Ancillary

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It's pretty safe to say, based on comments by the devs, that a diplomacy/espionage rework will round out the Total Stellaris Revamp trilogy after Cherryh and Le Guin. When that happens, I hope leaders get another look as well.

With the current version (and with Le Guin, as far as I know) leaders feel static and limited from a roleplay perspective, much like planets and pops did under the tile system. What could alleviate this? Consider the course of a game where the following rule changes have taken place:
  • By default no leader is restricted in the job he or she can be assigned. (For clarity, I'm going to use the term "position" instead of "job" going forward to distinguish from pop jobs.)
  • Leader traits specific to certain positions are minimized and replaced by personality, background, and ethics-based traits that can apply modifiers across multiple positions.
  • The number of position types is expanded to include roles like spy, tourism/immigration coordinator, or ambassador. Empire-specific positions could exist depending on chosen ethics, civics, and policies (for example, a bishop in a spiritualist empire or a CFO in a megacorp).
  • The leader recruitment pool now consists of active characters residing in your empire who simply lack an official position in the ruling government. They can interact with factions, work for or against your interests, and perhaps even form a shadow government.
  • Relatedly, a leader removed from a position does not disappear forever; instead he or she returns to this pool.
  • All leaders will feel a certain level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction towards the empire based on their personality and ethics, the empire's policies, and recent events.
  • A disgruntled leader can be turned against your interests by outside powers; he or she can even defect to another empire.
  • All leaders upon generation are assigned a same-species pop somewhere in your empire from which they come. This pop's occupation, stratum, and ethics will determine some (but not all) of the leader's traits. A leader's pop can promote or demote, undergo modification, flip to a different planet or empire if emigration push is strong enough, or even be wiped out. All of these events can have an effect on the leader.
Does any of this fire your imagination as it does mine? I've written a fake mini-AAR to examine how some of these systems might play out:
Emily MacDonald was born to humble farmers of New Roanoke in the remote border system Manward. In the highly stratified Idyllic Kingdom of Terra such an inauspicious beginning would normally merit no notice. However, young Emily proved that she was more than a diligent worker; she exhibited a rare genius for handling matters of administration and logistics. At age 34, after graduation from a provincial academy and several years directing bulk trade at one of the semi-public merchant houses, she came to the attention of the sublime empress, who appointed her governor of a newly-settled resource-rich sector.

This unorthodox commission angered the more autocratic members of the government. In particular, it was the last straw for Klaus Fischer, head of Terran engineering research, who was already disgruntled by previous imperial policy changes. Two years after Emily took her post, a spy from the neighboring Luchekk Compact secured Klaus's defection; he brought to the struggling avian empire key insights into several technologies they lacked.

In any case, Emily took to her new position with enthusiasm. The pacifistic outlook she had inherited from her parents agreed with general imperial policy, and her talents and disposition were well suited to overseeing the farming and mining colonies under her purview.

Everything changed when the blood court of the Merope Cleansers declared an extermination war on the Terrans. Within six years, the Idyllic Kingdom managed to stabilize its borders and secure a temporary truce, but not before the Meropians had reduced New Roanoke to radioactive rubble. Nearly all of Emily MacDonald's family and childhood friends died in nuclear fire.

In reaction to such trauma some people might have turned militant or xenophobic. Emily, however, withdrew into herself. She turned to spiritual matters, meditating on the sanctity of organic life and encouraging other to follow her in contemplation. Naturally, the productivity of her sector suffered, and the empress decided to replace her with an eager up-and-comer from the resort world Arcadia.

Emily spent the rest of her life working with the Hallowed Temple Union, seeking new converts to the cause. Though this faction never achieved official recognition within the Idyllic Kingdom of Terra, their sheer numbers eventually persuaded a later emperor to institute a kingdom-wide ban on artificial life. But that's another story.
 
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BlackUmbrellas

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My "quick fix" idea for leaders:
  1. All leaders must be physically assigned to an in-game location, including governors and research scientists.
  2. Reassigning leaders no longer happens via teleportation, but rather a "VIP shuttle" civilian vessel.
  3. Leaders that have become "Faction Heads" cause faction unrest if they are fired/killed/die of unnatural causes.
This would make players pay a lot more attention to their leaders and make them mechanically invested in their wellbeing. You could certainly elaborate on this more, like making it so you can't "fire" leaders at all, make them impart other modifiers to locations they're assigned, give them personal ethics and more traits... but at its core, I think this would be a serviceable solution on its own.
 

