should be able to hold a limited number of artworks (the actual number can be part of balancing, but could be as low as 2) and give bonus prestige based on synergies between the objects on display. If there are still empire-unique districts in 2.2 those would be prime targets for being able to hold more objects, and give even more bonus prestige if more complicated requirements are met.

On the subject of types of artifacts, Civ V had a pretty simple system: you had great works of painting, great works of literature, and great works of music, and for artifacts they were either military (like an arrow head) or peaceful (like a pottery shard). They all had the age they were from (Stone Age, Iron Age, etc.), and artifacts also all had a nation or city state designation as well (so like "Bronze Age Greek spear point"). Various bonuses would be gained from things like: displaying two artifacts from the same culture together, displaying two artifacts of the same type together, or displaying two artifacts of the same age together (and importantly, these bonuses would stack!). Various wonders would have more complicated requirements to get the best bonuses, such as the Louvre requiring that its four displayed objects all be from different cultures, different eras, and made up of two paintings and two artifacts!

I'm unsure how Stellaris would want to split this up, since it might be weird to be creating great works of music if I've decided that my species can't hear, for example, so it might a slightly more generic "work of art", though I think it could possibly also use the Civ V system with perhaps some additions ("great work of film", anyone?). Things could be marked with the species that made them or they came from (with perhaps a catch-all "Unknown" for artifacts found from anomalies where it's some long-lost alien race that made them). Perhaps artifacts from pre-space-faring primitives could be more interesting and thus generate slightly more prestige? (Adding an opportunity to flesh out primitive observation posts and active observation: stealing artifacts to boost your empire's prestige.)

Miscellaneous Details of Artworks/Artifacts
Artworks could be produced in a similar fashion to Civ V now that 2.2's adding jobs for POPs; just have some sort of "art" job (there might be one in the game already in 2.2) that adds points to a bar which creates an artwork when it fills up (either per-planet or per-empire). This should allow you to, for instance, create a planet dedicated to art and culture where you have tons of artists working towards putting out artworks to demonstrate the superiority of your culture.

Artworks and artifacts also should be tradable between empires somehow; either through diplomacy and actual trading, or perhaps even better, on the galactic market. It'd be useful whether you're a xenophillic empire trying to make a display with artwork from all the known species in the galaxy to fulfill a special bonus condition, or you're just interested in selling the work of your artists for a quick buck.

Artworks and artifacts should also be "physical" objects, in the sense that they can be captured in war. Have some artworks displayed on a planet that get captured? The conqueror now owns them. Any objects not on display but left in an empire's stockpile go to the war leader if that empire is wiped out. This would allow a militaristic empire to simply conquer others and take their artworks for prestige rather than making their own, and maybe even allow some fun with a "Recapture artwork" CB that allows you to force the other empire into giving stolen artwork back.

Integration with Other Pre-existing Systems
Finally, all these systems could tie into other areas of the game. As mentioned, finding artifacts would tie in beautifully with the anomalies system, and districts and POP jobs would allow for generating and displaying artworks. The Artisan Troupe could tie in somehow, in any number of ways, from increasing your artist's creativity/productivity to selling you artworks. Prestige could potentially tie into diplomacy somehow: if you've got a high prestige relative to an empire's unity they might either like it and want to forge closer ties with you, or resent it (especially if xenophobic) and try to work against you somehow. In Civ V there are various things you can do which essentially give you modifiers to your tourism take-over rate, such as having open borders with another country; that could be transposed to Stellaris, where having open borders or a trade agreement between empires would allow your prestige to have a greater sway with them (and vice versa, of course! Might lend some weight to the decision to open your borders or forge a trade agreement…). Maybe the greatest artworks require some rare materials to produce? How'd you like to take that great work of literature you find from your rivals and actually put it on display in your empire to spite them? There are so many options for event chains and such…

Conclusion
In conclusion, thanks for reading what turned out to be a massive wall of text. :) I believe that adding a peaceful "arts and culture" system to Stellaris would add a fun, optional side of the game for peaceful players to enjoy that more warmongering players can ignore without it seriously hampering them. It could also add a new victory condition for players looking to unite the galaxy around them peacefully rather than through war. The proposed systems would integrate very well with multiple systems already present in Stellaris, and could potentially integrate even more (maybe the Curators could sell you the location of planets that contain artifacts, in parallel to the Artisan Troupe selling you artworks or something, or maybe raiders could potentially steal artworks as well as POPs) I think it'd be a huge step forward for the game in adding something else to do besides war, and hope to see something like it in Stellaris one day. Let me know if you have any questions or comments! :)
 

klopkr

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I like parts of this idea but I think it would work better if thought of as 'winning through completing quests/tasks'. Assign points to certain tasks and doing certain things first and make the type of goals or events or interactions. First to 10k prestige or something like that wins and becomes immortalized.

You'd get the points from your cool artifacts or anomalies, slaying lethianthans and special systems, finding precursor worlds, building the first of a type of mega structure, building the first planet destroyer, crack the first world in the galaxy, small boosts from any battle with space pirates, the khan, crises, fallen empires, the strongest current normal empire/faction. They could even bring in victory cards from EU4.
 

Greenslade

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I like this idea. I think it also gives the capacity for science ships to be doing something other than assisting research later on. More late game anomalies and "prestige" research. Also being the first to find precursor civs, or open L-Gates, or restore/build gateways etc.

ETA: it's also possibly a way of smoothing over some of the diplomatic oddities with the AI. A prestigious empire is more respected after all, so it has something beyond mere military power to judge goodwill against.
 

Milten

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So what's the use of this new resource? Apart from somewhat smoothering diplomacy and victory conditions, which no longer exist in 2.2?