Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations – Dev diary 6: Improved Diplomacy

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Johan

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In this week's dev diary I’m going to talk a bit about the diplomatic improvement that are coming for Wealth of Nations but first I'm going to mention something that was in the previous dev diary. In that one we announced the cardinal automation feature and while I think the feature is one of the more requested ones, the fact that it was going to be expansion only caused much debate. Expansion features have a tendency to always cause heated discussions and while free stuff is nice the people that buy the expansion pay for all the new features and we need to make sure people get what they pay for. This time however, we decided to use a novel approach, we made a poll (http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?770873-Community-Decision-on-WoN-1.6) where we listed some features that could go in the expansion. And now the verdict is in, in Wealth of Nations the cardinal automation is now going to be a free features, and the transfer trade power option is going to be expansion only.

On the this week's features! First; the above mentioned transfer of trade power. One deal that often tends to pop up in our multiplayer games is weaker countries promising their tradepower to larger countries, the weaker can not compete neither military nor very effectively commercially and the bigger maybe just wants the tradepower and does not seek new provinces (at the moment…). You could already steal tradepower in war but now you can also negotiate for it. Also the old enforced option was always 50% of the trade power, but the new negotiated one lets you choose between 0 and 100%. Finally, the person giving up trade power needs to get something tangible, so as long as trade power is transferred you can’t declare war on the giving party.

Now on to the situation where somebody refuse to give up their trade power and you don’t have a proper CB. Previously you could fabricate a claim to conquer provinces, if you buy the expansion you now get access to the ability to fabricate trade conflicts. It works in a similar fashion to Fabricate Claims but instead you get the new Trade Conflict CB that allows to gain the transfer trade power peace option cheaper. The wargoal for that wargoal is blockades so you can actually win a tradewar by claiming dominance of the seas.

Then there are two more peace options that we are adding to the paid expansion, these are enforce fleet basing rights and enforced military access so that friendly conversation is now not the only recourse to gain access to your opponents ports in your quest to dominate global trade.

Finally there is a rather big change that arrives as a free feature in the 1.6 patch (last time i checked it had even fewer votes, in the above mentioned poll, then the cardinal automation) and thats the changes in the rival system and the Power Projection mechanic. We felt now for a while that the rival system as implemented in EU4 was a bit underwhelming. We wanted the rival system to the diplomatic game some direction, to let players know who their enemies and friends where, who the enemies and friends of their enemies were and even more importantly create better communication between AI and human.

First of all, you can no longer pick whoever you want as a rival. Before people tended to use the rival system as a targeting mechanic, if you wanted to fight a weaker party you set them as rival. Now we have a picking mechanic, which incidentally is the same as when the AI picks rivals, that gives you a selection of nations that are serious competitors. In this list there should not be nations that are significantly stronger or weaker than yourself, also things like being a naval power plays a part.

Then, to measure how well you are fighting your rivals (if you name someone your official rival, if you fail to fight him you will look weak) we add Power Projection value. Power Projection is a value that gets added to for things you do to fight your rivals. For example you get Power Projection if you are embargoing a rival, if you send a warning to your rival or supporting rebels in a rivals nation. Another interesting example is that you get power projection for sending money to nations your rivals are fighting in a war. Those things I just mentioned are static and gives you positive power projection while they hold true. Then you have some dynamic sources of Power Projection that gives you a one time boost that will then decay over time, like a boost when you take provinces from a rival or when the rival loose a province to someone else in a war where you participate. You can lose power projection as well, you loose power projection for example if you lose provinces to your rival. The Rivals system is supposed to reflect actual rivalries in the world and bigger nations are expected to have more rivals (max 3 though) and if they have less than that their power projection will suffer. You can also not just change rivals whenever you feel like it, you can't change rival for 10 years after you picked it and it carries a significant Diplomatic Power cost, so think carefully about your choice. You can however not go under zero, so you would like to continue to ignore your rivals in the world, feel free to do so. If you on the other hand show the world that you can stand up to your rivals, you get increased defensiveness, trade power, military morale and legitimacy. And if you really manage to be active against your rivals you get the most interesting reward, if you have over 50 Power Projection you will get +1 monarch point of each type every month.

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That was it for this week, next week's dev diary will be about what you can expect when it comes to interface improvements from the free patch.
 

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Johan

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Wealth of Nations looks like a must-buy. Thanks for the update and ... is that Egypt we see set as Poland's rival in the screenie?

Very nice indeed.

Yes.. Its a screenshot from the current situation of our MP game at the office.
 

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There is no penalty for low power projection, it is purely an opportunity cost. You can play pacifist no worse off than before.
 

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The original design had penalties but we felt the system had too much negative impact on player choice that way so the stick was replaced by more carrot.
 

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Many mods currently significantly slow the game down. Presumably more complicated AI would have a similar effect.

In some cases yes, in other cases no. It all depends on how often calculations have to be made, how much iteration is required, and how much it calls on heavy functions like pathfinding and distance calcs (and even then, it can be mitigated with cacheing). It is of course a limiting factor, but the biggest problem in making an 'adult level, tougher, smarter, creative ai' is actually writing said AI. You want a 'creative' AI? How exactly do you define creative? The AI cannot come up with strategies of its own, those strategies have to be coded into it and then tested, tweaked, and re-written as they inevitably fail to take any of a thousand different situations into account.

Something people fail to understand about AI is that while the AI can make a million calculations a second, a lot of the things you take for granted as a human is not available to a computer: Intuition, imagination, improvisation. A computer has none of that. It can only work with the data it's given, it cannot infer where data is missing, and while this may not sound like that big a limitation trust me when I say that it is.

For example, let's say you're France and you're gonna invade Spain. A human can look at the ledger, see that Spain has 100k troops, that they're at war with England, and that they've recently lost a lot of transports and infer that a significant part of the Spanish army is probably stuck outside of Iberia. A computer either has to be given some form of algorithm to calculate the expected number of troops in Spain (which would quickly grow very complex) or simply cheat, peer through the fog of war, and get a number to work with. In short, for something that any human familiar with the game can do in two seconds, you either have to put down a huge amount of work or let the AI 'cheat'.

Now with that said, there are some rather nasty army AI bugs in the current version that are getting sorted out next patch, and as usual any big patch will contain a bunch of incremental improvements to the AI.
 

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I much prefer a better AI that cheats to a worse one which is pure. Especially in this situation. You tell me how we know precisely how many troops everyone has, and I'll tell you how the AI knows how many troops are in Iberia. AQlong the same lines, I'd consider giving the AI cheap/free, instant, temporary (call them rented) Civ-like transports when fighting overseas. Too often is seems that an ocean is annoying to me but any channel is huge hurdle to the AI.

It might not be feasible (if it implies coding two versions of the AI), but giving the player the option to give the AI cheats to make it act smarter looks good to me (as opposed to extra gold/MP/troops). Cheating drives some people crazy, I know. I quit playing CK2 altogether when my rebel enemy pulled an army out of his ass mid battle. Any wholly illegitimate move can feel like playing D&D with a GM who randomly kills you then shouts "I win!" Good job, dude, you've created a real challenge, you should be proud of yourself. But if the AI opponent does reasonably well, and feels legitimate, I personally don't care how he was created.

As a general rule of thumb, players aren't actually upset by AI cheating but rather noticing that the AI is cheating.