Livening Up Politics - Agendas

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Right now, Stellaris' internal politics model is a bit... dead. There are ethics, which are broad-brush, relatively static popular opinions, but they're too big and slow to change to make it feel like politics is going on - much like the factions, which just sit there giving constant modifiers to your empire. That's cool and all, but politics ought to be about things happening, on similar timescales to war - weeks and months, not decades. That's where the real action is.

Therefore, I propose a system I'll call 'Political Agendas'. These are ongoing, timed events (on the model of elections) representing political priorities whose 'time has come' - demands for a policy change, calls for pre-emptive war against an alien menace, calls for the end of said war, sector demands for independence, calls for revolution - that sort of thing. Most likely it would only be possible to have one going at any given time. Pops, factions, and characters would take stances for or against the active Agenda based on their Ethics and (in the case of factions) other priorities. Agendas would have degrees of popular support and opposition - a minor one might only have 10% of the population care about it either way, whereas a massive upheaval will see 90% or more of the population taking a side - which can be modified by spending Influence or by suppressing the pops on one side or the other.

Sometimes it might be possible to choose to resolve an Agenda - generally, carry out/stop the policy proposal within the time limit - at will; at other times, there might be conditions you need to fulfil to either carry out the proposal or prevent it from being automatically carried out, such as getting enough votes in the Senate (ie. bringing the right Factions or characters on-side with influence or bribes) or ensuring your favoured side has more popular support. (Elections would be one obvious example of the latter kind - the Agenda model would handle them very nicely.) The means available to change an Agenda's outcome would vary with your government type and the nature of the Agenda - a military junta might give generals and admirals the ultimate say over the outcome of ordinary Agendas, for example, while a democracy would give votes to Factions proportional to their popular support among citizens with voting rights.

If an Agenda is not going their way, however, Factions with the ability and willingness to do so might choose to escalate matters by initiating protests on planets, reducing production and shifting the balance of the Agenda in their direction. You could then, if you have the right government type, suppress these protests with troops, shifting the balance back - if the generals of the armies are willing to do it. If you order a general to suppress a protest and they refuse, they would thereby shift the Agenda's balance further in the protesting faction's direction.

The decision to start protests would depend upon factors pertinent to the Faction leader's 'loyalty to the system' - that is, the chance would be reduced by their sharing Ethics, particularly on the authoritarian-egalitarian scale, with the government type, by the percentage of their Pops who shared their position (if it's a minor Agenda, only a small percentage of them would actively endorse their Faction's position, with the rest remaining neutral), and especially by their Faction being democratically represented - but increased by their being treated as a second-class citizen, by having a majority of members of their Faction not represented, or by their having opposing Ethics to the government type. A general's decision whether to suppress a protest would depend upon whether they shared or opposed the protesting faction's Ethics and the Ethics of the government type, and whether the empire was at war (they would be more likely to put down unrest during wartime). If the general themselves were a member of the protesting faction, the chances of their not suppressing the protest would be much higher. Naturally, when the government system itself is at stake in the Agenda, many of the factors weighing against protest and refusal to suppress will be nullified.

The conclusion of an Agenda would make the Pops and factions on the side that got its way happier, and on the other side, angrier. Depending on the Agenda, there might be other benefits and risks, too.

Agendas could be initiated by the player spending Influence to launch them, but often they would arise spontaneously - Factions (which under this system would have their own supplies of energy and influence) would spend Influence to kick off their own Agendas. The Influence cost of initiating an Agenda would rise with the population of the empire and hence the number and Influence income of its factions, meaning that the player would never be overwhelmed with Agenda after Agenda hitting their desk. This rising cost would also simulate the difficulty of reforming a massive empire, forcing the player to become more involved in and reliant upon the Faction system as their empire grows. Techs and Traditions would then give the player new ways to manage this growth in difficulty.

Implementing the Agenda system would entail altering the other game systems in two main ways. First of all, changing policies, civics, species rights, and government types - which can be done at will right now, if the player hasn't done it for a while - would need an Agenda. Declaring war might even be subject to Agenda-based approval, under certain war policies. Secondly, rather than happy Factions feeding you a steady stream of Influence, Factions would reward you with lump sums of it from their stockpiles for carrying out Agendas they like - especially ones they initiated. (In order to make this system work, there would have to be a set of repeatable Agendas - policies that last for a set amount of time, possibly replacing some of the current Edicts.)

