Tannhäuser Cake

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Nov 22, 2020
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Leader level cap bonuses are nearly worthless for mortal leaders, unless you singlemindedly focus on lifespan extensions. There are two reasons for this:
  1. Higher levels require increasingly large numbers of experience points for the next level [see table 1 below], eventually reaching such amounts that mortal leaders are increasingly unlikely to ever reach them. If a leader level cap bonus never makes a difference, it is worthless.
  2. There are so many leader level cap bonuses that most can be ignored. When a total level cap bonus of +5 is all you need to reach the maximum level cap of 10, but you can reach a total leader level cap bonus of +13 or more [see table 2 below], it takes no special commitment to get the total level cap up to 10 and every level cap bonus beyond level 10 becomes worthless.

This is an issue that affects not just the values of traditions, policies , and leader traits. Worse, it affects high-cost sources such as species traits, civics, and ascension perks. Fortunately, #2 above is a design choice that can easily be changed for the better. This could go a long way towards making leader level bonuses feel more meaningful and engaging to collect.

The leader level system should be cleaned up in accordance with some important design principles:
  1. The leader level cap bonus sum should never exceed +5.
    • Since that is all that is required to reach the maximum leader level cap of 10.
    • The effect would be that the remaining leader level cap bonuses would all be necessary to reach level 10, which would make the bonus from the associated species trait, ascension perk, tradition or technology much more valuable.
    • Many of the current leader level bonuses need to be replaced with something else.
  2. Only permanent sources should provide leader level cap bonuses.
    • Otherwise, there may arise situations where the leader level cap drops below levels currently held by leaders.
    • Most civics and all ruler traits are not permanent in nature.
  3. The ability to reach level 10 should not depend on random sources.
    • Gating a high-end goal behind random luck would be bad design.
    • Ruler traits are random.
    • Access to the Neural Tissue Engineering technology is not guaranteed.
  4. The ability to reach level 10 should not require DLC content.
    • This currently concerns only the species trait Erudite.
  5. The most expensive sources, such as species traits and ascension perks, should also be the most impactful in this regard.
    • One way to accomplish this could be to require these for the highest levels.
  6. The leader level cap bonuses should come from different sources.
  7. It should be possible to achieve different leader level caps for different leader types.
    • This would mean that a science-focused empire might produce the best scientists, while not necessarily being able to produce the best generals, admirals, governors or rulers.
    • This allows empires to differentiate and feel more unique.
  8. Level cap bonuses that are removed or diminished should be replaced with bonuses to starting level, starting experience, or experience point gain.
    • This would make the sources of these bonuses more valuable than they are today.
    • This also has the benefit that level 10 gradually becomes slightly more achievable for normal mortals, thus further helping the remaining leader level cap bonuses become more worthwhile.

The actual proposal of this suggestion thread is the list of design principles above. Below is but one example for how it could work out:
  • Leader level cap bonuses:
    • +1 from species: Talented / Enhanced Memory
    • +1 from ascension: Transcendent Learning
    • +1 from technology: The Collective Self / Embodied Dynamism
    • +2 from tradition to specific leader types:
      • Scientists: Science Division (Discovery)
      • Admirals: War Games (Supremacy)
      • Governors: Colonial Viceroys (Domination)
      • Rulers: Privy Council (Domination)
      • Generals: Never Surrender (Unyielding)
    • (Alternatively, if we disregard guideline #2, civics could give type-specific +1 bonuses while the +2 from traditions is reduced to +1.)
  • Converted to starting level, starting xp, or xp gain bonuses:
    • Traditions
      • Mind and Body (Harmony)
      • Polytechnic Education (Discovery)
    • Technologies
      • Selected Lineages (non-machine non-Egalitarian policy); based on description, starting xp bonus would be best
      • Capacity Boosters (non-machine non-Egalitarian policy); based on description, starting xp bonus would be best
      • Neural Tissue Engineering (hidden technology)
    • Species traits
      • Erudite (genetic engineering, requires biological ascension trait)
    • Leader traits
      • Eye for Talent (organic rulers)
    • Civics
      • Meritocracy / Ruthless Competition / Pooled Knowledge / Factory Overclocking
      • Aristocratic Elite (governors)
      • Distinguished Admiralty (admirals)
      • Philosopher King (rulers)


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[TABLE 1]
Levels and experience point requirements:
Code:
01      0
02    200
03    475
04    825
05   1250
06   1750
07   2325
08   2975
09   3700
10   4500

[TABLE 2]
Sources of leader level cap increases in the current system:
  • +2 from species traits
    • Organic
      • +1 from Talented
      • +1 from Erutide (gated behind genetic ascension path)
    • Machine
      • +2 from Enhanced Memory
  • +4 from technologies
    • +1 from The Collective Self (non-gestals) or Embodied Dynamism (gestalts)
    • +1 from Neural Tissue Engineering (hidden technology).
    • +2 from Capacity Boosters or +1 from Selected Lineages
  • +1 from ruler traits
    • +1 from Eye for Talent
  • +2 from ascension perks
    • +2 from Transcendent Learning
  • +3 from traditions (only +1 for generals)
    • +1 from Polytechnic Education
    • +2 from type-specific bonuses via traditions (generals currently not included)
  • +1-3 from civics
    • +1 from Meritocracy, Ruthless Competition, Pooled Knowledge or Factory Overclocking
    • +1 for governors (Aristocratic Elite)
    • +1 for admirals (Distinguished Admiralty)
    • +2 for rulers (Philosopher King)
This equals a theoretical leader level cap bonus of +11 for generals, +13 for scientists, +14 for admirals, +14 for governors, and +15 for rulers.
 
