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josh127

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This is a topic that came up in the old forums after the transfer freeze, so I want to link the thread and the original post that inspired it:

http://oldforum.paradoxplaza.com/fo...ot-so-deterministic-railroading-towards-India

BaronIronmaggot said:
I think that this and many other AI related issues could be solved with the following solution.

This game has Missions. Currently they are just random single tasks. But Missions could be expanded upon, by adding Campaigns. Selecting a campaign will start spawning Missions that further the Campaign. If "Gain a Presence in India" Campaign is chosen, there would appear missions about fabricating claim, declaring wars and establishing relations in India. That way AI nations also could choose a focal point in colonization. If Portugal Chooses "Colonize East Brazil", it is gonna get missions that will result in Portugal focusing on colonizing Brazil.
The basic idea here is to have countries able to select a campaign to help determine the direction they're aiming to go. Originally it was posted as a guide for missions, but in discussing it, it appears that a lot of other features could feed off of it (events, relations, possibly bonuses/maluses and AI decision making).

I can envision two different types of campaigns, but I know net.split had a lot of ideas for this one too, so hopefully you jump in here.

- The larger type of campaign is just a broad focus for your country. This could be as broad as "Expanding our territory" or slightly more limiting as "Expand our territory in X" (this is probably better). It doesn't all have to be about expansion though, there could also be exploration, religious, and internal growth campaigns as well that all influence the missions you get. Additionally this could help the AI to be slightly more focused and seem less irrational.

- The smaller campaign isn't exactly small, but is more directional and can also be competitive. "Find a water route to China", "Circumnavigate the globe", "Form Germany", etc. These are all types of things that could come up early, direct you toward them and put you in conflict with other countries. Your relations will take a hit with countries you're competing with to find a route to Asia, or who also want to form Germany, but you'll also be slightly better off with countries who have no interest in that region or in exploration scenarios, countries who are not interested in exploring your land.

Either route on these could work, keeping in mind I'm discussing a broad idea and the way I detail it should be easily swapped out if there are better ideas. However, if combining the two, there could be a major "focus" or two like "Exploration", "Colonization", "Military Expansion", etc and then a few smaller more competitive campaigns you choose from based on that.

The hope here would be first to clean up missions so you're not sitting on junk missions all the time, and open up new avenues for dealing with events and such that make things seem more plausible without the need of perfect railroading. Additionally the hope would be that this would help the AI to act a little more rationally, as it would be able to prioritize decision making rather than each time a set of missions comes up it just randomly picks one (well, maybe it still does that but the missions would then be focused toward the campaign, so they would hopefully be less irrational by design).
 

net.split

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I had a thread going on this too, but it got knocked off the front page before many people saw it I think :) Here's what I posted there (won't bother linking as we don't need multiple threads on this, and it looks like this one is getting a bit more attention). Spoilered for length / reposting:

Mechanical Summary

Each nation chooses one Campaign that reflects the overall strategy of the state. Campaigns are visible to all other states.

Campaigns can cover a variety of things, from military ("conquer X region" / "liberate X culture" / "purge heretics/heathens from X region") to diplomacy ("become HRE emperor" / "restore relations with neighbors") to colonization ("create colonial nation of size X in Y region" / "conquer/subjugate primitives/locals in X colonial region") to trade ("dominate X node" / "forward X ducats from Y to Z") to development ("improve provinces in X region").

All viable Campaigns should be present as options. There should not be a randomized subset of Campaigns to choose from; these are too long-lasting and critical to be at the mercy of the RNG.

Two of the three Missions that are available should always drive a nation toward completing its chosen Campaign. The third Mission might be related to the current Campaign, or it could be a generic Mission (if not all Missions can be reasonably tied to a specific Campaign), or occasionally a Mission from another Campaign set.

Many Events would be adjusted (and more created) to fire only when a relevant Campaign is selected. These Events would advance your state toward your Campaign rather than set you back from it, though they may have some downsides as well (though those downsides should always be unrelated to your Campaign goals).