Moreover, once the game has an espionage system, Agendas - and Factions' attendant functionality - give spies and diplomats something to find out about and interfere in. There are obvious points of potential interaction with @Alblaka's Diplomacy 3.0 system - the beginning of negotiations might provoke a faction to set an Agenda to oppose the proposal. On top of all that, the ability to set Agendas could open up interesting gameplay choices. A cunning player might rule like Putin, for example - creating and promoting a 'Defeat Alien Menace' agenda, and then going to war with the target, winning popular support and conquering territory.

What this system would do, overall, is to give internal empire politics impact and drama. A change of government would feel like a revolution, rather than the barely-perceptible anticlimax of the current system. The transfer of power in a dictatorship might be as fraught as it is in the real world; contested elections might bring an empire to its knees. Factions would cease to be passive entities to be milked for Influence, and become active entities engaged in changing the direction of your empire. Stellaris' slow midgame would be enlivened by the player's trying to ride the changing winds of politics.

(This system could also be extended further - if a protesting Faction still isn't winning, they might then make the decision to begin a civil war. This would add to the Agenda the removal of the current leadership, and obviously also starts warfare within your borders, with ragtag troops rising up against your forces on planets. The Agenda would not time out until the war is over! Characters and Factions would pick sides in a similar manner to the decision process outlined above for initiating and refusing to suppress protests. The player, too, would have to pick a side to control - their survival in the game would then depend on their side winning. This additional system would be a lot more involved than the Agenda system as a whole, though, and wouldn't be needed to make it work.)
 
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Narva

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Additional points I forgot:
  • Factions would spend their Influence and/or Energy to promote/oppose Agendas - bringing Pops, Characters, and neutral Factions onto their side. (They might choose to save their resources for future use, though.)
  • Multiple policy, civic, etc. changes can be bundled into a single Agenda. The higher the skill of the proposer of the Agenda (either the Faction leader or the empire's ruler) the more changes can be packaged into one. Pops, factions, and characters would then ignore all the elements that don't matter to them and take their positions based on the average of their opinions of the bits they do care about. (Certain changes would always count as a single change if doing them one-by-one would make no sense, such as changing the status and conditions of multiple alien species in the same direction (ie. improving them all or worsening them all) to the same status & condition combo.)
  • Electoral mandates as they are under the current system would be replaced by making a particular Agenda free for the player to initiate.
  • Actions that affect the balance of an Agenda - Influence spends by the player or the Factions on it, for example - would extend the timer to give the other side time to respond.
  • Agendas could not only cover political changes - they could also act as 'quests', demanding the player (for example) build up a fleet of a certain size, or build a certain number of mining stations, within a certain time. Agendas of this type would probably have little opposition. Agendas of this sort might give the player the option to extend the deadline considerably, whilst increasing the penalty for failure.
There are also some possible mechanics for added player control that might be worthwhile:
  • If a Faction is happy enough with you, their reserves could become available to you to spend on influencing the balance of the Agenda in their favoured direction (although to be clear a Faction's resources could only be spent to promote the side of the Agenda they support).
  • Additionally, if a Faction supports you enough or if their leader is your ruler, you could gain control over which of their Agendas to promote and when.
 

Narva

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Any examples?
So suppose your empire is a democracy and you want to change default species rights on aliens from 'Undesirables' to 'Residency'. You would open the Species window, as you do now, and lay out the change you wanted to make as you would now - but once you'd done so, you'd be presented with a 'Propose Changes' button on the window, showing the Influence cost of putting the changes forth as an Agenda. The button's tooltip would show you relevant information about how likely it would be to pass - since you're a democracy, Factions' votes would be proportional to their membership, and you as leader would also have a number of votes - and the Influence cost to propose it.

