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Nov 22, 2020
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Free pops for new colonies are bad for the game, for several reasons.

Most importantly, it can be exploited to create new pops via "colonize and abandon" tactics, which necessitated the introduction of the Influence cost for abandoning colonies (which however penalizes normal gameplay for the Doomsday origin and some conquest strategies). This Influence cost is only effective to the extent that empires do not produce excess Influence, and after the 3.3 Unity Rework empires produce excess Influence after the landgrab. Edit: the ability to abandon and recolonize for pops without paying Influence is also back, since automatic resettlement can abandon new colonies at no Influence cost.

Furthermore, it can be argued that having new pops appear out of thin air seems counterintuitive and unrealistic, and also limits the value of Nomadic and other traits relating to migration and population growth. Removing the free pops may also help slow down the game's progression slightly, and reduce the processor burden slightly.


A modest proposal

Colonization should not give free pops.
(This is a position that seems to be supported by many players.)

It would permanently end "colonize and abandon" tactics as a source of free pops, give the game a more "realistic" colonization system, increase the value of Nomadic and other traits affecting migration and population growth, and allow us to safely remove the Influence cost for abandoning colonies. As a bonus, the game would also lend itself slightly better towards Asimov and Blade Runner notions of interstellar colonization relying on large numbers of robots/replicants rather than humans. The lack of free pops would also mean slightly fewer pops overall, slightly reducing lag over the course of the game.

There are at least three ways in which these design goals could be achieved, as detailed below.
(If you happen to think of more ideas in this regard, feel free to share them.)


A migration-based alternative

Colonization relies on pop migration/resettlement instead of free pops.
  • New colonies start with 0 pops.
    • (Some coding sorcery may be needed to prevent automatic colony deletion before a pop arrives there.)
  • The already existing immigration pull and emigration push mechanics for colonization, or automatic/manual resettlement, do the rest.
Some implications of this solution would be:
  • The "Colonization rights" species policy can be removed, as colonization would now be based entirely on migration and resettlement. Removing the "Colonization rights" policy means one less species rights policy to keep track of, for both player and cpu (though the reduction to cpu burden is probably very small).
  • Colonization Fever (Expansion tradition) and Yuht Cryo Core (relic) need new effects, instead of granting +1 colonist. Perhaps a bonus to automatic resettlement chance and reduction to manual resettlement cost?
  • One benefit with this solution is that it would give results entirely consistent with policy settings regarding migration and forced resettlement. This could be an improvement on the current design in terms of consistency.


A relocation-based alternative

Colony ships relocate pops.
  • When a colony ship is built, a pop of the chosen species is "consumed". It is later "recreated" upon colonizing the new world.
    • The colony ship is effectively storing the pop while in transit to the new world.
    • The pop selected for relocation should never come from a 1-pop world. From the remaining worlds, it may be best if the pop is drawn from the world with the largest number of that species.
    • A way to focus the pop selection could be to construct colony ships on planets, rather than starbases, and then picking a pop of the chosen species from those available on that planet.
      • This can be compared to transport ships, which are also built on planets and have contents depending on locally available pops.
      • For non-Hive Mind empires, an upgraded capital building may be a reasonable requirement for constructing a colony ship. This might not only make some logical sense, but would also ensure that early-game colonization only draws pops from the homeworld.
  • Optionally, colony ships can transfer their pop to an already colonized world (at the usual colonist relocation cost).
    • This covers situations where there may be no planet left to colonize.
Some implications of this solution would be:
  • The game would remain more similar to how it is now (no 0-pop colonies).
  • Colonization Fever (Expansion tradition) and Yuht Cryo Core (relic) need new effects, but this could be as simple as increasing the number of pops being relocated by a colony ship. Or perhaps a bonus to automatic resettlement chance and reduction to manual resettlement cost?
  • Colonization using migration pacts needs a redesign to fit together with this new model.
    • Conservative solution: we can no longer colonize using species not present in our empire.
    • Populist solution: if an eligible pop is not present in our empire, the xeno pop is created for free.
    • Moderate solution: only if an eligible pop is not present in our empire, the xeno pop is drawn from a migration pact empire.
      (to prevent a nasty exploit, there could be a cap of 1 "immigrant" colony ship per empire)
      (alternatively, a variant of relocation-based colonization could be that a pop is relocated only once the colony is actually created, but this could cause other problems depending on the implementation)
    • Radical solution: we can trade colony ships with other empires.
  • A relocation-based alternative may be easier to reconcile with another suggestion, Colonization of distant worlds as self-governing vassals.