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Tamwin5

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The trouble with current leader level cap is that every point becomes less and less valuable. Even if the hard cap at 10 were removed, this would still be the case.

The trouble with leader starting level is that every point becomes MORE valuable beyond the first. The first "+1 leader level cap" is worth 200 xp, the fifth is worth 1750 xp, more than 8 times as much.

So while I completely agree that leader level cap needs to be changed somehow, I don't think this is it. I'd be ok with adding starting leader level from only a couple of sources (say, species traits? Seems the most reasonable), or changing it to starting xp (like how ships and armies are done).

Another option would be to make every leader level cap over 10 give +10% xp to leaders, or something similar.

Ideally I'd also like to make Transcendent learning actually transcend something, rather then just being some leader bonuses. Having it be another source of starting leader level would be one option, another would be allowing it to surpass the level 10 hard cap on leader level, or add or upgrade traits in some way. With your current suggestion it's the only way to get level 10 leaders, so I suppose that's decent.
 
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Tannhäuser Cake

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Nov 22, 2020
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The trouble with current leader level cap is that every point becomes less and less valuable. Even if the hard cap at 10 were removed, this would still be the case.

The trouble with leader starting level is that every point becomes MORE valuable beyond the first. The first "+1 leader level cap" is worth 200 xp, the fifth is worth 1750 xp, more than 8 times as much.

So while I completely agree that leader level cap needs to be changed somehow, I don't think this is it. I'd be ok with adding starting leader level from only a couple of sources (say, species traits? Seems the most reasonable), or changing it to starting xp (like how ships and armies are done).

Another option would be to make every leader level cap over 10 give +10% xp to leaders, or something similar.

Ideally I'd also like to make Transcendent learning actually transcend something, rather then just being some leader bonuses. Having it be another source of starting leader level would be one option, another would be allowing it to surpass the level 10 hard cap on leader level, or add or upgrade traits in some way. With your current suggestion it's the only way to get level 10 leaders, so I suppose that's decent.

I thought long about bonuses to starting experience points, but I am inclined to believe that bonus starting levels are better, for three reasons:
  • An additional level has a constant value. Each level does not add more leader bonuses (research, unity et cetera) than the previous level did.
  • An additional experience point does not have constant value. The increasing distances between levels make the value of each additional experience point drop sharply.
  • At the same time, the difficulty / "price" of obtaining yet another starting bonus goes up. Getting one or a few starting bonuses would not be terribly difficult to do, but almost every increase involves a price being paid. Getting a large number of bonuses involves dedicating 1-3 civic slots, investing 2 racial trait picks worth 5 points, sacrificing 3 ascension perk slots, forgoing non-biological ascension paths, avoiding ethics that prevent one from having both Meritocracy and Capacity Boosters at the same time, beating everyone else to the psionic entity system, and dealing with the (probable) hurdles involved in obtaining a ruler with the Eye for Talent trait.
    (I would personally not be terribly willing to do the minmaxing required to get the maximum starting bonus under the system I suggested.)
With constant bonuses to starting experience points, we would still have a situation where the value of the bonus goes down while the price goes up. We would still have the problem that additional bonuses are nearly worthless beyond the first few. By keeping the value of the reward constant, we instead get a tangible reward for the sacrifice made (a civic slot, an ascension perk, a racial trait pick) regardless of whether it is the first or the fifth.
 

Tannhäuser Cake

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Nov 22, 2020
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The suggestion has now been simplified and updated to conform with the recent developer diaries.
The simplification means that the proposed solution has been relaxed and is now less specific,
regarding exactly what the to-be-removed level cap bonuses should be replaced with.
 

Ninjamestari

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Nov 16, 2016
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What if level cap bonuses were just treated as bonus levels? The leader would level up normally, but would be treated as a higher level than he actually is for the purposes of calculating leader bonuses; let's say you have the talented species trait and thus +1 bonus level; your leader would normally start at level 1, but for the purposes of calculating leader bonuses (and and for scientist anomalies and special projects) he would be treated as if he was actually level 2 leader, at level 2 he'd be treated as level 3 and so on and so forth. Now you don't even need a cap on these bonuses.
 