So you click 'Propose Changes' and the Agenda is set. A (let's say) sixty-day countdown begins until the Agenda resolves. No other Agenda can be set until this one is concluded. It's presented as an icon dangling from the top bar. You can click on it to bring up its window, showing you its content, the balance of public opinion, and the votes of the relevant parties - in this case, Factions. On this window, you have the options to assign your votes to one side or the other, to add items to the Agenda up to your leader's skill level, to spend Energy on whipping up public support or opposition to it, or to pay Factions Influence to sway their votes.

So let's say you have a powerful Xenophobic faction (who are obviously dead set against the measure) and a few other factions - scientists, militarists, and trades unionists - who don't really care one way or the other. These latter factions will abstain unless their supporters are significantly more supportive of one side than the other. Now you've just spent a chunk of Influence on proposing this measure, and you want to colonise a new planet soon, so you don't fancy spending more on political manoeuvring in the Senate. You could try to sway the public in favour of the measure - you can see the breakdown of support and opposition by Faction in the tooltip - but you might want that cash for something else. So you decide to sweeten the deal for the trades unionists. You click 'Add measures', select the 'Policies and Edicts' option, and on the Policies and Edicts screen you select 'Unions' and then select a change in your union regulations to allow stronger unions. When you mouse over the option, the tooltip shows you that the trades unionist faction will like this and the others will be indifferent. Perfect! You then click the 'Add to Agenda', returning you to the Agenda panel, where you can see the sixty-day counter has been reset. Now the trades unionists are in favour of the measure, and with their votes on top of yours, it's set to pass.

But the xenophobes aren't finished yet. A few days later, you are notified that they have expended some of their Influence to bring the militarists around to their side. The counter is reset, and the measure will fail if you do nothing! So you consider your options, and decide you'll just have to spend some of that cash on propaganda. You've researched the Voter Targeting tech, so you can spend your money more efficiently to mobilise the supporters of particular Factions. Now you could target the scientists' supporters - but there aren't very many of them. What you decide to do instead is target the militarists' supporters. So you spend the money, and, faced with opposition from their base, the militarists go back to abstaining. The timer resets again, and the Xenophobes have either run out of resources or have decided to conserve them - you can see how much Energy and Influence they have left on the Factions displays. Finally, the timer runs out, and the measure passes. The Xenophobes are 10% less happy, but the unionists are 10% happier and have gifted you a chunk of Influence, and you've achieved your goal. Now all you have to worry about is what the Militarists are going to do with all the Influence the Xenophobes gave them...
 
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So a few months have passed and the Militarists have a plan. They spend some of their stock of Influence to set the political Agenda - and they're proposing to change your Empire's ethics from 'Egalitarian' to 'Militarist'! Their leader, being a cunning high-level swine, immediately adds a measure closing the borders to migrants and refugees, bringing the furious Xenophobes on-side. Now the Agenda is set to pass, despite the unionists' opposition.

You're caught in a bind. You've just blown your Influence on colonising a new planet and claiming some systems, and your treasury is bare because of the bite the stronger unions took out of your Energy income. What can you do? You spend what little money you have mobilising the Scientists' supporters against the measure, but it's not enough.

Then, faced with the empire abandoning their values, the trades unionists decide to take to the streets! Production is slashed on your capital world. You start to go into the red. This is becoming a national crisis - and the balance of the measure is still in the Militarists' favour.

But a cunning plan occurs to you. You have a general who is a committed egalitarian, and this is a constitutional crisis. It's a long shot, but you take the risk. You assign the general to the army sitting on your capital world, and give her the order to suppress the protests.

Just as you hoped, she refuses! This piece of political jiujitsu flushes the movement against the Agenda with vital strength, and tips the scales against it.

Now the Militarists turn out their stockpiles of Influence, lavishing it on the Scientists until they flip from opposition to support. Thankfully for you, the Trades Unionists have cash to hand. They spend it on propagandising the Scientists' base, swinging them back to abstention, and with the parties' resources exhausted, the measure times out, narrowly failing to pass.

But the story is not over. Since your empire is a democracy, and you tried to turn the military against the populace, a new Agenda is automatically set right after the Militarists' resolves: 'Demand for the Resignation of the President', proposed by the Trades Unionists for free - they are, after all, the wronged faction. You have no Influence or Energy to spend against it, and besides, defeating it will cause the spread of Authoritarian sentiment among the populace. You opt to resolve it immediately by having your President resign from public life, triggering an election - one that only the Scientists have the resources to swing...
 