Nations receive a minor reward for completing a Campaign (+prestige, possibly +legitimacy). Campaigns that are no longer valid are cleared automatically at no penalty. Manually abandoning a Campaign should be extremely costly; I recommend something on the order of -2 Stability, -25 Prestige, and -20 legitimacy.


Campaigns as Playability Improvements

This system gives the player (and AI) control over the types of Missions that will be generated. This is useful for promoting consistent activities from the AI and reducing randomness (and the glut of useless Missions) that plague the player.

It also gives some measure of control over the types of Events that will fire. For instance, by choosing a Campaign to improve relations, I'm almost certain to no longer get Events that will harm relations with a random neighbor or demolish my diplomatic reputation. However, I might suffer morale penalties to my armies, loss of Admin MP, or receive local unrest from religious factions opposing better relations with heathens.


Campaigns as Diplomacy Improvements

By announcing Campaigns, each state has a better understanding of what its neighbors' current goals are. This improves player understanding of AI behavior. For example, the "wants your provinces" modifier would be removed, replaced with "intends to conquer your provinces in <region>" whenever such a Campaign has been selected. Other cases of opportunistic conquest would still be represented, of course, like when you have one of their cores, but for the most part, it will be very clear why the AI is after you.

This puts the player and the AI on the same page, mechanically speaking. Just as the player knows what the AI is doing, the AI now knows what the player is doing. While the player could theoretically "fake" campaign selection to provoke the AI into a desired reaction, this would come with a number of real costs (improper Missions, less Event control, costs of later changing Campaigns since the selected one is less likely to be completed in this scenario).

Potentially, abandoning current Campaign could be a peace deal demand (with a very high war score requirement). If that's invoked, the target nation's Campaign is cleared, and it cannot reselect that Campaign for the duration of the treaty. In this manner, you can force an aggressive nation whom you've defeated to at least temporarily abandon their ambitions on your land (and it'll generally last for longer than the treaty's duration because they'll select and try to finish other Campaigns in the meantime).


Replacing Rival Selection

The Rivals system is fun when you're in a situation where it works well (many neighboring states of similar power levels), but it falls apart when nations get too big or small. By using Campaigns, nations would automatically be designated as "Rivals" based on the Campaign's criteria. If you choose a Conquer <region> Campaign, for example, you're automatically rivaled with all states with territory in that region. If you choose a Dominate Node Campaign, your top competitors there will be mutually rivaled (and/or perhaps any state with its trade capital there). In this manner, rivalries will always be two-way; there should be no instance where a nation has rivaled another nation but is not rivaled in return.

Power Projection could be enhanced to function off meeting Campaign goals, too. For instance, if you choose Campaigns to develop provinces or improve relations, you can earn PP by accomplishing those goals. This allows for playing a more peaceful / defensive state if you want and still be able to get the Monarch Point bonus.


Replacing Coalitions

Importantly, the Campaign system finally allows for a proper implementation of coalitions. From the beginning, the biggest problem with coalitions has been their nature to punish tiny growing states while allowing the behemoths to continue running rampant. By replacing AE-based coalitions with Campaign-based coalitions, this can finally be fixed for good.

Essentially, any time you choose a Campaign that would result in conquering provinces, all nations targeted by this Campaign can then join a coalition against you.

Therefore, small states would need to avoid such Campaigns, relying more on opportunistic expansion. Large states looking for more rapid expansion could use the Campaigns in order to get more conquest missions and generally improve CB access (and get pro-military Events with effects like temporary reduction of war costs in regional conquests, unrest bonuses to counter Nationalism, or manpower increases), while their target states would have a greater ability to resist via coalition mechanisms.

AE would still exist for purpose of diplomatic penalties. This way, you're still not free to expand unchecked by simply avoiding these Campaigns.