A growth-based alternative

Colony ships are "grown" by a colony.
  • Colony ships are constructed by colonies, rather than starbases.
  • Constructing a colony ship pauses the currently ongoing pop growth / assembly for the duration of the colony ship construction, which takes as long to complete as it takes to generate a pop of the selected species.
    • This growth time is modified by bonuses to pop growth from immigration.
      • Nomadic, Sedentary and Starborn traits.
      • Corvée System and Free Haven civics.
      • Land of Opportunity edict.
    • Pop growth and pop assembly can be added together to shorten the construction time.
      • If either of those means is not possible for the selected species, it should also not be affected by the pause.
    • For species available for colonization but not present on the planet, the construction time could be calculated using a different habitability rating than that of the world where the colony ship is being constructed.
      • This would cover species from other worlds in the empire, or available via migration treaties.
      • 60% (same-category planets) or 70% (habitats) may be reasonable.
      • This habitability rating should probably also be used as a "minimum habitability", before factoring in the Adaptive traits, for purposes of calculating colony ship pop growth. Colony ship construction for a species should not be faster in the physical absence of that species.
      • A simplistic alternative could be that all colony ship growth is treated as if 70% habitability applies. This would simplify the coding and give a bonus to adaptive species, but would also not encourage empires to do their colony ship construction on their most habitable worlds, such as the homeworld.
    • Optionally, constructing a colony ship could also be restricted to colonies with an upgraded capital building (for non-Hive Mind empires).
  • Optionally, colony ships can transfer their pop to an already colonized world (at the usual colonist relocation cost).
    • This covers situations where there may be no planet left to colonize.
Some implications of this solution would be:
  • The game would work very similarly to the way it currently works, using only a pause in pop growth to ultimately prevent extra pops being given for free. No 0-pop colonies, no pops being randomly "consumed" by a colony ship.
    • This alternative means that for much of the early game, the homeworld of a species will remain the best place to construct colony ships for that species, due to the 100% habitability.
    • This alternative also means that Nomadic species would be faster colonizers, while Sedentary species would be slower.
  • Colonization Fever (Expansion tradition) and Yuht Cryo Core (relic) need new effects.
  • This alternative may also be easier to reconcile with the other suggestion mentioned above, Colonization of distant worlds as self-governing vassals.
    • Nomadic species being faster colonizers would be especially significant with that change.
 
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Possible alternatives for colony ships, beyond this suggestion

With the changes above, there is no longer any point in assigning a colony-founding species to a colony ship under the current game design for colony ships. This can be handled in several different ways. The examples below are not part of the proposal above, and are only mentioned to highlight potential futures for anyone who likes to read the thoughts of others on such things.

Example 1, conservative:
Keep things as they are, just removing the species selection from colony ship creation.

Example 2, moderate:
There is no longer any significant game design reason why the colony creation task must be performed by a separate, special type of ship with only one purpose and very limited time of existence in the game. Colony ships could be removed and leave colony site construction to construction ships. For human players, this would mean reduced clutter in the ship construction menu. For AI players, it may be possible to simplify and improve colony creation decisions once the process no longer requires the construction of a special ship type - in contrast with colony ships, every empire can reasonably be expected to have a few construction ships around and ready to go at once. This could, theoretically, improve AI performance while simultaneously reducing cpu load.
(The Calamitous Birth origin would have to be slightly redesigned or get an AI exception.)

Example 3, ambitious:
A variant of option 2. Colony ships are kept but reimagined as representing colonization beyond an empire's current ability to support the colony. Colony ships represent self-sufficient expeditions equipped and prepared to manage a colony on their own for decades until the growing empire finally reaches their location. Colony ships would create new, same-species empires beyond your current borders, starting out as vassals - unless they are formed by dissidents seeking a new life beyond your reach (via private colony ships). Depending on the galaxy settings, this could produce maps where the core empires have a number of smaller, related empires inbetween each other, allowing the galaxy to develop in a great number of ways.
(Vassals created in this manner should not get empire names that involve their species name, but rather be limited to names referencing the star or planet.)
 
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I like this suggestion because it also means that if you choose to colonize 20 planets at once from your 1 planet homeworld, you don't suddenly have +40 pops. You have to actually grow pops (and it does go faster, thanks to immigration, but it's not instantaneous and it actually takes effort from the homeworld).
 
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How about this:

- Colony ships cost an existing pop (or two), selecting unemployed pops first, then Clerk job pops, and so on. They never choose pops from a newly founded colony, and if you only have newly founded colonies then you can't build a Colony Ship.

- You can land a Colony ship on an existing colony to put those pops in that colony. This is inefficient but it means you don't waste pops if you can't settle where you had intended.