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This seems like an amazing feature! I hope one day the devs can implement something like this or a mod creates the ability to do this because, I agree, internal politics is lacking.
 

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This seems like an amazing feature! I hope one day the devs can implement something like this or a mod creates the ability to do this because, I agree, internal politics is lacking.
Thanks! It could also dovetail with a future espionage system to allow CIA-in-Latin-America-style international intrigues.
 

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Thanks! It could also dovetail with a future espionage system to allow CIA-in-Latin-America-style international intrigues.
Do you think it could come in the future with the next update (Le Guin) or something later to build off the population mechanics rework
 

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Do you think it could come in the future with the next update (Le Guin) or something later to build off the population mechanics rework
I think if it were ever to be made it would probably be big enough of a change to merit its own update.
 

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The system could work differently depending on government type, too. A dictatorship would be more likely to involve power struggles between high ranking officials, AKA your leaders. Admirals and generals may try to take leadership, your scientists might try to force extra funding, and your governors might try to install their own government. In such a case keeping your best and brightest happy becomes more important, and you may not have the resources to prevent a revolt of the people.

Only problem is that hive minds and machine intelligences would either not benefit at all from this system or get a really watered down version.
 

Narva

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The system could work differently depending on government type, too. A dictatorship would be more likely to involve power struggles between high ranking officials, AKA your leaders. Admirals and generals may try to take leadership, your scientists might try to force extra funding, and your governors might try to install their own government. In such a case keeping your best and brightest happy becomes more important, and you may not have the resources to prevent a revolt of the people.

Only problem is that hive minds and machine intelligences would either not benefit at all from this system or get a really watered down version.
Yeah - hive minds and machine intelligences ought to have completely different mechanics. It'd be interesting to see a 'mood' mechanic for hive minds - something inspired by 'The Quiet Sleep' and 'Cultist Simulator', perhaps, where emotions are produced and have to be discharged somehow. Using them smartly would give you bonuses, handling them badly would hinder you in various ways.

For example: a hive mind might not have Influence at all, but instead Hunger, Fury, Curiosity, and Fear. These currencies would be produced and reduced by events, by interactions with other empires, and by colonies - losing battles might produce large amounts of Fury and Fear, for example, and anomalies might produce Curiosity, while certain buildings might give a big production buff to a planet, but also produce a point of one of the emotions every month; on the other hand, winning a battle might reduce your Fury, being well-defended might draw down your Fear, and so on. The higher your levels of each, the more of a buff they would give you - Fury might aid your attack rate and military production, Fear your defence, Curiosity your research, and Hunger your population growth, say. But you would also need to spend them to do the sorts of things Influence would be used to do right now - you might have to spend Hunger to colonise a new system, and an anomaly's options might force you to spend either Curiosity or Fear. Go into the red in an emotion, and you would get corresponding debuffs, but possibly also other buffs, so drawing down your reserves might be a deliberate strategy. Negative Fury might increase your civilian production, for example, while negative Hunger might aid your peacemaking.

But to make it really interesting, it needs something for you to explore on the home front. Where the Agendas system makes the inside of the empire another battlefield, hive minds might be better suited to the idea that they develop emotionally over the course of the game: the hive mind is a character, and the player discovers their depths with them. I'm thinking of something like a branching specialisation tree in which the branches are hidden, and over which the player has only partial control - some choices are yours, and some you discover.

So, for example, the amounts of each emotion you receive and spend could be the lever you use to tip the balance of each choice in the tree, and then when the requisite XP or unity or whatever is built up, you get a random Trait from a set of several you could have received from the branch of the choice you picked. That Trait would be more or less a tech, but the thing it allowed you to do would involve spending or producing emotions, or converting them from one type to another, alongside its conventional use. Choosing to take advantage of it would therefore influence which trait pack you would draw from at the next choice, and so on. Each branch of the tree would probably be between two and four choices long, with each choice being between two or three packs. Once you got to the end of a branch, subsequent choices would start again at the root but draw higher-level Traits, and with the branches already explored replaced by versions of the pack you found at the end of that branch. The root, to keep it simple, would be a four-way choice based on which emotion you produced the most of, with branches you had previously explored being weighted correspondingly lower. That would make for something in the region of 52 packs of three to five different Traits each, each of which would have (say) four different levels of strength. If at any point you pull a trait you already have, you level up that trait.