AI attitudes would also use Campaigns. They'll be Friendly if your Campaign is likely to help them or hurt their enemies. They'll be Threatened if your Campaign is seen as negative to them (but not outright Rivals). They'll be Hostile if their Campaign is seen as negative to you (but not outright Rivals).


AI Behavior

In "historical" mode, AI states would be more likely to select Campaigns that mirror their actual historical activities. Otherwise, they will select Campaigns based on strategic factors.

In this manner, old missions (like France's conquering of Savoy) would be replaced by Campaigns and AI selection criteria. This puts nations that used to have these missions on the same playing field as everyone else while still being able to fulfill their historical objectives. As another example, the Manchu tribes would be nudged toward selecting regional conquests in order to unite as Manchu, then more conquests to take the regions of China.

This gives Paradox developers / scripters a high level of control over AI behavior in order to model history unfolding in the desired manner. Importantly, it does so using a standardized gameplay mechanism; one that's not only communicated to the player, but one the player also uses. This behavior can also be trivially disabled (by not choosing "historical" mode) if the player desires a more alternate history path without going to full random nations.
 

PAnZuRiEL

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net.split's ideas all sound fantastic, except...
By using Campaigns, nations would automatically be designated as "Rivals" based on the Campaign's criteria. If you choose a Conquer <region> Campaign, for example, you're automatically rivaled with all states with territory in that region. If you choose a Dominate Node Campaign, your top competitors there will be mutually rivaled (and/or perhaps any state with its trade capital there).

[...]

AI attitudes would also use Campaigns. They'll be Friendly if your Campaign is likely to help them or hurt their enemies. They'll be Threatened if your Campaign is seen as negative to them (but not outright Rivals). They'll be Hostile if their Campaign is seen as negative to you (but not outright Rivals).
Isn't this a bit redundant? I mean if France picks a campaign to expand into the HRE, I can understand all the minors becoming Threatened and maybe a large emperor like Austria becoming a Rival. But all the minors becoming Rivals would be a bit much, don't you think?

Rather than targets of a campaign becoming your Rivals, wouldn't it make more sense if other nations selecting the same campaign became your Rivals? After all, isn't that what a "rival" is -- someone competing with you over the same goals?
 

Dorevai

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Yea anyone targeting lands in the HRE should get negative attention from whoever the emperor is and any regional powers.
 
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josh127

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Two of the three Missions that are available should always drive a nation toward completing its chosen Campaign. The third Mission might be related to the current Campaign, or it could be a generic Mission (if not all Missions can be reasonably tied to a specific Campaign), or occasionally a Mission from another Campaign set.
Was thinking about this (not that I stop thinking about this idea), but do we even need missions? What if when you select a campaign you're given a list of objectives. As you meet those objectives you get the objective's reward. When you complete the campaign you get the campaign reward (most campaigns would be a reward in themselves).

I see two potential issues with that idea, but there might be solutions or they might not be as big of issues as I think.

The first issue is conquest missions give you a claim on provinces, so how does that get represented? In my opinion, just because I take a campaign for a region shouldn't mean I get a claim. Instead you could get a new CB that allows you to attack, but as net.split pointed out, you might have a lot of countries ready to defend.

The second potential issue is would the AI be able to handle a list of objectives or would it result in irrational behavior? As long as it's not trying to take a province it can't core before one it can core or similar this is a non-issue, otherwise, there might need to be some way to prioritize objectives to help the AI to understand (perhaps backend not impacting player campaigns).
 

net.split

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Basically unfolding the related Missions and letting you complete them in any order you choose? Certainly doable, but I think it makes many Campaigns as proposed too powerful. Specifically any that lead to conquest. The Mission mechanism randomizes the completion order and limits ease of access to CBs (and thus the speed at which you can complete them).

Also, many Campaign Missions would be supportive rather than direct in nature. Like, dominating a Trade node might give a Mission to embargo a rival, build Marketplaces, conquer provinces (esp power bonus provinces), or send more light ships. There are many ways to complete the Campaign. Unfolding each of these into Objectives is awkward because you don't need to do all of them.
 