Ashantai

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Some good ideas. Going to shift to suggestions forum though @Ancillary
 

Jeffreyteciller

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Overall some great suggestion, and I really think these changes could spice things up a bit and make leaders feel more alive. However, a few things to consider:

- Having a pop by default be able to work as any position wouldn't really make sense, since these would realistically require very extensive education and whatnot. A good idea would be to have their background trait(s) determine which jobs they are eligible to work with, with some randomness thrown into the mix, and then you can pay some energy credits or influence or something to make them eligible to work in other positions too, so if you find a sadistic, aggressive and militaristic leader who's only qualified to be a scientist, which doesn't really benefit from those things too much, you could spend some resources so that he can become a great general or admiral.

- I think one of the points of the Le Guinn update was to make individual pops less, y'know, individual, so while having a leader be generated based on an existing pop is a really cool idea, having the game remember which specific pop belongs to which specific leader could potentially cause some lag, especially if there is a huge network of leaders in an empire. Instead, I'd suggest having leaders be assigned a planet instead, which could then affect the leader in different ways.

- Different government types would have different ways of dealing with disgruntled leaders, so while an egalitarian democracy can't really do much about it, other than not hiring them and suppressing their faction, a militaristic/authoritarian dictatorship could have the option to assassinate or even just execute such leaders by spending some influence. This could also make shadow councils alot more interesting, as they could take the facade of liberty while actually killing those who oppose them in secret.

- I think we should think a bit more carefully about the different positions we want to add. While adding bishops and tourist coordinators sounds cool and all, they need to have some sort of impact on your empire, and not just give an empire-wide bonus to something that could easily be skipped. Adding positions just for the sake of adding positions isn't good, and if there is no good reason to add them then adding them would just make the game more tedious.

All-in-all I like your ideas, I'm just giving my own suggestions on how to improve them.
 

Ancillary

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Taking your points in order:
- Having a pop by default be able to work as any position wouldn't really make sense, since these would realistically require very extensive education and whatnot...
This is an issue I've considered, but didn't address in the post above for the sake of brevity. I'll do so now.

First, I don't think locking leaders in to certain positions is necessarily the more realistic option. There are real world examples of states successfully led by "Renaissance men" rather than credentialed professional bureaucrats. The Roman Republic famously relied on amateurs to lead its armies and govern its provinces.

What's more, I see the leader positions in Stellaris as high-level administrative, requiring skills that are somewhat transferable across domains. The governor isn't architecting buildings, the head scientist isn't manning the Bunsen burner, the fleet admiral isn't directing individual ship fire, etc. Rather they are all dealing with issues like logistics, resource allocation, policy, and strategy.

I do think the dichotomy between an amateur and professional ruling class should be modeled in the game, perhaps through the use of an empire policy. Choosing the amateur option would give the player more flexibility when assigning leaders and perhaps increase leader experience gain slightly, while the professional option would boost the effectiveness of leaders whose position matches their background.
- I think one of the points of the Le Guinn update was to make individual pops less, y'know, individual, so while having a leader be generated based on an existing pop is a really cool idea, having the game remember which specific pop belongs to which specific leader could potentially cause some lag...
I don't exactly follow your point here. Are you objecting solely on performance grounds? Granted I don't have a special insight into the Stellaris source code, but I don't see how associating a leader with a pop is a technical nightmare, but associating him or her with a planet is not.
- Different government types would have different ways of dealing with disgruntled leaders...
I like these ideas, especially giving Shadow Council an actual mechanic to use rather than just a stat modifier. Similarly, imagine if Cutthroat Politics allowed your leaders to undermine and assassinate fellow leaders in the way of their ambition.
- I think we should think a bit more carefully about the different positions we want to add...
Sure, nobody wants to see more tedious micromanagement.
 

Jeffreyteciller

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Taking your points in order:

This is an issue I've considered, but didn't address in the post above for the sake of brevity. I'll do so now.

First, I don't think locking leaders in to certain positions is necessarily the more realistic option. There are real world examples of states successfully led by "Renaissance men" rather than credentialed professional bureaucrats. The Roman Republic famously relied on amateurs to lead its armies and govern its provinces.

What's more, I see the leader positions in Stellaris as high-level administrative, requiring skills that are somewhat transferable across domains. The governor isn't architecting buildings, the head scientist isn't manning the Bunsen burner, the fleet admiral isn't directing individual ship fire, etc. Rather they are all dealing with issues like logistics, resource allocation, policy, and strategy.