Here's an example of a play through one branch of the tree: in your early game, you might produce an unusually large amount of Fury, meaning that at your first trait draw, you draw from the Anger Issues Level 1 pack. The trait you draw, Constructive Channels, allows you to build starbase modules that consume Fury to give ships built there a permanent buff. So you take advantage of it, and your net Fury goes down, while your output of it stays high. At the next trait draw, therefore, you draw from the Driven by Rage level 1 pack, rather than the Repressed Fury (high output, low expenditure) or Cooler Head (lower output) packs. You pull the 'Outrage' trait, which allows you to periodically convert Fear into Fury. But you don't use it much; you don't want to pick from the 'Berzerker' pack, which is what you would get if you had even higher Fury production, because it could turn you into a Devouring Swarm. You'd rather go for the 'Controlled Ferocity' level 1 pack. Because these are the packs at the end of the branch, they contain particularly juicy cards; the one you draw is Intimidating Presence, which allows you to spend Fury to boost your diplomacy or increase an enemy's war exhaustion.

I'm a lot less confident in the merits of this idea than I am about the Agendas, but I do quite like the basic principle of having gameplay go on inside the hivemind's mind. What do you think?
 
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Dman1791

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Yeah - hive minds and machine intelligences ought to have completely different mechanics. It'd be interesting to see a 'mood' mechanic for hive minds - something inspired by 'The Quiet Sleep' and 'Cultist Simulator', perhaps, where emotions are produced and have to be discharged somehow. Using them smartly would give you bonuses, handling them badly would hinder you in various ways.

For example: a hive mind might not have Influence at all, but instead Hunger, Fury, Curiosity, and Fear. These currencies would be produced and reduced by events, by interactions with other empires, and by colonies - losing battles might produce large amounts of Fury and Fear, for example, and anomalies might produce Curiosity, while certain buildings might give a big production buff to a planet, but also produce a point of one of the emotions every month; on the other hand, winning a battle might reduce your Fury, being well-defended might draw down your Fear, and so on. The higher your levels of each, the more of a buff they would give you - Fury might aid your attack rate and military production, Fear your defence, Curiosity your research, and Hunger your population growth, say. But you would also need to spend them to do the sorts of things Influence would be used to do right now - you might have to spend Hunger to colonise a new system, and an anomaly's options might force you to spend either Curiosity or Fear. Go into the red in an emotion, and you would get corresponding debuffs, but possibly also other buffs, so drawing down your reserves might be a deliberate strategy. Negative Fury might increase your civilian production, for example, while negative Hunger might aid your peacemaking.

But to make it really interesting, it needs something for you to explore on the home front. Where the Agendas system makes the inside of the empire another battlefield, hive minds might be better suited to the idea that they develop emotionally over the course of the game: the hive mind is a character, and the player discovers their depths with them. I'm thinking of something like a branching specialisation tree in which the branches are hidden, and over which the player has only partial control - some choices are yours, and some you discover.

So, for example, the amounts of each emotion you receive and spend could be the lever you use to tip the balance of each choice in the tree, and then when the requisite XP or unity or whatever is built up, you get a random Trait from a set of several you could have received from the branch of the choice you picked. That Trait would be more or less a tech, but the thing it allowed you to do would involve spending or producing emotions, or converting them from one type to another, alongside its conventional use. Choosing to take advantage of it would therefore influence which trait pack you would draw from at the next choice, and so on. Each branch of the tree would probably be between two and four choices long, with each choice being between two or three packs. Once you got to the end of a branch, subsequent choices would start again at the root but draw higher-level Traits, and with the branches already explored replaced by versions of the pack you found at the end of that branch. The root, to keep it simple, would be a four-way choice based on which emotion you produced the most of, with branches you had previously explored being weighted correspondingly lower. That would make for something in the region of 52 packs of three to five different Traits each, each of which would have (say) four different levels of strength. If at any point you pull a trait you already have, you level up that trait.