- When you sign a Migration Pact, what happens is you build a colony ship of your species for the other empire, and they build one for you. You can keep doing this if they have more species, or if you want more colony ships of their species (and they want more from you).


It would still be beneficial to make colonies, but it's costly since your homeworld population -- where your pops are most productive -- is reduced each time.
 
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How about this:

- Colony ships cost an existing pop (or two), selecting unemployed pops first, then Clerk job pops, and so on. They never choose pops from a newly founded colony, and if you only have newly founded colonies then you can't build a Colony Ship.

- You can land a Colony ship on an existing colony to put those pops in that colony. This is inefficient but it means you don't waste pops if you can't settle where you had intended.
It would still be beneficial to make colonies, but it's costly since your homeworld population -- where your pops are most productive -- is reduced each time.
I suppose that could also work, as long as the +1 pop modifiers are removed. Destroying a colony ship should then also be considered a very bad thing to do, perhaps even count as a genocidal act as far as Xenophobe ethics attraction is concerned.

Not sure about the Migration Pact thing though.
- When you sign a Migration Pact, what happens is you build a colony ship of your species for the other empire, and they build one for you. You can keep doing this if they have more species, or if you want more colony ships of their species (and they want more from you).
How exactly would that work?
If another empire starts building a colony ship for your species, you are automatically forced to also build one for theirs?
Would a population swap still make sense if either empire's policies outlaw forced resettlement?
 
Picking a species would just be choosing a first pop, immigration still needs to pick a specific species to grow. Migration should kick in once the ship has landed resulting in the bar being the migrating pop, and ending once you have a whole pop. Colony development speed should be replaced with pop growth from Migration ala Nomads, that way those bonuses are relevant for colonization and don't lose as much value over time. I also think that colony ships should only be buildable in systems with inhabited planets and cause the pop growth on that planet to decline as if they were emigrating to the colony ship. Expansion tradition could also increase pop growth from migration on new colonies (up to 10 pops) and perhaps bonus emigration from developed colonies (instead of the straight pop growth reduction they take), and allow an instant resettlement of any unemployed pop to the new colony.
 
I suppose that could also work, as long as the +1 pop modifiers are removed. Destroying a colony ship should then also be considered a very bad thing to do, perhaps even count as a genocidal act as far as Xenophobe ethics attraction is concerned.

The same level of badness as killing a pop on a planet via selective bombardment, which won't kill the last 21 pops but can kill any above that number.

Not sure how bad that should be, but just keep it the same and I'm on board.

How exactly would that work?
If another empire starts building a colony ship for your species, you are automatically forced to also build one for theirs?
Would a population swap still make sense if either empire's policies outlaw forced resettlement?

I mean, how does a colony ship work today in an empire with no forced resettlement? The colonists are going to be settled wherever you put them. They didn't sign up for this, you just built a ship and they were forced onto it until it was full. (Or they're on that ship voluntarily AND the migration pact people are migrating voluntarily, both are fine just as long as they're equally "forced".)


The other empire can't build a ship of your species until they have your species in their empire, since building a colony ship always costs a pop, so signing a Migration Pact costs the appropriate resources for a colony ship of that species, which you pay (and they pay). Then, both of you lose a pop, and both of you get a colony ship of the chosen species.

The easy way to do this would be to just magically create the ship in your home system, and their ship of your species in their home system, with no particular realism of the voyage or travel time.


I would also allow Migration Pacts to let unemployed workers migrate between empires, but not allow random species to grow everywhere across all the empires. You need a seed population of each species before more of that species will grow. Refugees, auto-migration, and colony ships are how you get that seed population in place.
 
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Man, I love this vassal-state spawning idea.

Other than that, I'd argue that we don't need to build colony construction sites, we can just go to the planet colonize button and pay the price, and that starts the process.
 
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I have added a "colony ships carry pops to colonies" variant to the original post.
The important thing is that free pops from colonization get removed.
 
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I have added a "colony ships carry pops to colonies" variant to the original post.
The important thing is that free pops from colonization get removed.

Yeah, like in some of the Civ games where building a Settler reduces the size of the origin city.

Pay 1 pop -> get 1 pop elsewhere, later.

Totally worth it to double your growth, but it's at least got some up-front costs, and you can't spam them endlessly.
 
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Relocation based approach seems too complicated as ships are built at starbases which has no connection to colonies. Which pop getting chosen will be a major problem. Migration based should be much easier to implement.
 
An alternative could be to build colony ships on worlds instead of starbases, and restrict the pop selection to just that world.
Within a single world, it would not really matter much which specific pop gets taken (from the selected species).