I do think the dichotomy between an amateur and professional ruling class should be modeled in the game, perhaps through the use of an empire policy. Choosing the amateur option would give the player more flexibility when assigning leaders and perhaps increase leader experience gain slightly, while the professional option would boost the effectiveness of leaders whose position matches their background.
I view leaders more like high-ranking individuals within their specific fields, so scientist leaders would be someone who has written lots of scientific papers and whatnot. Therefore, I think that assigning your physics researcher to manage a fleet wouldn't really make sense, especially if they have little knowledge about the subject. That's why I suggested that leaders would have specific positions open based on their background and whatnot, but leaders would still almost 90% of the time have access to more than one position.

There's also that thing with people having free will(Some philosophers would argue that we don't but that's a different topic altogether), so it'd also make sense that some leaders would be a-okay with some positions but not be so fond of another.

I don't exactly follow your point here. Are you objecting solely on performance grounds? Granted I don't have a special insight into the Stellaris source code, but I don't see how associating a leader with a pop is a technical nightmare, but associating him or her with a planet is not.

Well, I also think that assigning leaders to pops seems more like tile system-talk, but my opposition was mostly based on performance.

The problem would arrive from the fact that there may be around one hundred habitable planets, while there could potentially be one hundred pops living on each of those planets. I don't know too much about programming either, and I definently don't know very much about the proper terminology, but a good way of visualising it would be like this:

Both planets and pops are programs, which have different functions and store different data to determine how they should behave. Adding a function for a program to do will make this system be run by every program of that type, so if we assign migration mechanics on a per-pop basis(like it is right now), then every pop will constantly check if it should migrate and where, so in the late game when there are hundreds of pops around the game starts to get slow because the game has to check the code behind this function all the time for each individual pop, even though the majority of them aren't going to migrate anytime soon. In Le-Guinn there will instead be a push-pull mechanic determined on a per-planet basis, with one of the motivations being to reduce lag in the late game

So, if we were to create a function on a per-pop basis which assigns leaders to a pop and affects the leader in some ways based on what happens to said pop. This function probably wouldn't be as advanced as the migration mechanics, but since a huge amount of programs(pops) would be the function alot, this would slow the game down, and even pops that don't have any leaders assigned would be contributing to this, because they're still running the function.

I bet every programming-adept person who read that wants to stab me in the back, because I probably got alot of technical things wrong. Speaking of stabbing people in the back...

I like these ideas, especially giving Shadow Council an actual mechanic to use rather than just a stat modifier. Similarly, imagine if Cutthroat Politics allowed your leaders to undermine and assassinate fellow leaders in the way of their ambition.

Aggreed, especially if individual leaders could peform those assassinations independently of the player, albeit quite rarely.

Also, on an unrelated note, leaders who aren't politically active(members of a faction or hired by the government) should still be "redrawn" every ten years or so so they don't clog up the leader pool. Some special leaders could be exceptions to this though, like the chosen one
 

Ancillary

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To clarify, I have a background in programming, just not in programming Stellaris. I work with functional and object-oriented languages in a business setting which isn't the same thing as C++ game development, but I think many of the same principles hold. Generally, there isn't going to be a dedicated thread running on every object in the game in case it needs to update some part of its state. This sort of thing can be accomplished through an asynchronous message queue or a polling thread that runs periodically. Just think of the thousands of events in Stellaris right now with their own individual triggers and MTTH. I wouldn't want to speculate on specifics since I'm entirely ignorant of the Clausewitz engine, but I'm pretty sure the technical barrier for such a gameplay system would be low.

Perhaps you feel that Le Guin has abstracted pops to the point that a leader-pop pairing no longer makes sense? I don't think that's the case. Pops still have individual ethics (and now stratum, too, as seen when they refuse to do jobs beneath their station). They can change jobs. They can be killed by bombardment.

The only wrinkle here is emigration since pops no longer leave their planet of origin; they only contribute to emigration push. That's fine. Just have an event fire occasionally that flips a leader's home pop from a pop on an emigrant-pushing planet to a newly-created same-ethics-and-stratum pop on an immigrant-pulling planet.
 