Here's an example of a play through one branch of the tree: in your early game, you might produce an unusually large amount of Fury, meaning that at your first trait draw, you draw from the Anger Issues Level 1 pack. The trait you draw, Constructive Channels, allows you to build starbase modules that consume Fury to give ships built there a permanent buff. So you take advantage of it, and your net Fury goes down, while your output of it stays high. At the next trait draw, therefore, you draw from the Driven by Rage level 1 pack, rather than the Repressed Fury (high output, low expenditure) or Cooler Head (lower output) packs. You pull the 'Outrage' trait, which allows you to periodically convert Fear into Fury. But you don't use it much; you don't want to pick from the 'Berzerker' pack, which is what you would get if you had even higher Fury production, because it could turn you into a Devouring Swarm. You'd rather go for the 'Controlled Ferocity' level 1 pack. Because these are the packs at the end of the branch, they contain particularly juicy cards; the one you draw is Intimidating Presence, which allows you to spend Fury to boost your diplomacy or increase an enemy's war exhaustion.

I'm a lot less confident in the merits of this idea than I am about the Agendas, but I do quite like the basic principle of having gameplay go on inside the hivemind's mind. What do you think?
I like the idea of a hive mind developing as time goes on, but a branching path like you describe would probably get very stale over time, and it would be very easy to figure out how to game the system for whatever buffs you want. The emotions aspect is god, just not sure about the events.

For machines, though, perhaps something along the lines of that but involving different things: You have Processing Power (or CPU Time or something or other) in place of influence, and it grows over time and can be produced by "Datacenter" buildings in exchange for a high energy cost. It would be used in place of influence, but with other things as well. Colonized worlds, fleets, and active leaders would all have a drain on your monthly Processing Power to represent you having to reserve more thinking time to running those things and individuals. Events and policies could be used to change things up: Maybe you allow more autonomous leaders to reduce PP required as a sort of maintenance in order to colonize more worlds. As a tradeoff, your leaders can now act on their own, and may end up creating a form of faction that involves their share of processing power. If the faction is unhappy, that share of power might be subtracted from your monthly income. Perhaps also vice versa, a happy semi-free leader could give a small boost to processing. Included in this, you could prioritize some things at the expense of others. You might reduce a colonized world's share of processing power, causing large reductions in resource output, in order to boost science output or perhaps give a buff to one of your leaders. Basically a resource that represents your capability to handle tasks as they appear, and represent the limits of a machine mind trying to handle millions of things at once.
 

Narva

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I like the idea of a hive mind developing as time goes on, but a branching path like you describe would probably get very stale over time, and it would be very easy to figure out how to game the system for whatever buffs you want. The emotions aspect is god, just not sure about the events.

For machines, though, perhaps something along the lines of that but involving different things: You have Processing Power (or CPU Time or something or other) in place of influence, and it grows over time and can be produced by "Datacenter" buildings in exchange for a high energy cost. It would be used in place of influence, but with other things as well. Colonized worlds, fleets, and active leaders would all have a drain on your monthly Processing Power to represent you having to reserve more thinking time to running those things and individuals. Events and policies could be used to change things up: Maybe you allow more autonomous leaders to reduce PP required as a sort of maintenance in order to colonize more worlds. As a tradeoff, your leaders can now act on their own, and may end up creating a form of faction that involves their share of processing power. If the faction is unhappy, that share of power might be subtracted from your monthly income. Perhaps also vice versa, a happy semi-free leader could give a small boost to processing. Included in this, you could prioritize some things at the expense of others. You might reduce a colonized world's share of processing power, causing large reductions in resource output, in order to boost science output or perhaps give a buff to one of your leaders. Basically a resource that represents your capability to handle tasks as they appear, and represent the limits of a machine mind trying to handle millions of things at once.
This is a really cool idea. In the Dune prequels set pre-Butlerian Jihad, there are examples of this sort of thing.