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Tannhäuser Cake

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I have considered that, but:
  • As far as I know, the game currently does not support direct level bonuses - only changes to level cap, xp gain, and starting xp.
    • Support for direct level bonuses could be added, of course, but that would require programming - while a solution that relies only on existing types of modifiers would only require modifying the game settings of the techs, civics, et cetera involved. If the solution only needs changes of settings, it needs less time and can be done by a developer even if they are not a programmer (the currently proposed solution could even be be made into a mod).
    • (If level bonuses have actually been used in the past, it obviously turns this whole point on its head as the code would probably still be in there somewhere.)
  • The current game design is that there are 10 levels, but bonus levels could necessitate levels beyond 10 being added, and I would not feel comfortable adding that here.
    • In this suggestion I am just pushing for the resolution of two problem, primarily the current worthlessness of individual leader level cap bonuses (due to the large number of them) and secondarily the worthlessness of high-end level cap bonuses for mortal leaders (due to short lives and insufficient xp gain). Increasing the maximum level would be a more far-reaching change, with implications for game balance that would require a lot more thinking, and I suspect that including it in the suggested solution would also reduce the chances of it being implemented.
That being said, I would not mind if leader level bonuses were added to the game.
 

GOLANX

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I have considered that, but:
  • As far as I know, the game currently does not support direct level bonuses - only changes to level cap, xp gain, and starting xp.
    • Support for direct level bonuses could be added, of course, but that would require programming - while a solution that relies only on existing types of modifiers would only require modifying the game settings of the techs, civics, et cetera involved. If the solution only needs changes of settings, it needs less time and can be done by a developer even if they are not a programmer (the currently proposed solution could even be be made into a mod).
    • (If level bonuses have actually been used in the past, it obviously turns this whole point on its head as the code would probably still be in there somewhere.)
  • The current game design is that there are 10 levels, but bonus levels could necessitate levels beyond 10 being added, and I would not feel comfortable adding that here.
    • In this suggestion I am just pushing for the resolution of two problem, primarily the current worthlessness of individual leader level cap bonuses (due to the large number of them) and secondarily the worthlessness of high-end level cap bonuses for mortal leaders (due to short lives and insufficient xp gain). Increasing the maximum level would be a more far-reaching change, with implications for game balance that would require a lot more thinking, and I suspect that including it in the suggested solution would also reduce the chances of it being implemented.
That being said, I would not mind if leader level bonuses were added to the game.
I think what he was saying is that your leaders would act like they have a the next level while the actual leader level works like you suggestion. So a meritocracy level 1 scientist starts with +2% survey speed, anomaly speed, research speed and +1 archaeology skill like he was a level 2 scientist but then still has the same level cap of 10 and reaches it at the same rate as another not meritocracy scientist.
 

BrokenSky

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Honestly I feel like if they just removed the maximum cap at 10 (setting it at something like 60, say, so there's basically no risk of ever hitting it no matter what new bonuses get added) and maybe made some of the more expensive options (e.g. traits) increase both cap and starting level (or alternatively cap and experience gain), that's probably solve most of the issue?
 

Tannhäuser Cake

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While raising the maximum level cap would resolve the issue of level cap bonuses being completely useless beyond level 10, there would still be the issue that species with normal lifespans usually don't reach level 10. Converting many of the current leader level cap bonuses to starting xp/level and xp gain bonuses would kill two birds with one stone; each remaining leader level cap bonus would become more rare, and at the same time level cap bonuses would become more useful as higher levels are reached.
 

BrokenSky

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While raising the maximum level cap would resolve the issue of level cap bonuses being completely useless beyond level 10, there would still be the issue that species with normal lifespans usually don't reach level 10. Converting many of the current leader level cap bonuses to starting xp/level and xp gain bonuses would kill two birds with one stone; each remaining leader level cap bonus would become more rare, and at the same time level cap bonuses would become more useful as higher levels are reached.

That would still mean that there were restrictions on how many bonuses could be added via expansion down the line (as well as by mods).
Additionally, increasing the cap enhances the value of increased lifespan and the experience boosts (especially if starting levels become more readily available).
(I do agree that some of the existing bonuses should be changed though, especially temporary things like eye for talent - which would make more sense as starting leader level or giving new leaders in the pool a chance of starting with adaptable in addition to their other traits).
 

GOLANX

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That would still mean that there were restrictions on how many bonuses could be added via expansion down the line (as well as by mods).
Additionally, increasing the cap enhances the value of increased lifespan and the experience boosts (especially if starting levels become more readily available).
(I do agree that some of the existing bonuses should be changed though, especially temporary things like eye for talent - which would make more sense as starting leader level or giving new leaders in the pool a chance of starting with adaptable in addition to their other traits).
It takes 5 seconds to raise the cap in the defines file, it's beyond easy, problem comes from stacking lifespan bonuses or attaining immortality for some empires that can fully use those leader level benefits, other empires (Psi Ascension) can't use the higher levels because pops don't live long enough.

The problem with starting exp bonuses is the exponential cost of leader levels reaching level 2 takes like 4 months reaching level 10 from 9 takes like 40 years. Imo empires should have ways of preserving their leaders experience, buffing up the newer generations. I'd also like to see Psi Ascension being able to reincarnate leaders as well.