Jeffreyteciller

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To clarify, I have a background in programming

Well now I feel pretty dumb. I only know the backbones of programming, and like to read the source codes of some open source games from time to time, so if you say that such a system can be developed without causing any lag then I think you are the better authority on the subject

Anyways, I'mma shrug off that embarrassment and go back to critiquing the pop-assigned leader system

In your idea, pops are more or less meant to show the place/people they grew up in/with, but since pops in Le Guin will be assigned to jobs instead of tiles this would have some odd implications. This was already a problem in the tile system, with the way how one building was worked by one pop, but I don't think that validates us to keep that problem.

Also, pops will actually "leave" their planet of origin if the push from the planet is much greater than the pull towards it, in the sense that pops will be removed from the planet. I didn't even think about this, but you could imagine that this could cause some problems with pops with leaders assigned to them, like if the game wants to remove a pop that has a leader assigned to it, which would cause problem, so the game would have to make pops with leaders assigned to them, but every once in a blue moon you'd end up with a planet with high push and where every pop has a leader assigned to it(because leaders are uncapped in Le Guin), so the game would be trying to remove a pop, but it can't, so we'd have to work around all of that too...

Basically a planet-assigned leader would be easier implemented and cause less problems, while having much the same effect.
 

Ancillary

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Don't feel dumb, and don't yield solely to an appeal to authority. I could be off-base about the capabilities of the Stellaris engine, but I don't think I am.
In your idea, pops are more or less meant to show the place/people they grew up in/with, but since pops in Le Guin will be assigned to jobs instead of tiles this would have some odd implications. This was already a problem in the tile system, with the way how one building was worked by one pop, but I don't think that validates us to keep that problem.
I don't know what you mean by "odd implications." I think the pop job is more than sufficient at conveying background. Farmer pop means "grew up in a rural community." Researcher pop means "grew up in a university town." Clerk pop means "grew up in an urban slum." And so on.
Also, pops will actually "leave" their planet of origin if the push from the planet is much greater than the pull towards it, in the sense that pops will be removed from the planet.
That's a great catch. I hadn't thought about the corner case of natural pop decline. Still, I'm pretty sure the game can distinguish pop decline caused by emigration versus starvation or bombardment. It shouldn't be hard to script around.
Basically a planet-assigned leader would be easier implemented and cause less problems, while having much the same effect.
I disagree that it would have the same effect; a lot of the potential for storytelling and simulation would be lost. What is a leader's social class? What opportunities did he or she have for education? Where did his or her ethical outlook originate? What fellow leaders would he or she tend to befriend or despise? Could a leader have divided loyalties because of family connections in another empire?

One possible hybrid approach that might satisfy your objections: The leader's background and traits could based on a specific pop at generation, but that's it. Any subsequent events that affect the pop would not affect the leader and vice versa. This would retain most, if not all, of the simulatory nuances that interest me with this system.
 

sdijkens

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Im reading some quite interesting iterations concerning characters over here and would especially like to see this point:
I think we should think a bit more carefully about the different positions we want to add. While adding bishops and tourist coordinators sounds cool and all, they need to have some sort of impact on your empire, and not just give an empire-wide bonus to something that could easily be skipped. Adding positions just for the sake of adding positions isn't good, and if there is no good reason to add them then adding them would just make the game more tedious.
taken into consideration for pretty much any of the added content being it characters, rulers or rainbow planets for all I care. As long as the content being added has some new mechanics to them creating interesting dynamic game play that improves the general aesthetic of the game. Stellaris is full of so called "mechanics" that are basically resource bonuses in the form of +x% to y, and in the end they feel empty and bland, leaving everything up to the players imagination.

Stellaris has the basics of a good game in terms of mechanics which are fun to play around with but aesthetically it lacks this little bit of emotional engagement to completely immerse yourself. I feel like PDS could really break this status quo with the incoming updates concerning diplomatics. After all, characters and interactions are what makes games feel alive.

My 2 cents is: If you add characters/jobs/positions make them do things!
What things? Well, that's details that are best left to PDS imo.
 

Jeffreyteciller

Second Lieutenant
6 Badges
Oct 16, 2018
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One possible hybrid approach that might satisfy your objections: The leader's background and traits could based on a specific pop at generation, but that's it. Any subsequent events that affect the pop would not affect the leader and vice versa. This would retain most, if not all, of the simulatory nuances that interest me with this system

That was kind of my plan: leaders are generated based on a pop, but they are assigned to the planet of that pop, and don't remember which specific pop that generated them. If something happens to that planet later, like it gets destroyed by a colossus or suffers from crime, this could affect the leader in different ways, just like in your neat little story. They could change ethics, become defective against the empire, or gain or lose traits