Going back to these ideas, I feel like it makes most sense for the factions to be the independent actors, with characters being basically their pawns. Characters' personalities would then be cashed out in character traits affecting how the faction uses them, as well as affecting some checks, like the general deciding whether to suppress the protests in the example above. Promoting factions' characters would please the faction and give it more Influence income, so a character trait like 'Sellout' might mean the promoted character gives their controlling faction less extra power than otherwise, while a character with the Politiciser trait would use their position to procure extra Energy for their faction.

I envisage a simple system for faction 'loyalty' - making the difference between a loyal opposition and a dangerous subversive movement. Each faction could have two ethics; those that shared at least one with the form of government would be Loyal, those that didn't would be Subversive. Subversive factions would use tactics like terrorism, riots, assassinations, and so on if they got hold of enough Influence and/or Energy, which would (obviously) pose a threat to the integrity of your empire. A faction leader having a character trait like 'Revolutionary' would then mean their faction would always be Subversive, regardless of their Ethics.

Partly inspired by the corporate branch buildings coming up in Megacorp, factions could also have buildings with which to advance their cause - propaganda centres to spread their values, regional HQs to gather resources, clandestine paramilitary camps, and faction-specific buildings like temples, food banks, or secret societies, which do a combination of the two along with having other effects (the examples given might do things like producing Unity, increasing population growth, and giving ruling Pops additional political power, respectively). It would also be characterful for them to physically fly their characters around to proselytise and fundraise, at a cost in resources. Of course, that would give your clandestine operatives the opportunity to make sure they had an 'accident' - but that's another system...
 

t_b

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Really great ideas suggested here and I definitely think this is a very smart way to expand internal politics. Even though this is a quite old thread I think it is still relevant and I'd like to add some things.

1. How hive-minds would work. I agree with the idea of hive-minds having different emotions but I think that it is better if there is a player choice. I suggested a model here if you'd like to see. Essentially instead of having a number of different resources I believe it would be better to give the player the option to shift their tactics at specific points. For example while preparing for war the hive might have to work itself to the more aggressive side of emotion so that it fights stronger. After the war however it could be useful to shift back to a more calm emotion to deal with the economy.

2. Personally I think its more interesting to instead of having factions with multiple ethics which could flood the UI have factions that form coalitions. This could lead to things like: backstabbing, split countries with 2 huge coalitions or brief coalitions to combat or support some specific agendas.

3. While I love many of the ways agendas are being used I also think they shouldn't be too overused. For example changing an individual species rights could be a little too minor to merit an agenda. For changing the standard rights I think an agenda makes sense, but for something small it seems unnecessary.

4. I think if an agenda has an additional part added to it it should also increase how long it takes to represent the importance of it. I think the timer could also be modified by things like: civics and edicts

5. Honestly I'm not entirely sure agenda is the best name for what your describing as "agenda" suggest a more long-term goal that an individual or faction is trying to achieve. Instead I'd suggest calling it a motion or proposal.

6. The buildings for factions: to be perfectly honest, I don't think this is at all a good idea as it would reduce the special influence of Megacorps making them less interesting and would simply clog up the UI. Instead having factions show support for the government when happy or after being supported could be better. This could take the form of temporary planetary or empire wide buffs to an area related to the faction.
 

Tamwin5

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For how stuff like protests would work, I think it would work as a choice: The Militarists are gearing up for mass protests; you can either try and deal with the protests directly, or concede support to the Militarists which would bolster their position significantly. The trouble would only occur if two separate factions are on opposite sides of a proposal.

I do think that pops in governing ethics should be much less likely to be involved: Their interests are already represented, do they really need to bother going out and doing things? This would help ensure that the governing ethics don't just dominate the political discourse.

The amount of influence/money factions have access to should I think be determined by the total political power of the pops.
 