It would also be consistent with transport ships being built on the planets they recruit troops from.
 
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An alternative could be to build colony ships on worlds instead of starbases, and restrict the pop selection to just that world.
Within a single world, it would not really matter much which specific pop gets taken (from the selected species).

It would also be consistent with transport ships being built on the planets they recruit troops from.

Excellent idea.

That's how ships were all built in 1.x so I know it's possible to build ships on a planet, and delaying the local build queue to put together a colony ship is a very clear representation of focus on expansion instead of domestic improvement.
 
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There is still problem pulling pop directly from colony. An extreme example is a habitat with only two pops of the same specie and identical trait, but joined different factions: one of them is at 100% approval and the other is at 0. Pulling the 100 approval pop will immediately devastate the colony.
 
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There is still problem pulling pop directly from colony. An extreme example is a habitat with only two pops of the same specie and identical trait, but joined different factions: one of them is at 100% approval and the other is at 0. Pulling the 100 approval pop will immediately devastate the colony.
A 2-pop colony does not seem like the place where one would build a colony ship. I am also not sure if the approval situation you describe is even possible in normal gameplay - both of those pops should have either specialist (colonist) or ruler jobs, and from those jobs they should be getting more amenities than they could ever need. The situation might be different if the angry pop is a slave, but it makes some sense that leaving a colony with a population entirely made up of angry slaves should be bad news for the empire's control of the colony.
 
if you only have newly founded colonies then you can't build a Colony Ship.
There is still problem pulling pop directly from colony. An extreme example is a habitat with only two pops of the same specie and identical trait, but joined different factions: one of them is at 100% approval and the other is at 0. Pulling the 100 approval pop will immediately devastate the colony.

You can't build a colony ship from a place that can't reasonably afford to send out enough pops to be colonists.

If you need to shoot yourself in the foot, you can still move that one happy pop away using Resettlement, but the colony ship mechanic shouldn't help you shoot yourself.
 
You can't build a colony ship from a place that can't reasonably afford to send out enough pops to be colonists.

If you need to shoot yourself in the foot, you can still move that one happy pop away using Resettlement, but the colony ship mechanic shouldn't help you shoot yourself.
The problem is the suggested implementation may shoot yourself in the foot because RNG.
When you have no control which exact pop is used to forge colony ship it's bad, period.
I don't want to pay for resettlement because bad RNG.

Also why can't anyone read?
There is still problem pulling pop directly from colony. An extreme example is a habitat with only two pops of the same specie and identical trait, but joined different factions: one of them is at 100% approval and the other is at 0. Pulling the 100 approval pop will immediately devastate the colony.
 
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The problem is the suggested implementation may shoot yourself in the foot because RNG.
When you have no control which exact pop is used to forge colony ship it's bad, period.

Also why can't anyone read?

Are you asking why you didn't see the answer to your question?

Because I quoted why your scenario can't happen.

If you're suggesting that the computer should not pick a 0-happiness pop as the colonist, that might be a valid addition, but honestly it looks like you're not trying to communicate anything as constructive as that.
 
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Are you asking why you didn't see the answer to your question?

Because I quoted why your scenario can't happen.

If you're suggesting that the computer should not pick a 0-happiness pop as the colonist, that might be a valid addition, but honestly it looks like you're not trying to communicate anything as constructive as that.
Or you can't plug a plot hole that is nigh impossible to solve.

How about this:

- Colony ships cost an existing pop (or two), selecting unemployed pops first, then Clerk job pops, and so on. They never choose pops from a newly founded colony, and if you only have newly founded colonies then you can't build a Colony Ship.

- You can land a Colony ship on an existing colony to put those pops in that colony. This is inefficient but it means you don't waste pops if you can't settle where you had intended.

- When you sign a Migration Pact, what happens is you build a colony ship of your species for the other empire, and they build one for you. You can keep doing this if they have more species, or if you want more colony ships of their species (and they want more from you).


It would still be beneficial to make colonies, but it's costly since your homeworld population -- where your pops are most productive -- is reduced each time.

  • There are people literally running 2 pop habitats as pop making backwater, what determines what count as a "newly founded" colony?
  • Does migrating using colony ship cheese the migration influence cost? What about migration specie rights?
  • The migration pact empire should not be obligated to trade colony ships. What if it's multiplayer and the other player just don't want to / can't afford?
 
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what determines what count as a "newly founded" colony?

In previous version, it meant not enough pops to upgrade the capital. What versions have you played? Maybe we can better help you if you tell us a bit about your background with this game.