AluminumSoldier

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I really like this idea. The player would get it intuitively.

The real issue is the AI, so I think having a similar concept as their historical idea set would help them cope with the mechanic better. That is, have a preset list of campaigns that each nation would take in order. The more important nations could have a custom list, and the minors would get a generic set, all with the goal of directing their behavior to be effective at completing a campaign at their size/power, with historicity as a concern but not a priority, except in certain cases. Another idea would be to weight the campaigns with different factors that would affect the AI's choice of campaign, but I personally would prefer a set list, because predictability tends to help the AI perform better, in my experience. The list would be moddable, of course.

I see a campaign as more than just an expanded mission system, though. It should be more in depth, and should reward a nation for investing itself in a certain direction. A nation that completes military and conquest campaigns, for instance, should receive bonuses to its military, trade campaigns would improve the capacity of the nation for trade over time, etc. The goal being that over time, a nation that invests much of its time in a certain area would become better at that area over time. This would allow a nation that might be railroaded by its idea group toward a certain area to head in a different direction, and eventually excel in it just as a nation that is naturally focused in that area would.
 
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josh127

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The real issue is the AI, so I think having a similar concept as their historical idea set would help them cope with the mechanic better. That is, have a preset list of campaigns that each nation would take in order. The more important nations could have a custom list, and the minors would get a generic set, all with the goal of directing their behavior to be effective at completing a campaign at their size/power, with historicity as a concern but not a priority, except in certain cases. Another idea would be to weight the campaigns with different factors that would affect the AI's choice of campaign, but I personally would prefer a set list, because predictability tends to help the AI perform better, in my experience. The list would be moddable, of course.
At the end of net.split's description is the mention of AI with the option for a historical and strategic mode. I feel that is a great fit for it that models the route ideas have gone with the addition of random nations. Historical could be like you said done through a list or something similar, while strategic (or dynamic?) would be purely based on the situation. It could simply be an option at the start as well meaning people could have a choice on how they wanted the AI to act.

I see a campaign as more than just an expanded mission system, though
And that's where I find the real beauty in BaronIronmaggots original suggestion. :)

Yes, it could replace the mission system but there's just so many more areas of the game that it seems it can improve. It just seems like a perfect fit, but of course there's no guarantee that it's great from a software development standpoint. There could be gotcha's we're not aware of (of course, Paradox if you like the idea but there are gotchas involved, I'm sure we'd be happy to brainstorm routes around it).
 
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net.split

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I see a campaign as more than just an expanded mission system, though. It should be more in depth, and should reward a nation for investing itself in a certain direction. A nation that completes military and conquest campaigns, for instance, should receive bonuses to its military, trade campaigns would improve the capacity of the nation for trade over time, etc. The goal being that over time, a nation that invests much of its time in a certain area would become better at that area over time. This would allow a nation that might be railroaded by its idea group toward a certain area to head in a different direction, and eventually excel in it just as a nation that is naturally focused in that area would.
I actually prefer to reward a nation just for selecting a particular campaign by firing events and changing costs for things to make completing the Campaign more viable. This is of particular importance to the AI; it functions sort of like conditional AI bonuses, only it would be available for all nations (including the player).

For example, consider a Campaign to improve relations with the nations around you. Let's say to complete it, you need more than 50% of the nations you share borders with (including sea zones and subject states) to have greater than a +100 opinion of you (and it can't fire if you have too few neighbors, if they all already like you, etc). With no mods, this could be one of those Campaigns that never ends; if you can't get relations higher by simply sending diplomats and giving a bit of gold, you might be stuck unable to ever bring the Campaign to conclusion.

However, taking the Campaign might improve your diplomatic options immediately. If you're sending gifts to targeted nations, perhaps you can get +50 instead of just +25 by giving more cash. Maybe you get a small relations boost (+10 or so) with all those nations automatically since you're clearly not plotting against them (right now). Events providing temporary boosts to opinion / reputation or reduction of existing AE would be more likely to fire.