Narva

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Really great ideas suggested here and I definitely think this is a very smart way to expand internal politics.
Thanks!
1. How hive-minds would work. I agree with the idea of hive-minds having different emotions but I think that it is better if there is a player choice. I suggested a model here if you'd like to see. Essentially instead of having a number of different resources I believe it would be better to give the player the option to shift their tactics at specific points. For example while preparing for war the hive might have to work itself to the more aggressive side of emotion so that it fights stronger. After the war however it could be useful to shift back to a more calm emotion to deal with the economy.
In retrospect I'm not super convinced by my hive mind ideas, either - yours seem better. It makes sense that hive minds should have a more centrally-controlled playstyle, rather than having to battle with the internal forces non-hives have to.
2. Personally I think its more interesting to instead of having factions with multiple ethics which could flood the UI have factions that form coalitions. This could lead to things like: backstabbing, split countries with 2 huge coalitions or brief coalitions to combat or support some specific agendas.
The idea is not to have more factions per empire, but to have different factions in each playthrough. This in turn helps differentiate empires. It might even make sense to add options to empire customisation to force certain factions to spawn (with custom names? custom characters? this is a rabbit-hole!)
4. I think if an agenda has an additional part added to it it should also increase how long it takes to represent the importance of it. I think the timer could also be modified by things like: civics and edicts
There's potential for this, but if it gets too slow or too fast I don't think it would be fun.
5. Honestly I'm not entirely sure agenda is the best name for what your describing as "agenda" suggest a more long-term goal that an individual or faction is trying to achieve. Instead I'd suggest calling it a motion or proposal.
Agreed lol
6. The buildings for factions: to be perfectly honest, I don't think this is at all a good idea as it would reduce the special influence of Megacorps making them less interesting and would simply clog up the UI. Instead having factions show support for the government when happy or after being supported could be better. This could take the form of temporary planetary or empire wide buffs to an area related to the faction.
So the deal with the buildings is to do with two different things. One aspect of it is that they help make your factions visible in the sense that you can see them doing things, so they feel more like active little players in the game. The other side of it, though, is about making the planets feel like real, unique places at the intersection of different groups' interests, rather than just big farms or factories. I think that's part of the core emotional appeal of a 4X game - creating these little places and then subjecting them to, or protecting them from, the tides of history.
 

t_b

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I think this would be an excellent idea so I decided to make a mockup (hope you don't mind) of what I think an agenda/motion could look like. Obviously its nowhere near the clean cuttedness of actual stellaris, but hopefully it'll convey some ideas:
1589937893055.png


This is a scenario where your empire is pacifist and egalitarian, but because of the recent introduction of xenos you want to give them rights. Because the egalitarian and pacifist factions don't really care, they will side with the government, representing their loyalty to it. Because the spiritualist and materialist factions do not care about this issue they will abstain and as such not count for either side. To insure this passes you could propose something that the spiritualists want, for example ban machine labor. If the government was the one that moved the legislation you can cancel it, pleasing opponents while angering supporters. An even more extreme option is to change which side the government supports.

Loyalty:
Factions that are happy because of recent legislation changes or general conditions in the empire will be more likely to support the government.
 
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Narva

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I think this would be an excellent idea so I decided to make a mockup (hope you don't mind) of what I think an agenda/motion could look like. Obviously its nowhere near the clean cuttedness of actual stellaris, but hopefully it'll convey some ideas:
View attachment 579865

This is a scenario where your empire is pacifist and egalitarian, but because of the recent introduction of xenos you want to give them rights. Because the egalitarian and pacifist factions don't really care, they will side with the government, representing their loyalty to it. Because the spiritualist and materialist factions do not care about this issue they will abstain and as such not count for either side. To insure this passes you could propose something that the spiritualists want, for example ban machine labor. If the government was the one that moved the legislation you can cancel it, pleasing opponents while angering supporters. An even more extreme option is to change which side the government supports.

Loyalty:
Factions that are happy because of recent legislation changes or general conditions in the empire will be more likely to support the government.
Awesome mockup! I think the only thing that's missing is an 'attach rider' option, but I guess that'd be under the 'negotiate' tab. I'd probably replace that with a 'history' tab that lets you see what each participant has done since the motion was initiated, put the 'attach rider' option on the 'status' tab, and allow you to negotiate with the participants just by clicking on them in this display. It'd also be good to have a big sign somewhere at the top saying 'Supporters in majority, motion set to pass in 29 days' or whatever, so the player can see the countdown and the meaning of the balance of 'votes' is made totally clear when they first encounter the popup.