Not saying this specific implementation is well thought-out (made it up as I went), but I hope it conveys the idea. The current Mission system will often stick you with goals that you can't complete (like achieving religious unity when your missionary strength is too low), then don't do much to help you with it (annoyingly the war missions are an exception; conquest remains the easiest thing to actually do).

If that seems overpowered, note that selecting a Campaign should also put penalties on you for going in a direction opposed to the Campaign's goals. For example, the Diplomacy Campaign described above might impose an additional -1 Stability on all declarations of war you make while the Campaign is active, valid CB or not (except maybe Enforce Peace?). Or, it could double war score costs, AE acquisition, and DP costs in peace deals. You might get events imposing temporary manpower loss, morale penalties, or more expensive military tech. It could even impose a persisting -1 military MP for the duration of the Campaign.

In this manner, completion of the Campaign isn't the point. It is in fact its own reward, as you've accomplished an important strategic goal that you set for yourself by taking on the Campaign to begin with. Rather, Campaigns would modify the strengths and weaknesses of your nation to help you (and especially the AI) pursue specific goals successfully.
 

Maq

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Recently, I've participated in discussion on what to do with those enormous riches the player usually gets in middle/late part of the game. And this has lead naturally to another problem: Yes, we can easily make par example army maintenance more expensive. The problem is, that human player is insanely rich, while AI controlled countries are not. So, if we make the national budget more difficult to maintain balanced, wouldn't that lead to pandemic financial collapses in AI controlled countries?

That leads me to an idea of making AI a bit smarter through missions. Most missions are targeted on external issues. If not directly towards war, then to diplomatic preparations for more distant wars. But what if we use the missions as a potentially powerful tool to make AI more intelligent internally? After all, we all know that we can start conquest only when we're internally fit for it. When we are not in debt, inflation is low, manpower pool is near to full, good stability, and so on. We also know that there are some long-term prerequisities for that, like buildings, high trade income, etc.

So, my point is to implement missions that would deter AI from stupid behaviour. Par example: If a country is in massive debt, a mission would fire, which will change ai_personality to 'diplomat', make AI disbanding some troops (given in per cent of forcelimit), stop building construction for the time needed, improve diplomatic relations with those who are likely to attack, and such.

Similarly, the mission triggers could reflect other situations which require attention, and an experienced player does pay attention to them, but AI seems not to be smart enough. Basically, I imagine a set of missions which will make the AI make more money and not to rush into war when not fit for it. Making the AI more formidable opponent!

My ideas described here do not contradict anything that has bees said here. It's a complementary suggestion.

I have one question, too: It concerns ai_personality. I believe it's a mighty tool. Yet I can't find out how to treat it properly. It is assumed that it changes on new monarch and lasts till he/she dies (or is replaced through election in republics). If I let a mission (or event) change ai_personality, how long will it last?
 

josh127

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My ideas described here do not contradict anything that has bees said here. It's a complementary suggestion.
Absolutely. To me it sounds like the suggestion that some campaigns could target internal development, especially in the area of fixing up finances. I totally agree with having options for internal development campaigns. As far as fixing up finances though, only Paradox knows if it would help resolve that. Still, if that's not enough, there's probably other things that can be added in. :)

(By the way, I like the addition of other uses for campaigns. It's a really flexible idea and hopefully seeing more uses might give Paradox ideas. :))

I have one question, too: It concerns ai_personality. I believe it's a mighty tool. Yet I can't find out how to treat it properly. It is assumed that it changes on new monarch and lasts till he/she dies (or is replaced through election in republics). If I let a mission (or event) change ai_personality, how long will it last?
It's supposed to represent the leader's personality so I've always assumed that it runs to the death of the leader and is then re-evaluated. I've never questioned it to look into whether that was the way it worked or not though. Although, it sure would be nice if leaders instead of having a single minded personality had a small and simple list of traits that could be influenced over the course of the game, possibly even impacting the MP. If so, what currently is a personality could be just one trait of a leader and give bonuses to MP in a more organic form of national focus.
 

Maq

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Although, it sure would be nice if leaders instead of having a single minded personality had a small and simple list of traits that could be influenced over the course of the game, possibly even impacting the MP. If so, what currently is a personality could be just one trait of a leader and give bonuses to MP in a more organic form of national focus.
I think slightly differently on this particular point. Let's assume the real character of a person does not change that much. But as time goes, he/she must somehow reflect the actual situation. If a king is warmonger, and manpower pool is empty, he should be able to recognize it and pay attention to other tasks.
And this, I believe, is where a mission could fire and 'teach' the ruler: Now's not a good time for wars, adopt a new policy. Be it ai_diplomat or ai_administrator or else depends on other factors. But keeping ai_militarist is at that very moment pure nonsense.
Again, my main concern is to make AI smarter. When the country is ready for war, then, of course, the 'conquest' mission may fire again, the ai_personality would turn back militarist, and the king may enjoy his wars.
Perhaps I'll have to do some testing to learn how to handle ai_personality through events and missions.
 

Mauer

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I like this idea very much, I've always said missions need a complete overhaul now that the game has expanded so much elsewhere. It reminds me of CK2's "Become king of X" ambition a bit, maybe they could even be called ambitions instead, since campaign may be associated with a military campaign in a game like EU4.

What about unfinishable campaigns? Maybe when you selected it it made perfect sense but now the geopolitical situation has changed and you want to focus elsewhere. I think it'd be good to have an option to cancel it without penalties if you've completed some 50% of it, but you also don't get any rewards other than the events/missions you got along the way.
 

Maq

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What about unfinishable campaigns? Maybe when you selected it it made perfect sense but now the geopolitical situation has changed and you want to focus elsewhere. I think it'd be good to have an option to cancel it without penalties if you've completed some 50% of it, but you also don't get any rewards other than the events/missions you got along the way.
Frankly, I'm not that interested in missions for human player. He/she knows pretty well what to do and what he/she would like to. Once accomplished, it's a reward in itself.
So, I'm somehow missing the point of following missions, as well as Ironman achievements, which are often more amusing than reasonable.
AI, on the other hand, desperately needs a guide. I believe missions can be very instrumentál in that.
 

josh127

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maybe they could even be called ambitions instead, since campaign may be associated with a military campaign in a game like EU4.
I think of it more as a national focus, but they used that term already. :(

Totally agree there would need to be a way to cancel it. Depending on how they were implemented, they might need some sort of time limit as well.


Frankly, I'm not that interested in missions for human player. He/she knows pretty well what to do and what he/she would like to
Plenty of people do like short and mid range goals though, and they should have the option too. Part of the idea is to add flavor through more organic methods. "Get a presence in India" could mean a whole lot more than "here's some claims, declare war and you're done". It can be a series of colonies to get range, so that when you finish you've actually accomplished something. For some this can add flavor, even historic flavor as long as historic campaigns are made available. For new players, this can help as a guide to options they have of things to do. Since campaigns would yield benefits, it's also a strategic move to choose to follow them. And yes, I do agree that a lot of time the gains are their own reward, so a lot of campaigns would need a small end "prize" just like a conquest mission gets you not much today, but does give you the CB you needed.

I don't think people should be forced to use them any more than you're forced to use missions today. Instead, I'd hope that they had an incentive that made people want to use them like some missions have today (and others have no incentive whatsoever).
 
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Maq

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I don't think people should be forced to use them any more than you're forced to use missions today. Instead, I'd hope that they had an incentive that made people want to use them like some missions have today (and others have no incentive whatsoever).
Oh yes, I agree. As long as missions are voluntary options, your arguments are perfectly valid.